Without a doubt this is my least favorite football weekend of the season. With the exception of Army-Navy, there’s no college football this weekend and it’s painful. Fortunately the bowl games start back up next Saturday and allow us to watch some fun football which the NFL has rarely provided this season.
One player who has been constantly fun to watch in the league this year is Saints rookie RB Alvin Kamara. Now a shoe-in for Rookie of the Year, the former Tennessee Volunteers running back looks to be already one of the league’s elite playmakers and most definitely a fantasy football star. Could he help lead the Saints deep in the postseason? I wouldn’t bet against it.
Week 14 NFL Picks
Last Week: 13-3 Straight Up (SU), 10-6 Against the Spread (ATS)
Overall: 127-65 SU, 106-85-1 ATS
(Picks against the spread in parentheses; home teams in caps)
ATLANTA 27, New Orleans 24 (ATS: Falcons +1.5)
Tough game to pick here because Atlanta has been so inconsistent this year. As much as I like the Saints this season, this is a MUST WIN game for the Falcons…who find a way to get it done late. Look for big games from Matt Ryan and his star WR Julio Jones.
BUFFALO 17, Indianapolis 13 (ATS: Bills -3.5)
Ugly game on tap here. While Tyrod Taylor likely won’t play for the Bills forcing Nathan “5 INT” Peterman back into action, look for Buffalo to try to control the game by running RB LeSean McCoy like crazy.
CINCINNATI 23, Chicago 13 (ATS: Bengals -6.5)
Another what-should-be ugly game…Cinci is coming off a short week and is clinging to life in the postseason race. They pretty much need to run the table to have any chance at the AFC’s final playoff spot. Andy Dalton and his Bengals get it done but I wouldn’t recommend watching this one voluntarily.
Green Bay 24, CLEVELAND 19 (ATS: Packers -3.5)
The Packers’ season is on the line every week from here on out…but this matchup in Cleveland determines their fate going forward. If they lose to the winless Browns, the season is essentially over and there’s no reason to bring Aaron Rodgers off of Injured Reserve when he’s eligible next week. If they win as expected, Rodgers will likely be back to try and help GB claim the final NFC playoff berth. I predict a close Green Bay win over the pesky Browns who seem likely to end up 0-16.
KANSAS CITY 30, Oakland 23 (ATS: Chiefs -3.5)
The Chiefs are an absolute mess right now, especially on defense of late, but this is a revenge game for the bad beat on Thursday night several weeks back. If the Chiefs continue to nosedive, I question whether coach Andy Reid will be with them for the long haul.
Dallas 26, NEW YORK GIANTS 21 (ATS: Cowboys -4.5)
New (interim) coach, same result for the pathetic Giants. Whether or not Eli Manning plays or not, New York is best suited losing out in order to achieve a top-5 pick in the 2018 NFL Draft. Dallas’ slim postseason hopes hang on for another week after this victory.
TAMPA BAY 24, Detroit 20 (ATS: Bucs -1.5)
Detroit is in a free fall and even though I predict QB Matthew Stafford to play, I’m not sure their season can be salvaged at this point. It’s a lost season for Tampa Bay but they’ll show signs of progress in a close home win over the Lions.
Minnesota 24, CAROLINA 21 (ATS: Vikings -2.5)
I was wrong about Minnesota – they very well might be the best team in the NFC with Case Keenum playing like Tom Brady in 2017. Could they be the first team to play a Super Bowl in their home stadium? I’d still side against it…but a win this week over Cam Newton’s Panthers will push the Vikings to an incredible 11-2 record.
HOUSTON 26, San Francisco 20 (ATS: Texans -2.5)
Now this would normally be considered another one of the ‘Suck Bowl’ games but I think it could be one of those really fun, completely meaningless late-season games. San Francisco is playing for the future and Houston is playing out the string due to a rash of injuries which unfortunately derailed their season long ago. Despite the likely loss, new 49ers QB Jimmy Garoppolo shows he’s the right fit for coach Kyle Shanahan’s offense and offers promise for the future.
ARIZONA 23, Tennessee 20 (ATS: Cardinals +2.5)
You know when you go to Vegas and just feel lucky sometimes at the blackjack table? That’s the closest way I can describe to making this pick. I just have a sneaky feeling that the Cardinals are going to pull the upset and once again throw the AFC South race between Tennessee and Jacksonville into chaos.
