I gained a game on Durden last week, but this competition is all but over as he has a commanding lead 119-95-10 to 107-107-10.
Dallas Cowboys @ Carolina Panthers +10
"The real me is a southern girl with her Levis on and an open heart
Wish I could save the world, like I was super girl
The real me used to laugh all night lyin' in the grass just talking about love
But lately I've been jaded - life got so complicated..."
Pick: Mr. Jessica Simpson -10
Durden: Damn, the way everyone’s reacting to this, you’d think TO faked a suicide or a something. Hey, it takes a distraction to know one, right?
Pick: Cowboys -10
Cleveland Browns @ Cincinnati Bengals +3
Mazzone: I feel pretty good about the Browns not finishing 11-5, but they should have no trouble with the Niners at home next week. So, that means the Bengals play the role of mini-spoiler this week and prevent Cleveland from clinching a playoff spot with a win. Regardless of the outcome, let's hope they come close repeating the week two 51-45 offensive explosion.
Pick: Bengals +3
Durden: Not only are the Browns and Steelers almost certainly going to the playoffs, but I can’t even take solace in the fact that they’re almost just as certainly not winning the Super Bowl. This of course, is because the *&!@%&# Patriots are likely to eliminate one or both in January, which takes some of the fun out of it.
I hate to pick the Browns to win Sunday and clinch their playoff berth, but if they don’t vs Cincy, they’ll just do it next week vs San Francisco. The inclement weather they’re expecting will hurt the Browns less than it will the Bengals, and it’s an advantage Cleveland probably won’t even need. In other news, I just realized my favorite teams have temporarily become Indy, Jacksonville and San Diego.
Pick: Browns -3
Green Bay Packers @ Chicago Bears +8
Mazzone: So, I guess at some point I have to believe in the Packers but I'm still rooting strongly against a Green Bay/New England Super Bowl.
If I'm a Bears fan I'm trying to talk myself into this season being the result of injuries on defense, but deep down it'd be tough to ignore my complete lack of faith in the QB and RB positions. The best thing going for the Bears is that they play in the NFC, and it's possible the Packers' and Vikings' seasons were mirages.
Pick: Packers -8
Durden: After watching Kyle Orton’s “performance” (for lack of a better word), I fully expected some internet freak to come out with a “Leave Rex Grossman Alone” tape. As bad as the Sex Cannon has been in the past, he just isn’t as bad as Orton, and that was against the worst pass defense in the league. Kampman, Woodson and company are going to have a field day this Sunday.
Pick: Packers -8
Houston Texans @ Indianapolis Colts -7
Mazzone: If they were in any other division in football the Texans would be looking at a pretty successful season, as it stands they're going to end up in last most likely - which bodes well for next year's schedule outside the division at least.
But that's next year, this game seems easy as I don't expect either team to repeat last weeks performance where the Texans handled Denver easily and the Colts struggled mightily to move the ball in Oakland.
Pick: Colts -7
Durden: Disclaimer: the only thing you should take from us on this game is that Mazzone and I have almost always disagreed on the Texans this year, and he’s almost always been right. It wouldn’t be unreasonable to predict the Colts to let up because they’re locked into the 2 seed, but I don’t see it happening.
Pick: Colts -7
Kansas City Chiefs @ Detroit Lions -4.5
Mazzone: If you're forced to watch this one, at least you can compare Dwayne Bowe to Calvin Johnson. Johnson has been far less a factor than I thought he'd be and his inconsistency is disappointing, but I still expect him to develop into a superb wide receiver before all is said and done. Bowe on the other hand has surprised me and he looks like he could be a legit number 1 receiver as well. This one's tough to pick, but the Chiefs have the best player playing in this game (Jared Allen) and we know Herman Edwards plays to win the game, so there's that. Also, God has clearly given up on Jon Kitna and the Lions so...
Pick: Chiefs +4.5
Durden: It’s almost Christmas, but seeing as how God didn’t give the Lions the 10 wins Kitna asked for, is there any hope for the rest of us to get what we asked for? I’m skeptical, but Herm Edwards has a message for us: Get over it!
Pick: Chiefs +4.5
New York Giants @ Buffalo Bills +2.5
Mazzone: Geez, Eli and the Giants look downright pitiful nowadays. I thought the opposite would happen and they'd gel into an NFC championship contender as the season went on. Even so, I've never thought much of the Bills, and their loss in the blizzard last week leaves them with nothing to play for whereas the Giants can clinch a playoff berth with a win.
Pick: Giants -2.5
Durden: Unless the Giants are planning on beating the Patriots next week, they need to beat Buffalo in rainy conditions to control their own playoff destiny. However, they won’t just be up against the rain, as there will be a miracle man in the house. Kevin Everett returns to Ralph Wilson Stadium for the first time since his spinal cord injury, giving new meaning to walking on water.
Pick: Bills +2.5
Oakland Raiders @ Jacksonville Jaguars -13
Mazzone: Count me among the many that were impressed by the Jags convincing win last week. Save for a bad Garrard INT (he's entitled to one) the game was pretty much all Jaguars. Fred Taylor is putting together a solid season which will continue to go unnoticed by the vast majority of fans - even Reggie Williams has shown up at times. The loss of Marcus Stroud hurts their long term playoff chances, but they should have few problems with the Fargas-less Raiders this week.
Pick: Jaguars -13
Durden: This line seems high, but the Jags have been incredibly impressive since losing to the Saints in Week 9. While it doesn’t seem as if the Raiders have quit on their season, I don’t see the mixing and matching of QBs and RBs working out for them very well on the road this Sunday. I did want to point out a (very) little known fact though. Did you know that Justin Fargas is Huggy Bear’s son?? I can’t believe we don’t hear more about that.
