Week 14 Pickem'
We are 13 weeks in, and thus far, I'm pretty sure I've gone above .500 three times. Yes, it's pathetic, I know. Last week, I went 8-8, which isn't great, but it's a step in the right direction. I'm going to ride the (not-so) hot hand and hope I keep trending up. Without further ado, let's take a look at these games, and more importantly, my terrible picks.
CURRENT RECORD: 92 - 100 - 0
JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS @ TENNESSEE TITANS (-4.5)
PICK: JAGS (+4.5)
This is a terrible, TERRIBLE, game. Both defenses are 5th and 6th in least points allowed per game, so I wouldn't expect this to be a barn burner by any stretch, as seen by the over/under (37.5). Because this game is projected to be so low scoring due to poor offensive play and elite defenses, I don't think it'll be decided by more than a field goal. Sure, Cody Kessler is awful, but Leonard Fournette is back, which means the Jags will just pound him up the middle 30 times, running time off the clock, dominating possession, and capping Tennessee's offensive output by keeping them off the field. The Jags also held the Colts, a much better offense than the Titans, to zero, count 'em, ZERO, points last week. I don't expect another shutout, but I'd be shocked if Tennessee puts up more than 17 points.
NEW YORK JETS @ BUFFALO BILLS (-2.5)
PICK: BILLS (-2.5)
Sam Darnold is back, so the Bills' defense is going to EAT. They're at home, as well, so I think this game is going to get ugly for the Jets. Josh Allen has a cannon, and with a middling New York secondary, I wouldn't be surprised if we see another 75 yard score from him. He has also showcased his rushing ability over the past two weeks, which should open up the field for the lack of receivers Buffalo has. Give me Bills Mafia, at home, against pick-six Sam.
CAROLINA PANTHERS (-1.5) @ CLEVELAND BROWNS
PICK: BROWNS (+1.5)
This is a damn superlock. The fact that the Panthers are favorites on the road is mind boggling. That alone will fire Mayfield up, and if there's one thing Carolina doesn't want, it's for Baker to wake up feeling dangerous. He played terribly last week, but against a forgiving Panthers secondary, I think he'll bounce back in a big way. As for Cam Newton, he played poorly, as well, and he just doesn't look like himself. There are reports of lingering shoulder pain, which was apparent late in the game when they had to sub him out on a hail mary heave due to his lack of arm strength, which typically isn't an issue for him. The Panthers haven't won a road game since week 7, and I'm not convinced they'll end that streak this Sunday.
ATLANTA FALCONS @ GREEN BAY PACKERS (-5.5)
PICK: PACKERS (-5.5)
Let me say this right now, there is NO CHANCE Rodgers throws less than 3 touchdowns this Sunday. They just lost to the Cardinals at home and fired Mike McCarthy, which is a combination any opponent should fear. Rodgers is going to head into Lambeau with one plan: show the world how garbage McCarthy was. A-Rod is going to torch this Falcons defense, and with Julio Jones banged up, and the overall state of Atlanta's offense, I don't think they'll catch up. Tevin Coleman and Ito Smith have been awful, making this team relatively one-dimensional, and with the young corners in Green Bay finding their form, the Packers should have some answer for Matty Ice. Give me Rodgers and the cheeseheads in the ultimate revenge/bounceback game.
INDIANAPOLIS COLTS @ HOUSTON TEXANS (-4.5)
PICK: COLTS (+4.5)
The Texans have been absolutely rolling recently, specifically, their defense. The last time they allowed more than 23 points was in week 4, when Indy put up 34 at home. Now, they get a rematch in a divisional matchup, which makes me believe this will be a close one. In week 4, the game was decided by 3 points, and even though Houston is at home this time around, I don't think it'll end much differently. This should be a close one, but I wouldn't be surprised if it's Andrew Luck in a bounceback game who ends Houston's 9-game win streak.
BALTIMORE RAVENS @ KANSAS CITY CHIEFS (-6.5)
PICK: RAVENS (+6.5)
Despite their dominance, the Chiefs have been playing extremely close games recently. Over the past 3 weeks, their games have been decided by 12, 3, and 7 points, respectively, while playing Oakland and Arizona in that span. Obviously, the Ravens are much better than both of these teams, and even though they're at Arrowhead, I think there's a chance they leave with a dub. Their playstyle is perfect for shutting down the Chiefs, as they lead the league in time of possession over the past 3 weeks, which is when Jackson took over. Baltimore is going to pound the rock a million times, which will work against an awful Chiefs' run D, and try to keep Mahomes off the field as long as they can. Even when Mahomes has the ball in his hands this week, I'm not sure he'll put up his typical 4 TD performance against a defense that has allowed more than 2 passing scores ONCE (and it was to Andy Dalton somehow), despite facing Big Ben twice, Drew Brees, Cam Newton, and Matt Ryan. I'm fairly confident the Ravens can keep it within a score and wouldn't be surprised if they leave KC with a W.
NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS (-7.5) @ MIAMI DOLPHINS
PICK: DOLPHINS (+7.5)
There's no denying that the Patriots have struggled against the Dolphins recently. When playing Miami on the road since 2013, the Pats are 1-4. Obviously the Dolphins have nothing offensively that should make them seem threatening, and with Xavien Howard out, their defense may be in shambles, but what have they had recently that made them better than where they're at today? I'm not saying history will repeat itself, but if there's one thing I know, it's that if something has happened before, it MUST happen again. Joking aside, I'll actually rock with the Fins, even if it makes me look like a fool by 4:00 on Sunday.
NEW ORLEANS SAINTS (-7.5) @ TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS
PICK: SAINTS (-7.5)
Tampa beat the Panthers convincingly last week, but there's a huge difference between Carolina and New Orleans. Cam Newton threw 4 picks against this horrible Tampa D, while Drew Brees has 3 interceptions this entire season. Let me ask you this: if the Saints had beaten the Cowboys last week, and the Bucs lost, what would the spread be? Honestly, I don't think New Orleans would be anything less than 16 point favorites. Now, facing a defense that is infinitely worse than what they saw in the Cowboys last Thursday, the Saints should feast. As for the Tampa offense, we all know Jameis can implode at any moment, and I wouldn't be surprised if the Saints make him turn the ball over more than 3 times. Give me the Saints by a million.
NEW YORK GIANTS (-3.5) @ WASHINGTON REDSKINS
PICK: GIANTS (-3.5)
Eli Manning against Mark Sanchez. I wouldn't make my worst enemy watch this QB battle. If I did, though, atleast they'd be able to see Saquon Barkley. I think the G-Men are absolute locks in this spot facing a QB who wasn't in the league 25 minutes ago. Sure, New York's D isn't great, but like Sam Darnold, Mark Sanchez will make any defense look good. The Skins are also relying on 53 year old Adrian Peterson offensively, and although he's looked good, he alone won't help the Skins in overcoming their deficiencies. Their o-line is a mess, their receiving core is a mess, and Mark Sanchez is at the helm. My confidence isn't stemming from the Giants, it's rooted in the incompetence of Washington. This spread isn't big enough, so give me New York.
CINCINNATI BENGALS @ LOS ANGELES CHARGERS (-13.5)
PICK: CHARGERS (-13.5)
The Chargers may have lucked out last week against the Steelers, but they won't need any luck against Cincy come this Sunday. Jeff Driskel is at QB, A.J. Green is on I.R., and their defense is terrible. As for the Chargers, their defense is solidifying as Joey Bosa nears 100% and Phil Rivers is having a career year. Sure, it's a huge spread, but the Bengals have lose by an average of 14.5 points over the past two weeks, despite playing at home in both games and facing the Broncos and Cleveland. Sure, the Broncos may have beaten the Bolts, but LA is still the better team, so they should have no problem doing to Cincy what Denver did to them just a week ago.
DENVER BRONCOS (-5.5) @ SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS
PICK: BRONCOS (-5.5)
The Broncos have been cooking lately, but with recent news of Emanuel Sanders going down with an Achilles injury, this may come to a halt. Sure, their running game has been elite, as Phillip Lindsay has been one of, if not the most, impressive runningbacks this year, and whenever Royce Freeman gets some run, he produces as well, but the rest of their offense leaves a lot to be desired. As far as their passing attack, they're left with Courtland Sutton, Matt LaCosse, and whoever steps up between DeSean Hamilton and Tim Patrick. Going forward, this could be a real problem, but against the 49ers, I'm not too worried. Even if San Fran tries to stop the run, I'm not sure they'd be successful. As for the 9ers' offense, the Denver pass rush will just be too much for Nick Mullens and co. Outside of George Kittle and maybe Dante Pettis, there isn't a trusted receiver in that passing game. To go along with this, their starting runningback is a guy who wasn't playing 4 weeks ago. There's a whole lot of nothing going on in The Bay, so Denver shouldn't have an issue routing them on the road, especially since they need to win out to have any playoff hopes with KC (10-2) and the Chargers (9-3) both in the division.
