The Lineman’s NFL picks — week 14
Tis the season, to be jolly and a 4-2 Week 13 has put the Lineman in the holiday spirit, The Lineman is also feeling pretty good about Week 14 because it looks like there are a few gifts. So in the spirit of giving, here are Week 14’s winners.
Last week: 4-2. Pick of the Week: 6-7
PICK OF THE WEEK:
Atlanta Falcons (10-2) at Carolina Panthers (11-1) (Line Falcons minus-7.5): The Falcons share the best record in the NFL, the Panthers own the worst.
What more can you say.
Merry Christmas everyone. Take this gift and give up the 7.5. Ho Ho Ho.
Green Bay Packers (8-4) at Detroit Lions (2-10) (Line Packers minus-6.5): This is not a fun time of year in the Motor City, when the snow and the losses start to really pile up.
The Lions have shown plenty of pluck this season making teams earn their wins but the end result has been the same – another losing season in Motown and the Packers do not come to town bearing gifts.
Locked in battle with the Bears for top spot in the NFC North, this is a game the Packers cannot give away.
The Lions gave Green Bay all they could handle in Week 4 at Lambeau before the Pack escaped with a 28-26 win.
But the Packers have begun to hit their stride with six wins in last seven.
The injury-hit Lions are down to third string quarterback Drew Stanton, who will face a Green Bay defense that is tops in the NFL allowing an average of just 15.2 points per game.
On offense, QB Aaron Rodgers has also found his groove and the pass happy Pack will feast on a leaky Lions secondary that sprung another hole this week when starting cornerback Alphonso Smith was placed on injury reserve.
Look for Rodgers and favorite target wide receiver Greg Jennings to have a big day.
Gift wrap this one – we’ll take it, the Pack giving up 6.5.
New York Giants (8-4) at Minnesota Vikings (5-7) (Line Vikings minus-2.5): If Vikings QB Brett Favre has his way he will make consecutive start number 298 even if he has to be taped together in the locker room and rolled out on to the field in a wheelchair.
But Minny coach Leslie Frazier will make that decision and it is not clear yet whether Favre or backup Tavaris Jackson will get the start.
After Favre was knocked out with a shoulder injury on the opening play last Sunday, Jackson came on to lead the Vikes to a nice 38-14 win over the Bills.
In the two games since Frazier took over from Brad Childress the Vikings have played with more intensity picking up two victories.
But this week Frazier will make the biggest decision of his brief head coaching career – Favre or Jackson.
No such dilemmas for the Giants, as Eli Manning makes his 100th consecutive career start in another big game for the New Yorkers, who are locked into a battle royale with the Philadelphia Eagles for the lead in the NFC East.
After a mid-season wobble, the G-men are also on a two game win streak and are returning to full strength after a rash of injuries.
Manning could have wide receivers Steve Smith and Hakeem Nicks back putting more pressure on a Vikings defense that must also contend with the NFL’s sixth ranked rushing game led by the twin headed monsters of Ahmad Bradshaw and Brandon Jacobs.
The Giants defense is second ranked in the NFL allowing an average of just 290.8 ypg and is capable of putting a lot of pressure on the quarterback.
If Favre gets the start you have to wonder how much more punishment the 41-year-old can take.
Manning has a woeful 0-4 career record against the Vikings tossing two touchdowns and 11 interceptions.
But the Giants are still stinging from the 44-7 beat down the Vikings put them in the season finale last year and are out for revenge.
Vikings get lit up like a Christmas tree.
Take the G-men and give up the 2.5.
Miami Dolphins (6-6) at New York Jets (9-3) (Line Jets minus-5.5): After reeling off four straight wins the Jets nose dived last Sunday and crashed in Foxborough where they were pulverized 45-3 by Tom Brady and the Patriots.
The black box recovered from the wreckage exposed numerous breakdowns that the Jets must fix on a short week as they prepare to host division rivals the Dolphins, whose playoff hopes are hanging by the slimmest of threads.
While the Fish have looked like chumps at home (1-5) they have played like Super Bowl champs on the road (5-1) losing just once.
Jets QB Mark Sanchez was picked off three times by the Pats last week and has served up 11 interceptions in his last seven games.
Dolphins QB Chad Henne was also less than impressive in Miami’s sluggish 13-10 loss to the Browns also tossing three interceptions, including one to set up Cleveland’s game winning score.
But Henne could get some help with the return of top receiver Brandon Marshall, who has missed the last two games with a hamstring injury.
Both teams are likely to test each other on the ground. The Jets rank fourth in NFL rushing (148.4 ypg) with LaDainian Tomlinson and Shonn Greene while the Dolphins have their own one-two punch in Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams.
After being embarrassed last week the Jets will be determined to prove it was just a blip on the radar and if the they want to continue to battle the Pats for top spot in the AFC East this one is a must win.
Jets cleared for takeoff.
Take the Jets give up the 5.5.
Kansas City Chiefs (8-4) at San Diego Chargers (6-6) (Line Chargers minus-6.5): I did not have this as one of my picks until Chiefs QB Matt Cassel had an emergency appendectomy on Wednesday.
Chiefs insist Cassel still might play on Sunday but I’m not convinced anyone who has had an organ removed – even a small useless one – is ready to take the field three days later meaning Brodie Croyle, who is 0-9 as a starter is likely to be calling plays.
The Chiefs have a two game lead in the AFC West and will not take any chances with Cassel but would love nothing more than to bury their division rival’s playoff chances here.
If the Chiefs have been one of the NFL’s biggest surprise the Chargers are the league’s biggest mystery.
The Chargers rank second in total offense (397.4 ypg) and passing (291.8 ypg) and have the NFL’s number one defense allowing 281.5 ypg.
Philip Rivers is the NFL’s second ranked QB throwing for 3,642 yards and 24 touchdowns while Malcom Floyd and Patrick Crayton are two the league’s most explosive receivers averaging more than 18-yards a catch.
But all these impressive stats have added up to nothing more than a measly 6-6 record that has left the Chargers on the brink of post-season elimination.
San Diego could be without wide receivers Legedu Naanee and Vincent Jackson, tight end Antonio Gates and shifty running back Darren Sproles meaning this one will lie on Rivers’s shoulders.
San Diego charged up for this one.
Take the Chargers and give up the 6.5.
Baltimore Ravens (8-4) at Houston Texans (5-7) (Line Ravens minus-2.5): I am having a strange sense of déjà vu about this one.
I went off the Texans late last season and then they went and won their last four – when I had bet against them.
But this time it seems different (doesn’t it always).
The Ravens are fuming after a loss to Steelers last Sunday and I expect Ray Lewis and the boys to vent their anger against the desperate Texans, who need a win here to keep their playoff hopes on life support.
I tend to lean towards the desperate but desperation alone will not get you much against Baltimore.
Ravens QB Joe Flacco has been red hot of late and should feast on a Texans secondary that is the worst in the NFL giving up an average 287.4 ypg.
Houston can do some good things on offense. Arian Foster is the NFL’s leading rusher with 1,230-yards while Andre Johnson is fourth in receiving despite being slowed by an ankle injury.
The Texans play tougher at home and have had 10 days to prepare for what amounts as their last stand.
But the Ravens are also battling the Steelers for top spot in the AFC North.
Texans face their Alamo. Take the Ravens and give up the 12.5.
PHOTO: Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan (2) and Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Roddy White (84) celebrate their victory over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers after their NFL football game in Tampa, Florida December 5, 2010. REUTERS/Pierre DuCharme