Ramblin’ Fan’s NFL Picks and Predictions: Week 14


Entering Week 14, there is very little we know about the NFL playoffs. Barring a miracle the Patriots, Packers and Colts all seemed to be in without much of a problem. However, after them it gets very muddy. The Rams still have an outside chance, but will need to play the way they did during a 52-0 demolition of the Raiders last week.

What is the spread? In the gambling world, a “spread’ is a term used to handicap games by allowing a team to lose or win by a certain number of points while still winning for a bettor. If the Rams are +3 against the Seahawks, that means that the Rams could win outright or they could lose by two points and still be a victory for a bettor. In the same situation as above, the spread could also read as the Seahawks -3 which again would mean they have to win by three or more points to cover the spread.


Dallas Cowboys at Chicago Bears (+3.5)

With two early scores, the Cowboys were unable to follow through with their gameplan of ‘Give DeMarco Murray the Ball.’ Effectively, Dallas was unable to use their best player on the team effectively and when they did, the gap-filling Eagles had Murray shutdown. Despite an abundance of talent, the Bears continue to falter. A loss to the Lions on Thanksgiving continues to show that the coaching staff has failed to properly use talent. Case in point, Matt Forte rushed the ball five times for six yards. It’s clear that the Bears are playing without meaning and Marc Trustman is lost. Expect Murray to go off for a big game. Cowboys win 31-24 (Cowboys cover)


Pittsburgh Steelers at Cincinnati Bengals (-3)

If there is one thing the Steelers need to address, it’s their secondary. Most of the starters in the secondary are over 30 and most of them are well under 6’0. Drew Brees torched the defensive backfield for five touchdowns and only failed to complete eight passes.  The Bengals are certainly limping into the toughest part of their schedule. The offense faltered against a terrible Buccaneers team, specifically Andy Dalton throwing three picks. In Dalton’s defense, several teammates and he admitted that he was incredibly sick before this game. Both teams need a win desperately, but a healthy Dalton should be able to pick apart an aging Steelers’ defense. Bengals win 27-21 (Bengals cover)

St. Louis Rams at Washington Redskins (+2.5)

The last time the Rams put up 50 plus points was in 2000. To put that into perspective, Tre Mason would have been seven years old. However, Mason did not look like a rookie last week as he put up 164 offensive yards and three touchdowns and basically put the team on his back offensively. The most impressive feat for the Rams last week was thanks to Gregg Williams. The defensive coordinator had Derek Carr looking confused and more often than not had the rookie signal caller getting smacked in the mouth. The defense has now tallied 14 sacks in the last four games thanks to further grasping Williams’ system. You want to say that the carousel at quarterback is killing the Redskins, it certainly has not helped, but Jay Gruden’s management of this team is to fault. The rookie coach can’t decide on whom to lead his team, resulting in zero offensive rhythm. To add to that, Gruden’s insistence on going pass heavy has hurt the team much more often than it has helped. It will be hard for the Rams to pressure Colt McCoy as much as previous signal callers, with his ‘get the ball out of my hands as fast as possible’ strategy, but Washington is too inept to pose a real threat. Rams win 24-14 (Rams cover)

New York Giants at Tennessee Titans (Pick’em)

Seven. The number of consecutive games the Giants has lost. 21. The lead that the G-Men managed to blow to the lowly Jaguars last week. The fact is the Giants are not that good despite boasting some solid talent on their team. Nobody aside from Texans fans enjoyed watching how poorly the Titans defense played last week. Tennessee allowed Ryan Fitzpatrick to throw for 358 yards and six touchdowns. The Titans are in the same place as the Giants, outside of the playoffs, but don’t have nearly the same amount of talent. Giants win 20-13 (Giants cover)

Carolina Panthers at New Orleans Saints (-10.5)

