Week 14 NFL Picks: A HUGE Week of Football

patriots-ravens

Ladies & Gentlemen, a round of applause for the week 14 NFL schedule. It’s the least you can do.

Every single timeslot throughout the “weekend” has at least one incredibly important game.

  • Thursday Night: Oakland (10-2) at Kansas City (9-3)
  • Sunday 1pm ET: Pittsburgh (7-5) at Buffalo (6-6) / Denver (8-4) at Tennessee (6-6) / Houston (6-6) at Indianapolis (6-6)
  • Sunday 4pm ET: Seattle (8-3-1) at Green Bay (6-6)
  • Sunday Night: Dallas (11-1) at Giants (8-4)
  • Monday Night: Baltimore (7-5) at New England 10-2

Seriously. That’s a pretty jam-packed day of quality football.

Let’s dive into the week 14 picks.

Oakland at Kansas City (-3) | over/under 46.5

The Pick: Kansas City

The Score: Kansas City 26, Oakland 23

The Bets: None

SuperContest: No

When is a Thursday Night Game not an ugly, hard-to-watch spectacle? When it’s 10-2 vs 9-3 with a division title and (probably) a playoff bye on the line. I’m captivated by the possibilities in this game. Does Oakland keep rolling along with their 7th straight win and 27+ point output? Or will the KC defense with Justin Houston as a reinforcement and the secondary playing out of its mind beat the Raiders for the 2nd time this year?

This is where we find out if Oakland’s defense can assist the offense at all going into the playoffs. It feels like a raucous home crowd will tilt an even game slightly towards the Chiefs. It’s honestly too close to call and seems silly to make any kind of bet on it.

(Note: I wrote all of that on Wednesday night and still talked myself into making a bet. Luckily I bet on the Chiefs. Pretty alarming for the Raiders that they lost by 8 with Andy Reid making plenty of head scratching decisions and Alex Smith uncharacteristically turning the ball over.)

Pittsburgh (-3) at Buffalo | over/under 46.5

The Pick: Buffalo

The Score: Buffalo 27, Pittsburgh 23

The Bets: Buffalo (+13) in a 3-way tease

SuperContest: Yes with Buffalo (+3)

I don’t really believe in the Steelers in general. I DEFINITELY don’t believe in them on the road.

My hesitation about betting the Bills straight up is based on the weak resume they have in their wins this year. They beat: Arizona, New England (injured Jacoby Brissett at QB), Los Angeles, San Francisco, Cincy and Jacksonville. But I like the Bills a lot at home as 13-point underdogs when thrown into a 3-way tease.

Denver (-1) at Tennessee | over/under 43.5

The Pick: Tennessee

The Score: Tennessee 24, Denver 20

The Bets: None

SuperContest: No

My final score prediction is based on the guess that Trevor Siemian starts at QB for the Broncos. I don’t think the Broncos will be competitive in this game if Lynch starts.

Washington (-2) at Philadelphia | over/under 47

The Pick: Philadelphia

The Score: Philadelphia 22, Washington 20

The Bets: Under (57) in a 3-way tease

SuperContest: No

Jordan Reed’s status is crucial to making any kind of decision on this game. And it sounds like we may not have a definitive answer until Sunday morning.

I’m teasing the up the under, but not until I get confirmation that Reed is out. If he plays, I’ll probably stay away from this game entirely.

Did you know only 3 of Philly’s 12 opponents this year currently have a record below .500? Starting in week 3, they faced 9 straight teams that currently have a record of .500 or better.

Arizona (-2) at Miami | over/under 43.5

The Pick: Miami

The Score: Miami 26, Arizona 20

The Bets: Miami (+12) in a 3-way tease

SuperContest: Yes with Miami (+2)

In what world should the Cardinals be favored on the road against anyone? They’re 1-4 on the road with their 1 win coming in San Francisco.

I have no additional thoughts about this game. I’m slightly nervous to bet the Dolphins even though I think they’ll win because we could be seeing the start of a classic Miami nosedive to end the season.

Minnesota (-3.5) at Jacksonville | over/under 39

The Pick: Jacksonville

The Score: Minnesota 13, Jacksonville 10

The Bets: Under (39) / Under (49) in a 3-way tease

SuperContest: No

Holy shit is this gonna be a bad game or what??

No exaggeration, I think a 13-10 win for one of these teams is being optimistic about the scoring. Hence, the under & teased under are my favorite bets in week 14.

Houston at Indianapolis (-6.5) | over/under 46.5

The Pick: Indianapolis

The Score: Indianapolis 29, Houston 21

The Bets: Indianapolis (+3.5) in a 3-way tease

SuperContest: No

Indy needs this slightly more than Houston. They already lost to the Texans, and they also have a much harder final three games than the Texans (Colts are at Minnesota & Oakland before finishing at home against the Jaguars, while Houston plays Jacksonville & Cincy at home before a road finish in Tennessee).

