– Jon Ramsey
It’s week 14, otherwise known as the time when Bills fans stop thinking about playoffs and start thinking about draft position. A bunch of great games this week with playoff positioning on the line and then also one of the worst games of the year as well. As the weather gets colder, teams that can run the ball seem to have a bit of an advantage and the kicking game becomes more important as well. Will this favor teams like Tennessee, Buffalo and Dallas all of whom have strong running games or can teams like the Redskins and Falcons keep up their playoff pushes through the air? As Chris Berman likes to say…”that’s why they play the games.” On to the picks.
Denver at Tennessee (-1)
Huge game for both teams as the Titans are favored at home over the 8-4 Broncos. Denver is known for their defense, specifically their great pass defense. However, the Titans are a run first team and the linebackers are the weakness of the Denver D. Believe it or not the Titans actually are 6th in the league in offense, while Denver is 27th. With the QB situation still up in the air for Denver, I think the Titans are the safe pick here as they continue their late charge towards the AFC South title.
San Diego at Carolina (-1.5)
A battle of underachievers as the Chargers visit Carolina. Carolina got smoked on primetime and now have to face another tough offense in Phil Rivers and the Chargers. However, I think that this will be a pride game for the Panthers. Especially after the Cam Newton tie drama, I see the Panthers really coming out and taking it to a Chargers team that doesn’t have anything to play for either.
Houston at Indianapolis (-6.5)
2 of the 3 teams leading the AFC South at 6-6, play in a game that could be a playoff knockout game for both. Houston has been a great team at home this year but as you can see, this game is at Indianapolis. Houston has also lost 3 in a row and are spiraling along the injury front as well. While for the Colts Andrew Luck is starting to get going and his weapons are starting to get healthy. In my opinion the only chance for Houston to win is if this game is low scoring. This one looks like a win for the Colts.
Cincinnati at Cleveland (+5.5)
Will the Browns win? This might be their last chance as RGIII is scheduled to return to welcome the Bengals to Cleveland. Cincinnati played a great game last week, really beating up on the Eagles, while the Browns kept up their losing ways, losing to the Giants by 14. I want to say that the Browns keep this game close but they have lost all 12 of their games and have only kept their losing margin to single digits 4 times. They just aren’t good at anything, including covering the spread.
Pittsburgh at Buffalo (+2)
The Bills coming off of a devastating loss in Oakland meet the Steelers who need this game to keep pace with the Ravens in the AFC North. The Bills will finally be fully healthy on offense as Watkins, Woods, Clay and McCoy are all expected to play. They will need all of the offense they can get vs the Steelers who can put up points at will. A surprising stat is that the Bills actually average more points per game than the Steelers. However, using the eye test, the Steelers look so much more dangerous. My heart wants to say the Bills pull off the upset to keep their playoff hopes alive, but their collapse last week vs the Raiders says to me that this team just isn’t ready for prime time.
Arizona at Miami (+2)
The 7-5 Dolphins are 2 point underdogs at home to the Cardinals in a must-win game for their playoff hopes. Arizona won last week vs the Redskins and showed a little bit of their swagger from last year. But that still was only their 2nd win in their last 6 games. While the Dolphins had their win streak ended in a big way, getting blown out by 32 by the Ravens. The Dolphins however, are 5-1 at home and are going against a defense that is very strong vs the pass, but only average against the run. I hope the Cardinals win, but the Dolphins are going to get a mulligan from me as I think they resume their winning ways.
Chicago at Detroit (-8)
The Bears have no business in this game, this is just another step on the NFC North division title for the Lions. At least that is what the public wants thinks. However, I am going to zig against the public’s zag here. Jordan Howard is looking like a very good running back and Matt Barkley has been surprisingly competent in his 1st two games. If you look at the Lions’ season you will notice that last week was the first game all year that wasn’t within 1 score. Keeping that in mind, I think the Lions win, but that the 8 points are too much to lay.
