By Scott Taylor and Dave Petrishen
Dr. Football has thrown in the towel. Packed it in (almost literally). Instead of picking winners this week, our expert prognosticator packed up a donkey and rode up a mountain in Guyana this week.
And I thought I was sick of the officiating in the National Football League.
So this week, after a terrible struggle (kind of like riding up a mountain on a donkey), The Coach will handle all of our duties. That’s not good, of course, but it’s all we have.
Week 16 is playoff-implication/scenario week. After all, there are only two weeks remaining and 19 teams are still in playoff contention. If the playoffs started right now, this is who would be in:
Week 16 is playoff-implication/scenario week. After all, there are only two weeks remaining and 19 teams are still in playoff contention. If the playoffs started right now, this is who would be in: (1) Denver, (2) New England, (3) Cincinnati, (4) Indianapolis, (5) Kansas City and (6) Miami in the AFC and (1) Seattle, (2) New Orleans, (3) Philadelphia (4) Chicago, (5) Carolina and (6) San Francisco in the NFC.
Here is what could still happen, starting with the AFC:
(1) The Broncos and Patriots will not move, no matter what happens. Denver has the better record and can clinch the division with a win and Kansas City loss. The Patriots can clinch the NFC east title with a win.
(2) The Bengals, Colts and Chiefs are locked, as well. Cincinnati will clinch the AFC North with a win against the Minnesota Vikings and a Baltimore loss or tie, or a tie and a Baltimore loss. The Colts have already clinched their division, and the Chiefs have clinched a playoff spot.
(3) Miami and Baltimore are in interesting situations. For Miami to get in, the Dolphins need to win next week and the Ravens and Bengals must lose. The Ravens clinch with a win and a Miami loss and a San Diego loss.
(4) The homefield advantage scenario is quite complicated. Since New England beat Denver, the Patriots need a win and a Denver loss to stay at home for the playoffs.
Now, for the NFC:
(1) Seattle has clinched a playoff spot, and will win the NFC West, homefield advantage and a bye with a win or a San Francisco loss.
(2) The second spot will go to the winner of the NFC South, Carolina needs a win or an Arizona loss or a San Francisco loss to clinch a playoff berth, but New Orleans can clinch the Division with a win. What’s fun is that they play each other this week.
(3) The Eagles can win the NFC East with a win over the Bears or a Dallas loss to Washington.
(4) The Bears will clinch the NFC North with a win and a Detroit loss and a Green Bay loss.
(5) The wild card berth that doesn’t go to the Saints or Panthers will go to the Cardinals or 49ers. To win it, the Niners need a win or an Arizona loss.
That’s the simple way to look at this week’s playoff scenarios. Want me to give you the complicated way? Just kidding.
Last week, Dr. Football went a dismal 7-9 (142-82) straight up and 9-7 (110-114) against the spread. The Coach went 9-7 (146-78) straight up and 7-9 (118-106) against the spread.
This week, The Coach writes our rationalizations while The Doc tries to find his way down the mountain.
Miami Dolphins (8-6) at Buffalo Bills (5-9) Line: Dolphins by 2.5.
Despite all the trouble the Bills have given the Dolphins in Buffalo through the years, this is a Miami team that has come together and is playing good ball despite of all the distractions they’ve faced. Also, the Bills aren’t very good in any weather.
The Doc: TAKE THE DOLPHINS TO WIN AND COVER.
The Coach: TAKE THE DOLPHINS TO WIN AND COVER.
New Orleans Saints (10-4) at Carolina Panthers (10-4) Line: Panthers by 3.
Game of the week: Outdoors, at home, I love the Panthers. This is Cam Newton’s I-have-arrived game.
The Doc: TAKE THE SAINTS IN AN UPSET.
The Coach: TAKE THE PANTHERS TO WIN AND COVER.
Dallas Cowboys (7-7) at The Washingtons (3-11) Line: Cowboys by 3.
This game gives true, hear-felt Washington fans a dilemma. Do they cheer for their team to win, only to improve Mike Shanahan’s record and help the Eagles, or do they want the Washingtons to lose, so that Shanahan’s firing is pretty much guaranteed and give the Cowboys a meaningless win? I know how I feel about it.
The Doc: TAKE THE COWBOYS TO WIN AND COVER.
The Coach: TAKE THE COWBOYS TO WIN AND COVER.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (4-10) at St. Louis Rams (6-8) Line: Rams by 5.5.
Jeff Fisher is a very good coach and St. Louis is a much better team that its record. Especially at home. Tampa had a nice stretch but they’re awful.
The Doc: TAKE THE RAMS TO WIN AND COVER.
The Coach: TAKE THE RAMS TO WIN AND COVER.
Cleveland Browns (4-10) at New York Jets (6-8) Line: Jets by 2.5.
The Browns should be better than the dawg-ass Jets, but the Cleveland defense always forgets that there is a fourth quarter. I would prefer not to bet on this game at all – and won’t – but since we have to make a selection, here goes.
