As a general rule, I’m not big into conspiracy theories. That being said, there is an extremely likely possibility that my football picking nemesis Kevin Paul neglected to invite anyone to pick against us last week. Or rather, someone was scheduled. He just didn’t show up.
He must have been frightened beyond belief. Heck, I wouldn’t want to guard Steph Curry either but someone’s gotta do it.
Another scorching hot week for the Chump (12-4 ATS) has given me a commanding eleven-game lead over my dastardly and responsibility-shirking opponent.
Let’s just say I am currently in tune with all things NFL.
Unfortunately, due to Kevin’s inability to secure a guest for last week, I am unable to find out how close our celebrity pickers are, which is important because a) all season long they have taken time out of their busy schedules to submit their weekly predictions and b) they were actually giving us a run for our money.
Have no fear, I have found a solution to our problems. In addition to this week’s celebrity guest, Rising Storms, I have also recruited Luke of the Perfect Hair, who has been relentlessly petitioning to do a week for us as well, unlike Kevin’s friends who apparently have better things to do than watch professional football. Damn Communists!
At least this way, celebrity win totals after this week will be as close to accurate as possible to make up for Mr. Paul’s faux pas.
As this season comes to a close and the Christmas carols become ever more maddening, we take that turn around the home stretch with plenty of teams still having plenty to play for.
It’s just too bad Kevin doesn’t.
TO WEEK 14 WE GO!
SPORTSCHUMP’S ALREADY GETTING FITTED FOR HIS TIARA PICKS
Minnesota Vikings at Arizona Cardinals (-10.5)
Remember back when the Minnesota Vikings were good? You should. It was only like three weeks ago. They were atop their division and making the Green Bay Packers play for a wild card spot. What a difference a few weeks can make. And it’s not even that Green Bay is hot. They’ve only won two of their last six. It’s just that after winning five straight, Minnesota has lost two of their last three. You know things have gone south when Adrian Peterson is bitching about not getting the ball enough. Heck, if I led the league in rushing yards and only got the ball eight times, I’d bitch too. It’s Adrian Peterson. GIVE HIM THE BALL!!! The Arizona Cardinals, however, are not a team to come out of a slump against. They’ve won six straight and are running away with the NFC West. Smart money is on the Cards here but the Vikes really need this game before they drop out of playoff contention altogether. I’m not so sure they can revert back to their former selves and beat the Cards in Arizona but they are going to do their best to manage clock and make sure AD gets his touches, which should be enough to keep this within the ten-and-a-half point spread.
Pittsburgh Steelers at Cincinnati Bengals (-3)
Tough ball game to choose here. Plus Las Vegas is listing this over/under at 49.5, which means they think this will be a shootout, generally the antithesis of every AFC North match-up we’ve ever seen. In fact, after New Orleans-Tampa Bay, this is the highest over/under of the weekend. I’d say that neither of these teams is in danger of missing the playoffs but a loss could make things sketchy for the Steelers. Let’s just say at 7-5, this is a game they’d rather win to give them a little cushion. Win and they’re most likely in. Lose and you never can tell. I’m taking the Steelers and the three here for that very reason. I think they’re a playoff team. I also think they’re the hotter team. After all, they did just dismantle the Colts. Plus they have the Broncos next Sunday so they can ill afford to drop this one in Cincy. I’m taking the Steelers in what should be a fantastic game.
Buffalo Bills at Philadelphia Eagles (+1.5)
I’m actually a little surprised the Eagles are dogs in this one. Not because the Bills aren’t solid but because the Eagles are desperate for a playoff spot and realized after last weekend’s affairs that their season is still amazingly alive. It certainly helped that they shocked a banged up New England team in Gillette Stadium last weekend. After a season that can most politely be described as inconsistent, the Bills’ post-season hopes may be over. LeSean McCoy returns to Philly this week which should make Philly fans extra hateful this Christmas season. He’s just warming up the field for them to boo Santa next week. I’m taking the home dog here and the points.
