Week 14 NFL Predictions

Geno Smith was benched for the Jets last week by coach Rex Ryan

Having been mostly absent this week due to work I’m back and so are my picks for tonight and tomorrows NFL action. With each team having just four games to try and cement their spot in the annual post-season dance every game is just that little bit more important from here on in, and there are some crackers lined up on the schedule over the next couple of days. Keep reading to find out who I think will take a step closer to the promised land of play-off riches and why.

Minnesota @ Baltimore

All of a sudden the Ravens are in a good position to make the play-offs as a wild card and perhaps even challenge the Bengals for division supremacy. The defense is starting to come around and with Joe Flacco at quarterback they have someone pulling the strings who knows how to get it done. Adrian Peterson leads the Vikings charge as per, and after their upset win over Chicago last week Minnesota will come into this one with high spirits. However their record doesn’t lie and at 3-8-1 the Vikings clearly aren’t as well rounded a team as the 6-6 Ravens, so expect a fairly comfortable home win for the reigning champ. Vikings 20, Ravens 30

Indianapolis @ Cincinnati 

These two 8-4 teams do battle in a contest for the number three seed in the AFC, which could prove hugely significant with Kansas City likely to play the #4 seed in the wild card round. The Colts just about managed to hold off Tennessee last week but haven’t impressed for weeks, with Andrew Luck struggling to run the offense as well as he was earlier in the season when he had the likes of Reggie Wayne available. The Bengals have been equally inconsistent, however with home field advantage on their side and a stout defense I just can’t see the Colts scoring enough points to leave Ohio with a victory. Colts 17, Bengals 24

Atlanta @ Green Bay

One of these teams is the worst in the NFC, while the other would be if Aaron Rodgers were to never play again. Just a few weeks ago the Packers were in pole position to win the NFC north but that dream is as good as gone after losses to Philadelphia and Detroit amongst others in recent weeks. I don’t like to criticise NFL players but I seriously don’t think I could play quarterback any worse than Matt Flynn did on Thanksgiving. While Green Bay are at home and technically have something to play for Aaron Rodgers has already been ruled out and as a result I’m picking the Falcons to win here and take their winning streak to two, but I doubt it will be pretty and I doubt you’ll want to watch this one.  Falcons 21, Packers 10

Cleveland @ New England

Jason Campbell versus Tom Brady is about as big a mismatch at the QB position as you’re likely to see this season, and even though New England were run close by the hapless Texans last week I’d expect them to blow Cleveland away this evening. The Browns have a pretty good defense – unfortunately their offense is pitiful and places immense strain on the players who operate on the other side of the ball. The Patriots should win this one going away, but I still anticipate that Cleveland will put up some semblance of a fight in Foxboro. Browns 17, Patriots 31

Oakland @ New York Jets

When I said earlier that there are some great games on the schedule this week I wasn’t referring to the Falcons – Packers match up, nor this scrap between two quarterback needy teams. Both Dennis Allen and Rex Ryan are on the hot seat (Ryan’s seat is practically on fire) so each side should be fighting for their coaches future. However there’s no substitute for talent, and both the Raiders and the Jets possess little of it. The Raiders actually played well against Dallas on Thanksgiving Day, and when you also consider that they’ve enjoyed a ten day mini-bye week they’re my pick here. Oh, and Geno Smith is starting for the Jets. When Matt McGloin is clearly the best quarterback in an NFL stadium it’s a sad day for the league and everyone involved. Raiders 16, Jets 7

Detroit @ Philadelphia

These two could end up being the three and four seeds in the NFC, so there’s no shortage of talent on display here. Nick Foles is playing lights out and statistically has been the best quarterback in the NFL this season. Matthew Stafford has been pretty impressive himself and with Reggie Bush and Calvin Johnson enjoying career seasons the Lions offense is one of the few in the NFL that can match up with the Eagles. The key difference between these two teams for me is in the secondary. While Philly have seen their back four improve as the season has wore on Detroit struggle to contain other teams passing games, a flaw that could prove fatal at the Linc later on. It’ll be a good game and there could be lots of points, but I think with the roll the Eagles and Chip Kelly are on it’s Philadelphia’s game to lose. Lions 31, Eagles 38

