NFL Week Fifteen Preview

by Ryan Meehan and Coach Ryan

On Tuesday night a good friend of mine let me stop over to his house where he has this movie projector to watch a film.  On this night, the film in question (and boy oh boy was it ever in question) was the 1981 Dan Akroyd and John Belushi film “Neighbors”.  If you’ve never seen it, it’s about the interaction between these two families that end up living next to one another and it features some of the most bizarre dialogue in the history of film.  It’s the last film Belushi made and it was during the shooting of this film where he relapsed after a brief period of sobriety.  It’s not that hard to see why, and just a few short months after its release he was dead.  Everything in that film was so messed up that I can barely even put it into words because it’s difficult to explain.  What does that have to do with the NFL?  Well, this year has been a lot like that movie.  Although certain scenes have been very descriptive, overall it’s been very non-cohesive and at points has been a total mess.  Perhaps that’s not entirely the case, but hey – I did have an intro to write and now I don’t anymore.  This is what we think week fifteen will look like in the 2013 NFL season…

Thursday Night Football:  San Diego Chargers (6-7) +10 at Denver Broncos (11-2)  (55.5)

Meehan:  The Chargers have to head to Denver for the early Thursday game this week, and I have to think that the Broncos would be the last team you’d want to see on a Thursday after a week where they scored 51 points against the Titans.  I can’t make any real strong argument that San Diego is any better than Tennessee is, so I’m going to say that ten points is a steal here.  Do the math:  If the O/U is set at 55 1/2, that would mean that for you to take the over and lose (providing the point total is accurate) Denver would only win 33-23.  And I just can’t envision any scenario where the Chargers can pull off scoring 23 points on the road in a place that will be damn near freezing.  Did they score 23 against Buffalo in this type of weather?  Sure they did.  Does half of the Bills defense probably only drink out of a sippy cup?  I got my money on the over on that one too.  The only teams that Denver has lost to this year were the Colts and the Patriots, and it happened when both of those teams were on fire.  Therefore, you just can’t talk me into this idea that Manti Te’O is going to be all up in Peyton Manning’s grill the entire second half of the afternoon.  Ten is a gift, it’s easy money – so run with it.  Broncos to cover.

Meehan’s Pick:  Broncos Plenty, Chargers not nearly enough.  So for sake of quantification Broncos 39, Chargers 17

Coach’s Pick: Broncos 31, Chargers 20

Washington Redskins (3-10) +7 at Atlanta Falcons (3-10)  (51)   

Meehan:  How the hell am I supposed to preview a shitstorm like this one?  And now we’ve got all of this talk that supposedly Shanahan wanted out back in 2012 when they were actually doing well?  Good then…leave.  Nobody wants to look at you anyway, even though you are the very definition of the team’s name.  I get that ESPN is trying to really milk this soap opera for all it’s worth, but at the same time I would almost be willing to bet everything in my bank account that the situation is so much worse than it’s being reported.  You got a guy who can’t produce that can’t hit their main receiver who constantly wants the ball, and that receiver is Santana Moss who hasn’t been effective since the Carter administration.  Then you have their secondary which is ranked 27th in the league, a sub-average but getting progressively worse run defense, a special teams unit coming off the worst performance in NFL history and I’m supposed to sit here and believe that of all people fucking Daniel Snyder has everything under complete control?  You see why maybe ESPN isn’t exposing this situation enough?  This is like Michael Bay being brought in to direct the “Sharknado” sequel because the first one relied too heavily on special effects and the cast wasn’t given enough room to showcase their acting talents.  It would be like if the guy who is always yelling stuff at the bus stop by your house recited the entire script from “Gigli” and was surprised when he ended up in a rubber room later that evening.  And it would be like me dressing up in a clown suit, having sex with everybody that I just mentioned in this paragraph, filming the whole thing under blacklight, and expecting the ratings on IMDB to be so high that when I go to use the site without upgrading to the premium version actually expecting to see something other than ads for “Jupiter Ascending”.  The Redskins can ram it…

