Tag Archives: week 14

2017 Season: Week 14 Preview

We have hit the fourth quarter of the 2017 regular season and nobody has yet to fully clinch a playoff spot (although for teams like the Patriots and Eagles, it is all but a formality).  That field should change this week, as should the landscape of the league since there are some huge matchups coming as potential playoff previews.  Who will come out on top?  Here are my selections.

Last Week: 8-8

Season: 121-71

Locks: 6-7

Upsets: 3-10

Thursday, December 7th, 8:26 e.t.

New Orleans Saints (9-3) @ Atlanta Falcons (7-5)

This is a big-time game for the Falcons and they are playing it at home on a short week, but unfortunately I do not see them winning and that is because of their defense.  They let Case Keenum complete 25-30 passes last week and can be run on.  That plays right into the Saints’ strengths and that should add up to a sixth loss.

New Orleans 34, Atlanta 27

Sunday, December 10th, 1:00 e.t.

Chicago Bears (3-9) @ Cincinnati Bengals (5-7)

The Bengals’ playoff hopes are alive but they are in it still by a thread.  They do draw a poor Bears team and should roll this week since the Chicago offense has been very bad as of late (putting up just 10 points over the past two weeks).  As long as Dalton and company take care of the ball, they should be fine.

Cincinnati 27, Chicago 13

Indianapolis Colts (3-9) @ Buffalo Bills (6-6)

The Colts have been embarrassed twice this season by the Jaguars and will now have to hit the road to Buffalo to take on a middling Bills’ team.  The big question going in will be the health of Tyrod Taylor.  Buffalo is going to be a desperate team here and regardless of who starts at QB, I think they will win but it will be a squeaker.

Buffalo 17, Indianapolis 14

Dallas Cowboys (6-6) @ New York Giants (2-10)

Back under center goes Eli Manning as the Ben McAdoo and Jerry Reese show has concluded mercifully in New York.  The Giants, at home would be a sexy pick since the team would be playing for pride but I still think they’re in full on tank mode and the Cowboys offensive line is back to its top form.  Dallas should win here.

Dallas 28, New York 14

Green Bay Packers (6-6) @ Cleveland Browns (0-12)

The Packers took down the Buccaneers at home in overtime a week ago and are playing much better team football since getting blasted by the Ravens a couple of games ago.  They should handle a Cleveland team that is on the brink of going 0-16 this season.

Green Bay 26, Cleveland 13

Detroit Lions (6-6) @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers (4-8)

The Lions lost by 24 points last week and you can largely blame it on their defense as they let Joe Flacco and the Ravens look like a competent offense.  On the year, no “D” has been doing that more on a week to week basis than the Buccaneers.  Matthew Stafford will likely gut out his hand injury to lead his team to a win.  Also, the Lions may have something here with Tion Green.  Feed the kid the rock.

Detroit 27, Tampa Bay 20

Minnesota Vikings (10-2) @ Carolina Panthers (8-4)

No team in the NFL is hotter than the Vikings, and I have been burned the past three weeks for picking against them, so I am all done doing that.  They have proven themselves against some of the finer teams in the league and it starts with their defense.  Case Keenum is balling out as well and I think Cam Newton is in for a rough day against the Minnesota front.  Turnovers will sink the Panthers on Sunday while the Vikes play careful with the ball.

Minnesota 19, Carolina 10

San Francisco 49ers (2-10) @ Houston Texans (4-8)

The Jimmy Garappolo show got underway last week and it gave the Niners’ fans hope as he lead the team to a come from behind win in Chicago.  I think he makes it two in a row here because the 49ers have no reason to tank.  They have likely found their franchise quarterback so they can look elsewhere in the draft when a lot of the top picks will be used on signal-callers.

San Francisco 21, Houston 18

Oakland Raiders (6-6) @ Kansas City Chiefs (6-6)

This is as close to a playoff game between two below-average teams as you are going to get in the NFL.  The Chiefs are still continuing a nose-dive while the Raiders have fought their way back to .500 by playing poor teams.  This is hard to pick but I am going to go with the Chiefs because A) They are the home team and B) I think their offense can get back to making some big plays against a bad secondary.

Kansas City 30, Oakland 24

Sunday, December 10th, 4:05 e.t.

Washington Redskins (5-7) @ Los Angeles Chargers (6-6)

This is an interesting game because you have two frisky teams that can play very entertaining contests.  I did want to pick the ‘Skins to win this one but in the end I cannot see their banged up offensive line standing up to Joey Bosa, Melvin Ingram, and company on the road.

Los Angeles 29, Washington 24

Tennessee Titans (8-4) @ Arizona Cardinals (5-7)

The Titans have been getting by with beating bad teams this season.  I think they were exposed by a Pittsburgh team a few weeks ago and the Cardinals are by no means on that level, but I do think they are better than a lot of the teams the Titans have been beating.  At home, I like Arizona to pull off a close win.  (These teams always play close games).

Arizona 24, Tennessee 22 ***UPSET OF THE WEEK***

New York Jets (5-7) @ Denver Broncos (3-9)

I think that the Jets are one of the more fun teams to watch this year and that is about the only reason anybody would want to tune into this game as the Broncos have been pitiful as of late, especially on offense.  A team that gives up 30+ points to the Dolphins gets no respect in this column.  I’m going with the Jets.

New York 23, Denver 10

Sunday, December 10th, 4:25 e.t.

