Week Fourteen NFL Preview

Above: Soon-to-be-former Indianapolis Colts head coach Chuck Pagano

Above: Soon-to-be-former Indianapolis Colts head coach Chuck Pagano

by Eight Thirty Seven with assistance from J-Dub and Jason from Indiana

In week thirteen there were a lot of head scratchers in the NFL. The Pats lost their second straight game to…the Eagles? Minnesota’s defense gave up 38 points to…the Seahawks? If there’s one thing I’ve learned in the time we’ve been doing this, it’s that some weeks there’s no science to it. Sometimes teams be fuckin’ up, sure as women be shoppin’ and tire fires be burnin’. One guy who is no stranger to many different kinds of burns is J-Dubs, whose gambling challenge nears its end with just a month left in the season….

J-Dub:  Well, the “getting healthy” trend continues, if by only a slight margin. The dirty little secret about gambling on the NFL is that the season is really broken into three parts. The first is when you should be able to make some money, because team are largely healthy and pretty much do what you expect them to. 

Then comes the middle of the season, where injuries take their toll, and that becomes one of several reasons why teams will unpredictably change what they are (remember when the Jets were 4-1 and a “playoff lock?”)

Finally, there’s the phase we are in currently; a period in which some stability returns, so long as your realize who are teams who still have something left for which to play. That’s not as easy as it seems.  For example, the Cowboys should be just so much road meat by now, but they are in a division so shitty they are only a game away from the playoffs. I gave Detroit up for dead, and they win three straight. Then, there’s a Vikings’ team n Vikings team which looked to be a legitimate contender, only to realize alas…they are the Vikings.
So, let’s make some bets…

Minnesota Vikings (8-4) +7.5 at Arizona Cardinals (10-2)  (46.5)

2

The Arizona Cardinals were wearing their standard white visitors uniforms last week when they ate the Rams alive in the parking lot of their own slaughterhouse, but not even the strongest bleach in that facility is going to be able to wash off all of the blood stains that oozed from the ears of Fisher’s crew. My God, there were children watching that shit…The Vikings are hoping they don’t meet the same fate, as they somehow surrendered 38 points to Seattle in a game they had to have knowing the Packers got away with one just a few nights before. Now they’re in second place again, but they are still in good shape even if they lose this game and here’s why:  Nobody really expected the Vikings to be a 12-4 team anyway, and they looked exactly like what one might expect from a team that young. By that I mean, they will be out in the first game of whatever round they end up in this postseason. Very rarely does a team go from rebuild to Super Bowl Champion anymore, even though if there were a year where you’d expect it to happen this would be it. Having to head to the desert and face a team that won’t shock me a bit if they finish 13-3 will once again remind them that’s where they sit on the food chain. They might be sharks someday, but not yet. I love Arizona to cover here and I’m not really wild about the total at all so I won’t advise.

837’s Prediction:  Cardinals 28, Vikings 16

J-Dub:  $100 on Arizona

Jason from Indiana:  Arizona

Buffalo Bills (6-6) EVEN at Philadelphia Eagles (5-7)  (47)  

Philadelphia Eagles v Buffalo Bills

The way both of these teams have played so far this year, it’s nothing short of mind blowing their records aren’t reversed. But then again, it’s equally as brain-splitting that the Eagles were able to go into Foxboro and somehow beat New England. How did they do it? Aside from the fact that the Pats were marred by injury problems – which by this point are far too well documented – they did it by emphasizing killer special teams play and turning a 99 yard interception return into a touchdown. It certainly wasn’t Bradford having a hell of a day…you can find any schmoe who has used a CFL contract to roll a spliff over the past five years to put up numbers like 14 for 24 for 120 yards. But Buffalo has sort of been inching along in a similar fashion:  They win a couple, lose a couple, and are hoping for that late season run. They have to get this one to stay on pace with the Jets, and I believe since there’s no way Philly can look good two weeks in row – keep in mind before the Patriots game they lost four out of their last five. That’s a skid they could easily slip back into, and even though that was a hell of a road win I think they lose this one. Should be boring as shit though, so other than telling you take the under and I like Buffalo here I don’t really have much to say. Plus both you and I know you skipped over this part of the article. We’re all adults here.