Where was I?  Ah, yes the Falcons.  The Stephen Jackson pickup seemed to work alright for them, all four hundred and ten yards of it.  Sure I know that the Falcons are a passing team (that’s why they are ranked sixth in the league in passing yards per game) but they are…wait, did I just read that right?  Sixth in the league in passing yards?  How could a team that is in the top ten…no, the top six in passing yards from scrimmage end up entering week fifteen with ten losses and a bleak future in a division where once again next year all three teams could be better than them again?  And I wasted the clown suit joke on Washington?  In all seriousness, Matt Ryan has thrown a lot of interceptions and without Julius Jones has turned into a whiter and goofier version of an already super white and super goofy Matt Ryan.  I got Atlanta here just because they’re at home, but there shouldn’t even be a spread on this game.  They should cover it easily.

Meehan’s Pick:  Falcons 27, Redskins 15 1/2

Coach’s Pick: Falcons 27, Redskins 17 (If RGIII Plays)/ Redskins 24, Falcons 23 (If Cousins Plays)

Arizona Cardinals (8-5) -2.5 at Tennessee Titans (5-8)  (41.5)

Coach: Well that certainly didn’t go the way the Panthers were hoping. Last week was the worst defensive performance the Panthers have had all year allowing more first half touchdowns to the Saints than they had all year. They may have gone against one of the hottest teams in the league in one of the hardest stadiums to play in but if they’re going to put together a serious January run the Panthers are going to have to step it up in big situations. The Jets on the other hand are becoming one of my least favorite teams this season by doing almost the opposite of what I pick them to do on a weekly basis. The Jets are somehow still in the Wild Card hunt meaning a win in Carolina would go miles in helping their chances. Unfortunately for them they are heading into the Panthers house and going up against a pissed off Carolina defense that will be out for blood. The spread on the game is -12.5 and even though the Jets tend to do the opposite of what I think picking Carolina in this game SHOULD go my way. That being said I’m taking the Jets on the spread, 12.5 is just a little too much comfort, there you go New York I give you a reason to prove me wrong.

Coach’s Pick: Panthers 27, Jets 17   

Meehan’s Pick:  Cardinals 24, Titans 16 

San Francisco 49ers (9-4) -5 at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (4-9)  (41)   

Coach: Both the 49ers and the Buccaneers surprised me last week in their home victories although I highly doubt this week will bring an upset by the Buccaneers. San Francisco had to win last week against the Hawks not just to stay in a playoff spot but to prove to themselves they’re still an elite NFC team. The Bucs have suddenly won 4 out of 5 and are still playing for their football (and coaching) jobs coming into Sunday. Unfortunately for Greg Schiano’s team (and possible NFL future) this game is just a little too important for San Fran to let slip away. Technically the Niners with a lot of help can clinch a playoff spot with a win and a lot of help with other NFC teams losing but with only having one more team on their schedule who is over .500 (Arizona, Week 17) they should be able to get in as long as they take care of business the next two weeks. The key factor in this game is San Fran’s defense which should be able to shut down the Bucs. The spread on the game is -5 San Fran and although I think Tampa will make it interesting in the first half the Niners should cover.

Coach’s Pick:  49ers 27, Buccaneers 13

Meehan’s Pick:  49ers 20, Buccaneers 10 

New Orleans Saints (10-3) -5.5 at St. Louis Rams (5-8)  (46.5)  

Coach: For as excited as I was for the Saints game against the Panthers last week I walked away feeling let down from a Carolina perspective and impressed by the Saints. It also showed me that like the Seahawks the Saints are a team that thrives at home where they haven’t lost all year, making winning games like this a must do. The Saints still have to travel to Carolina but if they’re able to win this week and at Tampa they will lock up the second seed in the NFC giving them home field in the playoffs until they’d have to travel to Seattle. Don’t get mistaken the Rams have a pretty bright future but that’s looking forward a couple of years as of now the Saints are trying to rekindle the magic of 2009 and there’s little reason to doubt or bet against this team going forward. The spread on the game is -5.5 and I’m taking the Saints to cover.

