NFL Week 14 Picks
No intro this week, let’s get right to the picks, which as always are done in cooperation with my friend Ryan
Week 13: 7-9
Week 13: 8-8
Indianapolis @ Baltimore (-16.5)
Ryan: Two factors at play in this one: first, Dan Orlovsky is MUCH MUCH better than Curtis Painter. A cynic would suggest that the Colts’ coaching staff and front office knew this but kept running out Painter until the Colts were hopelessly behind (in front of?) the second worst team in the Andrew Luck sweepstakes. The second is that the Ravens have a track record of not getting up for games like this one. They almost assuredly won’t lose but I also don’t see them trying hard (real hard) enough to cover this spread. Colts cover.
PS – Peyton Manning’s contract makes a trade prohibitive; he is due a $28 million dollar roster bonus before the start of the next league year and trading him causes a 2012 cap charge of $38.8 million. Unless he re-works his contract, which would be a glaring act of self-un-interest (explanation forthcoming), he is either going to be cut before next season or will be on the Colts with Andrew Luck.
This was an unbelievable negotiating coup on the part of Manning’s agent Tom Condon because it means that Manning will get to choose where he plays next, cherrypicking either the best contender, highest bidder, or both instead of having to play for whoever will give the Colts the best value in return as Brett Favre had to do when the Packers traded him to the Jets. Also, the team that Manning goes to will not have to give up a draft pick to get him. This should make a marginal difference in his ability to contend. My guess is that the highest bidder is the Redskins. Taking a quick look around the league, though, Manning’s best chance to contend would come from the Texans, Jets, 49ers, Ravens, or Seahawks.
PPS – It is incredibly disrespectful to Aaron Rodgers, who has strikingly beautiful eyes, that the new NFL Magazine named Peyton Manning its MVP. Let’s ignore the fact that this is a blatant move on the part of the magazine to call attention to itself and its launch and focus on the bulletin board material it can provide Rodgers in his game against the Raiders on Sunday. NO ONE BELIEVES IN YOU AARON, EVEN THOUGH EVERYBODY IS SAYING YOU ARE HAVING A HISTORICALLY BRILLIANT SEASON, SOME PEOPLE STILL THINK OLD LEMONFACE, (Asif: I prefer Fetushead) WHO ISN’T EVEN PLAYING, IS MORE VALUABLE THAN YOU ARE.
Asif: Lost in the sea of Colts suckage is the fact that I’m not convinced that they’d be that good even with Peyton Manning playing. Sure they’d have won a few games and might be contending for a playoff spot, but Manning probably wouldn’t make up for the fact that their defense is terrible (32nd in DVOA, 32nd in Passing, 28th in Rushing via Football Outsiders); Dwight Freeney’s days as a premium pass rusher appear to be over. Hey, want to see a picture that will make you want to punch a baby? No? Too bad, you’re going to anyways:
DIE DIE DIE DIE. By the way, that fat ginger, 14-year old Colts fan is the worst thing I have ever seen. God, I can’t wait for Andrew Luck to Elway (or Eli) these mouth-breathing buttplugs. Colts cover, but only because there’s no way I’m trusting the Ravens with a spread larger than two touchdowns.
Oakland @ Green Bay (-11.5)
Ryan: That bulletin board material I just referenced, along with the fact that they are pretty good, is going to lead the Packers to win this game 42-10.
This is the time of year when weather starts to become a factor for games at Lambeau. While the Packers’ finesse offense isn’t necessarily built for the cold, at least they have to practice in it. When a team that plays in balmy weather has to travel to Green Bay in the cold, the Packers will have an advantage. The forecast calls for a high of 36, but expect that to dip in the second half as the sun sets. Packers cover.
Asif: I wouldn’t call Oakland balmy, but compared to Green Bay it might as well be Arizona. The Packers showed some cracks against the Giants, specifically that their defense is vulnerable to the big play, something that Oakland does very well. That said, I’m picking the Packers to cover. Semi-related note: does Clay Matthews douse himself with water on the sidelines more than any other player in NFL history? Is he doing this just so he can get a shampoo commercial like Troy Polamalu? (Ryan: He’s one step ahead of you). It seems like a really good way to catch a cold.
Houston @ Cincinnati (-3)
Ryan: Even with TJ Yates starting at quarterback, Houston is immensely undervalued. They beat a pretty legit Falcons squad last week more convincingly than the 17-10 score. The Bengals have given up over 100 yards rushing each of the past four weeks which bodes well for Houston’s ball control strategy with Arian Foster and Ben Tate.
Cincinnati still hasn’t come back down to Earth in the minds of bettors, even after getting thumped 35-7 by the Steelers last week. Unfortunately for Bengals fans, it looks like this team peaked too soon. Texans cover.