837’s Prediction:  Bills 23, Eagles 21

J-Dub:  No bet

Jason from Indiana:  Buffalo

San Francisco 49ers (4-8) EVEN at Cleveland Browns (2-10)  (41)   

3

The Browns are a joke for which nobody asked for the punchline. But if that punchline were in question, it would most certainly be Johnny Manzeil – whom I have dubbed Johnny Badminton for the remainder of his last month in an NFL uniform. You can take that shit to the bank, but then again if you’re wearing a Browns jersey it’s highly unlikely that you’ll be able to find a bank without your case worker. It would sort of be hilarious to see the guy go yard on the Niners though, because their confidence is probably a tad inflated after that OT win against the Bears. It’s kind of weird how Blaine Gabbert is everything that Manzeil wishes he was, and yet he’s still not that great. And by “weird” I mean “super depressing” and by “wishes” I mean if I write any more about this game I’ll be put on suicide watch by those who will get all of my guitars when I jump off of my deck with a bedsheet tied around my neck. Since I’m turning over a new leaf and all about that positivism, I won’t have it. This line is even for a reason, and that reason is because nobody wants to crunch the numbers even when millions of dollars are at stake. In other words, who the fuck cares? I guess if I had to take somebody I’ll say Frisco by 2 and I’ll have a slice of the under.

837’s Prediction:  49ers 19, Browns 17

J-Dub:  Dog of the Week

Jason from Indiana:  49ers

Atlanta Falcons (6-6) +8.5 at Carolina Panthers (12-0)  (46.5)  

4

Every NFL player will feed you this bullshit line about how every game the opposition is tough, but if you saw the look on Cam Newton’s face after the Saints failed to convert on fourth down you’ll know damn well there are certain games teams expect to win. That game was one of them, and although the Saints and Drew Brees are known for typically having a high-powered offense anybody with the defense that Carolina has should fucking smoke a team like the Saints. You see that game on your schedule and you ink pen a W in your brain, but I think that we saw some cracks in an undefeated team during that contest. How the Falcons ended up being 6-6 is very confusing…Even after their 5-0 start, you feel like even though it’s mathematically impossible they should be 3-9 at best and if you’ve seen any Falcons highlights lately you know perfectly well what I’m talking about. But you probably haven’t, because they’ve lost five in a row and 6 out of their last seven. This could be a trap game for the Panthers, but I don’t think it will be and as we all know home field advantage doesn’t mean shit to Atlanta. I like Carolina to cover and I’m taking a clean over here.

837’s Prediction:  Panthers 30, Falcons 20

J-Dub:  $100 on Carolina

Jason from Indiana:  Carolina

Washington Redskins (5-7) +3.5 at Chicago Bears (5-7)  (44)

5

Even though my beloved Giants subjected the national television viewing audience to yet another horrid performance in a very similar fashion, I can still take pleasure in watching the Bears blow yet another sure win on their schedule like they did against the San Francisco 49ers this past weekend. If you hold the ball for almost two-thirds of the game, there’s no way you should ever lose. Rushing Matt Forte back to 21 carries a game probably wasn’t the best idea anyway, but they really don’t need to have a long-term solution in place for him because you know he won’t be there next year. Being a Giants fan that’s not too fond of the Bears puts me in a weird spot here, because in order for New York to have a shot at any postseason birth I need the Redskins to lose every game from here on out. You could make the argument that out of their last four games (Buffalo, Philly, and Dallas) this might actually be the toughest one, so this is a difficult game to pick. Washington losing that game at home had to have been heartbreaking, but if you think I’m going to sympathize with any Redskins fan I’ve got some lakefront property on the moon that I’d love to sell you. The good news here is that it’s a road game so at least they don’t have to worry about anybody getting stabbed or some ex-stripper getting caught on camera blowing dudes in the upper deck. I have to think that this is do or die for the Redskins but they looked so bad on Monday night I can’t bring myself to pick them. Yep, I’m doing this. Chicago wins and covers, point total is spot on.

