Friday, December 9, 2011

Week 14 Picks

Tom Brandstater...on
In looking ahead to Week 14, here are three things that stand out to me…

1. Cowboys Collapse vs. Giants Collapse – Two NFC East teams that are noted for their ability to take a good situation and flush it down the toilet. Something has to give in this one! If the Giants win, then they’ll likely have an opportunity to clinch the division at home against the Cowboys in Week 17. If Dallas wins, then their ensuing two game division lead might be too much to overcome. Not even the Cowboys could throw that away, right? Right? No? Crap!

2. TEBOW!!! – Tebow threw the ball very well last week, albeit against a putrid Vikings secondary. Regardless of whether or not he even attempts a pass, the Broncos have a golden opportunity to seize sole possession of the division lead. Playing the ‘zombie’ Bears, Denver shouldn’t need a last possession drive to win, though I feel certain they’ll intentionally keep the game tied at 0 for dramatic effect. Considering that Oakland has to play in Green Bay, it seems certain that Denver will emerge from this week with the AFC West lead.

3. Jets Resurrection – Once again, it looks like the Jets are going to rise from the dead to claim the AFC’s last wildcard spot. After losing consecutive games to New England and Denver, which dropped them to 5-5, it appeared as if Rex Ryan’s crew was finally out of luck. However, two straight victories and a Bengals collapse have given them new life. Cincy continues their late season gauntlet with a home game against the Texans, a game they could easily lose. Meanwhile, the Jets path to the playoffs has seemingly been paved with gold, as their home game against the Fighting Tyler Palko’s almost assures them of their 8th win. Maybe one day the Jets will finally be dead, but that seems doubtful for this season.

As for the Week 13 picks, Prince and I did well for the second week in a row.

(Remember, Prince and I are going head to head with our picks. No prize has been determined yet, but ideas are happily accepted.)

Week 13 Results (point spread in parentheses)

Landrum: 12-4 (9-6)
Prince: 12-4 (10-5)

Week 12 Winner: Prince +1

Results through Week 13 (point spread in parentheses)

Landrum: 119-73 (99-81)
Prince: 127-65 (101-79)

Overall Leader: Prince +10

So, apparently it doesn’t matter how well I do. Prince is going to beat me anyways. This game sucks. Let’s get to the Week 14 picks…

Cleveland at Pittsburgh (PIT -14)

Jon: Pittsburgh (PIT -14)
Prince: Pittsburgh (PIT -14)

Wow, what a great pick! I feel SOOOO confident Pittsburgh will cover…(I hate you, Fat Ben Roethlisberger)

Houston at Cincinnati (CIN -1)

Jon: Houston (HOU +1)
Prince: Houston (HOU +1)

While there are some very obvious concerns about a T.J. Yates led team, especially with Andre Johnson looking doubtful, there are even bigger concerns for a Bengals team whose best win is a seven point victory over Tennessee. Losses to San Francisco, Pittsburgh (2x), and Baltimore are not at all shocking, but you actually have to beat some of those teams in order to be considered legit. Until then, I can’t buy in. Even with serious issues in the passing game, the Texans combination of running and defense should be enough to get them by on the road. Remember, the Bengals aren’t the only team playing for something here. There are currently four 9 win teams in the AFC, and you can bet Houston desperately wants that first round bye.

Minnesota at Detroit (No Line)

Jon: Detroit
Prince: Detroit

The Lions need a win…badly. With losses in five of their last seven, Detroit has gone from Super Bowl contender to fringe playoff team, just like that. Blame it on the injuries, blame it on poor coaching, blame it on a lack of discipline, blame it on whatever you like. No matter the reason, the Lions are drowning. Thankfully for them, the football gods have seen fit to throw them a giant life preserver in the form of Caleb Hanie (and the Matt Forte injury) and a home game against the potentially Adrian Peterson-less Vikings. Given the fact that Minnesota seems to take pleasure in letting receivers run free deep downfield, I’m thinking that Calvin Johnson might have 400 yards receiving.

New Orleans at Tennessee (NO -4)

Jon: New Orleans (NO -4)
Prince: New Orleans (NO -4)

Apparently Drew Brees is tired of hearing about Aaron Rodgers, because in his last six games he’s been doing a pretty darn good job of taking some of the attention away. In that stretch, Brees has attempted 232 passes, throwing 17 TD’s to just 3 INT’s. That’s an INT rate of just 1.3%! It’s no surprise then that the Saints are one of the hottest teams in the NFL, winning five of their last six and outscoring opponents 216-118 in that stretch. I expect more of the same from them against Tennessee. Yes, Chris Johnson has seemingly gotten on track, but it seems rather unlikely that a below average Titans defense would be able to hold the Saints to under 35 points. Unless Chris Johnson can run for 400 yards, this one just isn’t happening.

