NFL: Week 14 (and Week 15 Picks)

By: Shawn Davis

The one game that I was waiting for turned out to be a waste of my time. Really, Houston? Losing to the Patriots isn’t something to be ashamed of but to be taken apart 42-14 – and it wasn’t that close either – should cause concern when you consider these same Texans were dismantled by the Packers (Week 6; 42-24) in another prime-time spotlight showcase. Is this a sign of something larger looming?

I combed over what took place on the field Monday night and there were a few moments that proved the Texans could be vulnerable, at least mentally: trailing 21-0 in the third quarter, Houston faced fourth-and-1…and punted. I then turned the channel. Several key players, namely Andre Johnson, came into this game saying it was the most “important game in the history of the franchise.” I don’t agree with that as the Texans made their debut in the postseason last year. Additionally, other players said the Patriots were “locked in” before kickoff – at the coin toss – in a way that led the Texans to believe the Patriots were “all about business.” Those quotes don’t bathe me in confidence if I’m a Texans fan with the postseason around the corner.

New England beats a lot of teams in Foxborough – they’re just that good – but Houston seemed to be trailing in the contest before the ball was kicked off; that’s alarming.

Week 14:

DET 20 @ GB 27: The Lions defense is the gift that hasn’t let me down all season. The Packers are showing a commitment to the run game – which could spoil my Super Bowl (I have GB losing to the Broncos).

NO 27 @ NYG 52:New Orleans: Shift your focus to the bounty proceedings and negotiating a new deal with Sean Payton. Get the deal done with Payton NOW because he’s going to benefit from a windfall if you don’t get his signature on a contract with all the teams that are going to be in the market for a new head coach.

New York fans: You thought your team was going to give this one away didn’t you?

ARI 0 @ SEA 58: This is not a typo – it really happened! Arizona NEEDS A QUARTERBACK and an OFFENSIVE LINE that isn’t as offensive as the bodies they trot out on the field.

MIA 13 @ SF 27: Colin Kaepernick is the 49ers quarterback of the present and future. Alex Smith should be a valuable commodity on the market if he’s released on the open market (but I think it’s more likely that San Francisco will trade him for draft picks).

SD 34 @ PIT 24: How does Ben Roethlisberger return and the Steelers sleep away this game? It’s like they went out and wasted Charlie Batch’s victory versus the Ravens last week. Roethlisberger played well with 285 yards and three touchdowns versus one interception – and I just felt the rest of his team thought just be his presence they would win. The final score proved otherwise.

Maybe if Batch played, the rest of the team wouldn’t have taken Roethlisberger’s start for granted.

NYJ 17 @ JAC 10: I’m not surprised the Jets won. What’s puzzling is that they’re still alive in the playoff hunt.

ATL 20 @ CAR 30: It’s a division game so all those piling on the Falcons need to relax a bit. Although I do like the way the Panthers are doing their best to close out the season strong. Keep doing it Cam Newton; I’m watching. I’m not a fan of the Superman celebration he does – and I wish he would tone it down on that – but I like to see him succeed.

BAL 28 @ WSH 31 (OT): The Redskins have two capable quarterbacks in Robert Griffin III and Kirk Cousins while a handful of clubs cannot boast having one on their roster.

PHI 23 @ TB 21: Victories on the final possession are the types of positive impressions that can make a young quarterback (with questions about his viability) resemble a definitive starter in the NFL. Congratulations, Nick Foles. You have three more games to make a lasting imprint on the roster for next season.

CHI 14 @ MIN 21: If there’s a year where the NFL MVP award should be split as well as the Comeback Player of the Year among two players this has to be the one. Quarterbacks, all too often; similarly to the Heisman, are gifted all the prestigious hardware that’s “supposed” to be representative of all the positions on the field. We know the truth about that, don’t we?

At 1,600 rushing yards through 13 games, Adrian Peterson is attempting to break Eric Dickerson’s single-season yardage record of 2,105 (set in 1984) but I think he will fall short as he needs 506 yards in three games to get it done. However I feel he can break 2000 rushing yards for the season – and if he does, he should be the MVP. Just to put it out there: Peyton Manning is my favorite active quarterback and I don’t want him to win it…again.

Last season the Bears started 8-3 and then finished the season 8-8 (missing the playoffs) because Jay Cutler went down. Well, it seems the wheels are breaking off as we speak because that offensive line isn’t keeping him clean. There’s going to be a group of coaching vacancies and if the Bears don’t hold on to their postseason spot, Lovie Smith could be interviewing for a new franchise.

