Since Friday, I’ve watched two and a half season of Lost.

I spent two and a half hours working on this post only to lose it.

I’ve lost my touch picking everything as of late (more on that in a minute).

I mean, the only thing I haven’t lost lately was my game against Harshbarger last week, but even that came down to the wire.

It’s time to move on.

First things first, let’s take a look at the standings as we head into our last week of the regular season:

1. Garland’s Giants (11-2) 1456.3 points
2. A’s Bengals (8-5) 1228.3 points
3. Bloom’s Broncos (7-6) 1490.4 points
4. Travelpiece’s 49ers (7-6) 1458.6 points
5. Gideon’s Bears (7-6) 1326.9 points
6. Nelson’s Steelers (7-6) 1313.7 points
~~~~~~~~~~Playoff Cut-off~~~~~~~~~~~~~
7. Miller’s Chiefs (7-6) 1252.4 points
8. Duncan’s Packers (6-7) 1493 points
9. Harshbarger’s Chargers (6-7) 1484.2 points
10. O’Neill’s Deserted Buccaneers (6-7) 1451.4 points
11. Montgomery’s Rams (6-7) 1313.7 points
12. Damn’s Bills (6-7) 1142.8 points
13. Meyers’ Cowboys (4-9)
14. Dincher’s Dolphins (3-10)

I’m in seven different fantasy leagues, and in all seven of them, the playoffs start this week. Officially in six of them, but for more than half of our league, this week begins the lose-and-you-are-out portion of the season, so it might as well be the playoffs.

Only two teams have clinched a playoff spot, and only two teams are technically eliminated, although it would take an absolute miracle for Damn to get in. Mathematically, there are probably over 100 possible playoff scenarios remaining, but there’s one in particular which intrigues me. Six people in this league graduated high school in 2005. Two of them are already in the playoffs, and the other four control their own destiny. My apologies to Duncan and you young’ns, but this is the scenario I’m rooting for.

Time for some picks.

For the record, my hot streak is over. Completely over. I got 4 of my 5 guaranteed NFL picks, but missed my number 1 pick. I only got 1 of the 6 games in our league right, and I went 2-14 against the spread. That’s almost impossible. Two weeks ago, and three picks ago, my commish picks were gold. Last week, they were trash. What will they be like this time around?

Damn may be all but done in our league, but he is our lone survivor in the eliminator challenge. Four of the five teams I’m picking this week are teams he still hasn’t used this year, so pay attention mister, especially to the first one.

1. New England over Carolina.

Ain’t no chance in hell Jake Delhomme is winning a game in New England in December. None. Not once, not never. Nope. Whose chair is that?

2. Baltimore over Detroit.
3. Tennessee over St. Louis.
4. Pittsburgh over Cleveland.

The four worst teams in the NFL are playing four AFC teams fighting for their playoff lives. But I only count three teams on that list, you say? Well that’s because the New York Jets do this every year. They start out hot and cause their fans to start thinking about whether the Jets or the Giants would play on Sunday in the Meadowlands when both teams get home-field advantage in their conference. Then they start to suck. Real bad. Losing home games against Buffalo and Miami that they shouldn’t have. And then their fans give up hope. But then they win a couple of games in a row and rope their fans back in. Get them to start thinking ‘hey, you know maybe we still have a chance after all.’ And then they lose a heartbreaker. Maybe that game is next week at home against the Falcons, but I think it’s this week against Tampa Bay.

5. Houston over Seattle.

Steve Slaton may be out for Houston, but Seattle cannot play football on the road.

Damn, I am begging you to pick the Patriots. Keep Beaver Falls hope alive!

Onto the games of the week, and we’re mixing things up this time. No upsets. No blowouts. Just six games of the week, because that’s what we’ve got.