837’s Prediction:  Redskins 24, Bears 20

J-Dub:  $25 on Chicago

Jason from Indiana:  Chicago

Pittsburgh Steelers (7-5) +2.5 at Cincinnati Bengals (10-2)  (49.5)  

6

I’ve heard some writers argue that the Bengals are the best team in the AFC, and after the recent Patriots slide, I kind of buy it. I mean, after a tough Sunday night loss to the Cardinals a couple of weeks ago they’ve only given up a total of ten points in a hundred and twenty clock minutes, and obviously they aren’t as plagued by injuries as New England is. They are still a killing machine, and if this were college football their two losses (HOU and ARZ) would look great on paper. They won the first matchup, but it was a struggle and there wasn’t a whole lot of scoring. This is a game for football fans, and one where it’s doubtful that Jacoby Jones will be returning punts anytime soon after his recent mishaps. The Steelers are going to find out real fast that the Bengals are hardly the Colts, and I believe that culture shock alone is going to be something that they won’t be able to recover from. I like Tomlin a lot, but he’s in way over his head here. I’d be shocked if Pittsburgh could pull this off. At 49.5 this is a slam dunk to take the under for the point total – first meeting total was 26 – but even so 2.5 isn’t a lot so take Cincinnati to cover.

837’s Prediction:  Bengals 20, Steelers 16

J-Dub:  $50 on Cincinnati

Jason from Indiana:  Cincinnati

Detroit Lions (4-8) EVEN at St. Louis Rams (4-8)  (40.5) 

7

There were a lot of writers that expected these two teams to be in the thick of the playoff hunt by the second week in December. Although I expected the Lions to take a dive, I have been startled by the product the Rams have put on the football field over the past month. They’ve been nothing short of garbage, and capped off their five game losing streak by getting smashed at home on Sunday by Arizona. So if it’s not effort, what’s the problem here Uncle Jeff? Nick Foles going 15 for 35 I can understand as his career is likely over, but if that’s the case why did you run your SI cover model Todd Gurley only nine times in that game? Did it really take you that long to figure out that shit wasn’t fucking working? I read an interesting article posted back in April on NFL.com about how Fisher is untouchable and the Rams likely won’t look elsewhere. This just shows that the benefits the league gives to teams who have head coaches on the competition committee are just way out of hand these days. It’s disturbing, really. How does a guy with one Super Bowl appearance in twenty years not get fired from the team that he lost the Super Bowl to? Can somebody clue me in on why else that might be considered acceptable? I don’t know enough about the Lions to talk nearly as much shit about them, and at least they haven’t quit on their awful head coach just yet so I’m taking them to win in a game you know you won’t watch. Take the under, this could be a real shitshow.

837’s Prediction:  Lions 23, Rams 13

J-Dub:  $25 on Detroit

Jason from Indiana:  Detroit

New England Patriots (10-2) -3 at Houston Texans (6-6)  (44.5)

2

Remember when Dubs said earlier this year that the Patriots are going to get a ton of huge spreads that they wouldn’t cover? Well, apparently with what we’ve seen over the past two weeks now we know precisely what he was fucking talking about. I doubt he could have projected a home loss to that mess of an offense Chip Kelly drags out on to the field every week, an offense that somehow beat one of the best teams in the NFL on the road. Look, the Patriots aren’t going to get the sympathy vote from the masses given their history of whatever it is that they do behind closed doors but the effects those injuries have had on that team have been devastating. It’s almost a little bit sad, but you know America won’t shed a tear. The Texans have been all the fuck over the place recently but are coming off of a very difficult to explain loss to the Bills. They are in the heat of the playoff race, but with the Jets, Chiefs and Steelers all a game ahead of them they’re going to need a whole lot more than the style points it’s gonna take them to win this game. And I don’t even believe they’ll do that, because there still isn’t enough offense there. I like Brady to bounce back from dropping two in a row and cover but just barely, point total is too close to call.

837’s Prediction:  Patriots 24, Texans 20

J-Dub:  $50 on Houston

Jason from Indiana:  New England

Indianapolis Colts (6-6) NO LINE at Jacksonville Jaguars (4-8)  (N/A)

3

I would love nothing more than to see the Colts get crushed by Jacksonville in what I hope will be a meaningless game that doesn’t affect the playoff picture one bit. They got stomped last week by the Steelers because you knew that Hasselblack magic was going to run out eventually. The Jaguars looked like they could have turned this thing around two weeks ago, but have returned to form and now they are right where you’d expect them to be. I don’t give a rat fuck who wins this game but I will say this:  It’s real funny how every talking head on the sports channels have alerted all of us that the NFC East is such a mess, but won’t come to terms with the fact that the AFC South is just as bad or maybe even worse. Seriously, it’s maddening. The only reason the two teams at the top of this division are at .500 is because they’ve fed on the bottom half, and that can’t be stated enough. It’s just another example of how the powers that be baby the Colts along through everything. I want them to lose so bad, but y’all know how much I love being right. The Colts take this after a hideous loss, and I go into my fridge to pour myself another glass of shame. I’ve picked the two teams who participated in Super Bowl XLI to win and this piece isn’t even finished. Sometimes I don’t even recognize myself anymore.

