An absolute horrific week unlucky number 13 (5-11) knocked Sportsmasher under (.500) on the season again, after such a promising turn of events in the previous weeks. The good news is, on a personal level, Sportsmasher made bank last weekend on huge wins on the Texans and Bengals covering. So he’s hot that going for him. Both Sportsmasher and RexRated were solid on their Best Bets last weekend (2-1) so although the (5-11) record looks bad, it is not as bad as it seems. Time to get back over (.500) for the season in week 14. Let’s do this:
Denver Broncos @ Oakland Raiders (+10.5) What I am about to say is likely a great sign for the Oakland Raiders (3-9) tonight, because I have really struggled on Thursday Night Football so far this season, and I think teams keep game planning simple on short weeks. I think that the Denver Broncos (9-3) will absolutely manhandle the Oakland Raiders in Oakland tonight. The Raiders have absolutely no pass rush, and their defense in general is horrible, which is always a bad sign when Peyton Manning is the opposing quarterback. Sadly Raiders coach Dennis Allen’s father passed away this week, but he will coach, and may be able to use this tragedy to motivate his team. I still do not think it will matter, Peyton Manning against the 28th statistically ranked defense in the league will make it a long night for the Raiders, who are already talking to Jon Gruden about coaching the team next season.
The Pick: Broncos (-10.5) FINAL SCORE: Broncos 34 Raiders 20
Baltimore Ravens @ Washington Redskins (-3) Robert Griffin III and Mike Shanahan have everyone believing in the Washington Redskins (6-6) following a one point Monday Night victory over the New York Giants, which kept their playoff hopes alive. I think the Redskins are moving in the right direction, however the Ravens (9-3) are an extremely talented team that is playoff bound, and could use a win following a loss to the rival Pittsburgh Steelers last weekend. Rookie quarterback, short week, emotional win last weekend, everyone buying into the hype, against a good team. Give me the points.
The Pick: Ravens (+3) FINAL SCORE: Ravens 23 Redskins 17
San Diego Chargers @ Pittsburgh Steelers (EVEN) This game is even right now because there is still doubt that Steelers (7-5) quarterback Ben Roethlisberger will play in this game, as he recovers from a shoulder and rib injury. Will it matter? The Chargers (4-8) have been one of the worst teams in the NFL in recent weeks and seem to have given up on the season and quit on their coach. Even when the Chargers were good, you never bet on them coming to the East Coast for one o’clock games, so for me it does not matter who is under center for the Steelers. Low scoring game, but at a pick’em, I’m Steelers all the way.
The Pick: Steelers (EVEN) FINAL SCORE: Steelers 17 Chargers 9
***SPORTSMASHER BEST BET: STEELERS (EVEN)***
UPDATE: Since I wrote this it has been announced Roethlisberger will start on Sunday: Expect a large line increase.
Kansas City Chiefs @ Cleveland Browns (-6.5) The Chiefs (2-10) are coming off of an emotional win over the Carolina Panthers at home on Sunday following the tragic events that took place involving the team last weekend. The Browns (4-8) are a much better team than their record indicates, and they are only a few close losses (Philly, Dallas, Baltimore) away from being a pretty good team, they have been competitive in nearly every game this season. I think that the Browns will win this game at home, but I expect an emotional Chiefs team to play well, so I will take the points.
The Pick: Chiefs (+6.5) FINAL SCORE: Browns 24 Chiefs 20
Tennessee Titans @ Indianapolis Colts (-6) Andrew Luck has been an absolute star for the Colts (8-4) this season, he has taken an awful team and returned them to a likely playoff berth in his rookie year, and made it look easy. The Tennessee Titans (4-8) on the other hand, look like a decent team one week and are absolutely horrible the next, they completely lack consistency. The Colts are a hot team that seem to have momentum going for them at all times, and being that this is a home game, I think they win this one easily in front of Head Coach Chuck Pagano.
