Thursday, December 8, 2011

NFL Week 14 Picks

NFL Picks? Woo Woo Woo! You Know It!

Last Week's Record: 13-3
Year to Date Record: 125-67

Cleveland Browns vs Pittsburgh Steelers
This isn't too much of a rivalry in recent years. The Steelers have dominated the Browns. The Steelers continue to win while the Browns continue to float in mediocrity. Cleveland has definitely taken a step back this year. The distraction that Peyton Hillis has caused isn't helping matters. Colt McCoy has also regressed a bit, but it doesn' help when you have no real threats at WR. And the run defense is just getting gashed on a weekly basis. The most recent is Ray Rice's 200+ yard rushing performance last week. The Browns can't seem to find a winning way and stick to it. Pittsburgh continues their winning ways as they look destined for another playoff appearance. The Steelers have looked streaky at times this year. The offense has struggled in various games, but they had a good showing against Cincinnati last week. Their smash mouth football style helps them win in the winter months though, and that shouldn't be any different this week. Expect Pittsburgh to pound the ball with Rashard Mendenhall, which will open up the play action pass with Big Ben, Mike Wallace, and Antonio Brown. Steelers win rather easily.

Pittsburgh 24  Cleveland 9

Kansas City Chiefs vs New York Jets
Congrats to Tyler Palko on winning his first game last week. Sure, it was against a depleted Bears team. And sure, Palko was pulled at one point in the game, but he still got the win. But the Chiefs still looked terrible on offense. There only TD came on a hail mary pass at the end of the first half. Otherwise, it is the same Chiefs teams that hadn't scored a TD in their last two games. The defense shut down the Bears, but it was a Bears team that didn't have their star QB or RB. The Jets pulled away late against Washington, but the offense struggled early on. Mark Sanchez again looked off on multiple throws. The defense was also burned by the run early on. This, however, should be a cake walk for the Jets as long as they are focused. The Chiefs have no weapons on offense and should struggle against a tough Jets pass rush.

NY Jets 27  Kansas City 6

Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs Jacksonville Jaguars
This is the battle to not be considered the worst team in Florida. The Bucs are 4-8 and it looks like Raheem Morris is losing control of his players. The offense has looked stagnant and terrible continually. They were blown out by Carolina last week, which cements their status as the worst team in the NFC South. I would be surprised if Morris isn't fired at the end of the year. The Tampa job is semi-attractive, there is a lo of young talent on the team to build around. But they are in a tough division and need quick improvements if they want to compete in the coming years. The Jagaurs already fired their coach. And they still look terrible on offense. I know it is only his first year, but Blaine Gabbert is struggling mightily. With the success of Cam Newton and Andy Dalton, the pressure on him increases. But Gabbert can't handle pressure and often times makes bad decisions even without pressure. You have to feel bad for Maurice Jones-Drew. He's being a team player but you know the losing and struggles have to be eating at him on the inside. A new coach needs to decide if Gabbert has a future in the NFL, and also get some playmakers for him at the WR position. I've told you these teams suck already. So who wins? If you are one of these teams 25 fans and care, I'm picking Tampa. More talent.

Tampa Bay 23  Jacksonville 19

New England Patriots vs Washington Redskins
The Patriots are quietly putting together another typical Patriots season. Remember when we were questioning if this team was a legit playoff team? They still struggle a bit on defense and don't have too much of a running game, but they keep winning and that is all that matters in the end. But if Tom Brady keeps throwing to Rob Gronkowski at will, then this team will be tough to beat. Gronkowski is such a huge target and runs his routes so well that it makes him difficult to cover, especially in the red zone. You need a quick, physical safety to even just keep up with him. Even if Gronkowski gets shut down, you still have that pesky Wes Welker to deal with. The Redskins have given the Cowboys and Jets fights in recent weeks, but they can't find a way to close out games. The defense keeps the Redskins in it, but the offense fails to convert come late in the game. That is partly do to Rex Grossman's inability to perform in the clutch. The one bright spot for Washington has been Roy Helu, who had a good game against the Jets. Helu should have another good game against the soft Patriots defense, and Grossman should do ok as well. But the Patriots offense wins out here. Grossman and Co. can't keep up.

