Thursday, December 10, 2009

NFL Week 14 Picks

AP Photo/Nick Wass

Two undefeated teams left. Will they both come out unscathed again after this weekend?

Some huge matchups with playoff implications this week, including Dolphins-Jaguars, Giants-Eagles, and Chargers-Cowboys. Bengals-Vikings is also bound to be a great game.

Who do you think will win this week? Which on the bubble teams do you think has a good chance at making the playoffs?

Pittsburgh (6-6) at Cleveland (1-11)

Pittsburgh is banged up, both literally and metaphorically. Four straight losses. Hines Ward, Ben Roethlisberger, Rashard Mendenhall, and William Gay are all not 100%. Troy Polamalu is out and unsure whether he’ll be back at all this season.

They’ve lost to bad teams such as Kansas City and Oakland.

Cleveland, however, has no weapons at running back or receiver, Brady Quinn is still not settled in as the starting quarterback, and the defense is banged up. There’s really nothing to look at with this Browns team that is encouraging.

Pittsburgh wins.

New Orleans (12-0) at Atlanta (6-6)

Michael Turner didn’t play again last week and is listed as questionable this week. Even worse is that Matt Ryan is unlikely to play again. Chris Redman is not a viable replacement. Atlanta’s defense is not good enough to keep them in the game against Drew Brees and company.

Saints stay undefeated.

Green Bay (8-4) at Chicago (5-7)

Green Bay has come alive, winning four straight games, scoring an average of 27 points and allowing an average of only 14.25 points.

Chicago meanwhile, before beating a horrendous St. Louis team last week (against whom they still only managed to score 17 points) had lost their previous four games, scoring an average of 14.25 points per game and allowing an average of 27.75 points per game.

The key here is quarterback play. Aaron Rodgers ranks in the top ten of all the major passing statistics and has only thrown seven interceptions.

Jay Cutler ranks first in the NFL in interceptions. The Packers do a great job of rushing the passer and stopping the run. They will make Cutler pay.

Packers win.

NY Jets (6-6) at Tampa Bay (1-11)

No Mark Sanchez for the Jets. However, they still have Thomas Jones at running back, who is fifth in the chase for the league rushing title, has rushed for nine touchdowns, and has only fumbled the ball twice. Against the second to worst run defense in the league, the Jets should make it out without too much of an issue.

Jets win.

Miami (6-6) at Jacksonville (7-5)

This game is going to have huge playoff implications. The Dolphins are chasing the Jaguars in the hunt for a wild card spot.

Last week Miami upset the Patriots and have some momentum swinging their win. Had it not been for their misstep against the Bills in week 12, Miami would be sitting pretty.

In Chad Henne’s six wins this season he has thrown only two interceptions. In his four losses, he’s thrown six interceptions.

The Jaguars have a great record at home (5-1) and against conference opponents (6-2). However, the do not put much pressure on the quarterback and cause opposing offenses to make mistakes. They are last in the league in sacks (12), tied for 12th in interceptions caused (12), tied for 21st in fumbles forced (10), and tied for 21st in fumbles recovered (7). Their pass defense is also ranked 23rd in the league.

Also going to factor into the game is not selling the game out. Approximately 9,000 tickets remain, and they are playing an in-state team, whose own fans could make the trip up.

Without a strong fan support behind them and a lack of ability to force the quarterback to make mistakes, Chad Henne could be in for another big game, following up his career-best last week against a stronger Patriots team.

Miami wins.

Detroit (2-10) at Baltimore (6-6)

Detroit is last in the league against the pass and their offense will be without number one overall draft pick Matthew Stafford.

Baltimore needs this game to stay in the playoff hunt. It should not be a difficult victory to achieve.

Ravens win.

Seattle (5-7) at Houston (5-7)

Seattle is in the bottom ten against the pass while Houston’s air attack is the fourth best in the league.

Seattle only has one win on the road and there is no reason to believe they will get their second on Sunday.

Houston wins.

Denver (8-4) at Indianapolis (12-0)

Denver has the second ranked pass defense in the NFL based on yards allowed. They also have good records on the road (4-2) and against conference opponents (6-3). They have only allowed one more point against than the Colts.

