Sunday, January 1, 2012

2011 NFL Pickery -- Week #17

Last Week

Aaron: 14-2
Joe: 11-5

Current Standings

Joe: 159-81
Aaron: 157-83

San Francisco at St. Louis

Aaron: The 49ers are still fighting for the #2 playoff seed in the NFC (and accompanying first week bye). I suppose that's enough of a carrot for a contender, but let's give 'em a game against the league's JV team, just to make sure. Pick: San Francisco

Joe: One more dose of empty calories for the Niners to feed on before the playoffs. (Until they get a home game against the Saints which matches up for them better than I would like to admit right now.) Pick: San Francisco

Washington at Philadelphia

Aaron: Three weeks ago, when the Eagles sat at 5-8, I predicted they'd run the table to finish at .500. I expect some variation of that blurb to appear on the back cover of "The Best of Aaron and Joe's NFL Pickery -- 2011 Edition". Look for it in your favorite bookstore alongside all the unsold copies of "Grantland Quarterly". Pick: Philadelphia

Joe: ZIIIING! Anyway, look for the narrative for this game to be a referendum on Andy Reid's coaching career in Philly. Because a decade-long tenure as head coach should absolutely be boiled down to a meaningless game against the worst team in one's division. Pick: Philadelphia

Detroit at Green Bay

Aaron: Most of the Packers' starters are expected to be out of the game by halftime. The Lions, meanwhile, are still fighting for the fifth or sixth NFC playoff seed and -- if the season-long "undisciplined" narrative is to be believed -- seem like the kind of team that would take too much pride in knocking off the Packers' skeleton crew. Pick: Detroit

Joe: You'd have thought the Lions would have been able to exploit the Packers' weak-ish defense on Thanksgiving, but we all saw how that turned out. Still, they do seem to be properly motivated to grab that higher playoff seeding. Detroit at the Giants could be a verrrry interesting Wild Card matchup. Pick: Detroit

Tennessee at Houston

Aaron: The Texans played an extremely conservative offense against the worst team in the league last week and lost. This week, they're likely to rest at least some of their skill players AND face a Titans team that's still in the playoff hunt. Then again, if everyone's fantasy football season is any indication, whichever team has RB Chris Johnson is the one guaranteed to be disappointed, yes? Pick: Tennessee

Joe: There's no reason for me to take the Texans other than the fact that everybody else is taking Tennessee, and there is no way they're good enough to be a unanimous pick. This is the analysis I've been dropping for five seasons, folks. Pick: Houston

Indianapolis at Jacksonville

Aaron: Remember when the Colts rested their starters and lost a chance at an undefeated regular season a few years ago? Ironically enough, if the Colts play hard here and lose their chance to be the worst team in the league, the Monday morning media firestorm could be comparable. Yup. Pick: Jacksonville

Joe: I think the Jags have the edge here even if Indy does try. Pick: Jacksonville

NY Jets at Miami

Aaron: Historically, doesn't EVERY underachieving New York sports team that enters their final game/series of the season fighting for a playoff spot against an inferior team (on paper) lose? I can't be bothered to look it up, so I'll assume it's true. Pick: Miami

Joe: So while the offseason is spent speculating about Rex Ryan's job security, let's hope nobody pays attention to the fact that their run game is garbage and their defense isn't close to as fearsome as it once was. But it's not like they need better players or anything. Pick: NY Jets

Chicago at Minnesota

Aaron: The Adrian Peterson ACL/MCL injury is kind of big story that, strangely, seemed to be under-reported. It's understandable, I suppose. It happened late in a forgettable season for Minnesota -- on Christmas Eve, no less -- and Peterson's immense talent doesn't even have enough wattage to overshadow the team's QB drama in recent years. On the plus side, I didn't see one "What Peterson's Injury Means for Your 2012 Fantasy Football Draft" feature last week, so relatively anonymity has its benefits. Pick: Chicago

Joe: Well it certainly helped deep-six my fantasy championship game, so I, for one, would have appreciated such a feature. Still, Toby Gerhart has been a capable fill-in, and the Vikings manage to hang in pretty much every game. Meanwhile, if you told me the entire Bears team just got prescribed an anti-depressant, I would not be surprised. Pick: Minnesota

