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NFL Week 14 Picks 2019 (December 5-9)

This is it. This is now the final stretch towards the PlayOffs and we have begun to see a number of teams being eliminated while others are ...

Thursday, 11 December 2014

NFL Week 15 Picks 2014 (December 11-15)

Week 14 Thoughts
Has Mike Pettine left it too late to make the move from Brian Hoyer to Johnny Manziel? On Wednesday, it was officially confirmed that Mike Pettine would make the switch at Quarter Back that many expected at least one week prior.

The Cleveland Browns were beaten by the Indianapolis Colts which leaves them behind their three Divisional rivals in the AFC North and also on the outside of a loaded Wild Card chase in that Conference and I can't help but feel the Head Coach may regret making the move so late.

Brian Hoyer played well early in the season, I won't dispute that, but he has shown himself to be nothing more than a back up in the NFL and the Browns have won a couple of games not because of Hoyer, but because of mistakes made by other teams over the last few weeks.

Overthrown balls, one which even had Manziel being caught on the sidelines saying 'I would have fu**ing hit that' and mistakes from Hoyer kept Indianapolis in the game last week and eventually led to the one point win for the Colts. That loss may haunt Pettine and Cleveland, a team that has been desperate for some consistent success ever since returning to the NFL, but it does feel it may be too late now.

However, the Browns host Cincinnati this week and win that game and they could very much be back in contention- they do need the likes of Pittsburgh and Baltimore to also falter if they are to get into the Play Offs, but Pettine may regret he didn't make the move at Quarter Back sooner if they don't make it.

Jeff Fisher trolls the Washington Redskins: What a great idea from Jeff Fisher to send out the six players that the St Louis Rams picked from the Draft Picks traded to them by the Washington Redskins in the RG3 trade!

It was one of the big talking points of Week 14 and was definitely a very sly dig at Washington that went unnoticed by the Redskins until blowing up on social media and the NFL Network through the rest of the day.

The fact that Fisher is very good friends with Mike Shanahan, the former Washington Head Coach who was fired at the end of last season for falling out with RG3, just adds to the 'trolling level' and makes this more than just a mere point being made by St Louis.

The Jim Harbaugh era at San Francisco is fast coming to a close: All season we have heard that the San Francisco 49ers and Jim Harbaugh were going to part ways at the end of this year after the team came close to trading their Head Coach to Cleveland during the off-season before this year.

While the 49ers were winning, this issue remained on the back-burner, but consecutive defeats have left the team on the brink of elimination from the Play Offs, which would be a real disappointment for this franchise.

The 49ers have reached three consecutive Conference Championship Games, although winning just one of those games, but Colin Kaepernick hasn't progressed at the speed expected and San Francisco seem to have moved from the power running Offense that has been such a success for them.

Too many mistakes from Kaepernick has prevented San Francisco moving forwards and it seems the discontent is too much to overcome in the locker room. Who knows where Harbaugh ends up next, but I would be absolutely stunned if he is still in San Francisco for the start of next season.

Give Aaron Rodgers the MVP award, but Defense needs to step up if Green Bay are to win the Super Bowl: It was another imperious display from Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers Offense on Monday Night Football, but he has to be concerned with how the Defense played in the second half if the Packers are going to win the Super Bowl.

Rodgers is undoubtedly going to win the MVP award this season, especially if he finishes the season by guiding Green Bay to the Number 1 Seed in the NFC. The Packers have played very well at Lambeau Field and will be tough to beat there, but it all boils down to how well Rodgers has played ever since he told Packer nation to 'R-E-L-A-X'.

However, that Defensive effort was not good enough in allowing the Atlanta Falcons to produce a stirring comeback that was only a few points short of actually turning into a win. There wasn't enough pressure on Matt Ryan in the second half, while the Secondary couldn't get close to Julio Jones and I think it does raise some questions about the Green Bay chances to win it all.

