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Thursday, 18 December 2014

NFL Week 16 Picks 2014 (December 18-22)

Week 15 Thoughts
A clear picture of Head Coaches about to be out of a job has developed: Some changes that are likely to be made are perhaps unfortunate, for example the horrible situation that is way beyond Rex Ryan's control at the New York Jets, but so many other Head Coaches are just about done with their current teams in the NFL.

Jim Harbaugh has overseen a poor season, relative to recent years at least, for the San Francisco 49ers and it now seems a given that he will be leaving this team.

Mike Smith will likely only be retained by the Atlanta Falcons if that team wins the NFC South and they can do that by winning out.

Marc Trestman is reportedly out of Chicago, but the Bears have so many issues which start with what they can do about Jay Cutler at Quarter Back and the huge contract they gave him before this season.

Joe Philbin is unlikely to be kept as the Miami Dolphins Head Coach thanks to a second successive season when the team has missed their chance to get to the Play Offs in December.

Should Denver be concerned with Terrance Knighton's comments regarding a Super Bowl win? Knighton himself has said that every player on a Play Off team should be thinking the same way and Tom Brady made it clear that none of the New England players will be looking ahead nor talking about things, but will let their play on the field dictate matters.

So should Denver be concerned they have offered the Patriots, as well as other potential Play Off opponents, some bulletin board material after 'Pot Roast's' comments? Personally I don't think so.

Most outside of the Broncos locker room saw this team as a potential Super Bowl Champion and it doesn't surprise me that the players believe they are capable of doing that too.

What would be a concern is some of the issues around Peyton Manning in recent weeks as this team is not going anywhere without their star Quarter Back behind Center. Manning has not been throwing the ball well and some are suggesting fatigue has gotten to him considering Denver had a very early 'Bye' week, while even some of the throws being completed have looked ugly coming out of his hands.

Getting a First Round bye in the Play Offs could be a huge benefit for Manning, but he just hasn't looked himself over the last month and I do have some concern for the Broncos that Manning has perhaps hit the wall this season.

So how does Johnny Football time feel for fans of the Cleveland Browns? There were a few Play Off places decided in Week 15, but seemingly most people were interested in seeing how Johnny Manziel would do in his first NFL start.

It was about as horrific a performance as anyone could have imagined!

I have not been sold about Manziel's potential as a long-term starter in the NFL and I thought the Cleveland Browns made a big mistake not taking Teddy Bridgewater or Derek Carr ahead of him in the Draft, a mistake that could set the franchise back a few more years.

The Browns are desperate for success and were right to give Manziel a chance to see what he has in the final three games of the season with the Play Offs already a reach. They will be desperate for much improved performances in the next two weeks to show the fans that there is some potential in what Manziel will do for this team, but another couple of performances like the one he produced against Cincinnati will really put the team in a tough spot.

Wasting a First Round pick on Manziel is going to be tough to overcome immediately and Cleveland may want to give the Quarter Back another full off-season before making any long-term rash judgements. But I am not going to be surprised at all if there isn't a couple of veteran Quarter Backs brought in to challenge Manziel for the starting spot in the 2015 season barring two huge performances for him over the last two weeks of the season.

The NFC South has been terrible, but the next two weeks are full of drama: The winner of the NFC South is not going to have a winning record, although the New Orleans Saints are still in a position to finish the season 8-8, and it has been a poor year for teams in the Division.

However, the last two weeks should produce some fascinating viewing with New Orleans, Atlanta and Carolina all in a position to win the Division and the schedule makers have made sure that these teams are facing one another.

The Saints host the Atlanta Falcons this week and then the Carolina Panthers will visit Atlanta in Week 17 and it could be all to play for for any of those teams by next week. Even if the Saints beat Atlanta this week, Carolina can still win out and take the Division as long as New Orleans lose in Tampa Bay next week.

Nothing has been easy for teams in the NFC South this season so it would be something of a surprise if New Orleans clinch this week without the drama the Division has provided all season, but it will be up to Carolina to make sure the South title goes one more week by beating Cleveland at home.