Coach’s Pick: Saints 24, Rams 13   

Meehan’s Pick:  Saints 23, Rams 16

Seattle Seahawks (11-2) -7.5 at New York Giants (5-8)  (41)   

Meehan:  This could get really ugly.  I’m not quite sure why the point total is set so low in this one, because Seattle could really run the score up against the hapless Giants in this one.  You’ll likely hear about how the Seahawks can’t play on the road this week, because that horse has been beaten so bad you’d think if it was Hindu it would be alive again.  The experts don’t buy it, because even after a loss they still have the Seahawks in the power rankings even after the Denver murder at the Titans’ expense.  New York may have won three out of their last five after their bye week, but check out who they’ve beaten – Oakland, a Rodgersless Green Bay, and Washington whom I believe I discussed earlier.  They’re going to get tossed around like a used tampon at an L7 concert against Seattle, who are the real deal and still the clear NFC favorite.  While I bagged on Stephen Jackson earlier on in the piece for lack of production, as a Giants fan I would be biased if I didn’t do the same regarding Brandon Jacobs who hasn’t even broken 240 yet.  Eli has had some of the worst luck and an even poorer touch throwing the ball this year, so I can only imagine how quickly this will get out of hands.  The Seahawks are going to be snatching up the ball near the sidelines like those interceptions will have suspension-reversing effects, and they should make quick work of a theoretically existing football team like the 2013 New York Giants.  Stay in school, kids.

Meehan’s Prediction:  Seahawks 33, Giants 17

Coach’s Prediction: Seahawks 26, Giants 17

Chicago Bears (7-6) +1.5 at Cleveland Browns (4-9)  (46)   

Coach: I hope all of you paid attention to the Browns game in New England last week. You all would have gotten a three hour glimpse on what it’s like to be a Cleveland fan and if one more Boston fan tells me “I know what it’s like I’ve been there” I’m going to punch them in the face because you don’t. The only people who know what it’s like to go from the Cleveland highs of “oh my God this is it” to the blank stares and what feels like eternal silence in every single sport are Cleveland fans but that’s Cleveland in rebuilding mode since 1964.Another team who apparently is rebuilding is the 7-6 Chicago Bears who at the time are on the outside looking in at the playoffs. Chicago has had a really interesting week with Marc Trestman saying the Jay Cutler is his starting quarterback even though the entire league can tell that Josh McCown should be the guy. One way to look at this is simply that they need to know what each quarterback looks like in the offseason so they can gauge whether or not to overpay Cutler (don’t do it Bears) or go forward with McCown. I’m pretty uncertain that Cutler will be playing this week as he has yet to receive medical clearance so I’m going into this pick under the assumption that this could be McCown’s last chance to make a statement. If that’s the case expect McCown to come out firing and trying to secure himself a starting job for next year.I know Cleveland played an excellent game last week and if they come out with that same kind of intensity they can beat just about anyone in the league (if the refs allow) but I’m going with the attitude at this point that the Browns are a quarterback and another couple players away from being a top tier AFC team. As much as I want my team to win at this point losing helps secure a better draft pick (AKA quarterback) for the future. This game really could go either way so I’d actually stay clear unless you have a horse in the race but I’m going with the Bears to win a tight one that hopefully doesn’t involve two touchdowns in the span of a minute on two blown calls.

