By Neil Keefe
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I might as well just republish my Christmas List from 2010 because it’s the same as this year’s. I asked for three things last year and received one, but didn’t receive that one until the last week of February. What did I ask for? I asked for the Yankees to add a front-end starter, the Giants to make the playoffs and the Knicks to trade for Carmelo Anthony.

The Yankees never added a front-end starter. Sure, later in the winter they added Bartolo Colon (a move I wrongly spoke out against), who pitched like a No. 2 starter for a stretch of the season, and Freddy Garcia, who ended up pitching Game 2/Game 3 of the postseason. But they never got the guy that would complement CC Sabathia for a full season and give the Yankees a dominant 1-2 punch in the playoffs. And they still haven’t gotten that guy.

Here’s an excerpt from what I said when I asked for this gift a year ago that still holds true today.

I have to suffer thinking about a rotation of CC Sabathia and Phil Hughes, and then A.J. Burnett, Ivan Nova and who knows who else? If you are in the group that trusts A.J. Burnett and for some reason thinks that he will be anything other than average at best, you are way too optimistic.

I wrote my Christmas List on Dec. 23 as well last year. The Sunday before the Giants melted down against the Eagles and blew a chance at winning the NFC and earning a first-round bye and ended up missing the playoffs entirely in what was quite the turn of events. But before they missed the playoffs entirely, I asked for them to make it. I didn’t know they would go on to get embarrassed by Green Bay and then beat the Redskins only to have the Bears lose to Green Bay in Week 17. But hey, they finished 10-6, and according to Tom Coughlin that was a good enough achievement for him even if he didn’t make the playoffs.

Here’s an excerpt from what I said when I asked for this gift a year ago that still holds true today.

January and February are bad enough. I don’t need to have to watch the NFL playoffs without the Giants participating while the Jets dominate the sports talk in the city and while my Boston friends get to sit back and enjoy a first-round bye with the Patriots. I don’t want the Giants to make the playoffs. I need the Giants to make the playoffs. Please make the playoffs!

I decided I’m going to keep the same list. I’m not going to add another thing. I’m just going to focus on these two things. I could ask for the Yankees to pay half of A.J. Burnett’s contract and send him off to Washington or Pittsburgh like Sweeny Murti suggested, but I don’t want to get my hopes up only to be let down later (I have the Giants for that). I could ask for Rangers and Knicks to make it an exciting spring at the Garden, but it looks like that will happen anyway. And I could ask for the Patriots to lose their first playoff game, but they will probably do that without me needing to ask for it.

As for my picks, well let’s just say they haven’t gone that well. I thought about asking for a strong finish to the NFL picks season too, but I decided that at this point it’s not worth it. I went into last week hoping for a strong finish to the last three weeks of the season and then I went 8-7-1, which isn’t exactly going to chip away at my under-.500 record or get to me where I need to be at the end of Week 17. I have accepted the fact that this might be a lost regular season (starting off Week 16 with a loss thanks to the Texans didn’t help) and that I will need to make it up in the postseason.

So, now it’s time for an all-out blitz of Christmas music through the weekend before I have to reuse my playlist of sad songs I created last year for Cliff Lee to help ease the pain of another wasted year of Eli Manning’s prime if the Giants lose to the Jets. (And no, I can’t think of a worse Christmas present than the Giants being eliminated from the playoffs and helping the Jets reach the playoffs and then having to hear from Rex Ryan and Jets fans about it.) There’s just two weeks of 16 games of football left, so enjoy them. I’m going to try to.

Week 16 … lets go!

(Home team in caps)

Houston -7 over INDIANAPOLIS
The Texans’ loss didn’t just have big first-round bye implications on Thursday night, but it also impacted the Andrew Luck sweepstakes, which the Colts had locked up at 0-13 two weeks ago. But with two straight wins, the Colts now have the same amount of wins as the Vikings and Rams. But hey, congratulations to the Colts on winning a meaningless game on Thursday!

