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In looking ahead to Week 15, here are three things that stand out to me…
1. A Ruined Monday Night – This week’s matchup of Pittsburgh vs. San Francisco was such a breath of fresh air from the usual Jags-Chargers MNF affairs, but it appears as if the Steelers are trying to ruin that through a variety of injuries and stupid attacks. Specifically, if Ben Roethlisberger is out or severely limited, then the game could very well lose a lot of its luster.
2. TEBOW!!! – Tebow vs. Brady. Broncos vs. Patriots. Good vs. Evil. There are way too many awesome storylines to count! All I know is that I would honestly rather see Tebow beat the Pats than the Cowboys win the division. If that makes me a crappy fan, then so be it.
3. An Opportunity for Houston – There are currently four 10 win teams in the AFC, all vying for the top overall seed. New England plays a very losable game at Denver. Baltimore plays a losable game at San Diego. Pittsburgh plays a VERY losable game at San Francisco. Meanwhile, Houston is at home against the Panthers. That seems to be a pretty nice set-up for them, wouldn’t you say?
As for the Week 14 picks, Prince and I did well for the third 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 14 Results (point spread in parentheses)
Landrum: 14-2 (8-3)
Prince: 13-3 (7-4)
Week 12 Winner: Landrum +2
Results through Week 14 (point spread in parentheses)
Landrum: 133-75 (107-84)
Prince: 140-68 (108-83)
Overall Leader: Prince +8
Do you want to hear me complain about only winning by 2 despite going 14-2, or should we just move on? OK, let’s get to the Week 15 picks…
Jacksonville at Atlanta (ATL -10.5)
Jon: Atlanta (JAX +10.5)
Prince: Atlanta (ATL -10.5)
As crazy as it sounds, I somehow managed to overrate Buhlaynn Girbet. So dumb. If Jacksonville called the Colts today and said they could have Gohbarrd for a 5th round pick, I honestly don’t think the Colts would take it. But hey, I’m sure the Jags have a bright future ahead of them!
Dallas at Tampa Bay (DAL -6)
Jon: Dallas (TB +6)
Prince: Dallas (DAL -6)
I’m still reeling from last week’s meltdown, so there’s a chance that my pick of Tampa cover is purely an overreaction. Still, doesn’t this feel like another one of those games that’s bound to be way closer than it should? I know Josh Freeman has been horrible this year, but I have no doubt that he’ll be able to throw against the Cowboys joke of a secondary. Given that, I wouldn’t be shocked if this turned into a bit of a shootout, with Dallas holding on to win by a narrow margin. After all, Dallas needs to win to preserve the inevitable Week 17 collapse against the Giants…
Miami at Buffalo (No Line)
Is it just me, or was the timing of Tony Sparano’s dismissal kinda weird? After a disastrous 0-7 start, it seemed certain that Miami would finish out the season with an interim coach. For whatever reason, the front office waited on pulling the plug, and the Dolphins did the unthinkable. They started winning! Whether you think Sparano is a good coach or not, there really is no reason to get rid of him right now unless A.) Miami is intentionally tanking the rest of the season to get a draft pick, or B.) the front office is terrified that the team will continue performing well, forcing them to retain Sparano for next year. I’m not sure if either is true (maybe both are!), but I do know that an ill timed coaching change is probably not going to help Miami this week at Buffalo. That, and the warm weather team playing in cold weather, makes me think Buffalo will win this one.
Seattle at Chicago (CHI -4)
Jon: Chicago (CHI -4)
Prince: Seattle (SEA +4)
I have no idea how the Bears will move the ball, and I have no idea how the Bears will score points. All I know is that I believe they will get an important win at home against a bad Seattle team. That having been said, I have still have yet to win a Seattle spread, so that pretty much guarantees that the Seahawks will win this game. Crap!
Tennessee at Indianapolis (TEN -7)
Jon: Tennessee (TEN -7)
Prince: Tennessee (TEN -7)
Indy’s ability to get backdoor covers against the Patriots and Ravens is mystifying at best, but it most certainly is not going to prevent me from continuing to pick against them. Call it insanity if you want. I call it, Dan Orlovsky.
Green Bay at Kansas City (GB -14)
Jon: Green Bay (GB -14)
Prince: Green Bay (GB -14)
Yes, Tyler Palko is FINALLY getting benched. No, Kyle Orton is not going to prevent Green Bay from winning by 100.
Cincinnati at St. Louis (CIN -6.5)
Jon: Cincinnati (CIN -6.5)
Prince: Cincinnati (CIN -6.5)
With all due respect to the Colts, I can’t think of a single team playing worse football than the St. Louis Rams right now. Honestly, I can’t understand it! I know their line is bad, and I know they’ve had tons of injuries. So what?! Lots of teams deal with this without turning into a MAC school! The Rams still have Sam Bradford. They still have Stephen Jackson. They still have Brandon Lloyd. They still have a decent defense. Shouldn’t that be enough to at least avoid constant embarrassment? Apparently not. Since St. Louis can’t score any point, I’m going to assume that a single TD will be enough to cover this spread. And since A.J. Green is on the Bengals, I’m assuming they’ll have at least one.
