Saturday, December 31, 2011

TRG: Pick 6 Week 17

Happy New Year's Eve, everyone! I hope you all enjoy the holiday weekend. 2011 sure felt like a quick year to me, and the end of the regular season is already here. After a couple of down weeks, I need to start the new year off with a win. There are some interesting matchups this week, and as usual in week 17, which teams may be resting which players is always an issue. The good news is that most of the playoff teams have a little something to play for, with Green Bay being the only team that really has no reason to play this week. Throw in a few "win-and-in" games and it should be an exciting weekend of football.
Good luck, Happy New Year, and here are the final picks of the regular season.

San Francisco -10 over ST. LOUIS

It was only 4 weeks ago that San Francisco stomped St. Louis 26-0, in San Francisco. I'm pretty sure home field isn't going to save the Rams this week, either. Fresh off a 27-0 shutout loss in Pittsburgh, the Rams are in danger of being held scoreless again. Recently signed QB Kellen Collins is leading the offense and it hasn't been pretty these past few weeks. The Niners have to win this game to secure the #2 seed in the NFC and a first round bye, so they will be playing their starters deep into this game to make sure that happens. The defense may have Patrick Willis returning this week, and they'll be out for blood after surrendering both a rushing TD and 100+ yards to Marshawn Lynch. SF should dominate this game.

ATLANTA -11 over Tampa Bay

It's always nice taking the Falcons at home, but it's even nicer betting against the Bucs lately. In their past four games, they're 0-4 ATS and have lost by margins of 19, 27, 16, and 32. In addition to trying to recoup some momentum after being embarrassed by the Saints last week, Atlanta can move up to the #5 seed in the event Detroit loses to Green Bay. Regardless of whether or not this game holds any playoff implications for the Falcons, it's too hard to pass up betting against a team getting blown out every week. With many rumors out there about the likely possibility of Bucs coach Raheem Morris getting fired, it seems he's lost control of the team. Falcons coach Mike Smith said they won't rest their starters this week, and I believe him; nobody wants to back into the playoffs. Look for the Falcons to win big.

Lynch is on fire, and had a TD and 100+ yards last week.
Seattle +3 over ARIZONA

Both the Seahawks and the Cardinals have had impressive second halves to the year, with both teams entering this game at 7-8. The last meeting between these two teams was all the way back in week 3, and Seattle won 13-10. Marshawn Lynch, though, has since become a dominant runner for Seattle, and despite the loss to the Niners last week, the Seahawks are 3-0-1 ATS over their last four. The Cardinals have gone 2-2 ATS over the same span. Statistically, I don't see any reason for this not to be a close game. The matchups may favor Seattle slightly, as their defense is above average, whereas the Cardinals are slightly below average, but nothing jumps out at me. The Seahawks will feed Lynch the ball and he should continue to find success, and expect Skelton to hook up with Fitzgerald for at least a couple of big plays. I'm expecting a one-possession game in the end, but I think Seattle is a more complete team at this point. I'm giving them the edge, and the points make it a little easier.

Chicago +1.5 over MINNESOTA

With the loss of Adrian Peterson, the Vikings offense is running out of weapons. The Vikings had lost 6 in a row prior to last week's win over the Redskins. The Bears haven't won a game since they've lost Jay Cutler, but the offense showed some life last week, with Josh McCown passing for 242 yards and Khalil Bell rushing for 127 yards. The Vikings defense is in shambles, and the Bears defense is still capable of shutting teams down at times. It promises to be an ugly game, but I think the Bears are more than capable of earning an ugly win in this game and ending their season on a high note. The Vikings have given up 137 points in their past four games, an average of 34.25 points per game. They're lucky they won last week.

NEW ENGLAND -10 over Buffalo

The money has been going on Buffalo and moved this line down, but I like it at 10. The Bills may have dismantled the Broncos last week, but a lot of that success was a direct result of Tebow's turnovers. Ryan Fitzpatrick only threw for 196 yards, and CJ Spiller only ran for 111. They should definitely find success against the Patriots defense (who doesn't?), but the Patriots will pour it on against the Bills 24th ranked defense. The Patriots need a win to secure the #1 seed, they want to avenge an early season loss against the Bills, they're at home, and Tom Brady can move ahead Dan Marino (and possibly Drew Brees if the Saints sit him) for passing yards in a single season. Bill Belichik also has a reputation for playing his starters well into the second half of these games at the end of the regular season, so I'm not worried about key players resting too much. The Pats will cover this one easily.

Baltimore -2 over CINCINNATI

Rookie WR AJ Green (1,031 yards, 7 TDs) has had a huge year.
I'm like a moth to a flame with these Baltimore Ravens. They hung me out to dry last week, but I still don't see them losing this game. There's simply too much at stake. They'd lose the division title, a first-round bye, and any chance of hosting a game in the playoffs if they lose this game to the Bengals. Couple that with the fact that the Bengals are 1-6 against teams with a winning record this year, and I think the Ravens will find a way to come out on top. The Ravens are 3-4 ATS on the road and the Bengals are 3-4 ATS at home, so I don't see a big home-field advantage here. Baltimore won the last meeting 31-24 in week 11. The big matchup here is going to be AJ Green against the Baltimore secondary, who rank 4th in passing defense this year. If the Ravens can contain Green, the Bengals offense will struggle. I think the Ravens will pull through.

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