837’s Prediction:  Colts 9, Jaguars 6, America 0

J-Dub:  Disaster of the Week

Jason from Indiana:  Jacksonville

San Diego Chargers (3-9) +11.5 at Kansas City Chiefs (7-5)  (45)    

4

If nothing in the AFC West amuses you – and if I doesn’t I totally get where you’re coming from, trust me – at least you can be entertained by Vegas’s lack of faith in the Chargers. I mean, Arrowhead in December can be a bitch but good lord eleven and a half points? Damn, man. The Chiefs are much improved but if San Diego can’t realize what they were doing wrong when they lost this game by thirty fucking points a few weeks ago, the league might as well go into that building and just start ripping copper out because it’s over. The Chiefs are in good shape though here because the Steelers have a great chance of losing to the Bengals, and since the Texans bit it last week and are going to get the brunt of New England’s anger all they have to worry about is the Jets and I have dead relatives who know that team is full of shit. Kansas City is always going to be rough around the edges, and anybody who says that Alex Smith can ever be more than a game manager huffs printer cartridges at their local Walgreens and has several stashes of women’s used underwear in their top dresser drawer. Take the points and the under, this could be a bad football game.

837’s Prediction:  Chiefs 20, Chargers 13 but 7 of those will come late

J-Dub:  Lock of the Week – $200 on the over

Jason from Indiana:  Kansas City

New Orleans Saints (4-8) +3.5 at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (6-6)  (50.5)  

1

New Orleans might be the best 4-8 team in the league, but unfortunately that doesn’t count for shit. They came very close to sneaking out of that Carolina game with a win, but as the old saying goes “Close only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades, but if you’re playing either of those two things you probably shouldn’t be alive to begin with”.  And that sums up precisely why the Saints are not alive and in the playoff hunt, but they’d still love to play spoiler to what a lot of people are considering to be an overachieving Tampa Bay team when they take on the Bucs Sunday. Tampa’s found their QB – unless he drives into a tree Suh-style – so getting a high draft pick is not really important to them this year. They probably won’t make the playoffs, which is too bad because they’re scrappy as hell and I’d watch them over whoever wins the East in a heartbeat. I’d love to see them finish over .500 and the Saints bore me to tears, so this pick I’m going with what I want instead of what will probably happen. The over should be a solid pick, and God do I hope Tampa covers outside of the Superdome.

837’s Prediction:  Buccaneers 30, Saints 24

J-Dub:  $50 on Tampa Bay

Jason from Indiana:  Tampa Bay

Tennessee Titans (3-9) +7.5 at New York Jets (7-5)  (43)   

5

Let’s be real – the Jets got away with one last week. Even though at times their defense looked almost exactly like it did during the Rex Ryan epoch, if they had been playing one of 27 other teams in the league they would have been buried in the 3rd quarter. Now they’re a pretty good place moving forward, especially with the Texans having lost to Buffalo and stuck at 6-6. Tennessee barely won a shootout against the Jags, and they did so with Mariota having 112 yards on the ground so good for them. He won’t have the same luck against the Jets, who are playing well and I have to be the first to admit I did not see that coming. Getting rid of Rex was the single greatest thing that could have happened to that team, and I bet now they wish that had made that decision sooner. I still don’t buy that they are better than who they have to worry about being better than, but the Titans are one of those teams that they are a lot better than. I’m calling this as a lock to cover and with the Jets I rarely do that. Stay away from the total though for sure.