New York Giants +3 over NEW YORK JETS
I have no faith in the Giants in this game. I have more faith in Mark Teixeira or Nick Swisher to get a hit with runners in scoring position in the playoffs. Do I want the Giants to win? Yes. Do I think they will? Ehh, kind of. But should they win? Probably not. If the Giants win, and then go on to lose to the Cowboys then the Christmas Eve win will have been for nothing, but bragging rights in a city with two underachieving teams. And if they win and then beat the Cowboys, there’s a good chance that they will get embarrassed at home in the first round of the playoffs. And while reaching the playoffs is the goal, reaching the playoff and losing in the first round is an issue because just clinching a berth will likely save the jobs of the coaching staff, and it’s clear that it’s time for some sort of change on the sideline.

KANSAS CITY -2.5 over Oakland
I love Romeo Crennel as a head coach even though most people don’t and rightfully so. Maybe he is better off as a coordinator, but the team is 1-0 with a win over the defending champions with him as head coach, and that’s a good place for him to start with his resume for the Chiefs job in 2012 and beyond.

Denver -3 over BUFFALO
I desperately want Tim Tebow in the playoffs, and the Broncos will need to beat the Bills and fend off the Raiders and Chargers to make this possible.

TENNESSEE -7 over Jacksonville
If you have watched the Jaguars lately, you know there is no way you can take them in any game with any spread.

Arizona +4 over CINCINNATI
I like the Cardinals to beat the Bengals for My Upset of the Week.

Miami +10 over NEW ENGLAND
I don’t trust the 2011 Patriots to cover even if they did go into Denver last week and win by 18 points. These late-season Patriots-Dolphins games always seem to be tricky, and 10 points is just a little too high for me.

BALTIMORE -12.5 over Cleveland
Is there a team that needs home-field advantage more in the playoffs than the Ravens? They have lost to the Titans, Jaguars and Seahawks on the road and got blown out last week in San Diego. But at home, the Ravens are 7-0 and are winning by an average of 13.4 points in Baltimore.

Minnesota +6.5 over WASHINGTON
I actually like the Vikings to win this game. Why? Because the potentially playoff-bound Giants couldn’t beat the Redskins, so it only makes sense that the two-win Vikings will.

CAROLINA -7.5 over Tampa Bay
I don’t feel sorry for anyone that takes the Buccaneers to cover in Week 16 after a season of embarrassing performances. The Bucs haven’t won since Oct. 16 when they somehow beat the Saints. I still have no idea how this happened and want to believe that it didn’t actually happen.) But since that win, they have lost eight games including four by double digits. The Panthers beat them by 19 just three weeks ago in Tampa Bay. And if that isn’t enough for you … two weeks ago, the Jaguars beat the Bucs 41-14. The Jaguars!

St. Louis +17 over PITTSBURGH
I don’t know how Ben Roethlisberger can play through his ankle injury after watching him painfully hobble without being able to scramble around. I don’t like taking the Rams here with out without Sam Bradford, but I don’t think I have a choice.

DETROIT -2.5 over San Diego
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 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.

San Francisco -2 over SEATTLE
The 49ers just keep on winning with Alex Smith as their quarterback, and it all has to do with coaching and discipline. Jim Harbaugh has done a near-perfect job of limiting Smith’s abilities and preventing turnovers. Could you imagine if Tom Coughlin was the head coach of the 49ers this season? It would be utter chaos. And how about the insane statistic that the 49ers haven’t allowed a rushing touchdown this season?

Philadelphia +1.5 over DALLAS
If the Cowboys lose then the Giants can lose to the Jets and still beat the Cowboys in Week 17 and make the playoffs. If the Cowboys win and the Giants lose then Week 17 doesn’t matter for the Giants. But if the Cowboys lose and the Giants lose and then the Giants win in Week 17 and the Eagles win in Week 17 then the Eagles make the playoffs. Why do I feel like this is going to happen? Probably because the Giants and Eagles have enjoyed torturing me for the last three years. They might as well make it a fourth.

Chicago +12.5 over GREEN BAY
This is when it gets tricky. Are the Packers going to be resting players? Is Aaron Rodgers going to play the entire game? Whenever you have to ask these questions, it might be time to take the team getting 12.5 points.

Atlanta +7 over NEW ORLEANS
These teams seem to always play tight games, so the Saints playing in the Superdome doesn’t scare me as much as it would if they weren’t playing the Falcons.

Merry Christmas!

Last Week: 8-7-1
Season: 104-113-10

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