Aaron Rodgers is still the MVP and Green Bay Packers will make the Play Offs: Aaron Rodgers was bamboozled by the Buffalo Bills in Week 15 and admitted he played a 'stinker', but it shouldn't take away from what has been an MVP season for the Quarter Back.

With games against Tampa Bay and Detroit left, I still expect the Green Bay Packers to make the Play Offs, although the biggest issue for them may be the fact that they have likely lost home field advantage through the Play Offs.

Seattle are closing in on the Number 1 Seed in the NFC which will make them the favourites to win that Conference and it is going to be a big ask for the Green Bay Packers to go back to Seattle and win after their Week 1 loss there.

At Lambeau Field, the Packers have been dominant so losing out on the Number 1 Seed would be a real disappointment, although Green Bay won't give up fighting for it. If the Packers win out, they need Arizona and Seattle to drop a game each and that looks has a chance with those teams facing one another this week.

Play Off Prediction: AFC- New England, Denver, Pittsburgh, Indianapolis, Baltimore, Cincinnati

NFC- Seattle, Green Bay, Dallas, New Orleans, Arizona, Detroit

Top Ten
1) Seattle Seahawks (10-4): Defense is playing to the level of last season and they are in pole position to finish with the Number 1 Seed in the NFC.

2) Green Bay Packers (10-4): The loss in Seattle means Green Bay are likely to finish with the Number 2 Seed in the NFC after failing to win out.

3) New England Patriots (11-3): The Patriots can clinch the Number 1 Seed in the AFC by beating the New York Jets and hoping the Cincinnati Bengals beat Denver on Monday Night Football.

4) Denver Broncos (11-3): I was tempted to drop Denver at least one place more because I just don't think Peyton Manning is all there.

5) Detroit Lions (10-4): The Detroit Lions can really prove how much of a Super Bowl contender they are if they win at Lambeau Field in Week 17, but for now that Defense is legitimate enough to pose a threat to win it all.

6) Dallas Cowboys (10-4): Huge win in Philadelphia, but Dallas have to win out to take the NFC East title.

7) Pittsburgh Steelers (9-5): The game in Atlanta is one that Pittsburgh could have blown in recent years, but they remain in control of their own destiny in the AFC North.

8) Indianapolis Colts (10-4): Clinched the AFC South, but unlikely to finish better than the Number 3 Seed in the AFC and may already be looking ahead to the Play Offs.

9) Baltimore Ravens (9-5): They did lose to Cincinnati twice in the regular season, but I think the Ravens are the better team and remain the race for the AFC North Division title.

10) Cincinnati Bengals (9-4-1): Cincinnati are leading the AFC North, but face Denver and Pittsburgh over the last two weeks and might need help to win the Division.

Bottom Five
32) Tennessee Titans (2-12): Lost a vital game against the New York Jets that keeps them in pole position to 'win' the Number 1 pick in the Draft... However, another 'big' game against Jacksonville on Thursday Night Football may determine if Tennessee can secure that.

31) Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2-12): Lovie Smith has a big job to turn this Tampa Bay franchise around, but getting one of the top two Quarter Backs likely coming out of College Football could be a start.

30) Jacksonville Jaguars (2-12): Jacksonville used a number of trick plays, got some help from Baltimore's Field Goal kicker missing twice and a bad call resulting in a turnover for them... Yet they still lost by 8 and Blake Bortles may be done for the season.

29) Oakland Raiders (2-12): Derek Carr looks like a potential franchise Quarter Back, but Reggie McKenzie still has some work to do to make Oakland relevant again.

28) Washington Redskins (3-10): Dysfunctional times in Washington show no sign of ending and now the Quarter Back carousel has come back around for Robert Griffin to start.

Week 16 Picks
Week 15 produced a slight winning record, which makes a change after three terrible weeks in a row, and I hope I can at least finish the regular season with two more winning weeks.

Games in Week 16 take place on Thursday, Saturday, Sunday and Monday with the festive period meaning the television cameras will be going to a few more games for national coverage than in a normal week.

More Play Off situations will be resolved in the coming days, while other teams will be looking to improve Seeding in what should be another fascinating week in the National Football League.

