By Anthony McClean, Editor In Chief Emeritus NEW HAVEN (BASN) —...
BASN NFL Picks: Week Fifteen
By Tony McClean
Updated: December 13, 2007
NEW HAVEN, Ct. – With Christmas right around the corner, it can only mean one thing. No, it’s not what to get Aunt Minnie for the holidays. It’s not even the choice of either free DirecTV or a date with Beyonce (only if Jay Z isn’t around). For football fans, it’s the annual playoff push.
Let’s take a brief peek. Three NFC teams — the Dallas Cowboys, Green Bay Packers, and Seattle Seahawks — have won their divisions, and the Indianapolis Colts have secured a playoff berth. All told, 23 teams are still in Super Bowl contention with three weeks to go.
As for Team Tivo, that team in Foxboro can match history when they host the division-rival New York Jets. A win and they tie the 1972 Miami Dolphins as the only teams in history to win the first 14 games of a season. Of course, Miami’s ’72 regular season was exactly 14 games, accounting for one of the NFL’s three undefeated/untied regular seasons in history (1934 Chicago Bears, 13-0; 1942 Chicago Bears, 11-0).
More on that a little later.
FACTOID OF THE WEEK
Pittsburgh head coach Mike Tomlin has enjoyed a successful rookie campaign this season. The Steelers have been especially dominant at home, posting a 7-0 record. If Pittsburgh defeats visiting Jacksonville this Sunday, Tomlin will become only the third rookie head coach to take his team to an undefeated home record since the NFL went to the 16-game schedule in 1978. Steve Mariucci accomplished the feat with San Francisco in 1997, leading the 49ers to an NFC Championship Game appearance that season. Dan Reeves also posted an 8-0 home record in his first season as Denver’s head coach in 1981.
Jacksonville’s David Garrard has thrown only one interception in 274 pass attempts, which puts him on pace to set the NFL season record for lowest interception percentage (.36). Which quarterback currently holds that single-season record?
A. Joe Ferguson
B. Neil O’Donnell
C. Steve DeBerg
D. Damon Huard
(The answer comes at the end of this column).
LAST WEEK: 11-4 (115-73 overall)
Again, we wound up doing better than we thought considering the upsets. We took a chance on the Steelers at Foxboro and got burned by Tampa loss against the Texans. However, we did have the Vikes, Jags, and Bills. Bottom line: we’ll take a double-digit win week anytime and twice on Sundays.
BENGALS at 49ERS
In a “It seemed like a good game back in August” dilemma, the NFL Network is forced to show a game between two teams that have eight combined wins on the season. How appropo is the fact that this game is being played at “Monster.com Park”. The most entertaining thing about this game is that you may see Chad Johnson do the hula or possibly something even more outrageous. Call this payback for screwing the fans who couldn’t see the Packers-Cowboys game a few weeks back.
JETS at PATRIOTS
This week’s question is which folks are in more denial — Roger Clemens fans or Pats’ fans who believe the Jets “illegally” taped their last matchup at Foxboro?? That’s this week’s distraction from Team Tivo’s rematch against Gang Green. The fact that the spread is a whopping 24 points is gracious when you consider the Opening Day ass whipping New York received back in September. If the Fighting Mangini’s have any pride they’ll put a good fight. Even with that said they may still fall by 20 or more.
BILLS at BROWNS
What a difference a few wins makes. After starting the season on the hot seat, Romeo Crennell and the Browns can actually clinch one of the AFC’s two wild-card spots with a victory over the Bills (along with a Tennessee loss and a Denver loss or tie). Now the Bills, who are still mathemically in the race, won’t be a pushover. Ironically, the Browns haven’t beaten the Bills in the regular season since 1987. I think that streak ends Sunday.
JAGUARS at STEELERS
Now that they don’t have to hear any more about guarantees until they begin shopping, the Black and Gold come home to a Jaguar squad that’s coming off a huge home win and looking to solidfy its playoff standing. We’ve already told you about how good Pittsburgh has been at home this season and the forecast for Sunday calls for 30-degree temperatures with a chance of snow. However, don’t just pencil in that win quite yet. With their two-headed backfield of Jones-Drew and Taylor will be able to stay in the game. This is just a hunch that Jax can pull off the upset.
REDSKINS at GIANTS
How weird are the Giants this season?? Well, lemme tell you. Big Blue is 9-0 this season against teams that currently have losing records while 0-4 versus teams with winning marks. While that might not bode well for their long term goals, the immediate goal is to try and beat an emotionally spent Redskin squad. It was nice to see them get a win last week against the Bears, however it cost them big time when they lost QB Jason Campbell for the season. Yes, I know Todd Collins (HE’S STILL IN THE LEAGUE??) played well, but I’m guessing that he’ll come back to earth on Sunday.
BEARS at VIKINGS
Try to imagine the wild ride that Viking fans have been on this season. They opened the year 2-5 before winning five of its last six games. In fact, since losing to Green Bay 34-0 on November 11, Minny has been averaging almost 35 points during their four-game winning streak, and have outscored their last three opponents by a combined score of 110-34. As for Da Bears, they’ve lost three of its last four, and is nearly out of the playoff picture. Because it’s a division game, you would expect it to be close. However, I get the feeling Minnesota may make the outcome obvious just before the half.
Seahawks over Panthers: Seattle could be a team to be reckoned in the NFC.
Titans over Chiefs: Blowing a two-touchdown lead at home will likely keep VY and the boys home for the postseason.
Cowboys over Eagles: Philly’s pride will keep it close, but the Boys should still win.
Dolphins over Ravens: This should make them rethink that contract extension for Brian Billick.
Falcons over Bucs: Here’s hoping Emmitt Thomas gets a fair shake as the Falcons’ full-time coaching job.
Cardinals over Saints: Note to Drew Brees: Your Reggie Bush commentary will come back to bite you in the ass in about the third quarter.
Colts over Raiders: Two things to remember — Indy is getting healthy and they’re still the champs until you dethrone them.
Packers over Rams: Oh, the humanity!!!!
Chargers over Lions: If Phillip Rivers ever regains his 2006 form, this will be another dangerous playoff squad.
D. Current Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Damon Huard, who threw only one INT in 244 attempts last season, is the record holder with a .41 mark.