Game #1: Nelson’s Steelers (7-6) vs. Dincher’s Dolphins (3-10)

Nelson contacted me on facebook, and pleaded with me not to pick his game this week. Et tu, Andrew? Have you no recollection of what I have done for thee? Let me paint you a picture. It’s November 2007. The playoffs are so far from your grasp, you don’t even know you’re reaching anymore. Your schedule is daunting. But I make you my upset pick of the week. Week after week. Until you find yourself in the Championship game, only to lose to yours truly. I created you Andrew. How dare you defy me! The result of this game is upon your head.

1. Drew Brees vs. 29th ranked Atlanta Falcons pass defense. What happened to Atlanta? They’re still a good team at home, but weren’t they a borderline Super Bowl team last year? And didn’t they steal…I mean pilfer…I mean trade for the greatest Tight End of our generation? Shouldn’t they be an offensive friggin juggernaut? Sure, we all knew their defense sucked, but so do the defenses in New Orleans and New England. I blame Matt Ryan. In other news, I would love to have the highest rated quarterback in the NFL throwing darts against this secondary.

2. New York Jets rushing attack vs. Tampa Bay. I don’t condone starting Shonn Greene, but in theory it should work. The numbers say the Jones/Greene partnership should go for 160 yards and a TD. The injury to Mark Sanchez says the rushing game should get even more love than they normally would. But if you read my NFL picks, you know what I expect out of the Jets this week.

3. Peterson vs. 2nd ranked Cincinnati Bengals rush defense. All Day was shut down all day against the Cardinals last week, and they are a mediocre defense. The train is coming off the track in Minnesota. Something isn’t right with Peterson, and they are going to back their way into the playoffs. Good thing his owner in our league won’t be a factor in the playoffs.

4. Tony Gonzalez vs. the Saints. Speaking of that greatest tight end of our generation, he put up his highest yardage total of the season the last time the Falcons faced the Saints. I expect more of the same. And don’t fool yourself into thinking it will matter whether or not Matt Ryan plays. Chris Redman has been finding Gonzo just fine the past two weeks. And keep in mind what he had to work with for the past five years or so in Kansas City.

5. Dincher’s Ravens vs. Detroit. Sure, there’s nothing much else on his bench, but Clayton is injured, and McGahee is barely averaging 5 touches per game anymore. He’s just giving away points here.

X-Factor: “Throw it deep to Hines Ward!” It would be ironic if Andrew’s favorite receiver of all time ended up having a monster game on Nelson’s bench, which led to a huge game for Roethlisberger. Frankly though, I don’t think it will matter what Big Ben does, and I really don’t think he’ll do much. I say Steelers win 21-13, but one of the TDs is a rush, and the other is defensive. The fun part is that I won’t be able to post this until the game is almost over, so we’ll see how that prediction goes.

Final Score: Pit 128-91

Game #2: Gideon’s Bears (7-6) vs. Duncan’s Packers (6-7)

This is the first of two games this week in which both teams somewhat control their own destiny. If Gideon wins, he’s in, and Duncan is out. If Duncan wins, Gideon is just about dead in the water, and Duncan is leading the league in points scored, so he would likely find himself in the playoffs.

1. Peyton vs. Denver. A few weeks ago, Denver was on a four game losing streak and looking terrible. A few weeks before that, they were on a six game winning streak, and people were actually using the words “Kyle Orton” and “Pro Bowl” in the same sentence. Please excuse while I go vomit. But the moral of the story is that Denver is streaky, and they are currently on a hot streak. What isn’t streaky is their pass defense. 2nd in the league in yards allowed and TDs allowed. They won’t get a bunch of turnovers, but they will slow you down. So who’s going to lose this battle? The immovable object, or the unstoppable force? I’m saying Manning goes for 240, 1 TD, 1 Int. It’s a compromise.

2. Cedric Benson vs. Minnesota Defense. Benson has been incredibly hit or miss this season, but nobody realizes it because he almost always gets a touchdown. His magic number is 22. If he gets less than 22 carries, he also gets less than 80 yards. If he gets more than 22 carries, he gets more than 110 yards. I call this Jamal Lewis syndrome. A few years ago, one of Lewis’ linemen said about him that if they block for 1 yard, he runs for 3 yards, and if they block for 8 yards, he runs for 3 yards. Benson isn’t going to dazzle you during any given play, but in most games this season, at the end of the game you’re impressed by what he did. However, he struggled mightily in both games this season against the Steelers. Yes, the Steelers have the #1 rush defense, but the Vikings have the #3 rush defense, so I’m not expecting much out of Benson this week.

