We’re at that point in the season where every week the schedule will be filled with games with playoff implications. We’ll also see a couple of divisional rivalries play out, and there are also a handful of big time marquis games over the next couple of weeks. Whether a team is still in the playoff hunt or is reeling from having gotten knocked out is an added factor to consider when picking stretch run games. For my part, I’m coming a so-so-week that has me at 106-93-9 overall and 26-19-3 in Best Picks. I’m certain to finish over .500 (knock on wood) but I’d like a strong couple of weeks to make this a truly successful season.
Hit the title/continue reading to check out the picks for the fourteenth week of the NFL…
(All lines as of 12/6/12 @9:30 a.m. – line credit posted per game)
Baltimore (+3) @Washington (BookMaker.eu)
The Ravens are coming off that tough loss to the Steelers, while the Redskins just won their biggest game in about 5 years, and on Monday night no less. The Ravens haven’t looked completely sharp, and the Redskins are playing about as well as they possibly can, but I’m just not sold that Washington is ready to take out an upper echelon team like Baltimore.
Baltimore Ravens 27 Washington Redskins 24
Kansas City (+7) @Cleveland (5Dimes)
I love the way the Browns are competing too, but since when did that translate into suddenly being a whole touchdown favorite over anyone, even the Chiefs. Kansas City may have gained a little confidence after finally winning a game, and the Browns aren’t good enough to run it up on anyone. I’m nervous the Chiefs will hand the Browns a cover by just being awful, but I’ll take my chances.
Cleveland Browns 21 Kansas City Chiefs 16
San Diego (+7) @Pittsburgh (BetOnline.ag)
Ben Roethlisberger is probable for this game, and Pittsburgh is in the thick of the AFC playoff hunt. San Diego is done, and they’re playing a 1:00 o’clock game on the East Coast. 7 points is tough to give, especially with the Steelers coming off that big win over the Ravens and subject to a mild letdown, but San Diego is 0-4 on the road out of their division, and the only time they were within 7 points was against the Browns. I’ll give the touchdown.
Pittsburgh Steelers 24 San Diego Chargers 16
Tennessee (+5) @Indianapolis (Sheridan’s)
It is just ridiculous to me that the Colts are giving 5 here. Of their 8 wins, only 2 have been by a touchdown or more. But I’m done with the Titans. They stink. They are capable, at a moment’s notice, of turning in a complete clunker. The Colts have the Texans twice in their last four, so this game means something to Indy if they want to stay ahead of the pack in the playoff hunt. Mark me down to drink the Andrew Luck Kool-Aid here.
Indianapolis Colts 27 Tennessee Titans 20
NY Jets (-3) @Jacksonville (BookMaker.eu)
Last week I took the Jaguars and they burned me. This week. . .I’m doing it again. How the hell are the Jets are a road favorite? Mark Sanchez gets to keep his starting job in this game, so maybe he plays better knowing the heat is on? I doubt it. Chad Henne should know the Jets D pretty well from his time in Miami, also. I’ll take a flyer on Jacksonville here.
Jacksonville Jaguars 20 New York Jets 17
Chicago (-2.5) @Minnesota (5Dimes)
Minnesota now has the lowest ranked passing offense in the NFL, which is part of the reason they’ve lost 5 of their last 7, despite Adrian Peterson having a field day every week. The Vikings have also dropped six straight to the Bears, dating all the way back to their 2009 season when they were 12-4. Brian Urlacher is out for Chicago, and there’s little chance A.P. won’t have yet another big day, but it hasn’t helped the Vikings win much over the last two months.
Chicago Bears 24 Minnesota Vikings 20
Atlanta (-3) @Carolina (William Hill)
The Falcons are on the road, coming off a key win over New Orelans, and have a look-ahead to the Giants next week. All of that is not enough to get me to take the Panthers, who find a way to lose games every single week. I’m done doubting the Falcons against the array of creampuffs they play every week.
Atlanta Falcons 24 Carolina Panthers 20
St. Louis (+3) @Buffalo (Sheridan’s)
It’s a little far fetched, but the Rams have actually played their way back into playoff relevance down the stretch. They’d need some help, but at 5-6-1, they could easily finish over .500, and that could be enough. Meanwhile, the BIlls just lost their center to an injury. When this happened last year, they didn’t win another game. Buffalo is coming off a good win against Jacksonville, but St. Louis really is a step up from that.
