NFL 2012 Week 17: We're resting our starters here too.

Not our actual starter, because that would mean Royce or Scott would have to step up, and there's no way that's happening.  So I'm resting my metaphorical starter.  I got some good response from my disgruntled style last week, but I know if I try to recreate that, I'm doomed for failure.  Sometimes I wonder what it would have taken for this blog to take off.  I think the two biggest problems are that the other bloggers we talk to don't care about sports, and we don't show pictures of cheerleaders, WAGs, etc.  To get more outsiders to read my thoughts on football, I either need to show more cleavage or become Bill Simmons.  Seriously, one of the heaviest trafficked (trafficed? red squiggly line says trafficked, just doesn't feel right) NFL blog posts was one where I accidentally chose a picture of a nipple slip of an attractive Chargers fan.  Don't worry, I don't really have any hope either.

This week I will be relying heavily on this simple list of bullet points for my narrative, but my picks will be blindly following my tried-and-maybe-[probably?] method I've used all year, except for the weeks I didn't use it.  And you can bet your hindquarters I'll be using Yahoo's Off(0)...just not for the $ picks.

ATLANTA (Off(0)) over Tampa Bay: Right out of the gate we have a much better team with nothing to play for against a worse team with X to play for.  What do you fill in for X?  If teams are eliminated from the playoffs, do you think they play hard to have good tape for personnel evaluators looking at next season?  I'd like to think that NFL players genuinely play hard (and Ross Tucker confirms that they may not put in as much time during the week, but still play hard on Sunday) and don't care about a higher draft pick.  Mostly because the difference between picking 10th and 12th just isn't that big.  Is Vincent Jackson in the 7th round a better keeper than Ray Rice at 9th overall?  These are the problems I face in the year after my dominant disappointment of a fantasy team.

Nyj (+3.5) over BUFFALO: I spent about three seconds trying to remember why teams that have locked up a playoff seed are more likely to rest starters than teams that have been eliminated from the playoffs...fear of injuries.  It wouldn't surprise me if the Jets were secretly hoping Mark Sanchez tears an ACL.  Prepare for tons of Mark Sanchez naked bootlegs.  If McElroy ever starts another game and gets sacked 11 times, like he was last week by the Chargers, I'm going to try to get him nicknamed Sir-Sacked-A-Lot.  It has a really nice ring to it.  Say it out loud.  I worked.  So the Jets will finish the season with Buttfumble, Sir-Sacked-A-Lot, and Jesus.  To find that link I used the search widget and started to type "tebow is Jesus" and it popped up because I have made that exact search several times before.  As for the Buffalo CJ Spiller's, Matthew Berry super early ranked CJ Spiller as a first round pick.  I have to keep him in the 4th round, right?  Over Ray Rice at #9 overall?  #firstworldproblems #goodfantasyproblems

CINCINNATI (-2.5) over Baltimore: I had to double check, because for a second there I thought I was picking this game based on something like the Ravens not trying.  But it turns out the Bengals are locked into the 6th seed and the Ravens could move up from the fourth seed to the third seed with a win and a Patriots loss.  This wasn't even in the list of playoff scenarios I linked to above.  I guess they only care about making the playoffs, home games and first round byes.  And the Ravens are locked into a first round home game with no chance for a bye.  But I digress, which I am wont to do.  Something about the Bengals not trying and the Ravens trying...oh yeah, this line might reflect that, but my pick doesn't.  I actually have the Bengals as the better team.  This actually could be a close exciting game, that I just can't get into.  Do I keep Ray Rice at #9 overall?  I'll probably have to figure out who will be available and how many people before me use their first round picks on a keeper.

Chicago (-3) over DETROIT: The Bears need a win and a Vikings loss to make the playoffs.  The Lions are just bad.  If there was ever a time where you would be shocked by how low the line is, this would be it.  Royce, how have those bets worked for you?  I'm taking the Bears and putting a pretty high level of confidence on them, but I won't be surprised if the Lions win outright just because that's how crazy the NFL can be.  I mean, Brandon Marshall and Vincent Jackson are both top five fantasy receivers this year, and I still lost in the semifinals.

