by Ryan Meehan and Coach Ryan
Week fourteen of the NFL season is here, and we are seeing a tale of two very different conferences. In the NFC, it’s a struggle and a fight to see who will come out with the two wild card seeds. Carolina and San Francisco will both face difficult divisional opponents in order to stave off some of the lesser-worthy teams fighting for those last two spots. In the AFC, it’s more laid back, and by “laid-back” we mean “extremely weak”. To give you any idea how bad it is, ESPN.com is listing potential tie breaker situations for San Diego, the Jets, Oakland AND Cleveland. (As the 10 through 13 seeds) One can only hope that this upcoming week we will see more teams mathematically eliminated in order to make some sense out of all this mess. So instead of looking into a crystal ball for guidance, let’s throw that thing down on the cold concrete and crack it wide open. This is what we think will go down in week fourteen of the 2013 NFL season…
Thursday Night Football: Houston Texans (2-10) -3 at Jacksonville Jaguars (3-9) (43)
Meehan: I don’t really understand the line here. It’s not like Houston has played great this year and the Jaguars are playing better football as of late. Ben Tate is a sexy fantasy playoff pick against a Jacksonville secondary that isn’t very good overall, but that’s pretty much where the good news for the Texans stops. Plus they have to actually get him the ball no matter who is behind center. And that’s really where the bottom has fallen out of the Texans this season. If your quarterback is the center of your team, your number one can’t stay healthy, your number two is made out of paper mache, and then you also don’t have your running back, being motivated in week fourteen when you already have double digits in the loss column is probably difficult. But this is the NFL, it’s no place for your Eeyoreing around like everyone should feel sorry for you. The Jags have won 3 out of their last four, and could very well win out which I hope they do. From here they have Buffalo, Tennessee, and Indianapolis and you know by that point the Colts will have this division on ice so they aren’t going to be playing any of their starters. Returning to the Texans, if you look at their overall stat sheet it doesn’t look that bad, but they are still awful. So if you have enough going for you that you should be at 5-7 (or at least 4-8) and you still can’t get it done a quarter of the time, that tells me that you have a lot of intangibles that are wrong with your organization and that you are going to lose a lot of games like this. Take the under on the point total, it’s a gift.
Meehan’s Pick: Jaguars 20, Texans 6
Coach’s Pick: Jaguars 17, Texans 14
Indianapolis Colts (8-4) +5.5 at Cincinnati Bengals (8-4) (44)
Coach’s Pick: Bengals 28, Colts 24
Meehan’s Pick: Bengals 24, Colts 21
Cleveland Browns (6-6) +11.5 at New England Patriots (9-3) (44.5)
Coach: It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas. The air is getting cold, snow is beginning to fall, and the best sign the holidays are upon us is the Browns are going to be starting a no name quarterback who wasn’t even on the roster at the beginning of the season. The Browns were humiliated at home last week in their worst loss of the year to the Jaguars while the Patriots just keep on coming back in the second half to pull off improbable victories. Luckily for Pats fans this week the Patriots will have no problem squandering a lead to a Browns team that has no identity on offense. It’s hard to imagine that even the Josh “Flash” Gordon can come close to 100 yards when his passes are being thrown by the likes of Alex Tanney or Caleb Hanie. I have to think it will be Tanney as he is the senior quarterback of the two having a whole two weeks to learn Norv Turner’s offense due to concussions to both Jason Campbell and Brandon Weeden. As a Browns fan you have to wonder when will this all stop? The answer of course is Sunday December 29th when the season comes to a close. The spread on the game is -11.5 and as much as big spreads
scare me, not knowing who the starting quarterback is or even WHO he is scares me more.
Coach’s Pick: Patriots 34, Browns 9
Meehan’s Pick: Patriots 33, Browns 16
Oakland Raiders (4-8) +2.5 at New York Jets (5-7) (40.5)
Meehan: Geno Smith is apparently going to start this game, which tells me one of two things: 1) Either Rex Ryan knows he’s gone already after the season is over if they don’t make the playoffs (which they won’t) or 2) that he really does believe in this kid. It’s quite possible it could be both of those things, but at the moment it’s looking like he’d be insane to really think the beginning of Geno’s season was anything more than just really lucky. New York also found out that they’ll lose kick returner Josh Cribbs for the rest of the year, meaning that it will be tht much harder for them to climb back into the playoff picture. I still can’t believe this is the same team that beat the New Orleans Saints – that just baffles me. Even with the whole “Any given Sunday” thing, that makes no sense at all. Although I am picking Oakland to win, I understand the 2.5 point spread: The Jets are at home, Oakland has historically played like total shit all up and down the East Coast, and they haven’t exactly had a magical season either. They still aren’t averaging 200 yards passing per game, and most importantly heading into next year – they have no idea who their quarterback is going to be for the long term. But I have to look at two different aspects here: (Man, I do this a lot) 1) This is quite possibly the beginning of the end for the Jets and a must win game for them, so I have to like Oakland to play spoiler here on the road; and 2) Oakland came out looking great against the Cowboys on Thanksgiving, and that’s the surefire way to beat the Jets because they can’t come back from the grocery store let alone in an NFL game. If you’re a gambler, I’d stay away from this one at all costs, even though I think the total under would probably be pretty safe.
