Week 14 Predictions
My Week 14 Predictions are finally updated and up. Last week I kept up my rather consistent record of 10-6. I messed up by picking the Bears over Seattle, the Ravens over Pittsburgh and the Raiders over Cleveland. I also messed up with my upset picks when the Colts beat the Lions, the Rams surprised the 49ers and the Chiefs won an emotional game over Carolina. No more bye weeks the rest of the way so here we go…
Thursday, 12/6 – 8:20 pm ET
Denver Broncos 9-3 @ Oakland Raiders 3-9
Prediction: Denver Broncos
I like Denver, like most people, in this one. Denver QB Peyton Manning should be able to pick apart Oakland’s 25th-ranked passing defense. Oakland’s QB, Carson Palmer, has put up some decent numbers, but most have come when the game is out of hand. I expect Denver to manage Oakland’s run game, exploit Palmer’s tendency to throw picks and move at will offensively to a comfortable win.
Sunday, 12/9 – 1:00 pm ET
Baltimore Ravens 9-3 @ Washington Redskins 6-6
Prediction: Washington Redskins
I really had a hard time with this one. Baltimore has a bunch of talent and is obviously 9-3 for a reason. The problem is, their defense isn’t what it used to be and their offense is wildly inconsistent, particularly on the road. Ravens QB, Joe Flacco continues to be a mediocre player on the road, RB Ray Rice doesn’t get the ball enough and the Baltimore defense is ranked 25th in the league in total yards allowed. Not much separates Baltimore and Washington D.C., but the game is technically a road game for the Ravens. Factor in QB Robert Griffin III and this could be a tough game for Baltimore. There is just something about the Redskins right now, which makes me think they surprise another top team in the league.
Dallas Cowboys 6-6 @ Cincinnati Bengals 7-5
Prediction: Cincinnati Bengals
This is another tough game to pick with huge playoff implications. Dallas needs to win to keep in the hunt for the NFC East title and Cincinnati needs a win to keep pace with Pittsburgh. As for this particular game, I think Cincinnati is really hitting their stride and the way they beat San Diego last week, on the road, in adversity, showed me this team is very different from other Bengal teams who would have folded. The Cowboys’ defense was top-notch at the beginning of the year, but has recently struggled. They are still 11th in total defense, but have been gashed by Washington’s Robert Griffin III and Philly’s Nick Foles. I see this game beginning with a strong Bengals start where they take a solid lead. Dallas then gets going, as they have in past weeks, and the game is close to the end. I still like Cincy winning this game though.
St. Louis Rams 5-6-1 @ Buffalo Bills 5-7
Prediction: Buffalo Bills
Neither of these teams have been consistent this season, but I like Buffalo, mainly because the game is in Buffalo. St. Louis is coming off a huge win over the San Francisco 49ers and Buffalo is coming off a convincing win over Jacksonville. The Rams do sport a 12th-ranked overall defense, but I think Buffalo has the firepower, at least in their backfield, to make some plays. As I said before, I really think Buffalo’s home field advantage will be the deciding factor against the young St. Louis Rams.
Philadelphia Eagles 3-9 @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers 6-6
Prediction: Tampa Bay Buccaneers
I like the Buccaneers. Philly is on a slide and they are in full “see what we have for the future” mode. That “future” is centered around looking at rookie QB Nick Foles, but the real pleasant surprise has been rookie RB Bryce Brown, who has ran for 347 yards in the past two games. Brown is going up against the top run defense in the league this week. The Bucs have only given up an average of 82.3 rushing yards per game. Considering how Foles is still adjusting to being a starter, and having some growing pains, Brown is the main threat for Philly. I don’t think he is enough. Tampa’s surprisingly explosive offense should be able to move the ball at will against an Eagles defense, which has suddenly looked very, very bad.
Atlanta Falcons 11-1 @ Carolina Panthers 3-9
Prediction: Atlanta Falcons
The first meeting between these two teams ended in dramatic fashion with a 99-yard touchdown drive by Atlanta to win the game in the closing seconds. In reality, Carolina should have won the game, so what does that mean for this week? Well… nothing. That was back when Carolina was just in a slump and Atlanta was encountering one of their first struggles in a young season. Since then, Carolina has proven to be an inconsistent, undisciplined, young team and Atlanta has still managed to win, albeit, not very convincingly. For this game I like Atlanta in a close one, primarily because of Carolina’s inability to close out games. They always seem to keep the game close, but don’t have what it takes to pull out the close wins. I see a similar situation here with Atlanta winning.
Kansas City Chiefs 2-10 @ Cleveland Browns 4-8
Prediction: Cleveland Browns
Last week was a rough one for Kansas City as they attempted to understand everything surrounding Jovan Belcher. They responded by playing a very emotional game and beating the Panthers. It was nice to see the Chiefs finally win another game, especially considering the emotions surrounding that game. That said, I don’t think the Chiefs are as successful this week. Cleveland is playing at home against a team playing worse than they have been. In fact, Cleveland has actually been very dangerous and competitive lately and should be favored to beat the Chiefs.