Philadelphia Eagles (10-2) @ Los Angeles Rams (9-3)

The game of the week goes down in L.A. and Philadelphia looks to rebound from just their second loss of the season.  This is a hard game to figure and both teams are tied in scoring the most points in the league yet I think this will be a low scoring affair.  Call me crazy but I think the Eagles defense is the better unit and that will be the difference in an otherwise evenly matched game.

Philadelphia 19, Los Angeles 16

Seattle Seahawks (8-4) @ Jacksonville Jaguars (8-4)

Here is another good afternoon game as the Seahawks who are fresh off of their finest effort of the season take on the Jaguars who just demolished a bad Colt team.  Seattle’s defense played very well and Russell Wilson proved why he should be in the MVP discussion with a win over the Eagles.  Going on the road in December is no problem for this team and this is not a time you want to play Seattle.  They will win handily.

Seattle 24, Jacksonville 6 ***LOCK OF THE WEEK***

Sunday, December 10th, 8:30 e.t.

Baltimore Ravens (7-5) @ Pittsburgh Steelers (10-2)

This is a game that has a little bit of juice to it now since the Ravens have been playing good football (especially on defense) and the Steelers who have been playing some pretty entertaining and close games this season.  That said, Baltimore will be without Jimmy Smith and I just don’t know how they are going to be able to cover Antonio Brown in this game.  Pittsburgh wins the game and the division on this night.

Pittsburgh 27, Baltimore 23

Monday, December 11th, 8:30 e.t.

New England Patriots (10-2) @ Miami Dolphins (5-7)

The Patriots are absolutely rolling right now while the Dolphins have been a joke offensively.  Their defense can frustrate Tom Brady slightly as he will be without Rob Gronkowski for this game but Brady seems to find a way every time despite injuries or takeaways.  Nothing changes as New England should throttle a poor Miami squad.

New England 30, Miami 10

Week 14 Recap: New Orleans Saints @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Final: Tampa Bay 16, New Orleans 11

Jameis Winston
Jameis Winiston throws the ball against the Saints from 12/11/16

The Buccaneers continue their hot streak as the team picked up its fifth consecutive win for the first time since 2002 in a chippy win over the plummeting New Orleans Saints.  The Tampa Bay defense was marvelous in this game, holding their division rivals to just three field goals on offense and clamping down in the red zone on a couple of different occasions against what was the best scoring team within the 20 in football.  Here’s how they did it.

As stated above, the Buccaneer defense deserves almost all of the credit for this win.  Their cornerbacks were all over the New Orleans receivers for almost the entire game.  There was one instance where Brandin Cooks beat them deep in the second quarter for what should have been six, but otherwise the team let up nothing over their heads and were making solid tackles.  Kwon Alexander and LaVante David had big games at linebacker.  David shot the gap and made a nice tackle for a loss at one point in the game and was filling the hole with great regularity alongside his very underrated teammate.  The real star in this game was Gerald McCoy.  McCoy was double-teamed frequently, but still managed to get a couple pressures against what is regarded as one of the better offensive lines in football and he was helpful in slowing the run; something that the Saints have excelled at doing lately.  SS Kieth Tandy was a man on fire in the secondary.  He is the one who officially sealed the win for the Bucs with an interception on fourth down with less than a minute to go in the game, absolutely mugging Willie Snead, but he was all over his assignments all day and had eyes on Brees passes throughout the entire contest.  Holding the Saints to just two field goals in two red zone possessions was huge for Tampa Bay and the biggest reason as to why they won this game.

Saints vs. Buccaneers
Drew Brees threw three picks in back-to-back games for the first time in his career.

New Orleans was, by no means, dynamic on offense in this game, but they did have their chances to score.  There was a play in the second quarter were Brandin Cooks got loose in the secondary and Drew Brees overthrew him.  On that same drive, Travaris Cadet dropped a gimme touchdown that would have brought the Saints to within a point going into the half.  Later, at the end of the third quarter on a third down play, Brandin Cooks let a ball drop right out of his hands to the grass after it was initially ruled a touchdown in the end zone.  Playoff teams make these plays, and the Saints did not and that is why they are sitting at 5-8 with a nearly impossible climb to the post season.  Besides those mistakes, the team combined for a season-high 13 penalties and a disastrous three turnovers.  The offense converted just 30% of their third down tries (4/13) and was 1/2 on fourth down.  A huge reason for the lack-luster offensive performance was a mediocre effort turned in by the New Orleans O-line.  Drew Brees was not afforded great protection and they did not get much of a push for the running game.  The tackle combo of Andrus Peat and Terraun Armstead was not great in this game as they were getting beat one-on-one on the edges with double team focus being put on Gerald McCoy in the middle.  Tampa Bay played a lot of man-to-man early and then switched it up and played a ton of zone in the second half and the 180 in schemes under defensive coordinator Mike Smith really baffled the Saints.

We would be singing the praise of the New Orleans defense had their offense showed up today because they were actually quite good.  Cameron Jordan had his usual impact, completely bowling over Gosder Cherilus at one point in the game.  Delvin Breaux was awesome while he was on the field, although he did leave with an injury during the middle of the game.  The Saints did not bring a ton of pressure in most situations, but they did bring heat when they stuffed the run for the safety in the second quarter.  Keeping seven men in the box was their strategy to stop the run, and it worked well as the Bucs only rushed for an average of three yards per play on 35 tries.  Paul Kruger had a nice game, officially recording two tackles and a QB pressure.  He was a force when rushing the passer and made life tough on the Tampa O-line.  Nick Fairley was an animal in stuffing the run.  He finished the afternoon with six tackles.  In the secondary, the effort of Von Bell, Ken Crawley, Delvin Breaux, and Sterling Moore was remarkable.  Mike Evans, who typically struggles against the Saints, continued that trend as he was held to just four catches for 42 yards.  This was the same player that lit up one of the best secondaries in football a couple of weeks ago in Seattle.

