It’s been a pretty solid stretch these past few weeks after going 5-2 in our best bets two weeks ago, then going 2-1 on Thanksgiving and again hitting three of our top four picks on Sunday including the money line pick (Atlanta +180) for the second week in a row! Onto week 14.
1. Chicago Bears (-6.5) vs. Jacksonville Jaguars. Now, Chicago is by no stretch of the imagine a good team, but have you seen a team more disinterested in playing football than the Jaguars were on Monday night?
They’ve clearly mailed in this disappointing season and are tired of dealing with HC Jack Del Rio’s antics. Not to mention it should be bitingly cold in the Windy City this Sunday.
Look for Chicago, whose playoff chances got a whole lot better now that Minnesota’s lost its star interior defensive lineman due to suspension, to beat up on the Jags and pull out a double digit victory.
Next in Line
2. Tennessee Titans (-14) vs. Cleveland Browns. Yes, the two score line is very high, especially by NFL standards, a league that prides itself on parity. But this week, I’d be surprised if Cleveland musters up more than a TD. And that might only happen if Josh Cribbs returns a TD on special teams.
Tennessee has a great defense that knows how to attack when they smell blood and they surely smell blood this weekend seeing third-string QB Ken Dorsey line up behind center. Look for an easy win down in the Music City Capital.
3. Pittsburgh Steelers (-3) vs. Dallas Cowboys. December has typically been the month when Romo and his counterparts begin to nosedive and this year, they don’t get to start off with an easy opponent. They head to Pittsburgh and might have to do so without their top RB Marion Barber and DE/LB DeMarcus Ware.
If Barber is out, the Steelers will send the house at Romo since they won’t have to worry about the ground game, and turnovers are usually the result when an offense is made one dimensional.
If Ware can’t go, this takes a lot away from the Cowboys’ pass rush and Roethlisberger will have time to locate his outside guys. Look for a seven-point victory out of the Steelers.
4. Atlanta Falcons (+3) vs. New Orleans Saints. See money line for analysis.
Other matchups we like
1. Indianapolis Colts (-13.5) vs. Cincinnati Bengals. The Bengals just scored three points at home and we were rolled by 30 vs the Ravens. This week, the head on the road and face the surging Colts. Look for Indy to blow the Bengals out in this game.
2. St. Louis Rams (+13.5) vs. Arizona Cardinals. The Rams and an entirely different team when RB Steven Jackson is in the game and it appears that the Cardinals are playing a little tight on the verge of clinching their first ever division championship.
Normally I’d say stay away from the Rams, who are 2-10, but a lot of guys know that if there’s a new coaching regime next year, they might not be around without a strong end of the year performance in ‘08 so while we believe the Rams will lose, we don’t think it’ll be by more than 10.
3. New York Giants (-7) vs. Philadelphia Eagles. The Plaxico Burress situation has now been put to rest and the team can get back to focusing on football, which it does better than anybody in the NFL. The Eagles, coming off a strong Thanksgiving Day performance, will come back to earth when they head to the Meadowlands.
New York will take Westbrook out of the game plan and force McNabb to beat them, and this is something he will not be able to do.
Atlanta Falcons (+140) vs. New Orleans Saints. Let’s stick with the hot hand and go with the Falcons for the second straight week. The Saints were all but eliminated last week when the Bucs handed them a 23-20 loss. And the Falcons, the surprise team of the year, went out to San Diego and beat them in their own backyard.
Look for the Saints to come out demoralized after losing a few key players to suspension this week by the NFL. We see the Falcons committing to the running game and Turner and then when the opportunity presents itself, taking shots down the field to White and the other offensive weapons.
While we think Brees will get his (yards) on Sunday, we like Atlanta’s defense to do just enough to pull out the victory.