They did play a lot better against New England so perhaps it was more complacency than a general trend, but the Packers won't get away with that against the Detroit Lions in Week 17 and certainly won't get away with it in the Play Offs unless they bring a better effort.

Play Off Predictions: AFC- New England, Denver, Pittsburgh, Indianapolis, Baltimore and Kansas City.

NFC- Green Bay, Seattle, Philadelphia, New Orleans, Detroit and Dallas.

Top Ten
1) Green Bay Packers (10-3): Still deserve to be Number 1, but Defensive effort has to be better going forward than what they showed on Monday Night Football.

2) New England Patriots (10-3): Impressive road win at San Diego and all roads to the Super Bowl go through New England in the AFC.

3) Denver Broncos (10-3): Denver can clinch a Play Off place by winning in San Diego this week and keeping the pressure on New England for the Number 1 Seed in the Conference.

4) Seattle Seahawks (9-4): Impressive win on the road at Philadelphia and the Defense is playing to the level that won Seattle the Super Bowl last season.

5) Detroit Lions (9-4): Defense is legit, and Detroit are not shooting themselves in the foot as they would normally do.

6) Philadelphia Eagles (9-4): Not quite good enough against the best teams, but can virtually clinch the NFC East Division title by beating the Cowboys again this week.

7) Dallas Cowboys (9-4): Dallas allowed Chicago to rally on Thursday Night Football, but they held them off for a vital win in the race for a Play Off spot.

8) Indianapolis Colts (9-4): Indianapolis can win the AFC South this weekend, but they don't have all the tools for a deep Play Off run in my opinion.

9) Pittsburgh Steelers (8-5): Have control of their own destiny to win the AFC North, but can't afford to have a let down at the Atlanta Falcons this week.

10) Baltimore Ravens (8-5): A vital win at the Miami Dolphins gives Baltimore an inside track for one of the Wild Card spots in the AFC.

Bottom Five
32) Tennessee Titans (2-11): They were blown out by the New York Giants at home and this is a team that looks bad on both sides of the ball.

31) New York Jets (2-11): Something of a reverse Super Bowl this week as the Jets will travel to Tennessee to determine the 'worst team in the NFL' spot for next week.

30) Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2-11): Lovie Smith must be looking to the Draft as this season has lurched from worse to worse for Tampa Bay.

29) Washington Redskins (3-10): Awful team, awful franchise and Jay Gruden might be the next ex Head Coach.

28) Jacksonville Jaguars (2-11): There are some pieces set for the future of Jacksonville, but Oakland deserved to come out of the bottom five with an improved Derek Carr and two wins from their last three games.

Week 15 Picks
So where to begin with Week 14? I have never seen a day go down the pan so quickly and rapidly with seemingly every bit of bad luck that could happen show itself.

There were some bad picks in there that never looked like winning, I will accept that, but some of the others just hurt because of the manner in which they went down.

Indianapolis didn't deserve to cover, but they did have the chance for a two point conversion which would have at least earned a push.

Tampa Bay got down to the Detroit 15 and had four clear shots to get into the endzone which would have at least seen them cover, but Josh McCown can't hit any of his big Receivers to do that.

Oh, but Buffalo can convert a 4th and 16 inside their own redzone to then march up the field and secure a Touchdown, with another 4th down converted, which allows them to finish within 7 of Denver.

San Diego played a close game with New England and were down 9 points with the ball at midfield and 4th down and 4 to go... So what do they do? Of course, they punt the ball away and get it back with almost no time remaining and deep in their own territory.

And just in case my week could not have been any worse, Green Bay blow a 31-7 half time lead and then were up big in the second half but allow Matt Ryan to pull the game to within 6 points... Yet James Starks produces a huge run and is only just pulled down on the Atlanta 10 yard line which would have been another push at the least!

If those five games go the other way, it is actually a winning week, but instead big losses thanks to some ridiculous plays that can't be justified.