Doug Martin,Stephone Anthony,Nick Fairley
The Saints defense stepped up on Sunday, but unfortunately their offense managed only three field goals in a 16-11 loss.

The Tampa Bay offense got off to a hot start but quickly fizzled out because they were unable to run the ball with great success or create many big plays with the passing game.  Jameis Winston did not score a touchdown in this game for the first time in (possibly) his entire life.  He did, however, make some nice throws under pressure and showed some more tremendous mobility and strength in the pocket.  This kid grows with each start and really seems to be blossoming into one of the league’s better passers.  Charles Sims was actually the better of the two running backs today.  He broke more tackles than Doug Martin and finished with 17 yards on four carries.  Nobody ran the ball particularly well, however, as the longest rush of the game belonged to Jameis Winston.  It officially went for 14 yards.

Special teams played a big role in this contest.  Newly signed Josh Huff did muff a kickoff and the ball squirted out of bounds at the one yard line, leading to the New Orleans safety.  Roberto Aguayo was 3/3 in the kicking game and hit his lone extra point try, which is news considering the awful start that the young Florida State product had to his career.  Brian Anger pinned the Saints inside the five twice in the fourth quarter with excellent punts (along with a brilliant save by Ryan Smith who sold out to keep a punt from going into the end zone).  This really put the New Orleans offense in a tough place and contributed mightily to their eighth loss.

Now that the Saints do have eight losses, the playoffs are nearly impossible.  They will have to win out and hope for a ton of help, so it seems as though they are cooked and will have to play spoiler going forward (perhaps in two weeks when they replay these Bucs).  Tampa Bay keeps pace with Atlanta, who also went to 8-5 with a blowout win over Los Angeles this week.  The good news for the Bucs is if they keep winning they will have a good shot at a wild card spot, if not the division.  They will be tested next week on the road as the team pits their five game winning streak against the team with the best record in football, the Dallas Cowboys.  New Orleans will head to Arizona to play the Cardinals in Week 15.

Ryan Smith
Special teams ace Ryan Smith saves a punt from going into the end zone Sunday versus New Orleans.

The Skinny:

  • The Buccaneers win their fifth straight game for the first time since 2002, largely because of their defense which has allowed an average of 12.8 points per game over that stretch.
  • Jameis Winston does not account for a touchdown for the first time in his career, but he did show some more impressive mobility within the pocket throughout the game.
  • Roberto Aguayo nails three field goals and an extra point without a miss as the rookie seems to be getting back on track for the Bucs.
  • Drew Brees, for the first time in his career, throws three picks in back-to-back games and was held without a touchdown pass for his second consecutive game as he appears to be falling into a bit of a funk.
  • New Orleans had their chances in this game.  Brees overshot Brandin Cooks on a deep throw which would have been six in the second quarter, and then Travaris Cadet dropped a would be touchdown on that same drive while Cooks botched one in the end zone that would have put the Saints in front going into the fourth quarter.
  • The New Orleans defense was not to blame for this loss.  After surrendering a quick 13 points to the Bucs, the Saints defense held Tampa to just three points over the team’s final six drives, including one safety.  They held Mike Evans in check as the star wide-out finished with a line of 4-42-0.

2016 Season: Week 14 Preview

It is Week 14 of the 2016 campaign and there are some quality matchups to look forward to as we forge into the final quarter of the season.  All teams have just four games left to prove themselves and unless your team is the Cowboys you are still shouting at your TV hoping your squad will make it to the dance.  Some teams can lock up playoff spots this weekend.  As for the games, how do I see them playing out?  Here are my picks.matt-ryan

Last Week: 10-5

Season: 105-82

Thursday, December 8th, 8:25 e.t.

Oakland Raiders (10-2) @ Kansas City Chiefs (9-3)

The first game of the week might just be the best matchup.  The #1 seed and AFC West could very well depend on the outcome of this contest.  It’s also a tough one to pick.  I think I will go with the home team here (as I continue to debate this in my own head).  I think they can get pressure on Derek Carr unlike many of the Raiders’ prior opponents, and let’s not forget that they did trail Buffalo 24-9 at one point last week.   That could say a lot.

Kansas City 24, Oakland 19

Sunday, December 11th, 1:00 e.t.

Houston Texans (6-6) @ Indianapolis Colts (6-6)

The AFC South’s fate could very well hinge on this game also.  The Texans, quite frankly, lucked into a win their first time around against the Colts at home but I don’t see that happening again on the road.  I think Indy has really found something with their tight ends and Andrew Luck has really begun to heat up.  The Texans are also struggling to score points, so in the end that will cost them and their team.

Power Pick of the Week: Indianapolis 27, Houston 6

San Diego Chargers (5-7) @ Carolina Panthers (4-8)

The Chargers are probably the better team here, but I think that their loss at home to Tampa Bay took a lot out of them.  It was essentially the needle for their balloon of a season and I see them coming out flat against a Panther team that is likely enraged after getting blasted by Seattle in prime time a week ago.  Injuries are finally starting to catch up to the Chargers and the Panthers could find success running the rock against them.

