The Stretch Run Starts, Will Excitement Come With It? [NFL Week 14 Live Thread]
With Jess at CenturyLink Field today, you get me as your substitute teacher. Joining us today is ironhead_mike, who has been around these parts for a long time. Take it away, Mike.
Special Obsolete Thursday Night Pick: Denver at Oakland
Mike: Two teams on opposite ends of the spectrum. For a game that at the outset of the season looked interesting… Peyton Manning and the Denver defense will be the ones doing ransacking and looting. Broncos by 10+.
Eric: I didn't watch a minute of this game, assuming the Broncos would roll, which they did. No one seemed to notice that the Raiders are in as much disarray as any other team.
St. Louis at Buffalo
Mike: The Rams are awful away from home and the Bills… well they’re home away from home in Toronto. You never know what you’re going to get out of either of these teams. I’m taking the mistake prone Bills by 9.
Eric: Quick correction, this is not the Bills annual Toronto game. That said, I agree the Bills will win, since the Rams appear to be one of the few offenses not equipped to take advantage of Buffalo's awful D.
Dallas at Cincinnati
Mike: Both are coming off much needed wins last week. I’m not sold on the Cowboys win last week. The Bengals won while on the road last week while not playing their best. I’ll take Cincy at home in a close one by 4 or less.
Eric: Mike wrote the above before the tragedy involving the Cowboys this weekend. I pick the Bengals, and have nothing more to say about this.
Kansas City at Cleveland
Mike: The Chiefs banded together last week and came out with a win while the Browns have quietly won 4 of their last 7. The Chiefs are on the road and come back down to earth this week. Browns by 7.
Eric: With all due respect for the tragedies both teams have suffered, Woof. (Pick: Cleveland)
Tennessee at Indianapolis
Mike: The Colts coming off a come from behind on the road in Detroit will get a break this week against a Titans team that has lost 4 of the last 5 including to Indy at home. Colts cruise to a 10+ point victory.
Eric: The Colts are not a great team yet, but keep finding to ways to steal wins. If the Titans show up, they actually could win this game. I don't think that's going to *happen*, but I'm not discounting the possibility.
Chicago at Minnesota
Mike: Even though the Vikes are 5-1 at home and the Bears just lost the heart and soul of their defense for the month of December – it’s hard to have a lot of confidence in a team led by Ponder who is in a real funk right now. Both team score over 23 points, but the Bears win by 7 on the road.
Eric: Has anyone else noticed yet that the Bears have one win over a team with a winning record, and that was the Colts in Week 1 (a very different Colts team than we have now)? That said, Ponder's been awful, and Purple Jesus can't do it all, so the Bears win.
San Diego at Pittsburgh
Mike: Like the Eagles, the Chargers ship is sinking fast. The Steelers defense is playing well and if Big Ben is playing you have a recipe for a Steelers win by 10+ points.
Eric: Ben playing means a Steelers win. Of course, given the Chargers, Chaz Batch playing would also mean a Steelers win.
Philadelphia at Tampa Bay
Mike: The Eagles have mailed in the season and Tampa is getting hotter as the year goes on. Bucs by 13+ points.
Eric: Let's see, a team that plays hard, has good young talent, and is coached by an insane person, or a smoldering dumpster fire? I think I'll go with the former on that one. (Pick: Tampa)
Baltimore at Washington
Mike: This game could be interesting with the Ravens looking to sew up the division and the ‘Skins looking to sneak into the playoffs. I’m going with the home team since Baltimore’s defense is banged up, Flacco does not play nearly as well on the road, and Washington is playing for a playoff spot. Redskins by 4 points.
Eric: While there is certainly animosity between Baltimore and DC as cities, I'm not sure how much of that matters with the football teams since they don't play each other enough. In other words, despite those that will try, I don't think it's much of a rivalry. To the extent that it is though, this is pretty accurate. The Skins fans rebuttal is convincing.
Atlanta at Carolina
Mike: Barring a colossal melt down, Matty Ice and the Falcons should have their way with the Panthers. Atlanta has been playing great defense of late and should give Cam Newton fits. Falcons by 13 points.
Eric: In the last two years, the Panthers are a remarkable 0-11 in games decided by a touchdown or less. The conventional wisdom would put that all on Cam Newton and Ron Rivera. However, a lot of that (minus the bad Rivera decisions) comes down to straight up luck. Since the Falcons never blow anyone out, Carolina should have a chance to break that streak. I'm throwing caution to the wind and say the Panthers luck changes in my Upset Special.
N.Y. Jets at Jacksonville
Mike: Two teams who each are dealing with injuries and poor play from key positions. If Sanchez can throw the ball to the right jerseys the Jets win. Jet by 9 points.
Eric: Woof. Just show the Sanchez Butt Fumble on an endless loop instead. (Pick: Jacksonville)
Miami at San Francisco
Mike: The Niners are still smarting from losing a game they probably should have won. The Dolphins are playing decent defense, but their offense has been anemic. Look for San Fran to take the win at home by 10 points.
Eric: As the Most Annoying QB Controversy Not Involving a Religious Symbol rolls out, my guess is the WAC Off Player of the Year does enough to both keep his job and win against a Dolphins team that I honestly know very little about.
New Orleans at N.Y. Giants
Mike: Tough game to call. The Giants are at home but are playing awful right now. The Saints have a lot of
offensive fire power but making too many mistakes on offense. The defense has looked better than the offense which speaks volumes as to why they’ve lost the last two games. It’s hard to believe the Brees will have three bad games in a row and that the Giants won’t snap out of their string of poor play. What should happen is the Giants beat the Saints 33-31.
Eric: Giants, I guess. You try figuring out what these teams will do week to week.
Arizona at Seattle
Mike: The Cards have lost 8 straight and the ‘Hawks are playing at home where they are the toughest to beat. Skelton is back relieving Lindley in the hopes of getting the offense going. I see the Seahawks winning by 13 points or more.
Eric: The Buzzsaw go back to John Skelton, the answer to a question no one asked. Seattle, meanwhile, is starting to get talked up as a real contender. If they are in fact one, they must crush Arizona at home. That's what truly good teams do, beat the crap out of bad ones. While I do expect the Seahawks to win, I also expect Wilson to cool off a bit (i.e. throw a pick for the first time in 4 games). We'll see if they can show how good they are in the process.
Detroit at Green Bay
Mike: This game looks like it could be a high scoring affair. The Lions can score with the best of them which is good because their defense does not seem to be able to stop anyone over the past month. The Packers are looking to take control of, or at least stay even with the Bears. I’ll take the Packers at home finding enough defense to come out on top of the Lions. Packers by 6 and over 55 points scored.
Eric: Between injuries to Jordy Nelson and most every impact defensive player to a Swiss cheese offensive line to Mason Crosby's issues, the Packers have plenty of problems right now. For homer and Aaron Rodgers reasons though, I pick them to win. Detroit's terrible defense helps too.
Bonus Monday Night Pick: Houston at New England
Mike: ESPN must be licking their chops at what on paper looks like the game of the week. Both teams are playing at a high level and this should eb a great test for both. New England’s December record is insane and their home record in December is even better. However, they have injury issues and a defense that does just enough to win, but makes their fans pull their hair out. Houston has shown some lapses over the past month. I’m going with the Pats at home 27-23.
Eric: This is the part of the year where the Patriots just outscore everyone to make the world forget they can't stop a good offense. Thus, I pick New England.
Thanks Mike for your input! Q it up here throughout Week 14.