I just spent way too much time screwing around with the Playoff Machine, which lets you pick the winner of every game remaining and then gives you an instant readout of the playoff seeding that particular set of outcomes precipitates.
In my most recent set of dubious hypothetical outcomes, I have Washington and the Giants with the 4th and 6th seeds, respectively, both with 9-7 records. The Giants can even go 8-8 and still make the playoffs atop the NFC East, which could happen considering both Dallas and Washington are 5-6 and Andy Reid’s misfit children at 3-8.
There are still 5 weeks to play.
My Pick: New Orleans (+3.5) @ Atlanta
The Falcons lost to the Saints three weeks ago at the Superdome and have had two close calls since, pulling out a game over the Cardinals where Matt Ryan threw 5 interceptions and another over the Bucs by a point thanks to a missed field goal.
The Falcons have actually played with some fortitude and resolution in these hard-fought wins and they will most likely win this one. There are a few variables, namely the odious Saints defense, how bad they actually play, and Brees/Ryan turnovers.
If the Falcons win this game, they are legit and may even get that home playoff win that has eluded them in years past. If not, they ignite the Saints at the perfect time to make a run.
The above is not a logical football decision. Go Saints.
My Pick: Seattle (+3.5) @ Chicago
Another irrational pick: Chicago’s Defense can mess with rookies. Matt Forte (ankle) may not play, but there’s little drop-off to Michael Bush. Seattle loses on the road.
Despite whatever evidence to the contrary, I do not believe Chicago is a good team. Or good but without the cliché “heart.”
My Pick: Green Bay (-8) vs. Minnesota
Injuries make the high line a little questionable. Without Clay Matthews, Green Bay has very little upfront, he is questionable. With Percy Harvin out, the only offensive player for the Vikings becomes Adrian Peterson.
The Packers are coming off an ugly loss to the Giants. They know this team and are 4-0 in their last four games. Divisional play.
The Pack is coming in hot.
My Pick: San Francisco (-7) vs. St. Louis
They embarrassed New Orleans.
My Pick: Arizona (+4.5) @ The Jet-ski’s
Garbage. Let’s hope Lindley is at least semi-competent and they Jets are their usual shitty-selfs.
New York’s week 11 win over the Rams makes me pause, is there a way to pick neither?
My Pick: Indianapolis (+5) @ Detroit
One Major Caveat: Stafford to Megatron pissing all over the Colts’ crappy secondary. But, Stafford hasn’t quite looked himself and something seems off. As Bill Barnwell noted in a Grantland piece, he looks to be throwing a sort of side-arm lob that lacks the velocity and accuracy of his normally more-conventional technique. He and Johnson do lead the league in passing and receiving yards but they also rank first in attempts and third in targets, respectively.
Indy should keep this close and they could win outright.
My Pick: Jacksonville (+6) @ Buffalo
The Battle of Ineptitude: Most Porous Secondaries! Let that Henne ride!
My Pick: Miami (+7.5) vs Pats
The Pats win, Miami should cover.
Unless they score 5 Touchdowns. Shit.
They still could score 50.
My Pick: Houston (-6) @ Tennessee
The Texans have not covered two weeks in a row, pulling out overtime squeakers on the road in Jacksonville and Detroit. I believe they right the ship here in Tennessee.
My Pick: Denver (-7.5) vs. Tampa
This is a hard week for everybody’s darlings. Peyton should shred their 32nd ranked passing defense. Denver will win, but I’m worried the Bucs cover.
My Pick: Baltimore vs. Pittsburgh (Off)
Even if Ben Roethlisberger is back, the Ravens sneak another out.
My Pick: Oakland vs. Cleveland (Pick)
Oakland should score more.
My Pick: Cincinnati (-1.5) @ San Diego
The Chargers proved last week that it doesn’t matter where they play, they just don’t care anymore. Whether it is the cumulative weight of 5+ years of Norv Turner inspired mediocrity or three straight years of trading away the most dynamic player on your offense, the Chargers seem checked out.
There is always the off-chance that Norv goes into a coma or that Philip Rivers gets a fear boner and widdles it to victory, but I think by now it is safe to put money on Cincy as the better team as much as it tears me up to say.
Also, Andy Dalton to AJ Green is looking so good.
My Pick: Philly (+10) @ Dallas
Dallas cannot beat anybody by 10. I know Shady is out and Nick Foles hasn’t hit puberty, but this is Dallas. As I said last week, they are top-to-bottom one of the most talented teams in the league, but let’s get serious.
My Pick: Giants (-2.5) @ Washington
The Giants could sneak into the playoffs with just one more win, but I think they’ve turned it on, albeit too early. They’re gunning now.
In thinking about what some call the Giants’ “November Swoon” or “Late Season Swoon,” I looked at their last 5 seasons and when they lost games.
The evidence proved inconclusive.
Narratives comfort, but its a much simpler story than what Bill Simmons will tell you. They have the ability to turn it. And they like big games.
Stone Cold Lock of the Century of the Week: I’ll take the Monday Nighter again, G-Men in D.C.
Last Week: 9-6-1