And now we enter the stretch run. As I filled up on food this Thanksgiving weekend, I dreaded the tests, quizzes, papers and so on that would be waiting for me back at school. It’s quite nerve-wracking how these two to three weeks can completely impact one’s final grade, even after having 13 or so previous weeks of school.
And that’s the point we are getting to this season in the NFL. Prior to last Thursday’s game between the New York Jets and the New England Patriots, analysts were saying that if the Jets won, they would be in contention to make the playoffs. As we all know, they were embarrassed, and because of that one game analysts are now discussing the draft and potentially blowing up the team.
At this point in the season the great teams have already established themselves, but there is a bevy of teams vying for the final spots in the playoffs. We have seen that the cream of the crop tends to rise around this time: the past two champions have been wild cards.
So over the next few weeks, look for the teams that enter into the playoffs with a bit of a hot streak to really make a deep run. And with that, let’s make our way to the picks. (HOME TEAM IN CAPS)
Seattle Seahawks at CHICAGO BEARS
If only he was as valuable to my fantasy team as he is to his regular team. Jay Cutler might not put up the best numbers, but he 100 percent knows how to win. And in his absence, the Bears’ offense was miserable. They also were missing Johnny Knox and Alshon Jeffery, but what Cutler brings to the table is immeasurable.
I believe that they will make it into the playoffs, but will not be able to make it deep. In this league, teams have been able to get away with having subpar defenses as long as their passing offense has been spectacular. As valuable as Cutler is, the Bears’ passing offense is too devoid of weapons for the team to make a deep run.
On the other side, Russell Wilson has had a fantastic rookie season. He has kept his mistakes down, and has kept the Seahawks in most of their games.
They are currently slated for a playoff spot, and I think that they will make it into the playoffs but also lose early on. However, after a tough loss last week against Miami, I am not confident in their ability to beat the Bears on the road. As always with the Bears, look for Michael Bush to make a difference in the red zone.
CHICAGO 24 Seattle 13
Indianapolis Colts at DETROIT LIONS
I love what Andrew Luck brings to the table. I love how the Colts’ offense will shape up during the Andrew Luck era. With some more help on the offensive line and throughout the defense, the Colts will be back to dominating the AFC in no time.
Detroit is a very interesting team. On paper, they are a really talented team. Offensively, they are full of weapons. Defensively, they are tenacious.
But this season, they have been on the wrong side of shootouts, and have never been able to match up strong offensive and defensive performances on the same week.
However, they are not a team to write off in the sense that they are talented enough to play with the best teams in the NFL, and could ruin some playoff aspirations. It won’t start this week. Andrew Luck and Co. are making moves towards the playoffs, and this week is crucial. Look for Vick Ballard to tear up a porous Detroit Lions rush defense.
Indianapolis 41 DETROIT 38
Pittsburgh Steelers at BALTIMORE RAVENS
It’s truly amazing how scheduling comes out sometimes. The Steelers and the Ravens were almost tied near the top of the AFC North standings about three weeks ago. Then Big Ben Roethlisberger went down, and the Steelers had to depend on Byron Leftwich and Charlie Batch over the last few weeks.
In the time that Roethlisberger has been out, the Ravens have had the opportunity to play the Steelers twice. This means that they have just received a huge advantage in their attempt to separate the difference between both teams in the standings. Now there is a chance that Roethlisberger will play for the Steelers on Sunday. And if he does, that could change the whole outlook of the game. But as of now, it is not looking good for him and the Steelers, so I am going to have to pick the Ravens, led by Joe Flacco (who I loathe, if you were unaware).
On the fantasy side, look for Jonathan Dwyer, who is the reported running back starter for the Steelers to have a big day. No matter who starts at quarterback for the Steelers, their quarterback play will be shoddy at best.
BALTIMORE 20 Pittsburgh 10
New Orleans Saints at ATLANTA FALCONS
I would love to make a pick for the game on Thursday, but by the time this paper comes out it will be over. But right now, for the record, I am confident that the Saints are going to win. They are riding a hot streak, and playing with a chip on their shoulder. The Falcons are good, but have not been able to beat the Saints in recent memory.
The Falcons have played against the easiest schedule in the league, and have won by seven points or less seven times. And apparently, the Atlanta airport workers were caught throwing eggs at the Saints’ airplane. Bad karma.
Also, the Georgia Dome will be hosting the SEC Championship. I foresee only two possible outcomes: The Georgia Bulldogs keep it close all game and pull it out in the end, or the Alabama Crimson Tide dominate from the first minute and look forward to back-to-back National Championships. We have got a lot of football with a lot of big implications this weekend. I’m pumped. To all my readers, be safe and have a great weekend.
By Jayson Patel
The Emory Wheel was founded in 1919 and is currently the only independent, student-run newspaper of Emory University. The Wheel publishes weekly on Wednesdays during the academic year, except during University holidays and scheduled publication intermissions.
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