Mac's Picks - Week Fifteen

If you're anything like me, you love the way the "experts" at ESPN, FOX, etc…have had a different "team to beat in the NFC" every week for the last month. The way they've jumped from team-to-team reminds me of a big, dumb Baby Huey.

Before the season, Baby Huey loved the Panthers. Then, Carolina started 0-2 and mounting injuries have pretty much guaranteed that they won’t make the playoffs this year.

When Carolina was stumbling, the Chicago Bears were surging. Baby Huey noticed this, and waddled his way over to Chicago. They were flirting with an undefeated season, so Baby Huey immediately began comparing the ’06 Bears to the legendary ’85 Bears. This public display of affection included a montage on ESPN’s Monday Night Football that compared Brian Urlacher to Mike Singletary and Rex Grossman to Jim McMahon. Oh, Baby Huey was smitten with the Bears right up until the time the Dolphins totally exposed Grossman and the Bears.

A dejected Baby Huey waddled on down to Dallas, who had been playing better since replacing Drew Bledsoe’s corpse with a guy named “Romo”, who was reportedly dating Jessica Simpson. Baby Huey took the “I totally don’t know what that is, but I want it” approach to the Cowboys. They paid no mind to the warning signs that Terrell Owens could explode at any minute, a Grammatica was brought in to replace the most accurate kicker in NFL history and Tony Romo would eventually start playing like the rookie QB he essentially is.

Then the Saints marched into Dallas and out-everythinged the Cowboys on national television, and Baby Huey has been waddling towards the bayou ever since.

Right now, the NFC is too wide open to take the Baby Huey approach. With three weeks left to go in the regular season, chances are good that Baby Huey will somehow waddle away from New Orleans. He may even make his first trip over the Rocky Mountains.

Week 14: 9-7

2006 Season: 94-109-5

San Francisco at Seattle (-9 ½) –The first time the Seahawks played on prime-time at Qwest Field this season, the Seattle area was being pelted with record rainfall. The second time they had a national audience, it snowed. Tonight’s forecast in Seattle : Rain is expected and the wind could be a major factor, with gusts expected to exceed 50mph before the night is over. Mother Nature is sure doing her part to keep people from moving to Seattle.

The Seahawks can clinch their 3 rd straight division title with a win. If that happens, which it likely will, Seattle will be the first team this decade to make the playoffs after losing the Super Bowl. Why hasn’t anyone mentioned that lately? Pick: Seahawks -9 ½

Dallas (-3 ½) at Atlanta – So now Terrell Owens is pinning all his frustrations and problems in Dallas on a “snitch” in the Cowboys’ locker room. Obviously, since nothing is ever Terrell Owens’ fault.

This latest outburst by Owens, combined with his “interview” with Michael Irvin on ESPN’s Sunday Countdown last week, is one of the reasons why I couldn’t follow the national media’s lead and “crown” the Cowboys as the team to beat in the NFC. I knew Romo was going to come back to Earth, since he wasn’t nearly as good as people were making him out to be to begin with, and with undependable guys like Owens and Martin Grammatica in key spots on the roster, they get my vote as the NFC team “Most Likely to Self-Destruct in the Playoffs”. Pick: Falcons +3 ½

Cleveland at Baltimore (-11) – I don’t know if the Browns are going to start Charlie Frye, Derek Anderson or Brian Sipe at quarterback this week, but I do know that it probably doesn’t matter. Baltimore ’s defense has the ability to make the best offenses look bad, and they can make a bad offense, like Cleveland ’s, look downright pathetic. Pick: Ravens -11

Detroit at Green Bay (-5) – Just when you thought things couldn’t get any worse for the 2-11 Detroit Lions, RB Kevin Jones is out for the rest of the year with the dreaded “Lisfranc” fracture to his foot. The nature of this injury makes it extremely difficult for players to come back from. So much so, in fact, that it’s possible this will end Jones’ career. This is obviously some very bad news for the Lions, since Jones was one of the two things that Matt Millen actually got right as GM of the Lions. (Roy Williams is the other)

As if the loss of Jones weren’t enough, the Lions are bout to go into Lambeau Field to face Brett Favre in mid-December. Detroit hasn’t won a game in Green Bay since 1991, so consider this easy money. Pick: Packers -5

Houston at New England (-11 ½) – The good news for the Patriots offensive line is that the Texans can’t generate the kind of pressure the Dolphins do. The bad news is the Patriots are not a healthy team right now. Laurence Maroney, Ben Watson and Vince Wilfork, three key players for the Patriots, are all questionable this week. Maroney and Watson are the only dynamic offensive weapons Tom Brady has, and without them, they’re a very average offense. Pick: Texans +11 ½

