Saturday, December 10, 2016

Week 14 NFL Primer (With Picks): Sick Picks

"You think I'm elite, right Tom?"
By Jeremy Conlin (@jeremy_conlin) and Joe Parello (@HerewegoJoe)

Jeremy has been cooped up all week with a cold, or maybe the flu, or maybe Dengue Fever, or maybe Legionnaires' Disease - we're really not sure. In any event, we're not going too far down the rabbit hole with picks this week. Besides, there aren't that many interesting games on the docket to begin with. The best game of the weekend already happened Thursday night, and the only other game that's that relevant to playoff positioning involves the AFC South.

The Bye Weeks have all concluded, so all teams are on even footing for the rest of the season. Next week (hopefully), we'll dive into some of the wackier tiebreaking scenarios, but until then we recommend fiddling around with ESPN's Playoff Machine which tabulates all of those tiebreakers for you. It's a very fun tool.

On to the picks.

Here Are The Picks We Agree On (Home Teams In CAPS)

San Diego (+1.5) over CAROLINA

JC: Carolina's season is just about officially over (as far as I can tell, they can't win the NFC South, and they'd need to win out plus Washington, Arizona, Minnesota, and Green Bay all finish below .500 to even get the 6th seed), so this is my bet for when the wheels just come off.

JP: I'm with you here. What a regression to the mean by Cam this season.

Houston (+6.5) over INDIANAPOLIS

JC: Both of these teams suck - the Colts shouldn't be giving almost a touchdown here. I expect this game to be lower scoring than assumed, so those extra few points should come in handy.

JP: I'm actually sorta starting to like the Colts, but come on! You can't make me give a touchdown with that defense. That said, it's not like the Texans are any good on offense...

Chicago (+7.5) over DETROIT

JC: Detroit finally picked up a convincing win after spending all season playing in close games. I think they'll get back to their roots here and play a much closer game than they should.

JP: This is an overreaction line if I've ever seen it, but I'm still tempted to take Detroit, just because Chicago is soooooo bad. Still, giving more than a touchdown with an up-and-down team against a divisional opponent doesn't seem like a great bet.

Minnesota (-3.5) over JACKSONVILLE

JC: At some point we're going to talk about how Blake Bortles might not even be good, right?

JP: Do some people think Blake Bortles is good? Didn't we establish last week that Bortles has more pick-6s (11) than he has career wins (10)?

PHILADELPHIA (+2.5) over Washington

JC: I'm not sure whether I think this is going to happen or I'm just rooting for all-out chaos among the NFC Wild Card spots. This would certainly help that cause.

JP: I can't get a feel for either of these teams, so I'll take the points and home team.

New York Jets (+3) over SAN FRANCISCO

JC: I'm struggling to find a reason why San Francisco should be favored against anybody, anywhere. I think they're the worst team in the league.

JP: This is going to be ugly.

New Orleans (+3) over TAMPA BAY

JC: Say it with me - all out chaos in the NFC

JP: I feel like Drew throws for 350 and four touchdowns here, and this one turns into the game of the day. Not sure who ends up winning, because Jameis will get his as well (awful pun not intended), but this should be a fun one.

Seattle (-3) over GREEN BAY

JC: Here is the list of defenses that Seattle's offense has been flummoxed by this year: Miami, Los Angeles, Arizona, Buffalo, Tampa Bay. Here is the list of denses that Seattle has sliced through with no trouble this year: San Francisco, New England, Philadelphia, Carolina. Are you noticing any pattern there whatsoever? Because I'm not. I can't make heads or tails of them. Green Bay has bounced back, but it's been against Philadelphia (who is reeling) and Houston (who is reeling, and also sucks). As much as I want all out chaos in the NFC, I think Seattle takes this one.

JP: I think you spent enough time on this one. Seattle is better, but also weird. 

Atlanta (-6.5) over LOS ANGELES

JC: It takes an especially terrible offense to make Todd Gurley look pedestrian, but that's what the Rams have done. Aren't you glad they gave Jeff Fisher a contract extension? Here's a fun fact - Jeff Fisher's record since 2003 is a whopping 85-102-1. He's a real winner.

JP: I thought Jeff Fisher's whole thing was getting to .500 and barely keeping his job?? How is he 17 games below .500 since Eddie George's wheels fell off?

Dallas (-4) over NEW YORK GIANTS

JC: I don't think either of these teams are as good as their record indicates, but I think Dallas is less not-as-good than New York is. If your brain hurts a little, don't worry, mine does too.

JP: I agree with you on New York, and disagree on Dallas. That young secondary has hiccups, but it's getting better by the week, and the offense can move the ball a variety of ways. Yeah they've won some close games, but the Cowboys are legit Super Bowl contenders, even with an all-rookie backfield.

Baltimore (+7) over NEW ENGLAND

JC: I'm not sure the Patriots have the same blowout potential with Rob Gronkowski out of the lineup. Sure, they can take care of business against the Rams, but the Ravens are a better-than-average team with a good defense and an offense that's looked better in recent weeks. I think the Patriots are still the best team in the league, and I think they'll win the game, but seven points is too expensive for my tastes.

JP: Not to be boring, but I agree with everything you said.

Here Are The Picks We Disagree On (Home Teams Still In CAPS)

JC: Oakland (+3.5) over KANSAS CITY

I tried to roll with Oakland being the best road team in the league and getting the extra half-point. So much for that plan.

JP: KANSAS CITY (-3.5) over Oakland

To be fair, Derek Carr played the worst game of his career, and Oakland was still right there at the end. That said, the reason I went with KC was Carr's recently disfigured throwing-hand pinky, so I'll take full credit for calling this one right. 

JC: TENNESSEE (-1) over Denver

Tennessee is coming off a bye and absolutely needs a win to keep pace with either Indianapolis or Houston. One of those two teams is all but guaranteed a win, considering they play each other this week. Of course, they could tie, which would be the most AFC South thing ever, but chances are they won't. Tennessee needs this game more than Denver does, so I'll roll with the home team.

JP: Denver (+1) over TENNESSEE

I do think Tennessee is underrated and dangerous, but they're gonna have to show me a little more before I take them in a game like this.

JC: CLEVELAND (+5.5) over Cincinnati

It's going to happen eventually.

JP: Cincinnati (+5.5) over CLEVELAND

There will come a day when the Browns win a football game again, BUT IT IS NOT THIS DAY! 

JC: Pittsburgh (-3) over BUFFALO

The Bills had their shot - up by double-digits in the second half against Oakland, but then gave up 29 straight points. Pittsburgh has been rolling, and I think that continues here.

JP: BUFFALO (+3) over Pittsburgh

I'm sticking to my "bet against the Steelers guns." It hasn't killed me yet.

JC: Arizona (-2) over MIAMI

I think I'm 0-for-The Season picking these two teams. When I think they're going to zig, they zag. When I think they're going to zag, they somehow fail to cover against the 49ers. Arizona has looked better of late, so I'll go with them.

JP: MIAMI (+2) over Arizona

Yeah, we've both sucked picking these two teams this year. Well, at least one of us will be right this week (unless Arizona wins by 2). Normally, I would say last week's collapse against Baltimore would spell the end for Miami, but I actually think Adam Gase has a little something cooking in South Florida. I'm calling it now: The Dolphins win, and make a surprise run to the playoffs.

Jeremy's Record:
Last Week: 6-9
Season: 93-94-5
Last Week's Disagreements: 3-3
Season's Disagreements: 28-32-1

Joe's Record:
Last Week: 6-9
Season: 97-90-5
Last Week's Disagreements: 3-3  
Season's Disagreements: 32-28-1

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