After a few weeks of fun gimmick columns, I think it’s time to get back to basics and just pick games. In fact, let’s skip the foreplay and get right to the Week 14 NFL picks!
CHICAGO BEARS over Dallas Cowboys
Isn’t this one too easy? The Bears and the Cowboys are both on the fast track for 8-8 seasons because that’s how things always seem to work out for the respective franchises. The Bears are 5-7 and the Cowboys are 8-4. Da Bears need the wins and Dem Boys need the losses. Piece of cake!
By the way, did you know that because I’m a huge loser and decided to spend 45 minutes playing with ESPN’s NFL Playoff Machine, I actually tinkered with it to the point where the Chicago Bears can make the playoffs? I swear, it can happen!
Pittsburgh Steelers over CINCINNATI BENGALS
I don’t trust either of these teams. Pittsburgh couldn’t take care of business against the typically-lousy-on-the-road New Orleans Saints and Cincinnati almost blew a home game against the typically-lousy-anywhere-they-play Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Seriously, could Andy Dalton have done much more to try to blow that game without making people believe he was actually shaving points like Paul Crewe? Good lord, Josh McCown was just as good last Sunday as Andy Dalton was, and yes, that is meant as an insult to both gentlemen. When in doubt, I’ll take the quarterback that I know won’t literally or metaphorically crap his pants on the field. Andy Dalton, it’s your move.
St. Louis Rams over WASHINGTON REDSKINS
It doesn’t matter to me if it’s Colt McCoy, Kirk Cousins, Robert Griffin III, Jason Campbell, Doug Williams, or Sonny Jurgensen, as long as the Redskins quarterback is handing the ball off to Alfred Morris early and often I’ll be happy. Yes, I am an Alfred Morris fantasy owner. And yes, I’m in the semifinals of my New York fantasy football league, only two victories away from capturing my fourth title in six years. When a dynasty is in the works, I think it’s okay to include a few tidbits about your fantasy football team in your weekly NFL column.
For what it’s worth, I like the Rams big in this game and I’m buying a ton of Rams stock for next season. They’ll be in the same boat as the Cardinals are this year: with a competent quarterback, St. Louis will be a sleeper next season.
New York Giants tie Tennessee Titans
That’s right, I’m picking a tie and nobody can convince me not to. Even though we’ve already had a tie this year and that’s rarely a twice-a-season event, I’m doing this to set a precedent. Why should I pick a winner in this game when, A) Both teams are crappy, B) Both teams would be better off losing this game and thus helping their In The Pooper for Amari Cooper (© Sonny Giuliano) chances, C) I actually don’t have any idea which team is better? The Giants look better on paper, but for nearly two whole seasons they’ve made a habit of losing games they’re “expected” to win. I put expected in quotation marks because I’m using the term lightly. It’s more like they’ve made a habit of losing games that they at least had a chance to win. The Titans have been downright pitiful all season long and Ken Whisenhunt can’t settle on which below-average quarterback he should start each week to take a beating. Ugh, I hope I don’t have to see 30 seconds of this game on Red Zone on Sunday unless it’s replays of Odell Beckham’s one-handed grab.
NEW ORLEANS SAINTS over Carolina Panthers
You want to hear a troubling concept? It’s entirely possible that the New Orleans Saints make the playoffs with a losing record and the New Orleans Pelicans miss the NBA playoffs with a winning record. Oh, that isn’t enough to make you think about whether the NFL should consider changing their playoff format? Well try this one on for size….
MINNESOTA VIKINGS over New York Jets
The Minnesota Vikings have the same record as the New Orleans Saints.
Baltimore Ravens over MIAMI DOLPHINS
Indianapolis Colts over CLEVELAND BROWNS
My co-picks for best matchups in the early slate of games. Baltimore-Miami is a coin flip game, and I’m taking the Ravens just because I know they can win this sort of must-win game—plus I have a cousin on the Baltimore coaching staff, but whatevs. The Indy-Cleveland game offers a little more intrigue just because of the Johnny Manziel drama hanging over it. After benching Brian Hoyer last week, it kind of feels like the Browns needed to go with Manziel this week just because the Dawg Pound will boo Brian Hoyer out of the stadium and back to Lakewood, Ohio if the offense sputters early on. Lo and behold, Hoyer will start. I like Hoyer the way I like drinking warm water, but I’m definitely not buying into the Johnny Football hype machine too early either. With that said, it’s impossible to deny the fact that if Manziel were to lead the Browns to the playoffs it would be one hell of a story that ESPN would beat into the ground within 36 hours of Cleveland clinching a playoff berth.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers over DETROIT LIONS
Wouldn’t this be the most Lionsy game for the Lions to lose? You know the kind of game I’m talking about, right? Just a ton of Matthew Stafford blunders and a couple of boneheaded penalties defensively that extend Tampa possessions, all while Jim Caldwell is on the sideline looking like a mannequin. Eh, I’ll take a shot on the Bucs this week. A week ago my friend Zak told me that the Bucs were going to win the NFC South with a 6-10 record and go on to win the Super Bowl. They’re 2-10 now, so let their 10-game win streak begin!
