Keefe To The City: NFL Week 17 Picks
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By Neil Keefe
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I’m too scared to write anything about the Giants because I’m scared of their Week 17 game. Actually I’m petrified. The Giants should win this game, but whenever the Giants are in the perfect position to win a game, they lose. There’s no possible way any Giants fan can feel confident about this do-or-die situation for their team given the way they have played from week to week and especially not this week since they are home.
I need a miracle this Sunday and I’m not talking about the Giants-Cowboys game. I need a miracle to finish the regular season picks season at .500, but it’s not likely. It’s nearly impossible, and for as bad of a situation that they have, I would gladly switch places with the Jets right now considering they have a 9.7-percent chance of making the playoffs. What’s my chance of finishing the season at .500? It has to be somewhere around five percent and maybe less.
I usually use this space to write about the Giants (and sometimes the Jets), but I don’t know what to say about the New York Football Giants at this point. This Week 17 matchup on Sunday Night Football scares me more than any Giants game since Super Bowl XLII. No, the ramifications aren’t as significant or historical as XLII, but the possibility of a loss this Sunday means the Giants miss the playoffs for the third straight year, waste a year of Eli Manning’s prime and set up complete turnover for the coaching staff in 2012. (Thinking about that last point, maybe a loss isn’t so bad?)
This Sunday night will have a major impact on the future of the Giants and what this team will look like next season. Right now, I’m too nervous to get too high or too low on this Giants team, which has reached both extremes several times this season. That will all change following the game on Sunday, but for now, let’s get to the last week of 16 picks for the year.
Week 17 … let’s go!
(Home team in caps)
PHILADELPHIA -8.5 over Washington
The Eagles will win this game and finish the season at 8-8, which will make their fans think about what could have been if they had only a closed out just one of their fourth-quarter collapses. It will also put the Eagles in a tough spot when deciding what to do with the future of the team with Andy Reid since had they just all-out tanked, the decision would have been made for them. But an 8-8 record and one game out of the playoff race makes their decision a tough one.
San Francisco -10.5 over ST. LOUIS
I don’t know if the 49ers are going to rest people or not, but I don’t care. I will not let the Rams get the best of me in their final game of the season. I have let them do that too many times already this season.
Chicago +1.5 over MINNESOTA
The Bears haven’t won a game since Jay Cutler was injured. The Vikings won last week for the first time since Oct. 30 and just the third time all year. I will take a Josh McCown-led team over an Adrian Peterson-less one.
Detroit -3 over GREEN BAY
The Packers are going to rest everyone (as they should), while the Lions have something to play for since their postseason position is still up in the air.
NEW ORLEANS -8 over Carolina
I don’t think I will ever pick against Drew Brees at home in the Superdome for as long as he plays for the Saints. I have been burned too many times by Brees and the Who Dat Nation, and I’m embarrassed to have picked against them so many times at home.
Tennessee -3 over HOUSTON
The Texans are probably going to lose in the first round of the playoffs. But after losing to the Panthers in Week 15, the Colts in Week 16 and the Titans in Week 17, it won’t be as devastating of a blow as it could have been for their fans.
Indianapolis +3.5 over JACKSONVILLE
The Colts have won back-to-back games and that’s normal for the Colts at this time of the year. The only problem is they were supposed to lay A.J. Burnett-like eggs every week and win maybe one game in order to get Andrew Luck. Now they have put together consecutive wins behind Dan Orlovsky and are tied with the Rams with two wins. The entire front office must be enraged along with the Colts fans that recognize losses are needed for the future of the franchise. I have a bad feeling that the current Colts will do something stupid this week like win again.
New York Jets +3 over MIAMI
The Jets need to win and have the Bengals lose and the Titans lose or tie and the Raiders lose or tie. Or they need to win and have the Bengals lose and the Titans lose or tie and the Broncos lose or tie.
I want the Dolphins to win and put the Jets out of their misery, but I also want the Jets to win and then spend the day scoreboard watching as a team hoping that they can hit the kind of parlay they hit in 2009 to make the playoffs only to watch the Broncos and Raiders both win during the 4:00 games.
Buffalo +10.5 over NEW ENGLAND
The Patriots haven’t lost since the Giants beat them in Week 9, and in that time they have won by an average of 15 points. Everything about this game and this season and these two teams suggests I should take the Patriots, but I don’t trust the worst No. 1 seed in recent years.
ATLANTA -11.5 over Tampa Bay
The Buccaneers have lost nine games in a row by 32, 16, 27, 19, 6, 9, 28, 9 and six. They have scored more than 19 points once over that span.
If you took the Bucs with any regularity in 2011, you were foolish. And if you take them in Week 17 knowing what you know about them, you deserve to lose.
Baltimore -2 over CINCINNATI
The Ravens have been a bad road team (losses in Tennessee, Jacksonville, Seattle and San Diego), but this game has serious playoff implications and I can’t shake the image of the Bengals almost blowing a 23-0 fourth-quarter lead to the Cardinals last week at home. If the Cardinals have completed the comeback that would have kept the Jets alive more than they currently are in the AFC playoff picture and no one wanted that.
Pittsburgh -7 over CLEVELAND
It doesn’t matter if Ben Roethlisberger is playing or Charlie Batch because seven points isn’t enough for a team that’s playing for the possibility of a first-round bye against a team whose only four wins are against the Colts (Week 2), Dolphins (Week 3), Seahawks (Week 7) and Jaguars (Week 11).
OAKLAND -3 over San Diego
Last week the Chargers took a three-game winning streak to Detroit and got back into the playoff race and turned America back into believers of Norv Turner, Philip Rivers and the Chargers. Fortunately I didn’t fall for their annual trap. Here’s what I said last week about the Chargers.
The Chargers are sucking everyone back in, but not me. I have seen this story before, and I know how it ends. The Chargers win a few games convincingly and get back into the playoff race and start gaining believers again. Then everyone picks them and they lay an egg, and no one can believe how they have bought into the Chargers again. Well, this year I won’t be one of those people.
And I wasn’t.
DENVER -3 over Kansas City
The last time Kyle Orton started a game in Denver, the Broncos fans let him have it with some of the loudest boos of the year. The only problem is that Orton was on the Broncos the last time he started a game in Denver. Orton would certainly like to go back to Denver and show John Elway and John Fox that they made the wrong decision by going with Tim Tebow, but they didn’t.
Seattle +3 over ARIZONA
The last NFC West game of the year is like the last day of school in that at this point in the year no one cares and it’s a joke and you can’t wait for it to end. But who knows, maybe in 2012 the NFC West won’t suck so much? (I can’t lie. I kept less of a straight face than Jimmy Fallon during his Saturday Night Live career when I wrote that sentence.)
NEW YORK GIANTS -3 over Dallas
Get me to the second season, Giants! Get me to the second season!
Happy New Year!
Last Week: 6-9-1
Follow Neil on Twitter @NeilKeefe