We Agree 12 Times, Which Can’t be Good: NFL Week 14 PicksPosted: December 4, 2014
We are not gamblers. That doesn’t mean we can’t pretend. Some of these choices have actual thought put into them. More of these choices were made with gut, intuition, and a little thing called grit.
Employ these recommendations at your own peril. Gambling is ungentlemanly.
[Home team in caps. Lines, team rankings, and standings as of 12/4/14 (before the Thursday night game). All lines per VegasInsider.com consensus.]
MIAMI (-3) vs. Baltimore
Miami: 7-5, 2nd AFC East, #19 total offense, #10 scoring offense, #6 total defense, #6 scoring defense
Baltimore: 7-5, 2nd AFC North, #10 total offense, #6 scoring offense, #16 total defense, #7 scoring defense
Will: I’ll open with a prepared statement: On the heels of our backing the Bears this week, our picks deserve absolutely no credence. Picking these games is a fool’s errand, I am a fool, and I have no idea how we’re both over .500 for the season.
That said, this game is the first of many that I don’t know what to do with this week. I don’t trust the Dolphins, they of the 16-point offense performance against the Jets last week. I don’t trust the Ravens, whose three road wins include two against the NFC South and a last-second field goal against the Browns. Miami is at home, but Sun Life Stadium is hardly a crucible for visiting clubs. I’ll take the Ravens, which is more an endorsement of the value of three points than the men in purple.
Derek: I swear I used to be able to pick football games. What’s happened to me? I’m ashamed.
I get more confused with the Dolphins every week. I thought they were overrated, then they nearly beat the Broncos in Denver. Then I thought they might be for real. Then they nearly lost to a putrid Jets team that refused to pass the ball. They make no sense.
I shall rely on the power of the short week, the angry team that lost last week, and the points. I shall rely on the Ravens.
CINCINNATI (-3) vs. Pittsburgh
Cincinnati: 8-3-1, 1st AFC North, #18 total offense, #18 scoring offense, #21 total defense, T-#10 scoring defense
Pittsburgh: 7-5, 3rd AFC North, #3 total offense, #8 scoring offense, #12 total defense, #21 scoring defense
Will: It seems like the Steelers are decent, right? Their offense is among the best in the league when it’s humming. They can absolutely beat Andy Dalton. I was ready to wholeheartedly back Pittsburgh, and then I looked at their schedule. Their only road wins are against Carolina, Jacksonville, and Tennessee. They’ve lost to the Bucs and the Jets.
Meanwhile, the Bengals are playing the first home game after winning three straight on the road. I’m going to feel terribly about this pick as soon as the ball is kicked off, but I back Cincinnati.
Derek: I’m not sure “decent” is the word I would use. They seem to win the games they’re supposed to lose and lose the games they’re supposed to win. Well, I guess that could be decent. Depends on how many good teams you play.
Anyway, my first inclination is too take the Bengals at home. Which means I think the Steelers should lose this game. Which means they will win this game. Logic! I’ll take the Steelers.
Indianapolis (-3.5) at CLEVELAND
Indianapolis: 8-4, 1st AFC South, #1 total offense, #1 scoring offense, #23 total defense, #18 scoring defense
Cleveland: 7-5, 4th AFC North, #12 total offense, #22 scoring offense, #18 total defense, #9 scoring defense
Derek: Boy howdy, this line seems a bit low. I know the Colts aren’t as good outside of Indy but surely the Colts can win by four. While I’m going to enjoy watching Trent Richardson gain 10 yards on 12 carries, I’m not sure I trust Brian Hoyer to catch up if the Browns get behind. Going with the Colts.
Will: Everything about this feels bad for the Browns. The Colts put up a ton of points, especially against bad teams. The Browns aren’t quite a bad team right now, but they aren’t quite a good team either. The Hoyer-Manziel situation has put this game under a giant fart cloud. The Browns tend to play well when you least expect it, so I would not be shocked if they kept this close, but I’m going with head over heart for once. I am a Colt-picking traitor.
Houston (-5) at JACKSONVILLE
Houston: 6-6, 2nd AFC South, #14 total offense, #13 scoring offense, #27 total defense, T-#10 scoring defense
Jacksonville: 2-10, 4th AFC South #31 total offense, #31 scoring offense, #28 total defense, #28 scoring defense
Will: Five points is a lot for a middling Houston offense, but the idea of waiting for Blake Bortles to make a play against J.J. Watt and co. sounds like a miserable proposition. Texans it is.
