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Week Fourteen Picks

December 5th, 2019

I came so close.

To not making a fool of myself, I mean.

As I worked through last week’s slate of games, I kept thinking about all the road teams giving points. In all, eight road teams were favored. That’s a lot, and it should have raised a red flag. But it didn’t.

But I just pushed on through. Because it wan’t like the Dolphins were gonna give the Eagles are game or anything.

And then came upset week. Ten of the underdogs covered. Nine won outright. And, sure, five of those victorious dogs were among the eight teams that were getting points at home. But the other four (along with the one that covered but didn’t win) got it done on the road.

There’s no picking that. Or, I don’t know, maybe there is for someone. I’m not that someone.

So I ended up 9-7 picking straight up (which at least means I did better than the favorites) and 6-10 picking against the spread. That’s not a good week. And it brings my running records to 129-62-1 (.674) straight up, 96-93-3 (.508) against the spread. Rough week.

Let’s see how much worse it can get. Here’s what not to expect in week 14.

Dallas (-3) at Chicago
If the Bears had a ground game — or, you know, any kind of offense — the Cowboys would probably be staring down a third straight loss. But the Bears have no offense. The Cowboys might not have one anymore, either. Or they might just have caught a couple of elite defenses in a row. Chicago’s D might keep close to that pace. But I don’t see the home team having the ability to outscore the visitors. Cowboys by a point.

Baltimore (-5.5) at Buffalo
In Buffalo? Yeah, I could see the Bills giving the Ravens a game. But I don’t see them winning. Baltimore by a field goal.

Washington (+13) at Green Bay
Don’t look now, but the Racists have won two straight. Impressive streak, right? It ends in Green Bay. Packers by 14.

Denver (+9.5) at Houston
If you can hang 28 on the Patriots, you should probably be good for about 32 against the Broncos. And that’s at least double what the Broncos are capable of scoring. So I’ll go with Texans by 16.

San Francisco (+3) at New Orleans
A loss here and the 49ers will have dropped from the presumptive NFC one seed a presumptive wild card team (five seed) in a matter of two weeks. But I don’t think the Niners are losing here. I think they’re the better team overall, and I think they’ve got a D that can frustrate the hell out of the Saints. San Francisco by three.

Cincinnati (+8.5) at Cleveland
Wasn’t it just a couple of years ago that the Browns were completely awful while the Bengals were only mostly awful? Man, oh, man how the tables have turned. I hope the fans in Cleveland enjoy it while it lasts. Browns by 14.

Carolina (+2.5) at Atlanta
You know that thing where a team sometimes steps up and turns in a great performance in the first game after their coach gets fired? I could totally see that happening here. Or not happening. That’s the other possibility. Either way, I like the Panthers. Carolina by a field goal.

Detroit (+14) at Minnesota
As long as the Vikings win the games they should win, the worst they’ll do is the six seed and a wild card round visit with their old pals the Packers. This is one of the games they should win. And since the Lions have just about nothing to play for, it seems reasonable to anticipate that this is one the Vikings will win. Minnesota by 10.

Miami (+5.5) at NY Jets
I don’t know. Whatever. Jets. Maybe. I guess. But not by five and a half. Three. Maybe four.

Indianapolis (+3) at Tampa Bay
In a fairly even matchup of terribly uneven teams, I’ll mostly do the same thing as the oddsmakers default to the home team. But I’ll look for the Bucs to win by something more like six.

LA Chargers (-3) at Jacksonville
The winner retains the potential to achieve a .500 season. That’s pretty cool. Jaguars by a point.

Kansas City (+3) at New England
Something was amiss last Sunday in Houston. I’m not sure what it was (though the illness that swept through the New England locker room last week does come immediately to mind), but it was something. That’s not an excuse. Just a way of expressing that I don’t expect to see the same type of inadequate performance from the Patriots at home this weekend. Here are your big three predictives: scoring differential, Patriots +3.9; passer rating differentials, Patriots, +5.5; takeaway-giveaway differential, Patriots +10. That indicates a narrow New England victory. I’d say Patriots by a field goal, but that implies they’re going to have someone on hand to kick field goals. So I’ll go Patriots by four.

Pittsburgh (-2.5) at Arizona
The Steelers might yet steal the AFC six seed. That could prove interesting. Pittsburgh wins this one by seven.

Tennessee (-2.5) at Oakland
The Titans need to win this game to make their two upcoming matches with the AFC South-leading Texans matter. And if they can’t win this game, they don’t deserve a shot at the division. Titans by six.

Seattle (-2.5) at LA Rams
The Seahawks are in a battle not only for the NFC West title but for the conference one seed and home field through the playoffs. The defending champions are battling to keep their dim postseason hopes alive — and tracking an 8-8 finish. I won’t be surprised if this one’s every bit as close as their last meeting. And I expect a similar result. Seattle by a point.

NY Giants (+8.5) at Philadelphia
Maybe on Monday someone will let me know how this game turned out. I’ll be particularly interested to learn whether there were more points scored than turnovers committed. Eagles by a touchdown (or some collection of points resembling the same).

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