The Tebow phenomenon appears that it can't be stopped. Somehow, someway, he and the Broncos keep finding ways to win games. Tebow's ability to overcome the impossible should no longer be a surprise. For example, he has remained a virgin despite having girls like the one pictured as possibilities. It appears nothing can stop Tebow. Except maybe the evil genius Bill Belichick and one of the greatest quarterbacks to ever play the game in Tom Brady. Patriots/Broncos on Sunday at 415 is appointment television and should be tremendous theater. There are 14 other games as well, let's talk about them.
Week 15 - Saturday, December 17
Dallas (7-6) at Tampa Bay (4-9), Dallas favored by 7
The Cowboys never just lose, it always seems to be in spectacularly ridiculous fashion. As a Cowboy hater it is quite fun to watch. December hasn't been a kind month to Dallas in recent history but I can't see that misery extending to Saturday when they play a Buccaneers team that quit on their coach last week at Jacksonville. I mean, how else can you explain losing to the sorry Jags, 41-14? The Bucs are horrific on defense so for those of you with Cowboys on your fantasy squad, expect a big night.
Prediction: Dallas 30, Tampa Bay 17
Sunday, December 18
Miami (4-9) at Buffalo (5-8), No Line
The Dolphins finally whacked Tony Sparano and will now set their sets on a big name, such as Jeff Fisher. I always felt Fisher was overrated as a coach but his level of success, while not the best, would certainly be an upgrade for the floundering Dolphins. The Bills completed their collapse by getting routed at San Diego and eliminated from playoff contention. That win over New England seems so long ago. I don't think the Bills are bad enough to lose their last nine games, so at home against Miami is as good a time as any to get a win.
Prediction: Buffalo 17, Miami 16
Seattle (6-7) at Chicago (7-6), Chicago favored by 3 1/2
Poor Marion Barber. He was fantastic for me in fantasy football, rushing for over 100 yards and scoring a touchdown. But in real life, he cost the Bears that game against the Broncos. He may be on a short leash against Seattle and could be pulled quickly if he fumbles or has more brain farts. The Seahawks have snuck back into the playoff race and have to be kicking themselves for losing at home to the Redskins. Chicago's offense has been non-existent since Jay Cutler was forced to sit with an injury, but the defense has kept them competitive. The defense get's the Bears a much needed victory on Sunday.
Prediction: Chicago 17, Seattle 14
Tennessee (7-6) at Indianapolis (0-13), Tennessee favored by 6 1/2
It remains to be seen if the Titans go with Matt Hasselbeck or rookie Jake Locker, who has shown promise in his limited action. I don't know if the Titans have a third string quarterback but he could beat the Colts so it really doesn't matter who get's the nod.
Prediction: Tennessee 24, Indianapolis 17
Green Bay (13-0) at Kansas City (5-8), Green Bay favored by 14
The Chiefs fired Todd Haley, just a year after he won the AFC West. When you see how many games the Chiefs have been blown out in this year, it makes you wonder how they have even managed to win five games. The Packers march towards perfection will continue at Arrowhead and the question will be how hard do they try for the perfect season in their last two games? Do they go the 2007 Patriots route, or the 2009 Colts route? I have a feeling that they will go the Patriots route, because while injuries are never welcome, the Packers have so much depth that it probably doesn't matter.
Prediction: Green Bay 34, Kansas City 17
Cincinnati (7-6) at St. Louis (2-11), Cincinnati favored by 6
Why in the blue hell is Josh McDaniels possibly being considered as the next coach of the Chiefs? He was awful in Denver and he has been awful as the offensive coordinator for the Rams this year. The Rams needed one yard against Seattle last Monday and took about eight plays to get it. The time they actually got it? When they handed it off to their best player, Steven Jackson, whom they ignored the rest of the time. What an offensive genius!! This game is the kind of game the Bungles would find a way to lose, but I have irrational faith in the Red Rocket and A.J. Green that they can keep the Bengals playoff hopes alive another week.
Prediction: Cincinnati 21, St. Louis 14
New Orleans (10-3) at Minnesota (2-11), New Orleans favored by 7
The Saints are definitely not the same team on the road, and if the Niners are forced to play in the Divisional round at the Superdome it will probably get ugly. The Vikings have been competitive almost all season but continue to find new ways to lose. Christian Ponder had his first truly bad game at Detroit last weekend, so hopefully he can shake that off and play better at home. The Saints will enjoy the comforts of the dome, but I think the Vikings can hang with them and give them a scare, before ultimately doing what they do best this season, losing.
Prediction: New Orleans 31, Minnesota 26
Washington (4-9) at New York Giants (7-6), New York Giants favored by 7
The Redskins have had their fair share of troubles in New York over the last few years, with only Todd Collins being able to figure out how to win there. The last few years have been complete embarrassments. I think the Redskins will at least show up, but the Giants need this game, and while they have some mysterious losses, this game won't be added to the list. Expect Brandon Jacobs and Ahmad Bradshaw to own the Redskins like they always do.