Atlanta Falcons at Carolina Panthers (-7.5)
The Panthers quest for perfection continues. They eked out a win in New Orleans last week and that might be just the wakeup call they need. The Falcons on the other hand are going in the opposite direction fast. Elevator down, please! The Falcons started the season with five straight wins. The playoffs seemed a foregone conclusion. They have now LOST five straight meaning making the playoffs is pretty much impossible. I don’t see any reason for that trend to stop on Sunday. Panthers roll to 13-0 while the Falcons roll their sorry asses back to the drawing board.
San Francisco 49ers at Cleveland Browns (-2)
What a miserable fucking ball game. Actually, I take that back. Let’s find the silver lining in this one, shall we? We have two quarterbacks that will be playing for their jobs next season. Blaine Gabbert is looking to assure the Niners that he’s their man so they can finally cut ties with Colin Kaepernick. Johnny Manziel is playing for his job as well. The Browns are an absolute mess right now, even for the Browns. Their fan base is disillusioned, even for Browns fans. As I see it, their worst nightmare would be if Manziel actually played well these last few games, convincing the dimwits that run that organization to keep him on their roster. I think the decision is easy. I’m still not convinced Manziel can play… but he sure can party. Cut ties and get what ya’ can while ya’ can. Meanwhile, the Niners are coming off an emotional win against Chicago last week. I’m taking the Niners and the points only because the Browns’ clusterfuckery is too much for anyone to overcome, especially Johnny Football.
Washington Redskins at Chicago Bears (-3)
Redskins fans were so close to winning their division, they could taste it. Then they shit the bed on Monday night and reminded everybody watching they had no business winning that division in the first place. Fortunately for them, they play the Bears this week who also suck. Both these teams are coming off debilitating losses at home. And both these teams are fragile enough to let it get to them. Is it possible to predict this game ends in a 2-2 tie? Ya’ know what? I’ll take the home team here as the Redskins watch their post-season chances blow away in the Windy City.
Detroit Lions at San Francisco Rams (pick)
Jeff Fisher might be coaching for his job here. This is his fourth year running the Rams and it’s been by far his worst. So the question is a) do the lousy Rams have enough talent to win another football game and b) if they do, will they win one for their coach? Both these teams are 4-8 which gives me the image of Las Vegas odds makers throwing their hands up in the air and simply giving up, hence the pick ‘em line. There is really no reason at all to wager on this game but if you must, take the Rams only because a) the Lions are inconsistent as hell and b) St. Louis should win one for the Fisher, not that that will end up saving him his job.
San Diego Chargers at Kansas City Chiefs (-10)
I’ve lost a lot of money on San Diego this season, expecting them to climb out of their slump and betting them money line. Alas, hindsight is 20/20, which is way more points than the Chargers can muster up a game. These Chargers are just bad meaning I expect some wholesale changes this off-season. They can always blame injuries but injuries by themselves don’t explain the 3-9 mountain of suck the Chargers have offered up their fans. They’ve lost seven of their last eight and in two of their last three have only managed to score three points! I’d say if you’re getting one of the league’s hottest teams and only laying ten against a team that can’t score a touchdown, you’re getting off easy. Take KC and lay ‘em.
New Orleans Saints at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (-4)
How about them Bucs! They just swept the season series against the Falcons and are looking to do the same thing against the Saints this weekend. The Saints’ Super Bowl was last Sunday at home to the Panthers. They lost it. The Bucs still have something to play for while the Saints do not. I’m a little concerned about the Bucs losing linebacker Kwon Alexander to drug suspension (PEDs). He had been playing well but someone else will have to step up. But the Saints are just bad. They can’t stop a nosebleed’s nosebleed. I look for Jameis to have another career day against the Saints secondary as the Bucs keep their playoff hopes alive yet one more week by covering the four.
