NAPC! WEEK 17

Robert Gilbert breaks down what he thinks will happen in week 17.

Saturday Night Game- New York Giants @ Washington Redksins

Man, if the Giants cannot even get up for Tiki Barber's last home game, who the heck thinks they can get up for a tough road game against a division rival? The Giants are still spiraling downward, folks. It's a sad sight for all Giants fans, as they turn on Bruce Springsteen and relive the Glory Days. Between Jeremy Shockey bashing the coaching staff, Tiki Barber's imminent retirement, and Michael Strahan's injury-riddled season, there's just not much left at all. Meanwhile, the Giants look over at the success that the Chargers are having off of the infamous Eli Manning deal, in which the Chargers have now ended up with three Pro Bowlers, and sink even further into the pit of despair. The Redskins, on the other hand, are looking up right now. They've had a roller-coaster year, but it looks like drafting Jason Campbell was the right choice after all. To me, they need to start adding in a few more pieces on defense and then they'll be a contender versus a pretender. The Carolina Panthers need the Giants to lose this week, so we'll go with the Redskins for the victory at home to close out the year.

Atlanta @ Philadelphia

Some people need to get their rear ends kicked after the debacle down in Atlanta last week. Ed Donatell apparently forgot how to defend plays from the 1940s as Dan Henning went with an old trick, as opposed to a new one. This tells us a couple of things, one, that you can't teach an old dog a new trick, two, that Ed Donatell must have never studied old game film (there's a reason the forward pass was invented), and three, that Dan Henning needs luck to win as an offensive coordinator in this league. That third isn't very reassuring. Anyway, Carolina set a franchise record with 52 rushes against Atlanta, running all over the Birds. Atlanta's offense also couldn't get anything going all day either, so in essence, it was a poor performance all around for the Falcons. The Eagles pulled off the win over the Cowboys and now, shockingly, are playing for the division championship. If they win, they win the division. If they lose AND the Cowboys lose, they still win the division. Of course, if Philly loses and Dallas wins, then Dallas takes the division. Got that? It is deuced odd that when Donovan McNabb went down we all thought the Eagles were dead, but instead they're now contending for the division crown. That isn't right, people! What I wouldn't give to have a backup like Jeff Garcia instead of Chris Weinke…anyway, much as I hate the Eagles, I hate the Falcons more and will pick the Eagles to win.

Buffalo @ Baltimore

Whenever I'm riding up the East Coast traveling through Maryland, I've always liked looking at the Orioles' and Ravens' stadiums as I'm riding along the highway. There's just something cool about those large structures and the delights that just may be inside. In this case, though, there're no delights to be found, just the Bills and the Ravens squaring off. Lovely, wouldn't you say? As it is, J.P. Losman has been playing MUCH better than usual lately. I wonder if he's finally coming around? I remember hopping on the NFL.com gametracker for the Bills game Christmas weekend, and seeing that Lee Evans only had two catches with at least 3 other guys in front of him. Losman was actually spreading the ball around! Alert the presses, the Bills found a quarterback! Fascinating, as Leonard Nimoy would say. Or wait, was that Spock? Never mind then. The Ravens are tough to beat at home (although Carolina did it, and Jake Delhomme threw for a career-high in yards! Beat that, suckers!), and the Bills are an enigma. Between the two, I think I'll take a Baltimore victory this week.

WEEKLY UPSET GAME- CAROLINA @ NEW ORLEANS

All right, so I'm cheating a little bit this week by choosing my team as the upset game, but a) it's an upset, and b) I don't like any of the other upset options! So sue me, but don't that that literally. I'd rather not get embroiled in a legal battle. I do have some lawyer friends though, so you better watch out! Oh, that reminds me…*turns on ABBA to the song "Watch Out"* "Ooo you better watch out baby any where you go I'll find you…" Right, anyway, back to work now. (Ya happy, Brad?) Carolina went WAY old school in the victory over Atlanta last week. Now, once again, us Carolina fans are being teased with the thread of our playoff hopes again dangled in front of us. WILL THIS TEAM DECIDE WHAT IT WANTS AND DO WHATEVER IT TAKES TO GET IT ALREADY? Win at any cost, baby. I know that's not sexy, but we gotta git'er'done, to steal UNC's motif. Man alive, I want Jake Delhomme back. Chris Weinke could barely get a pass off last Sunday, and it wasn't for a lack of protection, either. Sure, sure, he got sacked 3 or 4 times on 11 or 12 drop-backs, but all of his sacks came when he was standing still like a robot or something, locked in on one guy (probably Steve Smith, not that Weinke ever gave him any shot to do anything. The only throws that really went Smith's way went out-of-bounds.) and when that one guy was not open, he'd panic and get dropped a second or two later. Heck, you could see on the replays how panicky he got. Hello! You're a 34 year-old veteran quarterback, you're not supposed to panic back there, that's a rookie mistake! Thank God we still won, even if we lose to the Saints, it's nice knocking the Falcons out of the playoffs. Anyway, it's Carolina over the Saints to make it into the playoffs. KEEP THE DREAM ALIVE!