Carolina 20, San Diego 19

Chicago Bears (3-9) @ Detroit Lions (8-4)

The Lions can make a huge case for a playoff berth with an emphatic home win over the Bears who have actually been a little better lately with Matt Barkley himself leading the team.  Chicago inexplicably won the first contest between these two but that won’t happen twice.  Detroit’s defense has stepped up in a big way over the last month and really helped them get to their current four game winning streak.  I like them to make it five.

Detroit 31, Chicago 13

Washington Redskins (6-5-1) @ Philadelphia Eagles (5-7)

This was going to be my upset of the week but after their effort (if you can call it that) against the Bengals, I’m not sure I can pick Philly to win another game all year with their injured and talent-poor offense.  Their defense has really slacked lately, and even though they are home I’m not sure they can get enough pressure on Kirk Cousins to disrupt his game.  The ‘Skins should sneak out a victory.

Washington 17, Philadelphia 14

Cincinnati Bengals (4-7-1) @ Cleveland Browns (0-12)

I’m looking at Cleveland’s schedule, and if they are going to get a win this year this is their best chance at it: at home against a banged up Cincy team in possible elements.  That said, I don’t know if it is going to happen.  Andy Dalton looked great at home last week and he should not have many issues passing it against the Browns’ secondary.  I do think they are going to want to establish the run after getting stymied last week, and they ran the ball down Cleveland’s throat the first time these teams hooked up.

Cincinnati 24, Cleveland 7

Pittsburgh Steelers (7-5) @ Buffalo Bills (6-6)

This game is, essentially, the Bills’ season and I think they will play like it.  At home Buffalo has been a very different team, and the Steelers are certainly not always the epitome of a great squad when they hit the road.  The Bills could have trouble running the ball against a very fast Pittsburgh team because they are good at stopping outside zone rushes.  That leaves it up to Tyrod Taylor to pass the ball and I’m not sure that that will be the Bills’ best option.

Pittsburgh 27, Buffalo 22

Denver Broncos (8-4) @ Tennessee Titans (6-6)

This is a sneaky good game being played in Tennessee and the great Titan running game will square up with a good Denver defense.  I am scared for the Broncos here because I don’t trust their offense.  Tennessee could pull off a victory here, but in the end I see the Broncos doing enough with their “D” to steal a win.  They might pitch in with a return TD against Marcus Mariota, who is certainly susceptible to giving those kinds of plays up.

Denver 28, Tennessee 21

Arizona Cardinals (5-6-1) @ Miami Dolphins (7-5)

The Cardinals found a way to win at home over a good opponent and will now have to hit the road and do it all over again.  I say they get the job done with their #1 ranked defense.  The Dolphins have had a lot of trouble scoring points against decent “D’s” this year and that trend will continue here.

Arizona 35, Miami 14

Minnesota Vikings (6-6) @ Jacksonville Jaguars (2-10)

The Jags have become everyone’s cupcake each week and are really up against it again this time with another good defense coming to town.  Blake Bortles and company were bewildered by Denver a week ago and I think that will happen again.  The Vikings desperately need a win to keep pace with the Lions and I think they will get it on the road after ten-days rest.

Minnesota 20, Jacksonville 13

Sunday, December 11th, 4:05 e.t.

New York Jets (3-8) @ San Francisco 49ers (1-11)

So here’s an ugly game that is hard to pick.  The Niners looked awful on the road in snowy Chicago last week, but the Jets may have managed to look even worse at home against the Colts on Monday night.  Traveling across the country on a short week won’t bode well for a team that honestly looks like it quit on their head coach.  Also, Colin Kaepernick will be starting here and, before his horrible game against the Bears, he wasn’t awful.  I think the Niners will snap their eleven game losing streak here.

San Francisco 29, New York 19

Sunday, December 11th, 4:25 e.t.

New Orleans Saints (5-7) @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers (7-5)

This is a fun little matchup that has been flexed into the late=afternoon window on FOX.  Are the Bucs for real or are they just on an odd-ball hot streak?  This game will tell us a lot about Tampa Bay because if they are a legitimate threat in the NFC, there should be no problem with them putting N’awleans away.  Their defense has been much better lately and I think they will be the difference in what could be a good game.

Tampa Bay 24, New Orleans 23

Atlanta Falcons (7-5) @ Los Angeles Rams (4-8)

Remember when the Rams were 3-1?  That is ancient history now as the team has dropped seven of their last eight and have been close to unwatchable on offense.  Atlanta, on the other hand, have been a lot of fun to watch and can score points with anybody.  These days it only takes about 17 points to beat L.A. and the Falcons should have no problem going over that mark, even on the road.

Atlanta 34, Los Angeles 17

Seattle Seahawks (8-3-1) @ Green Bay Packers (6-6)

I was going to pick the Packers to win this game, but it is so hard to pick against the ‘Hawks in December, especially after seeing what they did last week to Carolina.  Russell Wilson should have time to stand in the pocket and pick apart this weak Green Bay secondary.  On the other hand, Aaron Rodgers may find it difficult passing on the Seahawks if their pass rush gets cranking.

Seattle 25, Green Bay 20

Sunday, December 11th, 8:30 e.t.

Dallas Cowboys (11-1) @ New York Giants (8-4)

The Cowboys have already clinched a playoff spot and could lock up the NFC East with a win on Sunday.  I think they will get it done, even on the road.  This pick is more on my concern with the Giants offense than anything else.  They have not looked great for most of this season and that does not bode well when you have proud owners of an eleven game losing streak coming to town.  Jason Pierre-Paul, who had really heated up over the last month, will now miss the rest of the regular season for New York.  They are in a tough spot now.