3. Alex Smith vs. Arizona. I don’t know what shitty first round quarterbacks anonymous type of group VY and Smith were attending the first six weeks of the season, but they have both been pretty amazing since then. The Cardinals have the 30th ranked pass defense in the NFL. Smith will ride the hot streak for one more week.

4. Titans vs. Rams. Gideon has the Titans defense, and they haven’t forced a turnover in three weeks. Steven Jackson doesn’t fumble anymore, and Kyle Boller sucks, but he doesn’t make too many mistakes. They might get one interception, but they’ve given up at least 17 points per game each of the past five weeks. I think 8 points is a lofty projection in a game that looks like it should be more promising than it is.

5. Ryan Grant vs. Matt Forte. When this last happened in week 1, the two combined for a pedestrian 116 yards and a TD. The Packers have one of the better rush defenses in the NFL, so if either of these guys is going to break out, it’s going to have to be Ryan Grant. And let’s face it, he hasn’t been doing a whole lot of breaking out this season.

X-Factor: Michael Turner. When I texted you guys to let you know that my post vanished, most responded, “ouch, that sucks.” Duncan’s response: “It’s cool. Just predict that michael turner will play for me…i need him badly.” Truth be told, I was in the middle of making this exact prediction when my browser decided to betray me. I was trying to check on the health of Mr. Turner, and it doesn’t look good. Even if he plays, it will likely be in a limited role in a game the Falcons will likely be playing from behind in. Duncan is probably better off just playing Bush regardless.

It should be a low scoring affair, and I think the combined poor effort of Gideon’s runningbacks will be his downfall. Then again, I have been wrong on Gideon’s games for as long as I can remember, so who knows.

Final Score: GB 103-92.

Game #3: Miller’s Chiefs (7-6) vs. Bloom’s Broncos (7-6)

And here is the second game in which both teams control their own destiny. For both teams, it’s a win and you’re in scenario. I absolutely could not survive a loss, but Bloom just might be able to. He does, after all, have 238 more points than me on the season. If I were still making games in categories, this would certainly be the game of the week, even though I hate picking my games.

1. Colts vs. Broncos. And for the second consecutive match-up, this particular NFL game is of utmost importance. Addai has not run well this entire season. In fact, his 79 rushing yards last week were his most thus far. But he always finds the end zone. I wish I had the optimism that ESPN has about Garcon, with their theory that he’ll be open because Wayne will be double-covered, but I have a feeling the Broncos will put Champ Bailey on an island with Wayne and just trust him to do his thing, which will inevitably lead to Wayne and Clark getting the majority of Manning’s yards. But I have to hope Garcon does something, because he’s put up double digit points in 4 consecutive weeks.

2. Steven Jackson vs. Titans. He’s put up over 110 yards in 5 of the last 6, but he’s been doing it against teams that are in the bottom half of the league at stopping the run. Tennessee just happens to be 8th in the league in that category. Not to mention, he’s been dealing with back pains and not practicing as of late. He’ll play, but at what capacity?

3. Washington vs. Oakland. I’m not entirely sure why I picked up a runningback, wide receiver, and defensive unit from the nation’s capitol, nor am I sure why I am playing all of the aforementioned entities, as I fully expect Oakland to win this game. I’m still waiting to see what’s going on with Norwood, and may very well plug in Kevin Walter in Devin Thomas’ place, but if I leave things the way they are, I only have myself to blame for putting my fantasy hopes in the Redskins.

4. Philip Rivers to Vincent Jackson. Jackson has been worthless lately while Rivers has been doing just fine without him, but it’s only a matter of time before Jackson becomes a major target again.