This is probably a discussion for another day, but does Bill O’Brien deserve to be fired regardless of this final month of 2016? He personally picked Brock Osweiler and added Lamar Miller at running back, both to complement their star receiver in DeAndre Hopkins. And yet there they sit, 28th overall in points per game and 31st in FootballOutsiders’ offensive efficiency ranks.

With Jonathan Joseph out for the Texans, it gets even more unlikely that they hold Indy’s offense in check.

San Diego at Carolina (-1.5) | over/under 49

The Pick: San Diego

The Score: San Diego 24, Carolina 19

The Bets: San Diego (+1.5) / San Diego (+11.5) in a 3-way tease / Under (59) in a 3-way tease

SuperContest: Yes with San Diego (+1.5)

Even taking into account San Diego flying across the country and playing in relatively cool weather…even including the (unlikely) chance that Luke Kuechly suits up for this game…I just don’t see a path to the Panthers winning this game. Carolina is really, really bad. Simple as that.

And with the Chargers having a sneaky solid defense, and their offense playing lower-scoring football on the road, the under feels like a great pick here.

Cincinnati (-5.5) at Cleveland | over/under 42.5

The Pick: Cleveland

The Score: Cleveland 23, Cincinnati 20 (in OT)

The Bets: None

SuperContest: No

I’m tempted to do zero research on this game and pick the Browns to win outright because:

  1. When A.J. Green went down for the year and the already-struggling Bengals lost their best player, this became the game that the Browns would most likely win.
  2. If Robert Griffin is the starting QB, the universe will make sure that he captures the city of Cleveland’s heart with a stunning upset against their in-state rival, which will cause the Browns to try to make him their starter again next year and pass up on the best QB in the draft.
  3. Hue Jackson is facing his former team and it would just make sense for Marvin Lewis to lose to an 0-12 team with his former offensive coordinator as the opposing head coach.
  4. By no statistical measure should the Browns win this game, and it feels like we’re due for this upset.

So let’s go with that. The Browns finally get a win (and of course put the #1 draft pick in jeopardy).

Chicago at Detroit (-8) | over/under 43.5

The Pick: Chicago

The Score: Detroit 23, Chicago 17

The Bets: Detroit (+2) in a 3-way tease / Under (53.5) in a 3-way tease

SuperContest: No

The Bears are 0-6 on the road and the only time they exceeded 17 points was at Indy in week 5. Detroit is a much lower scoring team than you think, even at home. The right play is the under.

The Lions had 11 straight games before last week that were decided by 1 score or less. Though I’m confident they’ll win, I think we’ll be back to a close game for them.

NY Jets at San Francisco (-3) | over/under 44

The Pick: NY Jets

The Score: NY Jets 27, San Francisco 17

The Bets: None

SuperContest: No

If we assume neither team can effectively throw the ball (a completely fair assumption), then the difference-maker in this game should be the Jets’ #2 ranked defense. Both teams have solid run games, but the 49ers have the worst run defense in the league. That’s a glaring difference between two crappy teams.

New Orleans at Tampa Bay (-3) | over/under 51.5

The Pick: Tampa Bay

The Score: Tampa Bay 27, New Orleans 23

The Bets: None

SuperContest: No

This is what we’ve been waiting for. Earlier in the year, most games involving NFC South teams were obvious over bets. Especially so when two of them were playing each other…Except that the Saints have trouble scoring on the road and the Bucs have played very solid defense lately.

Assuming the Bucs don’t have a defensive meltdown like earlier in the season when they gave up 37 to the Rams and 27 to the Broncos (both at home), they should at least win.

Atlanta (-6.5) at Los Angeles | over/under 45.5

The Pick: Atlanta

The Score: Atlanta 28, Los Angeles 18

The Bets: None

SuperContest: Yes with Atlanta (-6)

This is a matchup between the best offense in the league and the worst offense in the league.

Even though the Rams have a decent defense, the Falcons have played fine on offense in road games against better defenses like the Broncos (23 points), Seahawks (24 points) and Bucs (43 points).

Since I feel like I’m getting burned by good teams on the road laying about a touchdown, I’m not putting actual money on the Falcons.

Seattle (-3) at Green Bay | over/under 46

The Pick: Green Bay

The Score: Green Bay 20, Seattle 19

The Bets: None

SuperContest: No

This marquee NFC matchup is really slanted in the Packers’ favor considering they’re at home in freezing weather and Seattle has to play its first full game without Earl Thomas.

