JC's Take: NFL Week 14 Picks
Hello everyone! Welcome back for the 4th time this week, with my NFL picks for Week 14.
Indianapolis Colts vs Tennessee Titans
Four weeks ago I thought this game would go a long way to deciding the division winner in the AFC South. I thought these two teams would be atop the division at this point. Instead, the Colts have lost four of five, and the Titans have lost five straight. The Colts are struggling on both sides of the ball. They have no running game to speak of, which is causing Peyton Manning to force way too many throws. Their defense also continues to get gashed by the run. But at least the Colts haven't seemingly quit on their coach as the Titans have. Ever since the whole Jeff Fisher/Vince Young debacle, they've looked like they haven't tried. Randy Moss has been a non-factor since his arrival. They've scored a total of 6 points the last two games, including a big goose egg against a terrible Texans defense. I'll take the Colts to rebound here. They know they need to win out if they want any shot at the playoffs.
Indianapolis 24 Tennessee 13
Cleveland Browns vs Buffalo Bills
Remember that game in Cleveland three years ago between these two teams? It was snowing so badly that the field was covered in snow, and you had no idea where they were on the field. It could look like that on Sunday. The weather calls for a mix of sleet, rain, and snow, so this one could be ugly. The Browns are playing some good football and Peyton Hillis should be able to gash the Bills pourous run defense, even with Jake Delhomme at QB. Although there is a possibility Colt McCoy could return. The young improving Bills took a step back last week by getting demolished at Minnesota. And now they have injury problems on the offensive line. If there was a better guarantee that the weather would be good, I would probably pick the Bills because they have a better passing attack. But since the weather will probably be bad, I expect the Browns to pound out a victory on the ground.
Cleveland 14 Buffalo 7
Green Bay Packers vs Detroit Lions
The poor Lions just seem to never catch a break. They had the Bears beat last week, but instead of running on 4th and 1 late in the game they decided to trust DREW STANTON to throw the ball. Sometimes they shoot themselves in the foot. This week their task doesn't get much easier, taking on a Packers team that is in the middle of the playoff race. I don't expect this one to be close or pretty. The Packers are the team that knows they need to keep winning. The Lions are a team just playing for fun at this point. Packers all the way.
Green Bay 34 Detroit 14
New York Giants vs Minnesota Vikings
This game has to worry the Giants alot. A few weeks ago the Vikings looked like a down and out team. The Brad Childress was fired, and they've been playing some great football under interim coach Leslie Frazier. But the Giants have also looked better in their last two games after two straight divisional losses. The key to this game will be who plays QB for the Vikings. I think the Giants have a better chance of winning the game if Favre plays at QB, simply because Favre will make more mistakes than Jackson. The Giants defense will also be able to get pressure on Favre, which will force him to make mistakes. And he won't be able to scramble like Jackson would. The Vikings defense should also be able to pressure Eli Manning, who will still be without his two top WRs. I think this one is a real toss-up, but because I think Favre will play, I give the slight edge to Minnesota.
NY Giants 20 Minnesota 16
Cincinnati Bengals vs Pittsburgh Steelers
This is another one that is easy to pick. The Bengals just plain out stink and are going through the motions. The Steelers are coming off a huge comeback win against the Ravens and now control their own destiny in the AFC North. They know from experience that they can't let up. I expect the Steelers to make simple work of this under-achieving Bengals team.
Pittsburgh 31 Cincinnati 10
Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs Washington Redskins
The Bucs had the game last week against Atlanta but let it slip away. It was just another opportunity for Tampa to beat a proven team. Even though they are still a game back in the playoff race, they need to keep winning to have any type of a shot. The Redskins, meanwhile, are distracted by this entire Albert Haynesworth situation. Haynesworth has been suspended by the team for the last four teams, and he doesn't like. Maybe this will teach Daniel Snyder to invest $100 million dollars in one player even again. It probably won't, but it should teach him a lesson. Even with this distraction, I think the Redskins pull off a slight upset here. I think Tampa will be slightly demoralized after last week's heartbreaker at home. The Redskins are a veteran team who will probably want to show that this Haynesworth situation won't distract them.
Washington 21 Tampa Bay 17
Atlanta Falcons vs Carolina Panthers
There sure are a lot of easy games to pick this week aren't there? John Fox clearly already has his head out of it as coach of Carolina, and some of the players probably do to. The Falcons are the best team in the NFC, and may even be the best team in the NFL. Falcons in a route.
Atlanta 38 Carolina 15
Oakland Raiders vs Jacksonville Jaguars
This one will be competitive. Just when you thought the Raiders were out of it, they go in to San Diego and dominate the Chargers in every aspect of the game. They're still two games out in the AFC West, but it looks like they won't quit. The Jags have the lead in the AFC South and just need to keep winning. One of the main reasons is because they are finally relying more on Maurice Jones-Drew. They can't rely on David Garrard too much, because then he will make some mistakes. The Raiders can find holes in the Jags defense, especially in the secondary. But the Raiders need to show consistency on offense if they want to remain in the hunt. This one is a toss up. For some reason, I see myself leaning towards the Raiders in this one. I think they ride the momentun off of last week's big win. Raiders take on a late Sebastian Janikowski field goal.