Arizona Cardinals @ St Louis Rams Pick: I have made a point of saying that I don't believe the Arizona Cardinals will make the Play Offs this season since Carson Palmer went down with an injury, but they can effectively prove me wrong by winning this game. A few weeks ago, Arizona would likely have come into St Louis and been favoured to beat the Rams, but recent performances from the latter have made them a pretty strong favourite in this one.

Unsurprisingly, the majority of the public money is going on the 10-3 Cardinals as the underdog, but I think the St Louis Rams are the better team at this moment and might have enough to cover a pretty large spread.

Since reinserting Shaun Hill into the line up, St Louis have played better Offensively and giving Tre Mason more carries and not wasting time with Zak Stacy is another good example of good coaching. Hill is more than a game manager, but it is avoiding mistakes that is his biggest complement and the Quarter Back could have a decent game with Antonio Cromartie likely out of the Arizona Secondary.

Of course, Mason may just get a chunk of yardage on the ground as Arizona have begun to struggle a little in that regards and that should just make life easier for Hill.

The Quarter Back also has felt a little less pressure in the last four games considering how well the St Louis Rams Defense has begun to perform. The Defensive Line was considered one of the best in the NFL before the season began and they have really shown up of late and could give Drew Stanton more problems after his struggles in relief of Carson Palmer.

Stanton might not have the benefit of Kerwynn Williams picking up large amounts of yards on the ground either as this is where St Louis have begun to excel. If they can keep Arizona in third and long, St Louis should be able to tee off on Drew Stanton and pick up sacks and force incompletions and possible turnovers to take control of the game.

Arizona haven't been good playing on Thursday Night Football over the last three seasons, failing to cover twice in their two opportunities in that time. The Cardinals have been out-gained in three straight games since Stanton took over as the full time starter and St Louis are a decent favourite to back. It all points to St Louis covering a big number and putting more doubt on Arizona's Play Off credentials.

Miami Dolphins @ New England Patriots Pick: This is the game that New England would love to secure another AFC East Division title and continue on the road to picking up the Number 1 Seed in the Conference as they look for revenge against the Miami Dolphins.

The Dolphins have won the last 2 games in the series, but those were in the warmth of home and it is a big ask for them to pick themselves up from a demoralising loss last week and win in Foxboro in the cold. Baltimore's win in Miami means the Dolphins already look out of the Play Off picture, but another defeat this week will ensure that and likely mean big changes in the Coaching staff in the off-season.

It is hard to see how Miami win this game as their Offensive game plan is unlikely to have the same success as when they met New England earlier this season. The read-option is a huge play for the Dolphins, but Lamar Miller is unlikely to establish the run to the same extent Knowshon Moreno did as New England have clamped down on that with their run Defense over the last three games.

That will mean forcing Ryan Tannehill to throw the ball and he has only been comfortable doing that in short to intermediate routes. Against this New England Secondary, that is unlikely to be a productive method of Offense and Miami might be playing catch up if New England can produce a strong Offensive game.

LaGarrette Blount has given New England a new punch in the running game and Miami have allowed 5.7 yards per carry over their last three games which could be exposed here. Bill Belichick showed he is willing to pound the ball against susceptible Defenses in the win over the Indianapolis Colts and that will only open the passing lanes for Tom Brady to connect with Brandon LaFell, Julian Edelman and Rob Gronkowski.

The Miami Defense has looked a little tired in the last few games and both Denver and Baltimore scored comfortably against them as the game wore on. Even the New York Jets were moving the ball with ease through the game, but lost it through missed Field Goals and New England are unlikely to make those mistakes.

New England have covered in 3 of their last 4 home games against Miami and they should be fully focused with revenge in mind. The cold weather likely won't help and I think the Patriots beat the big spread.

