NFL Predictions | Week 14 Pigskin Picks: NFL Football Picks and NFL Football Predictions

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Massimo’s NFL Blog
NFL Predictions | Week 14 Pigskin Picks: NFL Football Picks and NFL Football Predictions
By Massimo Russo – Featured Writer Silver and Blue Report & Hook’em Report

Arian Foster | Houston Texans

Monday Night Extravaganza in Foxboro
Arian Foster and the Houston Texans arguably sport the best running game in football, a key element to win on the road. But will it help them prevail against Tom Brady and the Pats in Foxboro?

Week 14
Thursday, December 6 8:20 PM ET – TV: NFL Network
Denver Broncos 9-3 @ Oakland 3-9

The Raiders defensive line hasn’t performed at the level it could. They just can’t get after the passer this season. And going up against a Broncos offensive line that has been one of the better groups at protecting the quarterback, spells trouble for the Raiders defense in this matchup. The obvious part of Denver’s success is Peyton Manning running the show, but how about left tackle Ryan Clady and right tackle Orlando Franklin’s play? They’ve been exceptional anchoring the offensive line and great at communicating with the greatest signal caller ever to play the game. They get two thumbs up from me. It’s not that easy to learn from the best in the business at changing plays at the line of scrimmage. Pick: Broncos 31, Raiders 20.
Final Score: Broncos (10-3) 26, Raiders (3-10) 13

Sunday, December 9
1:00 PM ET
St. Louis Rams 5-6-1 @ Buffalo Bills 5-7 – TV: FOX

Without question, the Rams have a much better attitude and future with Jeff Fisher calling the shots. I’ve been extremely impressed with their hard-nosed approach. But here’s the problem they face upstate New York this weekend: The defense has been inconsistent defending the run, and they face a Bills offense that features one of the better dynamic running back duels with C.J. Spiller and Fred Jackson. Buffalo’s rushing attack averages 5.2-yards per carry, the fourth best in all of football. Not to mention, Buffalo can stretch opposing defenses with a vertical passing game. Not saying the Rams won’t come to fight, but I have to go with the team that can do more on the offensive end. Pick: Bills 26, Rams 23.

Dallas Cowboys 6-6 @ Cincinnati Bengals 7-5 – TV: FOX
I’m guilty of this myself. I’m guilty of calling Dez Bryant out as not being a dedicated football player, a potential cancer in the locker room, a distraction on the team and player that doesn’t want to be in Dallas. But can you blame me or anyone else to think the same at the beginning of the season? After coming off a putrid 1 catch performance against the Falcons in week 9, Tony Romo and Dez Bryant have been connecting big. Bryant’s line in his last four games: 29-receptions, 475-yards and 6-touchdowns. Romo and Bryant connecting have been a huge factor for Dallas winning three of their last four games climbing back into the NFC East division race and NFC wild card hunt. That’s the positive side of things. The negatives have been an ongoing saga of multiple injuries on the offensive line and defense. Jay Ratliff (groin) will miss his third consecutive game. Without Ratliff clogging the middle at the line of scrimmage, the Cowboys defense has been dreadful against the run and aren’t freeing up pressure consistently on the outside. The Bengals will try to gash Dallas between the tackles, and I think they do this effectively with BenJarvus Green-Ellis running the football to set up the play-action pass. I’m feeling everything going good about Cincinnati, but my gut feeling has me going with the Cowboys who are in desperation mode, and for Tony Romo to make big improvising key third down completions, avoiding the Bengals athletic defensive front in the final minute to set up the game winning field goal. Pick: Cowboys 24, Bengals 23.

Kansas City Chiefs 2-10 @ Cleveland Browns 4-8 – TV: CBS
Statistically the Browns don’t average a sexy number rushing the football, but I like the fact that they haven’t abandoned the run. Trent Richardson can do more than just carry the load in the Browns backfield. Richardson is effective on screen passes, and if the defense is caught over-pursuing, he can take it to the house in the open field. Kansas City’s Jamaal Charles is dangerous in the same aspect. Ultimately, I like Cleveland’s defense better than Kansas City’s to limit big plays. Pick: Browns 20, Chiefs 13.

Tennessee Titans 4-8 @ Indianapolis Colts 8-4 – TV: CBS
Tennessee’s secondary is extremely susceptible to the pass. With that factor out in the open, you can bank on Colts offensive coordinator Bruce Arians to attack the Titans secondary with a vertical passing game. The Colts passing game has an established receiver Reggie Wayne, and three speedsters, T.Y. Hilton, Donnie Avery and LaVon Brazill for rookie sensation Andrew Luck to exploit defenses with. And who would’ve thought after 14 weeks of play, Andrew Luck and the Colts would be 9-4? You can pencil this one in. Pick: Colts 34, Titans 24.

