Thursday, December 10, 2009

Kerrzy's Notebook: NFL Week 14 Picks

We're getting down to the time of year when games really start to mean something for a lot of teams - and week 14 kicks off with the Pittsburgh Steelers trying to halt a four-game losing skid and stay in playoff contention.

I'm looking to turn things around myself, after an 8-8 week where I think none of my gambles ended up paying off - I'm now 113-47 overall. Here are my picks for this week:

Pittsburgh (6-6) @ Cleveland (1-11)

My pick: Pittsburgh

-Losing four in a row can really hurt the pride of a team, especially when that team shouldn't be losing that many in a row in the first place - but playing the 1-11 Browns gives the Steelers a chance to bounce back and gain a little confidence heading into their final three matchups. That's not to say the Browns will just roll over because they're well out of the playoff picture - they've got an opportunity to ruin the season of the defending Super Bowl champs and you know they would gladly play the role of spoiler if they're given the opportunity. The Steelers have struggled, but each of their last four losses have been one score games (they lost by three points in three straight weeks!). Hines Ward is questionable with a hamstring injury, so the offence may be a little thin in parts, but this is a game that the Steelers MUST win, and as a veteran club I'm sure they'll pull it out.

New Orleans (12-0) @ Atlanta (6-6)

My pick: New Orleans

-The league's top-ranked offence will carry the Saints to victory on Sunday against an Atlanta D that has struggled to be consistent this season so far. On the other side of the ball, the Falcons are battling through injuries to key members of their team, like QB Matt Ryan and RB Michael Turner, both of whom are questionable. Atlanta put up seven points in a loss to Philadelphia last week, and if they have any hope of beating New Orleans, they'll have to score a lot more than that. The Saints needed some lucky breaks to come out on top last week, but what we also saw was a team that refused to give up and battled hard all the way to an improbable victory over the Redskins in overtime.

Detroit (2-10) @ Baltimore (6-6)

My pick: Baltimore

-It has been a disappointing season for Ravens fans, but they should be looking forward to this weekend's tilt with the 2-10 Lions. They've won four-of-six at home this season, and they really need their vets to step up and make sure they don't let this one slip away if they want to keep their playoff hopes alive. Joe Flacco has been average over the past few weeks after starting the season with a bang - he's got a good opportunity to get back on track this weekend against the NFL's worst pass defence. After a big win over Pittsburgh, the Ravens came out and lost last week to Green Bay in the Monday Nighter. If they can't beat Detroit this week, they've got no business being in the playoffs anyway. Here's another little tidbit that Baltimore fans will be hoping plays in their favour - the Lions have lost 18 in a row on the road.

Green Bay (8-4) @ Chicago (5-7)

My pick: Green Bay

-The struggling Bears have lost four of five, and barely beat the lowly St. Louis Rams last weekend – things will only get tougher from here on out with the Green Bay Packers in town. Since losing to Minnesota, then Tampa Bay, the Packers have managed to string together four straight wins as they continue to battle for a playoff spot. Jay Cutler has had a tough go of it this season and going up against a cornerback like Charles Woodson could mean another afternoon to forget if you’re rooting for the Bears.

Seattle (5-7) @ Houston (5-7)

My pick: Seattle

-The Seahawks are a team I’ve had a tough time with this season – every time they get going, they seem to fall right back off. Right now they’ve won two in a row and are up against a Houston team that has lost four in a row since losing tight end Owen Daniels. Matt Schaub is statistically one of the best QBs in the game with 22 TDs this season – but his team hasn’t helped him out much. I’m going with Seattle.

Denver (8-4) @ Indianapolis (12-0)

My pick: Indianapolis

-The Colts have remained perfect this season despite some shaky performances and some tough tests – this will be another one of those tough games, with the Broncos winning two straight after a stretch of four losses. This will be a good game, but if the Colts can play like they’ve played all season long so far, they’ll come out on top. They’ve shown on more than one occasion in the second half of the season that, when faced with adversity against a good team, they can come together and pull it out.

Miami (6-6) @ Jacksonville (7-5)

My pick: Miami

-The Dolphins are a team that has been good, but not great this season – some game they’ve looked like worldbeaters, other times they’ve been in games, but just haven’t had enough juice. Case and point: they open the season with a loss to the Falcons, then almost beat the Colts in week two. They’re coming off a dramatic win over the New England Patriots last week, which is no doubt a huge boost for rookie QB Chad Henne’s confidence. This is a big game in terms of the playoff race too, with the Dolphins just a win back of the wild card spot currently held by the Jaguars.

