FIWK the NFL: Go Titans!

Remember how I said the Chargers need some help? Well, the Rams didn't help. In fact, the Chiefs helped the 49ers. And the Steelers and the Saints didn't help either. So, I am going into this week assuming the Chargers will take care of business and cover the 7.5 points against the Bengals and be cheering extra hard for the Titans. Go Kerry Collins and Chris Johnson! Cortland Finnegan can shut down Dwayne Bowe. In fact, I will be focusing more on the Titans, than the Chargers. No, that's not true...the Chargers are still #1 in my heart...but the Titans are #1b this week. Updating my playoff analysis, it looks like it's going to be the Patriots, Jets, Steelers, Ravens, then the Colts or Jaguars and Chiefs or Chargers. I guess the Titans and Raiders are technically still alive and it would be really cool if the right circumstances plays out for one of those teams because that means the Titans would have to beat the Chiefs. In the NFC, it's the Eagles, Bears, Falcons, Saints, the NFC West winner and the Giants, Packers and Bucs fighting for the last playoff spot. Actually, that all sounds familiar. I guess I actually added the Titans and Raiders...but I took out the Dolphins. Go Titans!! It makes me happy that Football Outsiders says the Titans are the better team.

(all post game results are in italics)
Carolina @ Pittsburgh (-14.5): Many weeks ago, when I was really confident I was going to make the playoffs in three fantasy football leagues, I started looking at defenses with ideal matchups. First, I looked at each one of Carolina's opponents. Because Carolina's opponents created the best fantasy defense this year. Even better than the best fantasy defense...which just so happens to be the Pittsburgh Steelers. So we have the offense that allows the most fantasy points to opposing defenses and the defense that scores the most fantasy points. Is it too obvious to predict that this is the highest scoring performance by a fantasy defense? Yes it is. And since my opponent (I only made the playoffs in one league) has the Pittsburgh defense, I'm really hoping the Panthers are able to run the ball, score a few touchdowns and not turn the ball over. But I don't think that's going to happen. I think it is more likely that the Steelers defense outscore the Panthers. Or at the very least, I'm taking the Steelers to cover.
Not so bold prediction: There is a turnover in this game. (Yes. Pittsburgh intercepted and recovered a fumble.)
Bold prediction: There is a defensive or special teams touchdown. (No.)

Dallas (-6.5) @ Arizona: So in their last four games the Cowboys have won or lost by three points. So right off the bat, I'm not exactly trusting them to win by a touchdown. But the Cardinals just lost to the worst team in football (see above). As Rex Grossman and the Redskins showed last week, in a game between two below average or bad teams, just take the points and move on. I'm taking the Cardinals and the points.
Not so bold prediction: There is a touchdown in this game. (Yes.)
Bold prediction: Miles Austin scores a touchdown. (YES! Austin catches 6 for 115 and a touchdown)

New England (-7.5) @ Buffalo: So the Bills are 4-2 in their last six games and currently on a two game winning streak. If they hadn't started the season with an eight game losing streak they might have been in better shape. In week 3, the Bills scored 30 points on the Patriots and prompted proclamations that while the Patriots defense was great their offense was poor. Since then, the 30 points the Bills scored is the most the Patriots have allowed all season. So while I have complete confidence that the Patriots can score more than 30 again, I am also pretty confident that their defense will hold the Bills well under 30. In fact, after I realized that I couldn't pick up the Steelers' defense in fantasy, I picked up the Patriots defense a couple weeks ago in anticipation of this matchup. I'm taking the Patriots to cover.
Not so bold prediction: Tom Brady throws a touchdown. (Yes.)
Bold prediction: Tom Brady throws three touchdowns. (YES! Exactly three passing TDs.)

NY Jets @ Chicago (-1): So we have a ten win AFC team playing a ten win NFC team at home. If the last few years have taught us anything, it's that the AFC is better than the NFC. But the Bears are at home, although the the Jets beat the Steelers last week, however the only team the Bears have lost to in the last two months is the Patriots who also beat the Jets, on the other hand the Jets lost to the Dolphins, yet Football Outsiders says the Jets are the better team....ok, I'm done. The Jets are more likely to throw an interception, I say the Bears win (and cover).
Not so bold prediction: Someone throws an interception. (Yes. Both starting QBs threw interceptions.)
Bold prediction: A fantasy defense outscores one of the two starting quarterbacks. ( a big surprise, this game goes for a total of 72 points in an offensive shootout.)

