31 December, 2011


Happy New Year, Fanz! This Saturday morning finds us at the end point of a tumultuous 2011, a vastly entertaining NFL season, and the administrations of quite a few elected officials – it’s an out with the old, in with the new kind of feeling. I’m already excited about the prospect of a significantly better 2012, and it’s in that spirit that I attack the slate of the final games of this season. It’s a Seeding Sunday, with all kinds of playoff scenarios even for those teams already in the dance, and TWO critical contests for playoff survival. And, I’m guaranteed a winning record. I am, after all, The Cedar Street Seer….


With their playoff cancellation determined weeks ago, these two division rivals are left to ruminate on what could have been. With no shot at a Mel-Kiperesque can’t miss draft choice, the Deadskins would surely like to close out the season with a win, but the Iggles, the biggest paper tiger since the 2005 Jets, are SUDDENLY playing inspired football on both sides of the ball, especially with Mike Vick back under center. Even with a depleted secondary, I’d expect those Iggles to get after Wrecks-Gross-man.Those fickle Philthy fans get to close out the season at the Linc with a win, thus giving them despised coach Andy Reid for yet another year. It’s a high line for a divisional game, but I’m inclined to go with the Iggles at home and the -8 ½ points.


It’s incomprehensible how the trendy preseason pick of the Sucky-neers has collapsed like this in a nine-game losing streak – but the culprits; turnovers, lack of team speed, and key injuries have sealed the fate of Tampa for this season. The Duckies can do no better than elevate themselves to a five seed with a victory in this one, but I’d expect that they come out blazing on both sides of the ball, in an attempt to erase the humiliation of the beatdown they got in New Orleans last Monday. This game will be over by half time. Duckies double-digit big…


This is a bona-fide “Suck For Luck” contest. Tied with Indianapolis for the worst record in the league, the Lambs actually have a great draft position should they wind up with the top pick, and if not, they still have an excellent opportunity to improve their statistically worse league standings from this lost season. The Niners, a vastly superior team, particularly defensively, want that playoff bye – they will play like they want it. The Lambs wilted against Pissburgh’s defense last week, and San Francisco’s is BETTER. Even with a depleted wide receiver corps, there’s enough here to avoid letdown. No upsets here, boys and girls. Another game over by halftime – Niners by -10 ½.


It’s an audition game for both of the NFC Norris division also-rans tomorrow. Joe Webb will get the start for the concussed Christian Ponder, and Toby Gerhardt for Adrian Peterson. They looked good last week in the defeat of the Deadskins, and the Vikings defense looked fearsome again with the rejuvenation of Jared Allen. The Bears were scraping the bottom of the quarterback barrel in starting Josh McClown , but he hasn’t looked Grossman awful. Yet. Kahlil Bell gets the start at running back for the Bears. I actually think this could be a high-scoring game. The line is a paltry 1 ½, and I’m leaning to the Vikings.


While not as sexy a matchup as we’d envisioned earlier in the season when both squads were undefeated, it’s still plenty big for Detroit, who are fighting hard for that #5 seed, and the favorable matchup against the floundering NFC Least champion. The Packers have clinched everything they can. While Mike McCarthy hasn’t revealed his plans on resting players, you can’t imagine he’d risk injury to his key players for the second Super Bowl run. Who blinks first? McCarthy does. If you want to see Aaron Rodgers and Clay and Company in this game, you’d better tune in for the first half. You won’t see them again until the second round of the playoffs. And Vegas knows this. The Lions aren’t going to blow this chance to break that 0-20 streak on the Tundra, which is beginning to attain its Pleistocenic allure. I’m all over the Leos as a RARE road favorite at Lambeau, at 3 ½.


All indications are that Sean Payton will be continuing to fling his juggernaut Saints at the suddenly bristling Panthers this Sunday. Sean Payton isn’t Mike McCarthy. He of the Onside Kick to start the second half of the Super Bowl will surely have his players in “urgency” mode for most of the game, but I guarantee he will be scoreboard watching for that Niners-Lambs game, playing at the same time. The Panthers, who are in the NFL’s top five offensive teams in yards AND points will be impossible for the Saints to stop. This game will be an entertaining close to the season for the Panthers, who will keep it close in a shootout, when Payton finally pulls his starters in the fourth quarter. Panthers have been a covering machine lately, and they continue here. Take the ‘Cats and the +8.


On the surface, it’s a game with nothing to play for to the Texans, and EVERYTHING to play for to the Titans, who amazingly enough, are a ROAD FAVORITE at Reliant Stadium. I don’t see it. There’s motivation PLENTY in the Texans locker room. With two consecutive defeats to the Panthers and lowly Colts, and now only TWO Pro Bowl selections, along with the insult by the betting line, I think they are coming out in this game swinging. I’d expect that with the return of All-Pro wideout Andre Johnson, coach Kubiak will want Yates to fling the biscuit regularly in his direction. Arian Foster will be keeping the Titans defense honest, and this outcome will not be in doubt. Texans are going to win this one going away…


Here’s a game with much riding on the outcome – For the Bengals, it’s simple. Win and you clinch the #6 seed, Lose, and you can STILL back into the playoffs with losses by the Jets and Raiders. For the Ravens, it’s the difference between the #1 seed and the #5 seed! It feels like all of the pressure is on the Ravens, and they’ve played vastly different on the road this season. Add some significant injuries to the mix, particularly in the receiving corps, and I’m seeing a favorable outcome for the Bengals. Squeelers? Get set for yet another NFC North Championship. I’m liking the Bengals, with their Ginger Mini-C am, Andy Dalton at QB, leading the charge with that nasty defense behind him, to make the playoffs in an unlikely winning season for the Cincinnati Bengals.


