Jan’s Week 14 NFL Preview
I feel like this week has been the longest week of my life, so I’m glad it’s finally Thursday so my football week can begin. I live my life in two weeks: Tuesday & Wednesday are my “weekends” where I get things done that have nothing to do with football. Thursday-Monday is when my workweek begins and football is at the forefront of it all. Is it just me that lives this way? It is? Oh…
So if you haven’t closed the window by now, here are my week 14 predictions:
Dallas Cowboys (8-4) at Chicago Bears (5-7)
Soldier Field, Thursday 8:25 PM ET – NFL Network
The Cowboys are trying to keep their playoff hopes alive after being embarrassed on Thanksgiving by the Eagles. However, it’s December and this is what happens when the Cowboys play football in December.
The Bears haven’t had the best season, though. Chicago also lost on Thanksgiving and is looking to bounce back. WR Alshon Jeffery has a hamstring injury, but reports are that he’ll play anyway. The Cowboys will have to win this game to get back in the playoff race. They’re one game behind Philadelphia, but they don’t hold a tiebreaker over Seattle or Detroit for a wild-card spot.
Jan’s pick: Bears – it’s December.
Pittsburgh Steelers (7-5) at Cincinnati Bengals (8-3-1)
Paul Brown Stadium, 1:00 PM ET – CBS
I’m pretty sure the only reason the Bengals sit atop the AFC North is because of that stupid tie. Well, that and they were the only one in their division that won last week. They’ve also won three in a row, so I’m sure the Steelers would love to bring that streak to an end. The Steelers have a top-five offense and Big Ben will be throwing against a Bengals secondary that allows just 6.31 yards per pass, third lowest in the league. The Bengals secondary has also only allowed an NFL best 11 passing touchdowns. Big Ben had more passing touchdowns in two games than Cincy has allowed all season. I just saw that Ben Roethlisberger broke a bone in his hand last week, so it’ll be interesting to see how that affects his quarterback play this week. Look for this to be a gritty game for supremacy in the AFC North.
Jan’s pick: Steelers
St. Louis Rams (5-7) at Washington Redskins (3-9)
FedEx Field, 1:00 PM ET – FOX
The Rams beat the Raiders last week 52-0. Their defense forced five turnovers and rookie running back Tre Mason ran for two touchdowns and 117 yards… on 14 carries. Mason will be facing a stout Washington run defense however, ranking ninth against the run. Washington still allows the 27th most points per game (26.8), so look for the Rams to take advantage. QB Colt McCoy looked promising for Washington last week in a loss to Indianapolis, throwing for 392 yards and three touchdowns. It looks like Washington should’ve made the QB switch a bit earlier and they might have a few more wins this season.
Jan’s pick: Washington
New York Giants (3-9) at Tennessee Titans (2-10)
LP Field, 1:00 PM ET – FOX
I’m still convinced that the Tennessee Titans don’t have any fans. Last time I said that, no one objected or stood up and proudly proclaimed that they were indeed a Titans fan, so why isn’t anyone talking about moving them to LA? The Titans are garbage, I’m sorry. On the other hand, I feel like the Giants have played better football than their record shows at times, but in the NFL, the wins are what matters. This game really doesn’t affect anything for the remainder of the season, except maybe Tom Coughlin’s job.
Jan’s pick: (I just flipped a coin) Giants
Carolina Panthers (3-8-1) at New Orleans Saints (5-7)
Mercedes-Benz Superdome, 1:00 PM ET – FOX
So it looks like the battle for the least terrible team in the NFC South is going to end up being between the Saints and the Falcons. The Panthers looked terrible against the Vikings last week and it really doesn’t look like they’re going to get any better any time soon. The Saints are in the midst of their worst home losing streak since 2005, a streak that will probably be broken this week.
Jan’s pick: Saints
New York Jets (2-10) at Minnesota Vikings (5-7)
TCF Bank Stadium, 1:00 PM ET – CBS
The Jets almost won last week against the Dolphins, but then they blew it – something only Washington State can relate it (the Jets Coug’d it). It looks like Rex Ryan won’t be back next season. Maybe he’ll be in Oakland or something. Poor Rex.
The Vikings looked great last week against the Panthers, but I think there’s a glimmer of hope for the young Minnesota team, especially Teddy. Here’s another game that really doesn’t mean much.
Jan’s pick: Vikings
Baltimore Ravens (7-5) at Miami Dolphins (7-5)
Sun Life Stadium, 1:00 PM ET – CBS
Ryan Tannehill’s great quarterback play has been a leading factor in the Dolphins’ success this season, along with a stout defense. That defense was exposed a bit last week as the Jets ran for over 100 yards in the first half. The Ravens defense took a big hit today, as it was announced that DT Haloti Ngata would miss the rest of the season with a drug suspension. Both of these teams need wins to keep their playoff hopes alive. Joe Flacco and Ryan Tannehill’s performances will be the deciding factor in whose playoff hopes remain intact after this week.
Jan’s pick: Dolphins
Indianapolis Colts (8-4) at Cleveland Browns (7-5)
FirstEnergy Stadium, 1:00 PM ET – CBS
Last week I said if Washington could get to Andrew Luck and rattle him a bit, they’d have a chance to win. Well, Washington got to Andrew Luck and created turnovers, but it wasn’t enough to pull off the win. The Colts are the likely winner of the AFC South, and Andrew Luck is only 81 yards shy of Peyton Manning’s record for the most passing yards in a player’s first three seasons. If the Browns can limit the big plays that Indy feeds off of, they’ll have a chance to pull off the much-needed win. Brian Hoyer was benched last week in favor of Johnny Manziel, who ran for a touchdown on his first drive. Johnny Football erased that miracle drive after he fumbled in their own end zone. It looks like the Browns are sticking with Hoyer, despite calls from the rabble-rousers for Manziel.