Indianapolis Colts at Jacksonville Jaguars (no line as of Thursday afternoon)
Why is there no line for this game? Are we waiting for word on Andrew Luck? And who is going to win this division already? The Jags are pretty much out of contention but I’m sure they wouldn’t mind playing spoilers. With Houston staring a home game against New England in the face, but JJ Watt questionable with a broken hand, this division still might not be decided after this weekend. And we thought the NFC East was bad. (Just kidding, it is.) Ya’ know what? A Jags win combined with a Texans and Colts loss could put them back in contention. I’m feeling frisky so I’ll go ahead and take the home team here.
Tennessee Titans at New York Jets (-7)
I’ve underestimated the Jets all year. I’m still flabbergasted that they came back from down ten in the fourth quarter to beat the New York Giants. But then again, I shouldn’t be. All the Giants have done all season is give away games they should have won. The Jets are still alive in the playoff hunt. They’d actually be the sixth seed if the season ended today. On the other side of the ball, the Titans are starting to look at where they’ll be in next year’s draft. They don’t want this win, the Jets do. I’m taking Gang Green to cover.
New England Patriots at Houston Texans (+3)
The Patriots are all sorts of banged up. There are not enough hospital rooms in Foxborough to house the team. It’s a good thing they have a three game lead in the league’s most lopsided division. Considering their lead, this game can’t be all that important to them as they wait impatiently for Gronk’s return. I know they’d still like home field advantage in the playoffs but that reality is looking less and less likely. Besides, they’d rather be healthy, something they haven’t been all season. In fact, if this game for some reason gets out of hand, meaning Houston pulls out to a big lead, I can see Bill Belichick resting Tom Brady, who at this point is the only uninjured Patriot. Houston can still win their division. They want this game more. They’re not better than the Patriots but they will be this Sunday. I’ll take the Texans at home and the points.
Oakland Raiders at Denver Broncos (-7)
Why are the Oakland Raiders still playing? Their lone win in the last five games came against the Titans. Meanwhile, I routinely underestimate the Broncos like I’ve underestimated the Jets. Remind me to send Brock Osweiler an apology. The only problem is that the post-master hasn’t heard of him either. All Denver does is win and cover. They’re about to again.
Dallas Cowboys at Green Bay Packers (-7)
I really don’t want to have to pick this game. Green Bay’s coming off a long week and a huge win but they still suck. Every time I think this team is about to turn the corner, they remind me how mediocre they actually are. Dallas is coming off a big win too but I don’t think they’ve got enough gumption to win one in Green Bay, particularly not if it’s going to be cold out. I don’t really want to, but I’m going to, take the Pack to cover here.
Seattle Seahawks at Baltimore Ravens (+10)
Wow, it’s not every day you see a ten point home dog in the NFL, however, when you factor just how bad the Ravens are with just how hot the Seahawks are, that’s what you get. And ya’ know what? I think they cover. The Seahawks are on a mission. And nobody wants to play them right now, especially the Ravens.
New York Giants at Miami Dolphins (+1)
How many times can I pick the Giants to roll an opponent only to come back disappointed? A lot is your answer. This line is only a point, one very tempting point. I have to take the Giants here, don’t I? I mean, they’re the better team, aren’t they? Well, they are, for three quarters. It doesn’t matter. I can’t bring myself to pick the Dolphins against anyone. G-Men win.
RISING STORMS’ THE EAGLES ARE MAKING THE PLAYOFFS (IN MY DREAMS) PICKS
So, is there any doubt that this has been one of the stranger NFL seasons in a long, long time? Back in August, who’d have thought that the Broncos would be chasing the #2 seed with Peyton on the sideline? And who could have guessed that by week 14 Carolina, of all teams, would be the lone undefeated team in the NFL. Sam Bradford outduels Tom Brady at Foxboro in December? Are you out of your mind?