Houston Texans @ Indianapolis Colts Pick: The Houston Texans have given themselves a small chance of making the Play Offs with consecutive victories, but now they take on Andrew Luck and the Indianapolis Colts who have dominated this Divisional series. The Colts have the added motivation of securing a place in the Play Offs with a win on Sunday and Luck has been very good in Division games since taking over from Peyton Manning as the Indianapolis Quarter Back.

It was another strong drive led by Luck that helped the Colts win their third game in a row last week and this game is likely to be driven by what he can do. Luck has enough scrambling ability to avoid the pass rush that Houston send for the most part, but he also has to eliminate some of the strip sacks and Interceptions he has had.

I would expect Houston to have some success throwing the ball themselves, but Ryan Fitzpatrick is due a couple of back breaking turnovers that have blighted him through his career. If Andre Johnson is out, there aren't a lot of options for Fitzpatrick in the passing game and that could lead to him forcing balls into tight windows that sees the Colts pick up short fields, much as they did in the first game.

Indianapolis have won 12 in a row at home against Houston in this series and 4 in a row overall. Andrew Luck has led the Colts to a 13-2 record against the spread against Divisional rivals since coming into Indianapolis, while they are 18-6 against the spread in home games.

As well as Houston have played on the road, they are just 2-4 against the spread as the underdog this season and I will look for Indianapolis to cover for the fifth time in a row at home against them.

Jacksonville Jaguars @ Baltimore Ravens Pick: This is a huge line for the Baltimore Ravens to cover, but it might be a good enough spot to back them to do so considering the Jacksonville Jaguars are playing out the string and perhaps are looking ahead to being in the spotlight on Thursday Night Football in an AFC South game against the Tennessee Titans.

The problem for the Jaguars is that their Offense is going to have a really hard time moving the chains against a Baltimore Defense that is giving up just 14.5 points per game at home this season. Granted they allowed 34 points in their last home game against the San Diego Chargers, but the Ravens had given up just 24 points in their three prior home games and have a pass rush that could have Blake Bortles consistently under pressure.

That pressure could lead to turnovers and short fields for the Baltimore Ravens to work with. As well as the Jacksonville Jaguars Defensive Line has played, Justin Forsett should still be able to earn his hard fought yards on the ground and Joe Flacco could use that to make plays against a Secondary that has given up plenty of yards through the air.

Baltimore have to be looking to make a fast start in this game and they can use a couple of turnovers to make sure they pull away from the Jaguars in the game. They are facing a Jacksonville team that have failed to cover in their two games as a double digit underdog this season and one that doesn't have a lot on the line.

The Ravens have dominated when playing teams with losing records and have the momentum from the win over Miami to cover this big number by beating the Jaguars while going away. The strong pass rush could just lead to the mistakes that help Baltimore do that, even in the absence of Torrey Smith.

Green Bay Packers @ Buffalo Bills Pick: The only concern you would have for the Green Bay Packers is to whether they have peaked too early in their quest to get back to the Super Bowl having won 5 in a row and being fairly dominant in those games. Most of those games were played at Lambeau Field where Aaron Rodgers has been particularly dominant over the last couple of seasons, but going on the road has proved to be a much tougher task for the Green Bay Packers all season.

The Offense is averaging nearly 20 points fewer on the road as they are at home and that has to be a concern if they don't secure the Number 1 Seed in the NFC. Green Bay also come up against a Buffalo Defense that has gotten a lot of pressure up front and has a Secondary that has held up well thanks to that pressure, including picking off Peyton Manning twice last week and snapping his long run of games with a Touchdown pass.

One key to the whole game in this one is how well the improved Offensive Line Green Bay can hold up against the pass rush- if they continue giving Rodgers the time he has had in recent games, the Buffalo Secondary can only hold up so long against speedy and elusive Receivers like Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb.

Neither team is likely to run the ball all that effectively and the question becomes whether Kyle Orton can do enough with the ball in his hands to keep Buffalo in the game. Orton would have been boosted by seeing the Green Bay Secondary torched on Monday Night Football, but he isn't as elusive as Matt Ryan and the Packers pass rush could certainly bring him down a few times.

