03 December 2013

2013 NFL Predictions: Week 14

Who is the best team in football? After their demolition of the Saints on Monday night, you would have to say the Seahawks, right? I certainly think so, at least at this juncture, and considering how good this club is at home as well as the fact they have the inside line to homefield advantage...maybe I shouldn't get too ahead of myself. After all, they do have a tough road bout with their division rivals, the 49ers. Here are my week 14 picks.

Last Week: 12-4
2013: 120-70
Locks: 11-2

Thursday, December 5th
Houston Texans (2-10) vs. Jacksonville Jaguars (3-9) - NFL Network, 8:25
It goes to show how much of a dumpster fire the Texans have descended into that I considered taking the Jaguars as my lock of the week this week. Houston has now lost ten in a row after pushing New England very hard last week and nearly getting a major upset at home thanks to the legs of Ben Tate. Can they put together a performance like that this week against a team that has yet to win at home this season? I say no, especially with Jacksonville playing pretty good football of late. I mean, they have won three of four, which even against feeble competition is still quite laudable considering how much of a dumpster fire they were earlier themselves.
Jaguars 19 Texans 12

Sunday, December 8th
Minnesota Vikings (3-8-1) vs. Baltimore Ravens (6-6) - Fox, 1:00
The Vikings are playing better football of late than they have all season in these past four games, going 2-1-1. And especially in the past two contests, both of which went to overtime, they have relied heavily on Adrian Peterson and rightfully so considering how messy their quarterback situation is. But against a club that stuffs the run very well, as the Ravens do, and is also playing good football coming in, the Vikings will have their work cut out for them.
Ravens 20 Vikings 12

Detroit Lions (7-5) vs. Philadelphia Eagles (7-5) - Fox, 1:00
The Lions crushed the Packers on Turkey Day and the thing is, if they were not sloppy with the football in the first half, the margin of victory would have been even victory. While Green Bay was tripping over themselves offensively, Detroit was fantastic on offense as they had the ability to do whatever they wanted offensively either with the run or with the pass. Meanwhile, the Eagles got their fourth win in a row against the Cardinals thanks to jumping to a 24-7 lead by the middle of the third quarter and with another strong performance by Nick Foles, who now has thrown 19 touchdowns to zero interceptions. We will see plenty of offense at the Linc, so this game will turn on who can get a defensive stop and in that regard, I'll take Detroit as their quality d-line will put the pressure on Foles.
Lions 38 Eagles 35

Atlanta Falcons (3-9) vs. Green Bay Packers (5-6-1) - Fox, 1:00
The Packers put together one of the worst efforts I have seen from them in a long time in a blowout loss at Detroit that, even with a 30 point differential, was not as close as the scoreboard indicated. As I expected, Matt Flynn did not look as good as he did in relief against Minnesota but to be fair, he got no help from the line or from the running game. And it looks like it is no lock by any stretch that Aaron Rodgers will play this weekend with some saying he would be "lucky" to play this week. I had been bullish that he would play this weekend but now, anything is on the table. Give me the Falcons, who looked solid in a win in Toronto on Sunday, but I do reserve the right to change the pick as always.
UPDATE: Rodgers is indeed out so my pick holds.
Falcons 20 Packers 10

Miami Dolphins (6-6) vs. Pittsburgh Steelers (5-7) - CBS, 1:00
Both of these clubs are in the mix in the race to the bottom to get the second Wild Card spot in the AFC but while the Steelers suffered a tough loss on the road in Baltimore, the Dolphins all but dominated the Jets to pull into a tie with said Baltimore for the spot. Of course, Pittsburgh's loss has been overshadowed by the Mike Tomlin nonsense where he tried to interfere with a Jacoby Jones return. It was a disappointing affair for one of the top coaches in the league (and one of my favorites), especially one that was added to the Competition Committee back in the spring, and just stupid altogether. That said, Miami will not be able to move the football like they did last week and I think Pittsburgh will get a key win.
Steelers 20 Dolphins 17

Indianapolis Colts (8-4) vs. Cincinnati Bengals (8-4) - CBS, 1:00
I'm not sure that the Colts ever were going to be serious contenders in the AFC playoffs this year, even with the big victory over the Broncos at home in week seven but as they have been quite inconsistent since their bye. And while they have gone 3-2 since that point, none of their victories have been impressive despite their mediocre opposition. To be fair, the Bengals have not looked that great in their own right during that same time period but their defense is strong enough to help them gain victories when the offense isn't moving. They will have to do that on Sunday and will.
Bengals 16 Colts 10

Kansas City Chiefs (9-3) vs. Washington (3-9) - CBS, 1:00
Yes, Washington got hosed with the officials first or third down fiasco, but that is also not why the club blew a 14 point lead in the first half and got outscored 24-3 over the balance of the game and lost their fourth in a row. The knives are out for Robert Griffin III but it isn't his fault that his line is trash, his receivers couldn't catch a canned ham and his defense is weaksauce (well the lack of depth is partially due to the Griffin trade but that's not on him). Meanwhile, the passing game has started to come alive for the Chiefs and that can help take the Chiefs to a new level, particularly against a garbage club like the one they'll face in Landover.
Chiefs 31 Washington 17

