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JimQB16's XXVI Week 17 Picks
By James Hatzis
Special to paydirtfootball.com

Top Five Games Of The Week:


Coaching Match Up: Gabe Saracino (11-4) vs Manuel Lozano (11-4)
Who Wants It More?
Talk about a rivalry being born! Wow, Manny who not so long ago competed in a PFL Superbowl but had fallen on very hard times in Indianapolis has been reborn as the new head coach in St. Louis. The Indianapolis fans practically threw Coach Lozano out the door and said, "Don't let the door hit you in the ass" as they parted ways. Manny came into the NFC after many seasons competing in the AFC and had a chance to redeem himself. The only thing standing in his way was head coach Gabe Saracino who had been biding his time waiting for his opportunity at a division title. It seems that he figured with Mike Kleinknecht who had brought the Rams to two Superbowls himself out of the way it, would be easy pickings. Now these two proud coaches both understand that this game means way more than just a division title. The winner of this game not only claims the division but could very well earn a bye week if other teams in the NFC drop their last game. I know that only four weeks ago these two coaches went head to head and the Rams delivered, winning convincingly 26-7. Now the 49ers are forced to go on the road and face the hostile crowd in St. Louis and win on the road. Rams fans have been spoiled with the resume of winning that coach Kleinknecht left behind and they expect nothing less than a victory at home this week. The Rams high flying offense is second in the league with 357.8 yards average per game. Newly acquired quarterback Aaron Rodgers has been playing great football while running back James Carter is in the top eight in rushing in the league with 1399 yards on the ground. One of the most interesting stats in this game is that these two teams are the #1 and #2 defenses versus the run in the entire league. This should be a match up for the ages, but if neither team can run the Rams will have the healthy advantage with Rodgers at quarterback and that may be hard to overcome. Oh and by the way the Rams just happen to have the league's runner up in interceptions on the season with Jerome Murphy who has 8!
Verdict: Rams Win


Coaching Match Up: Scott Gardiner (9-6) vs Bill Shamnoski (10-5)
Who Wants It More?
As if the first game of the week didn't bring enough playoff excitement to the week THIS game surely will! The Bears if they win this game pretty much assure themselves a trip into the playoffs and a loss could be the end of their playoff dreams. The Vikings MUST win this game to make the playoffs so losing is not an option...No pressure Scotty! Do we have a reference point to go from in this game you ask? Well, these two coaches have a great history and the Vikings beat the Bears way back in week 2 by the score of 12-6. Does that mean anything right now?...I doubt it! This game is going to come down to which coach is better prepared and takes control of this game. Neither of these teams show up anywhere in the offensive categories on the stats page but defense is a whole nother story! The Bears lead the league in total yards allowed per game with a 238.7 average. They lead the league is passing yards per game allowed with a 159.1 average per game AND they are tied for the league lead for points allowed per game with 13.5! Are you impressed yet? Well, don't count the Vikings prowess on defense out just yet, they are also top ten in both total yards per game allowed and passing yards per game allowed and they are fourth in the league in points per game allowed with 15.7 per game. I have no idea how either of these teams is going to move the ball on offense lol but that will be the decider in this one.
Verdict: Vikings Win


Coaching Match Up: Juan Ovalle (8-7) vs John Whalen (9-6)
Who Wants It More?
Here goes an AFC nailbiter in the works! The Bills win this game and it looks like they make the playoffs and everyone in Buffalo is happy. They lose the game and the defending Superbowl Champs potentially go home without a playoff bid. Oh how the fans don't want to hear that highly touted coach Whalen a two time PFL winning super bowl champ came to town and didn't deliver. Juan on the other hand has been playing week after week cruising along knowing that EVERY game that he played was like a playoff game or he wasn't making it. In the last four weeks he has simply taken out three of the top eleven ranked teams in the league. First he took out the Bills 24-21, then the Lions 16-13 in overtime and though he slipped and lost to the Patriots 17-10, he then rebounded beating the "not so long ago" undefeated Pittsburgh Steelers. Word is that things got so nasty in that game that quarterback Ben Roethlisberger who was on the sidelines in plain clothes because he had been told that he had the day off, heard coach Ryan screaming, "Get your ass into the locker room and suite up Ben, you're going in"! Teammates said after the game that coach Ryan wasn't amused when Ben replied, "Is he serious"? Yes Ben, winning in Pittsburgh is a way of life, this isn't the Oakland Raiders for Christ's sake! Anyhow, the real story is this week and the rematch between two newly bitter rivals. Do the Bills allow themselves to get swept? Do the Jets keep up their we must win or this is the end attitude? All the Jets need to know is that the Bills now OWN the top spot in points scored per game with 28.5, rushing yards per game with 155.3 and oh if no one noticed that C.J. Spiller guy is ripping it up!!! Can the Bills offense be stopped? Only time will tell.
Verdict: Bills Win


Coaching Match Up: Sean Tibbs (9-6) vs Mike Kleinknecht (9-6)
Who Wants It More?
The Chiefs have really been coasting as of late winning six of their last seven games and this game doesn't really mean much to them other than a test. The Chiefs could possibly face the Jaguars again in the playoffs if they allow them to win. The Jags on the other hand are in a downward spiral losing their last two games in a row losing to very mediocre teams. Wiggy has really been turning some heads as the new coach in Jacksonville but can he bring his team to the playoffs in year one? Virtually unknown quarterback Zac Dysert has been tearing it up with 24 touchdowns and over 3200 yards passing while Lex Hilliard is having his best season ever with 1400 plus yards rushing. Wide Receiver Cody Malone has been the beneficiary of this great passing attack with 117 receptions on the year and over 1200 yards receiving. The Chiefs are doing most of their damage on the defensive side of the ball only allowing 16.3 points per game and they have cornerback Javier Arenas with seven picks on the year. The question is, does defense win the day or does the offense come out on top?
Verdict: Chiefs Win


Coaching Match Up: Tim Poteat (9-6) vs Mike Goodman (10-5)
Who Wants It More?
This game would be a bit more interesting had the Bucs not locked up the division and a playoff spot already. The Cardinals are playing needing a win and help from other teams for them to even have a chance of making the playoffs. Interesting how Mike Goodman came in and turned this franchise around in just one season as well as taking down the mighty Pittsburgh Steelers, one of the PFL's most prolific coaches, stopping him from completing an undefeated season. Does this spell big things on the horizon for Mike and his Bucs? On the other hand the Cardinals coach looks as though he is doing better but still hasn't gotten over the hump just yet. I wonder if one of these teams could make it to the playoffs and then shock the PFL world by making a run far into the playoffs. The Bucs are slightly the better offensive team but WOW the Cardinals are quietly making a name for themselves as a dominant defense. The Cards are second only to the Bears in total defensive yards allowed per game and passing yards allowed per game while actually allowing less yards per game against the run than the Bears. This could be one hell of a matchup despite the fact that the game doesn't mean as much as to the Bucs as it does to the Cards.
Verdict: Buccaneers Win
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