Meehan’s Pick: Raiders 20, Jets 17
Coach’s Pick: Jets 24, Raiders 20
Detroit Lions (7-5) +2.5 at Philadelphia Eagles (7-5) (54.5)
Coach: Suddenly the Detroit Lions have won four in a row as they get ready to welcome Megatron and the Lions into Philly. The great thing about this time of year is how much games like this mean. As it sits right now the Eagles are one game out of the playoffs and tied with the Cowboys for the NFC East lead. I’ll admit that I haven’t been a big advocate of Chip Kelly’s team although the way that Nick Foles has been playing has made me a believer that this could be a playoff team. Still the one gapping whole in the Eagles is their pass defense which is letting up close to 300 yards a game and currently ranking last in the NFL. This should be a high scoring game although I have to go with the Megatron factor being the difference. The spread on the game is -2.5 Philly and I’m going to with the Lions in the upset.
Coach’s Pick: Lions 32, Eagles 29
Meehan’s Pick: Eagles 28, Lions 27
Miami Dolphins (6-6) +3 at Pittsburgh Steelers (5-7) (41)
Meehan: Sometimes picking these games totally sucks because you have to separate what you hope will happen from what will actually take place. That said, I’d love nothing more than for the Dolphins to head up to Pennsylvania and just destroy the Pittsburgh Steelers. Not only would it be great because the Steelers would drop to 5-8, but it would also put some heat on Baltimore for that six seed in the AFC. But that’s not going to happen – Miami is going to show up having forgotten how hard it is to play in that stadium, and they are going to get wrecked. I want so badly to be wrong, but in all reality the Steelers probably aren’t as bad as I thought (or hoped) that they would be. If you take away the Patriots and Bears games, their average margin of defeat is only 5.8 points. So at 5-7 they are probably the best team in the league with a losing record. And I don’t buy for one second that the Dolphins are subscribing to the “one game at a time” mantra, seeing as after this they have New England at home the following week. The Patriots are scaring AFC teams weeks in advance, and since the Dolphins probably won’t win either of those games, their best case scenario is .500. Also it’s important to note here that although they are currently even in the win/loss colums, they are alos in the bottom half of both major offensive category, with no real breakout strength in doing anything. They are ranked ninth against the pass, but unless you can turn that into points (which they haven’t been able to do) that’s not going to get you anywhere. They beat a Jets team last week that almost 80% of the teams in the league can, and Mike Wallace is going to ge lit up when he heads home to face his former team. Take the Steelers to cover the spread but stay away from the point total.
Meehan’s Pick: Steelers 27, Dolphins 13
Coach’s Pick: Steelers 27, Dolphins 17
Buffalo Bills (4-8) +2.5 at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (3-9) (43)
Coach: As exciting as teams are battling for playoff positioning there’s always the case of teams battling for who is going to have the higher draft pick which is the case here. I guess credit should be given to the Bills for being the only team to allow the Falcons to beat them on their home field. Then again in Buffalo’s defense the game was in Canada so I suppose it was more like neutral ground. Still Tampa has actually been looking decent as of late winning three out of four, only losing to a very good Panthers team last week. It even appeared as though Greg Schiano had some sort of job security but I think all things will go back to normal this week. Tampa Bay lost their fourteenth player to injury reserve last week when linebacker Jonathan Casillas went down with a knee injury. I know Casillas isn’t as damning as losing a Revis (who is listed as questionable) but one has to wonder just how much one team can take. The spread on the game is Tampa by -1.5 but I again am going to with an upset on the basis of how bad Tampa has been all year. A team like the Bucs wins a few games and everyone wants to pick them but make no mistake this is a bad team.
Coach’s Pick: Bills 24, Buccaneers 21
Meehan’s Pick: Buccaneers 30, Bills 20
Kansas City Chiefs (9-3) -3.5 at Washington Redskins (3-9) (45.5)
Coach: I almost had to giggle when I saw that the spread on this game was only 3 points for Kansas City. Yes the Chiefs have lost three in a row, but two of those losses have come to the Broncos and the third was that tight division game against the Chargers. The Redskins have looked like one of the worse teams in the NFC as of late with rumblings from fans about starting Kirk Cousins instead of RGIII. The bottom line is Kansas City is a good team although not a great team. They don’t have the fire power to beat teams like Denver, and seeing as how it’s the NFL they can occasionally slip up like they did against the Chargers. That being said they are light years better than the Redskins, who quite possibly might not win another game all year. Not only do I think that that Kansas City will dominate this game, but I do think that the rumblings are true and that this is the final stretch for Mike Shanahan in Washington.