Prediction: New York Giants 26, Washington 17
Carolina (4-9) at Houston (10-3), Houston favored by 6 1/2
The story in Houston is really quite amazing, as with last week's win despite all of the injuries, they clinched their first AFC South title and thus their first playoff berth. Now they are battling for a first round bye with Baltimore, New England, and Pittsburgh. As if they didn't have enough turmoil to deal with, they will be without defensive coordinator Wade Phillips, who is taking a medical leave of absence. It will be interesting to see if his absence has a noticeable effect on what has become the league's number one defense. He is missing at just the wrong time as the Texans have to try to slow down Cam Newton. Luckily for them the 2011 Panthers can be summed up this way, close but no cigar.
Prediction: Houston 24, Carolina 20
Detroit (8-5) at Oakland (7-6), Detroit favored by 1
Really tough game to call here. The Lions get Ndamukong Suh back, which will be nice as they were torched the two weeks he was out. The Raiders have been awful their last two games, stopping no one on defense and turning the ball over in bunches. They weren't missing Darren McFadden originally, but Michael Bush has come back to Earth the last few weeks and the running game has been almost non-existent. Injuries are really starting to take their toll on the Raiders offense. The loser of this game will be in rough shape for a playoff spot so expect the intensity to be ratcheted up in this game. Also, with both teams being highly undisciplined expect this game to take about 6 hours due to all the penalties that will be called. Good ole Sea Bass is due for a game winning kick.
Prediction: Oakland 27, Detroit 24
New England (10-3) at Denver (8-5), New England favored by 6
As mentioned above this is the game of the weekend. All logic says that the Patriots should roll the Broncos. But you have to throw logic out the window when picking a Denver game. The Patriots offense has been on a roll during their five game winning streak, but as we saw for about a three game stretch earlier this season, they can be slowed down. I like the Denver defense to keep the Broncos in the game and Tebow to start to lead another 4th quarter rally. However, this time, the drive will be stopped by a Julian Edelman interception, and the Patriots will wrap up the AFC East.
Prediction: New England 22, Denver 19
New York Jets (8-5) at Philadelphia (5-8), Philadelphia favored by 3
Vegas still loves the Dream Team, inserting them as three point favorites despite their losing record. They also are ignoring how bad Philadelphia has been at home the past year, where they have lost eight of their last nine. I would be more inclined to pick the Eagles if this game was at the New Meadowlands, where Philly tends to play well. The Jets seem to have found their running game recently and I expect Shonn Greene to continue to run the ball well and propel the Jets to their fourth straight win.
Prediction: New York Jets 23, Philadelphia 21
Cleveland (4-9) at Arizona (6-7), Arizona favored by 7
Here come the Cardinals! Kevin Kolb may return for this game, but John Skelton has also showed that he is just as capable of throwing the ball and hoping Larry Fitzgerald makes a super human play. It is looking like Seneca Wallace will get the start for the Browns, which actually might be good news. If you look at Wallace's career stats they actually aren't that bad, and he is a good runner that can be hard to track down. With this win, the Cardinals once at 1-6, will have climbed all the way back to .500.
Prediction: Arizona 20, Cleveland 15
Baltimore (10-3) at San Diego (6-7), Baltimore favored by 2 1/2
The Chargers win two straight games against teams with a combined record of 9-18 and everyone wants to start up the "here come the Chargers" nonsense. The Chargers get to face a big boy team Sunday night, and when the clock is winding down and Philip Rivers is making guh huh face, and Norv Tuner appears flummoxed, people will wonder why the hell they ever keep believing in the Chargers.
Prediction: Baltimore 23, San Diego 16
Monday, December 19
Pittsburgh (10-3) at San Francisco (10-3), No Line
Last week's loss was brutal for the 49ers. You can't lose when you are up 19-7 in the second half against a team being quarterbacked by John Skelton. Red zone problems are plaguing the 49ers right now and it finally cost them. The 49ers have no problem scoring outside the red zone but getting touchdowns inside the 20 has become almost impossible for them. Now they are tied with the Saints for the number two spot in the playoffs and have to host the 10-3 Steelers on Monday night. Ben Roethlisberger is questionable but I expect him to play, so it will be up to the 49ers defense, and Aldon Smith and Justin Smith to make Ben have to move around on his bum ankle. This will be a defensive slugfest and the winner will be the team that makes the fewest mistakes. The Niners need a win badly, because a loss all but guarantees they won't get a first round bye and will have to go to New Orleans if they win their Wild Card game. The Steelers will be just as desperate as they try to keep pace with the Ravens in the AFC North. This will feel like an old school Monday night game. I like the Niners, for no other reason than being a homer.
Prediction: San Francisco 17, Pittsburgh 16
Last Week Straight Up: 13-3
Overall Straight Up: 132-76
Last Week Against the Spread: 9-7
Overall Against the Spread: 106-97-5