The Seahawks’ offense has been nonexistent on the road with the exception of 2 games, and the cold weather isn’t going to help. Somehow I think Aaron Rodgers and Jordy Nelson will have good enough performances to barely win this.

Dallas (-4) at NY Giants | over/under 47.5

The Pick: NY Giants

The Score: Dallas 27, NY Giants 26

The Bets: None

SuperContest: No

Nice game featuring the Cowboys and the only team they’ve lost to this year. I’m rooting hard for the Giants just because I want to hear an announcer during the playoffs provide us with the screwed up logic that Dallas will beat the Giants because it’s “really hard to beat the same team three times in a season.”

I think this game will play out similar to last week’s Cowboys/Vikings game with the Giants covering but barely coming up short for the win.

This time I won’t be dumb enough to take the underdog moneyline like I did last week.

Baltimore at New England (-7) | over/under 45

The Pick: New England

The Score: New England 26, Baltimore 17

The Bets: Under (55) in a 3-way tease

SuperContest: Yes with New England (-7)

Fuck the fucking Ravens.

Also, I’m pretty sure this game goes under.

Here are the season-long stats that I’m tracking:

  • Favorites are 84-99-9 against the spread through 13 weeks (including 11-4 in week 13)
  • The Point Total has landed on Over 97 times, Under 92 times, ad Pushed 3 times
  • I’m 101-85-6 against the spread

Enjoy week 14.

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NFL Week 14 Picks: AFCmageddon & Handing Out the MVP Award

rodgers

In week 11 we had the NFCpocalypse. Five games featured the NFC’s best teams either facing off against each other or taking on a tough AFC opponent. The results mattered greatly as this was the week where Green Bay effectively passed Detroit in the North, Carolina bowed out of the NFC South race and Seattle tried to play its way out of NFC West consideration.

In week 14 I’m happy to say we’re looking at AFCmageddon. This is even bigger and crazier than what went down in the NFC in that wild week.

Running through the games to appreciate from a pure football standpoint should provide all you need to know about how awesome this week of football could be, especially in the AFC:

  • Pittsburgh (7-5) at Cincinnati (8-3-1) – Sunday 1pm ET
  • Baltimore (7-5) at Miami (7-5) – Sunday 1pm ET
  • Indianapolis (8-4) at Cleveland (7-5) – Sunday 1pm ET
  • Buffalo (7-5) at Denver (9-3) – Sunday 4:05pm ET
  • Kansas City (7-5) at Arizona (9-3) – Sunday 4:05pm ET
  • Seattle (8-4) at Philadelphia (9-3) – Sunday 4:25pm ET
  • New England (9-3) at San Diego (8-4) – Sunday 8:30pm ET

In total, there are seven games on Sunday pitting teams with winning records against each other. Five of those games are pure AFC vs AFC matchups. So much is on the line for the two Wildcard spots as well as the AFC North positioning.

There’s a chance we emerge from week 14 with eight AFC teams having eight wins, meaning nothing would really be settled, but we’d be set up nicely for more weeks of contender-on-contender insanity.

And thanks to good luck with the schedule, we get three awesome games Sunday morning, three more Sunday afternoon and one on Sunday night.

The anticipation is killing me so let’s dive into the week 14 picks.

Dallas (-4) @ Chicago

  • The Pick: Dallas
  • The Score: Dallas 29, Chicago 16

As long as the Cowboys are undefeated on the road and the Bears are regularly defeated everywhere, this pick is easy. Sure, it’d be nice to expect Dallas to flop like it usually does in December, but I think any decent team is flop-proof when facing Chicago. Before you pull out all your fancy stats on the Thursday games, remember that both teams are on full rest after playing Thanksgiving Day.

Pittsburgh @ Cincinnati (-3.5)

  • The Pick: Cincinnati
  • The Score: Cincinnati 30, Pittsburgh 21

Don’t be scared of having to lay more than a field goal on Cincy because I promise you the Steelers are a certified bad road team. In their two previous road division games, they lost by 21 and 20 points. In general we might be seeing an old, fading Pittsburgh squad. They lost at home last week to a Saints team that never wins on the road. The weeks before that they beat Tennessee by three and lost to the Jets by seven (both road games for Pitt).

The Bengals just won three straight road games and I think we all need a reminder that they’ve only lost three times the entire year. I know every time we see Andy Dalton we naturally knock this team down a peg in our minds, but they keep getting the job done. Scary as it sounds, they’re a lot more trustworthy than the Steelers right now.