Derek: Yeah, the Jags’ o-line isn’t very good. Last week, Ryan Fitzpatrick threw six touchdown passes. This week, the Texans’ defense could score six touchdowns. I also back the Texans.
TENNESSEE (PK) vs. New York Giants
Tennessee: 2-10, 3rd AFC South, #27 total offense, #29 scoring offense, #30 total defense, #32 scoring defense
New York: 3-9, 3rd NFC East, #15 total offense, #20 scoring offense, #29 total defense, T-#25 scoring defense
Derek: The first pick ’em game in Sports Monocle history! We’re making history today. So, hey, someone in the world thinks this game is historic.
This game is also going to be historic when Odell Beckham gets 15 catches and 270 yards. Despite six Eli Manning interceptions, the Giants pull it out in the end.
Will: This matchup is fantastic. What a crap game. I am not going to watch a minute of it. No one should care about this game, including owners of New York or Tennessee driver’s licenses. I’m going to bank on the Giants descending further into the abyss. Go Titans!
NEW ORLEANS (-9.5) vs. Carolina
New Orleans: 5-7, 2nd NFC South, #2 total offense, #7 scoring offense, #31 total defense, #24 scoring defense
Carolina: 3-8-1, 3rd NFC South, #21 total offense, #27 scoring offense, #17 total defense, #29 scoring defense
Will: It is wonderful that a 5-7 team is favored by nine and a half. Carolina has lost its last three home games, though two of them were by a combined five points. I arbitrarily feel like Cam Newton will play well this week. Also, I have not watched the Panthers at all this season. Yet, I pick Carolina.
Derek: Yeah, the Saints make a fool of me every week, so I’m sure this week will be no different. I wouldn’t lay 9.5 points to take the Saints against any team at any stadium. I’ll be sure to read this paragraph again midway through the game when Cam Newton has the body language of a man in the electric chair and the Saints are up by 35. Traditions are important. Panthers.
DETROIT (-9.5) vs. Tampa Bay
Detroit: 8-4, 2nd NFC North, #17 total offense, T-#25 scoring offense, #2 total defense, #1 scoring defense
Tampa Bay: 2-10, 4th NFC South, #26 total offense, #28 scoring offense, #20 total defense, #23 scoring defense
Will: It feels like the Lions have struggled lately, but their two November losses were on the road against Arizona and New England. Those are forgivable defeats. Tampa is a disaster, so I’m taking pride in picking the Lions.
The Bucs have looked remarkably competent lately, but I think the Lions can
Buc the trend.
I don’t like the Bucs’ pass defense against these receivers. Plus, the Bucs are overdue for one of their trademark implosion games. I think the only thing that will implode on the Lions is Reggie Bush’s ankle. As such, I believe the Lions will cover.
St. Louis (-3) at WASHINGTON
St. Louis: 5-7, 4th NFC West, #25 total offense, #17 scoring offense, #14 total defense, T-#19 scoring defense
Washington: 3-9, 4th NFC East, #11 total offense, #23 scoring offense, #11 total defense, #27 scoring defense
Derek: The Rams sure looked frisky last week, but I wonder if they’ll have as much success against future Hall of Famer Colt McCoy. But, this is the Ram’s MO. They look really good at the end of the season to trick people into foolishly calling them sleepers next season. The Ram Legacy continues.
Will: Another wonderfully bad game. Just as I’m banking on the Giants getting worse and worse, I think Washington’s season of doom will spiral further down into the abyss. The Rams add insult to injury.
MINNESOTA (-6) vs. New York Jets
Minnesota: 5-7, 4th NFC North, #30 total offense, #24 scoring offense, #10 total defense, #14 scoring defense
New York: 2-10, 4th AFC East, #29 total offense, #30 scoring offense, #7 total defense, T-#25 scoring defense
Will: This game sucks and I don’t want to think about it. Six points is too many for the thirtieth-ranked offense in the league. I like the Jets to cover.
Derek: Ugh. I agree. I’m taking the Jets and moving on.
DENVER (-9.5) vs. Buffalo
Denver: 9-3, 1st AFC West, #5 total offense, #5 scoring offense, #3 total defense, #17 scoring defense
Buffalo:7-5, 3rd AFC East, #24 total offense, #16 scoring offense, #5 total defense, #2 scoring defense
Derek: The Broncos have a pretty good track record of covering at home. Julius Thomas should return, and C.J. Anderson is a monster. As if they needed any more weapons. I do believe the Broncos are the correct side.