Buffalo at New England

Aaron: One of my readers suggested a post that segregated every blurb Joe wrote about his Bills and every one I wrote about my Raiders this season. Not sure which I'd enjoy more: my militant pessimism or Joe's perfect bell curve of optimism. Pick: New England

Joe: Here's all I'm going to say to close out this bummer of a season: if we could somehow manage to pull this game out (talent disparity aside, we're kind of a bad matchup for them this season), sweep the season series, and cost the Pats the #1 seed? I would be very satisfied with that. Pick: New England

Carolina at New Orleans

Aaron: For those seeking closure, I finished second in my fantasy football money league this season. My opponent started three Saints players, including QB Drew Brees -- who used the Monday Night Football stage to break a famous passing record and score a kajillion points. I will now join the rest of you in hating fantasy football anecdotes (until next August). Pick: Carolina

Joe: Ditto for me. Next season, remind me to tell all the fantasy experts to f*ck off and just draft a damned elite QB in the first round. You could do worse for scouting two such QBs than this game. Pick: New Orleans

Tampa Bay at Atlanta

Aaron: The Falcons are playing for playoff seeding and some of the storylines have referenced Tampa Bay's win over Atlanta earlier in the season as if it's some kind of relevant red flag. Spoiler alert: it's not. Pick: Atlanta

Joe: Tampa's crazy bad, y'all. Pick: Atlanta

Baltimore at Cincinnati

Aaron: The Ravens have been incredibly inconsistent on the road this year -- in both victory and defeat. The Bengals, on the other hand, have been consistently awful against top-tier teams -- either at home or on the road. So..something's gotta give. Right? Pick: Cincinnati

Joe: Baltimore might actually manage to nab the #1 seed in the AFC and still have nobody quite buying that they're any good. 2011 football! Pick: Baltimore

Pittsburgh at Cleveland

Aaron: I'd be surprised to see Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger (and his wonky ankle) start, but if back-up Charlie Batch struggles -- and if the #2 playoff seed is still in doubt -- I'd expect to see Big Ben heroically limp in for the last-second win. Ben Roethlisberger. Hero. U! S! A! Pick: Pittsburgh

Joe: Batch was able to handle last week's game against the Rams well enough. The Browns have a much stingier defense, though, and I do wonder what happens if this is a 10-7 game going into the half. Pick: Pittsburgh

Seattle at Arizona

Aaron: I'm not sure I want to live in a world where two 7-8 NFC West teams aren't playing for the division title on the final weekend of the season. Yet, here we are. Pick: Arizona

Joe: I would rather watch BOTH of these teams in a playoff game next weekend than about half of the teams who will actually play. Pick: Seattle

Kansas City at Denver

Aaron: The easiest path to the playoffs for my Raiders requires the Broncos to lose at home to the Chiefs and their new starting quarterback Kyle Orton -- who was the Broncos starting QB for the first half of the 2011 season. The Chiefs aren't going to roll up 40 points against anyone, so expect another low-scoring affair with the win going to the team whose quarterback is slightly less inept. Pick: Kansas City

Joe: Tebow handed last week's game to the Bills (and just when I needed him for fantasy purposes -- where's Will Shakespeare when you REALLY need him??), but weirdly enough I think that religion thing he's always going on about will actually help him avoid wallowing in a shame spiral and carrying it into this game. No time to wallow when there's glorying God to be done! Pick: Denver

San Diego at Oakland

Aaron: My Raiders could've put this division away at several points earlier in the season. Instead, they wasted back-to-back intradivision opportunities at home (against Kansas City and Denver) and crapped the bed against a beatable Miami team on the road. Even in victory, the Raiders haven't dominated an opponent from beginning to end. I suppose wins are wins, but if this Raiders team trailed late and had to march 80 yards to victory, would you bet on them or against them?, too. Pick: San Diego

Joe: It's a sad way to end the season, but at least you've got a meaningful Week 17 game to pay attention to! ...Okay, okay, but still! Pick: San Diego

Dallas at N.Y. Giants

Aaron: Wow. I was pretty definitive with my earlier comment about "underachieving New York sports teams", huh? I used all caps and everything. Well, then. I might as well go all in. Pick: Dallas

Joe: Dallas might be a sadder team than the Bears at this point. I just want to hug the lot of them. Well, not Jerry Jones. Unless you think it'd kill him? Pick: NY Giants

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