2022 PIGSKIN PICKS OF PROFUNDITY…WEEK 20

Folks, before we get down to business let’s address the elephant in the room. Zach & I both love football. We’ve both been hardcore Steelers fans our entire lives (my life being just a bit longer than his). Once, when I was a boy in the early 80’s, Pittsburgh lost the last game of the season (I’m not sure which year) and missed the playoffs. I cried like a baby. There are few things more enjoyable for me than vegging out in front of the TV on autumn Saturdays to watch college football from morning until the last west coast game ends around 1am, then watching “seven hours of commercial free football” on NFL RedZone Sunday afternoon. I started doing these picks several years ago because it combines a few things that I love: writing, football, and acting as if I know what the hell I’m talking about. Having said all of that, we are well aware that there’s a real world out there full of serious issues & life changing decisions. Football is usually an escape from those unpleasant realities, but it’s not breaking news to most that football & real life collided a few days ago. I’m not going to offer any medical opinions or hot takes, just sincere good mojo for Damar Hamlin, best wishes for the Buffalo Bills as they move thru the playoffs, and a tip of the cap to coaches, officials, league brass, & even TV talking heads who handled an unprecedented situation in a mostly professional & fair manner. 

Okay, so…we are tied coming into this final week. Zach was 3-1 last weekend, while I was 1-3. It goes without saying that the Bills-Bengals game we picked doesn’t count since they didn’t finish it. For our finale we are doing bonus picks…obviously…with each game having some kind of playoff implication. Watch the games. Enjoy them. Don’t feel guilty for doing so. But also don’t forget to call, text, or visit friends & family and tell them you love them. Distractions are fantastic, but reality can be pretty cool as well.

My Season: 54-59

Zach’s Season: 54-59

Tennessee at Jacksonville (-6.5)

This is a Saturday night game on ESPN, and Tennessee will have had a couple extra days of rest since they played on Thursday last week. The winner wins the AFC South. The Jags could win it outright, while the Titans have a better divisional record & would win the tiebreaker. Theoretically Jacksonville could still earn a wildcard berth even with a loss, but too many dominoes would have to fall perfectly, so it’s not a realistic scenario. I told you before the season that “the Jags could be headed in the right direction”, but they have exceeded expectations. The Titans have lost six in a row and simply have too many injuries. Even if RB Derrick Henry plays & looks good I don’t believe they’ll get the job done. Zach concurs. 

My Pick: Jacksonville (21-13)

Z’s Pick: Jacksonville (28-17)

Baltimore at Cincinnati (-7)

I’m not sure how the NFL is going to handle this situation. Assuming the “postponed” game is not made up the Bengals will have played one less game, so if they lose they’d be 11-5 and the Ravens would be 11-6. However, in that scenario Baltimore would’ve won both meetings this season, and I suppose it’d make sense that they be declared division champions. Cincinnati could make it easy by winning the game and clearly earning a division title. QB Lamar Jackson has missed the last four games with a knee injury, and it is unknown if he’ll be available for the underdogs this week. It feels like Cincy is peaking at the right time after winning seven in a row. Who am I to question Big Mo(mentum)?? Zach sees it as a contrast of styles…Baltimore’s ball control offense vs. the Bengals’ big play potential…and he thinks the defending AFC champs have a great shot to make another deep run. 

My Pick: Cincinnati  (27-17)

Z’s Pick: Cincinnati (35-20)

Seattle (-6.5) at LA Rams 

The Seahawks need to win and hope Green Bay loses. That would get them the 7th seed in the NFC. A week ago I had too much faith that the defending champion Rams would rekindle some of that fire from last season, but instead they got blasted by the Chargers. Lesson learned. They may not make it far, but it’d be nice to see QB Geno Smith lead Seattle into the postseason. Zach agrees.

My Pick: Seattle  (31-17)

Z’s Pick: Seattle (31-10)

New England at Buffalo (-7.5)

The Steelers need New England to lose (seems like old times). That’s good enough for me. Hopefully by the time this one kicks off the outlook for Damar Hamlin will be more encouraging and the Bills will be invigorated to kick ass in his honor. Zach hasn’t lost faith in Pats’ QB Mac Jones, but thinks the rest of the team is a mess. 

My Pick: Buffalo (28-10)

Z’s Pick: Buffalo (28-7)

NY Giants at Philadelphia (-14)

Much to my surprise the Giants are playoff bound, and they are locked into the 6th seed. Philly is headed to the playoffs too, but they would prefer to be the NFC East champions, the conference’s top seed, and have a first round bye. That makes this a must win. Having said that, the points are redonkulous. These are not the Giants that I predicted to go 1-16 👀…these Giants are 9-6-1 and want to go to the postseason with momentum. They might not win, but it’ll be closer than two TDs. Zach is on the same page. 

My Pick: NY Giants   (21-30)

Z’s Pick: NY Giants  (20-24)

Dallas (-5.5) at Washington 

This rivalry was more fun when it was Cowboys vs. Indians. Anyway, Dallas is also battling for a division crown & the NFC’s #1 seed, but they have to win first. The Commanders were eliminated from playoff contention last weekend, but I have to assume they’d relish the role of spoiler. I don’t have much faith in the Cowboys making a deep playoff run, but I’d be surprised if they don’t go to DC & handle business. Zach concurs. 

My Pick: Dallas  (34-14)

Z’s Pick: Dallas (28-13)

NY Jets at Miami {even}

It should be one of the most intriguing games of the day, even with both teams limping a bit. The Jets’ quarterback situation has been a mess, and I don’t think it matters whether Zach Wilson, Mike White, or Joe Flacco is the starter. Similarly, the Dolphins have seen starter Tua Tagovailoa battle concussion issues and lost backup Teddy Bridgewater to a finger injury. Third stringer Skylar Thompson was a 7th round pick out of Kansas St. and certainly looked like it last week (Thompson was chosen 15 spots ahead of 49ers QB Brock Purdy…think Miami would like to have a do-over??). There’s a chance Bridgewater might be available, which could help the home team. With so many variables in play it comes down to this for me: my Steelers need the Dolphins to lose. Zach agrees. 

My Pick: NY Jets  (16-14)

Z’s Pick: NY Jets (17-14)

Detroit at Green Bay (-4.5)

I said five months ago that “the surprise of the division might be Detroit”, and here we are with the Lions not only having an opportunity to snag a playoff berth, but eliminate the Packers in the process. For Green Bay it is simple…win & they’re in. Detroit has to win and hope that Seattle loses. This is the Sunday night contest on NBC, so the Lions will know the outcome of the Seahawks game by the time they kick off. I said a couple of weeks ago that “battling Aaron Rodgers with his back against a wall is dangerous”. The Pack has won four in a row and I don’t think that stops now. Detroit has a bright future and should be congratulated on their significant improvement, but I think their season ends on The Frozen Tundra. Not only does Zach believe Green Bay will win this game, but he thinks they are a legit Super Bowl contender. 

My Pick: Green Bay  (27-20)

Z’s Pick: Green Bay (28-20)

Y’all may have noticed that, for the first time ever, we predicted final scores. That’s because we agreed on the outcome of all eight games, meaning that we’re going to end up tied no matter what. Therefore, we are doing a “closest to the hole” tiebreaker. The lesser point differential for each game (regardless of the outcome) wins that game. Zach agreed to those terms, and I think it’ll make watching each game even more fun.

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