Fifteen weeks in and Red is still sucking gas. What’s prognosticator to do? Open a bottle of Chianti, put the pot roast on the stove and settle in for some more disappointment. Another 2-4 in Week 15 aint getting it done. Red is 35-41-2 for the season. This week will be 6-0 for sure or perhaps 0-6. Whatever, Merry Christmas!
Sure Bet Pick of the Week –Titans topple Jaguars. The Titans are playing as well as any highly mediocre team in the league with playoff pretensions right now. And unlike most of the other pretenders, the Titans actually control their own destiny. Two wins and they are in. The scheduling geniuses may look like – well, geniuses – if the Titans win and the Colts lose this week, or if the Titans and Texans both win, or if the Titans, Texans and Colts all lose. If any of those scenarios come to pass, then it will be winner take on New Year’s Day in Nashville. For the first time that Red can remember, a game between the old Houston franchise (miss ya’ blue) and the new Houston franchise (see definition of mediocrity in your Webster’s Collegiate) might actually mean something – and Red has to root for that. Meanwhile, the Jags are coming off tough loss to Texans and firing of Head Coach Gus Bradley (or something like that). Sometimes hanging a coach in effigy is a cathartic experience for the team and they rally around the survivors. Not this week. Mariota torches the Jags and the starters get some rest. Take the Titans giving up 4 and the over at 43. Tennessee 33 Jacksonville 16.
Underdog Pick of the Week – Cardinals Crush Seahawks. Red is starting to wonder about the wisdom of this category. Trying to pick an underdog every week has definitely hurt the bottom line. But Red is never one to shrink from a challenge – run away screaming like a 8 year old boy perhaps, but not to shrink. Cardinals are playing for pride at this point. Seahawks are playing to secure 2d seed. A loss could drop them to 4th seed if Falcons and Lions both win –possibly resulting in an undesirable wildcard game against the always dangerous in the playoffs Giants. So it’s not like the Seahawks can rest up down the stretch. Cardinals were in the playoff hunt before losing 4 of the last 5 – mostly to decent teams. There is no reason to pick them to win on the road, but here goes. Arizona 17 Seattle 16.
Rivalry Game Pick of the Week – Vikings vanquish Packers. Red picked the Vikings to win this division and Red is going down with the longboat. As rivalries go, this one is not bad. 112 meetings with the Packers holding a 89-51-2 edge. And the teams have split their two playoff games with the Vikings winning after the 2004 season and the Packers taking it home in 2012. The proximity of our northern neighbors and the chance for a late season blizzard game adds to the promise here. With any luck at all it’s a miserable Christmas Eve in northern Wisconsin. As you know, Red likes nothing more than to sit by the fire and watch large, fast men play in the snow. Minnesota 13 Green Bay 10.
Texas Franchise Pick of the Week – Cowboys clobber Lions. Tony Who? Arlington 24 Detroit 20.
Prime Time Pick of the Week – Texans take down Bengals. Red was present at NRG on a cold Sunday afternoon for the beginning of the Tom Savage era. Sometimes a strange thing happens when the struggling and seemingly incompetent starter is unceremoniously yanked. Sometimes the offensive line starts blocking, and the wide receivers start getting open and the running backs pick it up a notch and the referee’s calls start going your way. That’s exactly what happened on Sunday and TS took advantage leading the Texans to a rousing come from behind victory before the not-so-faithful on the South Loop. But before we get too excited – remember that it was against the hapless Jaguars. Episode 2 of “Tom Savage, Texans Quarterback” will be on NFL Network Christmas Eve. Red will probably be eating his special holiday tenderloin with a stuffed baked potato and a delightful salad surrounded by kith and kin while the drama unfolds. Let him know how it turns out. Houston 24 Cincinnati 13.
Shit Bowl Pick of the Week –Rams ransack 49ers. This week features the rare all-California Shit Bowl. Throw in the added plus of a team with a recently fired coach (Mr. Mediocrity himself – Jeff Fischer) and the prospect of a soon to be fired coach (Mr. Send Him Back to College – Chip Kelly) and you have the makings of a possibly entertaining Shit Bowl this week. Oh, who is Red kidding? He’s just excited that he doesn’t have to pick a Browns game this week. So don’t climb up on the roof to fix your Christmas lights at halftime of this beastly bowel battle, you might decide to stay up there and baby, it’s cold outside. Rams rally to pull one out – pun intended. Los Angeles 27 Santa Clara 24.