Coach’s Pick: Chiefs 31, Redskins 16
Meehan’s Pick: Chiefs 27, Redskins 22
Minnesota Vikings (3-8-1) +9 at Baltimore Ravens (6-6) (43)
Meehan: For the love of God…will somebody PLEASE but the Baltimore Ravens out of their misery? Enter the Vikings, who have just beaten the Bears, tied the Packers, and almost beat just about every other team in the NFC. They far and away have the MVP of the division in Adrian Peterson, but haven’t been able to make that translate into anything worthwhile other than last week and it’s debatable that the Bears are even a challenge at this point. The big news for the Vikings this week is that on Tuesday they broke ground on their new stadium, meaning the team will in fact stay in Minnesota for the long term. But for the short term, they still don’t have a solid quarterback although Cassel did play well in relief of Ponder. And they head to Baltimore this week, where the Ravens are looking to separate themselves from the dumpster juice milkshake of teams that are rght behind them at 5-7. And they’ll also be looking for mismatches in the secondary to make it look like Joe Flacco was worth all of the money they are paying him. At least you’d think that would be the case when you consider that aside from a few rare occurences, Ray Rice and that 30th ranked running game hasn’t done anything all year. I’m not a fan of the Ravens, and even though I say don’t take them to cover the spread – there’s no way in hell Minnesota wins this game.
Meehan’s Pick: Ravens 26, Vikings 19
Coach’s Pick: Ravens 19, Vikings 13
Tennessee Titans (5-7) +13.5 at Denver Broncos (10-2) (49.5)
Coach: You always have to be careful with games that have almost a two touchdown spread on them, no matter who is playing. Tennessee has a pretty good pass defense although Tennessee hasn’t gone up against a pass offense quite like what they have in Denver. I do think that Tennessee is a team that has shown improvements from a year ago and have had a few close games against good teams on the road (losing by 7 in Seattle) but they are light years behind teams like the Broncos. Even though this is a game with a huge spread you have to think that Peyton and company are zoned in on having home field throughout the playoffs. Last week against the Chiefs Peyton had another day in which he threw for over 400 yards and threw four touchdown passes for the sixth time this season. From this point forward the Broncos don’t play a team that is over .500 until the playoffs which should make for a Mile High Super Bowl Run. The spread on the game is -13.5 Denver and although that’s a huge spread I’m still taking Denver to cover.
Coach’s Pick: Broncos 30, Titans 16
Meehan’s Pick: Broncos 41, Titans 23
St. Louis Rams (5-7) +7 at Arizona Cardinals (7-5) (41.5)
Coach: Arizona is desperately trying to hang onto their playoff lives by a thread. Of course last week’s loss in Philly didn’t help their chances and the Cards still have to travel to Seattle and host San Francisco but if they want any hope to playing in January they’re going to have to take care of business this week against the Rams. This is a Rams team that at times has looked good at times (like a few weeks ago in Indy) but also that has enough problems that I just can’t put faith in them. The Rams won the last meeting in week one but that was another lifetime ago for the Rams back when they had a guy named Sam Bradford at the helm. The spread on the game is -7 Arizona and although I think the Cards will win I think this will actually be decided by around three points. Last week Carson Palmer was all over the place with his passes but a trip home against an inconsistent Rams secondary should do the trick in pointing Arizona back in the right direction.
Coach’s Pick: Cardinals 20, Rams 17
Meehan’s Pick: Cardinals 24, Rams 17
New York Giants (5-7) +3 at San Diego Chargers (5-7) (47.5)
Meehan: These two teams will forever be associated with the draft in which Eli Manning was selected by the Chargers and made his displeasure known immediately, sending Philip Rivers shopping for houses in Chula Vista. When these teams met a few years back, I remember seeing someone in the stands in San Diego that had a sign which read “Hey Eli, we don’t like you either”. For some reason, both my father and I thought that was hilarious and you’re likely able to see more of that on Sunday. Despite what would be viewed as bias on my part, I really do think that the Giants are the better team. But as well well know, the better team doesn’t always win – especially on the road. And because of the added hatred for a guy that wanted nothing to do with them from the beginning, they will be after his ass and blitzing like it’s the end of the world. I’m going to go out on a limb here and say not only will New York lose this game effectively ending their season, but that in the remainder of Eli and/or Philip’s career, the Giants won’t ever win against San Diego in that timespan. I still wouldn’t touch the line on this one with a ten foot pole, but it’s mostly because this is only a two bedroom condominium and I just don’t have that many of them laying around. Gamblers beware: Stay away from this one.