Still, it’s the tail end of the season, and the picture is coming in to focus. Seattle is about where they expected to be, as are the Pats and Broncos. We might never have thought that the Bengals would be leading the race for the #1 seed this late in the year, but you almost had to think they would be in the top 4.
Speaking of the Bengals, did you know that Andy Dalton is the only QB in NFL history besides Peyton Manning to Start his career with 5 consecutive seasons of 3000+ yards of passing? Or that he’s 14-1-1 at home with a 1 p.m. kickoff since 2013? The Cincinnati Red is as clutch as they come at home under the sun. Big Ben might be on fire right now, averaging 300+ yards over his last four games, but I expect Dalton and co. to edge the Steelers and clinch the AFC North.
What if I were to tell you that the NFL’s all-time active leader in games with 25+ yard play is playing on Sunday? You might think it’s Tom Brady, but in reality, it’s the starter opposite him this weekend. That’s right, it’s Brian Hoyer of the suddenly resurgent Texans. Brady and friends limp into Houston without Edelman or Captain Caveman, and Danny Amendola isn’t exactly WR1 material. I think JJ Watt feasts on the golden boy much the same way Connor Barwin and my Iggles did last week. Look for the Pats to drop their third straight.
Yet one more intriguing matchup is LeSean McCoy’s return to the Linc after the tumultuous off season that saw him traded to the Bills, followed by quiet accusations of racism leveled toward Chip Kelly. This is a hard one for me to pick, as a lifelong Eagles fan. On the one hand, I definitely want the Birds to soar, and clinch the (in a Charles Barkley voice) most terrible division in football. On the other hand, it would be nice to see one of my favorite players have a monster game in front of a crowd that still loves him. Can I have it both ways? Shady runs for 120 and a touchdown, but once again defense and special teams keep the playoff drive alive for Philly.
In other action:
AP calls out his coaches after getting stomped at home by the Seahawks. Now, the Vikes have to travel to Arizona and face a Cardinals team that’s playing as well as anybody in the league. I imagine the griping will continue this week as Arizona wins big at home.
Suddenly-not-so-godawful Jacksonville hangs tough with Indy, and wins a squeaker by a field goal.
Blaine Gabbert looks like a reasonable facsimile of an NFL QB once more as the Niners roll the garbage fire that is the Cleveland Browns.
Megatron has a decent day, but St. Louis finds a way in the end. Rams over the Lions.
New Orleans got torched by CaMVP last week, and the carnage continues as Jameis has a career day. Bucs win a shootout.
The Jets are playing better football than anyone could have hoped this season, and I see no reason that that should end against the Titans. Mariota, who should get at least consideration for ROY honors, keeps it interesting, but the Jets hang on.
K.C. rolls a toothless Chargers squad who is playing for nothing but pride, and not even doing that well.
Who does one choose when picking the worst road team against the worst home team? Easy. The worst home team. Kirk Cousins and DeSean Jackson find a new way to lose in the Windy City.
No one can stop CaMVP this year. I certainly expect the trend to continue as the Panthers run roughshod over the Falcons in Charlotte.
The Flacco-less Ravens are in trouble as the Seahawks come to town. Russell and the boys won’t have the 12th man this week, but they may not need even 11. Seattle, all the way.
The Broncos don’t need Peyton as Brock Osweiler handles business once again, this time against the Raiders at Mile High.
Last week’s last second win against the Skins fades to memory as Aaron Rodgers and the Pack end all the “Cowboys could still win the division “ chatter by destroying Dallas on the frozen tundra.
And, finally, we come to the Monday Night Mess. Could there be a less compelling prime time matchup? Well, maybe if Cleveland and San Diego were playing. In any case, Suh does his best to end Eli’s career, and the Phins get just enough out of LaMar Miller to squeak by the G Men.
Happy holidays, everyone!
LUKE’S I’M BUSY COMBING MY HAIR BUT I PROMISE MY PICKS ARE COMING PICKS
Vikings @ Cardinals
In this week’s installment of the now-known-as “Onesie Bowls” I’m fully expecting another trouncing of the beaten down Vikings. The Cards are hot and looking to keep a streak alive.