The Pick: Colts (-6) FINAL SCORE: Colts 27 Titans 17
***REXRATED BEST BET: COLTS (-6)***
New York Jets @ Jacksonville Jaguars (+3) Although the Jets (5-7) totally lack playmakers on offense and pass rushers on defense, there is still some talent on this team, and I might be the only person in the New York area that think Rex Ryan made the right call when sticking with Mark Sanchez as the starter. The Jets may have looked horrible in some games, especially Thanksgiving against the Patriots, they do have some talent on the roster. The Jets also seem to beat the bad teams, and I the Jaguars (2-10) are awful, albeit slightly better with Chad Henne under center. I think this will be a dull, low scoring game, but the Jets will run the ball and make enough defensive plays to cover.
The Pick: Jets (-3) FINAL SCORE: Jets 20 Jaguars 14
***REXRATED BEST BET: JETS (-3)***
Chicago Bears @ Minnesota Vikings (-3) This game comes down to one simple question for me -Will the Chicago Bears excellent defense (with several key injuries, including leader Brian Urlacher) be able to stop Vikings MVP candidate running back Adrian Peterson? If the Vikings (6-6) can ride Peterson to a big day on Chicago’s stingy defense, they will win this very interesting matchup at home. If the Bears (8-4) can stop Peterson, the Vikings will struggle to move the ball at all, because playmaking receiver Percy Harvin was placed on IR. I like Jay Cutler to make some plays, although he will be running scared from Jared Allen’s pass rush all day, and the Bears defense slows down Peterson enough to get the win. The Vikings will miss Harvin.
The Pick: Bears (-3) FINAL SCORE: Bears 24 Vikings 17
Atlanta Falcons @ Carolina Panthers (+3.5) I am getting called a Falcons (11-1) hater a lot lately, mostly due to the fact that I think they will struggle against elite quarterbacks in the playoffs without any pass rush other than John Abraham, but there is no denying that they are one of the best teams in the league. That being said, they tend to struggle against Cam Newton (just a two point win over Carolina in Atlanta earlier this season – didn’t cover), and I think they will again on Sunday. The Panthers (3-8) have struggled this season, and I think they are another offseason away from being playoff contenders, but I think they upset the Falcons on Sunday. Meaningless game, letdown game for Atlanta.
The Pick: Panthers (+3.5) FINAL SCORE: Panthers 27 Falcons 24
***REXRATED BEST BET: FALCONS (-3.5)***
Philadelphia Eagles @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers (-7.5) This is a must win game for Tampa Bay (6-6) if they still want to have a shot at a wild card berth, luckily it comes against the Eagles (3-9), who have given up on this season and have already started releasing veteran players. I know this is going to sound crazy after reading my last two sentences, but the spread seems high to me, and I think Philly covers. Tampa Bay will win the game, but Eagles rookie tailback Bryce Brown has a few nice runs, which keeps it close.
The Pick: Eagles (+7.5) FINAL SCORE: Buccaneers 23 Eagles 17
St. Louis Rams @ Buffalo Bills (-3) It seems that the St. Louis Rams (5-6-1) only play well against the NFC West division-leading San Francisco 49ers, against whom they are (1-0-1), but Jeff Fisher does have this defense playing hard. I still think the Rams will be a good team as soon as next year as long as they focus on bringing in multiple offensive weapons for quarterback Sam Bradford. The defensive front seven and cornerbacks are solid. Buffalo (5-7) on the other hand looks great one week and terrible the next, I think that the Rams will limit Buffalo’s rushing offense, forcing quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick to throw the ball. The Rams play harder and make fewer mistakes, they win this game.
The Pick: Rams (+3) FINAL SCORE: Rams 24 Bills 20
***SPORTSMASHER BEST BET: RAMS (+3)***
Dallas Cowboys @ Cincinnati Bengals (-3) The loser of this game is probably eliminated from playoff contention, and it should be a good one, when the Cowboys (6-6) visit the Bengals (7-5). I want you to keep an eye on Bengals defensive tackle Geno Atkins in this game, he is one of the most underrated players in the NFL, and he should penetrate the weak Dallas interior line and harass Tony Romo all day. Who will make more big plays in this game in a battle of young receivers, A.J. Green or Dez Bryant. I give the edge to Green and think that the Bengals take this game, which should be the most entertaining early game of the weekend.
