Saturday, December 10, 2011

TRG: Pick 6 Week 14

It's hard to believe that we've gone through 75% of the regular season already. They playoffs are right around the corner, but if you looked at these spreads, you can see there aren't many tight games this week. The plague of injuries across the quarterback position has provided several large spreads, and there are only 5 games this week that feature a pair of winning teams. Just goes to show you that even the people putting the schedules together have a hard time predicting this stuff. Here are the week 14 picks!

QB Matt Stafford is primed for a big game this week.
DETROIT -10 over Minnesota

The Lions have had a difficult schedule and currently stand at 7-5, but they're 4-0 (3-1 ATS) against teams with losing records this season. The Vikings are one of the league's worst teams at 2-10, losing their last 4 games in a row (0-4 ATS). With rookie QB Christian Ponder and RB Adrian Peterson banged up and questionable to play, they look like a prime target for Detroit this week. There's a huge matchup issue in this one for the Vikings, as Detroit is bringing their 5th ranked passing game against Minnesota's 26th ranked passing defense. This works out well for the Lions, especially since they're dealing with multiple injuries at the running back position. The Lions may have some trouble slowing down Adrian Peterson if he is able to play effectively, but I don't expect them to have too many issues shutting down the pass against a gimpy Ponder or backup Joe Webb. The money has been going on the Lions all week; the line opened at 7.5. I'm with the money. The Lions should be working on a blowout in this one.

DENVER -3 over Chicago

If you need to buy a half point to get this down to 3, do it. Denver has played in too many close games recently (last four games were won by 7 or less) for me to risk the half point at 3.5. That being said, I love the matchup here for the Broncos. Bears QB Caleb Hanie has been awful, RB Matt Forte is still out, and Broncos LB Von Miller returns from injury this week. I really don't see the Bears offense getting much going. They could only muster a field goal last week against the Chiefs, and it won't be any easier for them against this Broncos defense. The Bears weak passing defense (28th) may not be a huge liability against Tim Tebow, but their 8th-ranked rushing defense is going to be tested; Denver is leading the league in rushing yards, averaging 158.9 YPG. This would be a tough game for the Bears even if they were healthy, and I think Hanie is playing too poorly for them to win. In his two starts so far, he's 29/60 for 387 yards, with 2 TDs and 6 INTs.  Look for the Broncos to come after him hard in this game.

Houston +3 over CINCINNATI

RB Arian Foster can carry the load for the Texans.
T.J. Yates, the Texans third-string QB who's starting now after injuries to Schaub and Leinart, did exactly what was needed of him for Houston to win last week. He moved the ball somewhat effectively (188 yards passing), limited his mistakes (0 INT, 1 fumble), and played well enough to help keep the defense honest and help out the run game (Foster ran for 111 yards). The Texans still have the league's top defense and the offense has enough talent to withstand the injuries its sustained thus far. I don't know if the same can be said for the Bengals. They've lost 3 out of their past 4 games, barely managing to beat the Browns 23-20 on a late field goal to get their lone win. They're 1-5 against teams that currently have a winning record, with the win coming against Tennessee. Cincinnati has a great, young foundation in place on both sides of the ball, but they're not one of the elite teams in the NFL yet. Houston will approach this game just like last week, controlling the clock with their strong run game and clamping down on defense. It'll be a tight game, but I expect Houston to win outright, so taking the points is easy.

San Diego/Buffalo OVER 48

It what almost seems to be a minor miracle, the Chargers figured out how to score points on Monday and managed to win a game! That Chargers team looked much more familiar, with Rivers distributing TD passes on the way to an easy 38-14 win. Newly signed LT Jared Gaither stepped in for the injured Marcus McNeil and played well last week. Malcom Floyd returned from injury as well, giving Rivers a full complement of healthy receivers. Second-year RB Ryan Mathews put in another strong performance, and now has two consecutive games over 100 yards, and squares off against the Bills 24th ranked run defense this week. Things finally seem to be coming together for San Diego's offense, and they have the potential to put up another big score in this one. The Charger defense, however, is still not playing well. They rank near the bottom of the league in sacks, at 28th with 21 sacks. Buffalo QB Ryan Fitzpatrick is a bit more capable than Jacksonville's rookie, Blaine Gabbert, and will be able to take advantage of the weak pass rush. The Chargers aren't exactly stopping the run either, ranked 26th in the league. Buffalo may have lost Fred Jackson for the year, but C.J. Spiller showed some promise last week with a long TD run. I think this game will either be a blowout or a shootout, but either way, I think we'll make the over.

San Francisco -4 over ARIZONA

The Niners defense has been a dominant force this season.
So back in week 11, the Niners were 10 point favorites at home, and they covered. This is virtually the same exact spread, with Arizona getting bonus points for having home field. I'm not buying into Arizona's recent abundance of wins (the Cards have won 4 out of their past 5). The defense may be playing better in recent weeks and did well to hold Dallas to 13 points, but the offense has struggled. Arizona's highest point total in their last four wins is 23, and they've eclipsed 20 points only twice in that span. The Niner defense is no joke. They still have not given up a rushing TD this season. 3 weeks ago, they held the Skelton-led Cardinals to 7 points. San Francisco may have won the division, but they still have a first-round bye to play for. With three more wins, they'll clinch the #2 seed, and then you may see them rest for a game. Not this week though. I'll take the Niners (and their 10-1-1 ATS record) giving four points on the road.

GREEN BAY -11.5 over Oakland

This line has already moved a point after opening at 10.5. Oakland imploded last week and got destroyed by Miami, 34-14, giving up 10 penalties for 91 yards in the process. Penalties have been a huge issue for the Raiders lately, and they simply will not be able to afford them against the Packers. The Raider defense is ranked 17th against the pass and 28th against the run, so I expect they'll have a hard time keeping the Packers out of the endzone. The Raiders offense has been hit by the injury bug as well, with playmakers Jacoby Ford and Darren McFadden still out. Palmer has put up respectable numbers, but he's no Aaron Rodgers. He's thrown 6 INTs in the five games he's started. The Packers lead the league in INTs with a staggering 23 so far this year, and will probably get a couple more this week from Palmer. Given the extra opportunities, I think the Packers will cruise in this one and cover. I just hope they have a couple of insurance TDs when garbage time comes around.


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