Philadelphia Eagles @ Washington Redskins Pick: I've been waiting and waiting to see if the line for the Philadelphia Eagles trip to the Washington Redskins would change, but Vegas have held their nerve and the Eagles remain a little more than a Touchdown favourite.

I actually still like the Eagles in this spot against a Washington team that has been dysfunctional to say the least- Jay Gruden looks to be on the hot seat as Head Coach because he continues to defy the owners and his criticism of Robert Griffin III shows little sign of ending.

This week Gruden admitted the Redskins need to play with a lead, clearly not having the faith in RG3 to be put in obvious passing situations. Unfortunately for Washington, the Philadelphia Eagles have played the run pretty effectively all season and even did a fairly good job against Russell Wilson so they may force RG3 to play from third and long situations more than Gruden would want to see.

The Eagles also get a lot of pressure up front and they should be swarming the Quarter Back in that position. On the other hand, the Washington Defense might have some success up front against the Eagles Offensive Line, particularly if Philadelphia struggle to establish the run of their own.

Mark Sanchez has been a little iffy in the pocket, missing some of his targets by wide margins despite his Receivers finding space downfield, but Washington's Secondary is banged up and I expect the Quarter Back has a chance to make some big plays in this one. Turnovers and inaccuracy has been the problem for Sanchez and he has to play a cleaner game than he has produced in the last two weeks if the Eagles are going to come through.

Games between teams in the NFC East are usually very competitive and Washington have spoken about playing spoiler for both Philadelphia and Dallas in their last two games. However, the Redskins have not been consistent enough for me, even if DeSean Jackson has a big game against his former team.

The Redskins are 0-2 against the spread as the home underdog this season, while their four home losses have all come by at least 10 points. In fact, 3 of those 4 losses have been by 20 points or more and the Eagles have a quick strike Offense that can put up big points very quickly. If Philadelphia get into a double digit lead, it may be too much for Washington to drag back and I like the Eagles to cover.

San Diego Chargers @ San Francisco 49ers Pick: It seems the San Diego Chargers are a public underdog in the second of the Saturday games in the NFL and I do believe they are the pick in this game, although only for a small interest.

The pick is mainly because I want to fade the San Francisco 49ers who have been eliminated from the Play Offs with their second loss to the Seattle Seahawks in a three week period. Jim Harbaugh looks to be moving on at the end of the season, Ray McDonald has caused more issues and has been released, there are injuries on both sides of the ball and Colin Kaepernick has had a really tough season where he has regressed from where the 49ers believed he was last season.

If the San Diego Chargers weren't so banged up themselves and on the brink of Play Off elimination, I would perhaps be a little more keen on this game. Unfortunately, Philip Rivers is hurt, although expected to play, while Keenan Allen has been lost for the season.

The 49ers Defense is giving up a few more yards on the ground than usual and the Secondary has been hit by some big plays, plus this unit gave their all to keep the game in Seattle as competitive as it was. San Francisco as a whole put so much into that game that I can't see where they get the motivation to play San Diego, an inter-Conference game, with nothing on the line.

San Diego's Defense has played pretty well in recent games, but they will need more from the banged up Rivers. However, San Francisco are just 1-2 against the spread as the home favourite of less than three points and the team playing against Seattle are 0-8 over the last eight weeks.

That is enough to think the underdog could take advantage of a team whose focus could be gone with the future direction of the franchise up in the air.

Minnesota Vikings @ Miami Dolphins Pick: It would be a bigger surprise than at the end of last season if Stephen Ross does not decide to dispense of Joe Philbin once the regular season comes to a close. The lame duck Head Coach has seen his Miami Dolphins falter down the stretch for the second season in a row and the Play Offs already look a distant hope for the team in the strong AFC.

Recent games have seen Ryan Tannehill under immense pressure from the pass rush and it is unlikely to change in this game with the Minnesota Vikings very capable of getting to the Quarter Back. Lamar Miller has struggled to establish the run to ease the pressure on Tannehill and there is no guarantee the Dolphins can do that in this game even if the Minnesota Vikings have not been that stout against the run all season.