TEN 23 @ IND 27: Six game-winning drives for Andrew Luck and the Colts. I’m never going to like how Peyton Manning was cast aside; things like that happen in professional sports though. But no one can say that Indianapolis didn’t make a good choice.

What type of fortune is on their side? Why hasn’t it run its course? Do they have an ancient amulet embedded somewhere in their corporate offices? Provided Luck remains healthy they’ll have stability at the position for 25-30 years. From Manning to Luck; how is this possible?

KC 7 @ CLE 30: Keep it up, Brandon Weeden. I like the Browns – and since they’re all playing for their jobs, with new ownership taking over, I expect them to play well until the season ends.

DAL 20 @ CIN 19: The Cowboys and Redskins are both 7-6. They are both bathing in expectations as well. I was disappointed that the Bengals couldn’t hold on but they control their postseason hopes heading into their last three games: @ PHI, @ PIT, and home for Baltimore in Week 17.

STL 15 @ BUF 12: Football fans in Western New York deserve better than this.

DEN 26 @ OAK 13: I’m not even going to type at length about this game because I had no illusions about the outcome. Does the way the Denver Broncos have been winning remind anyone of anything? Think about it.

Anything? Well it reminds me of the fast starts the Colts would run out to when Manning was calling the shots there. You remember how most of those seasons ended, right? I do. The Colts would usually coast and begin resting starters for the last few weeks – and then find themselves entering the knockout round cold. As most of us know, Manning (for all his accolades) only has the one Super Bowl title but many years of playoff frustration due to early exits; exits caused by peaking too early.

I want the Broncos to fight for the second seed in the playoffs because if they decide to pack it in for the last few weeks, they’ll be planning their vacations early. Going to Baltimore next week will definitely keep them sharp. At least that’s what I’m hoping for since they’re my pick to win it all. I’m just worried that they’re not being pushed enough.

Week 15 Picks

With the Thursday NFL Network package of hideous games ending this week, let us have a brief moment of silence. (Silence…)

Now that the farce of Thursday games are through lets get to a real week of football where I hope the key games don’t feature a team giving up in the first half. That’s right at you, Houston.

Here goes:

CIN 24 @ PHI 21: I like Nick Foles because there hasn’t been a start where he’s looked overwhelmed but I like Andy Dalton and the Bengals more as they need this victory to keep their playoff hopes alive.

NYG 31 @ ATL 21: The Giants are just getting started so hop on the bandwagon now, New Yorkers.

MIN 17 @ STL 13: The Rams rank in the top half of the league against the run (at 13th; allowing 110.3 yards per game) but they face Adrian Peterson and I’m rooting for him to reach 2,000 yards; so should you.

JAC 10 @ MIA 13: Chad Henne returns to play his former team but I guess Miami gets the win, right? I don’t have a clue.

GB 28 @ CHI 27: I think the Packers win but for some reason I think the Bears take this one. There are times where it’s just too hard to pick against Aaron Rodgers – and this week is no different.

WSH 24 @ CLE 28: I don’t care who Washington starts at quarterback – and I like them both – but the Browns players and coaches will be fighting for their futures for the remainder of this season. Also, Brandon Weeden wants to get some of the rookie quarterback love as well.

DEN 26 @ BAL 20: I’m not sure if I even want the Broncos to win this game or not. They need to be tested more – so that they enter the postseason in some sort of rhythm. I’m picking them to win but a loss here won’t necessarily be bad for them.

IND 13 @ HOU 24: Houston has to respond after what happened to them in Foxboro, right?

TB 21 @ NO 35: Drew Brees has four touchdowns versus nine interceptions over his last three games, causing some in the media to wonder whether he’s done. I’m not going to pay any attention to such an idiotic proclamation. The bounty scandal is clearing and I expect the Saints to play with some freedom (for a change).

DET 42 @ ARI 2: …

CAR 17 @ SD 23: Maybe Philip Rivers decides to keep the ball away from the other team; I think he does.

SEA 21 @ BUF 24: Why not?

PIT 31 @ DAL 24: I just think the Steelers will not drop this game.

KC 10 @ OAK 31: Carson Palmer fantasy owners should be pleased this week.

SF13 @ NE 49: It’s becoming scary.

NYJ 13 @ TEN 10: I went with the lesser of two evils. I can trust the Jets defense sometimes; the only Titan I trust is, wait, there isn’t a SINGLE Titan I trust.

Last Week: 8-8

Season: 132-76

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