Dallas 30, New York 17

Monday, December 12th, 8:30 e.t.

Baltimore Ravens (7-5) @ New England Patriots (10-2)

Week 14 wraps up with a nice contest between the Ravens and Patriots, who seem to produce a lot of quality games.  Baltimore threw the ball at will against the Dolphins to the point where Joe Flacco had 27 completions in the first half alone.  Insane.  Anyways, they will have to find more balance if they want to hang with the Pats on the road.  Since it is a road game, I don’t like their odds at winning, but they could hang around.  The Patriots might just run the rock like it were the ’80s here also.  This should be a decent game.

New England 28, Baltimore 17

Week 14 Bonus Predictions

Sure Bet of the Week (10-2): Detroit over Chicago

Upset of the Week: Arizona over Miami

Offensive Player of the Week: Antonio Brown, WR, Steelers

Defensive Player of the Week: Harrison Smith, SS, Vikings

Rookie of the Week: Ezekiel Elliot, RB, Cowboys

Best Quarterback: Cam Newton, Panthers

Best Running Back: Carlos Hyde, 49ers

Week 14: Seattle Seahawks vs. Baltimore Ravens Recap

Michael Bennett sacks Jimmy Claussen on Sunday, December 13th.

Final: Seattle 35, Baltimore 6

It was a dominating performance on Sunday as the Seattle Seahawks continued to steamroll the competition by becoming the first team all year to blow out the scrappy Ravens.  Russell Wilson continues to play like a man on fire as he tied his own franchise record that he set just two weeks ago with five passing touchdowns in this game.  He has been provided much better protection and the offensive gameplan has been a lot better over the last month for the ‘Hawks.

Offensively, Seattle is a team to be reckoned with.  Doug Baldwin has scored eight touchdowns in three games for the Seahawks, and at tailback it doesn’t seem to matter much who lines up because they are finding nice holes to run through now that the O-line is coming into its own.  Thomas Rawls, a stud rookie, exited the game in the first quarter with a fractured ankle and is now out for the season.  DuJuan Harris and Fred Jackson stepped in and did a nice job holding down the fort.

The Ravens, on the other hand, have had injuries to deal with all season,

Baltimore wide receiver Jeremy Butler in action.

and had to send Jimmy Claussen out at quarterback.  He wasn’t atrocious but was inaccurate on a number of his throws.  Kamar Aiken had a solid game, nabbing a couple of passes down the field before getting injured in the fourth quarter.  The running game was not great for the home team either as the offense just sputtered for the entire afternoon.  As a fun fact, Jimmy Claussen in twenty drives against the Seattle defense this year (as he played them while a member of the Bears in Week 3) managed to lead his team to just two field goals.

Russell Wilson will get a lot of the credit for this recent offensive explosion for the Seahawks, as he should, but a great majority of those accolades should be soaked up by both the offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell and the offensive line.  The play calls have been much simpler and Wilson has gotten the ball out of his hands quickly, which has really helped this line that had struggled earlier in the year.  They are now starting to find their bearings and are transforming into the most improved unit across the entire NFL this season.

Former Seahawk Chris Matthews tackles Richard Sherman by the hair following his interception on Sunday.

Clearly Seattle is on a role here and its mainly because their offense has matched what the defense has brought to the table.  Michael Bennett had an outstanding game as he was by far the most impressive lineman out there in the game getting a few pressures, a sack, and two tackles for a loss.  The Ravens didn’t flash very much in this game.  As stated above, the only player who had a decent game had to be Kamar Aiken who made five catches for 90 yards on a couple of routes that he popped open on.

Seattle will host Cleveland next week, and their only issue is that they don’t have a solid running back to get behind.  DuJuan Harris played fine in this game, but he’s not the guy you want to hang your hat on for any length of time.  Meanwhile, the Ravens won’t catch a break as they play host to the equally red hot Chiefs, who have won seven straight games.  Final takeaways from this one are that the injuries have made this an unrecognizable Ravens team while the offensive line has returned Seattle back into an elite team in the league.

The Skinny:

Tyler Lockette scoring his second of two touchdowns on the first play of the fourth quarter versus Baltimore
  • In this game, Russell Wilson tied a franchise record he set two weeks ago with five passing touchdowns
  • Wilson is also the first quarterback since the merger to post a 133.5 QBR in four straight games
  • Thomas Rawls exited the game with a broken ankle and will miss the rest of the season
  • Seattle eclipsed 100 yards rushing for the 24th straight game
  • Jimmy Claussen did not look comfortable or confident as he missed a lot of throws and did not handle pressure well
  • Doug Baldwin has scored eight touchdowns over the past three weeks
  • Marc Trestman and the Ravens offense continues to look handicapped with no solid leaders or play-makers at this point in the year

2015 Season: Week 14 Predictions

Last Week: 10-6

Season: 111-81

Thursday, December 10th, 8:30 e.t.

Minnesota Vikings (8-4) @ Arizona Cardinals (10-2)

Arizona 35, Minnesota 14

Sunday, December 13th, 1:00 e.t.