San Diego Chargers 4-8 @ Pittsburgh Steelers 7-5
Prediction: Pittsburgh Steelers
I’m taking Pittsburgh because… honestly… who thinks Pittsburgh won’t win this game against a Chargers team who is self-destructing in a game Pittsburgh needs to win? The Steelers are neck-and-neck with Cincinnati for the final wildcard spot and with that in mind, I am sure Pittsburgh plays lights out and pulls out the win. Oh and Pittsburgh QB, Ben Roethlisberger is reportedly back and will play in this one.
Tennessee Titans 4-8 @ Indianapolis Colts 8-4
Prediction: Indianapolis Colts
The Colts have been quite the surprise this season and I think they should be able to continue their success into this weekend’s matchup against the Titans. Tennessee’s defense is ranked 27th in the league, while the Colts currently are riding the 3rd-ranked total offense in the league. The game is also at home, which is where Colts QB, Andrew Luck, has thrived even more than usual. I think the Colts continue their momentum and pull off the win. I wouldn’t be surprised if Titans RB Chris Johnson has a good game though. The Colts have struggled against the run at times.
New York Jets 5-7 @ Jacksonville Jaguars 2-10
Prediction: New York Jets
Do I have to pick this game? Both of these teams have been their fair share of awful this season and now they play. The Jets are sticking with QB Matt Sanchez after he was benched for Greg McElroy last week. Oh, and McElroy actually led New York to their lone score… something to watch for. I just like the Jets here, because throughout the season, they have looked awful against good teams, but when we all say they are one of the worst in the league, they go out and look relatively dominant against the bad teams. Well, Jacksonville is a bad team and I wouldn’t be surprised if Sanchez and the Jets offense suddenly looks respectable this week.
Chicago Bears 8-4 @ Minnesota Vikings 6-6
Prediction: Minnesota Vikings
This is one of my upset picks. Minnesota has looked unable to move the ball offensively – unless RB Adrian Peterson does it himself – with WR Percy Harvin out due to injury. Harvin is now out for the season. However, the Bears, as good as they were at the beginning of the season, are in their own slump. They haven’t beaten the top teams in the league and last week they lost at home to the Seattle Seahawks. The Bears offense doesn’t look explosive and the defense, while still quite formidable, has shown holes. The Vikings are 5-1 at home this season.
Sunday, 12/9 – 4:05 pm ET
Miami Dolphins 5-7 @ San Francisco 49ers 8-3-1
Prediction: San Francisco 49ers
This should be pretty clear cut. I like San Francisco because they are the supremely talented team with one of the best defenses in the NFL and they have a formidable offense, which can be explosive. Miami is lead by rookie QB Ryan Tannehill, who has had his ups and downs this season, into a hostile environment. The 49ers should win. The one thing to watch is if 49ers QB Colin Kaepernick struggles. If he looks bad, will head coach, Jim Harbaugh go back to Alex Smith? I don’t think he can afford to, but many will have an eye on how Kaepernick plays and if that scenario potentially plays out.
Sunday, 12/9 – 4:25 pm ET
Arizona Cardinals 4-8 @ Seattle Seahawks 7-5
Prediction: Seattle Seahawks
Not much to say here. Arizona is on an eight-game losing streak and Seattle is a whole different beast at home this season. I never thought Arizona fans would be so desperate for injured QB Kevin Kolb to return to the starting spot.
New Orleans Saints 5-7 @ New York Giants 7-5
Prediction: New Orleans Saints
I keep picking the Saints as an upset pick and to this point, they have not pulled through for me. So… I pick them again. I just think the Saints offense is too good to be off for as long as they have been. The Giants are off and on from week to week, which makes me think they are just as likely to blow out the Saints as to get blown out at home. I just think the Saints offense will be the difference in this one. If the Saints do win this, it could really complicate the NFC East picture. Something to watch.
Sunday, 12/9 – 8:20 pm ET
Detroit Lions 4-8 @ Green Bay Packers 8-4
Prediction: Green Bay Packers
Green Bay should win this one. As you probably know, I put a lot of value in home-field advantage. Well, Detroit hasn’t won at Lambeau in the last 21 tries. That is a heck of a home-field advantage. I think it continues. The Lions offense is just QB Matt Stafford and WR Calvin Johnson and their defense isn’t anything too special. That said, Detroit’s “offense” should put up some points in a close loss.
Monday, 12/10 – 8:30 pm ET
Houston Texans 11-1 @ New England Patriots 9-3
Prediction: New England Patriots
This should be a great game. New England and Houston are premier teams in the league today and both present interesting storylines as the face off on national television. I like New England in this one. New England has the 9th rush defense in the league and their offense is still as dominant as ever. Houston has the players to matchup with these aspects of the Patriots, but I think the real factor here is how good the Patriots are in the month of December. Head coach, Bill Belichick, is 19-1 in the month of December with New England. Yeah… historical data means nothing now, but it does show that New England plays its best when seasons are decided. I think they come out a play lights out against a great Houston team.