St. Louis (-2.5) @ Washington

  • The Pick: St. Louis
  • The Score: St. Louis 31, Washington 9

Washington has played like one of the worst teams in football for most of the year. St. Louis has played like one of the better teams in football for at least the past seven weeks. Sure, the Rams are only 1-4 in their past five road games, but our hands are tied here. Picking against them in this game would be the equivalent of picking against Denver or Seattle with this same exact point spread at Washington.

NY Giants @ Tennessee (PICK)

  • The Pick: NY Giants
  • The Score: NY Giants 27, Tennessee 23

Are the Giants tanking? It would make life a lot easier for bettors if we knew the answer to that question. I guess if Ryan Fitzpatrick can throw for six touchdowns against Tennessee, Eli Manning can at least claw his way to two touchdowns, three interceptions and a 54% completion rate in this matchup. That should be just enough to squeak out the win.

Carolina @ New Orleans (-10)

  • The Pick: New Orleans
  • The Score: New Orleans 52, Carolina 3

Of course the Saints had to lose three straight home games in November just to mindfuck us when picking their final two home games of the season. The combined record of the three teams that beat the Saints last month is 22-13-1. As you probably know, the Panthers are just a tad worse than that. In fact, here are the results of Carolina’s road games in 2014: win by six (against Tampa), lose by 28, tie at Cincy, lose by 21, lose by 24, lose by 18.

Anyone feel like backing the Panthers after seeing that?

NY Jets @ Minnesota (-6)

  • The Pick: Minnesota
  • The Score: Minnesota 34, NY Jets 18

The Vikings have been so good lately beating the shittiest teams in the league. What about the Jets could possibly make this game any different? Sure, they gave a spirited effort against the Dolphins on Monday in Rex Ryan’s penultimate home game as head coach, but these guys have yet to win a road game this year. By the way, any chance the Jets opt for the no-quarterback strategy and start a seventh offensive lineman at some point?

Baltimore @ Miami (-3)

  • The Pick: Miami
  • The Score: Miami 29, Baltimore 23

This game is just slightly more important to Miami’s playoff hopes than Baltimore’s. That’s because the Dolphins are in New England next week, so a loss at home to the Ravens likely means going from 7-5 to 7-7 by the end of week 15, and that would eliminate them from consideration. The Ravens can still run the table after a loss in Miami and end up at 10-6 (their remaining schedule: vs Jacksonville, @Houston, vs Cleveland).

These teams are very similar. According to FootballOutsiders.com, Baltimore is the 4th best team in the NFL and Miami is 6th. On offense, the Ravens have the 9th best unit while the Dolphins come in at 10th. On defense Miami is slightly ahead, 7th in the league vs 9th for Baltimore.

The nod goes to Miami because Baltimore is only 1-3 in RGNCOPANFCS (road games not counting ones played against the NFC South). And because the Ravens seem to have one major weakness (pass coverage) and the Dolphins have none.

NOTE: I made this pick and wrote the previous three paragraphs before learning that Ravens nose tackle Haloti Ngata was suspended for the rest of the year. That only makes my case stronger.

Indianapolis (-4) @ Cleveland

  • The Pick: Cleveland
  • The Score: Cleveland 22, Indianapolis 19

Tough one because the Browns haven’t been all that impressive at home and the Colts haven’t done much on the road. The closest thing Cleveland has to a signature home win was their 31-10 beat down of Pittsburgh in week 6, but that doesn’t even seem good right now. And Indy’s got no signature road win. In a game like this, I’ll take the home underdog. I also wonder if this line will go up a bit after the announcement that Brian Hoyer is still Cleveland’s starter, since people are very down on him at this point.

By the way, a loss by Indy this week could make for a HUGE game theoretically against Houston next week.

Tampa Bay @ Detroit (-10)

  • The Pick: Tampa Bay
  • The Score: Detroit 23, Tampa Bay 16

Here’s what the Bucs have done on the road since that embarrassing 56-14 week 3 loss in Atlanta: win at Pittsburgh by three, lose at New Orleans by six in OT, lose at Cleveland by five, win at Washington by 20, lose at Chicago by eight. Sure, they’re still losing most of their games, but lately they’ve been a tough out for the opponent.

I’m struggling to feel good about this one, but you know my pattern by now is to lean towards the underdog when I’m unsure and especially when the point spread is this large.

I’m ready for the Lions to go back to being an enigma full of underachievement on offense.

Houston (-6) @ Jacksonville

  • The Pick: Houston
  • The Score: Houston 33, Jacksonville 17

The combined win percentage of the teams that Houston has beaten this year in its six wins? .333

The combined win percentage of the teams that Houston has lost to this year in its six losses? .606

The soft schedule is probably the #1 contributor to the Texans still being alive in their division and the Wildcard race.

