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Kibbles and Picks 2020 - Week 16

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Time is running out.

Yes, I gained another game on Stella this week, putting up an 11-5 record against her 10-6; both of us would have had even more impressive weeks had the Jets and Bengals not managed unlikely wins. Still, one game a week is not going to cut it. Stella’s lead is still seven games, and I’ve got just this week and next to catch up.

It’s looking grim … but not impossible.

Heck, we’re at odds on seven games this week. If I could somehow sweep the lot, we’re in a flat-footed tie going into the regular season’s last week. That’s unlikely, obviously, but I could maybe swing five, which would give me at least a puncher’s chance come Week 17. If Stella holds serve or – God forbid – outpicks me, that’s probably a wrap, with me likely having to take some ludicrous swings in the last week to even have a shot.

First up, we’ve got the 49ers/Cardinals matchup. I’m picking the Niners here, largely because we’re at the point where I need to take a few chances and this seems like a reasonable one. The San Francisco defense could find some ways to push Cards QB Kyler Murray out of his comfort zone, force a few mistakes. If they do that, the 49ers could pull out the W. Stella considers that wishful thinking; she recognizes that Murray has struggled with consistency, but she believes that the young QB is going to make some things happen, likely via targeting DeAndre Hopkins a dozen times or more. She also likes the energy of the Arizona D.

From there, it’s off to Pittsburgh, where I have the host Steelers handling their business against the visiting Colts. Yes, I know the Steelers are reeling right now, losers of three straight after their 11-0 start. And yes, Ben Roethlisberger has looked cooked the last few times out. But again – I have to take some shots. And I think that there’s some bounceback potential here. Stella expects more of the same from the Colts, unexciting, competent football that results in a victory. Indy isn’t going to blow anyone off the field, but with RB Jonathan Taylor and a quietly stout defense, they’re more than capable of handling Pittsburgh. She also thinks that the Steelers are spiraling and will wilt against the Colts.

Next up, I’ve taken the Broncos to beat the Chargers. Look, I recognize that this Denver team isn’t that impressive, but I’m betting they’re looking to rebound after the shellacking they got from the Bills last week. If they can turn it in to a grind, a low-scoring long possession game, they can pull off the upset. That’s the hope, anyway. Stella chuckles at the audacity of my hope; she thinks that rookie QB Justin Herbert is legit and that RB Austin Ekeler is firing on all cylinders. She’s pretty sure that the Broncos will struggle to hang with the Chargers and that LA will spread the ball around and have little trouble scoring.

I’ll confess that it feels weird to be picking the 4-10 Panthers to win, but the truth is that Washington is struggling and again, I need to take some chances if I’m going to catch Stella. She picked the Football Team, though she’s not particularly enthusiastic about it. Neither of us will be surprised if we’re wrong, though we WILL be shocked if this game is any good.

In the Philadelphia/Dallas matchup, I’m going with the Cowboys at home. While I haven’t been tremendously impressed by the Dallas offense in recent weeks, their defense has shown a knack for coming up with big plays. Considering there’s a rookie taking snaps on the other side, I like them to force a turnover or two. Stella concedes the inexperience of Jalen Hurts, but she also really likes what she’s seen from him in the last couple of games. She thinks that he’ll make some things happen both with his arm and with his legs, scoring enough to outpace the middling Dallas offensive attack. The fact that both teams somehow still have a shot at the postseason should keep this one interesting.

After that, we’re off to Seattle, where I have the visiting Rams taking out the Seahawks. This Rams team is going to come in with a chip on their collective shoulder; they have something to prove after dropping one to the previously-winless Jets last week. Expect Jared Goff to go off and the Rams pass rush to make Russell Wilson miserable all day long. Stella thinks that Russ can handle the pressure and will find ways to get big plays out of D.K. Metcalf and Tyler Lockett. The Seahawks D has been up and down, but she thinks this week will be an up, so long as they can figure out ways to disrupt Goff’s rhythm.

Finally, in the Monday night game, my increasing misguided faith in my beloved Patriots continues as they host Buffalo. Do I actually think that New England is the superior team? I do not. But I do think that the Pats secondary has a chance to take advantage of Josh Allen – particularly since the Bills may not be playing with urgency. We’ll see if the offense can manage enough to eke out a win. Stella is impressed by my loyalty if not my logic. She expects Buffalo to thoroughly handle New England and especially recommends keeping an eye on Stefon Diggs – he’s a couple of double-digit catch weeks away from a top-five all-time receptions season and she thinks that Buffalo will try to get him there. I’m hoping for a low-scoring slugfest, but if the points start flowing, Stella’s definitely going to be right on this one.

And that’s that. Seven games. I need to be right on a lot of these to even have a shot at pulling this out, so wish me luck. Stella, for her part, remains unconcerned.

(winners in caps)

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ALLEN’S PICKS

Friday, Dec. 25

Minnesota at NEW ORLEANS

Saturday, Dec. 26

TAMPA BAY at Detroit

SAN FRANCISCO at Arizona

MIAMI at Las Vegas

Sunday, Dec. 27

Atlanta at KANSAS CITY

CLEVELAND at NY Jets

Indianapolis at PITTSBURGH

CHICAGO at Jacksonville

NY Giants at BALTIMORE

Cincinnati at HOUSTON

DENVER at LA Chargers

CAROLINA at Washington

Philadelphia at DALLAS

LA RAMS at Seattle

Tennessee at GREEN BAY

Monday, Dec. 28

Buffalo at NEW ENGLAND

Week 15 record: 11-5

Season record: 138-85-1

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STELLA’S PICKS

Friday, Dec. 25

Minnesota at NEW ORLEANS

Saturday, Dec. 26

TAMPA BAY at Detroit

San Francisco at ARIZONA

MIAMI at Las Vegas

Sunday, Dec. 27

Atlanta at KANSAS CITY

CLEVELAND at NY Jets

INDIANAPOLIS at Pittsburgh

CHICAGO at Jacksonville

NY Giants at BALTIMORE

Cincinnati at HOUSTON

Denver at LA CHARGERS

Carolina at WASHINGTON

PHILADELPHIA at Dallas

LA Rams at SEATTLE

Tennessee at GREEN BAY

Monday, Dec. 28

BUFFALO at New England

Week 15 record: 10-6

Season record: 145-78-1

Last modified on Thursday, 24 December 2020 13:32

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