New England 31  Washington 20

Atlanta Falcons vs Carolina Panthers
This has all the makings of a trap game for Atlanta. The Falcons offense struggled last week against the Texans. They only managed 10 points and couldn't get anything going, especially the run game. That should be different this week. Michael Turner should take advantage of a weak Panthers run game. Matt Ryan should also be able to burn the Panthers secondary with some deep plays. The Falcons have the talent to burn the Panthers that the Bucs don't have. The Falcons defense played well, but they will be without Corner Brett Grimes this week, which could hurt. The Panthers could struggle with their running attack here as the Falcons are pretty good at stopping it. Cam Newton might need to rely on his arm more here, and that should wake up the sleeping giant known as Steve Smith. You have to like all of the progress the Panthers are showing this year. They are a fun team to watch, and when they get healthy next year on defense, could be the Lions of this year's NFL. A young team that has the potential to make the playoffs. And that is why I'm picking the Panthers to get the upset win here.

Carolina 24  Atlanta 21

Indianapolis Colts vs Baltimore Ravens
It's a revenge game for Baltimore. Indy stole their franchise years ago and they want revenge! The Colts tried to make a comeback against New England last week but couldn't. But their offense woke up last week under Dan Orlovsky, which is a weird thing to say. Problem for Indy is that their defense is still terrible, and Ray Rice should expose that. He's coming off a 200 yard performance against Cleveland, and could easily top 200 yards again this week. Joe Flacco might have a good game too. Again, I don't see anyway the Colts compete here. The countdown to 0-16 continues. Baltimore wins.

Baltimore 35  Indianapolis 17

Philadelphia Eagles vs Miami Dolphins
Both of these teams are 4-8, but they are heading in completely opposite directions. The Eagles appear to have already packed their bags in for the season. DeSean Jackson looks to have quite on the team. The players seem to have given up on Andy Reid. And the much hyped defense has been torn apart for most of the season. The Eagles will probably get Mike Vick back this week, but that won't so much for them. If the team isn't going to give their effort, then Vick's comeback means nothing. The Dolphins are 4-8 but have been playing some of the best football in the NFL the last 5 weeks. The Dolphins are making it mighty hard for ownership to fire coach Tony Sparano at the end of the year. For some reason, the Dolphins have decided to get going right now rather than the whole season. Nothing changed in Miami, other than the fact that they started trying after 0-7. Reggie Bush should take advantage of the weak Eagles linebackers. The Dolphins improved defense will pressure Mike Vick, and the Dolphins will continue to roll and make the Eagles Dream Season one to forget.

Miami 26  Philadelphia 20

Minnesota Vikings vs Detroit Lions
Can the Lions stop shooting themselves in the foot? They continue to take dumb penalties and cost themselves games. They've gone 2-5 after starting 5-0. The offense hasn't been the problem for the most part. The defense for some reason cannot stop anything in recent weeks. The Lions have been plagued with injuries in the secondary. And they will be without Ndamukong Suh again for this game as he sits out his two game suspension. The good news for the Lions is that it looks like Adrian Peterson will also be out for the Vikings, so the Vikings offense looks a little less threatening. Christian Ponder made a terrible throw last week that lead to an interception and set-up the Broncos game winning field goal. The Vikings defense is also depleted with injuries in the secondary. Expect a big game from Matthew Stafford and Calvin Johnson. The Lions should rebound here with a nice win against a down Vikings team.

Detroit 34  Minnesota 21

New Orleans Saints vs Tennessee Titans
The Titans are the least talked about team in the AFC Playoff Picture, but they may be the team no one wants to play in the Playoffs when it is all set and done. Chris Johnson has regained his 2011 form, and that is bad news for his opponents down the stretch. Johnson is hiding the ineffectiveness of Matt Hasselbeck. Hasselbeck isn't playing bad, but he isn't doing enough to help get his team into the playoffs. The defense has been in shut down mode in recent weeks which also helps. But that defense faces a daunting task of trying to shut down the high powered Saints offense this week. But the Saints have struggled on the road this season. They are only 3-3 on the road, and there only double digit win came against lowly Jacksonville. But Drew Brees and the Saints offense should take the momentum they've had after winning two big games and carry it to the road. You know the Saints defense main task will be to shut down Chris Johnson and force Matt Hasselbeck to win the game for Tennessee. I expect a close one here, but in the end I have to go with the Saints and there array of weapons on offense.

