The final turn of the NFL season begins with Week 14 and the final quarter of the season. Only two out of the twelve playoff spots available have been clinched and more than half of the league is still in contention to try to make it. This weekend is highlighted by the Cowboys hosting the Giants in an NFC East battle. The Cowboys can put a stranglehold on the division with a win, while a loss would have them in second place. A prime example of how thin the margin for error is this time of year in the NFL.
Week 14 - Sunday, December 11
Houston (9-3) at Cincinnati (7-5), Cincinnati favored by 3 1/2
The Houston Texans keep proving me wrong week after week. Down to their third string quarterback and with a hobbling Andre Johnson they still managed to defeat a good Atlanta Falcons team. The defense under Wade Phillips continues to shine and might be good enough to carry the Texans to a playoff bye in the highly competitive AFC. The Bengals were thrashed by the Steelers and have only beaten one team with a winning record all season. They are locked in a four way tie for the final playoff spot so every game is basically a must win for them right now. I'm tired of being wrong and picking against the Texans, they just keep finding ways to win.
Prediction: Houston 19, Cincinnati 16
Minnesota (2-10) at Detroit (7-5), No Line
The Detroit Lions appear to be a team that is not ready for prime time. They continuously shoot themselves in the foot with stupid penalty after stupid penalty. It all starts with their wussy head coach Jim Schwartz. He acts out of control so of course the Lions follow his lead. He already corrupted the previously angelic like Ndamukong Suh. The Lions have a bumpy road in the last four so they have to take advantage of games like these that they should win. Leslie Frazier has been an abomination this year as coach, making dumb decisions on a consistent basis, he will probably blunder something in this game to hand the Lions the win.
Prediction: Detroit 27, Minnesota 20
New Orleans (9-3) at Tennessee (7-5), New Orleans favored by 3 1/2
The Saints are on fire and appear unbeatable at home. It is crucial for the 49ers that they hold off the Saints for the number two seed, because the Niners trying to win in the Superdome would probably be too tall of a task. The Saints have had their struggles on the road, with losses to 2-10 St. Louis, and 4-8 Tampa Bay. The Titans were winning with their passing game earlier this season but now they are winning on the back of Chris Johnson. They could be really dangerous if both him and Matt Hasselbeck could be on the same page. I think the Saints have grown as a team since those inexplicable road losses earlier this year and while they won't be as flashy as normal, they will grind out a win over the Titans.
Prediction: New Orleans 24, Tennessee 17
Philadelphia (4-8) at Miami (4-8), Miami favored by 3
Who would have ever guessed that when Miami was 0-7, five weeks later they would have the same record as the Eagles and actually be favored to beat them? The Eagles should have Michael Vick and Jeremy Maclin back, but the Dolphins are on a roll right now. For both of these teams its cases of too little, too late.
Prediction: Miami 24, Philadelphia 20
Kansas City (5-7) at New York Jets (7-5), New York Jets favored by 9
The Jets season thus far closely resembles their 2009 campaign. A lot of ups and downs, with them getting hot at just the right time and making the playoffs. They now get to face Tyler Palko and the bumbling Chiefs offense. The most potent play int he Chiefs playbook seems to be the hail mary, so if the Jets can stop that one they should be on their way to their third straight victory.
Prediction: New York Jets 21, Kansas City 13
New England (9-3) at Washington (4-8), New England favored by 8
So that 5-11 I predicted before the season seems very likely for the Redskins. The chances of it happening grew with the suspensions of Trent Williams and Fred Davis for the rest of the season. I am really pissed, not because they are missing real games, but because I needed Fred Davis for my fantasy football playoffs. I am shocked that the line for this game is so low, if I bet on football I would love to take the Pats in this one.
Prediction: New England 28, Washington 17
Atlanta (7-5) at Carolina (4-8), Atlanta favored by 2 1/2
Look at the Panthers turning into road warriors! Ok, sure it was just the Colts and Buccaneers but this team couldn't win on the road at all last season. Earlier this season, they had the Falcons on the ropes in Atlanta but some costly interceptions by Cam Newton cost them the game. They get the Falcons at home this time and could play spoiler. I thought the Falcons were starting to catch fire but that loss at Houston was a little perplexing. The Texans have a very good defense, but good teams don't lose to teams with a third string quarterback. That being said, I like them to squeak this one out.