Injuries on the Offensive Line has made it difficult for Miami to get the run going and also to protect Tannehill and that has seen the latter respond with a short passing Offense that struggles when they are behind. The additional pressure that Minnesota have got up front has also protected their Secondary and they have given up less than 200 passing yards per game in their last three games and did well to slow down the Detroit Offense for much of last week.

Teddy Bridgewater has also shown improvement regularly and he looks like a player that will develop exactly the way that Minnesota would want. It might not be all down to Bridgewater either as Miami have begun to struggle against the run and even Matt Asiata may be able to establish something on the ground.

That should ease things for Bridgewater and I think he can hit his Receivers Charles Johnson, Kyle Rudolph and Greg Jennings down the field.

The line looks too big in this game considering how these teams have played in recent games. Minnesota may have put a big effort together against Detroit last week, but this is a team that has been playing hard for Mike Zimmer through much of the season. On the other hand, Miami might be a little demoralised with their Play Off hopes almost certainly dashed and they are playing for a Head Coach that is very unlikely to be here in 2015.

Minnesota have thrived as the underdog in recent seasons, going 21-13 against the spread over the last three seasons, and they have bounced back from Divisional losses to go 3-1 against the spread this season. With almost a Touchdown amount of points being handed to the Vikings, it is a big ask for Miami to cover under their current pressures and I believe the underdog road team has to be the pick.

Baltimore Ravens @ Houston Texans Pick: There are some real similarities between the Houston Texans and the Baltimore Ravens with the way their Defenses have been performing as both teams can get after the Quarter Back as well as slowing down the run game of their opponents. Their Secondary play has not been the best, but is protected by the pressure they have got up front and they have some big names on the Defensive Line that have made waves in the NFL.

However, both teams also have decent Offensive Lines that have protected their respective Quarter Backs so this could be a tough day for the likes of JJ Watt, Elvis Dumervil and Terrell Suggs to continue building on the big numbers they have.

One major difference between the teams is the fact that Baltimore have their Super Bowl winning Quarter Back behind Center in Joe Flacco, while Houston are going to have to go with either Thad Lewis or Case Keenum. That is down to the fact that Ryan Fitzpatrick and Tom Savage joined Ryan Mallett on the sidelines for the Texans and the team suffered a big blow to their post-season chances with the loss in Indianapolis last week.

The Ravens have so much still to achieve this season and I think Flacco will have enough big plays to make sure Baltimore get one step closer to earning a Play Off berth. I also feel that Keenum or Lewis may be a little rusty and could hold the ball a touch longer than required to be sure of themselves and that should give the Ravens pass rush the chance to really crash down on them.

Another key for Baltimore could be the presence of Gary Kubiak who was the Houston Head Coach until the end of last season. He will have a few tricks and suggestions up his sleeve at Offensive Co-Ordinator for the Ravens and could give Flacco the chance to make some big plays in this one.

Houston also put in a huge effort against the Indianapolis Colts last week and came up a little short and that may have left some players perhaps a little downhearted, especially with the Quarter Back issues too. The Ravens have been a decent favourite this season, including going 2-1 against the spread on the road, and I think their Defensive Line makes the bigger plays and helps the team come through with a Touchdown win.

Detroit Lions @ Chicago Bears Pick: This has been one big mess of a season for the Chicago Bears and they are very likely to end it with the firing of Marc Trestman as Head Coach. There are also question marks about Phil Emery as General Manager and Jay Cutler as Quarter Back with the latter being benched for the final two games for Jimmy Clauson.

Yes, Jimmy Clauson, the Quarter Back with a 1-9 record as a starter! I am not sure whether he sees this as a chance to secure a starting spot for next season or whether he feels like the Christians back in Roman times being led to the Coliseum.

They were being fed to the Lions and it seems like Clauson has been given the same fate this week with the Detroit Defensive Line likely licking their chops in anticipation for this game. They have been so strong against the run which means Clauson won't be able to rely too much on Matt Forte and the penetration this Offensive Line allowed against the New Orleans Saints on Monday Night Football doesn't bode well for the new Quarter Back.

The Lions have only allowed more than 17 points in 1 of their last 6 games and this Chicago Offense has been so out of sync that it is tough to see them becoming the latest to do that. On the other hand, Matt Stafford should have a bounce back game after struggling against the Minnesota Vikings because this Bears Defense has been about as horrific as they come.

