Last week: 9-7
I covered the NFC playoff scenarios earlier this week but never got to the AFC so I'll include those in the final full slate of NFL picks in 2008.
Raiders at Bucs
This is probably one of those where I should admit Vegas knows more than me, go with the favorite and move on to the next pick. But I can't do it. Is this the same Bucs team that has lost three in a row with a playoff spot on the line? The same Bucs team that is built on its defense yet has allowed 92 points in the last three? I know it's the Raiders, but I still can't pick them to cover 12.5. By the way, I'm planning on hosting a live chat at 1 Sunday to update and complain about the results of the early games. So look for that.
The pick: Raiders (+12.5)
Lions at Packers
So here it is. 0-16 on the line. On the Detroit Free Press' Web site reads the headline Amid record dismal season, Lions freeze ticket prices. Can you imagine if they HADN'T done this? I know we're in unfamiliar territory here, but I'm pretty sure a team that goes winless is not allowed to raise its ticket prices. 8-8? Maybe. 6-10 in a football-crazed town? You can get away with it. But 0-16? In Detroit of all places? In this economy? No. Absolutely not.
The pick: Packers (-10.5)
Cowboys at Eagles
I'm interested to see what the mood will be like at the Linc come 4:15 Sunday. If, as most expect, the Bucs win their early game, things could get ugly. But what if Tampa Bay somehow loses? And the Bears go down at Houston. I know many of you say you're rooting against the Eagles to bring about change, but I know this fan base better. It will be a playoff game. And say the Eagles go up early on a Brian Westbrook run. And Tony Romo misses a wide open Terrell Owens. A montage of T.O. tantrums is played on the video screen. Then what? In a world where sports were meant to bring us happiness, and not misery, that's how things would play out.
The pick: Eagles (-1)
Giants at Vikings
Very interesting subplot to the Giants' quest for another Super Bowl. Will Steve Spagnuolo have a head-coaching job lined up by the time New York plays its first postseason game? Tom Rock of Newsday makes an interesting point. Last year, the Giants played on wild-card weekend and didn't get a break again until after the season was over. By that time, Spagnuolo only got to interview for the Redskins' job. But this year, the Giants won't play until Jan. 10, meaning he can interview next week under league rules. With potential head-coaching vacancies all over the place, it'll be interesting to see how things play out.
The pick: Giants (+7)
Panthers at Saints
Wanted to see where the Panthers rank according to Vegas. So here are odds to win the NFC:
The Panthers could be either the No. 2 seed or the No. 5 seed depending on what happens here. The NFL has been as unpredictable as ever this season. Look no further than the Falcons, Dolphins and Ravens. I'm saying it continues. The Panthers go down. The Falcons win. Carolina, which could have had the No. 1 seed a week ago, finishes as the No. 5 seed and has to play a playoff game on the road in the first round. This scenario could easily cause Chris Berman to faint during NFL Primetime or whatever they're calling it nowadays.
The pick: Saints (+2.5)
Titans at Colts
We might as well do the AFC Super Bowl odds also. Both these teams are locked in to their playoff spots. The Titans are the No. 1 seed, which means a first-round bye and homefield throughout. The Colts are the No. 5 seed, which means a wild-card game on the road next weekend. The odds:
The pick: Titans (-3)
Jaguars at Ravens
For the Ravens, win and you're in. Pretty amazing how quickly things can turn around in the NFL. On New Year's Eve last year, Baltimore fired its coach, one of the longest-tenured in the NFL. The Ravens had no quarterback. And their defensive coordinator was interviewing for head-coaching jobs. A year later, they have possibly the best set of coordinators in the league. A rookie quarterback who's getting rave reviews. And a first-time head coach who looks like he's been doing this for years.
The pick: Jaguars (+12.5)
Browns at Steelers
Bizarre NFL story that you may not have heard about this week. Browns coach Romeo Crennel would not confirm or deny reports that defensive tackle Shaun Smith punched Brady Quinn in the eye in the weight room. I like Bud Shaw's' take on cleveland.com:
I know two things. It helps to be good-looking and from Notre Dame in image shaping. And I know it's far more believable that a Browns defensive player threw a punch than tackled somebody.
As for the Steelers, they have the No. 2 seed locked up.
The pick: Steelers (-11)
Dolphins at Jets
For the Dolphins, a win gives them the AFC East crown, just one year after finishing 1-15. As for the Jets, they take the division with a victory and a Patriots loss. They get in as a wild-card team with a win and a Ravens loss. If neither of those things happen, it's time for the Brett Favre-retirement watch once again.
The pick: Jets (-2.5)
Patriots at Bills
It's time for MC's Pick of the Week. As a gesture of goodwill, I let MC pick his own game this week. His record on the season is 6-10.
Pats need a win to keep their playoff hopes alive. Buffalo's season is over and they are under .500 at home this year anyway.
New England gets the AFC East with a win and a Dolphins loss. The Patriots get a wild-card spot with a win and a Ravens loss.
The pick: Patriots (-6.5)
Broncos at Chargers
This one should be fun. Two teams that have done everything in their power to NOT win the AFC West all season. And two quarterbacks that seem to genuinely dislike each other. Everyone's impressed with the Chargers all of a sudden? Really? Was it the win over the 4-11 Raiders? The miracle against the 2-13 Chiefs? Or the victory at the reeling Bucs?
The pick: Broncos (+9)
Rams at Falcons
I'm absolutely against the notion of having "second-favorite teams." To me, you have one team and that's it. Anything else is fraudulent. But save me a spot on the Matty Ice 2009 postseason bandwagon if the Eagles miss out. Atlanta gets my rooting interest, which should terrify everyone who is a Falcons fan.
The pick: Falcons (-14)
Bears at Texans
Back-to-back overtime wins have put the Bears in a position where they'll host a first-round playoff game as NFC North champs with a win here and a loss by the Vikings.
The pick: Texans (-2.5)
The rest of the picks:
CHIEFS (+3) at Bengals
SEAHAWKS (+6.5) at Cardinals
49ERS (-3) vs. Redskins