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Walnut-less Whips, terrible tanking, and your NFL week 15 preview

We could learn a lot about the number one overall pick this week, writes Steve O’Rourke.

Nick Bosa: Ohio State defensive end is widely tipped to be next year's #1 draft pick.
Nick Bosa: Ohio State defensive end is widely tipped to be next year's #1 draft pick.
Image: Andrew Dieb

Updated Dec 16th 2018, 9:00 AM

IT’S CRAZY TO think the Earth is over four billion years old and yet we find ourselves alive at a time when some eejit decided that Walnut Whips would be just as good without the walnut.

Sure, there are bigger problems facing mankind — the fact we’re destroying the only planet we’ve ever called home one plastic straw at a time, the national scandal that is Direct Provision, and, of course, Brexiters never not being at it — to name but a few.

Of course it is entirely possible to concern yourself with the big stuff and get angry about confectionery, and walnut-less Whips were the biggest small concern in my life until I took in Sunday’s NFL action and realised that nobody in the league knows how to tank properly. 

The Raiders, of course, had the perfect opportunity to tank. Playing a Steelers team that appeared destined for the playoffs, nobody would have been surprised if Oakland lost and took hold of the number one overall pick.

But no, Jon Gruden can’t even lose properly and, with a win this week against the Bengals, the Raiders could slip all the way from one to out of the top five and the chance to draft Nick Bosa with one of their multiple first round picks.

The 49ers, Jets and, Giants also won with absolutely nothing to be gained from such victories.

The Cardinals, at least, did the decent thing and looked like a high school team against the ‘85 Bears in their loss to the Lions.

And while NBA teams have made a virtual art form of tanking, only the Indianapolis Colts — and their Suck for Luck campaign — have managed to make any sort of decent fist of it in recent years.

You’d have to wonder why. Is it a pride thing? Hardly with what can be gained by hitting on the right draft pick.

The simple fact is, losing double-digit games in a season without a high draft pick is as pointless as nut-based confectionery devoid of the eponymous nut.

Week 15 picks (season record 128-78-2)

Sunday – 6pm

Green Bay Packers @ Chicago Bears
The Mike McCarty-less Packers got back to winning ways last weekend and, though they are not mathematically out of the playoff race, a Chicago team that just knocked off the Rams should end their season in Soldier Field.
Pick: Bears

Detroit Lions @ Buffalo Bills
If you’re watching this game, voluntarily, all I want to know is who hurt you?
Pick: Bills

Tampa Bay Buccaneers @ Baltimore Ravens
Even with the Steelers losing last weekend, the Ravens can’t really afford to drop any games from here on in. Luckily, Tampa Bay — a team that has shown flashes this season to be fair — shouldn’t put up too much of a challenge.
Pick: Ravens

Arizona Cardinals @ Atlanta Falcons

Two teams that came into the season with very different expectations and, yet, both have managed to spectacularly disappoint. Arizona could well be the favourites to ‘win’ the number one pick with their schedule but don’t count out the possibility of Atlanta somehow losing this one.

Pick: Falcons

Oakland Raiders @ Cincinnati Bengals
Fair play to Hue Jackson who has managed the quite incredible feat of coaching two different teams to last place in the AFC North this year.
Pick: Raiders

Tennessee Titans @ New York Giants

The Giants and Titans are coming off big wins over divisional rivals so, oddly enough, this is set up to be a come-back-down-to-earth game for both. Tennessee’s playoff hopes hang by a very thin thread, but can they cope with Saquon Barkley?

Pick: Titans

Miami Dolphins @ Minnesota Vikings
Last week’s spectacular win over the Patriots means Miami is still very much in a playoff race. While the Vikings are too, they don’t appear to have realised how pointless it is spending a king’s ransom on a quarterback if you don’t have the offensive line to protect him.
Pick: Vikings

Washington @ Jacksonville Jaguars

The ‘who’ll-play-at-quarterback-next-year’ bowl is another of those weird games at this time of year where it would be far better to lose than win, especially with so few top QBs available in next year’s draft.
Pick: Jaguars

Dallas Cowboys @ Indianapolis Colts

Quite possibly the game of the week. Amari Cooper’s role in revitalising the Dallas offence cannot be understated and now that side of the ball is playing up to the elite level of the Cowboys’ defence, a deep playoff run is entirely possible. That said, they’re also due a slip up.

Pick: Colts

Sunday – 9.05pm

Seattle Seahawks @ San Francisco 49ers
Since winning four in a row in the first three years of this decade, the 49ers have beaten their divisional rivals just once in 13 attempts. Despite Nick Mullens and George Kittle being in flying form of late, it won’t be enough against Seattle.
Pick: Seahawks

Sunday – 9.25pm

New England Patriots @ Pittsburgh Steelers
Two teams coming off very bad, and very late losses. While the Patriots will make the playoffs for the millionth year in succession, a couple more losses and Pittsburgh could well have a watching brief in mid to late January.
Pick: Patriots

Monday – 1.20am

Philadelphia Eagles @ LA Rams
The Rams hopes of succeeding the Eagles as Super Bowl champions took a blow last weekend when they struggled to get anything going on offence against the Bears. Still, Philly’s defence should help them right that particular ship.
Pick: Rams

Tuesday – 1.15am

New Orleans Saints @ Carolina Panthers
After six quarters of inept football, the Saint returned to form in the second half of their win over the Bucs and face another divisional match-up this week. Cam Newton’s shoulder injury — which cost his team at least two games this season with overthrows — may also cost Ron Rivera his job.
Pick: Saints

Murray Kinsella, Gavan Casey and Eddie O’Sullivan preview another big weekend of Heineken Cup action and dissect the week’s main talking points.


Source: Heineken Rugby Weekly on The42/SoundCloud

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About the author:

Steve O'Rourke

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