By Josh Kramer
Don Shula and the 1972 Dolphins can breathe a major sigh of relief, while the 2008 Lions, well, their record is safe. Week 15 was one of those weeks that typified why the NFL is the benchmark of parity in American professional sports. Nobody could have predicted all of the improbable outcomes that occurred. Now we have just two weeks left, and five playoff spots yet to be determined.
As has become the tradition, we are once again having “TheSportsKraze Pick’em Challenge.”
The participants this season are as follows:
TheSportsKraze (TSK) (defending champion)-Josh Kramer-Founder/Editor-In-Chief of “TheSportsKraze” and former ESPN intern.
CV3-Chad Vordenberge-An elite high school wide receiver and a very successful business owner.
CB-Craig Baker-A former collegiate baseball player and current special education teacher.
DC-David Clark-A dedicated sports fan who was coached by TheSportsKraze on his fraternity flag football team. After playing for TheSportsKraze, he has developed a slow but steady motivation to show his coach who the real pick’em champion is.
After Week 15, here is the scoreboard.
Oakland Raiders (TSK, CV3, DC)) at Kansas City Chiefs (CB)
-The Word: Can Oakland return the favor for the beating that the Chiefs put on them back in Week 7?
Jacksonville Jaguars (DC) at Tennessee Titans (CB, TSK, CV3)
-The Word: This matchup had a lot more appeal back in Week 1. Tennessee pretty much blew their playoff chances last week when they lost to the Colts.
Miami Dolphins at New England Patriots (CB, TSK, CV3, DC)
-The Word: Despite a horrific defense, New England is playing for home-field and a possible number one seed in the AFC.
Arizona Cardinals at Cincinnati Bengals (CB, TSK, CV3, DC)
-The Word: Nobody envisioned the Bengals sniffing the playoffs. The Who Deys have to win at home against the streaking Cardinals to keep the dream alive.
Denver Broncos (CB, TSK, CV3, DC) at Buffalo Bills
-The Word: It looked as if the clock struck midnight on Tim Tebow last week. How will he respond in bitterly cold Buffalo in a game he has to win?
St. Louis Rams at Pittsburgh Steelers (CB, TSK, CV3, DC)
-The Word: I feel bad for whomever will be under center for St. Louis on Saturday.
New York Giants (CB, TSK, CV3) at New York Jets (DC)
-The Word: The Battle for New York. I think Rex Ryan has said all that needs to be said.
Minnesota Vikings (DC) at Washington Redskins (CB, TSK, CV3)
-The Word: Talk about two very disappointing teams. This game carries little to no weight in regards to the playoff picture.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (DC) at Carolina Panthers (CB, TSK, CV3)
-The Word: Expect a monster day from rookie sensation Cam Newton as he plays in his home finale.
Cleveland Browns at Baltimore Ravens (CB, TSK, CV3, DC)
-The Word: M&T Bank Stadium is not exactly a welcoming atmosphere. Things could get ugly in Baltimore.
San Diego Chargers (TSK, CV3) at Detroit Lions (CB, DC)
-The Word: Philip Rivers has played like an MVP caliber quarterback the past few weeks. Can Suh and the vicious Lions defensive line rain on his parade?
Philadelphia Eagles (CB, TSK, CV3, DC) at Dallas Cowboys
-The Word: Is anybody else astonished that the Eagles are still “technically” alive for a playoff spot. The “Nightmare” has not been so bad.
San Francisco 49ers (CB, TSK, CV3, DC) at Seattle Seahawks
-The Word: If San Francisco plays half as well as they did last Monday, don’t be surprised if there is a shutout.
Chicago Bears (CB) at Green Bay Packers (TSK, CV3, DC))
-The Word: How will Aaron Rodgers and Co. respond in the wake of their first loss in a full calendar year?
Atlanta Falcons (DC) at New Orleans Saints (CB, TSK, CV3)
-The Word: The Falcons lost an overtime heartbreaker to their divisional rival back in Week 10. These are two entirely different teams in Week 16.
Game of the Week: New York Giants at New York Jets
-As if this game needed more hype. Rex Ryan, in typical big-mouth Ryan fashion, has stirred the pot to full tilt. This is a must win in a big way for both of these teams. Both of New York’s finest came into the year with high expectations. For the Jets, it was Super Bowl or bust, and for the G-Men, it was playoffs or Coughlin may be “coughing” in another city. The Giants after a very hot start, have not played well in over a month. Rex Ryan’s crew on the other hand appeared to have regained their “swagger” until a very unfortunate visit to the city of Brotherly Love last Sunday.
-All talking aside, this is a mega matchup. Two teams, that have to win to keep their playoffs hopes alive. Plus these are two teams that reside in the same city. Mark Sanchez and the Jets offense at times embody the term ineptitude. The New York Giants rushing attack has been pretty awful in their own right. In my opinion, this game will come down to quarterback play. Who would you rather have? Eli Manning or Mark Sanchez? Now I must confess that I would love to have Mark Sanchez’s rumored girlfriend (Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Model Kate Upton), but I am by no means a fan of his on-the-field play. Eli gets the edge. Not to mention the younger Manning brother always seems to save his best play for the biggest stages. Look for the G-Men to put Rex Ryan and Co. out of their misery. There is a reason why talking trash before the fact is never a good idea.
Stat of the Week:
-181 is the number of the week. Mark Sanchez has not thrown for over 181 yards in a game since Week 11. That week, the Jets took on the Denver Tebows (Broncos). So naturally, Sanchez and the Jets lost. Eli Manning on the other hand has not thrown for less than 223 yards all season long. Neither of these teams have the greatest of rushing attacks. This game will be decided in the air. Eli gets the nod.
CV3: An away game at their own stadium? Look for the Gmen to narrowly beat the Jets in a very important game to see who reigns over New York.
CB: I think we will see another loss this week by the Packers. I look for the Bears to come out and handle Green Bay from start to finish.
DC: Despite the heavy flow of trash talk coming from New York this past week, do not forget the magnitude of the game being held at the Meadowlands. Playoff implications are at stake for a multitude of squads that could come down to Sunday’s outcome in New York. I like the J-E-T-S to come out firing after an embarrassing loss to Michael Vick and the Eagles. Also, I am very intrigued at the matchup in New Orleans. The Saints seem to be the most likely team to prevent Green Bay from the Super Bowl. But, I think a hungry Falcons squad with a long week to prepare is going to surprise some NFL fans in New Orleans. I knew the Pack wouldn’t go perfect this season and I think it was a good loss for them in terms of the rest of the year. Super Bowl favorites? Maybe. Super Bowl locks? Absolutely not. Some more quick opinions: Big Ben needs to sit, the Colts beating Houston was awesome (you never lose games on purpose for a draft pick!), and Tim Tebow is still an awful NFL quarterback. But lets all agree on something this week– without Kevin Kolb playing for the Cardinals, our beloved Bengals are likely to remain in the thick of the playoff picture. Who would’ve thought..?
TSK: Five of the twelve playoff spots are still ripe for the taking. This is why you have to love the NFL. There are plenty of big games this week. The Cincinnati game is definitely one to keep an eye on as the Bengals fight for their playoff lives against the streaking Arizona Cardinals. Also, the game at Ford Field should be fun as Philip Rivers looks to stave off elimination against a Detroit team that has yet to clinch a playoff berth. Then lastly, the Jets/Giants game was going to be fun regardless of the scenario. Now that both teams are in must-win situations to keep playoff dreams alive, it is that much better.
Stay tuned for the next edition of TheSportsKraze.