837’s Prediction:  Jets 26, Titans 17

J-Dub:  Trap Game of the Week

Jason from Indiana:  New York

Oakland Raiders (5-7) +8.5 at Denver Broncos (10-2)  (43.5)

6

In this week’s “sports news that isn’t really sports news” we learned that the Broncos have released Christian Ponder to make roster space, and that kind of speaks volumes about why we really shouldn’t care about this division in general. Denver will be ultimately judges by what they do in January and we all know that. It would be nice if they could get home field advantage to avoid having to travel to Cincinnati or Massachusetts, but if either of those teams start to show a drop in production around that time it certainly won’t be necessary in order for them to get to the Super Bowl. The Raiders are sort of a fun team to watch when they are on hit, but at the same time they are very depressing to watch struggle. I like this Olawale kid that they just signed to the extension, but you just get the feeling like they will be stuck in transition for some time. They are very hit and miss, and for the most part they lose to good teams and Denver is certainly that. I highly doubt Carr is going to throw for more than 250 here, and he threw three picks last week so this one has blowout all over it. Take Denver to cover easily and I’m going bold on this one. Don’t go near the total.

837’s Prediction:  Broncos 32, Raiders 7

J-Dub:  $50 on Denver

Jason from Indiana:  Denver

Dallas Cowboys (4-8) +7.5 at Green Bay Packers (8-4)  (43.5)  

7

This was supposed to be another one of those “Oh, I’ve got to see this” match-ups when the schedule was released that has now turned into what should be a blowout. But when you think about it, this is really a call to how the Pack will respond after a game that they were lucky to win in the first place. If they get too cocky, this game is trap as fuck. I see no way that they can even begin to just mail it and get out of there, because even with Romo out Dallas probably has the thicker roster with Jordy out for the year. But Vegas isn’t fucking around here, and to be honest this line is giving me a a panic attack. I’ll say that although the Packers will be in control of this game (unlike playing from behind like they had to do with Detroit) they won’t cover that spread which seems a little too large for me. This doesn’t mean I want to lick Matt Cassel’s balls, it just means I still have a lot of questions about why I should or shouldn’t fall in love with Green Bay. Just seems like my heart will get broken in the long run, you know? Packers by six so take the points and might as well take the over as well because there could be a lot of turnovers to capitalize on.

837’s Prediction:  Packers 26, Cowboys 20

J-Dub:  $50 on the over

Jason from Indiana:  Green Bay

Seattle Seahawks (7-5) -6 at Baltimore Ravens (4-8)   (N/A)   

Baltimore Ravens v Seattle Seahawks

I bet when the Ravens looked as if they were going to take that game back in January against the eventual Super Bowl champion Patriots they had no idea they’d be 4-8 and six point home underdogs against a Seahawks team that took two and a half months to finally get their offense rolling. But such is life in today’s NFL, a place where the Baltimore Ravens have sunk out of the playoff discussion in a division where they likely won’t see the postseason for at least three more years. By that time John Harbaugh will be long gone, and Ozzie Newsome will have some other poor sap in there who has absolutely no defense to work with. That lack of ability to stop anything could be a serious problem with the visiting Seahawks, who have somehow scored 77 points in two games. Seattle is getting hot at just the right juncture in the season, and I’m seeing that they have begun to develop Wilson into being so much more than just a guy who can handle the ball off. He’s making crucial decisions and killing it on every front, and that’s why this should be an easy cover for the Hawks unless something unspeakably weird happens.

837’s Prediction:  Seahawks 31, Ravens 17

J-Dub:  $50 on Seattle

Jason from Indiana:  Seattle

New York Giants (5-7) EVEN at Miami Dolphins (5-7)   (47)  

9

Thanks to “worse than bad to the bone” coaching decision by Tom Coughlin to go for it in easy field goal range, the Giants lost to the Jets at MetLife stadium on Sunday. This effectively drops them to the point where even in the NFC Least they are pretty much out of the playoff picture, even though that division has become last year’s NFC South and anything is still possible. It’s pretty fitting that they’re playing the Dolphins this week, because that’s the only team outside of Detroit that has underachieved as much as the G-Men. If I was Miami this is exactly what I would do here:  Call a very conservative game the first 45 minutes. If you end up down ten or so points, don’t worry. The Giants are the worst fourth quarter team in the Super Bowl era, and as long as you can keep it together in the last frame you’re all set. New York will do the rest, just make sure you’re doing a lot of tip drills in practice and setting the pace so that when it comes times to explode come at it with porn star game. You’ll make good on my pick, and I’ll tell my people to avoid the total. Trust me, Couglin and crew will find a way to fuck this up and you can’t lose.

837’s Prediction:  Dolphins 27, Giants 20

J-Dub:  $50 on NY Giants

Jason from Indiana:  Miami

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

Eight Thirty Seven

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