Washington Redskins (5-7) @ Chicago Bears (5-7)

Chicago 21, Washington 17

New Orleans Saints (4-8) @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers (6-6)

New Orleans 31, Tampa Bay 23

San Diego Chargers (3-9) @ Kansas City Chiefs (7-5)

Kansas City 28, San Diego 10

Detroit Lions (4-8) @ St. Louis Rams (4-8)

Detroit 23, St. Louis 8

Indianapolis Colts (6-6) @ Jacksonville Jaguars (4-8)

Jacksonville 20, Indianapolis 16

San Francisco 49ers (4-8) @ Cleveland Browns (2-10)

Cleveland 16, San Francisco 9

Tennessee Titans (4-8) @ New York Jets (7-5)

Tennessee 33, New York 20

Buffalo Bills (6-6) @ Philadelphia Eagles (5-7)

Buffalo 24, Philadelphia 20

Pittsburgh Steelers (7-5) @ Cincinnati Bengals (10-2)

Pittsburgh 25, Cincinnati 18

Atlanta Falcons (6-6) @ Carolina Panthers (12-0)

Carolina 34, Atlanta 16

Seattle Seahawks (7-5) @ Baltimore Ravens (4-8)

Seattle 19, Baltimore 14

Sunday, December 13th, 4:05 e.t.

Oakland Raiders (5-7) @ Denver Broncos (10-2)

Denver 26, Oakland 17

Sunday, December 13th, 4:25 e.t.

Dallas Cowboys (4-8) @ Green Bay Packers (8-4)

Green Bay 30, Dallas 17

Sunday, December 13th, 8:30 e.t.

New England Patriots (10-2) @ Houston Texans (6-6)

New England 22, Houston 20

Monday, December 14th, 8:30 e.t.

New York Giants (5-7) @ Miami Dolphins (5-7)

New York 27, Miami 23

Week 14 Bonus Predictions

Upset of the Week: Tennessee over New York Jets

Sure Bet of the Week (10-2): Arizona over Minnesota

Rookie of the Week: Marcus Mariota, QB, Titans

Offensive Player of the Week: Carson Palmer, QB, Cardinals

Defensive Player of the Week: Ziggy Ansah, DL, Lions

Best Overall Offense: Arizona Cardinals

Best Overall Defense: Detroit Lions

Feel free to leave a comment stating what you think will happen in this weekend’s games!

2014 Season: Week 14 Predictions

December football is back, and so is the final gasp of the NFL season.  We have one quarter of regular season action left and many playoff spots up for grabs, including both wild card spots in each conference (naturally), the AFC North, NFC East, NFC South, and NFC West.  Other divisions are more cut and dry, but each are still in question.  Only Denver and Indianapolis can clinch playoff spots this week, but there are a bunch of games with massive post-season implications taking place this weekend.  It should be fun.  Here are my predictions.

Last Week: 12-4

Thursday, December 4th, 12:30 e.t.

Dallas Cowboys (8-4) @ Chicago Bears (5-7)

The Cowboys and Bears are each coming off of embarrassing Thanksgiving performances against divisional rivals and are looking to rebound this week.  Chicago’s playoff dreams are pretty much dashed, but they can play the role of spoiler at home against a Dallas team that was shredded defensively by Philly’s run game.  Look for Da Bears to attempt to do the same this time around with Matt Forte.  The ‘Boys will counter with a healthy dose of DeMarco Murray and this game could have a good ole fashioned 1950’s feeling to it.  I see Dallas coming out on top though.  I just think their wide receivers will be able to do a number on these Chicago corners and their offensive line will be able to neutralize any pass rush out of Mel Tucker’s unit.  It is December, however, so a collapse from the Cowboys could happen, but I’m thinking not here.

Dallas 26, Chicago 20

Sunday, December 7th, 1:00 e.t.

St. Louis Rams (5-7) @ Washington Redskins (3-9)

The Rams are coming off of a 52-0 thrashing of the Raiders at home and are going to take on a Washington team that gave up 49 points to the Colts last week.  Andrew Luck lit that secondary up for 5 TDs and nearly 400 passing yards last week.  However, that was on the road and Luck > Shaun Hill.  Colt McCoy has shown some promise this year and has made the Redskins look somewhat competent in his appearances.  I give the home team the slight edge here.

Washington 20, St. Louis 13

Indianapolis Colts (8-4) @ Cleveland Browns (7-5)

The Colts boast the highest scoring offense in the league and the #1 offense overall.  This is all on account of Andrew Luck’s right arm; the dude has thrown for 4,011 yards and 34 touchdowns.  He’s on pace to throw for 5,348 yards and 45 touchdowns.  Compare that to the Browns, who barely made the choice to start Brian Hoyer this week over Johnny Manziel.  Cleveland may have the better run game and better defense, but it won’t matter.  Luck is establishing a rapport with T.Y. Hilton, Coby Fleener, and rookie Donte Moncrief that is flat out scary.  They will be tough to stop.

Indianapolis 34, Cleveland 19

Pittsburgh Steelers (7-5) @ Cincinnati Bengals (8-3-1)

The Bengals have been as up and down of an eight win team that you will ever see at this point in the season.  They barely got away with a win in Tampa Bay, and Andy Dalton played another poor game.  However, Cincy tends to play well following a stinker.  On the other hand we have the Steelers who are in the same boat.  This is a team that has looked unstoppable at times this year, but also very vulnerable at others.  Pittsburgh hasn’t played a great game since their win against Baltimore a few weeks back and will need to if they hope to clip the cats on the road here.  I think Ben Roethlisberger turns in a nice performance, as does Dalton.  It will be a rare AFC North shootout, and I trust Big Ben to deliver the goods more than the Red Rifle in this situation.