Miami @ Pittsburgh

The Steelers have had to deal with the fall out from coach Mike Tomlin’s trip on Ravens kick returner Jacoby Jones all week, but the real issue for them from last week was their inability to score points – something they’ve struggled to do all season. At 6-6 the Dolphins have a wild card spot to fight for but it won’t be easy on the road against a barely alive Pittsburgh outfit. Miami have the better rushing attack, and it’ll be fascinating to see how Mike Wallace fares against his old team. Unfortunately for Steelers fans I don’t think they stack up well at all against the Dolphins solid defense, so I’m going to go for a road win in a low scoring game. Dolphins 17, Steelers 14

Buffalo @ Tampa Bay

These two bottom feeders square off in Florida in a game where the main point of contention is who will draft where in April’s draft. Rather rarely for two poor teams neither will be in the market for a QB however, with the Bills having selected E.J Manuel in the first round last spring and Mike Glennon having played well for the Buccaneers since he supplanted Josh Freeman as the starter. The Bills have been trending downwards recently while Tampa have shown signs of life, so I’m going to pick the home team this time. Bills 17, Buccaneers 24

Kansas City @ Washington

With the Redskins season having well and truly gone off the rails the Chiefs have a great opportunity to end their recent three game losing streak. Having suffered some injuries the Chiefs defense isn’t what it once was so Robert Griffin III will also have the chance to bounce back from a subpar season. I’m not sure he’s in the right frame of mind to do so, however, so expect Alex Smith and co to get the win by taking advantage of a porous Redskins defense. Chiefs 27, Redskins 19

Tennessee @ Denver

Denver got a huge win by beating the Chiefs last week in Kansas City and as a result are in pole position for the number one seed in the AFC. Peyton Manning will be relishing the chance to go up against a pretty weak Titans D and as long as Manning can muster enough power on his throws in the cold Denver air the Broncos should put up more than enough points to outscore the Ryan Fitzpatrick led Titans offense. Titans 24, Broncos 38

St. Louis @ Arizona

Last weeks letdown against Philadelphia aside the Cardinals have been playing some good football in recent months which is more than can be said for the Rams. It’s been a struggle for St. Louis ever since Sam Bradford went down for the season and they’ll have an interesting dilemma in April when their name is called in the draft. Do they select another quarterback with a top ten pick, or do they invest their resources in other areas of a struggling roster? The Rams pass rush has been quietly excellent all season so they should be able to pressure Carson Palmer tonight, but that won’t matter as the elite Cardinals D will keep Kellen Clemens and the Rams offense quiet. Rams 13, Cardinals 24

New York Giants @ San Diego

Eli Manning goes back to the city he rejected nine years ago to take on the man he was traded for, Phillip Rivers. Neither team is in the play-off hunt however which means the two star QB’s will be playing exclusively for pride. The Giants have enjoyed a more productive second half of the season than San Diego, and for that reason I’m going for the visitors who’ll attempt to end the season on the right note. Giants 26, Chargers 23

Seattle @ San Francisco

This NFC west battle is the marquee game on this weeks schedule, with the Seahawks visiting Candlestick park for the last time. The last time these two teams met San Fran were blown out so they’ll be seeking revenge, and they’ll enjoy the fact that they won’t have to take on the NFC’s elite in front of the raucous Seattle faithful. The 49ers defense has what it takes to stop Marshawn Lynch and the Seattle ground game but Russell Wilson will fancy his chances of exploiting the niners secondary. Colin Kaepernick is the real key to the game and if he can continue to play as he has in recent weeks the 49ers will have every chance of getting the upset. I think he’s got it in him, and the Seahawks could see their lead in the division shrink. Seahawks 21, 49ers 24

Carolina @ New Orleans

Much like the previous game this match-up sees two division rivals take each other on with the NFC south title on the line. Cam Newton has played fantastically in recent weeks and the Panthers win over New England was a real statement game, but taking on the Saints in their own house is an entirely different proposition. Drew Brees may have struggled in Seattle but as one of the leagues elite quarterbacks I’d back him to bounce back. It could go either way in this one, but when it doubt you’d figure the Saints in the comfort of the dome are the safe bet. Panthers 24, Saints 30

There are my picks, let me know what you think in the comments and I’ll be back tomorrow with a Monday Night Football preview.

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