Turnovers could also be key and Orton is more likely to make those mistakes compared with Rodgers, although the Bills pass rush may force more errant throws from Rodgers than we have come to expect. In saying that, I still expect Green Bay to perhaps come close to matching what New England did here and score 28 plus points and that will be tough for Buffalo to keep up with in my opinion.

Green Bay are just 2-2 against the spread as the road favourite this season and Buffalo have been a strong underdog, but I still believe this spread is too low. Unless Kyle Orton converts another 4th and 16 and then drives Buffalo to a backdoor cover like in Week 14, I like the Packers to win and cover here with too much Offense.

Cincinnati Bengals @ Cleveland Browns Pick: Sweeping a Divisional rival is a difficult task, but failure of the Cleveland Browns to do that against the Cincinnati Bengals likely ends Cleveland's Play Off push for another season. On the other hand, another loss for the Cincinnati Bengals puts them in a very difficult spot with the tie against Carolina then working against them rather than for them as it has in recent weeks.

Of course all of the news is about Johnny Manziel making his first start at Quarter Back for Cleveland, the right move that should have perhaps been made a couple of weeks ago. I can't help but feel that Marvin Lewis' comments about not worrying about a 'midget' is going to haunt him in this one, especially with the ability that Manziel has to scramble and make plays.

That scrambling is going to make life tough for a Bengals Defense that has struggled for much of the season and missing some important pieces on that side of the ball. I also think Manziel will prove to be a better passer than Brian Hoyer and Josh Gordon could become a real player in this one having been missed by the previous Quarter Back on some open plays.

While Manziel gives the whole Offense a boost, the Browns Defense has played well and may slow down AJ Green enough to give Cleveland a chance to sweep their in-State rivals. The Browns got a lot of pressure on Andrew Luck last week and could make Andy Dalton very nervous considering his near epic low performance against Cleveland earlier this season.

Cincinnati have not been a great team to back to revenge a loss and I think Manziel can lead Cleveland to the win and keep them in the Play Off hunt.

Denver Broncos @ San Diego Chargers Pick: This is a vital game for both of these AFC West rivals as the Denver Broncos look to wrap up the Division, as well as staying in contention for the Number 1 Seed in the AFC, and San Diego Chargers look to hold on to a Wild Card place.

The winner will be well on the way to achieving their goals for the season, but the loser, especially if that is the San Diego Chargers, could be in big trouble going forward. Philip Rivers and the Offense should have an easier time moving the chains than they found against the New England Patriots in Week 14 as Denver don't have the same strength in the Secondary, although the Broncos should get a tonne of pressure on Rivers.

San Diego's Offensive Line has struggled with injuries and the likes of DeMarcus Ware and Von Miller could have another big day for Denver. Ryan Matthews might not have a lot of success running the ball which will only allow the Broncos pass rush to pin back their ears and get after Rivers and San Diego may have another tough day moving the chains.

The same could be said for Denver who haven't looked right in recent weeks, particularly Peyton Manning. However, I think Manning will enjoy the conditions in San Diego and will especially enjoy the fact that Julius Thomas looks set to return to the Offense.

That is a big body to use in the Red Zone where Denver have begun to struggle to throw the ball and I expect Thomas resolves those issues. The San Diego Defense played so well against New England in Week 14, but the Offense couldn't help them out, and there has to be some tired minds and bodies from that game. It may be a week to recover, but now they face another powerful Offense and I think Denver continues dominance of these Divisional games since Peyton Manning arrived.

Denver are 11-4 against the spread against AFC West rivals since Manning started playing for the Broncos and they have won both visits to San Diego by 8 points or more. The Chargers have failed to cover against a Divisional rival this season and they were outplayed by Denver in the first meeting- this will be closer but I still like the Broncos to win by a Touchdown.

