NFL Week 14 Thoughts and Predictions
Week 13 Record: 8-7
Dallas Cowboys at Chicago Bears
The Cowboys don't have a chance at the Super Bowl if they continue this trend of underperforming in big games.
True, I don't know how firing Jason Garrett and going with an interim head coach would fix that, but it's not like anything is going to change with Jason Garrett in charge.
A week ago I would have said there's no way the Cowboys lost to the Bears and their anemic offense, but since the Bears offense actually showed a pulse last week, I think this game will be closer than Cowboys fans will want.
Score: Cowboys 21, Bears 17
Indianapolis Colts at Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Essentially a must-win for the Colts to keep pace in the AFC South after a loss to the surging Titans, the team will likely bounce back against a Buccaneers team with really nothing to play for.
The Buccaneers have paper towel-like defense, a stark contrast to the stout Titans unit from last week.
All they need to do is shake off their week 13 special teams woes....
Score: Colts 27, Buccaneers 23
Baltimore Ravens at Buffalo Bills
There's three big games this week that could very well end up being playoff matchups, and this is one of them.
The Ravens proved (yet again) last week that they are a real Super Bowl contender in notching another impressive victory in their belt, edging out the 49ers.
The Bills proved something in their own right -- that they can beat a good team in the national spotlight.
To be honest though, I'm still not that sold on the Bills.
They are a great team and no doubt will be a tough out for any team in the playoffs.
However their only real victories over decent-to-good teams are a tight, low-scoring victory over the Titans (who were nowhere near as good as the are clicking now), and the aforementioned Cowboys, who are starting to spiral.
It'll be a tough, hard-fought game, but I think the Ravens will continue to be too much for opposing teams.
Score: Ravens 28, Bills 24
Detroit Lions at Minnesota Vikings
Will David Blough repeat his surprise performance from Thankgiving? Tough to say, but I'm leaning toward no.
As described here, Blough stuggled with shifting blitz packages late in the game, which could prove advantageous for the Vikings talented and smart defense.
I'm also not liking the prospects of the Lions defense against the Vikings offense.
Score: Vikings 31, Lions 20
Washington Redskins at Green Bay Packers
The Packers do well against downtrodden teams, as evidenced by their big win over the Giants in week 13.
I'm not as confident this week. The Packers give up the fifth most yards per game in the league, so the Redskins offense may have the chance to put a few good drives together.
Pair that with the fact the the Redskisns defense has been much improved in their two-game win streak, and the Packers could have a tough test on their hands, although I do think they will come away with a victory.
Score: Packers 27, Redskins 19
Denver Broncos at Houston Texans
Last week's Sunday night victory over New England was a big one for the Texans to stay in control of the AFC South. A lot of it came down to Deshaun Watson, who carved apart the Patriots defense.
I think he's do the same against the Broncos.
Score: Texans 26, Broncos 16
San Francisco 49ers at New Orleans Saints
The second of three big playoff preview games.
Jimmy Garoppolo has proven that he can lead the team to victory in absence of a running attack. He may have to do that against New Orleans.
You can't run on the Saints. You have to beat them through the air.
As for the Saints, I'll give them the slight edge over the 49ers defense. They won't hit you with big plays that often, but they are so adept at nickel and diming you down the field.
It'll be a great game. I'll give the Saints a narrow victory.
Cincinnati Bengals at Cleveland Browns
What a waste of talent this Browns team is. So much potential, but it's being led by an absolute muppet.
Freddie Kitchens needs to go. He has no clue how to lead a team. I'm not even talking about as much about his prowess with the X's and O's, which is garbage and should be reason enough.
But WHY, as a head coach of a pro football team, do you post a picture of you in a "Pittsburgh started it" shirt, which in itself is a classless move and just makes you look like a terrible leader.
Then you go out on to the field and lead your team to a loss against essentially Pittsburgh's backups.
Garbage head coach.
They're really lucky they're playing the Bengals and will win though.
Score: Browns 17, Bengals 10
Carolina Panthers vs. Atlanta Falcons
Riverboat Ron is out. I guess Panthers owner David Tepper wasn't kidding when he said that mediocrity won't be tolerated.
Perry Fewell will run the ship for the rest of the season. His track record isn't great though, going 3-4 filling in for a fired Dick Jauron in 2009 while with the Buffalo Bills.
It was only a few weeks ago that the Falcons trounced the Panthers 29-3, and the Falcons have been showing a lot of fight in recent weeks.
Perry Fewell will not elevate the Panthers above the level at which they have been playing.
Score: Falcons 28, Panthers 17
Miami Dolphins at New York Jets
I have no clue what to make of the Jets. They're the Jeckyll and Hyde of the NFL. One week, they are trouncing the Cowboys or Raiders, and the next they are losing to the winless Bengals.
I'll give the Dolphins this win. I'm not confident in the Jets defense, especially if they do not have Jamal Adams, who is struggling with injury. The Dolphins have been performing admirably well over the past several weeks..
Score: Dolphins 25, Jets 10
Los Angeles Chargers at Jacksonville Jaguars
The Chargers are nothing special, but the Jaguars are in an absolute state right now.
That defense can get nothing going. Joey bosa and coompany will harass Nick Foles/Gardner Minshew all game.
Score: Chargers 29, Jaguars 13
Kansas City Chiefs at New England Patriots
The third big playoff preview matchup this week features two teams trending in opposite directions.
The Chiefs are back to normal, while the Patriots have laid a few dud games recently.
I'll go with the Chiefs here. recently, teams with potent offenses have been able to put up points on the Patriots stingy defense. We may have overvalued that defense early on in the season due to New England's cupcake schedule.
Secondly, the Patriots offense simply is not clicking. It doesn't even matter if the defense they are playing is stellar. Screens and five-yard hitch routes can only get you so far.
The Chiefs are finally hitting their stride, and that's a scary prospect.
Score: Chiefs 33, New England 28
Tennessee Titans at Oakland Raiders
Speaking of teams hitting their stride, the Titans are feeling it.
Ryan Tannehill is having a rebirth, Derrick Henry over the past 16 games has had absurd stats, and the defense is among the most underrated units in the NFL.
The Raiders are a fantastic team and definitely in the playoff picture, but the past two weeks they have only put up three and nine points against the Jets and Chiefs, respectively. Those are not opponents that are known for their defense.
I just don't feel that the Raiders have the playmakers to get past the Titans defense.
The Titans however will likely dominate against a sub-par Raiders defensive unit.
Score: Titans 30, Raiders 20
Pittsburgh Steelers at Arizona Cardinals
While the Steelers offensive backups performed decent against the Browns last week, the defense is winning this team games.
TJ Watt, Bud Dupree, and Minkah Fitzpatrick have all been stellar. Them, combined with the fact that the Cardinals basically have a college defense will equal a Pittsburgh win.
Score: Steelers 24, Cardinals 17
Seattle Seahawks at Los Angeles Rams
Great win by the Rams last week, but as I said, the Cardinals have a college defense.
They won't replicate their performance this week against the Seahawks.
This is a legitimate Super Bowl contender. I don't see Jard Goff going off again this time around.
Score: Seahawks 29, Rams 21
New York Giants at Philadelphia Eagles
Well, well, well. Look who is back. Eli Manning.
Manning will likely get the start as Daniel Jones is dealing with an ankle sprain. A lateral move really.
Regardless of who starts, Carson Wentz, who likely will unfairly be blamed for the Eagles' mediocre season, should be able to move the ball, assuming his receivers actually catch it.
Score: Eagles 19, Giants 14