In five of those six wins, Houston has won by double digits. This is a classic no-think pick. The Texans will likely blow out Jacksonville twice in the next four weeks but will lose their other two games, keeping them at .500.

Side note: Jacksonville has lost eight games by 10 or more points so they aren’t shy about letting a team have its way with them either.

Buffalo @ Denver (-9.5)

  • The Pick: Buffalo
  • The Score: Denver 28, Buffalo 21

If we’re following the narrative that the December weather & fatigue are causing the Broncos to need to effectively run the ball in order to succeed, then this could be a tough game for them. Buffalo’s defense is legit, and it travels pretty well.

Admittedly Buffalo’s recent 4-2 run isn’t that impressive when you consider the wins were against Minnesota, Cleveland and the Jets twice. But during that span they also played the Chiefs and Dolphins pretty close. If you think their offense can’t possibly put up any points at Denver, remember that they beat the best defense in the league on the road when they went into Detroit in week 5. They didn’t score a lot of points, but they got the job done.

You know what? I’m making this my “football is fucking nuts and anything can happen” game of the week. Buffalo wins outright, 23-19.

Kansas City @ Arizona (-1)

  • The Pick: Kansas City
  • The Score: Kansas City 25, Arizona 18

I’m playing the injury card on this one. Arizona suffered a ton of injuries early in the year and they somehow didn’t skip a beat, but now it feels like they have a new wave of injuries, and I just wonder how much longer they can keep playing good football.

As we saw last week, the good football could already be over. The Cardinals lost 29-18 in Atlanta. That comes just a week after losing 19-3 in Seattle. Over all, Arizona has just four offensive touchdowns in its last 13 quarters of football. That coincides with the moment Carson Palmer was lost for the year.

Now they’ll be without the Honey Badger in their secondary for a few weeks, Larry Fitzgerald’s status is still unclear, and there might be a player or two missing/banged up on the offensive line. None of this is good news when facing a formidable Chiefs team.

A relatively healthy team plus a quarterback much less prone to bad games than Drew Stanton is making me back the Chiefs in this one.

Seattle @ Philadelphia (-1)

  • The Pick: Philadelphia
  • The Score: Philadelphia 24, Seattle 15

It’s a beautiful day when the odds you got back in March on a future Super Bowl winner are finally the same as that team’s current odds. The Eagles are now 12/1 to win it all, and that’s what I got way back nine months ago. (fingers crossed that their odds get even better so I can say, “See, it was smart of me to make that bet nine months ago! I got good odds.)

If they win this game, they’ll be looking really good for a 1st round bye in January. The likelihood of a #1 overall seed in the NFC rests in Green Bay’s hands as the Packers currently have the same record and hold the tiebreaker over the Eagles. Regardless, when I made that bet back in March, I never could have imagined a Nick Foles-led team would be closing in on a top seed. And it’s even more bizarre than that because it’s actually a Mark Sanchez team that’s doing it!

Remember that two-year run just recently when the Eagles were terrible at home? Well, they’re quietly on a 10-game winning streak at home, going back to midseason 2013. Also, Seattle’s win at San Francisco on Thanksgiving does nothing to change my mind that they’re a mediocre team on the road.

I was also surprised to learn that the Eagles are 16-4 in their last 20 games. So they’ve been really good for over a year. Maybe they should be favored by more than a point here?

This feels like a 1st or 2nd round matchup in the playoffs waiting to happen.

San Francisco (-8.5) @ Oakland

  • The Pick: San Francisco       
  • The Score: San Francisco 31, Oakland 16

This could normally have the makings of a trap game for the 49ers. Seattle is looming the following week. But there is enough pressure on this team to win that the 9ers can’t possibly take this game lightly. A loss in Oakland coupled with a loss at Seattle next week, which is very likely, would all but end their season.

It goes without saying that this is not a road game in any way for San Francisco, except for a few extra scary-looking fans in the end zone seats. This is one of the few games where it feels like you don’t necessarily need to worry about Jim Harbaugh’s joke of an offense. They’ll put up points.

New England (-4) @ San Diego

  • The Pick: San Diego
  • The Score: New England 28, San Diego 26

This pick isn’t an indictment of the Patriots as much as a mini-endorsement of the Chargers. San Diego’s only misstep this season was a three-game losing streak at a time where the team was in dire straits with injuries and just happened to be playing three games in 14 days. Those games featured opponents who are all still firmly in the playoff hunt (Kansas City, Denver, Miami). What I’m saying is you really can’t get too down on the Chargers just because of their October troubles.

Before that period, they were winning all their games fairly easily. Since that period, they’ve won all their games but not so easily.