Baltimore (-3.5) @ Cleveland: This line confuses me a little. Currently the Ravens' 10-9 victory in week one provides the tiebreaker over the Jets for the five seed. Which means that the Ravens have an incentive to that they can face the four seed instead of the three seed...which looks like it will be the Indianapolis Colts. So maybe the Ravens have an incentive to lose? Could that lead to the 3.5 point line? Well it shouldn't, because the Ravens still haven't locked up a playoff spot. In fact, right now I'm going to predict that a 10-6 AFC team misses the playoffs while a 7-9 (or worse) NFC team makes the playoffs. So again, why the 3.5 point line? If someone wanted to do the research, I'm curious how many times I have said I was confused by a line and the underdog covered. Off the top of my head, I only remember one instance. So I'm going to say that the Ravens win by four or more points and move on.
Not so bold prediction: Ray Rice or Peyton Hillis scores ten fantasy points. (No. Rice was 8 yards short and Hillis wasn't even close.)
Bold prediction: Ray Rice AND Peyton Hillis each score at least twelve fantasy points. (Well since neither guy got to 10...)

Tennessee @ Kansas City (-5): If you didn't notice my opinions earlier...GO TITANS!!! In fact, I'm pretty sure I am incapable of rational, logical analysis of this game. So you know I'm going to take the Titans and the points. But if you want a little more than that, Football Outsiders says the Titans are better too.
Not so bold prediction: Someone in this game averages over 5.0 yards per carry. (Yes. Jamaal Charles went for 77 yards on 13 carries for a 5.9 average.)
Bold prediction: Jamaal Charles and Chris Johnson each have a rushing or receiving play of at least 30 yards. (I'm kind of realizing that 30 yards is a long play. Both guys topped out with runs of 17 yards.)

San Francisco @ St. Louis (-2.5): So if the Rams beat the 49ers, San Francisco is officially eliminated from the playoffs. But if the 49ers win, the Rams, 49ers AND Seahawks are all still in contention. Yay collective mediocrity! I know that my biggest emotion or opinion about this game was not about a quarterback or coach or defense or the NFC West or anyone involved in either organization or anyone involved with the National Football League. My biggest thought has been, "Man, I really wish this line had been bumped up to 3.0 points. 2.5 is just annoying." These teams are probably pretty close and the 49ers may have the better collection of I'll take the points...and the points come with...the San Francisco 49ers.
Not so bold prediction: Frank Gore does not rush for 100 yards in this game...and no one else rushes for 100 yards either. (Yes. Frank Gore has been out for a few weeks with a hip injury...and no one else rushed for 100 yards.)
Bold prediction: No running back or wide receiver has over ten fantasy points. (No. Jackson had 48 yards and a touchdown for 10.8...oh, and Michael Crabtree has 122 yards and a touchdown)

Detroit @ Miami (-3.5): The easiest, non-scientific way to pick this game would be to see that the Dolphins are at home and go against them. Last week I saw a graphic somewhere that this Dolphins team is the first team with at least 6 road wins and 6 home losses. When breaking this down a little more, the Dolphins were eliminated from the playoffs with their 17-14 loss to Buffalo last week and may be a bit disheartened. Detroit is actually on a two game winning streak. Both defenses have caught 11 interceptions, but the Dolphins offense is more likely to throw an interception. I think this game is closer than their records, so I'll take the Lions and the points.
Not so bold prediction: Calvin Johnson has more yards or fantasy points than Brandon Marshall. (No. Boo. Megatron's 4 for 52 is much less than Marshall's 10 for 102.)
Bold prediction: Calvin Johnson leads everyone in this game in fantasy points. ( looks like Hill's 222 yards passing and 2 TDs take the prize.)