Jacksonville (-3 ½) at Tennessee – The only reason I can think of to pick the Titans this week is that maybe the Jaguars running backs are too tired after running over the Colts to muster any offensive attack this week. I highly doubt that, though. Maurice Jones-Drew is like a bowling ball with feet. Pick: Jaguars -3 ½

Miami at Buffalo (-1) – After watching the Miami Dolphins completely dismantle the New England Patriots last week, and the Buffalo Bills do the same to the New York Jets, Nick Saban and Dick Jauron have to be wondering where those efforts were back in September. If both teams played like that early on this season, maybe they’d both be in the playoff race. Pick: Bills -1

NY Jets at Minnesota (-3 ½) – It’s impossible to run against the Vikings, so if the Jets hope to win this week, they’ll need a big day out of Chad Pennington. In the dome, I like the way this game stacks up for the Vikings, who could re-enter the NFC playoff race if they win and get some help. But this season hasn’t been at all weird. Pick: Vikings -3 ½

Pittsburgh at Carolina (-3) – Any team that not only starts Chris Weinke, but allows him to attempt 61 passes in a single game, can not be trusted to cover the spread. Pick: Steelers +3

Tampa Bay at Chicago (-13 ½) – Are you in need of statistical evidence of how bad the Bears offense has been? Devin Hester leads all non-kickers on the Bears roster in scoring with 36 points…and he doesn’t play on the offensive side of the ball. Maybe he should. Pick: Buccaneers +13 ½

Washington at New Orleans (-9 ½) – With Jason Campbell starting at QB, the best thing Joe Gibbs can do is hand the ball to Ladell Betts 30+ times this week. Betts has made the most of his opportunity to carry the rock with Clinton Portis on IR, and the best way to beat the Saints is to keep Drew Brees on the sidelines. (And no, I never thought I’d type that phrase)

This pick is one part gut feeling, and a healthy dose of wishful thinking from a Seahawks fan who needs the Saints to lose 2-3 times for the ‘Hawks to get a 1 st round bye in January. Pick: Redskins +9 ½

Denver (-2 ½) at Arizona – Am I alone in thinking that the NFL has secretly replaced the regular Arizona Cardinals with Folgers instant crystals? They’ve won three of their last four games. Their defense has been playing up to their talent level. The offensive line has been transformed from a joke to a group that is actually opening paths for Edgerrin James to run through and protecting Matt Leinart, who appears to be everything you want in a franchise quarterback. If the Cardinals don’t get back to playing the traditional brand of Cardinals football, they might just save Dennis Green’s job. Pick: Broncos -2 ½

Philadelphia at NY Giants (-5 ½) – If the season ended today, both teams would be in the playoffs. In fact, if the Eagles win and the Cowboys lose, Philadelphia will lead the NFC East and Dallas would be the #6-seed in the NFC. This nugget of information takes the point I made earlier about how wide open the NFC is and drives it home, doesn’t it? Pick: Eagles +5 ½

St. Louis at Oakland (-2 ½) – Oakland boasts the league’s best pass defense in the NFL. Seriously, they’re statistically the #1 pass defense in the NFL. That hasn’t equated to wins, though. In fact, two weeks ago, the Houston Texans had -5 yards passing against Oakland …and beat the Raiders by 9 points. Pick: Rams +2 ½

Kansas City at San Diego (-8 ½) – It’s hard to argue against those who believe the San Diego Chargers are the best team in the NFL right now. They’ve got a great defense, the league’s MVP (LaDainian Tomlinson) and a quarterback who doesn’t make mistakes. They’ve won 7 straight and their schedule (KC, @ Seattle, Arizona ) will likely get them home-field advantage throughout the playoffs. Still, doesn’t the involvement of Marty Schottenheimer have to factor in there somewhere? Pick: Chargers -8 ½

Cincinnati at Indianapolis (-3 ½) – Forget the 3 ½ point spread, what’s the over/under on how many times we’ll see the punters? We all know how bad the Colts defense is, but truth be told, I’m not at all sold on the idea that the Bengals defense has turned itself around. Yeah, they can stop the Ravens, Raiders and Browns, but can they stop a high-powered offense like Indianapolis ? Remember, this is the same defense that blew a 21-point second half lead against San Diego last month.

Speaking of the Colts, has there been any explanation for why Joseph Addai isn’t the Colts’ starting running back yet? Week after week, Dominic Rhodes is starting and the offense has started slowly. They put Addai in on the 3rd series, and the offense perks up. He’s the instant answer to the void Edgerrin James left, so why are the Colts treating Dominic Rhodes like the starter he so clearly isn’t? Pick: Colts -3 ½

Brian McIntyre writes rather frequently for Seahawks.NET. He's currently running Daisuke Matsuzaka's contract through a dollars-to-yen converter, but he does have time to answer your e-mails if you send them here. Top Stories