New Orleans at Minnesota (NO -7)
Jon: New Orleans (NO -7)
Prince: New Orleans (NO -7)
Since we all know New Orleans is going to blow the doors off Minnesota, let’s focus on how important a game this is for the Vikings. That’s right, I said it was important. Why? Well, Minnesota, like the Jacksonville and a few other teams, is in the precarious position of needing to know if their young rookie is the QB of the future. Unlike Jacksonville, the messages are very mixed. Ponder has looked very good at times, while making Donovan McNabb seem like a Pro Bowler at others. While patience is usually the right answer in this situation, the immediacy of Minnesota’s window cannot be overlooked. Adrian Peterson is a RB, and we all know that RB’s have a very short shelf life. Truth is, any game could be Peterson’s last. These last few games will be an important evaluation tool as Minnesota isn’t nearly as far away from relevance as people seem to think.
Washington at New York Giants (NYG -7)
Jon: New York (NYG -7)
Prince: New York (NYG -7)
It’s almost comical trying to figure out this stupid NFC East race, as both Prince and I went back and forth with “doesn’t this seem like the type of game they’d lose” arguments for both the Cowboys and Giants. Honestly, this DOES seem like the type of game the Giants would lose in the past. However, with Eli Manning playing at a level he’s never before approached, I just don’t have the guts to pick it. I wouldn’t be shocked if this one was close in the 4th quarter, but Manning’s dominance in the final frame makes this an easy decision.
Carolina at Houston (HOU -6.5)
Jon: Houston (HOU -6.5)
Prince: Houston (HOU -6.5)
The Texans’ offense struggled to get things going against the Bengals…but the Panthers are certainly not the Bengals. Even if Yates, whom I kinda like, is kept on a tight leash throughout, Arian Foster and Ben Tate should have no trouble running roughshod through the Panthers awful D. Remember, this is actually a huge game for Houston, as all three of their fellow 10 win AFC competitors plays very losable games. If Houston can take care of business, they could wind up with the inside track at home field throughout the playoffs. Considering their QB situation, that could prove invaluable.
Detroit at Oakland (Pick ‘Em)
This game is a pick ‘em, and it only took me about 0.3 seconds to pick Detroit. Oakland has looked awful in recent weeks, as Carson Palmer is on a pace that would see him throw about 30 INT’s in a full season. That’s no joke either! He has 13 picks in 7 games! With Palmer morphing into a modern day ‘Interceptaverde’ and the Raiders defense allowing huge quantities of yards and points, there’s no reason to not pick Detroit. Throw in the return of Suh, and this one seems pretty obvious.
New England at Denver (NE -4.5)
Jon: New England (NE -4.5)
Prince: New England (DEN +4.5)
I hate myself for this pick, but I have to be honest. Just understand, my pick has nothing to do with Tebow. It has everything to do with the Broncos coaching staff. People can pick apart Tebow all they want and talk about his lack of production in the first three quarters, but I’ve watched every single Tebow game and I see a coaching staff that is terrified to let Tebow do his thing. When Tebow is allowed to play QB from the shotgun, he’s been very effective. While he might not be the model of accuracy, he can definitely throw the ball far better than people want to credit him for. Why do you think he’s so successful at the end of games? Tebow’s ability to elude the rush and get outside the pocket is uncanny, and it absolutely tears defenses apart. I mean, who can cover a guy for seven or eight seconds at a time?! Yet, John Fox and Mike McCoy seem terrified to let Tebow be Tebow early in games, and THAT is what is putting Denver in the position they’re in. Against New England, this strategy has disaster written all over it. I expect Brady to score early and often, while the Denver coaching staff sits on their hands until it’s too late. Sad, but probably true.
New York Jets at Philadelphia (PHI -2)
Jon: New York (NYJ +2)
Prince: New York (NYJ +2)
Do you really think Philly found their groove last week? I don’t. Even in their win, the Eagles struggled mightily on offense, putting up just 239 total yards. On the flip side, this is definitely the New York Jets time of year. They’re in the midst of their annual playoff push, and I expect their defense to dominate this game from the outset.
Cleveland at Arizona (ARI -6.5)
Jon: Arizona (ARI -6.5)
Prince: Arizona (ARI -6.5)
As crazy as it sounds, the Arizona Cardinals will be 7-7 if they can beat Cleveland this week. No joke! 7-7! And honestly, I don’t see why they wouldn’t win this one. Also, I don’t see why anyone would care about this one. The only interesting thing about this game is that Seneca Wallace will be starting in place of the obviously concussed Colt McCoy (by the way…you’re dumb, Cleveland!). If Wallace has some success, that could shed a bad light on McCoy and potentially impact Cleveland’s decision in the offseason.
Baltimore at San Diego (BAL -1)
Jon: Baltimore (BAL -1)
Prince: Baltimore (BAL -1)
It seems like a lot of people are hopping on the Chargers bandwagon right now, and I honestly can’t figure out why. Their last two games have been against Buffalo and Jacksonville, so it’s probably not a good idea to assume this is some sort of resurgence. Baltimore, on the other hand, is really good. Since they’re likely to get Ray Lewis back this week, it appears as if they’ll be even better.
Pittsburgh at San Francisco (No Line)
Prince: San Francisco
It originally appeared as if we would learn a lot about these two teams this week, but now it looks like that might not be the case. With Ben Roethlisberger still very questionable for this contest, and with James Harrison being suspended for acting like James Harrison, it’s very possible that this one turns into a ‘gimme’ for the 49ers. That’s sad, as I had been looking forward to this game for awhile. Then again, if Alex Smith is sacked a dozen times (very possible) then I’ll feel confident that we’ve learned more than enough.