Injuries in the Secondary have been a problem, while teams have also begun to establish the run against Chicago and that will be an issue on Sunday. If the Lions are running the ball effectively, Matt Stafford should have the time to hit Calvin Johnson and Golden Tate for big gains... Then again, even if they don't have a strong running game, Stafford can move effectively enough from pressure to still get the ball to Megatron and Tate and the Lions should pick up from where they left off on Thanksgiving Day against this Defense.

I don't think Detroit will look ahead to the game against Green Bay next week because a loss could see them falling out of the Play Off positions with another at Lambeau Field. The Bears have also shown such little life and now bring in Jimmy Clauson and I am struggling to see them score enough points to keep this close.

Outdoor, cold conditions may slow down Detroit a little, but I would expect them to limit Chicago Offensively and this Bears Defense has not been able to get off the field consistently.

Chicago haven't been good at revenging losses in the same season, going 1-4 against the spread in recent years, while they have failed to cover in their last 5 games as the home underdog. The Lions haven't been a great road favourite themselves, and this is a big number, but I expect they have too much Offense for a Chicago team that has perhaps lost their motivation and whose own Offense has a new Quarter Back to break in.

Atlanta Falcons @ New Orleans Saints Pick: This is a huge NFC South game that can go a long way to decide which team will win this Division and move into the Play Offs- the Saints will be on the brink of doing that if they win with a Carolina loss giving them the Division.

On the other hand, the Atlanta Falcons know they will be representing the South in the Play Offs if they win out so this game has plenty on the line for both teams.

New Orleans Saints have lost 4 in a row at home, a stunning sequence, but they have managed to stay in pole position in the NFC South thanks to 2 road wins in that time. Drew Brees played very well in Chicago on Monday Night Football, but I can't say I am convinced that the Saints have turned the corner by beating the awful Bears and the blow out loss at home against the Panthers is hard to ignore.

Brees should have considerable success against this Atlanta Secondary that was torn apart by the Green Bay Packers recently, while he should be helped with Mark Ingram likely to establish the run too.

However, Matt Ryan and the Atlanta Offense won't be too worried about getting the chains moving themselves, even if Julio Jones is beginning to look like a doubt for the game. Harry Douglas can fill in, even if not to the level of Jones, and his play can help Ryan in the passing game.

A key for Atlanta is that they should be able to get either Steven Jackson or Jacquizz Rodgers considering the Saints are allowing 6.6 yards per carry over their last three games. The Saints can't sell out to stop the run simply because of the threat Ryan possesses in the passing game and this has all the makings of a shoot-out that will be decided by last possession.

Atlanta haven't played well as the road underdog of between 3.5 and 7 points, going 0-3 against the spread in that spot, but the Saints are just 4-8 against the spread as the favourite this season. In fact, the Saints are just 1-6 against the spread as the home favourite and have lost their last 4 home games straight up despite being favoured by 7, 10, 2.5 and 9.5 points.

Games between these teams do tend to be tight affairs too with the last two games in the Superdome being decided by a combined 10 points, albeit both in favour of New Orleans. Neither Defense has played well this season so both Quarter Backs can have a lot of success and I think Atlanta can keep this within the number.

Green Bay Packers @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers Pick: The Green Bay Packers were not on the same page against the Buffalo Bills in Week 15 which may have cost them the chance to host the NFC Play Offs, but all is not lost for this team. Earning a bye in the Wild Card Round is very much within their grasp by winning their last 2 games of the season and the Packers should have a really good chance to bounce back from last week.

The Packers Offense is going up against a Tampa Bay Defense that is banged up and sitting the likes of Gerald McCoy for the rest of the season. Aaron Rodgers won't have a lot of pressure on him and that will only make it easier for the Quarter Back to get back to the form that makes him the favourite to land the MVP award for the regular season.

Tampa Bay's Secondary has struggled for much of the season and injuries across the board for their Defense suggests Jordy Nelson, Randall Cobb and Eddie Lacy will all have strong games too.