San Francisco 49ers @ Seattle Seahawks Pick: There has been a lot of sharp money going down on the San Francisco 49ers this week which has seen this spread come down by a point in their favour, but that now has me liking the Seattle Seahawks to cover.

Jim Harbaugh looks about done in San Francisco and the team has begun to collapse with injuries on the Defense coupled with Colin Kaepernick's obvious regression as he has been asked to throw instead of leaning on the power running game.

Now the Seattle Defense has begun to play to the level of 2013, it is hard to imagine how San Francisco can improve on their showing on Thanksgiving Day against them, particularly as this one is on the road. The Seattle home crowd are going to be going crazy and that noise could see Kaepernick self-combust and give the Seahawks the edge in the game.

Both Russell Wilson and Marshawn Lynch could help the Seahawks dominate on the ground again and I think San Francisco are going to have to go some to keep this close. However, I do have respect for this being the last chance saloon for Harbaugh and the 49ers so could see their absolute best effort.

This is enough points for the 49ers to earn a late backdoor cover, but Seattle have been so good at home and have blown out San Francisco in their last 2 regular season games here. If the Seahawks get ahead, maybe the San Francisco players lose their motivation a little with the season almost certainly over and that could see the Seahawks cover.

Dallas Cowboys @ Philadelphia Eagles Pick: In recent seasons I would have been absolutely convinced that this would the kind of game that the Dallas Cowboys would lose and subsequently find themselves failing to reach the Play Offs.

The loser of this game will certainly be in a difficult spot to get into the post-season considering they will be dropped to 9-5, but the real meaning of the game might only be highlighted by kick off. If Seattle, Green Bay and Detroit win, the losing team would be at least one game back in the Wild Card race with only one place left to battle for.

It would be especially daunting for the Dallas Cowboys as they would have likely lost the NFC East by being swept by Philadelphia and I expect a much better effort than the one they produced on Thanksgiving Day when destroyed at home by the Eagles. The Defense is still a problem and I expect Mark Sanchez to have a bounce back game from the one against Seattle last week.

However, I also think Tony Romo and the Dallas Offense will have a better game- I think the Offensive Line makes enough adjustments to protect him a little more and I expect Romo to have a better passing day thank he did on Thanksgiving. The Philadelphia Secondary isn't as good if Romo can get time to throw against them and I like the Cowboys to make this a much closer game.

The Cowboys are 13-6 against the spread as the underdog in the last three seasons and they have also played well in revenge spots. After the brutal way they were put away on Thanksgiving Day, I think Dallas are more effective in this one and I like getting more than a field goal head start in this one.

0 Unit Picks: Pittsburgh Steelers - 2.5 Points, New York Giants - 6.5 Points, Oakland Raiders + 10 Points, Carolina Panthers - 3 Points, New York Jets - 2.5 Points, Detroit Lions - 7.5 Points

MY PICKS: St Louis Cardinals - 4.5 Points @ 1.95 Bet Victor (2 Units)
New England Patriots - 7.5 Points @ 1.95 Bet Victor (2 Units)
Indianapolis Colts - 6.5 Points @ 1.95 Bet Victor (2 Units)
Baltimore Ravens - 13.5 Points @ 1.95 Bet Victor (2 Units)
Green Bay Packers - 4 Points @ 1.95 Paddy Power (2 Units)
Cleveland Browns - 1.5 Points @ 1.95 Sky Bet (1 Unit)
Denver Broncos - 4.5 Points @ 1.92 Paddy Power (2 Units)
Seattle Seahawks - 9.5 Points @ 1.92 William Hill (1 Unit)
Dallas Cowboys + 3.5 Points @ 2.00 Sky Bet (2 Units)

Week 14: 2-10, - 14 Units
Week 134-7, - 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 201456-63-2, - 13.46 Units
Season 201386-70-2, + 22.27 Units
Season 2012- 4.78 Units

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