Looking forward to this weekend in the NFL, I’m not entirely sure what to expect from Week 14. There are some terrific matchups in there and I’m particularly looking forward to the NFC South battle that’ll take place on Monday Night Football. There’s a distinct possibility that three teams from that competitive division will make it to the playoffs. That’s pretty crazy. Anyhow… wish me luck! On with the picks.
Jacksonville Jaguars at Chicago Bears (-6.5)
Neither one of these teams have lived up to their pre-season expectations, but the Jaguars have been particularly disappointing. I see no reason why the Jags would suddenly turn around in the Windy City.
Minnesota Vikings (-8.5) at Detroit Lions
The Detroit Lions are well on their way to “achieving” a winless season and they won’t have any easier of a time against Adrian Peterson and the Vikings. The spread is a little bigger than I would have liked, but I’m still going with the Vikes on this one.
Cincinnati Bengals at Indianapolis Colts (-13.5)
Even though Peyton Manning has seen better days, the Colts look like they’ve put themselves in the position for a playoff wild card spot. I have no doubt in my mind that they’ll triumph over the Bengals at home, but winning by at least two touchdowns might be a bit of stretch. It could happen, but I’ll take the conservative route.
Philadelphia Eagles at New York Giants (-6.5)
The era of Donovan McNabb and the Philly Eagles is drawing to a close, whereas the era of Eli Manning and the G-Men is on the rise. The defending Super Bowl champions are arguably the best team in the league and the Eagles just don’t have what it takes to stop them.
Pick: New York
Cleveland Browns at Tennessee Titans (-13.5)
No, they’re not undefeated anymore, but the Titans are still very impressive in just about every facet of the game. The Browns have their strengths too, but I’m going to go out on a limb and say the Titans trounce all over them, winning by more than 2 TDs.
Atlanta Falcons at New Orleans Saints (-2.5)
Unfortunately for Reggie Bush and potential MVP candidate Drew Brees (he’s throwing over 300 yards in, like, every game), the playoff hopes of the Saints have more or less been dashed. Michael Turner and the rest of the dirty birds in Atlanta, however, have a lot to fight for and they’ll fight in New Orleans. Give it to the Falcons.
Houston Texans at Green Bay Packers (-5.5)
He’s no Brett Favre and Aaron Rodgers is slowly emerging from his shadow, defining his own era in Green Bay. With the Texans coming to visit at Lambeau Field, look for the Pack Attack to come out on top.
Miami Dolphins at Buffalo Bills (-0.5)
The Bills have somehow fallen into a downward spiral after a very promising start at the beginning of the season. The Dolphins, despite some unfortunate hiccups, have surprised us with some impressive victories. It’ll be close for sure, but I’m leaning toward the team from Florida.
New York Jets (-4.5) at San Francisco 49ers
J-E-T-S Jets Jets Jets! This was the team that brought Tennessee’s winning streak to an end. No one expected Brett Favre to lead the Jets to a division title. They hoped to be competitive, but now they’re a potential favorite for the AFC championship. The Niners don’t stand a chance. The Jets are for real and I’m hopeful for a Super Bowl subway series.
Pick: New York
New England Patriots (-4.5) at Seattle Seahawks
It’s a bit of a tough battle ahead, but the Patriots are still very much in the playoff race. Yes, they lost Tom Brady and they’re not the same team as the 18-1 squad from last year, but they’ve rallied behind Matt Cassel and Randy Moss. The Seahawks, by contrast, have nothing to win (and nothing to lose).
Pick: New England
Kansas City Chiefs at Denver Broncos (-8.5)
The Broncos confuse me. They are somehow the worst defence in the league, but they’re also a division leader. They’ll get demolished by the Oakland Raiders, only to beat the Jets the following week. You can never know which team shows up. I’m hopeful that Shanahan will build on last week’s win and pummel the Chiefs into oblivion.
St. Louis Rams at Arizona Cardinals (-13.5)
Who would have thought that Kurt Warner still had some gas in the tank? You could draw some parallels between what’s happening in Arizona and what’s happening with Favre and the Jets. While I expect the Cards to win, the spread concerns me. The Rams are pretty abysmal, but I’ll be conservative here.
Pick: St. Louis
Dallas Cowboys at Pittsburgh Steelers (-2.5)
The oddsmakers tell me that I should put my money on the Steelers. Emmitt Smith says that the Cowboys won’t make the cut for the playoffs. I beg to differ. Just put the ball in the hands of Terrell Owens and magical things can happen.
Washington Redskins at Baltimore Ravens (-4.5)
The Ravens could be the surprise hit of the year. They’ve had their ups and they’ve had their downs, and Joe Flacco is no MVP candidate by any stretch of the imagination. That said, look for Baltimore to build on its impressive wins over Philly and Cincy in a tight win over Jason Campbell and the ‘Skins.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Carolina Panthers (-2.5)
This is the game of the week for me, so it only makes sense that it’s on Monday night. The NFC South is probably the most exciting division in the league and the winner of this game will take sole possession of the leading spot. As much as I like Delhomme and the Panthers, I feel that the Bucs are a better team overall. Either way, this will be a pleasure to watch.
Pick: Tampa Bay