It is a big number for the Packers to cover considering their own problems in the Secondary, but Josh McCown is not Matt Ryan and is likely to be under immense pressure for much of the afternoon. McCown does have the luxury of throwing the ball up to Vincent Jackson and Mike Evans, who should both make some big catches for the Buccaneers, but he is also susceptible to a big turnover or two as well as holding the ball too long.

With the Green Bay pass rush being fairly effective in recent games and the Defense playing the run better than earlier in the season, McCown could find himself in third and long and trying to deal with Nick Perry, Julius Peppers and Clay Matthews penetrating the backfield.

Green Bay haven't played as well on the road all season, but the Packers have gone 3-1 against the spread following a loss, although only one of those games was on the road. However, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are just 1-5 against the spread at home and I am not convinced they have the Offense to try and keep up with an angry Green Bay team that will want a big bounce back from last week.

I am concerned that the Packers haven't been as good on the road this season as at Lambeau Field, but injuries to the Tampa Bay Defense should make this a more routine day in the office for them.

New York Giants @ St Louis Rams Pick: The New York Giants have continued to play hard despite being out of Play Off contention, although the one concern is that they are looking ahead to finishing the season against the Philadelphia Eagles.

However, Odell Beckham's arrival on the scene has reinvigorated Eli Manning and I still expect the Receiver to have some big numbers despite coming up against this St Louis Rams Defense. Like the Giants, the Rams have a huge Divisional game coming up in the final week of the season against the Seattle Seahawks so could perhaps be looking ahead to play spoiler.

While their Defense has played so well, the Rams have struggled for consistency on Offense with Shaun Hill at Quarter Back, although Tre Mason has every chance of having a huge day running the ball.

There really isn't a lot I want to say about this game expect that the Giants look like they have been given a lot of points for a team that hasn't given up on the season despite sitting at 5-9. The Rams are off a physical game against the Arizona Cardinals, even if they had additional time to prepare for this game, and I still think that Seattle game will be on their mind.

The Rams might win, but New York have played well enough to keep this close for a small interest.

Indianapolis Colts @ Dallas Cowboys Pick: Another public underdog this week are the Indianapolis Colts, but I do think Andrew Luck is going to miss TY Hilton and I like the Dallas Cowboys to win a game that will see them back into the Play Offs.

If DeMarco Murray was to miss out, it would be a big blow to Dallas but it does look like the Running Back will be available for this game. Murray and the Offensive Line have been finding their groove again in recent games, although the Colts have also played the run fairly effectively in recent games.

However, those came against Washington, Cleveland and Houston where the Colts didn't really respect the Quarter Back to the same level that you have to respect what Tony Romo can do. Romo carved up the Philadelphia Secondary last week and while I expect Dez Bryant to have a tougher day in the office against Vontae Davis than against Bradley Fletcher, I still think Romo has enough weapons to move this ball from third and short situations that the running game can provide.

Of course, backing against Andrew Luck isn't going to be much fun, but his Offensive Line has struggled in protection and he has also made some big mistakes in games that haven't been punished like Dallas can. I think you have to be crazy to think Luck doesn't make some big plays in this one against a Dallas Secondary that can make some big mistakes, but losing the downfield target of Hilton is a tough loss.

With the Colts also earning their place in the Play Off last week, there could be some players perhaps wanting to take a breath and rest some niggles ahead of the post-season. Dallas haven't been as good at home as they have on the road which has to be a concern for them, but they are playing a team that could just have relaxed enough.

So I said I think Dallas win, but does that mean I think they cover? Getting more than a Field Goal seems to be a little too much to be given to the Colts considering they are 12-9 against the spread as the underdog since Andrew Luck has been with the team. Take in the fact that Dallas have been a poor home favourite to back and that they have lost 3 of their last 4 at home, plus two of their triplets could be limited in this one and this has the makings of a field goal kind of game.

Seattle Seahawks @ Arizona Cardinals Pick: This is another game I don't want to spend too much time on despite the winner going to be the favourite to finish with the Number 1 Seed in the NFC.

Why not? Ryan Lindley is why not! He has never thrown a Touchdown in the NFL and is now facing a Seattle Defense that is playing as well as when they won the Super Bowl last season. Bruce Arians said there are some packages for Logan Thomas too, but I can't imagine either Quarter Back haven't a lot of consistent success.