Chicago Bears 8-4 @ Minnesota Vikings 6-6 – TV: FOX
The Bears defense is catching the injury-bug at the wrong time. Cornerback Charles Tillman (ankle) and linebacker Lance Briggs (ankle) are banged up, and the heart and soul of the defense, linebacker Brian Urlacher (hamstring) could miss the rest of the season. Word out in the street is Chicago may try to fill the void of Urlacher by moving Briggs, the weak side linebacker to middle linebacker. But Briggs doesn’t want any changing going on. “I could play it,” Briggs said. “All of us could play it because the positions are interchangeable. But I don’t want to play it.” Nevertheless, the Bears defense will have their hands full trying to stop league leading rusher Adrian Peterson. Look for Vikings offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave to set the tempo by throwing a physical running game at the expense of a nicked-up Bears defense to set up high percentage passing plays on third down. Pick: Vikings 24, Bears 20.

Philadelphia Eagles 3-9 @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers 6-6 – TV: FOX
With all being lost for the Eagles in 2012, there’s some light at the end of the tunnel in the near future. Nick Foles has potential to be a good starting quarterback, and the development of Bryce Brown gives the Eagles a dynamic backfield with a healthy LeSean McCoy. And if I’m Jeffrey Lurie, I’d money-whip Mike Holmgren to be the next head coach. Holmgren will get the offense back on the discipline side of things. As far as this game goes, Tampa shouldn’t have any trouble gashing the Eagles defensive front with running back Doug Martin, and exploiting a putrid Eagles secondary. It’ll be a good day for fantasy owners that have Tampa’s skilled offensive weapons. Pick: Buccaneers 34, Eagles 24.

Baltimore Ravens 9-3 @ Washington Redskins 6-6 – TV: CBS
The Pistol Offense is very confusing to opposing defenses when you have to defend a triple threat. When you have a quarterback as talented as Robert Griffin III, a power running back like Alfred Morris and a receiver like Pierre Garcon that can stretch the field, it gives you a balanced attack. Washington’s balanced attack utilizes the power running game, options, slip screens and play-action passes. Baltimore’s three down lineman of their base 3-4 defense that features Haloti Ngata, Ma’ake Kemoeatu and Pernell McPhee need to create havoc upfront, limiting big running lanes. If those three players can do this effectively, that can free up pressure from the outside so they can get pressure from all angles. Outside linebacker Terrell Suggs (biceps) was a limited participant in Thursday’s practice and was not wearing a brace. They’ll need him to be effective as well, but his status is more on the doubtful side. I do like Baltimore’s chances with Ray Rice’s ability to control the tempo, but until someone figures out a way to slow down the red hot arm of RGIII and the Redskins triple threat system, I’m going Redskins at home. Pick: Redskins 24, Ravens 20.

Atlanta Falcons 11-1 @ Carolina Panthers 3-9 – TV: FOX
The Falcons have already clinched the NFC South. Now it’s time to lock up home field advantage for the postseason. Atlanta’s magic number is 2. Their quest begins with a game they’ll most likely win this weekend. Next three following games: Home to face Eli and the Giants, @ Detroit, home vs. Tampa Bay. They better take care of business this weekend, because the next three are against two teams fighting for playoff spots and against a Lions team that’s playing spoiler. Pick: Falcons 27, Panthers 17.

N.Y. Jets 5-7 @ Jacksonville Jaguars 2-10 – TV: CBS
Mark Sanchez is starting at quarterback after being benched last week at home, a game the Jets won in ugly fashion 7-6 over Arizona. I think head coach Rex Ryan made the right choice. His team is still mathematically in the playoff hunt. Clearly, Rex isn’t putting up with anymore sloppy play from Sanchez, otherwise its Greg McElroy time again and it could stay that way the rest of the way. Outside of the QB crisis the Jets face, I like their defense to limit Jacksonville from making big plays. The Jaguars are only averaging 78-yards per game on the ground. The Jets will put cornerback Antonio Cromartie on Jaguars receiver Justin Blackmon, their only prime target with Cecil Shorts (concussion) ruled out. Pick: N.Y. Jets 22, Jaguars 14.