Washington @ Jacksonville (-7): Tough loss for the Jaguars last week. They controlled their own destiny going in, but thanks to Peyton Manning, the Jaguars are pretty much in the exact same position as the Chargers...needing to win out and needing the team above them to lose a game. Interestingly enough, the Colts currently lead the Jags based on the common games tiebreaker, but if the Colts win then lose in week 17 and the Jaguars lose then win, both teams will be 9-7 and the common games tiebreaker switches to the Jaguars. But seven points is a little much. And the interceptions metric favors the Redskins. I don't think they'll win, but I'll take the Redskins and the points.
Not so bold prediction: Maurice Jones-Drew gets 100 total yards (if he plays). If he doesn't play, this prediction changes to "Someone gets 100 total yards." (Sucky. MJD's replacement Rashad Jennings had 32 yards on 15 carries. And no one else in the game got 100 yards.)
Bold prediction: Six guys get at least 10 fantasy points. (Grossman, Garrard, Torain, Mike Thomas...and that's it, so No.)

Houston (-2.5) @ Denver: All Offense, no's the Arena Football League!! This is the highest over/under of the week at 49, which was disappointingly low. I'll take the over. As for the second game of the Tim Tebow era? I honestly don't care that much. Just like I didn't care about the success of Vince Young coming out of college, when you start getting good in the NFL, I'll be paying attention. Of the two teams with really bad defenses...I'm taking the team with the much better offense. I'm picking the Texans to cover.
Not so bold prediction: There are at least four touchdowns in this game. (Closer than I thought...five TDs)
Bold prediction: Andre Johnson, Arian Foster and Tim Tebow all score a touchdown, either receiving, rushing or passing. (Andre Johnson didn't play and I didn't know he was an injury risk...but Foster and Tebow both scored.)

Indianapolis (-3) @ Oakland: So if the the Indianapolis Peyton Manning's take care of business and win their last two games there are in the playoffs as the three or four seed. The Oakland Raiders are mathematically still alive and Tom Cable seems to be doing an pretty good job keeping his guys in believing that they have a chance at the playoffs. Darren McFadden finally looks like the guy drafted #4 overall, instead of the the guy wearing #20 on the Raiders the last two years. Donald Brown had the first hundred yard game of his career last week. In each of the Colts six losses the other team was able to pressure and/or intercept Manning on defense and run the ball effectively on offense. The Raiders are second in the NFL in rushing. So the real question is whether the Raiders defense will be able to pressure/intercept Manning. I say they do it enough to keep the game close, but not enough to win outright. I'll take the Raiders and the points.
Not so bold prediction: Peyton Manning leads the game in passing yards. (WHAT?!?! The Colts 31-26, Manning throws for 3 TDs, but only 179 yards. Campbell throws for 231. Campbell threw for more yards than Peyton Manning? Seriously?)
Bold prediction: The Colts win by exactly three. (No. They won by exactly five.)

NY Giants @ Green Bay (-3): This game was OFF until people knew that Aaron Rodgers was going to play. Didn't they see Matt Flynn play against the Patriots last week? I guess they just wanted a little more information before putting out a line on the single game this week with the biggest playoff implications. I say the winner of this game gets the 6th seed in the NFC and the loser misses the playoffs. Can't get much bigger than that. So in games with playoff mentalities, I like to look at interceptions. My favorite metric says the Packers will win, so I guess I will also say that they cover.
Not so bold prediction: Aaron Rodgers starts the game. (Yes.)
Bold prediction: Aaron Rodgers finishes the game. (No...Rodgers plays the whole 60 minutes...or at least, when the Packers were on offense. He was probably sitting down on the bench when their defense was on the field.)

Seattle @ Tampa Bay (-6.5): I really want the Bucs and 49ers to win just to clinch the 7-9 NFC West champion. I really do enjoy or appreciate things that happen so rarely. So even though I am opposed to the NBA having 16 playoff teams out of 32, which usually ensures that a losing team makes it every year, the idea of the first NFL playoff team with a losing record kind of intrigues me. Football Outsiders and their records say Tampa Bay is the better team, so I'm going to let them do the thinking for me and move on. I'm picking the Buccaneers to cover.
Not so bold prediction: LeGarrette Blount tries to run over a tackler. (He ran for 164...I'm sure he ran over a guy.)
Bold prediction: Marshawn Lynch scores a touchdown. (No.)

