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Thoughts, news and notes from the sports staff of The Saratogian newspaper, located in historic Saratoga Springs, New York. The gang in the corner office on Lake Avenue give you the post-game wrap-ups, news and notes from the games we cover and opinions about the sports we read about every day.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Stathead Matt's Family Christmas Special Week 16 picks

Ah, Christmas. The season of family and togetherness. Traditions vary from family to family, so instead of gathering around the fireplace, my father, brother, and I have gathered around the HD to take in some Christmas basketball and lumberjack competition on commercials.

Lumberjack competitions are much like strongman competitions. They are played in marathons and if you are not careful, you can get completely sucked into them. I guarantee that before this column is over, I will be passionately rooting for one lumberjack or lumberjill, and watch an upset that will have me openly yelling at the tv.

(12-2) New England Patriots at
(4-10) Buffalo Bills +8.5
I'm outvoted on this one. The Bills have been a different team since the weather turned, and they are playing in the big snowdrift in Buffalo. Plus the Bills have played the Pats hard their last few meetings, and even at the beginning of the season when they were bad they still lost by less than 8.5. My dad and brother counter with an argument of "yeah, but it's the Patriots." Point taken.

(10-4) New York Jets at
(10-4) Chicago Bears -1.5
There's trouble afoot in NYC. They will have to toe the line with their turnovers. If Sanchez still has shoulder pains, his throws may not have the same arch, and if he throws too many interceptions he will be quite the heel. The Jets will have to put their heart and sole into this one. Okay, everyone got it out of their system? Since it is Chicago, they may get a foot of snow. Okay, now we're good. Dad picks the Jets, and my brother and I say the Bears are a shoe-in. Done.

(10-4) Baltimore Ravens at
(5-9) Cleveland Browns +3.5
My brother, Greg, as I now realize I have not introduced him, (My father is named Tom by the way) just announced that he is a Ravens fan. Each Christmas involves one family member making a startling declaration, but Greg's isn't too much of a shock as he has been an Orioles fan since middle school. Greg chooses the Ravens in his first act of homerism, and dad likes the Browns from a jilted lover hosting an ex angle. I have decided to bless Greg's choice, if only because he has finally picked a team.

(5-9) San Francisco 49ers at
(6-8) St. Louis Rams -2.5
I must say it's good to see the Rams on top again. Even if they are only king of the landfill that is the NFC West. Boy I hope they host the Giants in the first round. The Rams are our first unanimous pick of the day. Oh how far the 49ers have fallen this year.

(4-10) Detroit Lions at
(7-7) Miami Dolphins -3.5
This game has no meaning other than to let us watch Ndamukong Suh play. We're taking a break because my sister Amanda, brother-in-law The Mike, and 3-month-old niece Lilly have shown up for a few minutes of season's greetings. Let's call this one for the Lions.

(5-9) Washington Redskins at
(8-6) Jacksonville Jaguars -6.5
We all agree that there is too much turmoil in Washington. Haynesworth, McNabb, Shannahan. Jones-Drew or not, who could pick the Redskins to play cohesively right now?

(6-8) Tennessee Titans at
(9-5) Kansas City Chiefs -5.5
Remember the Titans? No, really. They were my AFC Super Bowl favorite at some point this year, and now they are a shell of a team. Chris Johnson has not lived up to last year, Vince Young fell apart, Randy Moss did nothing, and the team quit on Jeff Fisher. The only positive memory I have of them this season was the Kenny Britt game. Plus, it will be good to have the Chiefs in the playoffs again. They are too good a football city to have been this bad for this long.

(8-6) Indianapolis Colts at
(7-7) Oakland Raiders +3.5
Colts to the playoffs. Ride them until the dice come up snake eyes. Plus they have a full backfield again. Greg thinks Darren McFadden can carry the Raiders to a win in this game. I think it's a little too early for Greg to have had this much egg nog.

(5-9) Houston Texans at
(3-11) Denver Broncos +2.5
Greg says, that the Texans, down by 13 in the 4th, get two big plays, a run by Foster and a catch by Andre Johnson, and they seal it up as time expires. There is always one meaningless late-season game that is surprisingly compelling and entertaining, so I will not put it out of the realm of possibility. Plus, these two teams have the combined defensive capabilities of a nursery school roster, so a high-scoring back and forth contest seems probable. Even still dad and I are backing the Broncos.

(8-6) San Diego Chargers at
(3-11) Cincinnati Bengals +7.5
The lumberjacks are done, and we did too much channel surfing to get as involved as I had predicted. It was worth it for one girl running on floating logs. We could have watched her for the entire broadcast. Why do they focus on the burley woodchoppers instead of the lithe running ladies again? We ended up flipping between basketball and King Kong. The Chargers are firing on all cylinders, and dad is on record saying the cold of Cincinnati will not affect the team. Good enough for me.

(6-8) Seattle Seahawks at
(8-6) Tampa Bay Buccaneers -6.5
Tampa Bay felt good for a few weeks, and actually had me believing they could upset the balance of the NFC South. It was fun while it lasted, but the Seahawks have more of a chance in the wretched West. Dad thinks the Bucs are a better team, and feels that is the only factor that matters.

(9-5) New York Giants at
(8-6) Green Bay Packers -2.5
Dad points out that the Giants win the tough ones and lose the easy ones. To me that means that last week must have been an especially easy game if they lost to the Eagles like that. Whatever. They win and they're in. I can get behind that. Greg differs to the Green Bay crowd.

(5-9) Minnesota Vikings at
(10-4) Philadelphia Eagles -13.5
Dad believes the Eagles have to come down from their high, but all that momentum plus the magic of Michael Vick is hard to predict. Peterson might still not play. I'd give the Vikings a shot if they lined up Jared Allen at QB and let him and Gerhart run with the ball like it was a Burnt Hills game this season. With the game at home and the crowd ready to celebrate their returning heroes, it becomes a matter of how many points can the Eagles score? I say they get above 14.

(10-4) New Orleans Saints at
(12-2) Atlanta Falcons -2.5
Dad and Greg immediately go for Atlanta in what many feel is going to be the game of the week. Seriously, no love for the defending champs, still? The Saints are still the Who 'dat? team that stole our hearts last season, yet as soon as they lost a few games, they were immediately off everyone's radar. I think they may have been holding back for a postseason run, pacing themselves after an elongated 2009 season and ready to play the tough games when they count in 2010. Here they are. The Saints come marching back!

This week: 1-for-1
Last week: 8-for-16
overall: 115-for-210

Thanks to everyone who came by to read. Have a wonderful holiday season and a spectacular new year.


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