Pick: Jaguars -13
Philadelphia Eagles @ New Orleans Saints -3.5
Mazzone: Great matchup for the Eagles, there is no way McNabb doesn't have a huge game against this secondary and you know Andy Reid is going to put the ball in the air.
Durden: The Eagles are another team that I have just not been able to figure out this year. Therefore, I’m just going to stick to my beliefs from earlier this season, which were that any success the Saints had would be a function of their schedule and that they’d tease people into thinking they were for real, before missing the playoffs.
Pick: Eagles +3.5
Atlanta Falcons @ Arizona Cardinals -10
Pick: Cardinals -10
Durden: It’s funny that the Cardinals are giving anybody 10 points, but that’s what it’s come to for the Falcons. It’s also funny that the biggest loser of the Bobby Petrino Saga may have been Brian Brohm, who is surely less likely to be drafted by the Falcons now. Of course, this might then make me the biggest loser if he falls to the Ravens and they draft him.
Pick: Cardinals -10
Baltimore Ravens @ Seattle Seahawks -10
Mazzone: Durden may win the pick 'em war, but I won the battle! His Ravens lost TPS Bowl I in a thriller, but you can't blame them for not being able to stop Cleo Lemon and Greg Camarillo. Cam Cam had worked with both of them in San Diego and it was only a matter of time before that ex-Charger triad put it all together.
The Ravens seem to have really given up after the loss to the Patriots, and now Troy Smith gets the start which should help them improve upon their draft position.
Pick: Seahawks -10
Durden: While I’ve been quick to point out the Ravens’ injuries and lack of depth, they’ve also clearly given up on their season once the Patriot game didn’t go their way. This was evident for everyone to see as they rolled over against the Dolphins in TPS Bowl I and mailed in another embarrassing performance. Brian Billick may PLAY TO TIE THE GAME, but he won’t be given the chance on Sunday. Thanks guys.
Pick: Seahawks -10
New York Jets @ Tennessee Titans -8.5
Mazzone: The Titans need this win, and they're fortunate to have the Jets on the schedule since Vince Young and company have only beaten one team with a record above .500 (Jax in week 1, 13-10). Even though the Jets are terrible, have nothing to play for, and three of the eight Titans' wins this season are by more than 8 points (Chiefs by 9 last week, the Panthers by 13 in week 8, and the Saints by 17 in week 3), 8.5 still seems a little high to me as I haven't been overly impressed with TN the past couple weeks.
Pick: Jets +8.5
Durden: If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a million times: Albert Haynesworth sometimes just wins football games!
Pick: Titans -8.5
Tampa Bay Buccaneers @ San Francisco 49ers +6
Mazzone: The Niners win last week could prove to be detrimental to New England's draft position. I'm sure Belichick put in a phone call and persuaded Shaun Hill to stop trying to play hero.
Pick: Bucs -6
Durden: Really Vegas? The 49ers are getting less than a touch? I know you should avoid betting against Shaun Hill at home, at all costs, but I’m going to roll the dice here.
Pick: Buccaneers -6
Miami Dolphins @ New England Patriots -22
Mazzone: As if close calls against AJ Feeley, Kyle Boller, and Chad Pennington weren't enough, we can officially put all the talk to rest about the Patriots being the greatest ever when Cleo Lemon rolls into town and beats them on their own turf.
Pick: Dolphins +22
Durden: As Mazzone wrote in his latest entry, he’s excited. First, his Dolphins finally won their first game in over a year, capped off by a play that rocked Fantasy Playoffs all across the country: Cleo Lemon to Greg Camarillo for 64 yards. Now, they’ve hired Bill Parcells to shop for someone else’s groceries, and I really can’t blame him for being far more excited about the Dolphins than he was a week ago.
However, Mazzone’s not one to stay satisfied for long and he’s fully expecting a win on Sunday, at New England. I couldn’t disagree more, considering that the Pats have been relatively dormant for several weeks now, and we all saw what happened in the first meeting. I don’t think Belichick’s forgotten Don Shula’s comments earlier this year and the Patriots are gonna “wake up” in a big way on Sunday, assuming the weather cooperates.
Finally, I’ll leave you with Vonnie Holliday’s recap of last Sunday’s epic play: "It was like watching one of those plays in slow motion, and it's the Super Bowl and the miraculous catch and all those things," Holliday said. "It was up there like that for us. Maybe not for everybody else, but for us it was up there with all those great catches -- Dwight Clark and all those guys."
Pick: Patriots -22
**Editors Note: Suck it!
Washington Redskins @ Minnesota Vikings -6.5
Mazzone: It's certainly tragic that his life was cut short, but I don't care what anyone says - Sean Taylor's spirit being voted to the Pro Bowl is freakin' lame.
Adrian Peterson continues to make his case to be the number 1 overall fantasy pick next season - let's just hope Madden keeps him off the cover.
Pick: Vikings +6.5
Durden: Unfortunately, it takes an event like this to remind us how important it is to tell our friends and family how much we care about them…before they go to a football game.
Pick: Vikings -6.5
Denver Broncos @ San Diego Chargers -8.5
Mazzone: Regardless of the score, I could see this being a short night for a lot of the Charger starters, with the Division already wrapped up and Merriman/Rivers/Turner already nursing injuries.
Pick: Broncos +8.5
Durden: Not much to say here, except that after last week, I refuse to take the Broncos for the rest of the season.
Pick: Chargers -8.5