Look Ahead into NFL Week 14

By Michael LoCoco
PSDC NFL Beat Writer

Here we are, the last quarter of the regular season. Where does the time go? Just about every team knows what they need to do from here on out and despite the parity in the NFL the path to the postseason for most teams is clear: Just Win Baby. As with last week, top matchups this week focus on games with a large amount of postseason meaning. Let’s take a look at all of them.

Week 13 Against the Spread 6-10 (98-82 Overall)

Yikes. Not the kind of week I needed if I want to finish the season respectably. While I do get one freebie on the Pats-Eagles game (honestly who saw that one coming), the rest of the week was mostly a nightmare and if Aaron Rodgers doesn’t bail me out with that home run ball on an untimed down I’d be an even worse looking 5-11. Brutal.

MY THURSDAY NIGHT PICK

Cardinals 23 Vikings 20

Photo Credit: Getty Images/Chris Petersen

Boy the Vikings have had some tough losses in Arizona (Nate Poole anyone?). This is a tough game to lose though going down to the wire and fighting the way they did. Definitely showed that Teddy Bridgewater is the man though. The big consequence of this game is that a Green Bay win against the Cowboys means that Green Bay can do no worse than have the division up for grabs in Week 17. For the Vikings it means they cannot fall another game behind Green Bay because to fall two games back would make Week 17 meaningless. For the Cardinals they cleared a major obstacle to the second overall seed, but a Packers loss would make the Week 17 game massive if Green Bay were to win out. Lots of scenarios there. Let’s take a look at the games.

MUST WATCH GAMES

Cincinnati vs. Pittsburgh (Cincinnati -2.5)

In a week of (surprisingly) mostly mediocre contests, this one stands alone. Back when Pitt lost the first leg of this division series most figured them for dead. They’ve surged back to life in the second part of the season with a blistering aerial assault that has them marked as a classic “no one wants to see them in the playoffs” club. Cincinnati, for their own part, is looking to tie off the division and contend for the first overall seed. The Pats dumping two straight to the Broncos and Eagles has the conference looking like it could be more up in the air than we thought with three clubs sharing a 10-2 record. Lots to play for, Dalton and Roethlisberger, offense and defense. It’s good old-fashioned AFC North football. Game of the week.

My take on this game is that the Bengals do just about everything really well, where as the Steelers are just lighting it up on offense. Their defense could get them into trouble though. They just aren’t doing much well on that side of the ball against top QBs. In Cincy I’ll take the Bengals.

(Cincinnati Covers the Spread)

COULD BE GOOD

Philadelphia vs. Buffalo (Philadelphia +1)

Just one must watch game this week, but a couple games that have some intrigue. The NFC East is pretty much anyone’s for the taking (including Dallas shockingly). The Eagles pretty much stunned everyone by knocking out New England last week. This week they’ll play the Bills at their own house. The McCoy thread is pretty much as forced a storyline as possible; it’s played out. The real question is if the Eagles can show some consistency with Bradford under center.

This game has all the hallmarks of one that could be very competitive and it’s rare that we get this late in the season and still have major questions about a team’s identity like we do for Philly. Still I like the home kids here.

(Philadelphia Beats the Spread)

Houston vs. New England (Houston +3.5)

Houston has played much more competitive ball lately, but the lack of a quarterback still hurts. Two potential Hall of Fame talents will be walking wounded this Sunday with Watt and Gronk both expected to play as of right now. Watt has a broken hand and Gronk practiced for the first time since his injury this week. Houston is tied for their division right now and New England simply cannot afford to drop another game if they want to ensure they hold onto the first overall seed.

Ultimately here, it’s hard to pick against New England even if Gronk doesn’t play. Until Houston gets their hands on a quarterback they’ll be unconvincing and hard to pick in these big matchups.

(New England Covers the Spread)

AND THE REST

Carolina vs. Atlanta (Carolina -8.5)

The undefeated talk will get louder and louder each week and Carolina plays the Falcons two times between now and perfection. Atlanta is cratering though, just awful. They may just lie down here. It’s on the coaches and individual players to get up for this contest even if the team did waste a great start to the season. Just not sure they have the talent to mash with Carolina.

(Carolina Covers the Spread)

Green Bay vs. Dallas (Green Bay -7.0)

What was supposed to be a classic December rematch of the NFC Divisional Round won’t be. Romo is gone. The forecast is for moderate temperatures and rain. The only true intrigue is that Dallas is playing for their division. Green Bay is trying to find a groove on offense still and go a full game up on Minnesota. Hard to pick against the Packers in December though, especially on nine days rest.

(Green Bay Covers the Spread)

Kansas City vs. San Diego (Kansas City -10)

Kansas City is one of the best stories from the second half of the season. They’ve absolutely surged. San Diego, meanwhile is lamenting a season lost to injury. It’s incredible that a team with Philip Rivers hasn’t had more success. He’s a great player and the reason I’m taking them to beat the spread. Ten points is a lot.

(San Diego Beats the Spread)

Chicago vs. Washington (Chicago -3.5)

The loss to the 49ers broke the backs of Chicago. Their long-shot playoff hopes are basically gone. Washington meanwhile has it all in front of them. Like the rest of the NFC East, win and they’re in. John Fox is a great coach though and Cutler is a better QB than Cousins. I like Chicago at home.

(Chicago Covers the Spread)

Jacksonville vs. Indianapolis (Jacksonville -1.0)

I think this is a bellwether game for Jacksonville. Can they compete at home against a hobbled division rival. Indianapolis has to try to grab a game when Houston is likely to lose to New England. I think Jax can mash here.

(Jacksonville Covers the Spread)

New York Jets vs. Tennessee Titans (New York -7.0)

This isn’t a particularly compelling matchup. The Jets are a middling team with plenty of defensive talent and some offense. The Titans are all potential. Not a lot to play for here. I think New York is just too talented for them.

(New York Covers the Spread)

Tampa Bay vs. New Orleans (Tampa Bay -4.0)

New Orleans takes the 11-0 Panthers down to the wire and they’re four point dogs the next week to Tampa Bay? Sorry, but I don’t follow that script. Drew Brees is still slinging the football and he’s still Drew Brees.

(New Orleans Beats the Spread)

St. Louis vs. Detroit (St. Louis +2.5)

The game of lost seasons. Does Detroit have any will left after the Motown Miracle? From Detroit’s perspective that is absolute heartbreak, a rivalry loss that ended their postseason hopes, slim as they were. I think Detroit caves.

(St. Louis Beats the Spread)

Miami vs. New York Giants (Miami +1.0)

This looks like Coughlin’s swan song to me. That a two time Super Bowl winning head coach could ever get run out of town is beyond me. Coughlin is clearly outstanding. This just doesn’t feel like New York’s year.

(Miami Beats the Spread)

Baltimore vs. Seattle (Baltimore +10.0)

If this were an action film, Baltimore is the weakling opponent we get to see the bad guy smash up early in the film so we can see just how hardcore the villain is. Seattle is the villain in this weak metaphor and I think they’re gonna punish the Ravens. Teams going in opposite directions.

(Seattle Covers the Spread)

Cleveland vs. San Francisco (Cleveland -1.5)

First overall pick anyone? It’s a race to the bottom in this week’s worst game. San Francisco may just care more.

(San Francisco Beats the Spread)

Follow Mike on Twitter: @MichaelLoCocoWI

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