Saturday, December 7, 2013

NFL Picks, Week 14

Home team in CAPS.

CINCINNATI (-6) over Indianapolis 
Both of these teams lead their divisions by at least 2 games. Both have also scuffled recently, mainly due to injuries. If I were inclined to make this decision looking at the quarterbacks, I'd take Andrew Luck and the Colts and I wouldn't think twice about it. But football isn't a 1v1 game, it's a 22 v 22 game. And Cincinnati's other 21 are much, MUCH better than Indy's. Since Reggie Wayne got hurt, the Colts have beaten exactly zero teams outside of their division. That streak continues.

TAMPA BAY (-2.5) over Buffalo 
I like the Buccaneers more in the trenches.

Kansas City (-3) over WASHINGTON
Washington isn't doing much right these days. The offense comes and goes (but mostly goes), and the defense doesn't offer much resistance. The Chiefs are not a team that's going to beat themselves, and the Redskins aren't a team that's going to beat them, either.

Minnesota (+7) over BALTIMORE
The Ravens will win, as they're the better team (and should provide at least some resistance to Adrian Peterson) but their offense isn't good enough to pull away.

Cleveland (+11.5) over NEW ENGLAND 
Patriots cornerback Aquib Talib has had a great season (when his hip injury hasn't flared up). Browns receiver Josh Gordon has been even better (he's the first receiver to put up back-to-back 200+ yard games, and he's done it with the Browns' quarterbacks throwing to him. The Patriots will in the game, but that's a pretty high spread. The question of whether or not the Patriots will cover comes down to the Talib-Gordon matchup.
1. Does Talib win the matchup and neutralize Gordon?
2. Does Gordon win and simply overpower Talib?

I'm going with option 3: Talib wins his matchup, but his injury flares up and allows Gordon to go off and Cleveland stays within 2 touchdowns of the Patriots.

Oakland (+2.5) over NEW YORK JETS
The Jets look absolutely incompetent on offense right now. In fact, I'm not sure they looked quite this bad when Mark Sanchez was under center (well, outside of the butt-fumble, of course). Oakland is far from a good team, but they should be able to go on the road and out produce the current version of Geno Smith.

PHILADELPHIA (-2.5) over Detroit 
Great offense + poor defense + discipline > Great offense + poor defense + no discipline.

PITTSBURGH (-3) over Miami 
The more desperate team (at home), gets it done.

GREEN BAY (-7) over Atlanta 
Green Bay looked terrible with Matt Flynn under center on Thanksgiving, so why am I picking the Packers this weekend when they're again starting Flynn? The Packers crumbled to the Lions in the face of constant pressure up front. Atlanta has no one who can rush the passer consistently, so the offense should look much better in this game.

DENVER (-11) over Tennessee 
Ryan Fitzpatrick trying to keep pace with Peyton Manning is a recipe for disaster...and turnovers. Lots of turnovers.

SAN DIEGO (-3) over New York Giants
Fun fact: Eli Manning has never beaten the team that drafted him. You did remember it was the Chargers that drafted Eli, right? I mean, it wouldn't be a very fun fact if Eli had never actually played against the team that drafted him. But this will be the third time Eli has played the Chargers. Now this pick has nothing to do with that history, but everything to do with the fact that San Diego has a better team than the Giants do right now.

Seattle (+2.5) over SAN FRANCISCO
I'm very torn on this one. If Seattle is going to lose a game between now and the end of the season, it's either going to be this game, or it will be in week 17 because they rest a bunch of people. The 49ers are playing well, but they seem to be a tier below the top teams in the NFC. Seattle, by contrast, has been a tier above the rest of the playoff teams in the NFC, though they haven't won in San Francisco since 2008. I'm going to go with the Seahawks, because they've given me no reason to doubt them yet.

ARIZONA (-6) over St. Louis
When you pressure Carson Palmer, he looks like an entirely different (read: terrible) quarterback. St. Louis does a tremendous job getting after the quarterback, so I don't have lots of faith in the Cardinals' offense in this one. But Arizona's defense is a legit top-5 defense, and they're going against Kellen Clemens, who is a bad quarterback no matter what kind of pressure he's facing.

NEW ORLEANS (-3.5) over Carolina 
The Saints are just a different team in the friendly confines of the Superdome. Cam Newton and Carolina aren't yet at the level necessary to knock off Brees and Co. o the road...yet. Plus, with the rematch 2 weeks later being in Carolina, the Saints need this game much more than the Panthers do.

Dallas (+1) over CHICAGO 
Chicago's defense is THAT bad.

This week: 0-1 (Houston, thank you for quitting)
Last week: 10-5-1 (.656)
2013 season: 85-100-7 (.443)

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