Last week was an exciting week in the NFL largely because of some very impressive quarterback play. It was also a good week because I went 3-2 on my picks for Week 13, which triumphantly breaks me out of my losing streak. I predicted the Lions-Ravens game incorrectly because I didn’t take into account the Ravens pass rush versus the Lions’ pass protection. The Ravens dominated the Lions offense and forced them into multiple turnovers. In the Pittsburgh game, the Steelers seemed to be affected emotionally by the horrific injury to their star linebacker, Ryan Shazier. Eventually, they were able to take over the game, but I still ended up losing the bet by a couple of points. Now onto my wins! The Vikings dominated time of possession and the line of scrimmage in their win against the Falcons. In the Niners-Bears game, Garappolo jump started the Niners offense to just enough points in the win against the Bears. And lastly, the Seahawks showed up in a major way on Sunday Night football against the Eagles. I am proud to say that I was right when I thought the Eagles were due for a slip-up. I’m excited for my Week 14 picks, so here we go!
- Seattle Seahawks (+2.5) at Jacksonville Jaguars: I’m taking the Seattle Seahawks to win outright on the road against the Jaguars. Seahawks’ quarterback Russell Wilson has been absolutely outstanding this season. He has thrown for 26 touchdowns and has had only 8 interceptions this year. The Jaguars have an excellent pass rush, but if you have ever watched Russell Wilson play, you know he is one of the best at evading tacklers and picking up positive yards on a scramble. Meanwhile, the Seahawks defense has a healthy amount of sacks, and are coming into this game with 32 under their belts. This is important because the Seahawks should be able to put pressure on Jaguars’ quarterback Blake Bortles, who has struggled under pressure throughout his whole career. I think the Seahawks will ride their current momentum and pick up a win in Jacksonville. Seahawks 19, Jags 17
- Green Bay Packers (-3) at Cleveland Browns: I’m taking the Packers to win by more than a field goal in a game they must win if they want to maintain any slim hopes of making the playoffs. The Packers didn’t throw the ball particularly well last week against the Buccaneers, but they made enough plays to win. The running game was able to cover for their quarterback, racking up almost 200 yards in the victory. But this game is particularly important for the Packers. If the Packers lose, they are out of the wild card race. And with star quarterback Aaron Rodgers potentially making his way back from injury soon, the Packers will be extremely motivated to win and give him a chance to lead the team in the playoffs. The Browns played better last week against the Chargers, but the team is still remarkably error prone, one of the main reasons they are still winless. I’m taking the Packers to win and keep their season alive. Packers 23, Browns 14
- Minnesota Vikings (-2.5) at Carolina Panthers: I’m going to side with the Minnesota Vikings in back to back weeks now, and predict them to win win by at least a field goal in Carolina. This matchup is about the dominant Vikings defense and the shaky Panthers’ offense. In the Vikings’ last game, the Falcons, despite scoring only 14 points, held the ball for ten more minutes than their opponents, meaning they controlled the time of possession. The Vikings held an explosive Atlanta Falcons offense to only 275 yards of total offense. The Vikings’ offense isn’t necessarily flashy, but when they get in the red zone they have the ability to score touchdowns and without turning the ball over. Meanwhile, the Panthers’ defense was gashed last week by the Saints. Their defense is on the field for too long because the offense can’t score enough points. I think that happens again this week and the Vikings win on the road. Vikings 24, Panthers 20
- Washington Redskins (+6.5) at Los Angeles Chargers: In a surprise pick, I’m taking the Washington Redskins to cover against the Chargers. It seems that every time Washington is counted out, they always prove us wrong. For example, no one gave the Skins any chance against the Seahawks in Seattle, but they won that matchup in one of the best games of the season. No one is giving the Redskins a chance to beat the Chargers after their Thursday night debacle in Dallas. However, like I always say, teams always come out more energized and focused after getting embarrassed on National TV. In addition, the Redskins have had an extra three days to prepare for this game. Despite beating the Browns last week, the Chargers struggled to put them away. I think LA wins, but the Redskins cover. Redskins 27, Chargers 28
- Chicago Bears (+6.5) at Cincinnati Bengals: I can’t believe I’m taking my Bears to win after losing to the Niners, but I think they at least will cover the spread. The Bengals are going to be flat after falling apart on Monday night football against the Steelers. The Bears love to run the football and wear teams down. This happens to be one of Cincy’s weaknesses, as they have the 28th ranked run defense in the NFL. Quarterback Mitch Trubisky isn’t throwing the ball a lot, but he’s taking care of the ball. I think the Bengals’ offense comes back to Earth. Another top factor going into this pick is that the Bengals have one fewer day to prepare since they played on Monday. I’m going to big upset here as the Bears beat the Bengals. Bears 21, Bengals 20
Unfortunately, this will be my last predictions for the regular season but I will be back with predictions for the entire playoffs. Until then, I wish everyone a wonderful Holiday Season!