Jacksonville (+4) over TENNESSEE: I just realized, going back to the Bengals-Ravens game, that if the Ravens move up to the 3 seed, the Bengals and Ravens could end up playing each other in consecutive weeks.  And yes, this was much more interesting than anything about the Titans and Jaguars.

INDIANAPOLIS (+7) over Houston: So Indianapolis is locked into the 5 seed and Houston needs a win to keep the 1 seed (or a Denver AND New England loss), so this is another one of those subjective "one team is trying to win and the other team is trying not to get injured" kind of games.  But it should only be a 4 point spread in Indy.  Do you miss this kind of analysis?  Where I tell you what the spread should be based on the respective Pythagorean winning percentages?  (Here I'm picturing Scott thinking "Not really, I'd rather have more snark."  And you know what, I agree.  Less analysis, more snark.  Is snark a noun?  Or did I just noun an adjective.  And yes, I had to verb the word noun to make that previous sentence work.  Ahhh....this feels much better.  Did I already close this parenthesis, or am I still inside it?) You know who is related to Indy head coach Chuck Pagano? Chargers defensive coordinator John Pagano.  I think he's done a good job.  I hope the new Chargers head coach keeps him around.

Carolina (+5) over NEW ORLEANS: I hope I get to own Drew Brees in one of my fantasy teams next year.  He helped me last year and I didn't get to enjoy his services this year.  He's actually much more fun to own than Tom Brady.  It was surprisingly boring owning him.  As for Drew Brees, I am still annoyed by how big a deal ESPN was making about him breaking the consecutive games with a passing touchdown record.  It really felt like the were showing Drew Brees vs. Johnny Unitas, not Saints vs. Chargers.  Of course, if the Chargers hadn't blown that game in the fourth quarter, I would probably be much happier for Drew Brees.  That's what San Diego fans have.  We are happy for our former players to find success, even if its after they left San Diego.  And I really want Sean Payton to become the head coach of the Chargers.

NYG (-7.5) over Philadelphia:  I've heard a few rumors that Andy Reid would be considered for the Chargers head coaching vacancy because they are looking for someone with experience.  You know what?  I'm ok with this.  The more I think about it, the more I like it.  This guy has gone 130-92-1 in the regular season and has made the playoffs in nine of his fourteen seasons, including four consecutive NFC Championship games.  The more I sit here trying to think of the next good thing, the more it starts with "I'm even willing to overlook..." I'm going to stop right here and move on.  Although the prospect of getting a new head coach and a new general manager does have a little 'opening presents on Christmas morning' kind of feel.  I'm so excited to get a new name to read on Wikipedia and learn all about his history.

PITTSBURGH (oFF(0)) over Cleveland: I don't even know why this game is Off.  It's not like the Browns starting quarterbacks were that good in the first place.  Mike Tomlin is another good coach.  I want our next head coach to be like him.

Kansas City (+16) over DENVER: My chart of winning percentages and corresponding point spreads only goes up to 13.  So any time the spread goes above that, I take the underdog and say "too many points".

MINNESOTA (+3.5) over Green Bay: Everyone outside Minnesota and Green Bay (and Chicago because of playoff implications) wants to see Adrian Peterson break Eric Dickerson's single season rushing record, or at least get to 2000 yards and doesn't even care who wins this game.  I'm one of those people.  (Which is kind of a tautology since I said everyone outside Minnesota, Green Bay and Chicago and I am part of everyone.  Or if you didn't know me and didn't know where I lived, you can make the logical conclusion that I do not live in Minnesota, Green Bay, or Chicago, but this would not be a tautology.)  If you're sitting in a sports bar on Sunday, you will hear someone shout "Why are the Vikings passing?!?!  Just keep handing the ball to Peterson!"  And you will think to yourself A) because the Vikings are down by two scores and actually want to win this game. B) That guy probably has a prop bet on Peterson's rushing yards.  He might have a gambling problem. OR C) Exactly!!  Peterson still needs 60 yards to get the record and will have to run it in from his own 40 to get that.  Any passing yards take away from his potential rushing yards.  I should walk over and start a conversation with that guy.