Oakland Raiders (4-8) vs. New York Jets (5-7) - CBS, 1:00
Another pitiful performance offensively and it seems like the same song and dance for the Jets. Geno Smith's confidence is completely gone but with him being on a short leash once again this week, I doubt that will change. The defensive line was pushed around by the Dolphins, who were able to control the ball seemingly at will, and while Oakland certainly has their own problems and by no mean is a lock, they at least are playing hard and have something at the quarterback position right now in Matt McGloin.
Raiders 17 Jets 9

Cleveland Browns (4-8) vs. New England Patriots (9-3) - CBS, 1:00
You know who may be starting for the Browns this week with Jason Campbell not yet being cleared to practice after his concussion two weeks ago and with Brandon Weeden suffering one this past Sunday? This guy. Yep. Even with how awesome Josh Gordon is (Bill Barnwell ponders him in comparison with Calvin Johnson here), that truly has the recipe for a fiasco. Now I wish I hadn't used the Pats as my lock last week, or that I wasn't going eliminator style with my locks to boot.
Patriots 28 Browns 6

Buffalo Bills (4-8) vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (3-9) - CBS, 1:00
Remember when this season had promise for the Bills? Remember how we say this every year? I mean, it could be worse (E.J. Manuel has shown flashes, Doug Marrone looks like a solid coach and C.J. Spiller just had his best game of the season) but if you are not going to beat a listless Atlanta club, there are not many teams you are going to beat. Tampa Bay couldn't move the ball in Charlotte, but find me somebody who can. I didn't think I'd say this only a few weeks ago, but the Buccaneers are my Lock of the Week.
Buccaneers 28 Bills 17

Tennessee Titans (5-7) vs. Denver Broncos (10-2) - CBS, 4:05
Once again, the Broncos showed why they are the class of the AFC with an impressive victory in Kansas City after being down at one point 21-7. They then promptly scored four unanswered touchdowns into the fourth quarter to maintain their hold on the conference lead. Denver now gets a favorable matchup at home against a Tennessee club that is very good against the pass. However, it also is a club that is very inconsistent with the football, especially when Chris Johnson isn't running well and the team has to rely on Ryan Fitzpatrick and the passing game.
Broncos 34 Titans 20

Seattle Seahawks (11-1) vs. San Francisco 49ers (8-4) - Fox, 4:25
The Seahawks did look mighty fine in blowing out the Saints at home on Monday night, solidifying themselves in the driver's seat to win the coveted homefield advantage in the NFC Playoffs. But I do think that after such a big win, they may just be prone to a letdown in a road tilt against a Niner club that is physical enough to not be scared of Seattle. Look for the upset in Frisco.
49ers 23 Seahawks 21

New York Giants (5-7) vs. San Diego Chargers (5-7) - Fox, 4:25
Even with winning five out of six, the Giants are all but done thanks to that 0-6 start and so they are basically playing for pride now while hoping the teams above them in the division collapse. The thing is, they are a club that has not looked that good winning five out of six, mostly taking advantage of garbage competition. Considering the Chargers are pretty subpar against the pass, we shall see a lot of passing yards but in this duel of the quarterbacks dealt for each other in 2004, I'll take the one that has led the much stronger offensive attack in 2013.
Chargers 30 Giants 28

St. Louis Rams (5-7) vs. Arizona Cardinals (7-5) - Fox, 4:25
Both of these NFC West clubs saw winning streaks end this past Sunday so both are hungry to get back to what was working well before their losses. Both clubs are excellent at getting after the opposing quarterbacks (St. Louis has 37, Arizona has 34). So the difference then will come with the offensive line then, and the Rams have a nice edge there. St. Louis has given up 29 sacks and 58 quarterback hits; Arizona has given up 36 sacks and 78 quarterback hits. Give me the road guys in an upset.
Rams 17 Cardinals 14

Carolina Panthers (9-3) vs. New Orleans Saints (9-3) - NBC, 8:30
It was a pretty disastrous outing on Monday night for the Saints in the Jet City as their offense was ineffective all evening and the defense got steamrolled by the Seahawk offense. While they may have exposed themselves as a less than stellar road club, they are still an elite home club. We all know how good the Panthers have looked thus far but this is going to be their toughest bout thus far as well as their toughest road test. I think they will struggle early, rally late but not enough.
Saints 35 Panthers 31

Monday, December 9th
Dallas Cowboys (7-5) vs. Chicago Bears (6-6) - ESPN, 8:30
Will Jay Cutler be back for the Bears this week? Nobody is sure as of press time but with how well Josh McCown has played in Cutler's absence, why rush it? Even though the Bears are 2-2 in his starts, and come in losing two in a row, McCown has been very good with a 9-1 TD to pick ratio and a 103.6 QB rating. That said, with how inconsistent their defense has been this year, and with how well the Cowboys have been moving the football, I think that even another quality performance by McCown will go to waste. And even if Jay Cutler comes back and is healthy, I think the Cowboys continue their winning ways.
Cowboys 31 Bears 24

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