Friday, December 12, 2014

NFL Picks, Week 15

Oakland (+10) over KANSAS CITY 
It's funny, Oakland's last two games resulted in serious adjustments to the lines in this week's St. Louis and San Francisco games. St. Louis (a 6-7 team going into Thursday night) was favored over Arizona (10-3 going into last night), largely on the basis of having beaten the Radiers 52-0 and the Redskins 24-0 in the two weeks prior. The 49ers are all of a sudden double-digit underdogs on the road in Seattle largely because they just lost to 2-11 Oakland.

The funny thing is, Oakland is still a double digit underdog to a team they beat 3 weeks ago. I'm not arguing that the Raiders should be favored in this game, but they've been competent recently outside of that one game in St. Louis. And frankly, with the Chiefs' impotent passing attack, I can't support them being a double digit favorite over anybody.

BALTIMORE (-14) over Jacksonville
I don't really like the Ravens as 14-point favorites over anyone (their secondary is in tatters), but the reason the Ravens are close to playoff position is that when they have a team they should beat in front of them, they take care of business. Jacksonville qualifies.

Pittsburgh (-2) over ATLANTA
Le'Veon Bell is better than any RB the Falcons can trot out in the backfield, and while Roethlisberger's receiving weapons are all healthy, Matt Ryan's are all banged up. This game should be a shootout (since both defenses are horrid), but I trust Ben and the Steelers to make a couple more plays than the Falcons.

INDIANAPOLIS (-6.5) over Houston
As long as Andrew Luck doesn't get stomped into the turf by JJ Watt, the Colts offense should make enough plays where Ryan Fitzpatrick won't be able to keep up.

Cincinnati (+1) over CLEVELAND 
I'd like to see some reason to trust Johnny Football in his first start in the middle of a playoff race before I trust Johnny Football in his first start in the middle of a playoff race. This isn't a reason.

NEW ENGLAND (-7.5) over Miami
Let's play fast facts:
Fact: In Miami's last two games, they have scored 16 and 13 points.
Fact: Miami has played the Jets and Ravens in their last two games.
Fact: The Jets' pass defense has been awful all year.
Fact: The Ravens' pass defense has been terrible since their cornerback position was decimated by injuries about halfway through the season.
Fact: Ryan Tannehill's line from those two games: 48/71, 462 yards, 6.5ypa, 1TD/1INT. Those aren't bad numbers, but they're mediocre at best.
Fact: The Dolphins have a long history of December swoons (including last year).
Fact: The Dolphins have a long history of playing terribly in New England in December.
Fact: The Patriots defense is much better than either the Jets or Ravens defense.

CAROLINA (-3) over Tampa Bay
I'll take the team with something to play for over the team who'd be better served to lose this game for draft position. Wait, both teams would be better off to lose this game for draft position, that doesn't work. Hmm...I'll take the team that isn't being coached by Lovie Smith?

Washington (+6.5) over NEW YORK GIANTS 
What about this Giants team would convince someone to establish them as anything more than a 3-point favorite over any other team in the league? They have no run defense, Eli hasn't looked fully invested in a month, and if they haven't rallied together to try and save their coach already, why would they start now? I know Washington is bad (and if RG3 has to start I would consider changing my pick), but I just don't get this line at all.

Green Bay (-4.5) over BUFFALO
Buffalo's defense is legit. They completely throttled Peyton Manning last week. But Aaron Rodgers is better than Peyton Manning, and Green Bay's pass defense is good enough where Green Bay doesn't need a vintage offensive performance to win this game.

DETROIT (-7.5) over Minnesota
Detroit's defense is too strong.

New York Jets (-2.5) over TENNESSEE
I've seen more resembling competence from the Jets in the last month than I have from the Titans.

Denver (-4) over SAN DIEGO
The Chargers are too limited to compete with the top teams in the league right now, and I have the Broncos as a top-4 team in the NFL right now.

SEATTLE (-10) over San Francisco
This line is an overreaction to recent events (Seattle over San Francisco 19-3 on Thanksgiving, Oakland over San Francisco 24-13 last weekend). But the way Seattle's defense is currently playing, we should be back to "Seattle covers at home" territory.

PHILADELPHIA (-3.5) over Dallas
I just don't see what has changed in 2 weeks (Philly throttled Dallas 33-10 in Dallas on Thanksgiving). Dallas' defense can't do what Seattle did last weekend.

New Orleans (-3) over CHICAGO
I don't really want to pick either of these teams. Do I trust the Saints team that has lost 4 straight at home? Do I trust the Bears team that lost a key offensive piece and has been eliminated from playoff contention? Do I trust Jay Cutler to care in a game where nothing is on the line? Do I trust a Saints defense that has let everyone and their mother score against it?

Blech. Give me the team starting Notjay Cutler.

This Week: 1-0 (Whoo-hoo!)
Last Week: 6-9-1 (.406)
2014 Season: 106-99-2 (.517)

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