DETROIT LIONS (-2.5) @ ARIZONA CARDINALS
PICK: CARDINALS (+2.5)
Arizona, led by Josh Rosen, just went into Lambeau and beat the Packers. Let that sink in. Now, they're at home, getting an equally dysfunctional Lions team that is nothing more than a shell of what they once were. I honestly don't want any part of this game. Will I watch? No. Will I regret that? No. Will I even analyze this matchup? No (but maybe a little so I can justifying siding with such a bad team). Well, here goes nothing. The Cardinals are 6th in adjusted sack rate, and over the past 5 weeks, Detroit has allowed 70 pressures (14/week). Sure, they've played the Bears twice over that span and also got the Vikings, but the Cardinals' pass rush isn't all that far off from those teams'. I just think, on the road, Stafford will again be under heavy pressure all game, forcing him to funnel targets the Theo Riddick and Bruce Ellington while Kenny Golladay is locked up by Pat Pete. Let me tell you one thing, folks, you don't win games throwing to Bruce and Theo, even if Arizona is on the other side. I'll side with the home dogs in this one.
PHILADELPHIA EAGLES @ DALLAS COWBOYS (-3.5)
PICK: COWBOYS (-3.5)
Let me lay this out for you very simply: The Cowboys just beat the Saints, and are now coming off a long week, while the Eagles took down Washington and are now on a short week. Sure, Philly won by 15, but Mark MF'n Sanchez was at QB. Now, the Eagles will be tasked with trying to stop an offense that has found its form since trading for Amari Cooper and will try to score against a defense that just held the Saints to 10 points. At home, with this defense, I'm not sure Philly will score more than 17 points, and with Philly's depleted D, I'd expect Dallas to be able to drop 21+. Honestly, I'm surprised that the Cowboys are only 3.5 point favorites, as they bested the Eagles by 7 the last time they played, and that was in Philly. I'll take the Cowboys, and barring any miracles, I don't think it'll be close.
PITTSBURGH STEELERS (-10.5) @ OAKLAND RAIDERS
PICK: STEELERS (-10.5)
Surprisingly, Oakland kept it somewhat close with the Chiefs this past week. Because of this, is there any chance they can repeat a competent performance two weeks in a row? If you're asking me, I'd say no chance. Then again, the Steelers did just play a hard-fought game against the Chargers on Sunday night, so the real question is: does Pittsburgh still have enough in the tank this week, heading into the Black Hole? Outright, I'd say yes. I don't see a scenario where Derek Carr bests the Steel Curtain, but I do worry about the size of the spread. Oakland is typically a tough place to play, but this year, the Rams, Seahawks, Colts, and Chargers all beat them by double digits, despite having their fans in attendance. Because of this, I'll lean with Big Ben, though I'm not all too sure they'll pull away and hold onto this big of a lead.
LOS ANGELES RAMS (-3.5) @ CHICAGO BEARS
PICK: BEARS (+3.5)
This really comes down to whether or not Trubisky plays. If Chase Daniel lines up behind center, Da Bears don't have a chance. His first throw of week 13 went for a pick 6 against the Giants, so if he's at the helm, there's no shot Aqib Talib doesn't house an interception. Sure, Trubisky isn't a safe QB by any means, but he's competent and has proved he's an essential part of this offense moving the ball. With that being said, I'm betting on Mitch suiting up. On the Rams' side, there's no denying they're an elite offense, but they have struggled to pull away from teams that boast upper-echelon defenses. In their two games against Seattle, they won by a combined 7 points, edged out Minnesota by 7, and bested Denver by 3. The Bears have a case for being better than all these teams defensively, and overall, they're the best of the bunch. Even on the road, I'm comfortable siding with Chicago, as long as Trubisky is behind center.
MINNESOTA VIKINGS @ SEATTLE SEAHAWKS (-3.5)
PICK: SEAHAWKS (-3.5)
Are the Vikings even good? Honestly, what have they done this year that inspires any type of confidence? Here are a list of the teams they've beaten: 49ers, Eagles, Cardinals, Jets, Lions, Packers. Of those teams, there is only ONE without a negative record, the 6-6 Philadelphia Eagles. Now, heading into Seattle, I don't think they have any chance. The Seahwaks have been incredible, not losing a game by more than 8 points yet this year, and keeping it within 2 and 5 with the Rams in their two meetings. At home, they've only lost to the Chargers and the Rams, both of which I believe are on a different tier than Minnesota. Wilson could throw 15 passes Monday night, have 4 of them go for 6, and lock up the Vikings' offense on the defensive end. The only chance the Vikings have at winning/covering is if Kirk Cousins plays with any sense of competence, which, at this point, looks highly unlikely.