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- Ian's week 15 picks

Ian Hetherington December 15, 2007
Ian Hetherington
NFL Columnist

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Week 14 thoughts


Kevin Everett back on his feet: I was reading about the Kevin Everett story this week, how he’s up and walking and generally sounding happy, knowing he’s still got a long way to go and will never play football again but he’s done so well with the support of his wife and family. It’s been easier for him than it might have been for many (physically because he’s an athlete and financially) but it’s still great to read about how hard he’s fought to get to where he is and how he’s thinking about his real future, not what his future might have been.

By bye Bobby (and Michael): Another eventful week in Falcon-town. Mike Vick has received a jail sentence of 23 months (and even for good behaviour it won’t be much less, apparently) and Bobby Petrino has upped and left the team, scurrying back to college football where he can exert the force of will that by all accounts got him nowhere in the Falcons locker room. It’s probably getting to such a point where it seems like just another day for Falcons owner Arthur Blank.

Unseemly scuffle: After one of Brady’s various touchdown passes of the day, he made a bee-line for Steelers safety Anthony Smith after the latter’s “guarantee” of a win against the Patriots. Ignore for a moment that the quote taken from the interview with Smith was represented to make it something it wasn’t, and it wasn’t a pretty scene. Brady, likely MVP of the season, telling Smith exactly what he thought of him and players of both teams swarming around. Whether they were trying to separate the two in case things took a turn for the worse I wouldn’t like to speculate, but even if Smith had made an actual guarantee of a win he wouldn’t be the first or last player to make a brash statement and he’s young. As an experienced player (and grown man) Tom Brady should be above blatant gloating after throwing for a touchdown. The Patriots were the better team on the night and it had nothing to do with a perceived challenge from Smith, couldn’t it just be left at that?

Unbeaten vs. Winless on the way: Speaking of another Patriots win, the chances of a 15-0 team taking on an 0-15 team are still strong.

And out of nowhere….: A couple of teams have suddenly started to produce in unexpected areas, notably Minnesota’s Tarvaris Jackson has been looking much more assured with the ball in his hands and Green Bay have brought Ryan grant into the running game to excellent effect. With the Packers heading to the playoffs and the Vikings still in the hunt, these are improvements that could really alter the post-season picture.

NFL Week 15 Picks


Denver Broncos vs. Houston Texans
Obviously this game is done now, but I just thought I'd put this in to let you know I went for Denver, once again judging them all wrong.

Cincinnati Bengals vs. San Francisco 49ers
The Bengals were desperately underwhelming last week as they sleep-walked to a win over the Rams who had to put the ball in the hands of Brock Berlin, and I’m still going to pick them to beat the 49ers. And not just because the 49ers got beaten by twenty at home last week, just that there’s not many teams who I’d say can’t find a way to beat this disappointing team.

Arizona Cardinals vs. New Orleans Saints
Whether you’re of the opinion that the Saints have just had a poor year or whether they’re a team who’ve been found out after punching above their weight in 2006 is irrelevant, all that matters is they have things they need to fix and they should try and start now. Drew Brees could enjoy a good day against the Cardinals as they’ve struggled against the pass this year and it it’s a game where the strain might be lifted from a stuttering running game and shaky defense. Kurt Warner’s disastrous five interceptions against Seattle is unlikely to slow him down and the Cardinals know he can dish out some punishment to New Orleans, but if this one comes to a shootout Brees will keep the Saints’ noses in front.

Baltimore Ravens vs. Miami Dolphins
I can’t imagine I’m alone in the way I look at the Dolphins right now. There’s a part of me willing them to get a win because few people want anybody but their bitterest rivals to be to suffer abject humiliation. Another part is, cruelly, almost hoping they do go 0-16 just to prove wrong one thought that’s going haywire in the back my head: “Surely it’s not possible for a professional football team to fail to win every game in a season?”

Buffalo Bills vs. Cleveland Browns
Quite what the Bills are doing in the top half of the AFC with a 7-6 record is beyond me, but the importance of this game in the playoff race is undeniable. If Buffalo win they and the Titans could draw level with them on 8-6, not to mention other teams who will be hoping to see Cleveland slip up. If the Browns take the win at home, as I think they will, they hold onto their Wild Card spot for now. Just who would have thought the Bills going to the Cleveland in week 15 would be so darned interesting?

Green Bay Packers vs. St. Louis Rams
The thought is that Scott Linehan’s job is safe, but when the Packers come and bully their way to another win as they patiently wait to see if the Cowboys will falter he’ll feel a lot less comfortable. A 3-10 coach can never be truly safe if another home defeat is thrown onto the record, and the Rams aren’t really good enough at anything at this moment to help them slow down the Pack.

