Phil Jackson spoke out this week on his distaste for playing on Christmas, and for once I kind of agree with the guy. I’m trying to think of how many NBA games I’ve watched in my lifetime on Christmas day. I guess the idea was to do what the NFL does with Thanksgiving, give people something to watch while they wind down, but you can’t compare the NBA and the NFL. And, you can’t compare Christmas to Thanksgiving. Christmas could certainly stand alone without any game to prop it up, and I have a feeling if they stopped playing basketball all day, no one would much notice. If they stopped playing football on Thanksgiving, I’d expect mass rioting and hysteria.
The NFL is actually getting in the mix this year with a prime time Christmas game. The only problem is, they have Dallas at Arizona. Maybe this wasn’t a terrible game when they made the schedule, but now it is a putrid bomb that will be watched only for fantasy purposes (regular and DA). And, what do we think about Dallas playing on Thanksgiving and Christmas? The players must love that. I’m not sure what the NFL is doing with these NFL network games. I think if they really want to sway people toward the channel, they’re going to have to put an occasional decent game on Thursday and now Saturday night. The Thursday game is Pittsburgh hosting Carolina. With the way the Steelers’ offense looks, there is only one word to describe that mess, and it is…unwatchable.
Sunday will be the big day as always. Let everyone storm the Malls to return their sweaters and sit back and watch the regular slate. It’s all about clinching playoff berths these days, and having a rooting interest in teams you usually wouldn’t care about. Case in point,
The Eagles fans will be all Rex Ryan-ed up this week. The Jets go to Chicago in a game that is big for both teams and a handful of others around the league. The Eagles should get by the Vikings with no problem and once that happens, their only target will be the number 2 seed in the conference. Standing in the way is Chicago with their head-to-head win. If the Jets can pick up another tough road win, it’ll put the Birds in position for a 1st round bye. It’ll also wave goodbye to middling 8-6 AFC teams that were holding onto a shred of hope. The Bears have clinched the division, and we’ll have to see if they have enough to continue on to home field.
Also Sunday, the Giants and Packers play what amounts to an elimination game. It’s absolutely must-win for Green Bay, who will get Aaron Rodgers back after he missed Sunday with a concussion. The Packers have slipped from Super Bowl contender to wild-card fringe at 8-6, and they’ll need to take care of business in the last two games to sneak into the playoffs. The Giants are obviously in need of a bounce back. There’s some questions about whether or not the loss to Philadelphia deflated them for the remainder of the year. I don’t really believe in that, not in the NFL. Teams bounce back and play good games when you least expect it. That doesn’t mean going into Green Bay will be easy. If the Giants lose they aren’t done, but they go from controlling their fate to needing a ton of help.
The most watchable game of the week for a casual fan might be Monday Night’s Saints and Falcons game. The Saints still have an outside chance to win the AFC South. The Falcons, who are so deadly at home, are looking to lock down home field throughout the post-season. It’s another respect game for Atlanta, who has run off a long winning streak without getting swamped by hype. This will be the toughest test in their dome all year, and I’m sure plenty of people are expecting Atlanta to lose this game. That is actually my gut feeling, an Atlanta loss. I’m probably still overrating the Saints, but this is what people do.
There aren’t many other good games on tap for this weekend. The Colts have the Raiders and the Jaguars face the Redskins as they hash out the AFC South championship, but other than that just a lot of teams (KC, SD, Baltimore) needing wins against inferior competition.
We have at least one Thursday Pick for You:
Big Dub H: Record, 38-34-2.
Pittsburgh (-14) vs. Carolina.
Will sent this pick on Monday to jump on the line, and rightfully so, it has gone up to 15. There will be a regular pick post tomorrow. I’m not sure if we’ll get all the picks in, but mine will be up and then the rest will show in the comments, or wherever.
*Reminder to DA people about the game tonight and Saturday.
I’m not sure if that will be the final post for the holiday. At the least we’ll be keeping up with Pick ‘Em and fantasy results, but not sure how many general posts we’ll have between now and the new year. Guess we’ll have to see what kind of stories pop up…