Cleveland @ Houston

Ugh, this is definitely this week's edition of The Game No One Cares About. Cleveland looked infinitely mediocre against Tampa Bay last week, but Houston managed the upset over the Indianapolis Colts, winning for the first time ever against that franchise. That's nice, honey. Aside from the dream, how'd you sleep? Oh wait, you mean they actually won?!?!?!?! Wow. Now there's a shocker for you. What the heck happened to the Colts this year? Oh sure, they won the division and will be in the playoffs, that's just like normal. What I'm referring to is the inexplicable lack of winning going on with the Colts. I guess we're all just spoiled about their 13 wins or so on average every year. Somebody needs to fix that rush defense because it's getting embarrassing…Ron Dayne is the latest running back to enjoy great success against them. Well, I'll go with the Texans over the Browns.

Detroit @ Dallas

You know what's really lame? Jon Kitna has more turnovers than 23 other TEAMS. Naturally, they aren't all Kitna's fault, but that's sure not a good statistic to have under your belt. Detroit nearly beat Chicago last week but couldn't manage it, whereas Dallas flopped when faced with real pressure to win. Once again, Tony Romo faded under attack. *giggle snort, "I love it," said Rosco Coltrane.* And I really do. Man I don't like the Cowboys. Cowboys, Falcons, and Raiders, those are the big three teams I'd never ever root for. I suppose if I got drafted by one of those three teams someday, I'd play my butt off for them, but I know one thing, I wouldn't be interested in re-signing there if any other team were interested in me. Hint hint, Carolina. Or New England, so long as Bill Belichek is still the coach. Anyway, Dallas seems to me to be an "every other week" team, in that every other week they explode. Well, they shouldn't have many problems exploding against the lowly Lions this week. Dallas takes it, much as I dislike them. I wouldn't be disappointed one bit if Detroit pulled off the unthinkable, though.

Jacksonville @ Kansas City

Larry Johnson and his Chiefs took care of business against the Raiders last week, but will perhaps find things a bit tougher going up against the Jags this time around. Shockingly enough, New England did survive the Jaguars and I got the prediction right. I appreciate that, people, I really do. To be totally honest with you, my faithful readers (I'm pretty certain I've got at least three, and you know who you are), I have no earthly clue what to expect from either team in this game. I could make a convincing case for each of them, but I'm not sure which one. Larry Johnson will probably just concede this year's rushing title to LaDainian Tomlinson, but you never know. I think it's still sort of plausible for him to overtake Mr. LT the 2nd. Maurice Jones-Drew has been having a VERY productive rookie season in the NFL. So, after guys like Sam Mills, Steve Smith, and Maurice Jones-Drew, does ANYONE still buy into the "he's too short to play in the NFL" crud? Riiight, I thought so. You know what, for the heck of it I'll go out on a limb and pick the Chiefs to win at home to close out the season.

Miami @ Indy

Oh man, I don't wanna pick this game! Will the real Indianapolis Colts please step forward, or not? And what about the Dolphins? Talk about a here-again, gone-again team. I haven't heard anything on Ronnie Brown recently, except that there was a possibility he could play against the Jets but Sammy Morris would still get the start. That tells me Brown will probably play some against Indy, which means Indy better do something, because Morris and Brown are both pretty effective runners. On the other hand, the Dolphins could lose just because of this guy named Joey Harrington at quarterback. I can't say enough about the awesome season Jason Taylor has been having, what a great player. Imagine a defense that had Taylor and Julius Peppers on it. Wow, that'd be awesome. Anyway, before I get lost in la-la land, let's go with the Colts over the Dolphins.

New England @ Tennessee

Well, both teams pulled out close victories for me last week. I'll admit I was worried about the Titans game, but another victory in the books for Vince Young. It'll be interesting to see how Bill Belichek has his defense handle the Titans offensive attack. Tom Brady, claimed by some to be the hottest guy on the earth (you know who you are) is just as good as ever back there in the pocket, but I bet ya he still wishes he had Deion Branch at wide receiver. Or at least David Givens. I've seen some mock drafts that have the Patriots taking Jeff Samardzija, and I got to say that's a pretty smart move if they do go that route. However, let's not be looking too far ahead, they still have a Super Bowl run to make. New England takes home a victory over the Titans this week.

Oakland @ New York Jets

So, does anyone just want to forget having a franchise in Oakland? They MIGHT be able to do something in about ten years, but they sure as heck don't appear to have anything right now. Let's discourse upon happier subjects, such as the *gasp* playoff hopes of the Jets. It's hard to believe, but Chad Pennington has been doing a good job this season and somehow or another the Jets have been finding ways to win enough games to get themselves into contention. It sure as heck isn't pretty, but it's working. I guess drafting D'Brickashaw Ferguson and Nick Mangold was a good idea, eh? Now, they need a running back. I'll go with the Jets over the Raiders, leaving the Raiders at 2-14 on the season. Chew on that, why don't you?