***Game of the Week***
Jacksonville Jaguars vs. Pittsburgh Steelers
If two playoff contenders slugging it out in what promises to be a big, physical battle is your cup of tea then make sure you tune in for this one. This is arguably less important than the Bills/ Browns game but it does still carry playoff implications which only adds to what should be an entertaining one. If Jacksonville’s second best rushing offense taking on the second best rushing defense in the NFL doesn’t sound tempting enough for you, the Jacksonville pass defense should be just a stern enough test to get the best out of Pittsburgh’s solid passing game. There’s plenty of talent on both teams to keep this one going until the buzzer, but hearing of Marcus Stroud going on IR definitely tips things the Steelers way.

New York Jets vs. New England Patriots
We’ve heard all the usual lines, “On any given Sunday…” and “It’s different in a rivalry game…” and so on. It doesn’t stop me already feeling bad for the Jets. Eric Mangini had better prepare his players and get them fired up in the face of the pummelling everybody has them down for, because he knows as well as anybody else that they’re walking into the lair of a team who seem incredibly angry at everyone and everything considering they’re 13-0. Belichick will want to hurt the Jets after the Spygate issues in New York at the start of the year, which means Tom Brady will want to hurt them. Still, the Jets have a Spygate issue of their own supposedly and when you’re told you’re going to get splattered on the field it makes you that bit extra motivated. It could still be painful to watch but I think the Jets will hold on harder and longer than I’d originally been willing to credit them for.

Seattle Seahawks vs. Carolina Panthers
A week 14 flop in Jacksonville could be the beginning of a very bad end to the season for Carolina. Before a home game against Dallas and finishing the season with a trip to Tampa Bay they host the Seahawks boasting a five game winning streak and an average of twenty-nine points per game since their bye. The Panthers can’t even make Steve Smith look like a major threat at the moment which is a sure-fire way to show that you’re struggling.

Tennessee Titans vs. Kansas City Chiefs
The Chiefs have been getting progressively worse since a few weeks of showing some life nearer the start of the season, culminating in that atrocious performance in Denver last week. Tennessee are coming off a defeat as well, having been beating 23-17 by San Diego, but given the nature of Kansas’ performances the Titans could have lost 43-17 and I’d still be hard pushed to find real reasons for them to lose which is a sad indicator of how poor the Chiefs have looked after their past games.

Indianapolis Colts vs. Oakland Raiders
Peyton Manning lead the Colts as they confirmed their return as a dominating team by throwing for four touchdowns in Baltimore. It was a strange one for the Colts because they amassed a good number of touchdowns without every piling up big yards. Peyton is bound to be excited by the prospect of this game though, who wouldn’t be a little giddy at the thought of their first time going to Oakland? He might not be welcome though, probably like one of those guests who comes to your house, takes all the roast potatoes at dinner, drinks the last beer and then abruptly leaves when he’s full of your food and drink.

Detroit Lions vs. San Diego Chargers
The Lions might have got three touchdowns on the ground last week but they don’t fool me. They haven’t done a great job of maintaining a running game this year and I’m not about to work on the assumption they’ll run well for a second consecutive game as they face San Diego. LaDainian Tomlinson didn’t look much pleased with Philip Rivers last week but we’ll see how quickly players can kiss and make up when Rivers throws a few touchdowns against Detroit’s leaky pass defense.

Philadelphia Eagles vs. Dallas Cowboys
Jason Witten’s delight at the attitude of Tony Romo was clear. Witten had fumbled in a great position and lost the ball, but Romo came up to him and said on their next drive he’d be looking for him again and he was as good as his word. Romo has impressed this year for a lot of reasons including his ability to pull something out of nothing, but making Jason Witten your main target doesn’t require originality of thought, and Romo knew a fumble wasn’t a good reason to suddenly ease up on him. That’s the sort of leadership Dallas’ quarterback is showing these days, and while a team atop the NFC East always looks one divisional game away from a hiccup, Dallas could well finish the season with only a defeat against the Patriots to their name. Philadelphia’s inspired game against New England looks increasingly like it was a spike in quality rather than a revival, and with little to realistically play for now they’re not looking in the right frame of mind to shut down the ‘Boys in their own back yard.

Washington Redskins vs. New York Giants
There’s a number of reasons I’m not about to get too caught up in Todd Collins’ fine performance last week. 1) He wouldn’t be the first quarterback this year to get into the team because of injury, do well and then struggle in the next game. 2) I don’t really fancy his chances if that Giants pass-rush is allowed to get near him. 3) Aside from Chris Cooley there’s not a reliable receiver of any kind for the ‘Skins. As it was with Testaverde, it was a nice story and all, I’m just too sceptical to think he’s going to repeat that performance.