The Doc: TAKE THE JETS TO WIN AND COVER.
The Coach: TAKE THE BROWNS TO WIN AND COVER.
Indianapolis Colts (9-5) at Kansas City Chiefs (11-3) Line: Chiefs by 7.
Huge game for both teams, but bigger for the Chiefs at home. Kansas City started 9-0 and then lost three straight games to divisional rivals before getting it together again. There is just something about homefield advantage this week.
The Doc: TAKE THE CHIEFS TO WIN AND COVER.
The Coach: TAKE THE CHIEFS TO WIN AND COVER.
Minnesota Vikings (4-9-1) at Cincinnati Bengals (9-5) Line: Bengals by 7.
I like the way Minnesota played against Philly last week, but let’s face it, it’s The Year of the Cat. Granted I wasn’t sure which cat it was earlier in the season, but it does look like a good year for the Panthers and Bengals. This matters to Cinci and really doesn’t matter to Minnesota, a team that isn’t very good on the road. Unless the road is London, England.
The Doc: TAKE THE BENGALS TO WIN BUT NOT COVER.
The Coach: TAKE THE BENGALS TO WIN AND COVER.
Denver Broncos (11-3) at Houston Texans (2-12) Line: Broncos by 10.5.
This game contains violence and coarse language. Viewers are strongly cautioned.
The Doc: TAKE THE BRONCOS TO WIN AND COVER.
The Coach: TAKE THE BRONCOS TO WIN AND COVER.
Tennessee Titans (5-9) at Jacksonville Jaguars (4-10) Line: Titans by 5.5.
Two bad teams playing for fun. The building will be empty and I can’t imagine how bad the TV ratings will be. If anyone watches this, he/she is simply a degenerate gambler.
The Doc: TAKE THE TITANS TO WIN AND COVER.
The Coach: TAKE THE TITANS TO WIN AND COVER.
Arizona Cardinals (9-5) at Seattle Seahawks (12-2) Line: Seahawks by 10.5.
I actually like Arizona, but not this much.
The Doc: TAKE THE SEAHAWKS TO WIN AND COVER.
The Coach: TAKE THE SEAHAWKS TO WIN AND COVER.
New York Giants (5-9) at Detroit Lions (7-7) Line: Lions by 8.5.
The Lions and their idiot coach Jim Schwartz are in the midst of throwing away a playoff spot despite the fact they have more talent than any team in the division and most teams in the NFC. It is impossible to believe they’ll win another game, but then this week, they get the stinky Giants at home. Here we go again.
The Doc: TAKE THE LIONS TO WIN BUT NOT COVER.
The Coach: TAKE THE LIONS TO WIN AND COVER.
Oakland Raiders (4-10) at San Diego Chargers (7-7) Line: Chargers by 10.
Darren McFadden returns for the Raiders but that shouldn’t matter. The Chargers are playing well and the Raiders are awful. For the first time this season the Coach will throw caution to the wind and simply stand up for Philip Rivers.
The Doc: TAKE THE CHARGERS TO WIN BUT NOT COVER.
The Coach: TAKE THE CHARGERS TO WIN AND COVER.
Pittsburgh Steelers (6-8) at Green Bay Packers (7-6-1) Line: Steelers by 1.5.
How are the Steelers possibly favored at Lambeau? Then again, Aaron Rodgers is out for another week. Still, the Packers are in a playoff race and they won’t lose at home.
The Doc: TAKE THE PACKERS IN AN UPSET.
The Coach: TAKE THE PACKERS TO WIN.
New England Patriots (10-4) at Baltimore Ravens (8-6) Line: Ravens by 2.5.
The Pats are not the same team without Gronk. Sorry, Tom Brady has few trustworthy red zone targets and that will hurt him the rest of the way. Meanwhile, the Ravens are riding a league-best four-game win streak (tied with the 49ers), a streak that has given them a clear path to the AFC North title.
The Doc: TAKE THE PATRIOTS IN AN UPSET.
The Coach: TAKE THE RAVENS TO WIN AND COVER.
Chicago Bears (8-6) at Philadelphia Eagles (8-6) Line: Eagles by 3.
If Dallas wins earlier in the day, Philly is in. Still, the Bears and Eagles are the only two teams in the NFL with both a 1,200-yard rusher and receiver (Matt Forte/Alshon Jeffery and LeSean McCoy/DeSean Jackson). It will be an enjoyable football game simply because Philly coach Chip Kelly said (and I believe him) won’t rest his starters if Dallas wins.
The Doc: TAKE THE EAGLES TO WIN AND COVER.
The Coach: TAKE THE EAGLES TO WIN AND COVER.
Atlanta Falcons (4-10) at San Francisco 49ers (10-4) Line: 49ers by 12.
This game will be meaningless. Seattle will win on Sunday and the Niners will have nothing to play for. Monday will be a good night to watch hockey.
The Doc: TAKE THE 49ers TO WIN AND COVER.
The Coach: TAKE THE 49ers TO WIN AND COVER.