Miami (+10) over NEW ENGLAND: Too many points.  DAMMIT!!  I was trying really hard to think of how I could recreate the success of this joke from last week, especially with a couple 16 point spreads and the Chargers-Raiders being Off, but I can already feel it's just not going to work.  Because I actually want to talk about the Chargers, the Kansas City game was earlier (I go in the same order as the Yahoo Pick 'Em page), and I'll be taking the Seahawks -10.5.

SAN DIEGO (Off(0)) over Oakland:  Beating the Raiders in San Diego in front of a crowd with more Raiders fans than Chargers fans just feels right.  Like everything is right with the world.  Our defense is pretty good, and while I would like to see an upgrade at corner, I can live with what we have for now, especially if Shareece Wright and Marcus Gilchrist can continue to develop.  Eventually one of those guys will replace Quentin Jammer opposite Antoine Cason.  Our front seven could use a pass rusher, but that will have to come from Melvin Ingram or Antwan Barnes emerging, because I don't see drafting a pass rushing outside linebacker in the first round for the third time in four years.  We're not the Lions.  I'd like to think that Philip Rivers will play better with a better offensive line.  In fact, I think all of our problems stem from the offensive line.  Danario Alexander has emerged as a decent WR and combined with Malcolm Floyd we will be fine there.  A better offensive line will make both Ryan Mathews and Philip Rivers better.  Maybe our offensive line will just stay healthier next year?

Arizona (+16.5) over SAN FRANCISCO: Too many points.  You want more?  16.5 is a LOT of points.  It's a full point and a half more than a two touchdown margin of victory.  In fact, it's still a half point if you include two two-point conversions.  You're saying the 49ers are going to win by three scores?  Winning 30-17 doesn't cover.  In fact, winning 30-14 doesn't cover.  Because 16.5 is too many points.  Too many points. Demasiados puntos.  Trop de points.  太多了點. Nimis multis punctis.

SEATTLE (-10.5) over St. Louis:  So apparently I agree with Football Outsiders that the Seahawks are the best team in the NFL right now.  Yes, you read that right.  Remember this and be careful about assuming you can pick against the Seahawks in the playoffs just because they aren't at home, unless they are at home because they beat the Rams and the Cardinals beat the 49ers.  Or they aren't playing next week because the Packers also lost and the Seahawks got a bye.  And the Rams actually aren't that bad.  They are a very quiet 7-7 team with the exact same point differential as the 10-5 Colts.  Although that is -42, which means they both should have 6.5 wins right now.  So the Rams are overperforming by half a game and the Colts are overperforming by epic proportions.  The Rams aren't bad, the Seahawks are just that good.

WASHINGTON (-3) over Dallas:  RGIII, Andrew Luck, Russell Wilson, Cam Newton.  These are some fun young quarterbacks who will make NFL games exciting to watch for the next decade.  I just wish one of them was on my team.  Well not really, but maybe?  I am happy with Philip Rivers, I really am.  He is capable of leading a good team through the playoffs.  But considering their ages and performance this year, I don't think any Chargers fan would be upset if we upgraded from Rivers to one of these guys.  Oh, and apparently this game decides the NFC East.  And under most scenarios, the loser is out of the playoffs completely.  They definitely chose the right game to flex to Sunday night.  It should be fun.


  1. $40 on Chicago, NY Jets, Carolina, NY Giants, Minnesota, Washington, San Diego.

    $20 on Kansas City and Arizona.


    that, my friend, was well done

  3. I half want to pick no games this week and watch you lose more than you win. (Jeopardy style) :D

  4. It's called game theory. You are at a distinct advantage, because you know exactly what my max is, and theoretically you can calculate my expected value.

  5. ...too much effort...and you could always take an extra afternoon/night game...leading me to guess if you are going to or not...

  6. Let's go with a crisp $25 on Washington and Minnesota...

  7. Trop de points!! LOL. Well played sir.

    Your extended paragraph talking yourself into Andy Reid as the new Chargers coach made me throw up in my mouth a little bit. And yet.... you had me saying "I could even overlook such and such" when I started thinking about going to multiple AFC championship games .... ugh. I'm doing it too. This sucks.