Jan’s pick: Colts
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2-10) at Detroit Lions (8-4)
Ford Field, 1:00 PM ET – FOX
The Lions are hoping to avoid a typical end-of-season collapse and can continue their push for the playoffs with a win against a struggling Buccaneers team. The Lions went through an offensive drought, but quenched their thirst on Thanksgiving. If the Lions want to continue their push for a wild-card spot, the offense is going to have to have another great showing. Tampa Bay’s defense isn’t really the worst, but the Lions should definitely be able to take advantage at home against a two-win team.
Jan’s pick: Lions
Houston Texans (6-6) at Jacksonville Jaguars (2-10)
EverBank Field, 1:00 PM ET – CBS
The Jaguars were able to pull off their second win of the season last week and are playing for team spirit at this point in the season. If the Texans allow the Jaguars to win their third game of the year, and the Colts win, they’ll be eliminated from a chance at winning the AFC South. This is a must-win for the Texans and I think JJ Watt and his band of defensive horsemen will rattle the crap out of the Jags and get the win. With Arian Foster healthy, DeAndre Hopkins coming off a crazy game last week with 238 yards and two TDs, and Ryan Fitzpatrick not turning the ball over so much, the Texans could be in for a late push.
Jan’s pick: Texans
Buffalo Bills (7-5) at Denver Broncos (9-3)
Sports Authority Field at Mile High, 4:05 PM ET – CBS
After a bit of a slump, it looks like Denver is back to playing elite football after a great showing against the Kansas City Chiefs Sunday night. Denver hasn’t lost at home this season and is looking to continue the streak to get to ten wins on the season. The Bills have one of the best pass defenses in the league, so mixing up the offensive attack with CJ Anderson will be an important key to throwing off that defense. However, the Bills are going to be fighting for their playoff lives this week and a loss will likely knock them out of contention.
Jan’s pick: Denver
Kansas City Chiefs (7-5) at Arizona Cardinals (9-3)
University of Phoenix Stadium, 4:05 PM ET – CBS
The Arizona Cardinals’ offensive struggles continued last week in Atlanta. They lost their second-consecutive game for the first time this season and are looking to maintain their NFC West lead. The Seahawks are playing their best ball of the year, so this is not the time for Arizona to collapse. Unfortunately for them, they’re playing a Kansas City team that’s fighting for their season as well. Seeing a pattern? It’s that time of year where every game matters. Arizona hasn’t lost at home this season, but with their offense struggling the way it is, I see this game being a close one that the Chiefs pull out at the last minute.
Jan’s pick: Chiefs
San Francisco 49ers (7-5) at Oakland Raiders (1-11)
O.co Coliseum, 4:25 PM ET – FOX
Seattle dismantled San Francisco on Thanksgiving by taking advantage of another struggling offense. The Rams shut out the Raiders last week, losing by 52 points. I’m not even sure the Raiders even showed up last week, but they could play the role of spoiler by pulling off a win this week. The news surrounding San Francisco is whether or not Jim Harbaugh will keep his job next season. If the Niners lose this week, I don’t see that really being a possibility. To be honest, if the 49ers play anywhere near how they did last week against the Seahawks, I have no doubt that the Raiders can pull off the upset.
Jan’s pick: Raiders
Seattle Seahawks (8-4) at Philadelphia Eagles (9-3)
Lincoln Financial Field, 4:25 PM ET – FOX
This is going to be an extremely good game as the league’s best defense takes on one of the fastest, most productive offenses in the NFL. Seattle is playing their best football of the year at the right time and has held their last two opponents to just six total points. The Eagles will score a little more than six points in this game, but if the Seahawks can shut down their offense early, it’ll shake the game plan and the Seahawks will have an advantage. Seattle is also going to have to overcome the lack of efficiency in the red zone if they’re going to make a push at winning the NFC West. They’re a game behind Arizona and need this win in Philly to keep them in the hunt. There are a bunch of story lines in this game, as Eagles quarterback Mark Sanchez used to play for Pete Carroll at USC. It’s sort of a PAC12 alumni game, if you will.
Jan’s pick: Seahawks
New England Patriots (9-3) at San Diego Chargers (8-4)
Qualcomm Stadium, 8:30 PM ET – NBC
The Patriots lost what many called a Super Bowl preview last week against the Packers. The Chargers became the first west coast NFL team to beat the Ravens in Baltimore. Philip Rivers hurt his hand in that game, but he seems to be a-okay to face New England at home. Tom Brady has never lost to Philip Rivers and the Chargers and Patriots haven’t met since 2011. This is a game that has important AFC playoff implications, so both teams will be playing at peak levels.
Jan’s pick: Patriots
Atlanta Falcons (5-7) at Green Bay Packers (9-3)
Lambeau Field, 8:30 PM ET – ESPN
The Falcons have won three of their last four, lead the NFC South, but are still two games under .500. The Falcons upset the Cardinals last week in Atlanta, but this week is going to be a different story. The Packers haven’t lost at home and they’re arguably the best team in the NFL right now. I’m sorry Atlanta, you did a great job last week, but it’s not going to be good enough this week.
Jan’s pick: Packers
Until next week!
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