New Orleans 28  Tennessee 23

Houston Texans vs Cincinnati Bengals
How can this game not sell out in Cincinnati? Bengals fans should be ashamed. Sure the Bengals have struggled recently, but they are still right in the thick of the AFC Wild Card Race. Plus, they are getting a wounded Houston team coming to town. With no Andre Johnson for Houston again, expect a heavy dose of Arian Foster and Ben Tate. But you know the Bengals will be expecting that, so expect a lot of eight man fronts from the defense. That means this game is on T.J. Yates shoulders. Yates performed all right last week against Atlanta, but he will need to do better in his first road start. The Bengals will also have a tough time against a very good Texans defense that shut down the Falcons last week. Andy Dalton will rely heavily on A.J. Green, but he will more than likely face constant double teams all day. This will definitely be a defensive battle, so expect a low scoring affair. If the Bengals are successful in shutting down the Texans run game, then I find it hard to believe T.J. Yates scan win the game for them. I'm giving a slight edge to the Bengals here, and think they pull out a mild upset at home.

Cincinnati 16  Houston 13

Chicago Bears vs Denver Broncos
This is a bad time for the Chicago Bears to come up against TEBOWMANIA. The Bears are down Jay Cutler for the rest of the season and Matt Forte for at least two weeks. And the offense looked terrible without both of them last week against Kansas City. The Bears only managed 3 points verses the lowly Kansas City Chiefs. Marion Barber becomes the feature back in Chicago, but he isn't an every down back. Caleb Hanie hasn't played well, and he doesn't have any weapons at WR that would scare the Broncos defense. If the Bears want to win this game, they will have to rely on their run defense to shut down the running game of the Broncos. The Vikings shut down Tim Tebow last week, but they failed to stop Willis McGahee, who ran for 111 yards and a touchdown. Tebow showed last week that he isn't afraid to throw the ball. It still isn't pretty, but he can avoid pressure and allow his WRs to scramble and get open. The Broncos defense isn't bad either, as they have defensive scores in their last two games. This one has low scoring, defensive struggle all over it. But it is too hard to bet against Tebow and the Broncos here, and they continue their winning ways.

Denver 17  Chicago 13

San Francisco 49ers vs Arizona Cardinals
The 49ers may have already wrapped up their division, but don't expect them to take their foot off the pedal quite yet. The 49ers still want that 1st round bye and still only have a one game lead over the Saints for that in the NFC. The defense looked dominant in their win over the Rams last week. Sure it was the Rams, but it still takes an all around team effort to shut out a team. If there is one person the 49ers may rest, it might be Frank Gore who has been a bit banged up all year. But Kendall Hunter is a good enough back to handle the work load for the 49ers the rest of the way. The Cardinals won again last week, this time in over time over the Dallas Cowboys. The Cardinals have been playing in recent weeks like I thought they would all year. Similar to the Dolphins, if the Cardinals played like this all year maybe they would be in the hunt for a playoff spot right now. The offense has looked better in recent weeks and the team's overall play is probably saving Ken Wisenhunt's job. This is a dangerous spot for the 49ers. Coming off a big game last week they may suffer a bit of a let down. The Cardinals are a dangerous team right now and I think they pull off the upset here at home.

Arizona 20  San Francisco 19

Buffalo Bills vs San Diego Chargers
These are two of the more disappointing teams this year for different reasons. First the Bills. They started the season 5-2 and appeared on the verge of making the playoffs for the first time in over a decade. But the Bills have lost five in a row. They have been decimated by injuries. Teams have also found out how to shut down the Bills spread offense. And the defense is still getting shredded. Expect defensive coordinator George Edwards gone at the end of the year. The Bills have a tendency to abandon the run like they did last week. They were only down seven at the half, but only ran the ball FOUR times in the second half. C.J. Spiller has shown promise in recent weeks, but Ryan Fitzpatrick has regressed. The Chargers, meanwhile, are the constant favorites in the AFC West. But after starting 4-1, the Chargers lost six in a row before winning last week in Jacksonville. Philip Rivers looked like the old Philip Rivers last week. The defense has struggled to stop anyone as well, which hasn't helped the Chargers offense. The Chargers don't consider them out of the AFC West race, especially with the tough schedule the Broncos and Raiders have ahead. Being two games out with four games left, the Chargers pretty much have to win out if they have a chance. They start here with a win over the Bills in a shootout.

