The Old Man’s Picks – Week Fifteen

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By Jeff Heck, Bears Claws Contributor

Disclaimer: “He who gambles, lives in shambles.”

90 touchdowns were scored last Sunday across the NFL. The amazing part you ask? There was a pretty wicked winter storm blowing in many of the stadiums. What a week! This week the focus is the playoffs. In the AFC, it’s looking more and more like Denver and New England will get byes. Indy will be the fourth seed will most likely will host the fifth seeded Chiefs, and the Bengals will most likely host the whoever ends up as the six seed. In the NFC, the real question is who will win the North and East crowns. Everything else is pretty much set. It’s going to get interesting over the next few weeks, so let’s get this week started. As always, games are picked straight up. Points are used for reference.

San Diego Chargers (+10.5) at Denver Broncos – Thursday Night                      Finally a Thursday night match up worth watching. Denver is closing in on the number one seed and Peyton Manning is also closing in on the NFL single season TD passing record he held for a year. I think San Diego will make this interesting by putting up some points in this one, but I like Denver to win the game.

Washington Redskins (+6) at Atlanta Falcons                                                       These are the games that are tough to call because neither team is going anywhere in the post-season. Who will show up to play? In this one, I have to go with the Falcons. Washington needs Dr. Phil, Oprah, Dr. Oprah, and anyone else who specializes in the treatment of dysfunctional families. Shanahan is coaching his last few games in Washington and I don’t think the team will rally around Mike. And shortly after I wrote the above, Washington has benched RG3 for the rest of the season. Yeah, take the Falcons.

San Francisco 49ers (-5.5) at Tampa Bay Buccaneers                                            This is a trap game for the 49ers as they are coming off their biggest win of the season against Seattle. This week they travel cross-country to face a resurgent Bucs team. Just think, if Tampa had held on to those early season leads and won those games, we’d be talking about them in the playoff chase. The 49ers need to remember that the Bucs had a huge lead on Seattle at Seattle. They don’t want that to happen here, and I don’t thing it will. The 49ers are too good and will win this one.

Arizona Cardinals (-2.5) at Tennessee Titans                                                           The Cardinals have everything to play for and the Titans are just playing it out. Rumor is that the Titan coaching staff may be on its way out the door. How the Titans play the next few weeks will be the determining factor. Personally I like the Titan staff and I think you have to allow them the time to get things corrected. They’re almost there, but not today. I think Arians will have the Cards primed and ready to roll in this one. Take the Cards on the road.

New Orleans Saints (-5.5) at St. Louis Rams                                                            After a dismal Monday night performance at Seattle, the Saints bounced back to take control of the AFC South last Sunday against the Panthers. This week they travel to St. Louis where they face a Rams team that, when they’re playing well, can beat anyone in the NFL. I really think there is a chance the Rams could upset the Saints, but I don’t think it will happen. New Orleans has too much experience and too many good players to falter. It may be close, but I think the Saints pull it out in the end.

Seattle Seahawks (-7) at New York Giants                                                                 The Seahawks need two wins or a win and Saints loss in order to clinch home field advantage in the NFC. This week they travel to New York to face the Giants where they should get one of their wins. Look for the Giants D to play a decent first half, but then fade in the end. The Giant offense will be stifled and Eli Manning will have a very, very long afternoon of being the tackling dummy. This one should not be close at the end. Seahawks win easy.

Chicago Bears (+1.5) at Cleveland Browns                                                               The Old Man’s Bears looked like world champs last Monday night, well the offense did BUT it was against the Cowboys D. This week they travel to Cleveland and face a much better D in the Browns. Last year’s backup QB for the Bears, Jason Campbell, should run the Browns offense and if I were them, I’d run the ball, run the ball, and run the ball some more. The Bears struggle with the run and I think this week they’ll load up and force Campbell to beat them. I don’t think he can. Take the Bears on the road.

