Thursday, December 8, 2011

2011 NFL Pickery -- Week #14

Last Week

Joe: 12-4
Aaron: 10-6

Current Standings

Joe: 126-66
Aaron: 120-72

Cleveland at Pittsburgh

Aaron: So, the obvious flip side to making one team travel across three time zones on three days rest for these Thursday night games is to have teams in the same division play each other. Match-ups like this one might be exactly what motivates the NFL to continue its Thursday night inter-conference coast-to-coast forced busing program, instead. Pick: Pittsburgh

Joe: It's always nice when one's fantasy playoffs can be ended on Thursday night. I'm on a six-hour countdown for whether I want to trust Ben Roethlisberger's thumb against a Cleveland defense that seems to keep every game in the low teens. Ughhhhhhh. Pick: Pittsburgh

Indianapolis at Baltimore

Aaron: It's been 90 years since the last official forfeit in organized professional football. I'm not suggesting that the 1921 Washington Senators will be joined by the 2011 Indianapolis Colts this week, but be honest...would you be that surprised if Indy didn't bother to make the trip? Pick: Baltimore

Joe: The most poetic way for this matchup to turn out would be for Colts players to sneak out under cover of night on Saturday and defect to Baltimore. Otherwise: Mismatch City. Though I'd be a smidge concerned about Baltimore's tendency to play down to their worst competition. Pick: Baltimore

New England at Washington

Aaron: With an season-ending string of soft-bellied opponents, I started the Patriots' defense in my fantasy football money league last week. After allowing the winless Colts to score 24 points, I'm prepared to watch Redskins QB Rex Grossman throw for 400 yards before halftime. A Pats win would only compound my misery. Pick: New England

Joe: Pity the poor Patriots. Stuck with a series of inferior opponents. How can we POSSIBLY expect them to get revved up enough to beat them by 30 points apiece? Pick: New England

New Orleans at Tennessee

Aaron: Oh, who am I kidding? It won't be the Patriots defense that'll cost me a spot in my fantasy football playoffs. It's going to be Titans RB Chris Johnson. He's looked absolutely rejuvenated over the past two weeks, but now that I need him...? Look for him to carve my heart out. Doesn't he realize I'm defined by the aggregate exploits of him and his peers? Pick: New Orleans

Joe: Two teams who have been rather hot lately. The Titans have muscled their way back into the playoff picture by beating bad teams by modest margins. The Saints have defeated fellow playoff contenders in gaudy blowouts. Enough to counteract the home-field advantage. Pick: New Orleans

Kansas City at N.Y. Jets

Aaron: After this week, the Chiefs play the Packers followed by a pair of sure-to-be-desperate contenders in the Raiders and Broncos. On the plus side, Kansas City, I expect the Jets will only administer the second or third worst beating you'll absorb this month. Pick: NY Jets

Joe: Good news, everybody! This is the game I'll get to watch on CBS this week instead of anything that has a prayer to be good! Pick: NY Jets

Philadelphia at Miami

Aaron: With four wins in their last five games and a favorable schedule the rest of the way -- including games against a pair of playoff contenders who may be resting their starters to some degree -- this Dolphins team could finish strong. It helps that the Eagles have been resting since mid-September. Pick: Miami

Joe: It's probably just the belligerent hatred talking, but I have to believe the Dolphins will come back down to earth some time. Pick: Philadelphia

Tampa Bay at Jacksonville

Aaron: The Jaguars' ineptitude on offense has masked a quietly impressive defense. Meanwhile, the Buccaneers are -- choose your sports cliché -- (A) "Quitting on their coach"; (B) "Playing out the string"; (C) "Waving the white flag". You know what...? Let's go with "C". It works with that whole pirate motif and as a Civil War homage to Florida's deep Southern roots. Pick: Jacksonville

Joe: The Central Florida Powers Explode! Or something way less exciting than that. I agree about Jacksonville's defense, and Maurice Jones Drew should have a fine time carving up Tampa's Swiss-cheese D. But this also feels like the kind of game where a Gabbert pick-six decides it. Pick: Tampa Bay

Atlanta at Carolina

Aaron: Your guess is as good as mine as to which Falcons team will show up here. But, with the pungent musk of "must-win" in the autumn air -- and a two-touchdown win over the Panthers earlier this season -- I'll take Atlanta and assume whatever worked against Carolina before will work again. Pick: Atlanta