Cardinals for the win
Buffalo @ Philadelphia
Tyrod Taylor is about as predictable as someone with a 5th of Jack in them – do you get the fighter, or just someone that wants to go to sleep. The recent chemistry with him and Watkins though gives me hope. That and the fact that Buffalo always seems to get a second wind once the temps start chilling down in the tundra that is upstate NY give me hope. Consider Philly’s win over the Brady Bunch last week a fluke and lock it in with the Bills.
Buffalo for the win
S.F. @ Cleveland
Hey Johnny Football, remember when I said you were done for the year after that little demotion to 3rd string? …well, can you pass the salt & pepper while I insert my foot in my mouth. The Browns are like the little engine that could – but never does. The one bright spot on the Roster is a TE by the name of Barnidge, but even stellar TE’s the likes of Gronk or Graham (pre-Seattle) can’t carry a team by themselves. That combined with the emergence of an actual run game in S.F. with Draughn makes this an easy one.
S.F. for the win
Detroit @ St. Louis
With both sitting at 4-8 we have a contender here for Direct TV’s lowest rated game of the week. I love Gurley as a runner, but when looking at what Bradford has here – there’s just too many weapons. The rams are a one-trick pony that needs to be put out to pasture and severely restructure.
Detroit for the win
New Orleans @ Tampa
The Saints are making themselves known this year, but for all the wrong reasons. In what is the most horrific secondary in the NFL, I expect Winston and company to have their way with them. The Bucs are hot right now and actually vying for a wildcard spot (insert Rod Sterling narration here). The power house offense that the Saints once bolstered is just a skeleton of what it once was while the Bucs are on a resurgence with the return of Jackson and Seferain-Jenkins.
Tampa for the slam dunk, Antonio Brown goal-post humping win of the week
Tennessee @ NY (Jets)
Remember the Titans (last week)? OK, enough bad puns – but seriously. Mariota is a beast and lacerating defenses. He’s mobile, can pass outside of the pocket, and has a great set of wheels. All this makes me wonder what he could do with a real team? Revis is rumored to be back this week, but what do we really expect out of the aging corner?
Tennessee for the win
Pittsburgh @ Cincinnati
What are the odds that we make it through the game without a key member of the Steelers office getting injured? Yeah – my thoughts exactly. Add that and the Fact that the Bengals are on fire right now and we’re left with another no-brainer.
Cincinnati for the win
Indianapolis @ Jacksonville
The age defying Hasselbeck will once again be under center. On paper you have to like the Colts and all the weapons they have, I mean they even brought back Dan Herron who should be as plug-and-play as they get – but I have to go with my gut here, and my gut is with Bortles and crew.
Jacksonville for the WTF win of the week
San Diego @ Kansas City
The Chargers have something to play for here – namely the 1st pick in next year’s draft. While they remain in the hunt for the Sack-O (BTW – who else is going to miss the league?) they continue to operate with a severely limited receiving core thanks to the multitude of injuries that have decimated the team this year. KC on the other hand is having a great year (for them) – I mean Alex Smith has actually made TD completions to non-TE’s this year, and I expect them to continue to ride that stride.
K.C. for the win
Washington @ Chicago
Chicago for the win
Atlanta @ Carolina
Speaking as a Bucs fan here, you want Carolina – we don’t need the dirty birds trying to encroach on that wildcard chance, and since Carolina is all but untouchable this year – another win won’t change anything anywhere else in the brackets. Speaking as a semi-intelligent man that witnessed Atlanta’s dismantling last week first hand and knowing what the Panthers bring to the table this year, and the fact that you can use 2+ syllable words – you go with what makes sense.