St. Louis Rams 27 Buffalo Bills 24
Dallas (+3) @Cincinnati (Sheridan’s)
This is a game with big playoff implications. Both teams really need it. And I’m just not sold on Cincinnati against a playoff caliber team, even a dysfunctional one like the Cowboys. If Dallas loses this game, Jason Garrett’s future in Dallas is in big jeopardy, and maybe Tony Romo’s too. I’m not a big believer in Dallas, but I think they can get the job done here and screw up their chances later on.
Dallas Cowboys 28 Cincinnati Bengals 24
New Orleans (+5.5) @NY Giants (Stations)
The Giants have dug themselves a hole, and nobody comes roaring out of a hole like the New York Giants. That said, I’m not sold that they can just waltz in and blow out New Orleans. I see a game that Eli Manning wins in the fourth quarter, after a fun shootout with Drew Brees, and figure that the Saints keep it closer than 5.5.
New York Giants 31 New Orleans Saints 27
Detroit (+6.5) @Green Bay (Sheridan’s)
After a season that was looking like they’d be fighting for a wildcard spot, the Packers are poised to secure a first round bye. All they need to do is win three divisional games and beat Tennessee and hope that the 49ers stumble against New England or Seattle. That said, they’re not about to let that chance go by not holding up their end. And the Lions have never beaten Aaron Rodgers, winning only once in the Rodgers era, in a game where he left early due to injury. 6.5 is a bit steep, but it’s the price you pay to have Rodgers be on your side.
Green Bay Packers 34 Detroit Lions 27
Houston (+3) @New England (William Hill)
I’d be all over Houston here, but they’re playing that dreaded third road game in a row. Also, the one team that beat the Texans this year, and really smoked them, was Green Bay, and New England somewhat mirrors that high powered passing attack behind a marquis quarterback. Moreover, the Texans have a two-game lead in the overall playoff race, so this isn’t a do or die for them, not really. The Patriots, meanwhile, are a in a three way tie with Baltimore and Denver for that other 1st round bye. On this one day, in this spot, I like the Pats to triumph.
New England Patriots 27 Houston Texans 22
BEST PICKS OF THE WEEK
“Don’t bet a road favorite coming off a short week. You’ll shoot your eye out.”
Minnesota @Chicago o/u 39 (Sheridan’s)
Not sure what the thinking is on this low over under in the Vikings and Bears game. Chicago has a good defense, but it’s a playmaking, turnover producing defense and not always a shutdown defense. And Minnesota is just going to let Adrian Peterson run for 175 yards like he always does. That’ll net them somewhere between 17 and 21 points, but no more. The Vikings defense doesn’t figure to stymie Chicago’s offense, so unless the Bears play a horrible mistake prone game filled with penalties, the over is an easy cover here.
Chicago Bears 24 Minnesota Vikings 20
Philadelphia (+9) @Tampa Bay (5Dimes)
I must be crazy sticking the Eagles in my Best Picks, but this game looks very much like the Dallas game last week, where the spread was ridiculously high. Philadelphia is playing like a team with no pressure, and they’ve jettisoned some dead weight recently in Jason Babin and Jim Washburn. The offensive line even looked good last week. I’m not expecting a win, just for the BIrds to show up.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers 28 Philadelphia Eagles 23
Miami (+11.5) @San Francisco (5Dimes)
Of the Dolphins’ 7 losses this season, only 2 have been by double digits: the opener against Houston and that anomaly against Tennessee a few weeks ago. Other than that, the Dolphins have been a solid bet to stay close. The 49ers, meanwhile, have the Patriots next week and the Seahawks the week after that. I like Miami to sneak in under the number here.
San Francisco 49ers 20 Miami Dolphins 13
Arizona (+11.5) @Seattle (5Dimes)
I’m taking my third big road dog in a row here. John Skelton is listed as probable and Kevin Kolb has been practicing this week, so chances are the Cardinals won’t have to play Ryan LIndley. And while Seattle’s offense has been bit more engaged over the last month, and they are a good home team, they are not a good candidate to blow out an opponent. I like the Seahawks to continue their playoff march, but it’s a march, not a rocket ride.
Seattle Seahawks 21 Arizona Cardinals 14