Will: Peyton Manning vs. Kyle Orton is all I need to know. I could see Buffalo keeping this close, but I’m taking Denver.
ARIZONA (-1) vs. Kansas City
Arizona: 9-3, 1st NFC West, #23 total offense, #19 scoring offense, #13 total defense, T-#4 scoring defense
Kansas City: 7-5, 3rd AFC West, #28 total offense, #15 scoring offense, #9 total defense, T-#4 scoring defense
Derek: It’s the Spiraling Out of Control Bowl! As much as I’d love for the Cardinals to lose this game to help out the Seahawks, they’ve been pretty decent at home. For that reason, I dislike the Cardinals a little less.
Will: Fun fact: I cannot name three offensive players for Arizona. I can, however, name Jamaal Charles, and I’m banking on him having a big game. This is exceptionally lazy prognostication. At this rate, I’ll be making picks for a local paper one day. Chiefs!
San Francisco (-8) at OAKLAND
San Francisco: 7-5, 3rd NFC West, #22 total offense, T-#25 scoring offense, #4 total defense, #8 scoring defense
Oakland: 1-11, 4th AFC West, #32 total offense, #32 scoring offense, #15 total defense, T-#30 scoring defense
Derek: I already got the Seahawks embarrassing the 49ers on national TV, so this is no time to get greedy. It would just be so, so incredibly funny if the 49ers lost this game. I realize they probably won’t. But, the biggest spread the 49ers have covered as favorites this year is 4.5. They were favored by nine against the Redskins and didn’t cover, and they were favored by 10.5 at home against the Rams and lost outright. I’m going with the Raiders to cover. Hopefully no one gets stabbed.
Will: As a Vernon Davis fantasy owner, I feel uniquely qualified to share the following opinion: The Niners’ offense blows. I realize Oakland’s offense blows too, and more, but I think this will be a supremely ugly game decided by six points. Continuing a puzzling trend, I like Oakland.
PHILADELPHIA (-1) vs. Seattle
Philadelphia: 9-3, 1st NFC East, #4 total offense, #4 scoring offense, #24 total defense, T-#19 scoring defense
Seattle: 8-4, 2nd NFC West, #13 total offense, #11 scoring offense, #1 total defense, #3 scoring defense
Derek: I realize this is a different situation, but the last time the Sanchize faced the Seahawks, he didn’t play well. He’s been decent since he took over for Nick Foles. No denying that. But the defenses he’s faced in his four starts are: Carolina, Green Bay, Tennessee, and Dallas. I may be a homer, but I’d say the Seahawks’ defense is much better than any of those stop units. Could we see an old-time Sanchez performance? I sure hope so. In a shocker, I like the Seahawks.
Will: Ooooh, this is a nice game. I don’t know how Philly is 9-3 with Mark Sanchez at the helm. It’s become one of those things that it’s too late for me to understand, like interest on a T-bill or how to remove a brassiere with one hand. This is all an embarrassing way of saying that I support Seattle.
New England (-3.5) at SAN DIEGO
New England: 9-3, 1st AFC East, #6 total offense, #3 scoring offense, #19 total defense, #13 scoring defense
San Diego: 8-4, 2nd AFC West, #16 total offense, #14 scoring offense, #8 total defense, #12 scoring defense
Derek: This will be a fun game, but I don’t really like either team. I seem to remember hearing some statistic about the Patriots being money coming off of a loss, so I’ll pick them.
Will: Philip Rivers can still shift into fifth gear, and I think he’ll play well against Tom Brady. The extra half-point is a fickle move by the bookmakers, but I will not be dissuaded. I think the Pats win big.
GREEN BAY (-12.5) vs. Atlanta
Green Bay: 9-3, 1st NFC North, #7 total offense, #2 scoring offense, #25 total defense, #15 scoring defense
Atlanta: 5-7, 1st NFC South, #9 total offense, #12 scoring offense, #32 total defense, #22 scoring defense
Derek: My first thought was something along the lines of “Egad, 12.5 points?!” Then I did a bit of research and learned that the Packers are 5-0-1 ATS at home this season, and 7-1-1 ATS as favorites. Well then! Packers it is.
Will: I love the Packers in this one, though I could see the Falcons getting a sneaky bullshit cover.