    Also if Scooter and I aren't even the backups to this column, but maybe the backups to your backup (of not trying as hard I guess?), what does that make MP? Is he the 6th-string QB who can come in when we're all injured and suddenly light up the league? There's no doubt that if that happened, he would suddenly turn into French Bill Simmons, create a Linsanity-style FIWK blog rage out of nowhere, and outshine all of us, right? And we could rename the Ewing Theory for blogs the Aaron theory?

    Okay I think I've exhausted that line of thought. Anyway, picks are:

    $100 on Seattle -10.5
    $100 on SD pick em (can I pick an Off score?)
    $50 on Arizona +16.5; 30 pt blowout wouldn't shock me though
    $50 on Washington -3; finally putting the steak in the heart of this undead Dallas team

  8. Hey speaking of what would help our blog be successful... do you see that once again the most popular searches are Atul Gawande's "Better" chapter blogs I wrote, back like over 2 years ago?

    You know what that means? I should probably write more of those. You know what I've done with this information. Not written more of those. This is why I suck.

  9. Royce,

    1) You and Scott are the actual backups, but I decided to go with the metaphorical backup instead.
    2) MP is the Shane Falco of the NFL posts. He is currently scraping barnacles off the bottom of boats, staying sharp by throwing a fake football underwater to no one. But if we have a labor dispute Gene Hackman is bringing him in for a couple crazy, exciting wins.
    3) I'm big enough of a man, that if MP led to a Lin-sanity type explosion of FIWK, I'd be ok with that.
    4) No, you can't take the Chargers at a pick'em. But, I think I saw Simmons list the Chargers as a 7 point favorite even though I couldn't verify that anywhere, so you can still have SD -7 if you want that.
    5) You drive a stake through a heart. Even if you grilled the steak until it was black and charred and crunchy instead of chewy, I don't think that could pierce skin. Although, to be fair, I have not seen any studies about the effectiveness of steaks or other meat products on zombies or other undead creatures. I guess it's possible there is some effect that I cannot envision.

  10. I will still take SD at -7, even though I cannot verify that line either. Liked pick em better, though.

    The Shane Falco analogy for MP is so apt that I'm speechless. In fact I can picture him scraping barnacles off the bottom of boats in the French Riviera as we speak. (Bonus question - what would lead to a FIWK labor dispute?? Haha I had fun imagining scenarios.)

    As for #5, CLEARLY what I meant is that Washington is going to remove the Cowboys' heart, grill that motherlover up on a Weber at midfield, then reinsert said steak - black and charred as you colorfully describe - right back into their empty heart cavity. This is a well known zombie destruction technique, right behind using cricket bats like Shaun of the Dead.

  11. Scott not paying out the $1.37 we have each earned over the last five years?

  12. We're up to a whopping $8.13 thank you very much.

    In 5th grade, we had an English project where we had to illustrate a common phrase but switch out the homonym. I drew a steak being used to kill a zombie. Yes, we've come full circle.

  13. WOW!! Is that true? You were a man ahead of our zombie-steaking time, good sir.

    Speaking of, Washington did indeed put a heart steak right in the chest cavity of Dallas' zombie season. Interesting games. Hooray Arizona backdoor cover! Boooo Oakland backdoor cover! Seattle could've done better too.

    I won the $50 games and lost the $100 games, meaning I lost another $100 and I'm down to $490. Come onnnn playoffs!

  14. $8.13 total? or $8.13 each? Because my random guess of $1.37 wasn't that far from that actual amount of $2.03.

  15. L,L,W,W,W,W,L

    Up $40 to $1,070. What are the odds Royce finishes the season at exactly $0? Is it 1/2^however many bets he makes on the Super Bowl? Since I'm going to give a 100% chance he bets all his remaining money on various prop bets for the Super Bowl.

  16. My hot streak has continued. Up $100 this week; now at 1,155!

    I'm the regular season world champion!

  17. Um, you put $25 on Washington and Minnesota, to go up $50 from $1,055 to $1,105. You still won the regular season, but I am only $35 behind you. It's a good thing you didn't go with the Jeopardy strategy because you would have lost.