Editor Stephen Rhodes’ Picks – Week 15

Green Bay Packers running back Ryan Grant
Last Week: 9-7-0
Overall: 88-77-3

Nice rebound week for the Rhodester, going 9-7-0. Indy and New Orleans saved me from a sub-.500 week. Expect as good or even better this week – here’s your winning plays for Week 15:

Cincinnati (-9) at San Francisco

This week it is Shaun Hill, which means the Bengals’ defense will look like the Patriots’ defense. I like Palmer’s chances against a suspect 49ers secondary this week. But take comfort 49er fans in knowing that Frank Gore should do well vs. the depleted Bengals O-line. But at the end of the day, Palmer and Co. will enable the Bengals to easily dispose of the 49ers.

Seattle (-7) at Carolina

Seattle’s Matt Hasselbeck will put up his typical numbers as will the wide receivers he throws to, but it will be the Seattle defense that will make it possible for the Seahawks to easily beat Carolina at Charlotte. Panthers head coach John Fox has to be genuinely worried about keeping his job.

Buffalo at Cleveland (-5.5)

This is one of the harder games to pick due to several factors: the weather – specifically the wind – if any, and the fact that the Browns run defense isn’t all that special. Those factors should be a jackpot of sorts for both Browns running back Jamal Lewis and Bills RB Marshawn Lynch. But I don’t expect this to be a high-scoring game at all. More like 13-6 or something to that effect. I like Cleveland by 7 this week.

Tennessee (-4) at Kansas City

The Titans’ running game will go crazy against the Chiefs’ run defense; matter of fact, I expect LenDale white to plow through them like he’d plow through his family to be first in line at Krispy Kreme. Kansas City will, well let’s just say that their offense will remind some people of this year’s Miami Dolphins. Tennessee wins this one by 10 – at least.

Baltimore at Miami (+6)

Lesson to be learned here – never, ever pick a team whose coach, despite his preaching about winning (Cam Cameron) has an overall record in college (Indiana University) and the NFL of 18-47. The Miami Dolphins this week face a pissed-off Ravens team that came off a huge loss to the Indianapolis Colts. And quite frankly, the Ravens’ defense – neither team has an offense – will be the key to the Ravens’ win this week. Baltimore by 5.

New York Jets (+25) at New England

This is your massacre of the week, sponsored by the CIA. In short – the game between these two teams will be over say around mid-3rd quarter. Expect the usual from New England – Brady all over the place and the Patriots’ defense harrassing Kellen Clemens enough to make him look more like Samuel Clemens (that’s Mark Twain for those not in the know). The weather will make it where the 25-point spread doesn’t happen. Probably the best part of this game is where the two coaches meet each other after the game – this should be fun.

Arizona (+5) at New Orleans

I like Arizona’s chances this week against a morally down Saints team. The Saints have nothing to play for except pride perhaps – despite what the standings say – and the Cards should be able to take advantage of that. I expect Cards running back Edgerrin James to rush for between 120-130 yards and a TD. Another reason not to want the Saints to win – watching Saints owner Tom Benson prance about with that umbrella – that is so gay. Arizona wins by a field goal.

Jacksonville (+4) at Pittsburgh

Jacksonville, despite their physical location, actually play very well in cold-weather locales. I like the chances of Fred Taylor and Maurice Jones-Drew running through and arounds the Steelers’ D-line this week. The weather’s sure to be nasty and the scoring will be scarce. This is my upset pick of the week – Jacksonville by 7.

Green Bay (-7.5) at St. Louis

If you’re a St. Louis Rams fan, then you must have a sick feeling in your stomach knowing that Marc Bulger or maybe even Brock Berlin is your starting QB this week. No matter who their QB is, it won’t matter much. But know this – even though the Pack is playoff-bound, they won’t let up; Favre and Co. should make mincemeat of the Rams’ secondary. Green Bay wins this one at Edward Jones Dome by at least 10.

Atlanta (+10) at Tampa Bay

Jeff Garcia’s back for the Bucs, which means masterful clock management during the game. The Falcons? Let’s say this is an audition for interim head coach Emmitt Thomas, yet the Falcons’ personnel – in my eyes – don’t seem to care anymore. They’ll care just enough to beat the spread. Tampa by 9, although the game action won’t reflect the final score.

Indianapolis (-12) at Oakland

This game could get ugly early, not unlike the Colts’ victims opponents last week, Baltimore. If Oakland had last year’s secondary, then I’d be worried. But this year, like most years, is a rebuilding year for Oakland. Addai will run rampant over the Raiders and Manning won’t need Harrison (Anthony Gonzalez has stepped up big as of late), so it’s a matter what the final score is. And the final score will show the Colts easily beating that 12 point gimme.

Philadelphia (+10) at Dallas

I know, I know – you’re thinking, “Why do you think Philly will beat the spread?” One reason – Eagles running back Brian Westbrook. I’m not suggesting that Philly will beat Dallas. What I am saying is this: Westbrook will keep the Eagles in the game. But even that won’t be enough as Romo and Co. should pick apart the Eagles’ secondary. Yet, I think that the game will be closer than many people think. Dallas will win – but not by 10.

Washington at New York Giants (-4)

This is exactly the game that the Giants have been waiting for – a team that has a scrub at quarterback (Todd Collins – he’s a career backup for a reason), which means that Washington is going to have to rely on Clinton Portis for their offense. But the Giants defense will make life miserable for Collins (read: 5 or more sacks by the Giants) as the blitz packages come out early and often. Giants win this one and easily cover the 4 points.

Chicago (+9) at Minnesota

The Vikings have peaked at the right time – getting Adrian Peterson back played no small part. By the Bears starting Kyle Orton makes this a win for the Vikings; also – Orton starting should be the beginning of the end for incumbent Rex Grossman. Take heart Chicago – there’s always next year. Minnesota wins this one by 7.

Detroit (+11) at San Diego

This week will be the beginning of the end for the Detroit Lions. They will get big doses of LaDainian Tomlinson, with a sprinkling of passes to Antonio Gates and Chris Chambers. I expect the chargers to record 4 or more sacks this weekend, as well. A combination of all these factors will be more than sufficient to say “Lights Out” to the Lions’ playoff chances. San Diego wins, but by 10.

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