The Pick: Bengals (-3) FINAL SCORE: Bengals 30 Cowboys 24
Miami Dolphins @ San Francisco 49ers (-10) Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill gets lost in the shuffle when we discuss how good the rookie quarterback class has been this season (Luck, Griffin, Wilson, Weeden), the Dolphins are much better than I ever expect, and Tannehill has a lot of talent, he just needs pass catchers. That being said, the 49ers (8-3-1) defense is a scary thing for a young quarterback to go up against, and I think that Tannehill is in a lot of trouble on Sunday in San Fran. 49ers win this one easy, the Dolphins simply do not have the playmakers to move the ball on the 49ers.
The Pick: 49ers (-10) FINAL SCORE: 49ers 27 Dolphins 10
New Orleans Saints @ New York Giants (-5) If we have learned anything from the Giants (7-5) in recent seasons, it’s that they always play their best when their backs are against the wall, and with the Redskins gaining on them in the NFC East they need to win this game. The Saints (5-7) on the other hand have nothing to play for on Sunday, it seemed as though they would rally and turn their season around, but a crippling loss to the Falcons last Thursday ended their playoff dreams. In a must win game, the Giants do what they do in must win games, and win.
The Pick: Giants (-5) FINAL SCORE: Giants 31 Saints 24
Arizona Cardinals @ Seattle Seahawks (-10) I have learned something over the years that continues to hold true, which is never bet against the Seahawks (7-5, 5-0 at home) in Seattle. That is not going to change this week. The Arizona Cardinals are completely inept as an offensive team and they will not be able to operate with the best home field advantage in the NFL making noise when they have the ball. On offense, the Seahawks may struggle to move the ball early against a solid Cardinals defense, but that defense tires and Marshawn Lynch and Russell Wilson make plays in the second half, and Seattle defends home field.
The Pick: Seahawks (-10) FINAL SCORE: Seahawks 24 Cardinals 10
Detroit Lions @ Green Bay Packers (-7) I am really starting to get sick of this Lions (4-8) team, which clearly has some talent, but is an offseason away from making the jump to a good team. They have struggled and lost some heartbreaking games, so out of frustration, they resort to thuggish behavior. Wide receiver Titus Young suspended indefinitely for conduct detrimental to the team, star defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh constantly taking cheap shots at opposing players, and expect them to act the same way on Sunday night. The Packers (8-4) are an excellent team, who should put up a ton of points against the Lions weak secondary. Packers easily.
The Pick: Packers (-7) FINAL SCORE: Packers 34 Lions 20
***SPORTSMASHER BEST BET PACKERS (-7)***
Houston Texans @ New England Patriots (-4) The Houston Texans (11-1) have been the best team in the AFC this season, but the New England Patriots (9-3) are not far behind, and everyone is excited for what should be the best Monday Night Football game of the 2012 season. The Patriots will be without two of their most important offensive weapons, tight end Rob Gronkowski and wide receiver Julian Edelman, while the Texans have several injuries in the secondary. I expect the Texans to control the line of scrimmage with future defensive player of the year J.J. Watt and their rushing attack, lead by Arian Foster to control the tempo. The Patriots will score a lot of points, but I think the Texans dictate the style of play and with this game.
The Pick: Texans (+4) FINAL SCORE: Texans 30 Patriots 27
Week 1: (9-7)
Week 2: (7-8-1)
Week 3: (10-5-1)
Week 4: (8-7)
Week 5: (5-9)
Week 6: (6-7-1)
Week 7: (6-7)
Week 8: (5-9)
Week 9: (8-6)
Week 10: (5-9)
Week 11: (9-5)
Week 12: (10-5-1)
Week 13: (5-11)
2012 Season: (93-95-4)
Sportsmasher’s Best Bets: 18-20
RexRated’s Best Bets: 22-16-2