Oakland 26 Jacksonville 23
St. Louis Rams vs New Orleans Saints
Can the Rams make it three in a row on the road? It'll be really tough. They are playing a hot New Orleans Saints team that has won five in a row and scored 30 or more points in their last four games. The Rams defense is young and improving, but they haven't faced a QB like Drew Brees all year. The Saints are clicking right now. The Rams have a lot of momentum after winning two in a row on the road, but I don't think they can make it three in a row against this good Saints team. The Rams will keep it close early, but I see the Saints pulling away late.
New Orleans 30 St. Louis 20
Seattle Seahawks vs San Francisco 49ers
The 49ers are coming off a bad loss to Green Bay, and are going back to Alex Smith at QB. The 49ers still are't out of the NFC West race, and would actually only be a game back of first with a win and a Rams loss, so they should still play hard. The Seahawks have struggled a lot recently. They were even down at one point last week at home to Carolina until Marshawn Lynch looked like the Lynch of old. This one will all depend on if the 49ers decide to show up and play, and I think they will. The 49ers still have a solid defense that can shut down the Seahawks offense. I'll take the Seahawks in a low scoring affair.
San Francisco 17 Seattle 13
New England Patriots vs Chicago Bears
And so starts a brutal four game stretch for Chicago. And of course they get a New England team that is coming off their best all around performance all year. The Bears offense, specifically Jay Cutler, has looked great under new offensive coordinator Mike Martz. Their defense also looks rejuvinated. But the Patriots defense are coming off of their best performance of the year, holding a good Jets offense to only 3 points. Tom Brady looked like a man on a mission on Monday night. There was nothing that was going to stop him. But the Bears will provide a stiffer challenge for the Pats. They have to go to Chicago with a good home crowd behind their team. In the end, however, I think it will come down to coaching. And I'll take Bill Belichick over Lovie Smith any day of the week. This will be a close slugfest that the Pats pull out in the end.
New England 24 Chicago 20
Miami Dolphins vs New York Jets
How will the Jets respond after last week's embarassment? Well they get a disappointing Dolphins team to take out their frustrations on. The Jets aren't as bad a team as the 45-3 score indicates, but it shows that they may not be as good as their 9-3 record indicates. They've had some close calls this year, specifically against mid-tier teams such as Cleveland and Houston, and even a lower tier team like Detorit. Hopefully Mark Sanchez doesn't go into a late season slump like he has in the past. But this game will be all about the Jets defense putting pressure on Chad Henne. Henne has looked terrible the last few games, and the Dolphins may be one of those teams that need a new QB in the off-season, and maybe even a new coach. Bill Parcells hired Tony Sporano, and now Parcells is gone. The Dolphins are a better road team, but that was early in the season. The Dolphins are fading and have almost no offense to speak of. I like the Jets to rebound here.
NY Jets 27 Miami 14
Denver Broncos vs Arizona Cardinals
Took about a blah game. The Broncos fired coach Josh McDaniels on Monday, and now are the third team to hire a new interim coach this year. The Cardinals are just plain bad and have no answers at QB. I think the Broncos play hard for their interim coach and take down a hapless Arizona team.
Denver 23 Arizona 13
Kansas City Chiefs vs San Diego Chargers
While Chicago/New England is a game of heavyweights, this game has more implications playoff wise. The Chargers are two games back in the AFC West race, and a loss here would put them down for the count in the playoff race. Everybody was disappointed with their performance last week against Oakland. The Chiefs are coming off of a defensive victory at home against Denver, holding a good offense to only 6 points. But Matt Cassel had his appendix removed yesterday, and the Chiefs may be forced to start Brodie Croyle at QB. That gives the edge to San Diego. The Chargers still have one of the top offenses in the league, and they are seeking revenge for their opening season loss in Kansas City. I expect this to be close throughout, but I think the Chargers escape with a win here, keeping them alive in the AFC West race. The Chiefs are an 8-4 team but still have struggles of their own to deal with, and not having Matt Cassel this week will just add to them.
San Diego 31 Kansas City 26
Philadelphia Eagles vs Dallas Cowboys
This is a dangerous game for the Eagles. The Cowboys may very well be playing the best football out of any team in the NFL in the last month. They've looked like a completely different team since Jason Garrett took over. That makes them a scary opponent for any team in the NFL, and the Eagles have to face them twice down the stretch. But the Eagles offense continues to look good under Mike Vick. The only problem they have to worry about is the off-field concerns of DeSean Jackson, who seems unhappy about his current contract situation. The Eagles defense has been playing ok, but they need to step up their game here. The Cowboys would love to get a win for their interim coach in primetime, and I think they will. Cowboys win this one.
Dallas 27 Philadelphia 23
Baltimore Ravens vs Houston Texans
The Ravens had that game against Pittsburgh, but questionable play-calling late lead to a turnover, and a Pittsburgh victory. That has got to be eating at the Ravens inside. The Texans have been off since Thursday and have had plenty of time to find out how to beat a good Ravens defense. The answer would be to attack their secondary, which while good is still vulnerable to the big play. Good thing the Texans have a good QB in Matt Schaub and an elite WR in Andre Johnson. But can the Texans offensive line hold up against a great Ravens pass rush? I don't think so. The Texans need this one to stay alive in the AFC South and probably save their coach's job, but I can't see that happening. The Texans may keep it close, but the Ravens win this one in the end.
Baltimore 21 Houston 14
That's all for this week. I'll be back next week with the normal stuff, plus a preview of WWE TLC.
Until next time,