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Thursday, 4 December 2014

NFL Week 14 Picks 2014 (December 4-8)

Week 13 Thoughts
Miami Dolphins showing character: Getting into the Play Offs in the tough AFC was always going to be difficult for the Miami Dolphins who aren't quite good enough to keep tabs with the New England Patriots in the AFC East. That means the Wild Card spots were about as good as it could be for the Dolphins this season and they are currently occupying one of those spots.

It could have been all so different on Monday Night Football as Miami escaped with a win from the road game at the New York Jets, but I am looking at the positives from that one.

There is no doubt that Miami would have lost that game in recent years and you only have to go back twelve months to see how far the Dolphins have come. With destiny in their own hands, Miami were embarrassed by the Jets and the Buffalo Bills in back to back weeks to fall out of Play Off contention and it looked like they were going to suffer another devastating loss on Monday Night.

However, they did enough to win that game, with some luck going their way, and now Miami have a huge game in Week 14 when they host the Baltimore Ravens. If they can win that game, the Dolphins will be in a very strong position with three weeks remaining of the regular season and would be favourites to make the Play Offs, but a loss to the Ravens may be too much to overcome.

To win, Miami still need to get more out of Ryan Tannehill down the field, where he has been at his poorest so far this season, and take advantage of the Baltimore Secondary. Being at home is key and there is now some excitement that the Dolphins could be in with a chance of making the Play Offs for the first time since 2008.


Can Drew Stanton do enough to help the Arizona Cardinals into the Play Offs? I mentioned last week that I don't think the Arizona Cardinals will make the Play Offs with Drew Stanton and that was at a time when I thought they would beat the Atlanta Falcons.

Stanton has made mistakes, missed Receivers and the Cardinals are now in a position where the Wild Card spots look their most likely avenue to the Play Offs.

With Seattle improving, it isn't too far-fetched to think the Seahawks sweep Arizona and that will give them the tie-breaker in the Division, while teams like Philadelphia/Dallas, Detroit and San Francisco remain in the Wild Card race.

There will need to be a huge improvement from Stanton if Arizona are going to win another couple of games that will lead them to the Play Offs. This week is a huge game for them against the Kansas City Chiefs, for both teams in actual fact, and the loser of that might be out of the Play Offs I would feel.


Should the Cleveland Browns have made the change at Quarter Back? On Wednesday it was announced that Mike Pettine was going to stick with Brian Hoyer as Quarter Back over Johnny Manziel which has sparked a debate as to whether it was the right decision.

Most seem to agree with the choice, but I don't think I can count myself as one of those people.

Let's preface this with this- I am not a Manziel fan, never have been a Manziel fan and wouldn't care less if he is a First Round bust... However, he did spark Cleveland last week in their loss to Buffalo and Hoyer has been regressing over the last month and I am not sure the Browns need to see what they have in Manziel for a full game.

I don't believe Cleveland will be paying Hoyer the big bucks in the off-season so it makes no sense to me for them to persist with him, especially as he hasn't been playing that well. The argument is that he has led the team to a 7-5 record and in the Play Off hunt, but the Browns have been fortunate to win a couple of games over the past few weeks that had almost nothing to do with Hoyer and I think Manziel was the player that the others could rally towards.

I'll take it all back if Hoyer leads the Browns to a 3-1 record down the stretch that may bring a Play Off spot, but I wouldn't be overly surprised if the discussion about the starting Quarter Back is resumed next week.


Green Bay versus New England would make for a good Super Bowl: It was a fascinating game that was much closer on the scoreboard than it perhaps should have been, but both the Green Bay Packers and the New England Patriots would make for a good Super Bowl if they get the chance to have their rematch there in a couple of months time.

There are plenty of obstacles for both teams to pass if they are to get to Arizona, but both are in a position to finish with the best record in their respective Conferences and there aren't too many teams that will fancy their chances of winning on the road against either.

Aaron Rodgers has played so well at Lambeau Field over the last couple of years, while beating Tom Brady and the Patriots in Foxboro in January is not something I would task to too many teams in the AFC.


Play Off Prediction: AFC- New England, Denver, Cincinnati, Indianapolis, Miami, Kansas City
NFC- Green Bay, Philadelphia, Seattle, New Orleans, Detroit, Dallas


Top Ten
1) Green Bay Packers (9-3): They were Number 2 last week and deserve to move up with their win over the previous Number 1.

2) New England Patriots (9-3): Still the team to beat in the AFC and remain favourites to finish with the Number 1 Seed in the Conference.

3) Denver Broncos (9-3): Peyton Manning and the Denver Offense have gotten it done very differently by running the ball very effectively over the last two weeks.

4) Philadelphia Eagles (9-3): A big win on the road in Dallas, but next two weeks will determine all you need to know about the Philadelphia Eagles.

5) Seattle Seahawks (8-4): Beating Arizona at home was impressive, but dominating the San Francisco 49ers on the road had signs of Seattle being back to their best.

6) Detroit Lions (8-4): The Lions dominated Chicago on Thanksgiving Day and that Defense can take them very far.

7) Indianapolis Colts (8-4): Still don't believe that Defense is going to help the Colts move past too many Play Off rounds.

8) Cincinnati Bengals (8-3-1): Three consecutive road wins is impressive, but Cincinnati were very fortunate to beat Tampa Bay last week and I just don't trust this team.

