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Week 14 NFL Picks

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For the year, I now sit at 112-67, good for 62.5%, a season high.  Selections for Week 14 are as follows:

Pittsburgh at Cleveland Brady Quinn is starting to get it together for Cleveland, which would have happened back around Halloween had the money-conscious Browns just let it.  Now all that’s left for 1-11 Cleveland is to try to deliver the knockout blow to the defending champs at home this week.  The Steelers are short Hines Ward in this one, but figure to be able to win a shootout with the Browns even if the Steeler D continues to make big mistakes.

New Orleans at Atlanta Atlanta is a mediocre team who might have been able to back into the playoffs in the NFC about three years ago, but it looks like 10 or 11 wins will be a necessity to take an NFC wild card.  The Saints have already clinched the NFC South, and can put Atlanta’s season to rest before they get Matt Ryan back, who is likely to miss a second straight week with a turf toe.  At 13-0, New Orleans can start to think: undefeated.

Detroit at Baltimore It’s hard being the Ravens right now: they’ve fallen to 6-6 by going 3-6 in their last nine games, and Joe Flacco is being asked to save the team’s playoff hopes while playing through the toughest stretch of his career.  If only the opposing defense would oblige…oh look, here come the Lions!  I’ll take the Ravens.

Green Bay at Chicago I don’t pick spreads, but the line on this game is -3 in favor of Green Bay.  That seems too easy.  Rivalry game, throw out the records, blah, blah, blah…the Packers are still one of the two or three fastest defenses in the NFL and Jay Cutler still makes very spotty decisions.  If the Bears can get the Packers’ weakened pass rush blocked, they have a chance.  If they don’t, this could get ugly fast as the Packers roll.

Seattle at Houston I’ll take Houston again for the fourth week in a row.  Maybe I’ll win one.  It’s not like they’ve been stereotypically disappointing or anything, they’re just bad in situations when the game is close.  And bad at keeping the game from being close.  But, you know, they are excellent in the first half.

Denver at Indianapolis This game will feel more like New England-Indianapolis than like a Shanahan-era Broncos beatdown in Indy.  Let’s face it: the Colts winning streak is in serious jeopardy, as this is probably the match-up of the entire week.  Still, I’ll take the Colts to win.

Miami at Jacksonville If Denver/Indy is the game of the week, Miami and Jacksonville will jockey for the 6th playoff seed in this game.  If Jacksonville can put away Miami and move to 8-5, it’s hard to see a scenario where they don’t make the playoff, as they would hold a two game lead over the Dolphins, and would hold the tiebreakers against both the Dolphins, and the Jets, and probably the Steelers as well.  Only the similarly soft-scheduled Ravens could stand in their way.  If the Dolphins win, however, we’re talking about a very wide open field led by Miami.  For a game pick, I really think that the Dolphins will have trouble capitalizing on the Jaguars primary pass defense weaknesses, and I’ll take David Garrard over Chad Henne at this point, as Garrard really deserves another shot at the postseason.

Buffalo at Kansas City I’ve just been informed that they will still play this one.  I have no idea who I can throw my support behind, so I’ll go with the Chiefs because I prefer their cheerleaders to those of the Bills and I’ll take the American team over the Canadian one in most sports.

Cincinnati at Minnesota It’s a game that really doesn’t mean all that much, and isn’t quite as intriguing as Broncos-Colts, but the potential for a thriller is here.  Off a loss, though, I think the Vikings can rebound to win convincingly.  There’s nothing really wrong with the 9-3 Bengals, but these are two very different NFL teams, given the dominance of the Vikings up against the systematic winning of the Bengals.  Minnesota is simply a better team at home, though.

Carolina at New England The “Patriots are doomed” talk arrived just in time for the Panthers and Bills to come in and dispel any chance of the Patriots actually being finished among the league’s elite.  In the era of parity, who knows, maybe the Pats would have already fallen back to the pack.  But this year, they’ve made a mis-step or three, and lost some inexcusable divisional games, but this SBXXXVIII rematch won’t be quite as thrilling.

NY Jets at Tampa Bay I don’t really know what to think about Kellen Clemens starting, as I think Clemens is a better player than Mark Sanchez, but I’ve seen Jets OC Brian Schottenheimer really scale back his offenses before to hide a backup QB.  If they don’t attack the Bucs defense early and often, they’ll leave Josh Freeman in the game long enough to make this a fourth quarter battle.  Because of this, I’m going with the Bucs.

St. Louis at Tennessee One area where Steve Spagnuolo simply hasn’t been able to produce a unit that lives up to expectations is with the pass rush/blitzing packages.  I say this only because in situations where we look for upsets to occur, it’s nice to find one thing that the underdog does very well which will help to keep the game close.  No such luck for the Rams, so it figures to be a comfortable Titans victory.

Washington at Oakland I still don’t bet the spread, but Washington is -1.  Seriously.  I know they haven’t ever looked good in games they are supposed to win, and I know the Redskins at 3 wins are a game behind the Raiders at 4 wins, but Robert Gallery is out, Bruce Gradkowski is going to get killed, and the Raiders won’t be able to run the ball any further than the cloud of dust allows.  On the other hand, DeAngelo Hall returns to the lineup for the Redskins, so you never know.

San Diego at Dallas A match-up that will captivate for about 25 minutes, before it becomes apparent that Dallas shouldn’t be on the same field as the Chargers.  Philip Rivers makes his MVP push in this game.

Philadelphia at NY Giants If the Giants win this game, there will likely be a three way tie atop the NFC East at 8-5 with three weeks to go.  Oh, how I long for such chaos to keep the NFL season entertaining.  Sadly, for me at least, the Eagles are the better football team, much healthier than they’ve been at any point since the beginning of December, and can go out and win the division here.

Arizona at San Francisco A MNF match-up that will captivate absolutely no-one, the Cardinals extract their revenge for an opening week loss at home at the hands of the 49ers.

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