Mac's Picks - Week Sixteen

This time of year isn't conducive to getting things done in a timely manner, and I was hung up getting things done at work (and Christmas shopping) to get the picks posted before today. It happens.

Last night, I did have the Packers (giving the 3 ½ points) over the Vikings. The combination of last night possibly being Brett Favre’s last start in Lambeau (more on this below), and it definitely being Tarvaris Jackson’s first start as an NFL quarterback made it impossible for me to pick the Vikings. Not in Lambeau, not on a short week, and not outside in the elements.

And I was wrong. Well, the Packers won, but they didn’t cover. They dominated the Vikings, but a goal-line fumble and two missed field goals allowed the Vikings to hang around and make it more interesting than it needed to be.

As far as Brett Favre is concerned, I don’t think he’ll jerk the Packers around again this off-season. I got the feeling last off-season that Favre wasn’t sure if the Packers were going to be any better this year, and I’m positive he wasn’t on-board with the dismissal of Mike Sherman. Keeping the Packers front office in suspense was his only way of retaliating on Sugar Bear’s (Mike Sherman) behalf.

There’s no doubt in my mind that Favre will be back in 2007. He’s healthy, he’s playing well, and the Packers have the talent to make a playoff push next year. But here’s the biggest reason why I think Favre returns:

Do you honestly believe the last touchdown pass he throws in Lambeau Field will be that interception Fred “Captain” Smoot returned to the house in the 3 rd quarter last night?

Neither do I.

Week 15: 10-6
Week 16: 0-1
2006 Season: 104-115-5

Kansas City (-6 ½) at Oakland – Adam Schefter is reporting that the Oakland Raiders will fire Art Shell once the season is over. Be honest: You didn’t think he’d last this long, did you? Pick: Chiefs -6 ½

Baltimore at Pittsburgh (-3) – If Pittsburgh had played as well as they are now earlier in the season they’d be heading back to the playoffs. Okay, so that was a back-handed compliment, but I do give them credit for not tanking the season when it was obvious they weren’t playoff-bound. They’ve won 5 of their last 6, and have allowed just 13 points in the last three weeks. Pick: Steelers -3

Carolina at Atlanta (-6) – Until they tell me that Jake Delhomme is starting this week, there’s no way I can pick a team being led by Chris Weinke. Think about this: The last time Chris Weinke won a football game he started? September 9 th, 2001. Pick: Falcons -6

Chicago (-4 ½) at Detroit – Before you express any shock at the Chicago Bears reluctance to discipline Tank Johnson, whose arrest on gun charges last week violated his probation from a 2005 gun charge, remember this: Bears GM Jerry Angelo and Co. deferred disciplinary action to the NFL when cornerback Ricky Manning, Jr. pleaded “no contest” on what amounted to a hate crime earlier this season.

The fact of the matter is, with Tommie Harris out for the season and the Bears giving up 31 points to the Bucs last week, the Bears need Tank Johnson in the middle of that defense. The Bears have home-field advantage throughout the NFC playoffs, and after recent playoff stumbles (2001, 2005), Angelo isn’t about to risk another early exit by doing the right thing. Pick: Bears -4 ½

Indianapolis (-9) at Houston – Indianapolis has never lost to the Houston Texans, and quite frankly, I haven’t seen anything from either team to suggest that trend will change. Pick: Colts -9

New England at Jacksonville (-2 ½) – Giving up 3 defensive touchdowns and losing a must-win game that you otherwise dominated is such a rare occurrence that I can’t see how Jacksonville will be able to bounce back from it. I’m not just talking about the Jaguars, I mean the entire city of Jacksonville. Pick: Patriots +2 ½

New Orleans at NY Giants (-3) – I still can’t believe that it’s only been 15 months since the Saints played that patronizing “home game” against the Giants in the Meadowlands. The Giants won the NFC East in 2005, and are fighting for their playoff lives. The Saints were 3-13 in their nomadic ’05 season, and this year, they’ve already clinched the NFC South and can potentially clinch the #2 seed in the NFC this Sunday.

The Giants are as desperate as a holiday shopper who spent all December procrastinating, and I think that desperation gets them a win this week. Plus, this could be Tiki Barber’s last home game. The Giants will be ready for this one. Pick: Giants -3

Tampa Bay at Cleveland (-3) – Tampa Bay is 3-11. Cleveland is 4-10. Tampa is down to their #3 QB, Tim Rattay. Cleveland is down to their #2 QB, Derek Anderson. Can’t they just simulate this one? Pick: Browns -3

Tennessee at Buffalo (-4 ½) – While the Titans have received all the publicity (Sports Illustrated cover stories, features on SportsCenter, etc…), the Bills have been just as impressive as the Titans. Buffalo has won 5 of their last 7 games, with the only two losses being by one point to Indianapolis and 3 points to San Diego. At home, they’ll stop Young. Pick: Bills -4 ½

Washington at St. Louis (-2) – Remember when the Rams were 4-1 lead the NFC by a half game? Pick: Redskins +2

Arizona at San Francisco (-4) – The best chance the Seahawks have this week of clinching the NFC West for the 3 rd straight season are the Arizona Cardinals? Why do I feel like Clark Griswold after he discovered that his Christmas bonus was a 1-year enrollment in the Jelly of the Month club? Pick: Cardinals +4 (“It’s the gift that keeps on giving the whole year through, Clark ”)

Cincinnati at Denver (-3) – I still think the decision to change quarterbacks was a questionable one, but Mike Shanahan’s Broncos are actually in a good position right now. Cincinnati , Jacksonville , the New York Jets and Denver are all tied at 8-6. The Jets and Jaguars have tough games this week, and the Broncos get to host the Bengals in cold and snowy Invesco Field, six days after the Bengals gave up 34 points to the Colts. Pick: Broncos -3

San Diego (-4 ½) at Seattle – Though they haven’t given me any reason to think they’ll win this Sunday, I’m still taking the Seahawks this week. Even when I’m not at all confident that they’ll win, and this week certainly falls into that category, I’ve never picked against Seattle. Now isn’t the time to start. Pick: Seahawks +4 ½

Philadelphia at Dallas (-7) – What else could you ask for on Christmas Day? You’ve got the fat (Bill Parcells), the jolly (Andy Reid), a couple of elves (Jeff Garcia, Martin Gramatica), a fruitcake (Terrell Owens) and if you believe the people in Dallas, Jesus himself (Tony Romo). Pick: Eagles +7

NY Jets at Miami (-2 ½) – After NBC wraps up the “can’t miss” Cowboys-Eagles game ESPN will follow with a game that nobody really cares about. Some things just refuse to change. Pick: Dolphins -2 ½

Brian McIntyre writes rather frequently for Seahawks.NET. When he's not doing that, and charting games for Football Outsiders, he can be reached here. Top Stories