As good as the Arizona Defense have been playing too and as many times as they got to Russell Wilson when the teams met in Seattle, the Seahawks could make some big turnovers which allow them to cover what is a big number in what could be a low scoring game.

The Seahawks are desperate to win the NFC West, which is likely to bring the Number 1 Seed in the NFC to them too, and I think Wilson makes enough plays and Lindley perhaps turns the ball over a couple of times to allow Seattle to win this by at least ten points.

I will keep the play to minimum stakes because I do respect the Cardinals Defense and home record and this team may dig way deep within themselves for another big effort. Arizona have surprised me constantly this season and while I don't think they are a top team, they have earned my respect.

Denver Broncos @ Cincinnati Bengals Pick: I am not always a fan of picking these late Sunday Night Football and Monday Night Football games because some of the heavy action comes in on those games and backing the favourites can be a dangerous play.

However, the Denver Broncos look like a far better team than the Cincinnati Bengals and I think backing Peyton Manning over Andy Dalton in a prime time game is an easy selection to make. Win or lose, Manning should never 'only' be a three point favourite over Dalton in a game that matters in a prime time spot and the play has to be made.

There are some concerns over Manning and the thigh injury he has, although the Quarter Back hasn't looked himself for a few weeks now. Denver have made a point of running the ball more than we have become accustomed to seeing, although they have been effective enough to establish it against Cincinnati in this one too.

Whether that was done to protect an unhealthy Manning, preparation for the January Play Off games or simply because of some key injuries at Receiver, it has raised some questions about Manning. However, he has been doing enough on Offense and the Denver Defense has raised their game to make sure the Broncos remain in a position to try and steal away home field advantage through the Play Offs from the New England Patriots.

Andy Dalton and the Bengals have thrived as the underdog this season, going 5-1 against the spread in that spot, but he hasn't been confident enough in the prime time games which is a concern. The fact that Dalton won't be able to rely on much of a running game and that both Receivers are dealing with some top Corner Backs in Aqib Talib and Chris Harris and it could be another negative prime time performance from the Quarter Back.

Denver have been stout against the run and have a very effective pass rush so Dalton could feel some pressure and mistakes may be made. The Broncos can give up passing yards when they play soft coverage with a lead, but this is a team that hasn't allowed more than 17 points in their last three games, although it is arguable that Cincinnati are the best Offensive team they have faced in that time.

The Broncos are 3-1 against the spread in their last 4 road games, while Cincinnati have been blown out in their last 2 home games. Both teams need this victory to achieve some of their goals, but it has to be Manning over Dalton for me and I will back Denver to cover the three point spread.

0 Unit Pick: Tennessee Titans + 3.5 Points, Carolina Panthers - 4 Points, Pittsburgh Steelers - 3 Points, New York Jets + 10.5 Points, Buffalo Bills - 7 Points

MY PICKS: Philadelphia Eagles - 7.5 Points @ 2.00 William Hill (2 Units)
San Diego Chargers + 1.5 Points @ 1.95 Bet Victor (1 Unit)
Minnesota Vikings + 6.5 Points @ 1.92 Stan James (2 Units)
Baltimore Ravens - 4.5 Points @ 1.92 Paddy Power (2 Units)
Detroit Lions - 8 Points @ 1.92 Coral (2 Units)
Atlanta Falcons + 6 Points @ 1.95 Paddy Power (2 Units)
Green Bay Packers - 11.5 Points @ 1.92 William Hill (2 Units)
New York Giants + 6.5 Points @ 1.92 Ladbrokes (1 Unit)
Indianapolis Colts + 3.5 Points @ 1.92 Coral (2 Units)
Seattle Seahawks - 7.5 Points @ 1.95 Sky Bet (1 Unit)
Denver Broncos - 3 Points @ 1.85 Sporting Bet (2 Units)

Week 15: 5-4, + 1.56 Units
Week 142-10, - 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 201460-67-2, - 11.90 Units
Season 201386-70-2, + 22.27 Units
Season 2012- 4.78 Units

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