Pittsburgh 37, Cincinnati 33

Baltimore Ravens (7-5) @ Miami Dolphins (7-5)

Here we have a game with major playoff implications.  The Ravens are still very much alive in their division race, but it is more likely that they will make it to the dance via a wild card spot.  Having already lost to San Diego and Cincinnati (x2), it is critical that they win here.  Miami did not look great on the road in East Rutherford last week, mainly because they were run all over by the Jets.  Had Nick Folk not missed two field goals in that game, the ‘Phins would have dropped that contest.  Justin Tucker doesn’t miss gimme kicks, so the Dolphins can’t rely on that here.  Justin Forsett and friends have enjoyed great run blocking all season, so Baltimore may be able to exploit Miami’s run defense the same way Denver and New York recently has.  I like the Ravens on the road.

Baltimore 28, Miami 20

New York Giants (3-9) @ Tennessee Titans (2-10)

It is very unlikely (with Oakland fighting hard for this honor), but possible that the loser of this game will earn the #1 overall pick in next year’s draft.  The Giants fumbled the game in Jacksonville away last week, surrendering a 21-0 lead to one of the worst teams in the league, so their confidence has to be hurting.  On the same token, the Titans made Ryan Fitzpatrick look like a football god.  Even though New York has been pitiful this season, I am taking them to win this game.  There is no way I can pick a team to win a game after they let Fitzpatrick throw six touchdowns on them.

New York 23, Tennessee 22

Houston Texans (6-6) @ Jacksonville Jaguars (2-10)

The Jaguars got after Eli Manning and stiffened up on their run defense in the second half of last week’s game and will be forced to do the same at home against the Texans.  Unfortunately Arian Foster will have something to say about this.  He rumbles for 133 and two scores as Houston wins back-to-back games for the first time since Weeks 1 and 2.  Also, what are the odds that Blake Bortles plays turnover-free football two weeks in a row?  #notinthislifetime.

Houston 24, Jacksonville 6

Carolina Panthers (3-8-1) @ New Orleans Saints (5-7)

The Panthers were victimized by two blocked punts returned for touchdowns in Minnesota last week.  Otherwise they had a chance against the Vikings.  Will that matter on the road in New Orleans with their season on the line?  I doubt it.  The Saints are coming off of a huge road win in Pittsburgh after dropping three straight at home.  I have a feeling that they are about to go on a run here to end the season.  They blast Carolina in the dome here.

New Orleans 45, Carolina 17

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2-10) @ Detroit Lions (8-4)

Last year during Week 12, this was a trap game for the Lions.  They ended up losing that game 24-21 because of five turnovers.  This year they have to be wary of the same thing at home as the Buccaneers have been known to make things tough on their opponents this year.  That said, I think that Detroit will be better prepared for this contest.  They are coming off of a nine-day layoff and should be plenty ready for this one.  Matthew Stafford seems to have things clicking with both Calvin Johnson and Golden Tate now and that duo will be nearly impossible for Tampa to stop.  Joique Bell will score twice as well, keeping fantasy owners happy.

Detroit 28, Tampa Bay 14

New York Jets (2-10) @ Minnesota Vikings (5-7)

With snow in the forecast for this game, it will come down to who can protect the ball better and who can run the rock with authority.  Even though New York was able to run roughshod on Miami last week, I don’t trust them in this contest.  Outside of stinkers against New England and Detroit, Minnesota has played well at home.  It will be tough for the Jets to come to town and win this one.  Also, who has any confidence that they will be able to hold on to the ball.  They were lucky to only turn the ball over once last week, and won’t be so this week.  I say Geno turns it over twice and someone else on the team fumbles.  Vikings win.

Minnesota 28, New York 15

Sunday, December 7th, 4:05 e.t.

Buffalo Bills (7-5) @ Denver Broncos (9-3)

The Bills are in need of a win on the road against the Broncos, and I can see this game unfolding in one of two ways: they will either play very hard and come up just short or they will get destroyed by Peyton Manning and company.  I like the ladder in this situation because Denver’s defense has been outstanding (for the most part) lately and that offense is as consistent as any other in the business.  The Bills have struggled to run the ball lately and that does not bode well in a game like this.  Peyton throws four touchdowns, two to Julius Thomas who should be back for this one.  If not, then two are going to Jacob Tamme.

Denver 35, Buffalo 17

Kansas City Chiefs (7-5) @ Arizona Cardinals (9-3)

This one (next to Seattle/Philly) is the toughest game to predict this week.  The Chiefs and Cards are each riding two game losing-streaks into this game and need wins in the worst way to spark their confidence.  Arizona was destroyed on the road in Atlanta in a game that was really a lot closer scoreboard-wise than in reality.  Meanwhile, Kansas City should have made their 13 point loss more of a game at home on Sunday night (against Denver).  Their defense was on point for the final 40 minutes of that contest, but their offense sputtered.  This week, their defense will need to stiffen up again because I don’t see their offense having a ton of success in this one.  I really want to pick Arizona to win this game, but I can’t because I simply don’t trust Drew Stanton and the Cardinals have had no running game.  Alex Smith is a winner, and he has a good running game and can make smart decisions with the football.  All of these elements combined lead to a narrow Chiefs win in a low scoring, defensive battle.

Kansas City 14, Arizona 9

Sunday, December 7th, 4:25 e.t.