New England is near the end of a scheduling gauntlet that saw them playing against six straight opponents with winning records. Their wins might not be very pretty or comfortable for a couple more games, but it’s the Patriots in December, they’ll find a way.

Atlanta @ Green Bay (-12)

  • The Pick: Green Bay
  • The Score: Green Bay 77, Atlanta 12

I already nailed Atlanta last week to win the “football is fucking nuts, anything can happen” award by beating Arizona. I’m not about to double down on them in a road game against the NFC’s best home team. You know why I didn’t blink at the humongous point spread in this game? Because Atlanta hasn’t gotten shellacked in seven weeks. That’s way too long for this team.

In other news, did you know that Mike Smith won Coach of the Year honors just six years ago? What the hell happened to him? That’s a drastic enough decline in his job that he should really think about seeing a doctor about a possible brain parasite or ten.

Unlike in years past, I haven’t done an MVP Race article so far in 2014. Honestly, I don’t think one is needed at this point anyway. Aaron Rodgers wins. Stop wasting your time talking about, reading about or even thinking about another option. He’s on pace for 4,433 yards, 43 touchdowns and 4 interceptions. He also leads the league by a significant margin in Passer Rating (118.6, the next closest is Peyton Manning at 107.8) and QBR (86.4, again Manning is 2nd at 80.6). More than anything, it’s that insane TD-to-INT rate that locks it up for me. To be able to throw 10 touchdowns to every interception over the course of a season is incredible for a quarterback starting all 16 games. Just look at this touchdown to interception chart.

Out-of-this-world stuff from him.

I haven’t strongly urged my readers to get onboard with my bets in a few weeks. Considering I went 11-5 against the spread last week, it seems like a good time to recommend you follow along with me once again.

Either way, enjoy week 14!

Week 14 NFL Picks: My Girlfriend Takes Over As I Pull A Stevan Ridley

old-man-crystal-ball

When my weekly picks dipped to nearly 20 games below .500 back in mid-October, I didn’t panic or throw in the towel. I didn’t walk away from my commitment to posting my picks every Thursday. I didn’t even make excuses.

Because I just knew my year was mirroring the Jacksonville Jaguars or the Tampa Bay Bucs…not nearly as pathetic as my record seemed, destined to turn it around and at least end up with a season that could be classified slightly above “hot garbage.”

But after a November with only one winning week, including a putrid 6-9-1 record in week 13, I’m starting to think my season will end up mirroring the Atlanta Falcons, or worse, the Houston Texans. I started off OK, nosedived almost immediately, tanked even worse at the halfway point, and have now apparently hit rock bottom. My only concern is that this might not be rock bottom. What if I have an 0-16 week on the horizon? Holy shit. That would potentially be the worst moment in my lifetime of following sports. If that happens, I’d maybe think about offing myself and leaving my life savings to my loyal readers as an attempt at reparations. Let’s not spend another second considering that possibility.

For week 14 I’ll be watching the majority of the games in my brother’s man cave in San Francisco. Does the change of scenery perhaps help snap me out of this funk? Doubtful, considering last time I visited San Francisco was week 9 and I put up a gaudy record of 4-9 against the spread.

Is there a hex-breaking dance I can invoke to end this awful year of picks?

Should I try a new strategy? The last two weeks was my trial run of “don’t think, just pick,” and while my cumulative record over that time was a non-disastrous 14-15-1, it’s still not good enough.

Should I go the opposite way and use no instincts? Instead relying purely on Football Outsider’s current DVOA rankings as if there’s no human element whatsoever in picking NFL winners.

In dire times like these, I always fall back on one mantra: What Would Belichick Do?

You may think I’m about to say, “He wouldn’t give up. He’d play til the final whistle. So that’s what I’m going to do.” But actually I’m going another way with this. After Belichick gave Stevan Ridley chance after chance to become a reliable (read: NON-FUMBLING) featured back in the Patriots offense, he was finally left with no choice but to distance Ridley from any situation that could allow him to impact the game. And it came to a climax last week when Ridley was mercifully deactivated against the Texans.

So you know what I’m doing for my week 14 picks? I’m benching myself. And just as Ridley spent that entire game at Houston on the sidelines carrying around a football while in street, I’ll be carrying around a printed out copy of the week 14 lines and will be studying them as I watch each game (in street clothes). Maybe I’ll learn the proper way to evaluate football teams.

But have no fear because I’m replacing myself in the starting lineup with someone who would have most definitely outpicked me had I given her a chance to do so over the course of the year. My girlfriend Julie will be making a pick for each game and providing the logic behind each pick.

(But you don’t think I can skip a week of picks entirely, right? After all, I still need to make picks against the spread for my Pick ‘Em Leagues. So my picks will be included below Julie’s, but I’ll warn you again…if choosing which picks to rely on, go with my girlfriend’s 100 times out of 100.)