Minnesota @ Philadelphia (-14.5): Ok, so the lines for this game go OFF, OFF, 14.5. I don't care who is playing quarterback for the Vikings. It can be Lord Voldemort or fantasy Wide Receiver Joe Webb and the Vikings should be getting 14.5 points. And either way I would take Michael Vick and the Eagles. They are the better team in every way, except for having the best running back in the NFL. I mean Adrian Peterson is the beastliest running back in the NFL right now. And whenever I refer to him, I make sure to use his full name, because Adrian Peterson has earned it. But he's not playing this week, so the Eagles win by a few dozen touchdowns.
Not so bold prediction: Michael Vick throws or runs in a touchdown. (Yes, in fact he did both.)
Bold prediction: Michael Vick throws or runs in more touchdowns than Minnesota. (Sort of...maybe...but I guess not. Vick rushed for a TD and passed for a TD. Minnesota ran for one and passed for one...but they also had a defensive touchdown.)

New Orleans @ Atlanta (-2.5): In my fantasy football championship I have Drew Brees and Roddy White. They are my best two players. I have to wait until Monday night to see my best two players try and win me some money. I will be spending all Monday calculating my odds of making up a deficit of my opponent having all his guys play on Sunday...or, reveling in the fact that I have enough points that I don't even need my best two players. Here's to the latter. As for analysis that everyone else cares about, Drew Brees has thrown surprisingly quite a few interceptions this year and their defense has not been nearly proficient as they were last year in catching interceptions. This was the same logic I applied when picking the Ravens to cover last week and I was right. Joe Flacco didn't throw an interception, Brees did, and the Ravens won. Oh, and Ray Rice had 233 yards and 2 touchdowns. That helped too. This week feels very similar. Drew Brees throws for more yards than Matt Ryan. Brees throws three TDs and an interception while Ryan throws two TDs with no interceptions and the Falcons win by three with a total score between 51 and 57 points. I'm picking the Falcons to cover.
Not so bold prediction: Drew Brees throws a touchdown and has more passing yards than Matt Ryan (Brees: 302 passing yards and 1 TD with 2 interceptions. Ryan: 148 passing yards and 1 TD. Check and check.)
Bold prediction: Brees throws three TDs and an interception while Ryan throws two TDs with no interceptions and the Falcons win by three with a total score between 51 and 57 points. (Brees throws 1 TD and 2 interception, Ryan throws 1 TD and no interceptions and the Saints won by three with a total of 31 points. So...wrong, right, wrong, right, wrong, right, wrong)


  1. I'm taking the Tennessee +5, Baltimore -3.5, San Diego -7.5, Houston -2.5, Atlanta -2.5, Detroit +3.5, Green Bay -3.

  2. I've got:

    Chargers -7.5: I still don't trust the Bengals one iota.

    Ravens -3.5: I also agree that they come out wanting to prove they belong in the playoffs, and win big.

    Rams -2.5: This hurts me a TON, but I still can't pick a non-dominant west coast team playing the early game on the east coast...

  3. This was the saddest, but funniest, comment on FIWK yet...

    Can I amend my reason for picking the Chargers?

  4. Ok, I tried a new thing...I added the results of my predictions directly to the blog post. Do you like the format?

  5. Um, I do like it. Took me a bit to get used to it, but the italicized text helps. Maybe bold would be even better to show the updates?

    My favorite part about the results updates you posted is that they have a stream-of-consciousness quality to them... they read as if you are typing in the stats and results as you read the box score occasionally to funny effect (for example: the Niners bold prediction about 10 fantasy points, you list your near miss of 10.8 pts - and oh by the way, Michael Crabtree had over 17 pts)

  6. I also like it (it's week 16!), and also agree it should be further highlighted. Perhaps color in addition to italics?

  7. So the Chargers got eliminated from the playoffs and I went 2-13 with my Bold predictions. And the two I got right weren't even that interesting. Tom Brady threw three TDs and Miles Austin caught a touchdown.

    I can tell you right now that you're not getting a normal breakdown of the games this week, because it's too hard to predict how hard teams are going to try. Many teams will be resting players for the playoffs or just not trying that harder having been eliminated. I'll write something...but I don't know what it will be.

    I'll be back next week with a vengeance looking at the playoff games.

  8. I'm surprised you've got any motivation to write this week's psot at all...congrats if you get it up!

  9. I think the way to go for this week is to guess which teams / games will try, and which won't.

    I would volunteer to do this, but starting tomorrow I am headed to Mammoth.