The downfall of the Panthers was simply a matter of time. The below average skill group and a patchwork, at best, offensive line was always going to limit the team. Cam Newton has been sacked times in the last four games, while trying the carry and entire team and coaching staff on his back. The Saints did not have a huge threat from the Steelers, with their deficiency in the secondary. Drew Brees has torched teams this season, but his timing based attack has been harmed by cornerbacks that can play physical with the large receivers the Saints have. Brees should role again, with the Panthers offering little to stop the high octane Saints offense. Saints win 28-24 (Panthers cover)

New York Jets at Minnesota Vikings (-6)

Have you ever seen a coach look as defeated as Rex Ryan after the Jets loss to the Dolphins? Ryan finally used the strength of his team, which is roughly playing a brand of football from 1930, to almost take down the ‘Fins. It has become clear that the staff has lost faith in Geno Smith, with the youngster throwing a mere 13 times, but it’s too little too late. The Vikings won last week thanks some special teams history and by not turning the ball over. Mike Zimmer has the team pointed in the right direction, but there is still a noticeable lack of identity for the offense. The Vikings will not get the special team touchdowns like last week, but they won’t need it against the hapless Jets. Vikings win 17-14 (Jets cover)

Baltimore Ravens at Miami Dolphins (-2.5)

The loss of Jimmy Smith could be the biggest injury of the NFL season. The Ravens secondary has been terrible and when the front four can’t generate pressure it has caused the team to be picked apart. Baltimore then relies on their offense to carry the team, which it has, but the defense continues to be shredded. Unless something drastic changes, the Ravens are not a playoff team. Despite the win looking bad on paper, the Dolphins did a lot of things right against the Jets last week. The big positive was the defensive adjustment made against a team that was determined to rush the ball and keeping them contained. Miami is able to stop the run clearly, which will put pressure on Joe Flacco and the Ravens defense, who will fold. Dolphins win 24-17 (Dolphins cover)

Indianapolis Colts at Cleveland Browns (+3.5)

After a couple easy games, the Colts are about to enter the one of their toughest stretches this season. Neither the Browns nor the Texans are pushovers, and then they host the Cowboys who are undefeated on the road this season. The division is basically theirs, but if the Colts don’t prove themselves against tough opponents, they maybe one and done in the playoffs. It’s still Brian Hoyer’s time in Cleveland. Though the veteran has done little as of late to inspire confidence, the Browns are winning more than a Browns team has in a long time. As long as they play underrated defense and a tough run game, the quarterback won’t matter too much. Though the Colts have not shown their best work in the cold this season, they should jump out to an early lead and cause Hoyer to try and beat them. Colts win 38-24 (Colts cover)

Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Detroit Lions (-10)

The Buccaneers were close to shocking the football world and taking down the Bengals last week, but a dumb penalty for having 12 men on the field erased what chance they had. That penalty is a summation of the season for the Bucs. Something, or someone, has been out of place this entire season and Lovie Smith better hope he can find some offensive talent this offseason. On a short week, the Lions demolished the Bears on Thanksgiving. Though it was far from perfect, the Matthew Stafford-Calvin Johnson connection looked as good as it ever did. That’s a scary proposition for opposing teams as the Lions have managed an 8-4 record, with Megatron being the focal point of the team. This will be a nice walk in the park for the Lions and with the offense clicking, they could blowout the Bucs. Lions win 21-13 (Buccaneers cover)

Houston Texans at Jacksonville Jaguars (+5)

The passing game of the Texans was on fire last week, but history is against Houston. Fitzpatrick has thrown four or more touchdowns six times in his career, in the next start he has averaged 177 passing yards and one touchdown in his next start. A 21-point comeback by the Jaguars last week proved that the team is more resilient this season. It took two fumble recoveries returned for touchdowns, but the Jags do little to win or lose games. Jacksonville will either watch other teams defeat themselves or they will be content to contently go about their way. Expect the Texans to make mistakes and the Jags will win again. Jaguars win 20-13 (Jaguars cover)

Buffalo Bills at Denver Broncos (-10)