Seattle Seahawks (8-4) @ Philadelphia Eagles (9-3)

Things are set up well for the winner of this game.  The winner will likely have a first round BYE in the playoffs while the loser will probably have to settle for the three seed (or lower).  In other words, this is a massive contest for each squad.  Philly has not lost at home this year, but they also have not played a team with more than five wins at the Linc yet.  Seattle is the first team they take on that has a winning record on home turf, so they will be tested.  The Seahawk defense has been outstanding lately, but that was against in-division teams that have been struggling on offense.  The Eagles have had no trouble putting up points or moving the ball this year.  Their defense will have their hands full trying to stop Russell Wilson and Marshawn Lynch though.  It is super hard to pick against either of these clubs, but I have to go with Seattle here.  Their defense is physical and Philadelphia’s offense struggles against those types of teams.  They will likely struggle to contain Wilson as well, and that will make a difference.  Either way it will be a good game.

Seattle 27, Philadelphia 25

San Francisco 49ers (7-5) @ Oakland Raiders (1-11)

These two teams combined for three points in total last week, so I am hardly expecting a shootout here.  That said, the 49ers will at least be able to run the ball somewhat in this game, and since they are in desperate need of a win to keep pace in the NFC playoff race, they will get it in Oakland.  The Raiders were destroyed by St. Louis last week and I think San Fran is slightly better than them.  They should not have much trouble picking up the “W” as long as Colin Kaepernick doesn’t make silly mistakes with the football.

San Francisco 27, Oakland 10

Sunday, December 7th, 8:30 e.t.

New England Patriots (9-3) @ San Diego Chargers (7-4)

Philip Rivers was at his best when his team needed him most last week, and he will have to be again here as the Patriots come to town having just lost a close one to Green Bay.  Tom Brady was marvelous in that game and seems to be getting more and more comfortable with the Gronk-Edelman-LaFell combo at receiver.  Who on San Diego is going to be able to cover Gronkowski?  I got my money on nobody.  For the Chargers, they have an interesting selection of receivers as well.  Philip Rivers will have his choice of Keenan Allen, Antonio Gates, Eddie Royal, and Malcolm Floyd on Sunday night.  You can bet that Bill Belichick and company will do everything they can to neutralize Allen and Gates, so Royal and others will have to step up big.  It would help if Ryan Mathews ran for over 100 in this one too, but I don’t think he will.  I think the Bolts can win this game, but it is asking too much on their secondary players for them to do so.  It is easier to just stand behind New England, coming off of a tough loss.

New England 30, San Diego 20

Monday, December 8th, 8:30 e.t.

Atlanta Falcons (6-5) @ Green Bay Packers (2-9)

The Packers have been as close to unstoppable at home as any team in recent memory.  Aaron Rodgers is far ahead of anybody else in MVP voting this season (Andrew Luck is second, if you wanted my opinion), and he will continue to roll at home against an Atlanta defense that has been horrible at times this year.  Furthermore, the Falcons don’t even need a win in this game.  Sure, the “W” would help, but since they already have a win over the Saints this year, I think their season is going to come down to their Week 16 match-up with them regardless of their next two games.  With that said, it is actually realistic to think that this game means more for the Packers as they are trying to earn the #1 seed in the NFC.  No way do they choke away this opportunity with a healthy #12 running that offense.  Packers roll in Lambeau on Monday Night.

Green Bay 41, Atlanta 24

Week 14 Bonus Predictions

Upset of the Week: Pittsburgh over Cincinnati

Sure Bet of the Week: Detroit over Tampa Bay

Rookie of the Week: Mike Evans

Offensive Player of the Week: Rob Gronkowski

Defensive Player of the Week: J.J. Watt

Best Overall Offense: New Orleans Saints

Best Overall Defense: Kansas City Chiefs

Feel free to leave a comment stating what you think will happen in this weekend’s games!

Week 14: Chicago Bears 45, Dallas Cowboys 28- Post Game Thoughts

The Dallas Cowboys’ defense was exposed once again in a windy city beatdown courtesy of the Chicago Bears.  On the night that Mike Ditka’s number was retired, dah Bears won in an old fashioned way; the way that Bears teams in the past would have won… okay, maybe not so much.  They scored on every one of their drives (minus the kneel-down to end the game), and their defense played better.  Obviously they still have a long way to go though.  DeMarco Murray went nuts on them in the first half and was exploding on to the second level with great consistency.  This rush defense really needs to be shored up if the Bears hope to make a run towards the playoffs.  Two of their next three opponents can run the ball very well (with the exception of Cleveland, whom they will play next week).  If Chicago cannot stuff the run, it will be tough for them to hang in games like they did on Monday night.  Let’s be honest, they will not be playing the Dallas defense every week, so Josh McCown cannot expect to just heave the ball up for grabs in the end zone like he did on a couple of occasions (like that score he lobbed to Alshon Jeffery; sweet catch, by the way).  On the other side, the Cowboys simply must get better on defense if they hope to keep pace with the Eagles in the NFC East.  They are now one game behind them, however since they were able to defeat them in Philly earlier this year they still hold the tie breaker, meaning that the ‘Boys still control their own destiny.  We shall see how this defense responds next week when the (likely Aaron Rodgers-less) Green Bay Packers come to town.  To me, it was clear that their defense let them down in Chicago.  Offensively they are a solid group, but that “D” is embarrassing to watch on a weekly basis.  Injuries do play a huge part in this, but the great teams still find ways to cope regardless.