While the Jaguars can blame their bad year on a multitude of events (Bortles not being as good as thought, front office mishaps, injuries, communication issues), nothing represents the active dysfunction of a team quite like the Oakland Raiders, who this week fired their GM Reggie McKenzie (a person who drafted Derek Carr, Khalil Mack, and Amari Cooper). This move of course cements the status of new coach and football czar Jon Gruden with the Raiders as the de facto authority of putting together a team. The bad thing is, he made a lot of awful decisions this past offseason that have contributed to their crappiness this year, including trading away two of those great picks, Mack and Cooper. Do they have draft capital for those trades? Yes, yes they do… but also, Gruden is notorious for making bad football decisions. We’ll see how it all works out in the end, but I’m thinking Vegas winds up with more of a stinker than a winner.
The Jaguars this week face the Redskins, who look absolutely inept… but don’t give Jacksonville a pass yet. Josh Johnson was mobile and a lot more comfortable than Mark Sanchez at the end of the Redskins’ game last week. We’ll see what happens, but I won’t be surprised if the Jaguars lose out.
PROGRAMMING NOTE: First, I apologize that this column has been published a day late; I woke up yesterday with a migraine that made me miss work (check out that incorrect Chargers/Chiefs pick below). Second, next week will be the Double-Picks-Christmas-Extravaganza, where I will post the picks for weeks 16 & 17. The week after, there will be no column – sorry. This is due to the fact I will be on vacation. We’ll pick it back up in time for Divisional Playoff Goodness.
AARON IT OUT TOP FIVE
PICKS AND PREVIEWS
CHARGERS @ CHIEFS – This is the Thursday night matchup the world deserves as we move into both Thursday and Saturday games. This may be the battle for the AFC’s #1 spot. What will happen? I think it will be close but the Chiefs can do it.
LAC 30 KC 35
TEXANS @ JETS – I think I’ll use the obvious games this week to talk about Christmas movies. Die Hard’s a meme this point. One of my favorites is Elf. I just really enjoy the joy and wonder that the movie evokes, and also it handles a lot of mythology in a real-life way. Also, it’s just fun.
HOU 52 NYJ 17
BROWNS @ BRONCOS – Who can wear orange better? Seriously, though, both of these teams are realizing that they have solid defense, so it comes down to who has the better offensive attack, and who wants it more – I think that’s Cleveland.
CLE 17 DEN 14
CARDINALS @ FALCONS – Definitely the comedy classic (for adults) of Christmas is National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation. It’s a treat to watch, quotable, and you can relate to it in so many ways, from the frustrations of Christmas, to trying to force Christmas on your family, to the joy of family.
ARI 5 ATL 2
RAIDERS @ BENGALS – Home Alone is like a real-life Looney Tunes come the end of the movie, which is really the highlight. Although Kevin gets into some escapades at the beginning his ingenuity and the Wile E. Coyote style injuries of the Wet Bandits coupled with the Christmas theme really draw the movie together.
OAK 10 CIN 17
DOLPHINS @ VIKINGS – Maybe the Dolphins don’t suck? But the Vikings kinda do. The Vikings’ former offensive coordinator was trying too hard to get a head coaching job, and he drummed himself out of a job.
MIA 21 MIN 17
COWBOYS @ COLTS – Two hot teams come together and battle it out for playoff spots, believe it or not. Indianapolis has a solid chance of landing a wild card spot and Dallas is trying to keep its hold on the East and attempt a first-round bye. Here, I think the more competent offense wins.
DAL 16 IND 24
BUCS @ RAVENS – Lamar Jackson, former potential Jaguars quarterback, is a lot of fun to watch and almost led the Ravens to a win against the prolific Chiefs. Here, he’ll definitely lead them to a win.
TB 3 BAL 27
LIONS @ BILLS – Home Alone 2 is a solid sequel, ratcheting up the antics and moving the concept to a foreign place to its protagonist. I don’t enjoy it quite as much as the first one, but every time I watch it I get the Cougar song stuck in my head.
DET 3 BUF 6
PACKERS @ BEARS – Someone seriously thinks the Packers beating Atlanta means they’ve still got a shot at the postseason. This game will change that perception.
GB 9 CHI 20
REDSKINS @ JAGUARS – I don’t wanna talk about it.
WSH 7 JAX 7
TITANS @ GIANTS – Once you get past the weird motion capture, The Polar Express adaptation is a movie that’s really nice if you stick with it. It captures a lot of wonder and really endears itself to kids. I enjoy it and my 7 year old really enjoys it as well.
TEN 10 NYG 13
SEAHAWS @ NINERS – I’m supposed to say I was wrong about the Seahawks, but I still don’t know if I was or not. They look okay but they don’t look… great. We’ll see what happens, they are still trying to work under the salary cap.
SEA 30 SF 2
PATRIOTS @ STEELERS – If the Steelers lose out, Cleveland has a chance of winning the division. For that reason alone, I think the Patriots will win.
NE 15 PIT 12
EAGLES @ RAMS – Last, but certainly not least, is Ron Howard and Jim Carrey’s How the Grinch Stole Christmas. It takes the animated version and also the book and makes it a little over the top. Especially when you have kids, Christmas is supposed to be over the top. It’s a family favorite.
PHI 3 LAR 60
SAINTS @ PANTHERS – Also, the Santa Clause holds up surprisingly well. It takes the mythology in a different direction and makes you think a little about how Santa’s held up for so long (we all know the answer is Christmas magic, duh).
NO 55 CAR 17