There are a lot of teams still in the playoff hunt, but the number of teams is dwindling. In the AFC, the Titans and the Chargers both suffered tough losses that effectively knocked them out of the playoff hunt, and the San Diego Chargers will have to overcome a two game deficit to catch the Chiefs in the AFC West. In the NFC, the 49ers and Cardinals don’t look at all like potential playoff teams, and although the Vikings are turning their season around, they are still four games behind the Bears in the NFC North, and I’m not sure there are any circumstances that would find them returning to the playoffs this year.
Last week’s prediction record: 12-4
Record on the season: 113-63
Upset Special record: 4-7
Here are my predictions for Week 14 of the 2010 NFL season:
Thursday, December 9: Indianapolis Colts (6-6) at Tennessee Titans (5-7)
If you had asked me before the season whether a late-season matchup between the Colts and the Titans would be important, I would have said yes. I wouldn’t have thought that it would be because both teams are in a tailspin and that both needed a win to keep their hopes of making the playoffs alive, however. The lack of weapons on offense is finally starting to get to Peyton Manning, but the Colts still have more offensive options than the Titans. Neither Kerry Collins nor Rusty Smith is a good option at quarterback, and ultimately this will be the Titans’ downfall in this game.
2010 Week 14 Prediction: Indianapolis Colts defeat Tennessee Titans
Cleveland Browns (5-7) at Buffalo Bills (2-10)
Although Jake Delhomme wasn’t awful last week, the Browns still look much better when Colt McCoy is healthy and at quarterback. The Bills are still better than their 2-10 record indicates, although they looked absolutely awful last week against the Minnesota Vikings. I think this game will be close, but the Browns should be able to beat the Bills.
2010 Week 14 Prediction: Cleveland Browns defeat Buffalo Bills
Green Bay Packers (8-4) at Detroit Lions (2-10)
The Detroit Lions should not be underestimated. They may only have two wins on the season, but both wins have come at home, and the Lions only have one double-digit loss while playing in Detroit. The Packers, however, are on a mission. With the lone exception of their game against the Falcons, the Packers have been nearly unstoppable the past few weeks, and although I expect the Lions to put up a fight, Green Bay is going to come away with the win.
2010 Week 14 Prediction: Green Bay Packers defeat Detroit Lions
New York Giants (8-4) at Minnesota Vikings (5-7)
Although most of the Giants’ statistics have been impressive this season, they have been hindered by their penchant for turning the ball over. Eli Manning has thrown an interception in eight of the Giants’ twelve games, and in six games he’s thrown at least two interceptions. The Vikings have looked rejuvenated the last two weeks. Part of their recent success can be attributed to new coach Leslie Frazier, but can part of last week’s success be due to having Tarvaris Jackson at quarterback after Brett Favre got injured?
2010 Week 14 Prediction: New York Giants defeat Minnesota Vikings
Cincinnati Bengals (2-10) at Pittsburgh Steelers (9-3)
Is this game even a question? Unless you like playing with the point spread and the Bengals are favored by 20, I can’t see any reason to not pick the Steelers in this matchup. The Bengals lose even when they play well, and it’s tough to play well against the Steelers.
2010 Week 14 Prediction: Pittsburgh Steelers defeat Cincinnati Bengals
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (7-5) at Washington Redskins (5-7)
The Buccaneers may be riding a two-game losing streak right now, but those losses were against the Ravens and Falcons, two of the best teams in the NFL. The Buccaneers are 0-5 against teams with a winning record, but they can at least be optimistic about this game. The Bucs are 7-0 against teams with a losing record.
2010 Week 14 Prediction: Tampa Bay Buccaneers defeat Washington Redskins
Atlanta Falcons (10-2) at Carolina Panthers (1-11)
I know it’s a division battle, but the Panthers are absolutely horrendous. I’m not going to spend any more time talking about this game.
2010 Week 14 Prediction: Atlanta Falcons defeat Carolina Panthers
Oakland Raiders (6-6) at Jacksonville Jaguars (7-5)
Despite coming off a win against the Chargers in San Diego, I don’t trust the Raiders. They’ve been inconsistent this season, looking like a top 10 team one week and one of the worst teams in the league the next week. The Jaguars are 4-1 in their last five games and will be looking to protect their AFC South lead over the Colts.
