Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Week 14 NFL Picks: Sick, Sick, Sick

A few things you should know about this week's picks, folks. First off, I'm ill (nothing too serious, feeling better than I was last night or this morning). Secondly, if I was truly good at this, my season won-loss record would be a lot better than what it is. Third, my fantasy team is another poor week away from circling the bowl. Fourth and last, my real-life laundry makes me sick to my stomach, to the point where I'm actively looking forward to the end of the season.

So, no quips, no jocularity, the fast in-out in-out. Sounds like fun? It won't be. And with that... on to the picks!

* * * * *

Cleveland at PITTSBURGH (-14.5)

Have you seen any evidence that this Browns' team can score, say, 17 points on the road at night? I haven't. And since the Steeler defense has been making up for lost time on takeaways, this could get ugly with a quickness. Even if it doesn't, the Steelers have too many weapons on offense for this to be that close, and they need the game. While division games can be close, I'm just not feeling it here... and if Pitt wasn't 0-2 against the Ravens this year, people would be liking them a lot more than they are.

Steelers 31, Browns 10

HOUSTON at Cincinnati (-3)

I'd like the Bengals a lot more here if QB Andy Dalton wasn't dinged up in last week's game against the Steelers. While he's likely to make this start, I wonder about his effectiveness, and without him behind center, the not very feared Bengal running game becomes downright laughable. Houston's going to run it a lot with rookie QB TJ Yates, but it's their defense that's really going to win this game.

Texans 17, Bengals 10

Minnesotat at DETROIT (-7)

Boy, have the Lions had a bad couple of weeks or what? The national spotlight has not been kind to the New Raiders, who have snarled and hissed more than a pantomime villain in highly seen losses to the Packers and Saints. But this week, they get dome sweet dome against a Vikings team that lost its heart to Savior Tebow last week. Oh, and also this: the Vikings have won two games this year.

Lions 30, Vikings 20

NEW ORLEANS at Tennessee (+4)

Time for the Saints to step up and win a tough road game, and while the Titans don't look as strong as they did a few months ago, they still qualify for a dome team with a speed and mirrors defense. But this line is too light for a team with these weapons, and the Titans are too turnover-prone to keep up in a race. It's a tight cover, but it's a cover.

Saints 27, Titans 20

Philadelphia at MIAMI (-3)

Wow, will you look at that -- the Eagles are finally a road dog! Just, oh, two months too late. A shame, really; I feel like a great value has been lost. Oh, and take the Dolphins anyway, seeing how they actually have heart, a running game and a defense, and you only need one of those three things to beat the Birds. (And if the road team wins by 30 with Mike Vick having a triumphant return for the 12 fantasy owners that have him on their roster and are still alive? That's a loss, since it's just more fuel to the Andy Reid Is Coach For Life fire. We're much better off, as Eagles fans, with another form of fire.

Dolphins 23, Eagles 17

Kansas City at NY JETS (-9)

Oh, poor Chiefs Fan... you were so close to avoiding any further look at the Tyler Palko Era. But then Kyle Orton had to break his finger on his only play from scrimmage last week in Chicago, a wildly improbable 10-3 win. This week in New York. they won't be lucky enough to cash in on a Hail Mary pass, or find Mark Sanchez and the Jets OL nearly as pliable as Caleb Hanie and the Bears.

Jets 24, Chiefs 6

NEW ENGLAND at Washington (+9)

Last week, I guided you to the easy money that was a garbage time Colts cover against the home town Patriots. So why am I going with the big favorite here? Because Coach Belicheat puts the hammer down harder on the road. Because Rex Grossman is, actually, a worse QB than Dan Orlovsky. And because Skins Fan so hates his team, and will happily sell tickets to many people taking Amtrak from Boston, who will go home very happy at the end of the day.

Patriots 38, Redskins 24

ATLANTA at Carolina (+3)

Yes, the Panthers are better than their record, and that performance last week against the Bucs, when they more or less punked their division rivals from the first quarter on, was impressive. I just don't see how they do it for two weeks in a row. There's a reason why this run defense has been so bad, and the Falcons are better at running the ball anyway.

Falcons 24, Panthers 20

TAMPA BAY at Jacksonville (+1)

Which team do you like here -- the one that won't tackle and is one of the bigger disappointments in the league, or the team that's working on their second coach, and who just laid a massive turd on national television with a short work week? Watching, or betting, on this game should qualify as community service.

Bucs 20, Jaguars 13

INDIANAPOLIS at Baltimore (-17)

The Dan Orlovsky Losing With Honor Tour continues! Even if the Ravens take the game seriously -- never a sound bet with these people -- the Colts have shown a pulse even while down, and they have enough weapons to take advantage of a suspect Ravens secondary, especially in garbage time. Besides, it's not as if the Ravens aren't capable of howlingly bad losses to teams they should roll.

Ravens 24, Colts 17

Chicago at DENVER (-3.5)

Tebow's a home favorite! Woo hoo! And might not be the worst QB in this game, since Caleb Hanie showed absolutely nothing last week at home. Why he should do better on the road, at altitude, against a team that has had a defensive resurgence before last week's trip in Minnesota... well, I'm not seeing it. So long as the Broncos don't turn it over and don't kick it to Devin Hester, they are going to win this game. And the AFC West. Decades from now, no one will understand why a first-round playoff loser who got stomped into the ground got this much play, but for now, let the Jebus Times roll.

Broncos 20, Bears 13

San Francisco at ARIZONA (+4)

The 10-2 division winners are bound for a stumble, and this is a tough road game for many clubs. Against a Cardinals team that's shown some teeth on defense and got QB Kevin Kolb a win last week after he shook off first half rust, I don't like their chances. Especially now that it's becoming overwhelmingly obvious that they don't have that much to play for.

Cardinals 24, Niners 17

OAKLAND at Green Bay (-11.5)

First off, no, the Raiders can't and won't win this game. But the Packers are the kind of team -- not patient with the run, up and down the field with special teams mattering, not familiar with their ways -- that they can stay with. And if Darren McFadden hadn't murdered every fantasy team in America with his two-month siesta, I might even like their chances to win here. But instead, it'll just be a hard fought cover, and more tape for the Pack's future opponents as they try to subvert perfection. At this point, given the way that QB Aaron Rodgers is playing, I think perfection is the even money bet. But not every cover.

Packers 34, Raiders 24

Buffalo at SAN DIEGO (-7)

Boy, this number is too high... but the Chargers look *good* on offense when they finally have their top three WRs in the game, and it's not as if the Bills, with the exception of that good effort game in New Jersey a few weeks ago, have been road warriors. I'll take the home favorites and hate it.

Chargers 27, Bills 17

NEW YORK at Dallas (-3)

The battle for the NFC East sounds like it should matter, but really doesn't; either of these teams is going to be lucky to escape Wild Card Weekend, and should lose as soon as they go on the road. But under the SNF lights, it will seem to be a big game anyway. Give me the road team, who showed more than a sign of a pulse in last week's game against the Packers, and just might be recreating that Perfectriot year.

Giants 24, Cowboys 20

St. Louis at SEATTLE (NL)

The Rams could be playing a QB (Tom Brandstater) that no one has ever heard of, and that includes members of his immediate family. They weren't good with their front line QBs. They get a Seahawks team that can run the ball, hit on defense, and plays well at home. This is also, somehow, a nationally televised game. No, seriously!

Seahawks 23, Rams 10

Last week: 9-7

Year to date: 96-89-5

Career: 501-494-22

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