Philadelphia at Miami (MIA -3)

Jon: Philadelphia (PHI +3)
Prince: Miami (MIA -3)

I have no logical reason to pick the Eagles in this contest. In fact, logic would clearly indicate that Miami should have no problem winning. Matt Moore has been playing well, Reggie Bush has found the rejuvenation machine, and the team as a whole has responded admirably to their early season adversity. The Eagles, on the other hand…well, they have responded well at all. There’s plenty of blame to throw around in Philadelphia, and I’m sure heads will roll once the season is officially over. Still, I can’t help but think they’ll show a bit of life with Vick and Maclin back in the lineup. Again, nothing more than a gut feeling. And you know how those usually work out for me…

Kansas City at New York Jets (NYJ -7)

Jon: New York (NYJ -7)
Prince: New York (NYJ -7)

There’s really nothing to talk about here. Some people are giving KC credit for knocking off the Bears, but I don’t see how they deserve any of it. The presence of Caleb Hanie, plus the devastating injury to Matt Forte, plus the lucky hail mary TD before half equals a cheap, meaningless victory over a demoralized and already-defeated opponent. Nothing to praise there. The Jets, meanwhile, are not the Bears. They’re in full “time to stop playing like crap and sneak into the playoffs” mode, and Tyler Palko is probably going to set a single game record for INT’s.

New England at Washington (NE -7)

Jon: New England (NE -7)
Prince: New England (NE -7)

I seem to be in the minority on this one, but I’m not willing to brush aside the Pats second half struggles last week as a matter of “those points were in garbage time.” Yes, the majority of the second half was garbage time. Why does that matter? Fact is, the Colts got themselves back into the game and were one onside kick away from having an opportunity to tie. You don’t think the Pats were trying to stop them after one or two scores? Don’t get me wrong, this isn’t meant to be a “cheer up, Colts fans” type of comment. The Colts suck, no doubt. This is meant to be a statement about the Patriots. We all know the defense is a problem, but it seems that we weren’t aware of the full scope of it. Now we know. They’re terrible. If you can’t flip the switch and shut down a Dan Orlovsky-led team, then how am I supposed to take you seriously against a real team? Sorry to say, but I think I’m done with the Patriots this season. Brady has to be perfect for them to win, and that’s just too much to ask against the type of defenses they’ll face in the playoffs.

Oh, and the Redskins are terrible so the Pats are probably going to wipe the field with them.

Atlanta at Carolina (ATL -3)

Jon: Atlanta (ATL -3)
Prince: Atlanta (ATL -3)

Atlanta is shockingly mediocre this season, just one year removed from garnering the top overall seed in the NFC. While many, including myself, expected a regression, it would have been hard to predict just how far they would fall. Nevertheless, their schedule has been a giant gift from heaven, and it’s saved them from falling into irrelevance. Games that were supposed to be tough, including Philly, Tampa Bay, and Indianapolis, are now considered gimmes and the Falcons have converted their easy schedule into a likely Wild Card slot. Even though Cam Newton can keep Carolina in any game, this just seems to be a perfect matchup for Atlanta. Their struggling offense should have no problem scoring on the Panthers, while their 3rd ranked run defense should limit a surprisingly strong Panthers offense.

Tampa Bay at Jacksonville (No Line)

Jon: Tampa Bay
Prince: Jacksonville

There is no line on this game because nobody actually cares. That includes people in Tampa Bay and Jacksonville. (I might have made that up) Seriously though, it really upsets me that I have to spend a single second thinking about this contest. Bilynn Gahbbbrit and Josh Freeman (I’m assuming he plays) can spend all day trading horrendous INT’s if they want. I just don’t want to hear about it later.

Indianapolis at Baltimore (BAL -15)

Jon: Baltimore (BAL -15)
Prince: Baltimore (BAL -15)

I made the mistake of giving 80 points to the Pats last week, and the Colts made me look foolish. This week, I’m going to continue beating my head against the wall. 15 points is an awful lot, but I really don’t see a way for the Colts to score a single point in the game. No, seriously. The Ravens defense isn’t just good, they’re mean. That means I can envision them taking morbid pleasure in racking up as many sacks/fumbles/INT’s/injured Colts players as possible, no matter the score. If the Ravens can score 15 points, then I’ll feel safe.