San Diego 38  Buffalo 31

Oakland Raiders vs Green Bay Packers
Last week's performance is something the Raiders absolutely had to avoid. They were blown out on the road in Miami and gave up the lead in the AFC West via tiebreaker to the Broncos. Now the Raiders have to go into Lambeau and try to hand the Green Bay Packers their first loss. The Raiders running attack was finally stopped last week by the Dolphins. Don't expect it to get going again against the Packers. That means Carson Palmer will have to win this game with his arm. But Palmer isn't Aaron Rodgers. Despite the Packers shaky pass defense, Palmer isn't a good enough QB to win the game for the Raiders. Aaron Rodgers should have a field day taking advantage of a weak Raiders secondary. He makes playing QB so simple in the NFL. His 1 minute drive to get into field goal range last week at the end of regulation against the Giants was a thing of beauty. There is no reason to think that won't continue here. The Packers are the better overall team, and with the 49ers losing (in my opinion), they get one step closer to winning home field throughout the NFC Playoffs with another win here.

Green Bay 35  Oakland 23

New York Giants vs Dallas Cowboys
Huge showdown in the NFC East. These two teams play each other twice in the final four weeks, so the loser isn't necessarily out of the NFC Playoff Race. Both teams are coming off of bad losses last week. The Giants stood toe-to-toe with the Packers last week, but the defense couldn't stop the Packers in the end to force overtime. The Giants are a better team with Ahmad Bradshaw in the backfield. That helps them mightily. Eli Manning is having a good season, but the problem is the defense has struggled to stop teams at times. That has been evident the last two weeks against the Saints and Packers. If the Giants front four on defense is silenced, it exposes holes in the secondary. The Cowboys lost to the Cardinals in Arizona after horrible clock management at the end of the 4th quarter. With two timeouts left, Tony Romo wasted about 20 seconds getting his team set up for a spike that brought the clock down to seven seconds left. Then, Coach Jason Garrett called a timeout before a made field goal by Dan Bailey. Bailey missed the next kick, and the Cowboys lost in overtime. Both of these teams will have their moments on offense and defense. I expect it to be close throughout. They key will be which ever team gets their run game going. That opens up the play action pass for both teams. I think in the end, I like the Cowboys here. I expect Jason Witten to have a big game here, just like the Jermichael Finley did last week for the Packers. A close one throughout that goes to the Cowboys, with a late field goal.

Dallas 27  NY Giants 24

St. Louis Rams vs Seattle Seahawks
I bet ESPN wishes they could flex games to Monday night. The second straight game between bad teams on Monday night. Even if ESPN was going off last year's successes of teams, they still should have thought that both of these teams could be awful this year. The Seahawks have played better in recent weeks. They throttled the Eagles last week. Marshawn Lynch has been in full beast mode the last month of the season. Expect another big game from him here against the Rams. The Rams are down to Tom Brandster at QB, which is all you need to know about their offensive struggles. Steven Jackson should have a decent game, but the Seahawks win here thanks to Lynch.

Seattle 28  St. Louis 10

My Vegas $$$ Picks
Last Week's Record: 3-1
Year to Date Record: 31-20-1

I hope no one tries a four team parlay with my bets, because I always get one wrong.

Seattle -5.5 vs St. Louis: Tom Brandster at QB for St. Louis, enough said.

Cleveland +14 at Pittsburgh: I'm still expecting a low scoring affair here.

Carolina +2.5 vs Atlanta: Panthers are a dangerous team.

NY Jets -9 vs Kansas City: Tyler Palko hasn't shown much in recent weeks.

Until Next Time,
Justin C
Follow Me On Twitter @JCWonka

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