NFL Week 16 Christmas Lineman picks

December 24, 2011

By Steve Keating

Well, after two weeks of 4-2 the Lineman is still searching for that perfect Christmas gift and hopes he has found it with this six-pack of holiday picks.

Keeping in the spirit of the holiday season, the Lineman offers you all the best and may all your picks be winners HO HO HO.

Record: 47-43. Last week 4-2; Pick of the Week: 13-2

PICK OF THE WEEK

Denver Broncos (8-6) at Buffalo Bills (5-9) (Line Broncos minus-2.5)

You do not need to be one of the Three Wise Men to know this has the look of a Christmas Special.

Tim Tebow, Christmas Eve, all that is missing is a shining star over Orchard Park and I would not bet against that either.

Spoofed on Saturday Night Live and loved by millions, ‘Tebow Time’ comes to wintery Buffalo (OK, there is not exactly much snow in the Queen City – yet) and if there is to be a Christmas Miracle here it will have to come from the Bills, who have watched their once promising season slip-slide away with seven straight losses.

Under the direction of the Mile High Messiah, the Broncos have been going in the other direction winning six of their last seven to move top the AFC West and can clinch their first division crown since 2005 with a win on Saturday if Oakland and Kansas City lose. How’s that for a Christmas present Broncos fans?

Tiny Tim could not pull off another Mile High Miracle last week against Tom Brady and the Pats but a leaky Bills defence ranked 29th against the run will allow Tebow and the Broncos number one rushing offence do what they do best.

And the Broncos know how to get it done on the road are a perfect 5-0 with Tebow at the controls while the woeful Bills have given their hard luck fans little cheer having not won at the Ralph since beating the Eagles way back on Oct. 9.

Jingle Bells, Bills smell. Take the Broncos and give up the 2.5.
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Miami Dolphins (5-9) at New England Patriots (11-3) (Line Pats minus-9.5)

What do you get the fans who have everything? Super Bowls, an MVP quarterback who is married to a super model, a tight end who hangs out with porn stars, a six game winning streak.

Well, it seems this year the Patriots and their supporters will get an opening-round playoff bye if they can beat the Dolphins.

The Dolphins were shredded for 517-yards and four touchdowns by Brady in their season opener but have played much better down the home stretch winning four of their last six.

Wider receiver Brandon Marshall and running back Reggie Bush will present problems for the banged up Patriots defence, which lost sack leader Andre Carter in last week’s win over Denver.

But the Dolphins will not be able to keep pace with Brady and the New England offence which continues to hum along averaging 426 ypg, second only to the Saints.

Brady has thrown 35 touchdowns, nine of those to Wes Welker who leads the league in receiving yards and receptions.

But Brady’s favourite target in go-to situations has been Rob Gronkowski who has already set a record for most touchdowns for a tight end this season with 15.

Brady and the Patriots are almost unbeatable at home with only one loss at Gillette Stadium this season while the Dolphins have not been great on the road and a Christmas eve trip to New England is not a great way to kick off the holidays.

Belichick is a Grinch most of the time. Don’t expect that to change here.

Take the Pats and give up the 9.5.
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Chicago Bears (7-7) at Green Bay Packers (13-1) (Line Packers minus 12.5)

You have to wonder what the Bears did to Santa. Eat his reindeer or something because there are not gifts coming Chicago’s way.

First the Bears lose their starting quarterback Jay Cutler, then their top offensive threat Matt Forte, then last week their top receiver Johnny Knox and now they get a Christmas Day visit to Lambeau Field to take on the miffed Packers.

After watching their perfect season blow up with a shock loss to the Kansas City Chiefs last week the Packers do not seem to be in a charitable mood as they look to lock up the top seed in the NFC.

The Bears defence has tried valiantly to keep Chicago in the wildcard chase but with four straight losses would need a Christmas Miracle to reach the post-season.

Josh McCown will make his first start since 2007 taking over for Caleb Hanie, who did a great Santa impression as the Bears quarterback tossing nine interceptions in six games and just three touchdowns.

Not all is perfect in Packer-land.

Greg Jennings will miss a second straight game recovering from a knee injury and the offensive line will be missing tackles Bryan Bulaga and Chad Clifton.

