Demarco Murray had a quiet week. Really stayed out of the spotlight after the big win. (Photo via RWN)
Through some combination of good fortune and straight up voodoo, the Eagles beat the Patriots last weekend to pull into a three-way tie with the Redskins and Giants at 5-7. FIVE AND SEVEN! Watching the Eagles this year has been almost like watching someone beat up your grandparents for four hours, but it’s Week 14 and the games are somehow still meaningful. Not only that, the games likely STAY meaningful even if the Eagles drop the next two games to the Bills and Cardinals. The team isn’t good and there are several big moves coming this offseason (adios Demarco!), but for now they’re in first place in the worst division in NFL history and that’s still worth a home playoff game. And let’s face it, we need this here in Philly. So embrace the awfulness of the NFC East, root for the Eagles to be the smartest clown, and let’s get that home playoff game. Do you really want to be left with just the Flyers and Sixers?
EARLY AFTERNOON GAMES
Buffalo Bills @ Philadelphia Eagles (PK)
Let’s get right into the Eagles here as this game has moved from Bills -1 to a pick ’em in the last 48 hours. Shady McCoy probably has a huge game, but he’s not the only guy on that offense the Eagles need to worry about. Sammy Watkins is a match-up nightmare and Tyrod Taylor has proven he belongs in the NFL. I think Buffalo moves the ball fairly easily against the Eagles worn-down defense and I’m not sure the Birds are built to play catch-up right now.
Pittsburgh Steelers @ Cincinnati Bengals (-2.5)
Revenge game for the Steelers here since last time these two met, Leveon Bell was lost for the season. The Steelers offense still looks unstoppable without him though, scoring at least 30 points in every game since the 16-10 loss to the Bengals. I think this game is the opposite of the first meeting – lots of yards and points. Both teams look playoff ready, but I’m taking Steelers here. This division isn’t over yet and I think the Steelers make some noise down the stretch.
PICK: STEELERS +2.5
Atlanta Falcons @ Carolina Panthers (-8.5)
The Falcons are going to miss the playoffs despite starting 5-0, which is pretty impressive to do in 2015. The Panthers looked human in their narrow victory over the Saints last week, but I think their defense gets back on track against Atlanta. Picking against Carolina worked last week, but I’m not messing around with them again. Panthers roll, Falcons continue to crumble.
PICK: PANTHERS -8.5
San Francisco 49ers @ Cleveland Browns (-1.5)
MANZIEL! GABBERT! How can you miss this game? Very easily. In fact, I’m taking the points and not thinking anymore about it.
PICK: NINERS +1.5
Washington Redskins @ Chicago Bears (-3.5)
This line opened at Bears -1, but the NFC East gets no respect from the public. Not that they deserve it. The Skins are yet to win a road game this year and I don’t think that changes against this suddenly competent Bears team. Bears win big.
PICK: BEARS -3.5
Detroit Lions @ St. Louis Rams (+3)
Jeff Fisher is in the midst of his fifth straight losing season and his QB options are Nick Foles and Case Keenum. There’s no way Fisher is employed next season, so this team is merely playing out the string. The Lions continue to kill their draft positioning.
PICK: LIONS -3
San Diego Chargers @ Kansas City Chiefs (-11)
The Chiefs look like the best team in football right now, winners of six in a row with five of those being by double digits. The Chargers took a 30-point beating at the hands of the Chiefs two weeks ago and there’s no reason to think this game doesn’t go the same way. BUT ANDY REID! This is the Andy Special, an inexplicably bad game against an awful team. Chiefs win, but like 17-14.
PICK: CHARGERS +11
Seattle Seahawks @ Baltimore Ravens (-11.5)
Jimmy Clausen takes on the Seahawks for the second time this season. Last time, he was the Bears QB and they scored zero points. This time, he’ll be quarterbacking the Baltimore Ravens and they’ll also score zero points. Seahawks win 56-0. How the hell does Clausen still get jobs?
PICK: SEAHAWKS -11.5
New Orleans Saints @ Tampa Bay Bucs (-4.5)
Saints put up a hell of a fight against the Panthers last week, but they’ve now lost four in a row and Mark Ingram for the season. Plus they’re on the road against a surprisingly decent Bucs team. 4.5 points seems high, but I like the Bucs here anyway. Vegas knows.
PICK: BUCS -4.5
Indianapolis Colts @ Jacksonville Jaguars (-2)
Our second-to-last 1PM game is the possibly the worst, with Matt Hasselbeck and the moribund Colts taking on defensive guru Gus Bradley’s awful Jaguars defense. The Colts put up no fight against the Steelers last week and look generally pretty clueless under Chuck Pagano right now. Yet, the Colts are in first place despite a -46 point differential. The AFC South is just as ugly as the NFC East.
PICK: JAGUARS -2
Tennessee Titans @ New York Jets (-7)
The Titans finally got a win last week after a couple weeks of close losses. Marcus Mariota continues to look like the real deal and with another high draft pick this year, Tennessee might be set up well for the future. But that future is still at least a year or two away and they take on a Jets team that’s looking to make a playoff run. I like the Jets big here.
PICK: JETS -7
LATE AFTERNOON GAMES
Oakland Raiders @ Denver Broncos (-6.5)
Denver’s offense has been a fraud all season, but this defense is the NFL’s best and they’re keeping Denver atop the standings in the AFC West. But eventually someone’s going to put 27 up on them and Brock Osweiler will have to put the game on his shoulders. I don’t think that happens today, but look out for that Broncos/Steelers game next week.
PICK: BRONCOS -6.5
Dallas Cowboys @ Green Bay Packers (-6.5)
I’d like to thank the Cowboys for knocking off the Redskins last week, but now feel free to get back to trainwreck status. Matt Cassell in Lambeau against a Packers team feeling disrespected? Have fun with that. By the way, WHY are there only two 4PM games today? Do we really need nine 1PM games? Chargers at Chiefs doesn’t need to be at 1PM for any reason. Think of the Red Zone customers, NFL.
SUNDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL
New England Patriots @ Houston Texans (+3.5)
No way the Pats lose three in a row. Houston is tied with the Colts atop the dreadful AFC South and that division is getting even more dreadful after this week. Even if Gronk doesn’t play, I think Pats win big.
PICK: PATS -3.5
MONDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL
New York Giants @ Miami Dolphins (+2)
The Dolphins found a way to lose to the Matt Schaub-led Baltimore Ravens last week. Not to be outdone, the Giants found a way to blow YET ANOTHER fourth quarter lead. These teams have been angering their fans all season, but the Giants find a way to get it done and take sole possession of the NFC East for the next six days.
Yep, looks like I’m predicting the Giants to take control of the NFC East this week, moving to 6-7 with the Eagles and Redskins falling to 5-8. But next week, the Giants face the Panthers which SHOULD be a loss for them. I’m thinking there’s a very real chance the Eagles/Giants game in Week 17 is for the NFC East title. So enjoy the last 1PM game Eagles fans, it’s going to be all night games from here on out.