Last week’s Record: Tom 9-7, Jesse 9-7
Overall Record: Jesse 141-98-1, Tom 145-94-1
THUD NFL PICKS WEEK SEVENTEEN: THE WORLD’S END
Before we get started, I’d like to say a big “THANK YOU” (see how big that was?) to all those that have kept up with our column this year. I came into it late last year, so 17 weeks was a loooong time to spit this stuff out this time around. I’d also like to thank my partner in crime, Jesse, who jumped right in and rolled this season-long jam with me. Hope you all have enjoyed it–even if only for the pics–and we’ll keep it going right up through the Super Bowl. Happy Festivus, Merry Christmas, Joyeux Noel, and we’ll see you in 2014.
Carolina at Atlanta
Tom: Carolina pulled off a win over the Saints partly in a monsoon last week, and the Falcons almost ruined the final game in Candlestick Park for the 49ers, but a bobbled pass from Harry Douglas turned into a pick-6 that iced it. These two teams always play each other tough, no matter what the record, and the Falcons have played pretty hard the past few weeks. But this is for the NFC South crown and maybe even a bye, so the Panthers will be ready to play.
Jesse: First of all, I just want to add to the kind words Tom said above: Ditto! Now on to the picks.
I applaud Atlanta for continuing to play tough. They’ve done what any fan of a crappy team could ask for, playing hard while still securing a high draft pick. This should be another close game. A Falcons win would make their season. Of course, they said that last week, too. I predict another gut-wrenching loss for the Falcons, on their way to picking up Jadeveon Clowney in next year’s draft.
Baltimore at Cincinnati
Jesse: Baltimore was embarrassed last week, to my surprise. I think they’ll rally to end the season on a good note, although it likely won’t be enough for them to make the playoffs. Backing into the playoffs after an ignominious defeat is the Bengal Way.
Tom: Two teams on the opposite ends of a beatin’ last week. The Bengals finally have won the AFC North (and feasibly could have done it a few weeks back), and the Ravens are now just fighting to make the playoffs. It’s hard for me to trust that Lewis will play his starters in a meaningless game for them. But it is a divisional opponent, and they are at home, where they have scored 40+ points 4 times in a row this season. And this just in…the Ravens offense is not great. The Pats probably should have shut them out last week, and they’ve scored 5 TD in the past four games. And speaking of New England, Cincinnati can secure a 2 seed if the Pats lose and they win this week.
Houston at Tennessee
Tom: The Titans shut down the Jags Juggernaut last week (much to my chagrin), and the Texans made it a game with the mighty Broncos for 3 quarters. The only thing I can cling to here is the belief that the Titans have better talent overall right now than the Texans and Houston is playing with a lame duck coach and starting TJ Yates.
Jesse: Come on, “Jaggernaut” was right there!
Last week, the Titans won their first game in the division. The worst thing to happen for the Titans would be a win so convincing that management decides not to fire Mike Munchak. I think that’s what will happen (Plus, since I’m 4 games behind Tom, I need to make a lot of ridiculous Hail Mary picks.)
Jacksonville at Indianapolis
Jesse: The Colts are going to the playoffs, and I think they’ll rest their players, which will play right into the hands of THE JAGGERNAUT! Also, it’s been entirely too long since I’ve posted this clip. TWO THREE FOUR!
Tom: Call me crazy, but I would not be surprised if Jacksonville won this game. I’m going with Indy (because I’m not that crazy), but with the RPI that the Colts have, they’d be a shoo-in for March Madness, but holy crap they lost to the worst teams this season.
NY Jets at Miami
Tom: “He Hate Me” game of the week. Screw both these teams (sorry, Fleed). Both of these teams have been the epitome of doing the opposite of what I pick. So you know what? I’ll hedge my bets and just take the zero.
Jesse: Wait, you can pass?!? I would have skipped half of the games this year. I’m no passer. I think the Jets will win to get to 8-8, putting the cherry on top of the Dolphins’ failure sundae. Or something.
Detroit at Minnesota
Jesse: The Lions collapsed predictably and hilariously, with Jim Schwartz cementing his status as the patron saint of trash-talking dum-dums. Anytime I throw my headphones to the ground in a big dumb huff, I’ll think of you Schwartzy. As for the game: Will the Lions even bother to get off the bus? I say no. Many things have been said about the Schwartz-era Lions. “Mentally tough” hasn’t been one of them.
Tom: Oh, Detroit. You had the NFC North title in your hands so many times this season, but when it came down to just winning at least one game you needed, you got Schwartz’d. Joique Bell tweeted out an apology to the fans, and presumably the Lions have already been talking to other coaches (like Bill O’Brien from Penn State). So Jim Schwartz, look at it this way–Millen was there two more years, but you almost equaled his win total. And below, you’ll see the scene immediately after this past Sunday’s game.
Washington at NY Giants
Tom: Boy did the Giants get lucky last week. And boy did the Redskins get unlucky. This game literally means nothing, and could be the last for both coaches. Although apparently Shanny’s contract is a bit harder to get out of. Coughlin seems to have lost the team, and so has Eli. Lots of divisional games this last weekend, so that adds some drama. I trust that the Giants will blow it more than Washington will win it. And hell, I have family that are Redskins fans.
Jesse: If I were one of those weak-willed types who would pass on a game, I would ditch this sucker in a heartbeat. However, I’m sturdy and strong-willed, like really thick cardboard, so I’ll go ahead and pick the Giants, solely because Tom picked the Redskins. (Reminder: please don’t use this column for gambling purposes.)
