December 21, 2012

Here’s hoping for a SF-NE Super Bowl + Week 16 picks

by Dan Bilicki In: Football, Picks

If Sunday nights’ San Francisco-New England game was a real Super Bowl preview, we’re all going to be blessed on February 3.

While many would look at the final scoreline of 41-34 and think that the game was exciting just by that fact, the truth was it was even better.

The Niners used their tremendous defence to frustrate the Patriots into being uncharacteristically sloppy. Tom Brady was picked off twice while Stevan Ridley and Shane Vereen each lost a fumble.

The elements may have helped in the case of the fumbles, as a nice wintery mix of wind, rain and a little sleet gave this game a real classic feeling.

Second-year QB Colin Kaepernick – starting in just his fifth game and his first in prime time – was lights out. While leading San Fran out to a 31-3 lead in the third quarter, we were witness again to why coach Jim Harbaugh chose to ride Kaepernick instead of going back to Alex Smith. Kaepernick was electric with the ball, when running those crafty option plays or uncorked a bullet pass. It’s that sort of potential for big plays that will get the 49ers far in the post-season.

But just when you thought the game was out of reach for New England, Tom Brady went to work. He rallied his team up and down the field for four straight touchdowns and showed why he’s one of the best QBs ever. In 20 minutes of play, Brady led the Pats to 28 points against one of the best defences in football.

But that’s when the game turned again. A stellar kickoff return and a great pass from Kaepernick to Michael Crabtree put the Niners back in front. A David Akers field goal after a defensive stop put the game out of reach.

New England hit a field goal to make it a seven-point game (while also bitterly eliminating me from the Sun fantasy football pool) but a botched onside kick ended the contest.

It was the perfect end to an imperfect game. It also showed us that you don’t need to see perfection to have an amazing game and an amazing outcome. It is tilts like these between powerhouse teams that really make the NFL the best in the world.

The lines are from 5Dimes and the home teams are in CAPS.

Atlanta -4 over DETROIT

Because nothing says Saturday night like watching the Falcons rip apart these sad-sack Lions. Also, why is nobody talking about Calvin Johnson being 181 yards short of the single-season receiving record? Heck, he could get that in this game!

Tennessee +14 over GREEN BAY

The Pack will win this one, but won’t pull out all the stops. Plus, can’t you see Chris Johnson swinging some fantasy Super Bowls with a big game?

CAROLINA -9 over Oakland

If one thing’s true, it’s that Cam Newton can sure beat up on bad defences. The Raiders are just that.

MIAMI -4 over Buffalo

The Dolphins are good at winning games that don’t matter to make people think that next year, they’ll be able to contend for a playoff spot.

Cincinnati +4 over PITTSBURGH

Call me crazy, but aren’t the Steelers due to miss the playoffs? The Bengals are an average team, but the Steelers are too beat up.

San Diego +1.5 over NEW YORK JETS

Oh, you thought I was going to bet on Greg McElroy?

New England -14 over JACKSONVILLE

The Patriots aren’t a team that will let up on the gas, especially with their own NFL scoring record in sight.

Indianapolis -7 over KANSAS CITY

Hmm, a playoff-bound team visiting a team that was just shut out by one of the worst defences out there? I’ll gladly give the points.

New Orleans +3 over DALLAS

The Saints’ abundance of receivers is going to give the Cowboys a lot of trouble.

Washington -4.5 over PHILADELPHIA

There’s just no way that this terrible Eagles team can cover, right?

St. Louis +3 over TAMPA BAY

This game is of little consequence to either side, so take the points.

New York Giants -2.5 over BALTIMORE

One of these teams has to bounce back from their bad showing and at least the Giants aren’t banged up.

HOUSTON -9 over Minnesota

The Texans gave more points to the Colts last week, who I’d rather back than the one-dimensional Vikings. Here’s where AP’s pursuit of the rushing record ends too.

Cleveland +14 over DENVER

The Browns could be chippy enough to keep this game close. Also the Broncos may not want to pull out all their tricks.

Chicago -5 over ARIZONA

The Bears skid should end here in a must-win situation. There’s no way they make the mistakes that Detroit did in the desert.

San Francisco (pick) over SEATTLE

The Seahawks have been on an amazing run scoring 108 points in two games, but neither of those teams can even hold a candle to the Niners, who just proved their mettle on Sunday night.

This week: 9-4
This season: 111-105-9

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