Houston Texans over JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS
J.J. Watt vs. a rookie quarterback who might turn out to be Blaine Gabbert 2.0? Fine, twist my arm. I guess I’ll take the Texans this week. By the way, I’m the idiot who left DeAndre Hopkins on his fantasy football bench last week. Did I mention I’m two wins away from being a fantasy football dynasty?
San Francisco 49ers over OAKLAND RAIDERS
Since the Raiders season is indeed In The Pooper For Amari Cooper and the 49ers are planning to shop head coach Jim Harbaugh at season’s end, it’s natural to wonder if Harbaugh will be wearing silver and black on the sidelines next year. Even though Oakland is in desperate need of some skill position players who could make big plays and someone like Amari Cooper could fill that void, they need a culture-changer first and foremost. Harbaugh is just that. Either way, I like the Niners in this one, but closer than the experts think. San Fran got man-handled on Thanksgiving night by the Seattle Seahawks and they visit CenturyLink Field next week. This one feels like it could be a trap game for three quarters.
Kansas City Chiefs over ARIZONA CARDINALS
I’m making the executive decision to call this one a “loser leaves town” game, even though it isn’t officially one. The Chiefs and Cardinals have both lost two in a row after impressive five- and six-game winning streaks, respectively. I’m a little more concerned about the Cards than I am the Chiefs. Kansas City got beat on a short week in a trap game at the Raiders and then by the Broncos last week. Arizona hasn’t lost a game that they definitely should have won, but they haven’t looked like the same team since Carson Palmer tore his ACL. So much for the Cardinals playing in the Super Bowl in their home stadium. I’m not even sure they make the playoffs at this point—I’m serious; this is a virtual must-win for the recently slumping Cards. They’re at St. Louis, home for Seattle, and at San Francisco after this week. Excuse me while I briskly jog away from the Arizona Cardinals bandwagon and turn back to see it going up in flames.
Seattle Seahawks over PHILADELPHIA EAGLES
You know how Seattle looked sluggish for a good portion of the season, only now it seems like they’ve found their form and remembered they are the defending Super Bowl champions? Well I’m expecting something like that to happen with Mark Sanchez, only he’ll remember that he’s a limited quarterback who was a SportsCenter punchline for a whole year.
DENVER BRONCOS over Buffalo Bills
Nobody circles the wagons like the Buffalo Bills, but nobody makes good defenses look bad like Peyton Manning. Forgive me for stating the obvious, but with a newfound running game spearheaded by C.J. Anderson and a treasure chest full of play makers to get the ball to, I expect the Broncos to be one of the co-favorites in the AFC, even if they have to go through New England in New England.
New England Patriots over SAN DIEGO CHARGERS
I’m not sure how many more horseshoes the Chargers have up their collective rear end, but they’ll need to find a few more down the stretch to remain a mainstay in the AFC playoff picture. After barely surviving against St. Louis and Baltimore, the Chargers have a Patriots team coming off a loss at Lambeau Field last week. Just like the Chargers, the Patriots are playing for playoff positioning, only New England’s spot in the postseason should be secure at this point. The Patriots do however control their own destiny for home field advantage on their way to Super Bowl XLIX. With three divisional games left (two of which are in Foxborough) after this week, I wouldn’t expect that the Patriots come out sluggish against the Chargers. When in doubt, take Brady, Belichick, and Gronk.
GREEN BAY PACKERS over Atlanta Falcons
Though unlikely at this point, it is possible that we could see a rematch of this game in the wild card round of the playoffs, only the Falcons would be hosting the game. Go ahead and try to tell me how that’s in the best interest of the league. I’ll give you until I come back next week for my Week 15 picks.
Last Week: 9-7