Cleveland at Pittsburgh
Jesse: The Browns’ season comes to a close, filled with that unique combination of horrific doom and slight optimism that makes the Browns, the Browns. The team played tough and were vastly improved over last year, yet Brandon Weeden was maybe the worst QB Cleveland has scene since their ‘99 return, which is amazing. The future looks promising for Cleveland. This is a roundabout way of saying that Pittsburgh is going to stomp Cleveland’s nuts in.
Tom: What a cluster of a game last week in Green Bay. As one commenter on Twitter put it, these two teams tried to out-stupid each other. The refs made a horrible call on the blocked FG and kept it up most of the game. But the Steelers held on to their thread-bare playoff hopes, and have to win this game to put that piece of the puzzle in place, and then get losses by the Ravens, Dolphins, and Chargers. And who’s there to stand in the way of Pittsburgh at home? Cue the Browns’ music. *Sanford & Son theme starts*
Green Bay at Chicago
Tom: When Aaron Rodgers got hurt, I was in Buenos Aires, Argentina with 3 of my co-workers from Wisconsin, who are all huge Packers fans. If I had told them then that the Packers would be playing for the NFC North title on the last weekend of the season, I’m sure they would have thought I had too much chimichurri in my system. But here we are. The Bears got absolutely blasted by the Eagles last week, and the Packers played in the aforementioned “Stupid Bowl” and essentially lost at the end on a false-start penalty. If Rodgers were somehow able to play this game, I’d go Pack all the way. But if you start comparing, both defenses are mediocre at best, and the Flynn-led Packers offense doesn’t compare with the Bears.
Jesse: The Bears are desperate to win, and I think their rivals are desperate to beat them. Incredibly, the Pack still has a chance at the playoffs. If the Bears insist on playing Cutler, and the Bears’ D continues to be the same awful Bears D they’ve been this season, then the Pack should win easily behind Offensive Rookie of the Year candidate Eddie Lacy. Sorry, Bears fans.
Denver at Oakland
Jesse: The Broncos have clinched, and I don’t think Peyton will play the whole game, especially after breaking the single-season TD record last week.
Tom: Denver needs this game to make sure they get the 1 seed in the AFC. The Raiders have a Black Hole. Peyton Manning has a lot of TD passes this year. The Raiders have a QB named McGloin. Begrudgingly, I’ll go with the record-maker.
Buffalo at New England
Tom: New England have already won the AFC East, but with the wacky playoff picture in the AFC, depending on multiple scenarios, the Pats could be as high as the 1 seed, or as low as the 4 seed. Or anything in-between. I think they can handle the winning thing, but the biggest problem they may face is having the 31st ranked run defense vs. two very good RBs in Spiller and Jackson.
Jesse: The Bills have a very good defense, which will do a fine job of keeping New England’s offense in check. I think Stephen Gostkowski will be the MVP of this game.
Tampa Bay at New Orleans
Jesse: New Orleans gets one last hurrah at home before a crushing road playoff loss.
Tom: The Saints are not good on the road, but they are not on the road here against a Bucs team that could be ready to implode.
San Francisco at Arizona
Tom: Arizona knocked off Seattle at home, and the 49ers almost got beat at home by the lowly Falcons. Was it a wake-up call for the 49ers? Well, Arizona has to win this game to even be considered for the playoffs, and if they do win, an 11-5 record may still not make it (while 9-7 would be good enough to win the NFC North and East). This is in the desert, and the Cardinals need this one, badly.
Jesse: It looks like the Cardinals won’t make the playoffs. I hope that doesn’t prevent Bruce Arians from winning the Coach of the Year award. The work he did with this team is remarkable. To beat Seattle on the road with your QB throwing 4 INTs was an early Christmas miracle, and I think a win this week will leave Cardinals fans wondering what might have been.
Kansas City at San Diego
Jesse: Speaking of narrowly missing the playoffs in painful fashion after a gutsy win to a superior opponent . . . The Chargers!
Tom: The Chiefs are in the playoffs in Andy Reid’s first year, regardless of the outcome of this game. But they need a win to keep the momentum going. San Diego is one of those teams that somehow still has a playoff shot (with a win + Ravens Loss + Dolphins Loss). The Chargers will sit again in 2013.
St. Louis at Seattle
Tom: Is it possible for the Seahawks to lose two at home in a row? No.
Jesse: The Seahawks’ offensive line sure looks vulnerable, doesn’t it? If you can rush the quarterback, you can beat the Seahawks. I think the Rams will try, but it won’t matter. Close, but Seattle wins and gets to enjoy their bye week.
Philadelphia at Dallas
Jesse: The last time Kyle Orton was starting regularly, he was benched for Tim Tebow. Now, he comes in to try and lead the Cowboys to the playoffs. If Orton were to lead Dallas to victory, it would likely lead to The Sports Pundit Apocalypse, with every TV blowhard on the planet having a Cowboys-inspired breakdown. For the good of our country, this can’t happen. And it won’t. Chip Kelly has brought innovation to the game, and I think he’ll be rewarded with a chance to coach in the playoffs.
Tom: This is it! The last regular season game of 2013! And this “Win or go home” game was flexed into the Sunday night game…and then we find out Tony Romo is out with a back injury…or is he? He kicked some pregnant woman out of her bed and got an epidural (that’s what I heard happened) and has not been ruled out for this week. So Kyle Orton will probably sta…wait, what’s that? MY GOD, THAT’S JON KITNA’S MUSIC! This could get ugly for the Cowboys. Like, really ugly. If the Eagles can just play average defense, they could still win by 4 touchdowns.
This is Rachel Washburn. She was an Eagles cheerleader:
And now a member of a special ops unit in the Army in Afghanistan:
So yeah, she’s kind of a badass. Merry Christmas to her and all of you out there that can’t be home because you’re overseas serving your country.