Asif: I don’t think the Bengals peaked too soon, the truth is that they’ve had an extremely lopsided schedule (much like the Giants) with a lot of cupcakes early and a gauntlet late in the season. Here is what they are: a young team with a solid defense, a good running game and a game-breaking receiver. They’re still in line for the final playoff spot in the AFC and I do think that they’re a better team than their main competition to make the postseason (Titans, Jets, Raiders). That said, I think Houston covers here. TJ Yates doesn’t look awful, especially since he’s protected by the Texans steamroller running game.
Kansas City @ NY Jets (-9.5)
Ryan: The Chiefs have been feisty the last two weeks; they beat the Bears in Chicago and only lost by four to the Steelers. Their defense can absolutely keep them in this game. I think that the Jets will win but I don’t trust Mark Sanchez to cover a spread this high in the cold. Chiefs cover.
Asif: Kansas City is more than capable of playing the Jets close, especially if Kyle Orton is starting. There’s no way that I’m taking Mark Sanchez as a 9.5-point favorite in bad weather. Chiefs cover.
Minnesota @ Detroit (-8)
Ryan: Even though Adrian Peterson is probably going to miss this game, the Lions are too undisciplined to trust with a line this high. They are in consummate free fall mode and may well pull this one out but I don’t see them doing it by more than one score.
The Vikings have been hanging around in their games the last two weeks; they squandered their game against the Tebows last week and should have covered against Atlanta but inexplicably went for it on 4th down, down 10, instead of kicking a field goal to make it within one score. Vikings cover.
Asif: Question: is Christian Ponder actually good or does he just appear good because he replaced Donovan McNabb? He seems to pass the eye test, but Football Outsiders has him at -16 DYAR (Defense adjusted yards above replacement), down in Vince Young/Kerry Collins territory. For comparison’s sake, McNabb was at 129 DYAR with about half as many passing attempts. If you’re looking for more traditional stats, Ponder has been less accurate than McNabb (56% vs. 60%) and has a worse TD/INT ratio (9/8 vs. 4/2). So maybe switching QBs wasn’t a slam dunk for the Vikings? (Edit: As Ryan pointed out in our “business meeting,” McNabb had Adrian Peterson so may have benefited from defenses stacking the box. Also, McNabb should be expected to play better than a rookie.) I can’t believe I just wrote that paragraph.
At first this line seemed high, but after actually looking at Ponder’s performance and factoring in the fact that Purple Jesus will likely be out, I have to go with the Lions.
New Orleans (-3.5) @ Tennessee
Ryan: Doesn’t this line seem like it is blatantly too low? The Saints have covered four games in a row and won five of their last six (the one loss was to the Rams which makes absolutely no sense).
The Titans haven’t beaten anyone over .500 since the Ravens Week 2 (I’m not counting the Broncos BT*). I remain thoroughly unconvinced that they are any good. This week should confirm or deny my suspicions. Saints cover.
Asif: This line is about seven points too low for my liking. Gun to my head, I’d say the Saints are probably the best team in the NFL right now. Yes, better than the Packers if for the simple reason that their defense has looked better than Green Bay’s in recent weeks and their offense is more balanced. Saints cover.
Miami (-3) @ Philadelphia
Ryan: We can now say, with conclusive evidence, that the Eagles just suck. I apparently broke off the Dolphins train a little too early last week because they destroyified the Raiders and are still undervalued against this putrid Eagles team. Dolphins cover.
I spend enough time tooting my own horn for broad predictions I somehow manage to get right so it’s only fair to acknowledge that I was SUPREMELY incorrect in my assertion that Vince Young is not an awful quarterback. I apologize but it will probably happen again (me getting a prediction wrong).
Asif: Michael Vick will be starting this game, not that it makes an iota of difference, because he can’t play linebacker, or offensive line, or create a defensive scheme, or manage the clock properly from the sidelines. I can barely suppress my glee at how badly the Eagles have sucked this year. Miami covers.
New England (-8) @ Washington
Ryan: I am now 1-2 in my pick blindly against Washington campaign. ALMOST BACK TO EVEN! I don’t care how many wide receivers the Patriots are starting on defense, the Redskins gave up 34 points to the Jets last week. Patriots cover.
Asif: To further Ryan’s point, the Over/Under for this game is 48 points and I’m betting the over. Patriots cover.
Atlanta (-2.5) @ Carolina
Ryan: I can’t get a good feel on the Panthers; I’m 4-7-1 picking their games this season. When I zig, they zag. I picked against them in last week’s game against the Buccaneers and it was one of those games where I knew within five minutes that I had gotten it wrong. So frustrating when that happens.
It would seem to me, given that this game is important for them to maintain their wild card pole position, the Falcons will come out and win this game. Falcons cover.
Asif: Another line that just seems off. Carolina does have upset potential, but there’s also blowout potential on the other side especially since the Falcons will be looking to redeem themselves after a poor performance last week. I just think the Falcons are better here so Atlanta covers.