LOS ANGELES CHARGERS 34, Washington 24 (ATS: Chargers -6.5)
The Chargers might be the AFC’s 2nd best team right now behind New England (sorry Steelers) due to a dynamic offense and surprisingly effective defense. After starting 0-4, they’re now 6-6 and tied for the AFC West lead with the floundering Chiefs and defense-less Raiders. Wouldn’t it be embarrassing though if Los Angeles held a playoff game in their embarrassment of a temporary home field seating only 28,000? Expect a mini-shootout between Phillip Rivers and Kirk Cousins but I don’t see Washington’s defense slowing the Chargers down often in the 2nd half.
Philadelphia 27, LOS ANGELES RAMS 23 (ATS: Eagles +1.5)
Philly is just too good to lose two games in-a-row while the Rams continue to overachieve week-after-week. While Rams coach Sean McVay is most certainly Coach of the Year, his team is certainly due for some regression. Carson Wentz continues to lead on my League MVP ballot and a win in LA keeps his Eagles tied atop the NFC standings.
JACKSONVILLE 19, Seattle 17 (ATS: Seahawks +3.5)
It’s an even-numbered week which means Jacksonville is almost certain not to cover the spread. Yet I just don’t buy the Seahawks’ chances of winning a game 3,000 miles from their home against the league’s best defense. The Jags win late after a crucial Russell Wilson fumble sets up a Josh Lambo field goal.
New York Jets 22, DENVER 20 (ATS: Jets Pick’em)
How Broncos coach Vance Joseph can survive this dumpster fire of a season is beyond me. It appears GM John Elway made the wrong move in hiring the former Dolphins defensive coordinator as head coach. But Denver’s main issue is their QBs stink. Look for Elway to completely overhaul the position in the offseason…but before that, a rare wrecked season continues in Bronco-land.
PITTSBURGH 23, Baltimore 20 (ATS: Ravens +5.5)
These teams seemingly always play close games in Pittsburgh. While Baltimore has played better offensively lately, will they have enough firepower to keep up with the Steelers on the road? Look for a fun, entertaining matchup with another game-winning Chris Boswell field goal as time expires.
New England 24, MIAMI 17 (ATS: Dolphins +11.5)
No Gronk due to suspension and a tricky Monday night road game against an inconsistent Miami team. Look for the Dolphins to keep it more respectable than two weeks ago but the Patriots’ running game dominates in a 7-point win.
It’s fitting that Steve capped off a dominant regular season with the season’s only 10-0 week…congratulations to him on winning on the straight up picks title with ease!
Our guest picker, Jim Weber had the best against the spread week of the season, 9-1 in Week 14 to secure the ATS win for the guests. Many props to JB for furiously climbing out of last place with a late-season rally and relegating me to that fate.
The full standings are below:
Weekly College Football Picks: Final Regular Season Standings
|Eric Cohen||Jon Bell||Steve Malina||Guest Picks|
|Overall (Straight Up):||98-42||92-48||108-32||93-47|
|Overall (Against the Spread):||67-72||68-71||75-65||77-62|
|Week 14 (SU):||8-2||7-3||10-0||8-2|
|Week 14 (ATS):||5-5||8-2||7-3||9-1|
Guest Picker Results
Week 1: Adam Green 9-1 SU, 5-4 ATS
Week 2: Mike Muraco 4-6 SU, 6-4 ATS
Week 3: Mike Bauer 8-2 SU, 5-5 ATS
Week 4: Jeff Dean 6-4 SU, 4-6 ATS
Week 5: Arnie Spanier 8-2 SU, 8-2 ATS
Week 6: Jason McIntyre 6-4 SU, 5-5 ATS
Week 7: Dan Manucci 7-3 SU, 8-2 ATS
Week 8: Lauren Joffe 6-4 SU, 3-7 ATS
Week 9: Shane Dale 6-4 SU, 6-4 ATS
Week 10: Shawn Crespin 8-2 SU, 6-4 ATS
Week 11: Tim Montemayor 6-4 SU, 4-6 ATS
Week 12: Charles Wulf 6-4 SU, 4-6 ATS
Week 13: Dan Wolken 6-4 SU, 4-6 ATS
Week 14: Jim Weber 8-2 SU, 9-1 ATS
Next Friday’s column (12/15) will be dedicated to my bowl confidence picks + the postseason predictions challenge!