Chicago Bears vs. Minnesota Vikings
Adrian Peterson wasn’t very good last week, and Adrian Peterson was even worse. Yes, we’ve got a battle of two running backs with the same name on our hands with this one and last week they were both pretty dire. The one playing for Chicago was merely bad, the Vikings Rookie of the Season contender was downright atrocious. From 14 attempts he got a total of three yards and a longest gain of four yards. Ouch. Who cares though, when you’ve got Chester Taylor to fall back on? Minnesota were accused of being one dimensional, they only seemed able to run the ball and defend the run. So what did they decide was the best tonic? Simply getting better, with Tarvaris Jackson looking much more comfortable in recent weeks and their defense becoming a better unit all round. The 7-6 record is misleading, they suddenly look like a team who can make an impact should they get to the playoffs which they’re currently in position to achieve. Chicago’s performances, somewhat tragically, seem to revolve around how much their opposition allow Devin Hester to get involved, which seems to be something teams are less willing to chance after what he did to Todd Sauerbrun a few weeks ago. If Chicago can pass better, open up more gaps on the run, tighten up when defending the pass, get Devin Hester room to run on kick returns and stop guys ploughing through them with the ball tucked under their arm they might do okay. That’s not too much to ask, right?

PFC Staff Fantasy Picks


The irregularity of this “feature” has marred it somewhat as we’ve got busier heading into the Christmas period but we’ll soldier on and try to have a solid couple of weeks. First off, here were the last set of selections we made and the points they earned:

For week 13, Kevin Figg chose Jon Kitna, Willie Parker, Randy Moss and Tony Gonzalez. Kitna got things started for him against the Lions with 10 points, followed by 4 points for Parker, Moss’ 6 and 4 for Gonzalez to round things off for a total of 24.

Chris chose Jay Cutler, Willie Parker, Steve Smith and Kellen Winslow. Disappointing scores of 2 ˝ and 4 from Cutler and Parker weren’t helped by lowly scores of 2 and 0 from Smith and Winslow as Chris suffered another bad week for a total of 8 ˝.

And to finish things up, I went for Peyton Manning, Adrian Peterson, Wes Welker and Chris Cooley. Manning got me off to a great start with 28 ˝ against Jacksonville, followed up with 16 from Adrian Peterson and a respective 0 and 2 from Cooley for a low-key finish. These got me a week-topping total of 46 ˝.

After those scores and some safer picks than in previous weeks from me (and Chris having dreadful misfortunate with a group of players all vastly under-performing) here are the scores.

Ian Hetherington - 457 ˝
Chris Pokorny – 381
Kevin Figg - 339 ˝

After the latest scores I think I have an artificially big lead that doesn’t really tell the story of how even we’ve been over a course of weeks, but given how quickly I’ve taken that lead three remaining games is more than enough time for Chris to catch up with me and Kevin to catch up with Chris.

And so, onto the picks for this week:

Kevin Figg
QB: Tony Romo (Cowboys) vs. Eagles - After a subpar performace (for his standards at least), look for Romo to bounce back and put the birds out of their misery.

RB: Joseph Addai (Colts) vs. Raiders - The Raiders are the worst team in the NFL against the run, enough said.

WR: Randy Moss (Patriots) vs. Jets - You know the Pats are going to want to pour it on after the Jets ratted them out.

TE: Donald Lee (Packers) vs. Rams - Lee is one of the biggest playmakers at the tight end position this season. Look for him to recieve a lot of action against the struggling Rams.

Chris Pokorny
QB: Drew Brees (Saints) vs. Cardinals - The Saints need another big game from Brees to stay alive in the NFC wildcard race without the services of a premiere running back.

RB: Ryan Grant (Packers) vs. Rams - Looking to establish greater faith in the running game as the season goes on, Grant looks to follow up his effort against the Raiders with another A+ performance versus the Rams.

WR: Randy Moss (Patriots) vs. Jets - If the Patriots want to dismantle the Jets in historic fashion, it'll start with Moss going up top several times against the Jets' defenders.

TE: Heath Miller (Steelers) vs. Jaguars - In low scoring games, the tight ends always seem to end up making the difference.

Ian Hetherington
QB: Derek Anderson (Browns) vs. Bills – It’s a huge game for the Browns, so expect Derek Anderson to lead the way against the Bills, who are soft against the pass.

RB: Adrian Peterson (Vikings) vs. Bears – Peterson was dire last week, but I don’t think the Bears are good enough at stopping teams on the ground for that to happen again.

WR: T.J. Houshmanzadeh (Bengals) vs. 49ers – He’s been a favoured target of Carson Palmer’s and that should show against San Francisco.

TE: Tony Gonzalez (Chiefs) vs. Titans – The Chiefs probably won’t get a lot done running the ball against Tennessee so Gonzalez could be the first, second and third best things in the Kansas offense again.


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