By IAN WUKITSCH
Welcome back football fans! I start this week’s column with a question for everybody: if you’re the Cleveland Browns, who would you have started this week? Do you stick with the game manager in Brian Hoyer? Or is it time for the electric Johnny Football? Personally, I would go with JFF. He presents the best chance to compete in a high scoring game, something that the Browns will face this week against the Colts. I don’t see Hoyer even having a chance to keep this team in the game this week, but we will see. Anyway enough of my nonsense, here are my Week 14 picks.
HOME team in CAPS
New York Giants (-1) over TENNESSEE TITANS
Just pick against Tennessee at this point. I don’t care if the Giants go out and sign Jared Lorenzen and start him under center, it doesn’t matter. This Titans team is just an embarrassment. They allowed 6 TD’s to Ryan Fitzpatrick last week! They have a horrendous defense (ranked 30th in yards allowed), and this week will be no better as they go up against Eli Manning and rookie sensation Odell Beckham. In what people may see as another poor season for Eli, he’s actuallyu putting up solid numbers (22TD/12INT 3,000+ yards). This should be a cupcake game for him and OBJ, and I see that duo having a big performance this Sunday. Take the Giants, please.
Seattle Seahawks (+1) over PHILADELPHIA EAGLES
This is my game of the week for sure. The Seahawks defense has looked good — REALLY good — the past two weeks. Seattle has allowed a meager six points in the last two games, and it seems as if the “Legion of Boom” has returned to the dominant unit that stifled Peyton Manning in the Super Bowl a year ago . I don’t see Mark Sanchez being able to continue his success, especially against this talented Seahawks secondary (allowing less than 200 pass yds pg). Even if the Eagles decide to keep the ball on the ground, and utilize LeSean McCoy’s electrifying ability, it won’t matter. Not only does this Seahawks D stop the pass, they don’t allow much yards on the ground (around 85 ypg) either. Russell Wilson won’t need to do much against the birds , because his buddies on defense will keep the high octane Philadelphia offense at bay. Take the “Legion of BOOM” over the Eagles.
Not So Fast My Friend
The following games are ones I’d try and stay away from this weekend — unless you’re a complete degenerate gambler and are feeling lucky. In that case, good luck.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (+10) at DETROIT LIONS
Despite their 2-10 record, the Buccaneers have lost by 10 or more points just three times this season. This team has the ability to keep games close, and they have very good talent on offense. By no means am I saying the Lions are going to lose this game, but it should be close. Matt Stafford has not been the gunslinger that we’ve come to expect in recent years (just 15 TD passes) and their run game is just awful (only 80 ypg). The Detroit Lions only average 19 ppg (26th in NFL) and before last week’s blowout win over the Bears, they had been losers of three straight. The Bucs aren’t going to win, but somehow this season they’ve kept games close, and that’s all that matters. This game should be a close one, unless the old Matt Stafford shows up.
Carolina Panthers (+10) at NEW ORLEANS SAINTS
The Saints have been another underwhelming team this year, failing to blow out lesser opponents. They score a lot (27 ppg), but also give up a lot (26 ppg). Those numbers would indicate a double-digit spread will not be an easy cover for New Orleans. The X-factor in this one is Cam Newton. If Cam can’t get it going the way he did in his first three seasons in the league, Panthers will be trounced. If old Cam shows up, he can definitely take advantage of a pathetic Saints D and we’ll be looking at a shootout between the two worst playoff “contenders” in the NFL in football’s weakest division. No defense will be played, so don’t expect the Saints to cover such a large spread — don’t touch it.
Atlanta Falcons (+12) over GREEN BAY PACKERS
This is quite a stetch and I should be fired for even considering this upset, but here goes nothing. Maybe I’m biased towards the Falcons and Matt Ryan because they won me back-to-back Fantasy Football Championships, but I believe in this team. Atlanta has climbed to the top of their division (not saying a lot, but still) and are winners of three of their last four. Matty Ice is having a really solid year (21TD/10INT 3,427 yards), looked great last week in an upset over the Cards, and actually has more passing yards than Aaron Rodgers (seriously). Ryan, Julio Jones, and Roddy White should be able to hang with the Pack in terms of scoring, and the Falcon D is only two points worse per game than Green Bay’s unit — led by Clay Matthews and Julius Peppers. The Falcons showed last week that they can still beat elite teams, and this week we’ll see it again. I think the Packers will become complacent and Rodgers is due to cool off — take the red-hot Atlanta Falcons to upset the Pack at Lambeau.
Well there’s another week of predictions for ya’ll. I wish you the best of luck on your bets, and best of luck to all you fantasy owners in your playoff matchups this weekend. FYI, my fantasy team doesn’t play this week— I have a bye, because I’m the G.O.A.T.
Until next week, Trax Pack.