Joe: Carolina got their big December win last week. That moral victory should content them until the first 5 picks of the draft come around. Pick: Atlanta

Houston at Cincinnati

Aaron: None of the Bengals seven wins have come against any team that'll be making playoff reservations in January. Taking the Texans' third-string quarterback in a December road game may indeed be lunacy, but as long as running back Arian Foster doesn't get diagnosed with acute radiation poisoning (or gigantism or one of seven other separate misfortunes)... Pick: Houston

Joe: Ugh. I hate this game. Cincy has been faltering against the teams we all figured they'd falter against. But a tough road game against a team with something to play for might be too much for the wounded Texans to overcome. Pick: Cincinnati

Minnesota at Detroit

Aaron: Back in week three, the Lions needed overtime to defeat the Vikings -- and a healthy Adrian Peterson -- in Minnesota. A lot has changed since late September. Now, the Lions are the home team and Peterson remains hobbled with an ankle injury. OK, it's just two things that have changed. And, come to think of it, neither of these things will ultimately change the outcome from the first time they played. Pick: Detroit

Joe: Suddenly, the Vikings -- with the Christian Ponder-to-Percy Harvin thing to complement AP's reliable brilliance -- have gotten really fun to watch. Too bad two thirds of that equation might be unavailable. Pick: Detroit

Chicago at Denver

Aaron: With a more favorable December schedule than the Raiders (which is to say they're not playing Green Bay any time soon) the likelihood of "Denver Broncos -- AFC West Champions" grows stronger by the week. I was just telling Joe the other day that this underreported Tim Tebow story needed a boost from some playoff hype. Pick: Denver

Joe: It probably took me too long to figure this out, but the brilliant thing about Tebow's Christianity is that it dovetails with the NFL's favorite motivational tactic. Namely, the "We don't get any respect despite clear evidence to the contrary" thing. Tim Tebow can get more glowing coverage than any other QB in the league (he does), and he can still play the "disrespected" card. Brilliant. Pick: Denver

San Francisco at Arizona

Aaron: Fun fact -- the Cardinals have won four of their last five games. Of course, the hapless Rams were their opponents in two of those wins. And, their one loss...? Yes, it was to the 49ers. Feel free to impress your Hooters girl with that bit of trivia come Sunday. Pick: San Francisco

Joe: Who's up for another uninteresting story about my fantasy team? Work league playoffs. Semifinals against the president of our division. Every week, I am petrified of Larry Fitzgerald's stat line. Mostly because of the semi-important fact that he doesn't have a competent quarterback throwing to him. Somehow, almost every week, he ends up with some miracle bomb that salvages his stats for the week. Going up against maybe the best defense in football, I have never been more petrified of starting a guy who's my second-leading scorer. Pick: San Francisco

Oakland at Green Bay

Aaron: I've already made peace with this. Pick: Green Bay

Joe: Sorry, pal. On the bright side, your Raiders can do no worse than anyone else in the NFL. Pick: Green Bay

Buffalo at San Diego

Aaron: Blacked out locally, there are a lot of Chargers fans who are going to miss out on what's a pretty favorable match-up. In fact, if San Diego wins and both Oakland and Denver lose, the hated Chargers will only be a game back in the division. NOOOO! Pick: San Diego

Joe: I'd make the joke about this getting blacked out in Buffalo too, only it's not a very good joke. I'd also mention how the Bills match up better with these high-octane-offense/low-pressure-defense teams, but at this point in the season, who even believes they have a chance here? Pick: San Diego

N.Y. Giants at Dallas

Aaron: As bad as the Giants' defense has looked during their current four-game losing streak, it's safe to say the Cowboys aren't going to score 38 or 49 points like the Packers and Saints did, respectively, against New York. Yup...the Cowboys aren't as good as the Packers or Saints. We're breaking all kinds of news around here. Pick: NY Giants

Joe: I think the Cowboys defense is the ultimate wild card in the NFC this season, and it's going to end up surprising some good teams. Take this with the biggest grain of salt you can imagine. Pick: Dallas

St. Louis at Seattle

Aaron: I assuming the rest of the internet has the "what a terrible Monday Night Football game, ESPN!" angle covered. Pick: Seattle

Joe: Didn't the NFL learn its lesson last season when a primetime matchup of the 6-9 Seahawks and 7-8 Rams was only bailed out because it was for the division title? Anyway, Seattle is the official good-bad-team of the NFC; no reason to think they won't take this. Pick: Seattle

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