Carolina for the win
Seattle @ Baltimore
Oh, no Lynch – here, try this Rawls guy. Never heard of him? Doesn’t matter. Then there’s Doug – the never-mentioned 5th Baldwin. Graham’s injury has only helped this team in some strange way. Seattle looks good, not like last year good – but good. And remember kids – “The Ravens” is just another way to say “The Browns”.
Seattle for the win
Oakland @ Denver
You ever see a group of 4 women and one just stands out above the rest? I mean a real looker here. Upon further inspection you notice the real reason she stood out – her three other friends made up the tuba section in their high school band. Ladies and gentlemen, that is the Broncos. They only look good because of where they are. Expect more of the same
Denver for the win
Dallas @ Green Bay
Assuming Green Bay can do more than kick a field goal (and they can), expect another week of an influx of Cowboys jerseys on ebay.
Green Bay for the win
New England @ Houston
Reeling from the biggest embarrassment in recent memory, the Pats are going to make everyone forget about last week and the fact that the Eagles of all teams beat them – or will they? We all love to see a Tom Brady hissy-fit and I’m predicting another one this week. With too many key players still licking their wounds, expect Hoyer to try and prove why he should still be relevant – or rather watch Hopkins make him look like can still be relevant.
Houston for the win
NY (Giants) @ Miami
Since my picks were actually due an hour ago and I’m scrambling presently trying to get this to the Sportschump himself: blah blah blah blah blah blah, clever quip, blah blah blah, fact about one of the teams, blah blah blah.
Miami for the win
KEVIN’S I’VE FALLEN AND I CAN’T GET UP PICKS
Minnesota Vikings at Arizona Cardinals (-7.5)
The Vikings were a giant balloon with a month’s worth of momentum inside, only to have the Seahawks pop it, or more accurately, rip it to shreds. Despite its talent, Minnesota remains a team that relies heavily on Adrian Peterson and the star back will have his hands full facing an Arizona defense that is fourth against the run (89.0 ypg). The Cards are also fourth in total defense and first in total offense (419.5 ypg). Typically, you see two playoff contenders that combine for 18 wins and you don’t expect a line at 7 1/2 points, but Arizona is tough to beat at home and the team with the highest point differential in the NFL (+150). For these reasons, give me the Cardinals by ten at home.
KP’s Pick: Arizona Cardinals
Detroit Lions at St. Louis Rams (-1.5)
Yes, the Lions lost a heartbreaker on the Rodgers-to-Rodgers Hail Mary, but this is still a team that is trending upward. Detroit has simplified its offense and played much better with Jim Bob Cooter as the OC. Meanwhile, the Rams have stumbled to a 4-8 record, landing HC Jeff Fisher on a surprisingly toasty hot seat. As for the St. Louis offense, it continues to be more focused on Todd Gurley and opposing teams know that considering how effective the QB’s have been (cough cough, stack the box). Detroit’s ‘D’ has given up the most rushing TD’s in the NFL (16), but that simply leaves people to take Gurley in DFS leagues. Some say the Rams are due, but I can’t resist a guy that embraces the name Jim Bob.
KP’s Pick: Detroit Lions
Pittsburgh Steelers at Cincinnati Bengals (-3.5)
This should be smash mouth football at its finest and likely to be one of the best games of the week. The Steelers dismantled the Colts last Sunday night and are offensively clicking on all cylinders with Ben Roethlisberger healthy. Cincinnati’s pass defense will pose a challenge, notching as many interceptions as passing TD’s allowed (15). But with DeAngelo Williams running well, Antonio Brown doing what he does and Martavis Bryant stretching the field, it’s hard to pick against the Steelers right now. If anything, take Pittsburgh and the points, only to expect a bruising three-point game.