Let’s get to the debut of “Julie Outpicks Her Degenerate Boyfriend Even Though She Hasn’t Watched More than 11 Minutes Of Football Since 2007.”

(Note: My comments/explanations on Julie’s picks are in parentheses. And many of her comments read as if she’s having a conversation with me more so than talking to the readers.)

(Note #2: When Julie says things like “I always pick [TEAM X],” she means she picks them in the giant $1 parlay that I let her do on my betting website every week. And since she’s never won any of those bets, you’d think maybe she’d change it up from the teams she always picks. But no.)

Houston (-3) @ Jacksonville

Julie’s Pick: “I’ll go Jacksonville based on the home team advantage. Maybe Uncle Mo will be in the house.” (That’s short for momentum, by the way…I should also note that she repeatedly referred to Houston as “Texas.”)

Ross’s Pick: Never seen a line make less sense than this one. Jacksonville should be favored by 3.5. Jags cover and win outright 36-27.

Kansas City (-3) @ Washington

Julie’ Pick: “Oh, Washington because it’s Werner’s team.” (Our college friend who’s a big Washington fan who probably suspects Julie’s just as big of a jinx as I am. At least now he can blame their 10th loss of the season on her instead of me.)

Ross’s Pick: Best news for Washington players in a long time: After this week, they only have one more home game for the rest of the season. That means only one more opportunity to disappoint their fans. Kansas City covers with a 27-17 win.

Minnesota @ Baltimore (-7)

Julie’s Pick: (She lets out a huge sigh at the mention of this game.) “Baltimore… Maryland… Hmm…I’m gonna go Minnesota because they both have the cold weather advantage and always an underdog wins, at least one, maybe more.” (I honestly have no clue what this means.)

Ross’s Pick: I guess technically Baltimore’s “on a roll” right now. And Matt Cassel’s starting for the Vikings. You know what? Wouldn’t it be just like the annoying Ravens to round into form in December and make people think they have another out-of-nowhere Super Bowl run in them? Disgusting, but I’m taking Baltimore to cover with a 28-17 win.

Cleveland @ New England (-11.5)

Julie’s Pick: “I abstain from the game with the home team always…and by home team, I mean the team that Ross roots for because he’ll be miserable or mad at me if I pick them and they lose. And if it was any other matchup you know I’d pick Cleveland because of Romeo Crennel.” (I did inform her more than a week ago that Romeo Crennel hasn’t been associated with the Browns organization in several years. Never stops her from citing his past employment there as a reason to love them.) “If forced, I’d pick the Patriots.”

Ross’s Pick: Jacksonville just handled the Browns in Cleveland, right? And we may see Alex Tanney, he of the zero NFL regular season career snaps. Fuck it, Patriots roll to a 42-17 win. (CONFIDENCE PICK)

Oakland @ NY Jets (-3)

Julie’s Pick: (She mimed puking motions at the mention of both teams.) “I gotta go with the Jets for the cold weather factor…and I hate Oakland.” (She lived in the Bay Area for six years. I shouldn’t have to tell her that it gets pretty cold there too, right?)

Ross’s Pick: All that “will Geno get benched” talk isn’t fooling me. As bad as the Jets are, the Raiders have quietly lost four of their last five, and they’re 1-5 on the road this year. I also made a preseason bet that the Raiders would finish with less than 5.5 wins so I need this. Jets win 20-10. (CONFIDENCE PICK)

Indianapolis @ Cincinnati (-6)

Julie’s Pick: “I always pick Cincinnati, but wait, how many games in a row have they won?” (I tell her I doubt that number is significant. Then I look it up and tell her two. Two wins in a row.) “Oh, then I definitely pick the other team…Who was the other team again? Colts? Yeah, I pick them.”

Ross’s Pick: Reggie Wayne appears to be almost as important of a player to his team as Aaron Rodgers is to the Packers. Didn’t think that was the case. Bengals cover and win 24-16.

Detroit @ Philadelphia (-3)

Julie’s Pick: “Toss up. I don’t really have a preference for either team. I guess the Eagles because of home field advantage.” (I informed her of the Eagles’ amazing failure rate at home over the past two years and she says…) “Definitely then. They’re due.”

Ross’s Pick: Rare game where I don’t think the three-point favorite covers, but still wins. I have such a soft spot for Detroit this year and I’m not sure why. The Lions cover but Philly pulls it out by the slimmest of margins, 34-33.

Miami @ Pittsburgh (-3)

Julie’s Pick: “Oooh, why are these all so close? Miami won last week, right?” (looooong pause) “I hate to say this again, but I’m going Pittsburgh, cold weather factor.” (I burst into laughter telling her no one has ever put as much stock into the “cold weather factor” as she has.)

