Editor Stephen Rhodes’ Picks – Week 17

Pittsburgh Steelers running back Najeh Davenport (44)
Last Week: 8-8-0
Overall: 104-92-3

I went .500 last week, but will rebound nicely although it will be difficult due to some teams resting their starters in some “meaningless” games. Here’s your winning plays for Week 17:

New England at New York Giants (+14.5)

Truth be told, I want New England to go down and ruin the so-called “perfect season”. The Giants will be at full-strength as will probably the Patriots. But I do have this hunch that the Giants’ running game will be the difference at the Meadowlands on Saturday. The Giants to win by 3.

Seattle (+3) at Atlanta

Seattle’s playoff position is secure as is Atlanta’s lofty position at the 2008 NFL draft. So really – who wants it more? My guess is Seattle does. I think that even Seneca Wallace (Seattle reserve QB) is better than any QB that Atlanta throws out there. Besides, Seahawks coach Mike Holmgren said it himself – that theyre gonna treat this like a regular game. Seahawks by 5.

Pittsburgh (-3.5) at Baltimore

Pittsburgh, even with Charlie Batch at QB and Najeh Davenpoop Davenport is far superior to the Ravens’ pairing of Troy Smith and Musa Smith (yes – Musa Smith). But the Steelers’ defense will be the star of this game. Pittsburgh will win – by at least 7.

New Orleans at Chicago (+3)

New Orleans’ running attack is all of a sudden weakened, which means that Drew Brees will throw the ball early and probably often. This should make the Bears’ defense drool. Lots of blitz packages should happen, and expect a surprisingly good game from the Bears’ Adrian Peterson. Chicago wins by 5.

San Francisco (+10) at Cleveland

I am going to assume the weather in Cleveland’s gonna suck – which means that Frank Gore and Jamal Lewis should do very well. Just the fact that Chris Weinke (Chris Weinke!!) is the starting QB for the 49ers is bad news. And after the 49ers loss at Cleveland on Sunday – and you heard it here first – Mike Nolan, the 49ers head coach, will be the first NFL head coach to be fired narrowly beating out Miami Dolphins head coach. Cleveland wins by 7.

Detroit at Green Bay (-3)

You know that Brett Favre is starting for the Pack. That in and of itself should spell bad news for Detroit. Detroit has just the passing attack to rely on (like T.J. Duckett is gonna scare folks) so Green Bay’s secondary should reap the benefits. I expect the Pack to play this game like any other regular season game. Green Bay by 10 – at least.

Jacksonville (+6.5) at Houston

Two teams that have little to nothing to play for. Quinn Gray will probably be the QB for the Jags, but I expect whoever starts at running back for Jacksonville to do very well against the decimated Texans’ D-line. I expect Houston to throw the ball often – and not do very well against the Jags’ secondary. Jacksonville wins this one by 4.

Cincinnati at Miami (+3)

Two more teams with nothing to play for. Well actually, Miami does have something to play for – head coach Cam Cameron’s job is at stake. Turnovers by the Bengals will seal their fate down in Miami as the Dolphins pull off the upset. But I still think that Cameron loses his job this offseason. Miami wins by 3.

Buffalo (+7.5) at Philadelphia

I like Buffalo’s chances here as they would want to take some momentum into next season. I expect Marshawn Lynch to do well (120 yards and 2 TD’s) this weekend. Philly’s Brian Westbrook should also do well, but I think special teams will be the key in Buffalo winning on Sunday. This could very well be Donovan McNabb’s last game in an Eagles uniform. Buffalo by 4.

Carolina at Tampa Bay (+3)

Despite Tampa Bay resting most of its starters, the second unit defense should have no difficulty against Matt Moore and Co. I think Fox retains his job at Carolina, but he will be on a very tight leash. Tampa Bay wins by 3.

Dallas (+9) at Washington

I never thought I’d see the day that Brad Johnson would start, but Dallas has nothing to play for (recurring theme here?). Which is why the Cowboys’ rushing game will be so important going into Sunday. As much as I like and respect Redskins head coach Joe Gibbs, I just don’t see it in the cards for Washington to visit the playoffs this year. Dallas wins by 5.

St. Louis at Arizona (-6)

A meaningless game if ever I saw one. Arizona should do whatever they please against a decimated Rams defense. Meanwhile, the Rams will have some work to do next season to be respectable once again. The Cards, on the other hand, are a team to watch out for next season – nothing but upside down in Glendale. Arizona wins by at least 10.

Minnesota (-3) at Denver

It’s a shame the path that the Broncos have taken this season. The run defense went down the toilet and head coach Mike Shanahan went conservative on his playcalling. That lack of a run defense should pay dividends for Minnesota as Adrian Peterson should rack up between 130-150 and score 2 TD’s. The Vikings win this one handily.

San Diego (-6.5) at Oakland

Even though the chargers won the AFC Worst West, they still have incentive to win this weekend against the Raiders. So expect this to be business as usual for San Diego as they punk Oakland QB JaMarcus Russell. LT should do well (125-135 rushing yards, a TD) and the Chargers LB’s should be able to blitz at will. San Diego wins this one by at least 14.

Kansas City (+6) at New York Jets

It looks like Kellen Clemens will start for the Jets on Sunday. Not that it really matters at this late juncture of the season; this game will be ugly on so many levels. If you have DIRECTV, make it a point not to watch this game. The Jets will win, but only by 1-2 points.

Tennessee at Indianapolis (+6.5)

This game has lotsa meaning for the Titans, while the Colts will utilize QB Jim Sorgi and RB’s Kenton Keith and Clifton Dawson for most of the game. But the Colts will win this game because of their defense. Expect Indianapolis to win a close one.

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