KP’s Pick: Pittsburgh Steelers
New Orleans Saints at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (-3.5)
Don’t look now, but the Bucs have won three out of four and sit at 6-6 on the season. Lovie Smith has gone from hot seat to an outside shot of being in the Coach of the Year conversation. Jameis Winston continues to grow and as a result makes for an interesting matchup against Drew Brees. The Saints, meanwhile, are 1-5 on the road and have lost Mark Ingram for the rest of the season. With this in mind, that 3 1/2 point line is tricky, considering how explosive the Saints can be in the passing game. Then you look at the New Orleans defense and see that it has given up 35 TD’s through the air and is ranked last against the run. Tampa Bay’s 2nd-ranked rushing offense has got to be salivating. Bucs cover.
KP’s Pick: Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Indianapolis Colts at Jacksonville Jaguars (-0.5)
Both sides may be missing key defensive leaders on Sunday with the Jags not having LB Paul Posluszny (broken hand) while the Colts may be without LB D’Qwell Jackson (quadricep). This opens doors for opposing offenses, although neither team cracks the top 15 in total yards. The Jags will get Allen Hurns back to accompany Allen Robinson, which will be music to Blake Bortles’ ears. Toss in the home field advantage and I’ll take the Jags in a shootout.
KP’s Pick: Jacksonville Jaguars
San Diego Chargers at Kansas City Chiefs (-10.5)
Have the Chargers really fallen so far that they are double-digit ‘dogs on the road? Injuries play a big part in it and this week everyone has to wonder who Philip Rivers will throw to: Stevie Johnson (Out – groin), Dontrelle Inman (Out – neck), Ladarius Green (Likely to play – ankle), Keenan Allen (IR – kidney) – you get the idea. Will Malcolm Floyd and Antonio Gates each get 25 targets? In all seriousness, the only thing the Chargers have done well is pass the ball and they are severely depleted. Give me the Chiefs at home.
KP’s Pick: Kansas City Chiefs
Washington Redskins at Chicago Bears (-3.5)
The difference in performance between road and home for the Redskins and QB Kirk Cousins are well documented, but if you only read The Wife Hates Sports, let’s list ‘em again: Washington is 0-5 on the road and Kirk Cousins has 5 TD and 8 INT. With that said, let’s look at the opponents that the Redskins have had to face away from home: Giants, Falcons, Jets, Patriots and Panthers. Keep in mind the Falcons were a different team in Week 5 (when the ‘Skins faced them). Washington is playing on short rest after a heartbreaking loss at home to Dallas, but it must be noted that while the Bears are talented, there are holes in the roster. Considering past opponents and Washington’s ability to still take control of the NFC East, give me the Redskins and the points, considering the 3 1/2 point line.
KP’s Pick: Washington Redskins
San Francisco 49ers at Cleveland Browns (-1.5)
If you’re tuning into this game, that means one of three things: 1) You’re a die-hard fan of one of the teams, 2) It’s the only option on TV or 3) You might need to have your head examined. The real storyline is going to be the return of Johnny Manziel, starting at QB (but on a very short leash). The teams have combined to allow 77 sacks (Cleveland 41, San Fran. 36), so it comes down to who can handle the pressure better: Manziel or Blaine Gabbert. Both can scramble and Gabbert has actually shown some promise after getting a second chance. He makes the game interesting… for about two seconds, which ironically is about as much as time as each QB will have to throw. Flip a coin on this one, oh wait, that’s what one of my opponents does. Give me Gabbert, despite being on the road.
KP’s Pick: San Francisco 49ers
Tennessee Titans at New York Jets (-7.5)
The Titans’ offense thrives off Marcus Mariota’s ability to not just pass, but also run. Mariota’s playmaking ability will be challenged on this day, facing a Jets defense that is first in run defense (83.5 ypg). These Jets have allowed just 2 TD’s on the ground. Toss in the fact that the Titans have allowed 39 sacks (2nd most) and it could be a long day for Marcus and Co. Give me Fitzpatrick, Marshall and the Jets to win by two touchdowns.