Meehan’s Pick: Chargers 27, Giants 26
Coach’s Pick: Chargers 26, Giants 23
Seattle Seahawks (11-1) +2.5 at San Francisco 49ers (8-4) (42)
Coach: The Seahawks are coming off their most dominant win of the season after dominating the Saints last Monday Night and once again are met with a huge test when they travel to San Francisco. This will be the last major test the Hawks have before heading to the playoffs which should mean they already wrapped home field throughout. The biggest question is can Pete Carroll’s team make one more huge statement heading into the playoffs? Sure the Niners got blown out by the Hawks earlier in the season but once again San Francisco has been playing good football which is a fresh of breath air after dropping two in a row to Carolina and New Orleans. If San Francisco wants to have any shot they are going to have to prevent Seattle from going up early and are going to have to play an aggressive brand of football. Kaepernick will more than likely attempt to get a big game out of Michael Crabtree which will be his best bet if the Niners want to show they are still a real threat out of the NFC West. The spread on the game is -2.5 San Francisco although I’m going with the upset. I know Seattle will be short in their secondary with the suspensions of Walter Thurmond and Brandon Browner but even without them they are still the most complete team in the NFC.
Coach’s Pick: Seahawks 27, 49ers 24
Meehan’s Pick: Seahawks 24, 49ers 16
Atlanta Falcons (3-9) (Unknown) at Green Bay Packers (5-6-1) (Unknown)
Meehan: I don’t really care if Aaron Rodgers starts in this one, the Falcons aren’t good enough to take what’s left of that team up to Wisconsin and win. If he plays, they cover whatever the spread is. If he doesn’t, then they won’t. But the point here is, it doesn’t matter. The Packers ar 5-6-1 and that means the most number of games they can win is 9, which isn’t going to get them in the postseason if they win their division, which they won’t. They may not be mathematically eliminated after the Lions/Eagles game, but the next week they will. There has been some discussion on the four letter regarding whether or not they should sit Ridgers the remainder of the year. And as usual, Mark Schlereth and Jerome Bettis both were selling the idea, saying that he needs to play. That couldn’t be further from the truth – you have to sit him. He’s your small market franchise quarterback, and you can’t lose him. And you have to be proud of me here, I got through a whole paragraph without ripping the Falcons to shreds.
Meehan’s Pick: Packers 30, Falcons 24
Coach’s Pick: Falcons 19, Packers 17
Sunday Night Football: Carolina Panthers (9-3) +3.5 at New Orleans Saints (9-3) (45.5)
Meehan: The easy pick here is to go with Carolina since they are red hot and the Saints got worked by Seattle on Monday Night. But if we go into this matchup a little further, we see that momentum doesn’t nearly make or break a team. In this case, this is the New Orleans Saints who haven’t lost at home this year facing a team that they are usually able to beat. And this game has been flexed to Sunday Night Football, a forum where the Saints traditionally perform very well. Carolina has won eight straight, but I have to think that it ends here. But it is definitely a home game situation: If the Saints lose this one they are in real trouble, because in two weeks they will have to head to Charlotte where the Carolina fans will be giving them no quarter. This is so urgent for Team Breezy I have to say they cover the spread even though they probably don’t deserve to after last week’s beatdown.
Meehan’s Pick: Saints 34, Panthers 21
Coach’s Pick: Saints 20, Panthers 17
Monday Night Football: Dallas Cowboys (7-5) + 1.5 at Chicago Bears (6-6) (49.5)
Meehan: Your fantasy pick of the week is DeMarco Murray, as the Bears and their league-worst run defense host Tony Romo and the Dallas Cowboys on Monday Night Football. The pressure is really on for both of these teams – you have to figure that with the Lions played Philly, there’s really no ideal scenario for either of these teams because no matter who wins that game it’s going to have an effect on division winners and wild card placement, and with Carolina and San Francisco still ahead of both these teams their back are all against the wall. I’m going against the spread here because I have been very disappointed with the Bears’ defense so far this year, but that’s not to say that I’ve been impressed by the Cowboys on that side of the ball either.
If there is any way that Chicago can get the crowd into this game early and get the passing game going in the first half, they might have a chance here. After all, they are the favorite and the Bears tend to play well in Monday night games. But for some reason I really think that the Eagles will in fact knock off the Lions, therefore putting more of the pressure on Dallas and they will come together and win. How funny would it be if they won out and both the Cowboys and Philly finished 10-5? It would make a lot of these analysts pissed off, because they’d been ragging on the NFC East and how 8-8 could win the division all year. When in reality it just might not be the worst division in the NFL – that designation will belong to the NFC North, and that theory is the reason why I’m making this pick.
Meehan’s Pick: Cowboys 27, Bears 24
Coach’s Pick: Bears 23, Cowboys 20
Once again thanks for visiting First Order Historians and enjoying more of the internet’s finest in user generated content.
Meehan and Coach Ryan