This is a huge game for the Squeelers. The division, the playoff bye all hang in the balance as the team that probably hates them MOST, yes, more than the Ravens, entertain them in the season closer. Pissburgh is banged up like a teenager’s first car, but so are the Browns. I’d anticipate this to be a low-scoring game and I’d think if the score was comfortable enough, that Mike Tomilin would be sitting his starters by the fourth quarter. Vegas agrees, and has given the Men of Squeel a meager -7 point advantage. Take the Browns at your own risk, but rarely does Pissburgh blow this kind of game. I’m on the Squeelers.


Ahhh, the conclusion of the “Suck For Luck” campaign. This no longer looks like a shoo-in for the once-winless Colts. With wins over SUPERIOR divisional foes Tennessee and Houston, this is a chance to end the season on a strong note for Indy. To me, all of the matchups favor a Colts VICTORY! There’s a chance that TE Dallas Clark will be back, and they will be playing to a half-empty stadium in Jacksonville. Oh, how interesting the 2012 draft will be! Wrong team favored! Colts win! But Jim Caldwell’s job may still not be safe as the team looks to rebuild, and perhaps without Peyton Manning next season…


One of the most entertaining rivalries in the league features a noteworthy storyline in the retirement of 15-year veteran LB Jason Taylor, and the desperation shot of making the playoffs for the Jets. Sexy Rexy’s team squandered the chance to control their destiny last week at home, now they get a chance to wilt in the South Florida sun. I think this will be a hard-hitting, low-scoring game. You can never be sure of the outcome of a contest between these two bitter rivals, but I’m sure that the Dolphins would like nothing better than to knock a team out of the playoffs and go into the offseason optimistic about a new season and new coaching staff for 2012. Miami brings a defense on the field that is equal to New York’s, and in games where there’s nothing to play for, Matt Moore tends to excel. Mark it down – Phish win.


With the Pastry-Rots needing a win to lock down the #1 seed in the conference, there’s no better team than the Bills to clinch with – Even though they rallied to beat New Englandgland at home, this is a shell of that team that teased the Upstate with a stellar 3-1 record to start the season. Cheat-a-chek’s proved me wrong in all of the games I’d predicted blowouts in, and last week was no exception. If they DON’T blow out the Bills tomorrow, I’d be greatly surprised! Brady will find his receivers early and often in that soft Buffalo coverage. Pastry-Rots DOUBLE DIGIT big…


For the first time since 2003, the Chargers are looking at a losing record if they drop this contest to a highly motivated Raiders team that has a shot to take the AFC Worst division, if Denver drops their showdown with Kansas Shitty. Sad Diego is wracked with injuries, players nearing the end of their careers, and an erratic Phillip Rivers. Their run defense is poor, and Raiders RB Michael Bush is on a roll. I’m expecting this to become a streetfight by the end of the game, which I think will favor Oakland. Gimme the rrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRAIDAHS and the -3, and the AFC Worst division champeenship!


Aside from the Cowboys-Giants game tomorrow night, this may be the most watched contest of the day! Ahhh, the juicy storylines! Cut QB Orton coming back to Mile High! Teblow! Division championship! Crennell clinching a head coaching job for the Chefs! KC played the Broncoids tough in the matchup at Arrowhead – tomorrow afternoon they have one job – Stop Denver’s top-rated rushing attack. They have played at the top of their games for interim coach Romeo Crennell, and they’ll do it even more so Sunday. It will be Foxball vs. Fundamental Crennell. Won’t be a lot of scoring in this one. The mistakes will be made by Timmy Terrific, and the Chefs have an advantage of Orton having practiced against this defense. Many of us remember what John Fox does in seasons teetering between winning and losing records- this game will be no different. My money’s on the CHEFS- straight up!


Thankfully, none of these two teams are going to the playoffs, but both squads go into the offseason with both questions and optimism. Neither squad wants to lose this game, as the loser gets to travel to North Cam-a-lacky next season to lose to the Cam-a-Lots! Ok, seriously, draft position won’t be impacted, but a non-losing record would be of some solace to teams that started so poorly. Arid-zona is going without Kevin Kolb AND Patrick Peterson, and Seattle’s running game is firing on all pistons with Marshawn Lynch. I’d expect him to be the difference. I like the Seahawsk to cover the +3.


Ahhh, what a game to end the season! I’m not sure, in a season that doesn’t have the Panthers in the playoffs, if it gets better than this. Winner’s in. Loser’s out. And this is a game the Cowboys tend to choke on. And I think it will happen. I will elaborate. Dallas’ aging offensive line has left Tony Romo open to the pass rush. Injuries to the running backs have left the ground attack, uh, hamstrung. Meanwhile, the Cowboys defense has not been able to get to the passer as of late. Against Eli Manning, that will be a problem. Also, with the running game resurgent for the Guys from Gotham, it will be hard to keep the Geeemen from moving the chains. I like the Giants – BIG.

There you go, Fanz! My final prognostication of the regular season! I hope you win lots of bucks and beers this weekend! And have a safe, SAFE , SAFE New Year. I’ll be back next week with the final rant of the year, and hopefully not as maudlin.

Last week – 9-7
Season – 131-101

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