Coach’s Prediction: Bears 27, Browns 26

Meehan’s Prediction:  Bears 20, Browns 13 

Houston Texans (2-11) +7 at Indianapolis Colts (8-5)  (45.5) 

Meehan:  The Texans will be under the guidance of interim coach Wade Phillips, as they stumble into the RCA Dome to face the Colts on Sunday.  But they might want to check and see if anybody else has already tripped over their own footing and caused a rift in the turf, because the way that the Colts have been playing believe it or not they could easily lose this game.  I’m going completely off the grid here and taking Indianapolis to bite it here.  Don’t ask me why, I know not the motives for my behavior at some points.  But if there has been a trap game this year for the Colts, this is it because Houston knows them well and Luck just isn’t as fortunate without Wayne to throw to.  Upset special of the week.

Meehan’s Pick:  Texans 29, Colts 24 

Coach’s Pick: Colts 24, Texans 19

Buffalo Bills (4-9) -1 at Jacksonville Jaguars (4-9)  (43)  

Meehan:  Get your Jaguars jokes out of here, but don’t drag them too far away because I might need them for the other team in this game – the Buffalo Bills.  Since it’s stale to sit here and bag on both of these teams, let’s discuss the good here.  Although neither team will make the playoffs, there are a few bright spots.  Jacksonville has won four out of their last five, and they’ve shit all over me because they’ve also swept my AFC Super Bowl pick.  And they’ve done all of it without Justin Blackmon, so I see no reason why next year they can turn it around if they can make a move for a decent quarterback.  This is living proof that all of these odds makers slurp the entire AFC East, even the bottom of it.  In their eyes, that whole division can do no wrong.  The Dolphins are the “sexy” pick, Buffalo “plays tough in cold weather”, the Jets are “playoff contenders even after they’ve been mathematically eliminated from not suffocating themselves to death with a pillow case”.  The only thing they are ever right about is New England and those aren’t odds, those are five Super Bowl appearances from their quarterback talking.  I’m telling you Jacksonville wins this game.  And regardless of whatever a printout of an AFC East blog which is covered in semen might tell you, that division hasn’t been the strongest in the NFL since the realignment.

Meehan’s Pick:   Jaguars 24, Bills 20

Coach’s Pick: Jaguars 29, Bills 24

New England Patriots (10-3) -2 at Miami Dolphins (7-6)  (45.5)  

Coach: This matchup is featuring two of the luckier teams from Week 14. The Pats relied on debatable calls along with an onside kick in their once again last second comeback while the Dolphins were an inch away from a humiliating loss in Pittsburgh. As we come upon this AFC East matchup the story for New England is how they are going to be able to compete against top tier teams in the playoffs without Gronk. There’s no debating how much more effective the Pats are with Gronk in the lineup but the combination of Brady and Belichick have faced obstacles in the past and somehow have a tendency to land on two feet and surprise everyone. The thing about Miami though is how they have been able to impress and remain in the thick of the playoff chase after all the drama the controversy they’ve had to go through this year. For the Fins to get into the Wild Card they’re going to have to win at least 2 out of 3 and have hope that Baltimore losses which is very possible considering the Ravens last three games. The spread on the game is -1 New England and although I think Miami will win 2 out of 3 I think the Pats will still have their number this week in a tight one. Even though I’m picking the Pats the Fins should be able to win their last two and more than likely sneak into the Wild Card.

Coach’s Pick: Patriots 27, Dolphins 24

 

Meehan’s Pick:  Patriots 26, Dolphins 17 

Philadelphia Eagles (8-5) -5 at Minnesota Vikings (3-9-1)  (51)  

Meehan:  Make no mistake:  The Eagles aren’t messing around anymore.  They are the opposite of the Chicago Bears…they have a guy who is technically a second stringer who deserves to start that IS starting, the Bears have that same thing but as soon as Jay Cutler dusts off his boots they’ll be right back to where they started.  But what the Eagles have in LeSean McCoy is something that the Bears wish they had in Forte, and he is the reason that the Eagles have a better record.  But enough about Team Ditkus, let’s take a look at the bottom of the North division for a moment.  The Vikings lost a tough game in the snow against Baltimore at the last second, and they will likely be without Adrian Peterson here so I have to take Philly to cover.  The Eagles are a hell of a success story this year:  They went out and got a new coach, had a few problems early, but have rebounded and put up some very impressive showings.  And they looked like a million bucks in the snow last week, although this Sunday they will be inside.  Which should be a great time to showcase what Nick Foles and the rest of that offense can do.  For a team that I am supposed to hate, at the moment I don’t have anything negative to say about the Eagles.