9) Dallas Cowboys (8-4): The Cowboys have dropped a fair amount for me because that performance against Philadelphia was so, so disappointing and now they have to prove they are capable of winning big games in December.

10) Miami Dolphins (7-5): They have beaten New England, had an 11 point lead over Denver going into the Fourth Quarter, and were seconds from beating Green Bay and Detroit. All teams that I have in the top six and Miami won a huge game over the Jets that they would have previously lost.


Bottom Five
32) Oakland Raiders (1-11): Losing by 52 points is just plain embarrassing for a once proud franchise.

31) Tennessee Titans (2-10): This is just not a very good team and one that needs something of a real rebuild.

30) New York Jets (2-10): Rex Ryan was inconsolable with the way that the New York Jets blew the game against the Miami Dolphins on Monday Night Football.

29) Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2-10): Bad teams find a way to lose as Lovie Smith says, and Tampa Bay found another way to lose last week.

28) New York Giants (3-9): How do you lose to the Jacksonville Jaguars after being up so big? Tom Coughlin must be just about ready to walk away from this job.


Week 14 Picks
Some really poor picks and some really bad luck contributed to a disappointing Week 13 and the first time I have had back to back losing weeks in the NFL this season. Unfortunately the last two weeks have had a huge hit on the season total and I will be looking to stop the bleeding in Week 14.

Picks on San Francisco, Pittsburgh and Arizona were very quickly recognised as ones that were not going to be successful.

Then there were the ones on Cleveland and Cincinnati where both teams had their opportunity to cover but killed themselves with critical turnovers.

Baltimore and Chicago both had big leads in their games but inexplicably fell apart and it all added up to some bad picks with bad luck in Week 14.


Dallas Cowboys @ Chicago Bears Pick: Both teams are coming off heavy Thanksgiving Day beatdowns, but that also means both have had plenty of time to try and right the ship ahead of this one. The Dallas Cowboys have to avoid looking ahead to the rematch with the Philadelphia Eagles after being blown out by their Divisional rivals at home, while the Chicago Bears are basically out of Play Off contention after blowing a big lead against the Detroit Lions on the road before being blown out too.

The public are pounding Dallas as the road favourite in this one, but I want to go against them in this game and take the home underdog, a spot that has been favourable. That isn't saying much about the Chicago Bears who have been a poor underdog over the last three years so this game could all depend on whether Jay Cutler has come to play.

Alshon Jeffrey sounds like he will be limited at best, but Brandon Marshall and Martellus Bennett give Cutler some real weapons to exploit a Dallas Defense that is perhaps playing down to the expectations many had in pre-season. With Matt Forte capable of being a decent safety blanket out of the backfield, Cutler should be able to move the chains, while Forte should also have a strong game rushing the ball.

On the other hand, Tony Romo can't ask for a better game to bounce back from a pretty poor performance on Thanksgiving Day as the Bears Secondary has been beset by injuries. The Offensive Line might not have had the best day in protection of Romo, but the Quarter Back should have success handing the ball to DeMarco Murray who can rip off big gains behind this Line.

Both teams should be able to put up points, but I am surprised that the Bears are being given more than a Field Goal start in the game. Dallas have not been a great favourite to back and the Cowboys are 0-3 against the spread over the last three seasons when trying to recover from a Divisional loss.

It is a must win game for Dallas so I expect them to be focused, but Chicago can make this competitive and the points look too tempting to ignore. However, the Bears have been so bad in recent weeks that I can't go over the minimum unit for this one.


It has been a very busy couple of days so I won't have full analysis behind the picks, although they are shown below.

MY PICKS: Chicago Bears + 4 Points @ 1.92 William Hill (1 Unit)
Pittsburgh Steelers + 3 Points @ 1.95 Sky Bet (2 Units)
Washington Redskins + 3 Points @ 1.92 Stan James (2 Units)
New Orleans Saints - 8 Points @ 1.92 Ladbrokes (2 Units)
Miami Dolphins - 3 Points @ 1.95 Paddy Power (1 Unit)
Indianapolis Colts - 3 Points @ 1.92 William Hill (2 Units)
Tampa Bay Buccaneers + 10.5 Points @ 1.92 William Hill (2 Units)
Denver Broncos - 10 Points @ 2.00 Paddy Power (2 Units)
Arizona Cardinals + 2.5 Points @ 2.10 Paddy Power (1 Unit)
San Francisco 49ers - 8 Points @ 1.95 Bet Victor (2 Units)
San Diego Chargers + 3.5 Points @ 1.92 Sky Bet (1 Unit)
Green Bay Packers - 13 Points @ 1.92 Bet Fred (2 Units)

Week 13: 4-7, - 6.36 Units
Week 123-6, - 4.36 Units
Week 115-4, + 1.20 Units
Week 104-2, + 3.90 Units
Week 94-3, + 1.42 Units
Week 81-8, - 13 Units
Week 78-1, + 11.20 Units
Week 62-3-1, - 2.46 Units
Week 53-4-1, + 0.84 Units
Week 44-4, + 0.02 Units
Week 38-2, + 9.82 Units
Week 25-3, + 1.50 Units
Week 13-6, - 3.18 Units

Season 201454-53-2, + 0.54 Units
Season 201386-70-2, + 22.27 Units
Season 2012- 4.78 Units

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