The biggest worry is that the Colts offense is more powerful than Denver’s. However their run defense is very modestly ranked 18th in the league based on yards against.

Denver’s rush attack is ranked ninth in the league and rookie Knowshon Moreno is ranked 13th in the league in rushing yards.

It will not be easy, but if Denver can punch the ball into the end zone, and limit Peyton Manning’s touches by controlling the clock with their run game, the Broncos could very well be the first team to beat Indy in 22 tries.

I’ll pick the Broncos to upset the Colts.

Buffalo (4-8) at Kansas City (3-9)

Not a very entertaining game here. Both teams are bad against the run and do not score very often. Both teams are unsettled at every position except for running back.

Jamaal Charles has played well since becoming the number one back for Kansas City, however he did leave last week’s game with a shoulder injury. He returned, but he is still banged up.

Buffalo’s overall defense is better and they are a better road team than the Chiefs are a home team.

Bills win.

Cincinnati (9-3) at Minnesota (10-2)

This looks like the game of the week.

The Vikings have one of the league’s best offenses, but the Bengals have one of the league’s stingiest defenses.

Minnesota is undefeated (6-0) at home, but the Bengals are a very good 4-1 on the road.

Cincinatti’s rush defense is one of the best in the league. They have only allowed on running back to reach 100 yards, and only four have gotten as many as 50 in a game. Their passing defense is also very respectable, ranked 12th in the league based on yards allowed.

And isn’t it time for Brett Favre’s late season decline? What better opponent than a tough Bengals D?

Bengals win.

Carolina (5-7) at New England (7-5)

All of New England is in disarray after such disappointing play the past four weeks.

They are undefeated at home however, and the Panthers are nowhere near the level of the Dolphins, Saints, and Colts—the Patriot’s last three losses.

Patriots win.

Washington (3-9) at Oakland (4-8)

Somehow, Oakland has a better record than Washington, despite being outscored (200-142, second fewest in the NFL) and giving up more points (282-238).

However, Washington is winless on the road, and the Raiders had a huge win over the Pittsburgh Steelers last week.

I’ll take Oakland for the victory.

St. Louis (1-11) at Tennessee (5-7)

Vince Young suffered his first loss of the season as a starter last week, but there is no shame in losing to the Colts. The Titans did keep it close and exciting for the most part.

Tennessee should bounce back nicely against a very bad Rams team.

Tennessee wins.

San Diego (9-3) at Dallas (8-4)

San Diego is 15-0 in their last 15 games in December. The Cowboys? Well it is well documented that they are abysmal in December. In their last eight games in December they have scored only 14.8 points per game.

San Diego is third in the NFL in points scored and are on a seven game win-streak.

Chargers win.

Philadelphia (8-4) at NY Giants (7-5)

The Eagles are a good road team (4-2) and have allowed fewer points than the Giants (235-285). Brian Westbrook returned to practice, but LeSean McCoy has been a very good replacement. Receiver DeSean Jackson has been upgraded to probable. Jackson’s return will boost an already strong offense.

The Eagles have outscored the Giants (327-303). In ten of their 12 games this season, the Eagles have scored at least 20 points, and have scored at least 30 five times.

The Giants have given up at least 20 points eight times, and in their five losses they have given up an average of 31.8 points per game.

The last time these two teams met, the Eagles trounced the Giants 40-17.

The Eagles will complete the season series sweep on Sunday.

Arizona (8-4) at San Francisco (5-7)

Arizona was very impressive in their road victory over a very tough Vikings team last Sunday night. They are rolling, having won four of their last five games. They have outscored the 49’ers 297-245 and have only given up one more point (234-233). They are 5-1 on the road, 3-1 against the division (that one loss coming in week 1 against San Francisco, so you can be sure they will be looking to avenge that loss), and are 6-2 in the conference.

After starting out so hot, San Francisco has stalled tremendously, losing six of their last eight games, culminating in a very disappointing division loss to Seattle, their first division loss of the season.

The 49’ers have struggled to put up points this year, and that ability to do so is crucial against a loaded offense like Arizona’s.

Cardinals win.

Last week: 9-7

Season: 108-52

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