KP’s Pick: New York Jets
Atlanta Falcons at Carolina Panthers (-7.5)
What the heck has happened to the Atlanta Falcons? So much promise. Matt Ryan’s completion percentage is at its lowest since 2011 and his 13 INT’s are one shy of last year’s full season total. Julio Jones has just three 100-yard receiving days over his last nine contests. Injuries are piling up and playoff hopes are fading. Next up: the undefeated Carolina Panthers on the road. As I’ve said for weeks, I’m sticking with Cam ’til Carolina loses.
KP’s Pick: Carolina Panthers
Seattle Seahawks at Baltimore Ravens (+7.5)
I think Macklemore asked the question best, although I still get confused as to why. With Jimmy Clausen starting for the Ravens, we should only look at the statistics: Career 60.1 QB rating, 5 TD and 11 INT over 19 games played in three seasons. The Ravens are severely depleted as the season winds down while the Seahawks are finally playing like everyone expected them to play. What is the raven, Russ? “That’s Russell Wilson’s bird” – and yes, that crazy point-differential streak ends this week, too, Baltimore. Time to focus on the O’s.
KP’s Pick: Seattle Seahawks
Buffalo Bills at Philadelphia Eagles (-0.5)
Never underestimate the motivation that comes from a revenge game. LeSean “Shady” McCoy has made it clear that he’s not a fan of Chip Kelly and nothing would motivate him more than to torch the Eagles. McCoy’s performance is picking up steam (and at the time right time), dropping three 100-yard rushing games over the last five weeks, along with 14 receptions over his last four. Sure, the Eagles may be a popular pick following a shocking win over the Patriots, but I’m riding McCoy’s motivation on this day. Buffalo wins on the road.
KP’s Pick: Buffalo Bills
Oakland Raiders at Denver Broncos (-7.5)
Brock Osweiler has been very efficient with Gary Kubiak’s offense and the Denver defense continues to thrive. The Raiders have not been the same team in recent weeks so the line is not a big surprise considering the Mile High location. It will be interesting to see how Oakland’s 8th ranked passing offense will handle Denver’s top rated pass defense (that allows just 195.6 ypg). My gut says the Broncos will focus on controlling the clock and running the ball, although the Raiders have enough talent to sneak in a TD, keeping this game close. Take Oakland and the points as the Broncos win 20-13.
KP’s Pick: Oakland Raiders
Dallas Cowboys at Green Bay Packers (-7.5)
The Cowboys have new life following a Monday night last-second victory over the division rival Redskins. But while Green Bay is not the same team that it was in the opening months, this is still the Packers at Lambeau Field and Aaron Rodgers as opposed to Kirk Cousins. The Packers eked out a Hail Mary win last week, but will be facing a Dallas team that is playing on a short week and still has Matt Cassel under center. Packers cover at home, win by 10.
KP’s Pick: Green Bay Packers
New England Patriots at Houston Texans (+3.5)
Two straight losses for the Patriots? Did someone check to see if Earth was still on its axis? Here’s what you need to know here, as the Texans have built all momentum off its defense, a group that is led by J.J. Watt. Watt now has a broken hand but will play, so he’s beaten up. On the offensive side, Houston revolves around DeAndre Hopkins, who is dealing with a hamstring injury. That could slow Hopkins down a bit and the Patriots typically handle top wideouts well anyway. Throw in the possibility that Rob Gronkowski could return and I see New England getting back on track. Pats cover.
KP’s Pick: New England Patriots
New York Giants at Miami Dolphins (-0.5)
Two of the bigger disappointments of the 2015 season face off on Monday night, with the Giants still having an NFC East title in reach. New York has the NFL’s worst pass defense, allowing 314.5 ypg through the air. That opens a door for Ryan Tannehill (21 TD, 11 INT, 61.4% completion) who has had a mediocre year at best. In fact, Miami is 31st in the NFL on third down, converting on just 28% of the time. Toss in the added motivation for the Giants plus Odell Beckham Jr. and I’ll take New York to win ugly on Monday night.
KP’s Pick: New York Giants