The Chiefs showed you can have some success against the Pack by keeping pressure on Aaron Rodgers, who tossed his 40th touchdown of the season last Sunday but was otherwise kept in check by a blitzing Kansas City.

The Packers will have no presents for their bitter NFC North rivals but they are banged up and might fall back into their early season habit of easing off the gas when they have an opponent on the ropes instead of delivering a knockout punch.

But I think the Packers, in front of holiday crowd, will look to get their mojo back before heading into the post-season.

Wrap this Packers win up and put it under the tree.

Take the Pack and give up the 12.5
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Atlanta Falcons (9-5) at New Orleans Saints (11-3)  (Line Falcons plus 6.5)

This one could be the ideal Christmas gift for football fans as the two NFC South rivals go toe-to-toe with plenty at stake. New Orleans can wrap up the division title with a win while the Falcons could land a playoff spot.

The Saints have been sizzling putting up big numbers while rolling through a six-game winning run. Leading the charge has been quarterback Drew Brees, who needs just 305-yards passing to claim Dan Marino’s single season record of 5,084.

With Brees on fire, the Saints attack has been almost unstoppable averaging a league best 456.7 ypg and has been unbeatable at home going 6-0 at the Superdome averaging close to 40 points a game in those wins.

But the Falcons have also been playing some of their best football heading into the holiday season winning four of their last five.

Quarterback Matt Ryan looks to be hitting his stride at just the right time and has all kinds of weapons at his disposal in wide receivers Roddy White, Julio Jones, tight end Tony Gonzalez and running back Michael Turner, who sits fourth in league rushing with 1,129-yards.

The two teams met six weeks ago in Atlanta with the Saints stealing an overtime win when Falcons coach Mike Smith had brain cramp going on fourth down deep in his own end and failing to make it.

Games between these two rivals have always been close and with so much on the line I expect this one to go down to the wire.

Sit back, crack open some egg nog and enjoy this Christmas treat. Take the Falcons and the 6.5.
- – - -

Philadelphia Eagles (6-8) at Dallas Cowboys (8-6) (Line Cowboys minus-2.5)

This game is another dandy on the Christmas menu with the Cowboys desperate to clinch top spot in the NFC East with a win and avoid a New Year’s day showdown with the New York Giants.

After a 1-4 start to the campaign, the Eagles have been NFL vampires refusing to die doing just enough to keep their faint playoff hopes alive.

While it is a classic case of too little, too late, the Eagles are playing their best football of the season with Michael Vick back under centre, LeSean McCoy taking care of business out of the back field and wide receivers DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin providing deep threats.

The Eagles pounded the Cowboys 34-7 in Week Eight and showed how dangerous they can be crushing the New York Jets last weekend.

Tony Romo’s December swoons are well documented but the Cowboys quarterback has been solid, staying away from the costly turnovers that have plagued him in the past tossing 18 touchdowns against just two interceptions in last seven games.

The Cowboys will be at home in front of packed house at Jerry Jones’ Palace with their season on the line.

Home and cooled for the holidays.

Take the Cowboys and give up the 2.5.
- – - -

Arizona Cardinals (7-7) at Cincinnati Bengals (8-6) (Line Bengals minus-4.5)

Locked in a battle with the New York Jets for the second AFC wildcard, this is a game the fading Bengals must win with a meeting against North division rivals the Baltimore Raven looming as their regular season finale.

Bengals kept their post-season hopes alive with a less than impressive win over the sad-sack St. Louis Rams last week but must follow that up with an improved effort at home against the surging Cardinals, winners of six of their last seven.

After a blazing start to the season, the Bengals have cooled off winning just two of their last six but those losses have all been against quality opponents falling twice to the Steelers, once to the Ravens and a heart-breaking one-point loss to the AFC South leading Texans.

The Cardinals have survived nicely behind backup John Skelton but starter Kevin Kolb is expected to return to the lineup this week after being knocked out with a concussion.

Bengals rookie quarterback Andy Dalton will look for his speedy rookie receiver A.J. Green while workhorse Cedric Benson is closing in on another 1,000 yard season.

Cincinnati will have to cut down on costly penalties and keep an eye on Arizona return specialists Patrick Peterson, who has returned four punts for touchdowns this season.

Cardinals are usually heading south this time of year so will not enjoy a trip to the chilly north. Cards fold.
Take the Bengals give up the 4.5.

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