2010 Week 14 Prediction: Jacksonville Jaguars defeat Oakland Raiders
Seattle Seahawks (6-6) at San Francisco 49ers (4-8)
This isn’t the same 49ers team that got blown out in Week 1. Troy Smith, although not exactly elite, is a better quarterback than Alex Smith was, and they’re 4-3 since starting the season off 0-5. On the other side, three of the Seahawks’ wins have come against the Cardinals and the Panthers, and the only quality win they have is probably their 23-20 victory over the Chicago Bears.
2010 Week 14 Prediction: San Francisco 49ers defeat Seattle Seahawks
New England Patriots (10-2) at Chicago Bears (9-3)
The Patriots haven’t been at their best when playing on the road this season, but they’ve been fantastic since their loss to the Browns. They’re coming off a completely dominating performance against the Jets, but will now have to travel to Soldier Field and take on one of the best defenses in the league. I think the Bears should be able to slow down the Patriots offense, but I’m not sure if the Bears offense will be able to score enough against a Patriots defense that is starting to come into its own.
2010 Week 14 Prediction: New England Patriots defeat Chicago Bears
Miami Dolphins (6-6) at New York Jets (9-3)
The Jets were embarrassed on Monday Night Football against the Patriots. I except them to come into this game angry and prepared, andI don’t think the Dolphins are the kind of team that will be able to handle the Jets when they’re angry.
2010 Week 14 Prediction: New York Jets defeat Miami Dolphins
St. Louis Rams (6-6) at New Orleans Saints (9-3)
The Rams have exceeded even the most meager expectations this season, starting out 6-6 a year after finishing at 1-15. The Saints haven’t quite lived up to their billing as defending champions, yet still stand at 9-3 and will almost assuredly make it back to the playoffs. I like the way Sam Bradford has played for the Rams this season, but Drew Brees and the Saints need to keep winning to keep pace with the Falcons, who have an easy game against the Panthers this week.
2010 Week 14 Prediction: New Orleans Saints defeat St. Louis Rams
Kansas City Chiefs (8-4) at San Diego Chargers (6-6)
Before last week, I thought that the Chargers were nearly impossible to beat both at home and in the months of November and December. Now, after the Chargers were embarrassed by the Raiders, I think the Chiefs have a shot at winning this game. I think the Chargers will still win this game, but it could end up being close and I definitely wouldn’t be shocked if the Chiefs come out of this with a victory.
2010 Week 14 Prediction: San Diego Chargers defeat Kansas City Chiefs
Denver Broncos (3-9) at Arizona Cardinals (3-9)
Does anyone really care about this game? Neither the Broncos nor the Cardinals are going to make the playoffs, and honestly both teams have looked pretty horrible so far this season. The Cardinals have struggled to get any production out of their quarterbacks, while the Broncos have had trouble getting any production out of their running game. The only team with less total offense than the Cardinals is the abysmal Carolina Panthers, and since someone has to win this game, I’m going to pick the Broncos.
2010 Week 14 Prediction: Denver Broncos defeat Arizona Cardinals
Sunday Night Game: Philadelphia Eagles (8-4) at Dallas Cowboys (4-8)
The Cowboys are now 3-1 under Jason Garrett and are playing a lot more like the team that was expected to contend for the Super Bowl than the team that started the season floundering their way to a 1-7 record. That being said, the Eagles are benefiting from Michael Vick’s tremendous season, and I think they will be able to come out of Dallas with a victory, even if it isn’t a very pretty victory.
2010 Week 14 Prediction: Philadelphia Eagles defeat Dallas Cowboys
Monday Night Game: Baltimore Ravens (8-4) at Houston Texans (5-7)
The Ravens don’t have the greatest passing offense in the world, but they should be able to handle the Texans’ secondary. The bigger question will be whether or not the Texans are able to get anything done against the Ravens’ defense.
2010 Week 14 Prediction: Baltimore Ravens defeat Houston Texans
All stats and standings from espn.com