It was a dominant day for Jerry Hughes last week. The defensive end was causing problems for Joe Thomas all game and was in the quarterback’s face all day. The Bills win over the lifeless Browns keeps them in the playoff picture and though they are not sexy, they can get it done. The Broncos won thanks to C.J. Anderson last week. Sure the rusher did not manage to find the endzone, but he ended up with 168 yards on the ground and has now totaled 335 yards in the past two weeks. Though the defense is no other-worldly force, Denver with a top running game is scary for teams in January. The Bills are scrappy, but their defense can’t play the right game to beat Peyton Manning. Broncos win 34-14 (Broncos cover)

Kansas City Chiefs at Arizona Cardinals (-1)

Two straight losses to AFC West opponents hurt the Chiefs chances of the playoffs, but they are not out of reach. Let’s face the reality, this team has overachieved all season and to say they are a top team in the AFC is a huge accomplishment for the organization. The Cardinals dominated teams thanks to a defense that kept teams in check and an offense that didn’t turn the ball over. Since taking over for Carson Palmer, who has three interceptions all year, Drew Stanton has thrown five picks in three games. Stanton has not inspired any confidence as the Cardinals starter and the Chiefs are looking to rebound after last week’s loss. Chiefs win 24-21 (Chiefs cover)

Seattle Seahawks at Philadelphia Eagles (-1)

Two straight wins within the NFC West means that the Seahawks demise was clearly overrated. Right now Seattle seems to be in control of their destiny, but nothing is going to come easy. The worrisome stat over those two wins is the 11 sacks Russell Wilson has taken. Chip Kelly has molded the perfect winning team it seems. The team is tough in all aspects of the game, but specifically on offense. Skill position players are put into space creating less than ideal matchups for defenses. This should be the game of the week and it’s tough to see either team having a huge edge, but the Eagles defense should be the biggest difference in this game. Eagles win 28-24 (Eagles cover)

San Francisco 49ers at Oakland Raiders (+8)

The problem for the 49ers is the complete lack of offensive identity. There has been no decision made by Jim Harbaugh or Greg Roman to give San Fran a strategy going into games. This has led to an offense with no rhythm or flow and has caused the team to look anemic this season. Despite a plethora of talent, the 49ers have averaged 13 points per game in their last three. It was almost hard to watch the Raiders complete and utter implosion last week. Derek Carr looked every bit the rookie that he was as the exotic blitzes had him on his back all day long. Oakland sucks and it’s as simple as that, but they were expected to suck. 49ers will win, but Sn Fran will make sure it’s closer than it should be. 49ers win 20-14 (Raiders cover)

New England Patriots at San Diego Chargers (+3.5)

Though the Patriots lost their first game in two months, it was nothing to be ashamed of. New England is still the class of the AFC and it’s unlikely that any of their remaining opponents really stand in their way. Wins have not come easy for the Chargers over the past three weeks, but they now sit at 8-4 with a firm grasp on their own destiny. The key to San Diego’s season will be the offensive line play, which has given no hope to any of the running backs to grace the field this season. The Chargers lone home loss this season came against the Chiefs and they have generally played better on their own turf. However, an injured Brandon Flowers spells doom for San Diego against Tom Brady. Patriots win 35-24 (Patriots cover)


Atlanta Falcons at Green Bays (-13)

The Falcons gameplan was pretty obvious last week. Matt Ryan was throwing towards Julio Jones all day long, especially to start the game. The defense began to focus on the receiver, which allowed both Harry Douglas and Steven Jackson to top 100 yards for the first time this season. Balance is the key to Atlanta’s attack. It’s just balance has been impossible to achieve with an over-the-hill back and a line that can’t run block. It becomes more and more clear that Lambeau could be the best home field advantage in sports. The Packers are 6-0 at home and Aaron Rodgers has not thrown an interception at Lambeau in more than two calendar years. The Packers beat the Patriots all on the arm of Rodgers, who has a new favorite target each week which makes game planning against them nearly impossible. The Falcons will fall behind early and will lose the balance they desperately need to be competitive. Packers win 31-24 (Falcons cover)