Minnesota at Jacksonville (+3.5)
Jacksonville is just a bad team and the Vikings have to have this game in order to keep their playoff hopes alive. I think that the Vikings defense will return to their shutdown ways vs a Jacksonville offense that just cannot score. Jacksonville will need Sam Bradford to make several mistakes in order to even be in this game, but I just see a super conservative game plan from the Vikings and dare the Jags to actually do anything. I don’t see it happening.
Washington at Philadelphia (+1)
The league’s 2nd ranking offense will visit the city of brotherly love to take on the Eagles who look to end their 3 game losing streak. Kirk Cousins made the correct decision to bet on himself this season, as he has thrown for almost 4000 yards already with 21 touchdowns. The Eagles after their hot start have crashed back to earth with a 2-7 record in their last 9 games. Can the Eagles score enough to stick with the Redskins? Seeing how they played last week vs Cincinnati, I just don’t see it. The Eagles have yet to win a divisional game this year and I don’t think they start this week either.
New Orleans at Tampa Bay (-2.5)
Did you realize the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are tied for 1st place in the NFC South? The same Buccaneers have won 4 in a row, which include victories at KC and vs Seattle. The Saints on the other hand have lost 3 of 4 and while they can throw the ball around have been having trouble stopping the opposing offense. In fact, the last time the Saints held an opponent under 20 points was week 2 in that fluky Giants game. In a real schedule quirk, these 2 division rivals have yet to play this year and will play again on Christmas Eve, so they play twice in 13 days. I think they’ll split the games, so I’ll take the Bucs at home here.
NY Jets at San Francisco (-2.5)
Literally nobody cares about this game. It is a game between 2 bad teams, Bryce Petty is playing quarterback and it is taking place on the west coast. They should just cancel it and give everyone their money back. I’m taking the Jets because of the points, but I’d be surprised if someone could break 21.
Seattle at Green Bay (+3)
If they want to catch the Lions, the Packers need to win this game at home on the frozen tundra as the Seahawks come to town. The Seahawks have the division just about wrapped up with a 3 game lead and only 4 games to play. While the Pack are 2 games back of the Lions but also play them week 17. That’d be a great game for the neutral fan. The Seahawks are 2-3-1 on the road and the Packers are 4-2 at home. Seattle will also be playing their first full game without superstar FS Earl Thomas, who probably does as much for his team as any defender does. The Packers are struggling with injuries as well, particularly on defense… but I think we might see a little Lambeau magic and I’ll take the Pack and the points.
Atlanta at Los Angeles (+6) ***best bet***
Julio Jones might not play vs the Rams, but are we sure that it even matters? Jared Goff is 51 for 95 for only 509 yards. His completion percentage is 53.7% and he plays for a coach who got an extension for going 7-9 every year. In fact the Rams are so dysfunctional their GM didn’t even know that Jeff Fisher got an extension. I can’t imagine the Rams even being in this game. In fact, I am going to make a road favorite my best bet of the week.
Sunday Night Football
Dallas at NY Giants (+3)
A couple of great primetime games this week, as Sunday Night gets the team with the best record in the NFL, the Dallas Cowboys vs the only team to beat them this year the NY Giants. Betting on the Giants will give you a heart attack, you never know if good Eli or bad Eli will show up. Then even if good Eli plays, will ODB be sane or insane. That isn’t even taking into consideration their head coach having a play sheet that is a monstrosity. In contrast, the Cowboys have a simple gameplan that they have been executing to perfection. A great offensive line, a star running back and wide receiver, along with a quarterback that just does the right thing. The Cowboys make all the sense in the world here, but crazy stuff happens when these two get together… I’m thinking we see some good Eli.
Monday Night Football Line
Baltimore at New England (-7)
A possible playoff preview between two teams that do not like each other one bit as the Ravens travel to Massachusetts to take on the Patriots. The Ravens are considered to have one of the best defenses in the league, however the Patriots have allowed the same number of points but have scored 63 more. The Ravens defense also plays extremely well against the run, but knowing Bill Belichick he will make the Ravens do what they do worse and just throw the ball 60 times. If it is an ugly type of game I think Baltimore can cover, but I just haven’t seen enough of their offense this year to think that they can score 24 on the Pats.
– Jon Ramsey (@YardsPerPass)