Pittsburgh @ Cincinnati

Well, I don't know about you folks, but I'm steamed at the Steelers. They needed to win against the Ravens and they decided to take the day off. I don't appreciate that at all. Now, I think they're pretty much eliminated from playoff contention. Definitely not happy am I. I wanted them to win out and sneak into the playoffs again, just like last year. Cincy, on the other hand, has been fighting as hard as it could lately, but is all but knocked out at this point. Poor Bengals, I've always liked them. The whole down-trodden underdog team getting good, you get the picture. I've always felt for their fans and what they've had to go through. It's certainly not as bad as in Cleveland, though. Carson Palmer rocks, by the way. Great quarterback they've got there. This game is hard to choose, but I think I'll go with the home team and choose Cincy to win it.

Seattle @ Tampa Bay

So far as I know, with San Francisco's loss to Arizona, that knocked them out of division title contention. I believe that means Seattle is practically guaranteed the division title now. I don't think they've beaten the Super Bowl loser curse or the Madden curse, though. They've still got to make it through the playoffs and they won't have homefield advantage all the way through. Tampa Bay won last week with Tim Rattay at the helm, but I think the jubilation will be short-lived. I'm definitely thinking they need some major help. The higher-ups in Tampa can't be happy with two top-ten draft picks in 3 years, I wonder if Jon Gruden's rope is getting shorter. Can't say I'd be sorry to see him go, though. Guess I'll go with Seattle on the road over the Bucs.

St. Louis @ Minnesota

Thank you Steven Jackson! Steve, my fantasy running back, has definitely been a major asset for me this season, especially with his 37 point day against the Redskins. Now, as a reward, he gets to face the league's number one rush defense. Sounds like fun! Unfortunately for the Vikings at this point, they have absolutely no offense, so they have to rely on their defense to beat the Rams. I don't think that'll happen, but you never know. They held the ‘mighty' Packers offense to 9 points whilst scoring 7 of their own, but it wasn't enough. I don't think it'll be enough this time around either, as the Rams win it.

Arizona @ San Diego

LaDainian Tomlinson failed to score a touchdown? What the heck is the world coming to? Did you know that was the first time he had failed to score since Week Seven?!?! However, even without scoring the Chargers still won. Now that's cool. The Chargers also rock, if no one had noticed that. One could almost say they're electric. Antonio Gates zipped right back into action with two catches for 63 yards. Larry Fitzgerald and Anquan Boldin are probably both ready to do as best they can, since they won't be playing any more til next year. Although, that's not entirely true, Boldin will be playing at the Pro Bowl. They've got motivation this week, though, that's for sure. Motivation won't be enough, though, as even the Chargers backups can win. Chargers win it.

San Fran @ Denver

Frank Gore scored two touchdowns against the Cardinals but still lost. Bet you he would have been happy to have scored 0 times and won. Didn't work out that way, though. Oh well. Jay Cutler continues to prove why he was regarded so highly coming into the draft, as he continues to show he can play in this league. Keep it going, man. I love that rocket arm you've got. And Tony Scheffler, he's got some skills also. Definitely a great one-two punch in Javon Walker and Scheffler, and don't forget the running game. Give it a year or two and nothing's gonna stop the Broncos from winning loads of games. Except, maybe, the Chargers and a few other teams, but gimme a break here people! Denver goes out on a high note with a win over the Niners.

Sunday Night Football Green Bay Packers @ Chicago Bears

I'm surely looking forward to this game. Brett Favre has willed his team into a shot at the playoffs and now only has to beat a banged up Bears team. The Bears will also probably be resting some starters, making it a bit easier for Favre and Co. Unfortunately, if Green Bay wins it knocks Carolina out of contention. Ouch. I really don't like that, but on the other hand, it sure would shut up all the stupid announcers and sports writers who claim Favre is washed up if the Packers made it to the playoffs. In fact, I would love it if Favre has enough magic left in him to get the Packers one more Super Bowl title. Sure sure, the Chargers deserve it this year. But the Chargers will have all their key players next year, too. They have a huge window of opportunity, and the Packers have a little tiny one. I'm sure everyone will admit the best way for Favre to go out is in a blaze of glory surrounded by cheering fans and sweaty players as they hoist the Lombardi Trophy and Favre holds onto the Super Bowl MVP award. That's a glorious picture, and one I would dearly love to see. I'd really have to think about giving up my team's playoff chances for the Pack. We'll see. Lemme put it this way, if the Giants win, I don't mind the Packers winning. I'll pick the Bears to win but will add that if the Panthers lose or the Giants win, I'm pulling for the Pack.

Last week I went 12-4 and am now 135-76 on the year.


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