San Diego Chargers 4-8 @ Pittsburgh Steelers 7-5 – TV: CBS
Time to cook the burgers, “Burger Eater Man #7” is back in the building. Winning a huge game on the road in Baltimore last week in Ben Roethlisberger’s absence, Charlie Batch might have given the Steelers, who are getting healthy at the right time, a chance to make a late season push. “We’ve just got to get a ticket,” linebacker Larry Foote said. “The last few years, the Giants have done it, and Green Bay has done it.” Why can’t Pittsburgh? Roethlisberger’s return at quarterback will give everyone a good reason to believe. Pick: Steelers 31, Chargers 17.

4:05 PM ET
Miami Dolphins 5-7 @ San Francisco 49ers 8-3-1 – TV: CBS

Ouch! Miami took a huge blow losing left tackle Jake Long (triceps) for the remainder of the season. Rookie Jonathan Martin takes his place with San Francisco’s league leading sack-monster Aldon Smith rushing the passer on his side. Miami hasn’t been up to par on the ground. That’ll give the 49ers defense an extreme edge to bring pressure on Ryan Tannehill on early downs. Pick: 49ers 27, Dolphins 10.

4:25 PM ET
Arizona Cardinals 4-8 @ Seattle Seahawks 7-5 – TV: FOX

Looking ahead at the future of the Arizona Cardinals, they must do some serious homework on drafting and building an offensive line. And I know this may sound awkward, why not take a gamble on a quarterback, if he’s healthy that can still move in the pocket with the ability to scramble? Does Michael Vick ring a bell? You never know what a change of scenery can do for a player or team. Pick: Seahawks 27, Cardinals 7.

New Orleans Saints 5-7 @ N.Y. Giants 7-5 – TV: FOX
Both teams’ pass defense has the tendency to give up big plays. And with both offenses having multiple weapons in the passing game, this NFC showcase showdown has the making for an exciting offensive shootout. The Giants are better equipped to establish an effective running game with Ahmad Bradshaw carrying the load with a fight-for-every-inch approach. The Saints offense rarely puts matters on the ground game to win the big games. I like the way the Saints defensive front has played over the past few weeks providing pressure, but the Giants have the much more talented group with Justin Tuck, Jason Pierre-Paul and Osi Umenyiora creating havoc at the line of scrimmage. In the grand scheme of things, Eli Manning will have more opportunities to have high-percentage third and short situations than Drew Brees that will be in more third and long situations. And when in the redzone, I like the Giants offense to punch in one more score than New Orleans. Pick: N.Y. Giants 34, Saints 30.

Sunday Night Football in America 8:20 PM ET – TV: NBC
Detroit Lions 4-8 @ Green Bay Packers 8-4

Can this be a trap game for the Packers at Lambeau? Detroit can easily be standing at 8-4 rather than the reality of standing at 4-8. And with Green Bay’s defense hit with the injury bug, the defense hasn’t been providing enough pressure on the quarterback. Double-teaming Calvin Johnson is a must for the Packers secondary. Detroit will move the football and muster scores on the Packers defense, but you can always trust Aaron Rodgers and the Packers prolific passing attack to bail the defense out at home. Pick: Packers 34, Lions 27.

Monday Night Football, December 10 8:30 PM ET – TV: ESPN
Houston Texans 11-1 @ New England Patriots 9-3

The Texans have the perfect pedigree to beat the Patriots being a top unit running the football with Arian Foster. They’re an extremely patient group and fundamentally sound in their zone blocking and pass protection schemes. Houston will try to establish the run on early downs to set up the play-action pass. Texans head coach Gary Kubiak knows his secondary is thin with injuries, and that is bad news going up against Tom Brady and the Patriots deadly passing game. So…avoiding getting into a shootout is the ultimate game plan for Kubiak’s team. Although the Patriots are known for airing it out, you can’t ignore the fact of them having a well balanced attack, keeping defenses guessing on early downs by either gashing you between the tackles with Steven Ridley using single-back spread formations or attacking your defense with the pass. You never know what they’re going to do on first down. Houston’s J.J. Watt is dynamite at rushing off the edge. Look for Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels to roll an extra blocker on Watt’s side to protect Brady on passing downs. Both offenses will come prepared, but I see New England’s defense winning the turnover battle and capitalizing on them. Note: Don’t be surprised come AFC Championship round, these two teams meet again for the right of representing the AFC in the Super Bowl. Pick: Patriots 27, Texans 24.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Liam Gallagher December 8, 2012 at 11:09 am

I understand your prediction for Vikings/Bears game but I think Bears finally get some turnovers again and Alshon Jefferys and Devon Hester come back to spread out offense more.

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