Week 15 picks

I missed the playoffs in one of my fantasy football leagues for the first time in history. So, I’m glad I can still make picks with some semblance of success.

Here are the year to date standings:

  • Mike: 23-17 (57.5%)
  • Rob: 20-15 (57.1%)

Three of the four games of the week are inter-divisional match-ups that could be previews of playoff games.

The other game of the week is essentially the NFC East championship game, as Philadelphia travels to New York to play the Giants.

Usually, I know who I’m going to pick in these games before I begin writing about these match-ups. However, these games are so close, they really could go either way.

Philadelphia (9-4, 5-2 road) @ N.Y. Giants (9-4, 5-2 home)
Mike’s pick: NEW YORK GIANTS

New York’s WR Steve Smith was put on IR this week, which figures to hinder Eli Manning and the Giants.

On the flip side, the Eagles lost their rookie DE Brandon Graham for the year as well. Fortunately for the Eagles, Philadelphia star CB Asante Samuel, who missed last week’s game @ Dallas with a knee injury, participated fully in practice this week.

The Giants runners (Brandon Jacobs, in-particular) have been finding their stride as of late. Jacobs is averaging 109.5 yards rushing on just 11 carries in each of his last two games.

Michael Vick is fully among the candidates for league MVP this season. DeSean Jackson may be the best deep-threat in the game. LeSean McCoy is becoming another version of Reggie Bush.

Last month, the Eagles beat the Giants at home, 27-17. Vick didn’t throw any touchdowns, lost a fumble and was sacked three times (Justin Tuck) in that game. The difference was the Eagles defense, as they forced five Giants turnovers (3 INT, 2 ff).

My pick is based on the Giants needing this game more than the Eagles and the bad weather scheduled to hit the east coast this weekend.

Not only will the snow/rain mix invite Jacobs and Co. to continue their powerful running, but it should neutralize the speed of Philadelphia’s stars (Vick, Jackson, McCoy, Maclin).

New Orleans (10-3, 5-1 road) @ Baltimore (9-4, 5-1 home)
Mike’s pick: NEW ORLEANS

The secret is out: Baltimore struggles to put teams away in the fourth quarter.

The Saints are 10-3, and are starting to get healthy again, as their starting RB Pierre Thomas should be active this week.

Yes, New Orleans plays in a dome in a warm-weather city. But Drew Brees is their leader, and has led them to many wins on the road in weather that is less than optimal.

The Ravens could win, but I’m going with the Saints because of two reasons: A) The Saints can hold leads better than the Ravens, B) I feel more confident in the Saints coming back from a deficit late in a game than I do with the Ravens.

N.Y. Jets (9-4, 5-1 road) @ Pittsburgh (10-3, 4-2 home)
Mike’s pick: N.Y. JETS

New York needs this win badly. They are currently in the #6 spot for the playoffs and are two games back of the AFC East leading Patriots with three games left.

The Jets have been embarrassed over the last two weeks, losing by a combined total of 55-9 to two divisional opponents.

In addition, WR Santonio Holmes returns to Pittsburgh, where he helped them win two Super Bowls, so you know he’s going to bring his A-game.

And if there is one strength the Jets clearly have in this game, it’s their pass rush vs. Pittsburgh’s patch-work offensive line. Conversely, even though Pittsburgh’s pass rush is stellar, the Jets’ offensive line is pretty good, too.

For the Jets, this game will make or break their season.

Green Bay (8-5, 3-4 road) @ New England (11-2, 6-0 home)
Mike’s pick: NEW ENGLAND

There really isn’t much to this game.

Tom Brady has won 26 straight home games as the starting QB.

The Packers are severely banged up, especially with their franchise QB Aaron Rodgers suffering his second concussion of the season last week.

The Patriots are 6-0 at home this season, while the Packers are 3-4 on the road.

Upset of the Week: Houston @ Tennessee (-1)
Mike’s pick: HOUSTON (+1)

Do you remember this?

That clip should give you an idea of what this game will be like. Neither of these teams are going to the playoffs, so this game will be about pride more than anything.

Besides, Houston has the better players, and it’s not close. So if they are getting any points, I’m going to take them.

Fantasy Stud of the Week: Maurice Jones-Drew (@ Indianapolis)

  • Jones-Drew is facing the 29th ranked rush defense this week. He’s averaging 128 yards rushing in his last six games, along with four touchdowns in that span. Furthermore, Jones-Drew has only three lost fumbles in his last 488 carries.
  • Although Jones-Drew didn’t practice Wednesday or Thursday, expect him to be active on Sunday, as this game will probably decide the 2010 AFC South championship.

Fantasy Dud of the Week: Ray Rice (vs. New Orleans)

  • Rice has only three touchdowns this season, the Ravens aren’t running the ball well for a full sixty minutes and the Saints bring the league’s sixth-best defense to Baltimore.
  • Even if Rice does rip off some big gains on Sunday, RB Willis McGahee is likely to continue to take the goal line carries for the Ravens.

Except for the Green Bay/New England game, these games should go down to the wire.

But you never know. Clay Matthews could have something to say about that.

Thanks for reading.

-Mike

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