5. Steve Smith vs. the Eagles. This is even more intriguing because of the game being played on Sunday night, and Smith being the only member of either team who plays in a prime time game this week, so it may all come down to him. The Eagles shut down the Falcons last week, but that was a team without its starting QB or RB. Smith had a decent game against the Eagles last time around, and I expect more of the same.

X-Factor: Maurice Jones-Drew. I may be on a four game winning streak, but it’s not much thanks to MJD. He hasn’t done much of anything against mediocre defenses as of late, and Miami is about as mediocre as it gets. If he can get back to doing what I drafted him to do and put up 100 yards and 2 TDs, I’ve got a chance, but my gut says he has another sub-par week.

Final Score: Den 121-104

Game #4: Harshbarger’s Chargers (6-7) vs. A’s Bengals (8-5)

Kauffman is already in, and even with a win, Harshbarger would need some help to get in. Harshbarger gave up a great keeper last week in a last ditch effort to beat me and get his way into the playoffs. Epic fail, even though the fail would have been even more epic had he not traded for Ochocinco and Ricky Williams. Will those guys lead him to a win this time around? Let’s just see if my commish hex still has any power left.

1. Warner & Fitzgerald vs. San Francisco. As always, these guys are the key to Kauffman’s success, and this week they’re going up against the 27th ranked passing defense.

2. Wes Welker. He never gets touchdowns, but he never gets covered either. Averages for the past 8 weeks: 9.625 receptions for 114 yards and 0.5 TDs. That’s 19.2 fantasy points per game. So, Carolina isn’t going to do much about that, right? They do have the 6th best passing defense, but they haven’t faced too many good QBs. 15 points for Welker isn’t out of the question. 20 probably is.

3. Kevin Smith vs. Baltimore. A lot of his value this season has come from the fact that it’s a PPR league. He won’t run it well against the Ravens, but he should still produce.

4. Fred Jackson vs. Kansas City. It’s been a while since he was a safe start for fantasy, but even if he does end up splitting carries with Marshawn in this one, it’s nice to be a runningback facing the Chiefs.

5. Ricky Williams vs. Jacksonville. The Jags don’t have a bad defense, but you always gotta like a guy who serves as the #1 RB, #2 QB, and #3 WR on his team.

X-Factor: Chad Ochocinco. Apparently, he owns the NFC North. I’m not buying it. His best games come at home, and this one is on the road against a good defense.

Final Score: Cin 126-114.

I apologize for these last two games, but I’ve written this post twice now, and I’m losing steam.

Game #5: Garland’s Giants (11-2) vs. Travelpiece’s 49ers (7-6)

Every week I expect Garland’s team to take a week off, but they never do. This week, I expect them to dominate, so they’ll probably crap the bed.

1. Chris Johnson. I don’t even need to say anything. He’s reached that status.

2. Andre Johnson vs. Seattle. I don’t even understand how ESPN can project a wide receiver to get 30 points, but he should definitely put up big numbers.

3. Brett Favre vs. Cincinnati’s pass defense. Save for that absurd play in week 1, the Bengals have a bend-but-don’t-break kind of secondary. These are the games Brett Favre struggles in.

4. Justin Fargas vs. Redskins. I realize the other option is Chester Taylor against the Bengals, but I wouldn’t ever want to start a runningback from Oakland.

5. Green Bay D vs. Chicago. In week 1, they scored 16 fantasy points, and Cutler really isn’t getting any better.

X-Factor: Kyle Orton vs. Indianapolis. Fortunately, Garland shouldn’t even need his projected 17.5 points, because he won’t get anywhere near that total.

Final Score: NYG 132-110.

Game #6: O’Neill’s Deserted Buccaneers (6-7) vs. Montgomery’s Rams (6-7)

1. Vince Young loves Kenny Britt.

2. Jamaal Charles will dominate Buffalo.

3. Tom Brady will annihilate Carolina.

4. Knowshon Moreno is on fire.

5. Dallas Clark is Dallas Clark.

X-Factor: If DeSean Jackson is back, O’Neill will lead the league in scoring by at least 15 points this week.

Final Score: TB 154-97.

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