Meehan’s Pick:  Eagles 33, Vikings 22 

Coach’s Pick: Eagles 28, Vikings 23

Kansas City Chiefs (10-3) -4.5 at Oakland Raiders (4-9)  (41)    

Meehan:  Hmmm.  4.5?  That seems a little slim here.  The weather should be perfect for this game, so the Chiefs should be able to handle Oakland early and often.  That being said, I always look towards the Raiders to do something bizarre at the end of the year so this might be the game where you see some trickery out of them.  It certainly would be nice for the fans, who haven’t finished with a winning record since Rich Gannon and crew lost Super Bowl 38 back in 2002.  But in Vegas’ defense, the Chiefs stock has definitely fallen since its overinflated market price just one month ago.  For example, did you know that Alex Smith is averaging only 208 passing yards per game?  Now you’re going to be able to get away with that type of thing Wild Card weekend, but after that it’s a whole lot of going halfway across the country to get mushroom stamped by some other team like New England or Denver.  Speaking of which, did you realize that the gap between the Chiefs at the five seed is now three games over Baltimore at the six?  Isn’t the first round of the AFC playoffs going to be more awkward than getting a full body massage from Christopher Lloyd?  I’ll take Kansas City to cover…

Meehan’s Pick:  Chiefs 27, Oakland 11 

Coach’s Pick: Chiefs 30, Raiders 20

New York Jets (6-7) +12.5 at Carolina Panthers (9-4)  (40.5)

Coach: Well that certainly didn’t go the way the Panthers were hoping. Last week was the worst defensive performance the Panthers have had all year allowing more first half touchdowns to the Saints than they had all year. They may have gone against one of the hottest teams in the league in one of the hardest stadiums to play in but if they’re going to put together a serious January run the Panthers are going to have to step it up in big situations. The Jets on the other hand are becoming one of my least favorite teams this season by doing almost the opposite of what I pick them to do on a weekly basis. The Jets are somehow still in the Wild Card hunt meaning a win in Carolina would go miles in helping their chances. Unfortunately for them they are heading into the Panthers house and going up against a pissed off Carolina defense that will be out for blood. The spread on the game is -12.5 and even though the Jets tend to do the opposite of what I think picking Carolina in this game SHOULD go my way. That being said I’m taking the Jets on the spread, 12.5 is just a little too much comfort, there you go New York I give you a reason to prove me wrong.

Coach’s Pick:  Panthers 27, Jets 17

Bonus Comment from Meehan:  Even though Carolina is at home and the Jets are effectively out of the race, I don’t like the Panthers to cover this spread at ALL.  Be very careful with this game and remember how poorly Carolina played against the Saints last week, the same Saints that lost to the Jets in week nine which was not that long ago…) 

Meehan’s Pick:   Panthers 27, Jets 21

Green Bay Packers (6-6-1) EVEN at Dallas Cowboys (7-6)  (N/A)   