Prediction: Atlanta 24, Carolina 21
Tampa Bay (4-8) at Jacksonville (3-9), No Line
It's the battle of Florida!
Prediction: Tampa Bay 22, Jacksonville 20
Indianapolis (0-12) at Baltimore (9-3), Baltimore favored by 16 1/2
The Ravens control their own destiny the rest of the way but with the Steelers having mostly a cupcake schedule the pressure is on Baltimore. That pressure won't be felt this weekend as the Colts are a win on everyone's schedule.
Prediction: Baltimore 27, Indianapolis 15
Chicago (7-5) at Denver (7-5), Denver favored by 3 1/2
Bummed that Jay Cutler won't be able to play in what would have been his return to Denver. The game will still be intriguing because of Time Tebow. Each and every week the Broncos find themselves trailing and Tebow brings them back. Keep brushing off the haters Timmy! Caleb Hanie has been terrible thus far and now the Bears also don't have Matt Forte. They hope that Marion Barber can recapture his 2007 form where he was impossible to tackle and constantly trucked defenders.
Prediction: Denver 17, Chicago 13
San Francisco (10-2) at Arizona (5-7), San Francisco favored by 4
This game makes me nervous. The Cardinals have been playing well for quite some time, and people are finally noticing now after they beat the Cowboys. They also have motivation as they have entered themselves back into the playoff race. The Niners shutout the Rams and clinched their first division title since 2002. The offense continues to have problems in the red zone and that is something that needs to get corrected in the last month of the season. The other goal is to get LB Patrick Willis healthy, as he cannot be hurting come playoff time. This will be a good test for the Niners, one I think they will pass.
Prediction: San Francisco 24, Arizona 19
Oakland (7-5) at Green Bay (12-0), Green Bay favored by 11
The only way Green Bay doesn't go 16-0 is if Aaron Rodgers has a bad day. Through 12 games he hasn't had one of those yet and looking at the Packers last four opponents, and with three of those games at home, it appears unlikely he will. The Raiders will play much better this week than they did at Miami last week, but they have too many injuries to play the perfect game that is necessary to beat the Packers.
Prediction: Green Bay 31, Oakland 21
Buffalo (5-7) at San Diego (5-7), San Diego favored by 6 1/2
Much like in 2008, the Bills teased their fans with a fast start, only to fizzle out and end up missing the playoffs. Ever since signing that big contract Ryan Fitzpatrick has been completely mediocre and the loss of Fred Jackson certainly didn't help. The Chargers ended a slide of their own against Jacksonville and still have slim playoff hopes. I really hate picking the Chargers to win anything with the bumbling Norv Turner coaching them, but they just can't lose at home to a team that has lost five straight.
Prediction: San Diego 27, Buffalo 17
New York Giants (6-6) at Dallas (7-5), Dallas favored by 3 1/2
I knew the Cowboys weren't a team on the rise as the media had started to portray them during their four game winning streak. However, while I knew the Cardinals would challenge them I thought the Cowboys had what it took to win on the road. However, their head coach is an idiot and though forcing his kicker to make a long field goal was the best course of action. Then he decided that icing him was an even better idea. But with the Giants losing four straight Dallas is still firmly in control of the NFC East. That could change this weekend if they lose at home to the Giants. New York gave the Packers one of their toughest tests of the season which was how they needed to play after looking so dreadful at New Orleans. The records say otherwise but I firmly believe the Giants are a better team than the Cowboys and will prove that Sunday night. I think they will make life miserable for Tony Romo and Eli Manning will pick apart the Cowboys secondary.
Prediction: New York Giants 28, Dallas 21
Monday, December 12
St. Louis (2-10) at Seattle (5-7), No Line
At least Monday Night football with close with a bang the next two weeks, I don't think American can take much more miserable prime time games. Seriously ESPN, you thought at any point this might be an entertaining game? Did you not watch the borefest that was their season finale with a playoff spot on the line last season?
Prediction: Seattle 24, St. Louis 7
Last Week Straight Up: 9-7
Overall Straight Up: 119-73
Last Week Against the Spread: 9-7
Overall Against the Spread: 97-90-5