NFL GAMES OF THE WEEK – WEEK SIXTEEN

23Dec12

At first glance, you’d think I would be upset about going 0 for 3 last week.

Well, my friends, my secret diabolical plan worked.  That’s right, I was willing to sacrifice my own personal stats to help end the miserable nine game losing streak that my hometown Cardinals were stuck in.

I had proclaimed the visiting Detroit Lions to be the lock of the week over Arizona last week, appearing to have given up completely on the Cardinals.  I knew that my subliminal messages that were secretly scattered throughout the post would actually inspire the hometown team to kick it into high gear and steamroll the Lions, which is exactly what they did.

Brilliant plan, don’t you think?  It was executed to perfection!

Well, that’s my story, and I’m sticking to it!!

Here’s this week’s story.

NFL Football

This week’s Lock of the Week (13-3).

This week’s schedule didn’t make this category’s pick very easy.  The reality is, there are no clear-cut “Locks” this week.  Actually, during the last two weeks of any NFL regular season, there really is no such thing as a “Lock”.

The teams that should be considered a lock may be in the luxurious position of being able to rest their key players.  Meanwhile, the inferior teams are playing for their lives (or next year’s jobs).  Many times, this results in upsets galore.

Having said all of that, there is only one game that I would feel comfortable picking this week.  So here goes.

The Green Bay Packers will defeat the visiting Tennessee Titans.

There, that wasn’t so hard after all.  Let’s consider why this would be a lock.

First of all, the Packers have locked up their division title, but are still within reach of grabbing the #2 slot in the NFC, which would give them a round one bye.  If they win their last two games and the 49ers drop one of theirs, Green Bay gets a week off before hitting the playoffs.

Their opponent this week is a team that has struggled with consistency all season.  One week they look like a team to be taken seriously, only to lose to a very bad team the next week.  Also, they are out of the playoff race.  I don’t care what anyone says, this takes away some of the motivation to lay it all on the line in critical situations.

Green Bay will win this one going away!

This week’s Upset of the Week (7-9).

After making my picks this week, I found that I have disagreed with the odds-makers on five, count ‘em five games.  I’m still not ready to say that “I” have picked five upsets, but that’s an argument for another time.

I won’t go into detail about the other four games, because every time I do that, I get all of those games right and pick the wrong game for my “Upset of the Week”.  So I’ll just get to my pick.

The Arizona Cardinals will upset the visiting Chicago Bears.

Go ahead, get it out of your system.  “There he goes, picking the hometown team again.”  “I thought you said you’d given up on the Cards.”  Blah-blah-blah.  Weren’t you paying attention in the opening statement?  Go back and read it again.  I’ll wait……

Are you back?  Okay, let’s get to why I’m going with Arizona this week.

First of all, it’s obviously not because of their offense.  Nobody could make an argument based on this team’s offense.

It’s their defense that will win this game.  I know, the Bears defense is no slouch either.  Be patient, I was getting to that!

The Bear’s defense is physical, attacks the ball and puts pressure on the opposing quarterback.  In other words, they do a lot of the things that the Cardinal’s defense does.  However, they are missing a very key piece of that unit, and it has shown over the past few weeks, when the opposing teams have been able to exploit their few weaknesses and score on them.

The Cardinals, meanwhile, have quietly made the opposing quarterbacks look absolutely terrible all season long.  We’re not talking about mediocre QBs, but some of the best in the game (Brady, Rogers, Stafford, etc.).  They currently have the best QB rating against in the league.

What does this mean?  It means that they will smother the Bear’s receivers (yes, even Brandon Marshall) and put all kinds of pressure on Cutler, a good quarterback that tends to get rattled when he’s running for his life.

This game will feature very little scoring and quite a few turnovers.  I believe that Arizona will win the turnover battle, with at least one of them being taken into the end zone by the defense, resulting in a Cardinal victory in a very close, low-scoring game.

Sanders TD 9-23-12

This week’s Game of the Week (13-3).

This is the easiest selection of the year.  Well, let me re-phrase that.  This was the easiest selection of a “Game of the Week” of the year.  Picking the winner of the game?  Not so easy!

Just going by overall talent, one would be quick to go with the 49ers.  That’s not a knock on the talent level of the Seahawks, just a show of respect for the 49ers, a team that I still believe should be the favorite to reach the Super Bowl.

However, you cannot ignore the fact that the Seattle offense has found their stride of late, running (literally) over their opponents like they weren’t even on the field.  They have a rookie quarterback that is playing so well that he is actually being mentioned in the same breath as Luck and RGIII for rookie of the year.

And their defense, which was already a feared unit, is playing at another level right now, wreaking havoc on their opponents left and right.

The 49ers have shown throughout most of the season that they can beat anyone, anywhere, at any time.  Unfortunately, they have also had occasional missteps along the way, exposing the fact they are actually human after all.

Their new QB has added another component to their offense that must be paid attention to by opposing defenses.  They have a monster offensive line that opens holes for a very powerful running back.  Oh yeah, they’ve got a couple of pretty good receivers, too.

On defense, there aren’t many better units in the NFL.  They’re strong, physical and extremely fast.  And they don’t make many mistakes.

So how do you pick the winner of this game?  Well, I hate to go with the cliché, but the hometown crowd will make the difference.

This is, without a doubt, the loudest stadium in the league, which makes it very difficult on a seasoned veteran quarterback.  Regardless of the talent level of the 49ers’ QB, he is not a seasoned veteran.  All the coaching in the world will not prepare him for the noise he is about to encounter.

In a game where mistakes will impact the outcome, the Seahawks will win the turnover battle.  As a result, Seattle will hold off the 49ers and pull out the victory, locking up a playoff spot and keeping their hopes alive for the division title.

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