Chicago at Denver (DEN -3)

Jon: Denver (DEN -3)
Prince: Denver (DEN -3)

TEBOW!!! OK, moving away from the Tebow propaganda for a second, how are the Bears going to score points in this game? Seriously, how is it going to happen? Denver almost never turns the ball over, so that takes out a defensive TD as a possibility. Basically, the only way for Chicago to put up points is if Denver’s punter kicks to Devin Hester. Even then, how many kicks would Hester need to bring back? The Broncos are going to have field position all day, they’re going to force several turnovers, and they might even get another defensive TD. Tebow could complete 0 passes (a distinct possibility) and Denver would still win! The only real question in this game is, does Tebow lead them down the field for the game winning FG or the game winning TD…

San Francisco at Arizona (SF -4)

Jon: San Francisco (SF -4)
Prince: San Francisco (SF -4)

I can’t even begin to understand why this line isn’t much, much bigger. Good for you, Arizona! You beat a crappy Cowboys team that was destined to choke away its season. Congrats. Now go get guillotined by the 49ers.

Oakland at Green Bay (GB -10.5)

Jon: Green Bay (GB -10.5)
Prince: Green Bay (GB -10.5)

Not many teams have been less impressive than Oakland the past two weeks, as they narrowly squeaked by Caleb Hanie two weeks ago before getting thrashed by Miami last week. There is simply no way I’m taking a team that allowed 28 points to the Chiefs, 38 points to the Broncos, and 34 points to the Dolphins. No way. Especially after Green Bay had one of their first big scares of the season. This one is going to get ugly.

Buffalo at San Diego (SD -6.5)

Jon: San Diego (SD -6.5)
Prince: San Diego (SD -6.5)

Umm…I have no idea what is going to happen in this game. Since the Bills have lost five straight, and are without Fred Jackson, I feel like taking the Chargers is the safer bet. Still, it’s hard to feel too confident in a team as inconsistent as San Diego. Either way, I won’t be watching this one.

New York Giants at Dallas (DAL -4)

Jon: New York (NYG +4)
Prince: Dallas (NYG +4)

Oh man. Here we go again. It seems like I go through this every year with my Cowboys. You’d think that, by now, I’d be hardened to the reality of the situation, but the pain never seems to be lessened. Once again, I was sucked in to buying the Cowboys as a legit team. Once again, the Cowboys trampled all over my heart and soul. After the debacle last week, you have to think that things might be unraveling on the Cowboys playoff chances. Jason Garrett has clearly demonstrated that A) he has no faith in Tony Romo, and that B) he has no idea what he’s doing. Neither one of those are good things, and it’s a big part of the reason Dallas hasn’t already locked up their division. Coaching errors were significant contributors to four of the team’s five losses. That’s not meant as an excuse. Coaching is a key part of an NFL team, so blaming things on Garrett is not, in any way, letting my team off the hook. The fact is that Dallas has some big problems right now, and the worst possible scenario is playing out in front of our eyes. After nearly taking down the Packers, you can bet the Giants are feeling pretty good about this one. Eli Manning is having an outstanding year, and Dallas’ secondary doesn’t have a prayer against talent like Victor Cruz and Hakeem Nicks. A win gets them back to a first place tie in the division, with a Week 17 home game against Dallas left on the schedule. I said after the first game of the season that Dallas would almost assuredly suffer a heartbreaking Week 17 loss to knock them out of the playoffs…this is one of those scenarios where I hope I’m wrong.

St. Louis at Seattle (No Line)

Jon: Seattle
Prince: Seattle

Tom Brandstater! Tarvaris Jackson! It’s Monday Night Football!!


  1. I'm with Prince on this one. 300 yds might not sound like a lot... 3TD might not sound like a lot... but Hasselbeck hasn't put the two together since (ready for this?) 2004!!! He hasn't had 300 yds. since week 3, and he's rarely even come close in that span despite facong Indy, Carolina, Buffalo, and Tampa's secondaries.

    As for the 'fantasy' bold prediction, Prince, that was hilarious, and very creative. Though, if you wanted to really guarantee a W, you should have just picked my fantasy lineup. There have been plenty of weeks this year when they're projected to get like 6-8 TDs, and they literally get zero. Seriously. Anyway, maybe it will make losing in fantasy a little less painful, so that was a clever 'hedge' on your part.

  2. Hasselbeck had 272 yards and 2 scores just five weeks ago! How is that not close?

  3. And New Orleans has allowed 300 yard passers six times this season!!!

  4. haha just realized I commented on the wrong blog post... was listening to "Bold Predictions" podcast while reading this column... anyway, I know, you used that argument against Prince. But I still say that to ask him for 30 more yards AND another TD, when that in itself was a major relative high for him, is plenty bold. At the very least, I think you guys have put out plenty of "Bold" predictions that were weaker that one. Also, I am literally terrified to pick the Giants-Cowboys game.

  5. Yeah, like David Akers outscoring the Rams...

  6. Don't be scared, Casey. This is going to be a Cowboys classic and we all know it.