Tampa Bay (PK) @ Jacksonville
Ryan: Like my shower, which I griped about in a previous NFL pick, the dryer in my basement is wildly inconsistent. On medium intensity, sometimes my clothes will come out scalding and sometimes they will come out still damp. I’m not sure which is worse but neither is ideal. When they are scalding, they are impossible to fold without BURNING yourself in that five minute window you have to get the job done before they become irrevocably wrinkly. If they come out damp this means another $1.50. Now that I’ve thought more about it, the worst case scenario is when they come out damp but I don’t have enough quarters left to run it again. That is DEVASTATING.
Tampa wins this featured match-up on the Black Zone Channel.
Asif: Derp bowl. I’m picking Jacksonville. Just cause.
San Francisco (-4) @ Arizona
Ryan: Could this line possibly be real? *Looks it up on Bodog* Yep! Free money! On the always outstanding BS Report with Cousin Sal, it was pointed out that the Rams didn’t get inside the 49ers 35-yard line once all last week. The Rams are transcendently terrible but that only goes so far in explaining such a dismal performance. The 49ers defense is legit and this team doesn’t have anywhere near enough respect. 49ers cover.
Asif: Fun story… when doing my first run through these picks I didn’t read this match-up closely and wrote a rant about how much Sam Bradford sucks (don’t worry it’s still here, just in its proper place). Still, Kevin Kolb sucks too. This line is a joke. 49ers cover.
Chicago @ Denver (-3.5)
Ryan: This is another one of those lines that looks like free money. I don’t care how ugly it looks but the fact of the matter is the Denver Tebows win football games. In all seriousness, though, the thought of Von Miller and Elvis Dumervil chasing an already-skittish Caleb Hanie around all day makes this my deadbolt lock of the week. Broncos cover.
Asif: I love the fact that Von Miller is trying to bring back the black nerd look with his glasses, while simultaneously rocking a neck tattoo…
Buffalo @ San Diego (-7)
Ryan: This is a tough one to pick because I’m not buying a Chargers renaissance after they beat the just-fired-their-coach Jaguars but, on the other hand, the Bills have dropped five in a row and which would look even worse if it was possible to lose games more than once. The Chargers have been overvalued all season, though. Bills cover.
Asif: The Bills are in full collapse mode and I’m starting to talk myself into the Chargers pulling off a winning streak — last 4 vs. Bills, vs. Baltimore, @ Detroit, @ Oakland, all winnable — that improbably saves Norv Turner and AJ Smith’s jobs and ensures that San Diego remains delightfully mediocre for another two seasons minimum. Or maybe not, either way, it’s going to be fun when Philip Rivers’ head explodes. San Diego covers.
NY Giants @ Dallas (-3.5)
Ryan: Watching them closely against the Packers last week, the Giants are ready to fight this out. The Cowboys, meanwhile, have some trouble staying out of their own way. In four of their five losses this season, they have led in the fourth quarter. Jason Garrett doesn’t trust Tony Romo with the game on the line (I’m not sure I would either but that’s never a good scenario).
Sort of bold prediction: The Giants beat the Cowboys twice in the next four weeks to win the NFC East. Giants cover.
Asif: After the timeout-pocalypse in Dallas last week, does anyone really trust the Cowboys in what should be a close game? On the other hand, the Giants just got through a horrifyingly tough stretch during which they played @ NE, @ San Francisco, vs. Philly (one of these things is not like the others), @ New Orleans, and vs. Green Bay. Their last four games are: @ Dallas, vs. Washington, @ NY Jets (not a true road game for obvious reasons) and vs. Dallas. NY winning out does not seem inconceivable at all. Giants cover.
St. Louis @ Seattle (-5.5)
Ryan: If the Rams played the Colts of the Dan Orlovsky variety on a neutral field, I think the Colts might be favored. At the very worst, it would be a pick’em. One of the biggest surprises this season has been how much Sam Bradford has regressed this year with Josh McDaniels as his offensive coordinator. Outside of Joe Paterno, has anybody’s coaching stock taken a bigger hit in the last two years than Josh McDaniels’?
Seattle is enigmatic but we have conclusive evidence that the Rams are terrible. Also, the Seahawks beat the Rams in St. Louis by 17 three weeks ago and the Rams have given no reason to believe that they will do anything to avenge that defeat. Seahawks cover.
Asif: Derp bowl honorable mention, but not quite as derpy as Tampa @ Jacksonville because of less Florida. Remember when I wrote about how bad Christian Ponder has been? Well Sam Bradford is like Christian Ponder cubed. He’s been TERRIBLE. If I’m the Rams, I’m super pissed that I got Bradford in the year before the rookie wage scale came out and now I’m stuck paying him a monster contract while Cam Newton and Andrew Luck who are both (probably) infinitely better in every way signed (or will sign) with their teams for less. Seattle covers.