Houston Texans (+6) at Indianapolis Colts                                                               The Colts are the AFC South champs, and playoff bound, but if they don’t get their act together, they’re going to be a one-and-done team. Of late, the Colts win a game in dramatic fashion, and then get blown out, win in dramatic fashion, and get blown out. This week they face the Texans, whom they whooped a few weeks ago. They need to take control from the start and dictate what takes place. I think they’ll get it done. I’m going out on a limb but look for Trent Richardson to get a TD in this one.

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Buffalo Bills (-2) at Jacksonville Jaguars                                                                          I almost took the Jags last week at Cleveland, but I didn’t trust them. I know they pulled a rabbit out of their hat, but they still took the W. This week they host an unpredictable Bills team. I think the Bills are about to mail in the rest of the year and the Jags are starting to believe in their system. I like the Jags by two TD’s in this one.

New England Patriots (-2.5) at Miami Dolphins                                                        Tom Brady lost his security blanket last week when Rob Gronkowski went down with a severe knee injury. This is as big a loss to the Pats as Reggie Wayne was to the Colts. On the other side of the field you have a Dolphin team that could have folded with all the controversy surrounding the Incognito incident, but they didn’t. In fact, the Dolphins have a realistic shot at the number six seed, and they move a step close to the six position. In an upset, I’m going with the Dolphins.

Philadelphia Eagles (-4.5) at Minnesota Vikings                                                          The Eagles continue their tour of the NFC North by visiting the Vikings this weekend. One thing’s for certain, it won’t snow on them like it did last week, unless the roof in the Metrodome decides to cave in again! The Vikes are out of the playoff picture, they won’t have Adrian Peterson, and their D won’t be able to stop the Philly offense. Eagles stay atop the NFC East with a win on the road.

New York Jets (+11) at Carolina Panthers                                                                   The Jets are coming to Carolina at the wrong time. They’re going to find a Panthers team looking to beat someone up and show the rest of the NFL that their loss to New Orleans was just a bad day at the office. The Jets have little to no offense and will be facing one of the better defenses in the league. Look for Cam and company to score 40 as they ground the Jets.

Kansas City Chiefs (-4) at Oakland Raiders                                                              Many of you may be asking why this is only a four point spread. Simple. It’s the Chiefs and the Raiders, always a tough game. Last week the Chiefs found their offense, albeit against the hapless team from Washington. I think the Chiefs keep it going this week. They losing streak is over and they’re getting into playoff form. Take the Chiefs on the road.

Green Bay Packers (+7) at Dallas Cowboys                                                                This was the game that Aaron Rodgers had realistically targeted to make his return, but odds are he’s going to miss this one too. That’s great news for the Cowboys who were shredded last Monday night by the Bears passing attack. If Rodgers were to play, I think the Packers might pull it off. As of now, he’s out, so I’m going with the Cowboys. If Rodgers does play, I could see the Packers winning on the road. But I have to make a pick and it’s the Cowboys.

Cincinnati Bengals (-3) at Pittsburgh Steelers – Sunday Night                                 The Bengals put a beat down on the Colts last Sunday to get a firm grip on the number three playoff seed. It is possible that their opponent this Sunday, the Steelers, could sneak into the number six playoff spot and that would mean a third game with the Bengals this season. In order for that to happen, the Steelers need to win out…but they won’t. I like how the Bengals are playing and I think they’ll beat the Steelers by ten.

Baltimore Ravens (+6) at Detroit Lions – Monday Night                                                                          I’ve said it before and I’m saying it again. The Detroit Lions are a good head coach away from being a very good football team. Look no further than the Kansas City Chiefs to see what I mean. The Lions have a great D, one of the best wide

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receivers to ever play the game, a solid running attack, very solid QB, but still they stumble. This week they host the defending champs who are showing the fortitude of a defending champ by finding ways to win. On Monday night, the champs find a way to win yet again. Ravens in an upset.

That’s it for this week. Take it to the bank!
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