Friday, December 23, 2011

Week 16 NFL Picks! Plus, It's Clipper Time!

"Guys, we're only playing the Lakers, so don't go all out."
I've lived in Los Angeles for 11 years now, and over that time I've come to dislike the Los Angeles Lakers a tad. Okay, dislike is perhaps not a strong enough word. I loathe them. They are truly the Yankees of the West Coast right down to the legendary history, tons of championships, hall of fame players, iconic coaches, annoying owners, etc. Like a corrupt English lord, they also pilfer players away from small market teams (Shaq, Gasol) just as the Yankees have done for years. If you're not a fan, it's unbearable. And just like with the Yankees fan base, there's a sense of entitlement and "we're better than you" that permeates. Not to stereotype, but 100 percent of Laker fans are jerks and can bite me. Except for my Facebook friends that like the Lakers, you're all still cool. Well, except you Neil.

The one good thing about all this is when the Lakers aren't good, the rest of us indulge in delicious shadenfreude. And, guess what? Rejoice, non-Laker fans, because they are done. Even after being dominated and swept in embarrassing fashion by the Dallas Mavericks last year, there was a chance the Lakers could come back this year for one more run. A shortened season could have helped their aging vets with their creaky knees and octogenarian fingers.

Artest should have changed his name to "Misses Wide Open 3s".
But, as soon as NBA dictator David "Kim Jong" Stern put the hammer down on the Chris Paul trade to the Lakers, all hope was lost. Lamar Odom, their most versatile player and best defender (sorry, Metta World Peace) wanted out. So sensitive, that Lamar. He was given away for virtually nothing to the Mavs. Now news has come out that Kobe has been stepping out on his wife for about 10 years. Let's file that under "least shocking news ever." Regardless, a polarizing player has found a way to become more unlikable. Good luck on the divorce settlement, Kobe.

Then, the unbelievable happened, the best point guard on the planet was traded to the Clippers. The price was steep: emerging shooting guard Eric Gordon, plus a 1st round pick, two promising youngsters and goofy center/turnover machine Chris Kaman. No matter though, because the Clips are now relevant and their is a real buzz about them in LA. They added proven vets Caron Butler and Chauncey Billups and are now one of the deepest teams in the league. It's only preseason, but the Clips handily embarrassed the Lakers two games in a row this week, and more impressively, they acted like they expected it.

Kobe will be a bit lighter in the wallet soon.
In today's NBA a good point guard means everything. Last year, Chris Paul took the New Orleans Hornets to a game 6 against the Lakers playing with 4 guys that I think now play at my local YMCA. They had nothing, but Paul made everyone around him better. Combine a talented point with incredibly athletic players like Blake Griffin and Deandre Jordan and you have the makings of a new Showtime era in Los Angeles. A historic turnaround is coming. Jason Kidd did the same thing with the Nets almost a decade ago. It is a great time to be a Clipper fan in Los Angeles. And it'll be no surprise to see many a Laker fan jumping ship. As an objective observer, I say to all Clipper fans, don't throw them a life-preserver.

Let's get to the week 16 picks in a lightning round format, since I have some coal to put in some stockings:

Kansas City -2 vs. Oakland 
Oakland needs this one more. Oakland 23 - K.C. 17
Denver -3 at Buffalo 
I'm not going against Tebow on Christmas Eve. Denver 20 Buffalo 13 
Jacksonville +7.5 at Tennessee 
The Insignificance Bowl, brought to you by People Who Don't Care. Tennessee 21 Jax 20 
Arizona +4 at Cincinnati 
The Cardinals take to cold weather like fish take to land. Bengals 27 Cards 14 (lock of week)
Miami +10 at New England 
Hide your sheep and goats, because the Patriots will have home field advantage through the playoffs.
Cleveland +13 at Baltimore 
If you enjoy zero offense and punts, you'll enjoy this one. Baltimore 17 Cleveland 3
NYG +3 at Jets 
This has all the makings of a tie, so both fan bases will remain depressed as required. Giants 20 Jets 20. 
Minnesota +6 at Washington
The only thing more unnecessary than this game are bank tellers. Redskins 28 Vikings 20
Bears +13 at Green Bay 
Say hello to the CFL, Caleb Hanie.
Caleb Heinous may literally be the worst QB in modern history. Green Bay 27 Bears 10
San Diego +2.5 at Detroit 
It's Christmas, which means it's time for Norv Turner to crush the dreams of Chargers fans once again.  Lions 34 Chargers 30
Dallas -1.5 over Eagles
The Eagles hit the snooze button on their alarm until Week lazy. Cowboys 30 Eagles 28
Tampa Bay +7.5 at Carolina
No one is happier about the Colts last 2 wins than Tampa, who still have a shot at Luck. Carolina 31 Tampa 17
San Fran -2 at Seattle 
Alex Smith in the NFL's most hostile environment. Seahawks 21 San Fran 17.   
New Orleans -6.5 over Atlanta
A good game on a Monday's a Christmas miracle, God Bless us, everyone! Saints 31 Falcons 27

Have a Merry Christmas and great holiday, everyone! 

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