Buffalo (4-8) @ Kansas City (3-9)

My pick: Buffalo

-One of the biggest disappointments of the season has got to be the Buffalo Bills – maybe even bigger than the team as a whole is the play of “star” receiver Terrell Owens. As notes, Owens is playing for a contract in these last few games, so look for him to really step it up and try to show GMs around the league that he’s still got what it takes. He’s shown flashes of it in the past few weeks, but he hasn’t been consistently there. KC has just one home win in six games this season, so I’m going with the Bills to take this one.

Cincinnati (9-3) @ Minnesota (10-2)

My pick: Minnesota

-As good as Carson Palmer and the Bengals have been this season, the Vikings have been that much better in my eyes. Brett Favre is having the best season of his long and storied career, and part of that success is due to the great balance of the Minnesota offence. Adrian Peterson has racked up 12 rushing majors this season, and Sidney Rice has become Favre’s favorite target in the last several weeks, coming up with some big plays at the right time.

Carolina (5-7) @ New England (7-5)

My pick: New England

-It’s been a rough second half for the Patriots – they’re coming off a tough loss to the Dolphins and a beat down by the Saints the week before. As rough as it’s been on the road, they are 6-0 at home, which is bad news for the Panthers. As long as a midweek incident that saw a few players, including Randy Moss, get sent home from practice for being late doesn’t affect morale too much, the Pats are due for a win. Tom Brady is suffering from a few ailments but will play. He called out his team after their last loss and I expect him to step up and lead the Patriots to victory.

NY Jets (6-6) @ Tampa Bay (1-11)

My pick: New York

-Despite a rocky season, the Jets have won two straight and are looking to make it three as they find themselves in the hunt for the playoffs. They started the season with three straight wins, before losing six of seven, but they appear to be regaining their early form. The Jets won a scrappy one in Toronto last week, but they’ll likely need to play a bit better to win this one, even if it is against a team with only one win this season.

St. Louis (1-11) @ Tennessee (5-7)

My pick: Tennessee

-Despite a setback last week against the undefeated Colts, the Titans have really turned thing around this season. Much of that success has to do with quarterback Vince Young taking over the reigns – he’s been hurting this week with a sore knee, but says he’ll play against the Rams. If the Titans want to continue their march for the playoffs, they need to get past St. Louis, which shouldn’t be much trouble. They’ve just got to stick with what’s got them where they’re at right now after the past six weeks.

Washington (3-9) @ Oakland (4-8)

My pick: Oakland

-I think this is the first time I’ve picked the Raiders since the first few weeks of the season, but they’ve been showing signs of improvements as of late with Bruce Gradkowski at the helm. They’re coming off a big win over the Steelers and two weeks ago, they beat the Bengals. Who would have thought that would happen this season?! Both these teams are playing for pride at this point, and I think the Raiders have more to play for in that respect as it’s been a woeful season.

San Diego (9-3) @ Dallas (8-4)

My pick: San Diego

-The Chargers are one of the hottest teams in football right now, with seven straight wins – including wins over the Giants, Eagles and Broncos in that span. The Cowboys have been good, but not great as of late, and despite being at home I think they’ll drop this one against the high-flying Chargers. After a slow start to the season, LaDainian Tomlinson has been on fire in the past four weeks, finding the end zone six times (he has eight of his nine TDs in the past six weeks); look for him to be factor in this game.

Philadelphia (8-4) @ NY Giants (7-5)

My pick: Philadelphia

-In their last meeting, the Eagles pounded the Giants 40-17. This time around Eli Manning isn’t 100% and the Eagles have won three in a row. New York is coming off a big win over the Cowboys, but they were embarrassed by Denver the week before and just squeaked past Atlanta the week before that. It’s worth noting that the Eagles trounced the Falcons 34-7 last week, so they’ll be riding high coming into this game.

Arizona (8-4) @ San Francisco (5-7)

My pick: Arizona

-The Cardinals need this win to keep some distance between themselves and anyone else in their division. If not for a last-play drive into the end zone by the Titans two weeks ago, they’d be riding a five-game win streak into this game. Kurt Warner has put up scary numbers in his last four starts, with a passer rating over 120 in each of those games. A good game by Warner almost guarantees an Arizona win this week.

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