Ross’s Pick: But in this case I do agree with her. Miami on the road in the Northeast in December feels like bad news. The Mike Wallace revenge game goes poorly for Mike Wallace. Pittsburgh wins 15-9.

Buffalo @ Tampa Bay (-3)

Julie’s Pick: “I like Tampa Bay. I always pick them.” (I thought she was going to introduce the not-often-cited “warm weather factor” into this pick.)

Ross’s Pick: Flip a coin. Two teams that are evenly matched. I’ll take the points. Bills win 24-23.

Atlanta @ Green Bay (-6.5)

Julie’s Pick: “Well I had that dream about Atlanta, remember?” (I tell her there’s a good chance Aaron Rodgers doesn’t play in this game…) “That changes everything…but I’ll go Green Bay because of my Wisconsin clan.” (Her group of friends in San Francisco, several of whom are actually from Minnesota.)

Ross’s Pick: If Rodgers doesn’t play, this line is too high (Matt Flynn should be spotted somewhere between 14-35 points against any NFL team). And if a rusty, nothing-to-play-for Rodgers does play, this line might still be too high. I’ll take Atlanta to cover and win outright 31-23.

Tennessee @ Denver (-13)

Julie’s Pick: “Whoaaaaa, 13, really? And Tennessee is what, the Titans? Hmm…I gotta go Tennessee. Token upset.” (I ask her if she means the Titans are going to win outright…) “Yes, that’s what upset means.”

Ross’s Pick: Since I don’t feel confident about either side of this spread, I’m defaulting to Julie’s pick. The Titans won’t win, but they’ll cover. Denver takes the 33-24 victory.

St. Louis @ Arizona (-6)

Julie’s Pick: “Yes, St. Louis. I like them.” (She blurted that out before I even told her who the Rams are facing in this game…so do what you want with that info.)

Ross’s Pick: This is the first time in like 10 weeks that I don’t have a great feel for how the Arizona game will go down. After realizing the Cardinals are 5-1 at home this year with their lone loss coming against Seattle, I’m going with Arizona to cover with a 26-13 win. (CONFIDENCE PICK)

NY Giants @ San Diego (-3)

Julie’s Pick: “San Diego because I love that city and they must be happy. They’re in better spirits than people from cold weather cities.”

Ross’s Pick: A matchup 10 years in the making…Eli…Philip…The 2004 Draft…Eli’s refusal to play in San Diego…If San Diegans cared about sports they’d show up and boo Eli. You get it. Sign me up for a San Diego win, 30-23. (CONFIDENCE PICK)

Seattle @ San Francisco (-3)

Julie’s Pick: “Seattle’s been a wild card this year, huh? You just never know if they’re going to win or not. All their games are up in the air…but my gut says Seattle. Let’s go with that one.” (5 second pause) “Does Kaepernick still play?” (She reconsiders.) “No, I never really liked him for some reason. I don’t know why. Did he ever do anything bad?” (Jesus, so many comments here. Do I break the news to her that no team has been more of a lock this year than Seattle? Do I make up a fictitious “Kaepernick is a child molester” story? So many ways I could go.)

Ross’s Pick: Seattle, I hate you. But I might not pick against you until you face the Patriots in the Super Bowl. The Seahawks win 27-24.

Carolina @ New Orleans (-3.5)

Julie’s Pick: “New Orleans definitely…because of Katrina.”

Ross’s Pick: The Carolina bandwagon probably shouldn’t stop at a weigh station any time soon. But I look at this matchup as the home team having a significant edge. I’ll take the Saints to cover and win 31-24, setting the stage for the rematch in Carolina in week 16. (CONFIDENCE PICK)

Dallas @ Chicago (-1)

Julie’s Pick: “I always pick the Bears. DA BEARS.” (Yep, she threw in the famous SNL quote and then looked at me like I was supposed to applaud her for her detailed knowledge of the Bears.)

Ross’s Pick: My soft spot for the Bears is almost as soft as my soft spot for the Lions. Something about those NFC North teams. Give me a Bears win by a score of 29-21.

For those of you keeping score at home, in week 14 Julie’s taking:

  • 9 Favorites & 7 Underdogs
  • Of those 7 Underdogs, 2 are Home Dogs & 5 are Road Dogs

And I’m taking:

  • 10 Favorites & 6 Underdogs
  • Of those 6 Underdogs, 1 is a Home Dog & 5 are Road Dogs

We have the same pick for nine out of 16 games.

Good luck trying to make sense out of this cluster fuck. Enjoy week 14.