PlayBook: The Most Wonderful Time of the Year

By Fraser Lockerbie

Welcome everybody, to the best damn three days in sports.

We’re going to forgo our usual bad mouthing and banter this week in exchange for a more detailed look at potential playoff scenarios, of which there are many. Seven teams are 7-7 and four more are 8-6. Two are 9-5 and three divisions are still up for grabs coming into the holiday season and the three best damn days in sports. Between football on Saturday, basketball on Sunday, the World Juniors on Monday and a whole host Bowl games on the go, we’re going to be bunkered down in sports town for a while.

Let’s get to it:

Oakland (+2) over Kansas City

The Chiefs beating the Packers was a freak accident, an unnatural occurrence. Drops from the Packs top line receivers and limited mistakes from a Chiefs team that has made a bundle of them ended a 13-0 run. Before that the Chiefs had managed less on offense in six games than most teams put up in one. At 7-7 Oakland is in the race for both their division and the final AFC wild card spot and they’ve shown promise with Palmer at the helm. Bet they win this.

Denver (-3) PUSH Buffalo

If you exclude last week’s loss to the Pats, the Broncos have won three straight games by exactly three points against teams exactly like Buffalo. We’re taking our chances with the push.

Jacksonville (+7.5) over Tennessee

Injuries have downgraded Jacksonville’s otherwise spectacular defense to merely an average one, but the Titans got beat by the Colts last week. The then 0-13 Colts. Who are now the 2-13 Colts and in danger of losing the Suck for Luck sweepstakes they’ve been winning all year.

San Diego (+2.5) over Detroit

Hey everybody, guess what? San Diego is not the terrible six-straight loss team you thought they were and they have a legitimate shot at making playoffs. Here is how it breaks down: Cincy wins this week and loses the next to Baltimore, the Jets drop their last two to the Giants and Dolphins and San Diego dumps the Lions this week to be tied with and playing against Oakland for a 9-7 record and the final playoff spot. Does that sound reasonable to you? They’d win the tie breaker against Cincy. Shit, if the Broncos somehow do drop two straight the Chargers could win the division. Seriously guys, this is the same team we all made fun off three weeks ago.

Pittsburgh (-14) over St. Louis

The jury is still out on Sam Bradford but so is he. Out that is. Kellen Clemens will be taking his place; he is a quarterback who exists and for better or worse, will be playing football this Saturday. Sort of. His primary function will be Steven Jackson’s professional ball holder which is just a step up from his personal coat rack. The Steelers are still playing for a division and they’ll be playing hard after last week’s beating by the Niners.

Philadelphia (+2) over Dallas

The Eagles are still breathing in the NFC East despite a season wrought with inconsistency and underperformance. At 6-8, they’re two wins removed from the top spot and can cut that deficit in half with a win against the Cowboys on Saturday. But their fate is not really in their hands; the Giants will have to lose this week and beat the Cowboys in the next and Eagles will have to win both. What we’ll get is a three way tie that remarkably the Eagles will win. So much has to go right for the Eagles in a season where so much has already gone wrong.  As an aside: our string of incorrectly picking Eagles games continued last week. We’re now at 14 incorrect games in a row.

Atlanta (+6.5) over New Orleans

These two teams combined for 83 points last week and the fun will continue in ‘Nawlins with the magic number for an NFC playoff spot at ten and Atlanta knocking on the door with nine. No defense here folks, just an old fashioned shootout on the bayou.

Cincinnati (-4) over Arizona

It’s about time we talked a little about Andy Dalton, who came into this season with a lot of high profile guys in the industry questioning his ability. Well, he’s proven he can control a football game albeit with less flash than others. He can make passes, make plays, has shown a real knowledge of the game and found a bona fide running mate in AJ Green. Dalton alone has brought a team shrouded in mystery in Week One into the fold and vying for a playoff spot. All they need now is for the Jets to lose.

NY Giants (+3) over NY Jets

In fact a lot of teams need the Jets to lose and they will this week against the Giants for the sole reason that no one in Football is prepared to accept a Manning-less postseason. The Giants games are rigged from here on out. Bet them with confidence.

Baltimore (-12.5) over Cleveland

No one likes taking Baltimore to cover this many points but Cleveland is completely incapable of stopping the run. Coming off a loss and playing against a divisional opponent whose bad QB is being replaced by a worse one and whose entire right side of their offense is injured, Baltimore should be ok to cover 12.5.

Minnesota (+6.5) over Washington

There is very little logic behind this pick, just one of those feelings. The Harvin-Ponder-Peterson connection will click.

NFL Quick Slants: Miami (+9.5) over New England, Carolina (-7) over Tampa Bay, San Francisco (-1.5) over Seattle, Green Bay (-12) over Chicago.

NBA Quick Slants: LA Clippers (-5) over Golden State, Orlando (+7.5) over Oklahoma City, Chicago (PK) over LA Lakers, Dallas (+3.5) over Miami, New York (-3.5) over Boston.

Last Week: 10-5-1

Overall: 59-40-3


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