Meehan:  I understand why the oddsmakers are waiting for Aaron Rodgers to do anything before they can come up with anything, but as a writer who has to have his shit up by Thursday for all of these Thursday night games, you can understand why it’s a little frustrating my end.  Anyway, on Tuesday I mentioned the fact that if Peyton Manning is going to get so much grief for his failure to perform in cold temperatures maybe we should be saying the same about Tony Romo.  But let’s get real, it isn’t just about Tony.  Last in the league against the pass, the artist formerly known as the Monte Kiffin experiment is slowing turning into a bad ketamine hallucination.  Let’s just put it this way…Last week Josh McCown scored on this defense on every single drive but the last one, and by that point nothing mattered.  I’ve heard comments that either DeMarcus Ware is not 100% healthy, can’t do everything by himself, or may be in a sharp decline.  If there’s an “all of the above” after those three, my answer is going to be “D” for sure.   I like the Cowboys to get back on track, but I also like the look on all of their faces when they take the field and don’t have a choice because Philly has already beaten Minnesota.  And I guess I can’t pick the spread, because we’re just going to have to wait for a gametime decision here.  The Packers aren’t making the playoffs anyway – that noise you here in the background is Carolina, San Francisco, and Arizona laughing uncontrollably at the sheer mention of that thought.  Put your wallet away, Green Bay games will be too close to call from this point on…

Meehan’s Pick:  Cowboys 22, Packers 20 

Coach’s Pick: Cowboys 22, Packers 20

Sunday Night Football:  Cincinnati Bengals (9-4) -2.5 at Pittsburgh Steelers (5-8)  (41) 

Don’t forget to catch the premiere of Ben Roethlisberger’s all new Food Network show “Tasting Turf” this Sunday Night

Coach: Last week’s game in Pittsburgh has shown just how far the mighty Steelers have fallen this year. Under no circumstance in the past would a Dolphins team head to Pittsburgh in the snow during December and be able to able to win. That was a Pittsburgh game in the heart of Steelers Country and say what you want about how close a miracle win should have happened, it didn’t. Pittsburgh was outclassed and outplayed at home by a hungrier team, although Mike Tomlin forcing Antonio Brown away from the sideline would have helped. That was a crippling loss for the Steelers not just for an outside playoff hope but on confidence and pride. Unfortunately for Pittsburgh they now have to welcome the Bengals who are perched atop the AFC North and are carrying a very impressive three game winning streak. Cincinnati has finally looked like the team we’ve been waiting for all season winning three in a row and hungry to make doubters into believers. If Cincinnati goes into Pittsburgh and gets the win I think it’s very possible they could win out and go into the playoffs winning 6 in a row and with a record of 12-4. Make no mistake Pittsburgh is a prideful team and they will give Cincinnati all it can handle which could make this a trap game. With a spread of just -2.5 Cincinnati this is a game that could go either way giving the Steelers one staple win on the year or it could propel the Bengals to AFC Elite. I’m marking this as a game that you should pay attention to especially going forward with Cincy and that’s who I’m taking in the win but not covering.

Coach’s Pick: Bengals 24, Steelers 22 

Meehan’s Pick:  Bengals 30, Steelers 24 

Monday Night Football:  Baltimore Ravens (7-6) +7 at Detroit Lions (7-6)  (48) 

  

Coach: Two of the more interesting teams heading into the playoffs square off in what should be a close contest. Both of these teams are currently in the playoffs although both of them are in it by the skin of their teeth and neither can afford to slip up. If Detroit losses they potentially could be looking up at the surprise Bears in the standings after underperforming as of late and dropping 3 out of their last 5. Baltimore on the other hand has Miami breathing down their neck and still has to play New England and Cincinnati. The only way to stay in a playoff position is to win. As well as Detroit has been playing recently all three of their wins have come at home where this Monday Night game is in Detroit where the Ravens are an embarrassing 1-5 on the road losing at Cleveland and Buffalo. For me to pick this game I have to look past the “what have you done for me lately” which in the NFL is the past week or two and really look at what team I think is better. To me that team all year has been Detroit as I despite their three game losing streak I haven’t been very impressed by the Ravens all year, especially away from home. The spread on the game is -7 Detroit and I’m going Lions. Sorry Baltimore but I think you guys could be going from a three game winning streak to ending the year on a three game losing streak.

Coach’s Pick: Lions 29, Ravens 21 

   

Meehan’s Pick:  Ravens 24, Lions 21 

Once again thanks for visiting First Order Historians and enjoying more of the internet’s finest in user generated content.

Meehan and Coach Ryan

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