Here are my picks for the NFL’s Week 14:
*THURSDAY, DECEMBER 9*
Indianapolis 6-6 at Tennessee 5-7 @ 8:20 PM [Line: Colts by 3]
The Titans have lost five in a row. The Colts have dropped three straight. Indianapolis needs to win this one if they want to have a shot at winning the AFC South and making the playoffs. Over the last five games, Peyton Manning has thrown 9 touchdown passes and 13 interceptions; the Colts have lost four of those five games.
RJ’s Pick: Colts by 7
*SUNDAY, DECEMBER 12*
Cleveland 5-7 at Buffalo 2-10 @ 1:00 PM [Line: Bills by 1.5]
The Browns have won two in a row. The Bills have lost their last two. Unless the Browns get behind by a lot early, Peyton Hillis should rush for 100+ yards in this one, easy.
RJ’s Pick: Browns by 4
Cincinnati 2-10 at Pittsburgh 9-3 @ 1:00 PM [Line: Steelers by 9]
The Bengals have lost nine straight games. The AFC North-leading Steelers have won three in a row. This one shouldn’t be close.
RJ’s Pick: Steelers by 17
Green Bay 8-4 at Detroit 2-10 @ 1:00 PM [Line: Packers by 6.5]
The Packers have the NFL’s top defense in terms of points allowed. All four of their losses have come by exactly three points each. The Lions have lost five in a row. There’s no good reason to pick the Lions in this one, but then there’s no good reason to be a Lions fan, either.
RJ’s Pick: Lions by 1
New York Giants 8-4 at Minnesota 5-7 @ 1:00 PM [Line: Giants by 2]
The Giants have won two straight. The Vikings have also won their last two. Will Brett Favre be healthy enough to start his 298th consecutive regular season game? We probably won’t know until right before game time.
RJ’s Pick: Giants by 8
Tampa Bay 7-5 at Washington 5-7 @ 1:00 PM [Line: Buccaneers by 2]
The Buccaneers have lost two in a row and are now unlikely to make the postseason. The Redskins have also lost two straight and have the league’s worst defense in terms of yards allowed per game. Albert Haynesworth has been suspended without pay for the rest of the season for … well, for being a selfish, immature asshole. (Daniel Snyder, you are a football genius.)
RJ’s Pick: Redskins by 3
Atlanta 10-2 at Carolina 1-11 @ 1:00 PM [Line: Falcons by 7]
The Falcons have the best record in the NFC and have won six in a row. The Panthers have the worst record in the NFL and have lost six straight. This should be a blowout, and possibly a shutout.
RJ’s Pick: Falcons by 20
Oakland 6-6 at Jacksonville 7-5 @ 1:00 PM [Line: Jaguars by 4.5]
Don’t let their mediocre records fool you; this is a huge game for both teams, with serious playoff implications. The Raiders are just 2-4 on the road this season. The Jaguars have won four of their last five. If it’s a close one, there will probably be 300+ yards rushing between these two teams.
RJ’s Pick: Jaguars by 2
Seattle 6-6 at San Francisco 4-8 @ 4:05 PM [Line: 49ers by 4.5]
Just how bad is the NFC West? The 49ers have a perfectly credible chance of winning the division. They are 3-3 at Candlestick Park. The Seahawks are 2-4 on the road.
RJ’s Pick: 49ers by 1
St. Louis 6-6 at New Orleans 9-3 @ 4:05 PM [Line: Saints by 9.5]
The Rams have won two straight and are still my pick to win their division. They have by far the best defense in the NFC West in terms of points allowed. The Super Bowl champion Saints have won five in a row. I expect a competitive game, but with an unsurprising outcome.
RJ’s Pick: Saints by 5
Miami 6-6 at New York Jets 9-3 @ 4:15 PM [Line: Jets by 5.5]
The Dolphins are 5-1 on the road this season. I find this team to be a bit of an enigma. They win on the road, but they lose at home. They have a pretty decent offense (although Chad Henne throws too many picks), but they can’t put points on the board. They have a solid defense, but they don’t force many turnovers. Weird. The Jets got humiliated on MNF last week, losing by 6 touchdowns. Mark Sanchez’s quarterback rating in that game was 27.8, by far his worst performance of the season. Sanchez has thrown at least 1 interception in every game since Week 6; up until then, he hadn’t thrown any. Also weird.
RJ’s Pick: Jets by 2
Denver 3-9 at Arizona 3-9 @ 4:15 PM [Line: Broncos by 3]
The Broncos have dropped three straight. Head coach Josh McDaniels was fired after last week’s loss. He has been replaced by Eric Studesville. The Cardinals have lost seven consecutive games. If I was doing a “power rankings” column, the Cardinals would certainly be somewhere in the bottom four.
RJ’s Pick: Broncos by 9
Kansas City 8-4 at San Diego 6-6 @ 4:15 PM [Line: Chargers by 7]
The Chiefs are just 2-4 on the road this season. The Chargers are 4-2 at home. This is an absolute must-win game for the Chargers.
RJ’s Pick: Chargers by 11
New England 10-2 at Chicago 9-3 @ 4:15 PM [Line: Patriots by 3]
The Patriots have won four straight. The Bears have won five in a row. Tom Brady is playing out of his mind. His quarterback rating for the season is 109.5. He hasn’t thrown an interception since Week 6 and has had at least 1 touchdown pass in every game this season. His quarterback rating in the last four games: 117.4, 123.1, 158.3 (perfect), and 148.9. Wow. The Bears have a very good defense, but then so do the Jets, and look what happened to them when they played the Patriots last week.
RJ’s Pick: Patriots by 14
Philadelphia 8-4 at Dallas 4-8 @ 8:20 PM [Line: Eagles by 3]
The Eagles have the top offense in the NFL in terms of yards per game. The Cowboys are 3-1 since Jason Garrett took over as head coach, and that one loss was by just three points to the Super Bowl champion Saints. Jon Kitna has been solid over the last four games, with 7 passing touchdowns, 1 rushing touchdown, and just 2 interceptions. I expect a high-scoring, competitive game.
RJ’s Pick: Dallas by 3
*MONDAY, DECEMBER 13*
Baltimore 8-4 at Houston 5-7 @ 8:30 PM [Line: Ravens by 3]
The Ravens have allowed just 36 points over their last three games. The Texans have lost five of their last six. Joe Flacco is quietly having an excellent year. If you exclude his nightmarish Week 2 performance against the Bengals, he’s thrown just 4 interceptions this season. He’s had a triple digit quarterback rating in six games.
RJ’s Pick: Ravens by 6