As we saw in Week 13, winter is here.
The snow started to fly last week across the NFL and in places where there wasn’t white stuff, temperatures plummeted. We can expect similar conditions this week, too, with cold weather forecasted just about everywhere from Kansas City to Green Bay to Cleveland to Buffalo to New England.
If you’re a football fan, this is the best time of the season.
Here’s how we fared in Week 13.
Mike Cole: 10-6 (82-103-7 overall). He’s making a late charge, but that’s not going to do anything other than save a little bit of face.
Ricky Doyle: 10-6 (90-95-7): Another week like last week, and Ricky might run down the .500 mark.
Andre Khatchaturian: 7-8 (83-102-7): He’s lost six games on his competitors in the last two weeks and is in danger of falling into the cellar.
Now, the Week 14 picks with lines, as always, from our pals at OddsShark.
THURSDAY, DEC. 8
Oakland Raiders at (-3) Kansas City Chiefs, Thursday, 8:30 p.m.
Mike: Chiefs. Alex Smith always seems to play well against the Raiders (7-1, 107 passer rating), and Travis Kelce might help make sure that continues. The Chiefs tight end is averaging 15.2 yards per catch the last three weeks, and now he matches up against an Oakland defense allowing the third-most yards per catch to tight ends.
Andre: Chiefs. It’ll be in the low 20s in Kansas City and Fresno, Calif., native Derek Carr has never played in an NFL game below 35 degrees. The coldest game Carr has played in was 37 degrees last year in Week 17 and Carr threw a touchdown, an interception and was sacked six times in a 23-17 loss.
Ricky: Raiders. There’s a lot to suggest the Chiefs have the upper hand here, but I’m just not sure Kansas City’s offense, which has been relatively inconsistent this season, will be able to match Oakland’s high-powered attack. Plus, the Chiefs are 1-7 ATS in their last eight games at home, while the Raiders are 8-0 ATS in their last eight games on the road.
SUNDAY, DEC. 11
Washington Redskins at (PK) Philadelphia Eagles, Sunday, 1 p.m.
Mike: Redskins. Jay Gruden lit into his team last week after its loss to the Cardinals, so there’s reason to believe there’s a bounce-back this week. If there’s not, they might kiss their playoff hopes buh-bye.
Andre: Redskins. Carson Wentz and the Eagles are 2-7 since their 3-0 start, with Wentz throwing seven touchdown passes and 11 interceptions in that span. Kirk Cousins continues to get excellent protection (sacked only 16 times, second-lowest mark in the NFL) and it’s helping his play (20 touchdowns and five interceptions in his last 10 games). The Redskins also have the fifth-best yards per play differential in the NFL while the Eagles have the sixth-worst.
Ricky: Redskins. Carson Wentz’s rookie season has taken a turn for the worse since the Eagles’ 3-0 start. So while Philadelphia has played much better at home than on the road this season, I’m just not confident enough in the Eagles offense’s ability to go step for step with Washington’s offense, which ranks second in the NFL with 418.6 yards per game.
(-3.5) Minnesota Vikings at Jacksonville Jaguars, Sunday, 1 p.m.
Mike: Vikings. Minnesota has the benefit of an extended week after playing Thursday night last week, and the Vikings get their head coach back. The Jaguars, meanwhile, are still the Jaguars.
Andre: Vikings. Here’s all you need to know: Despite losing five of their last six, the Vikings are still second in turnover differential (plus-13.) The Jaguars, on the other hand, have a minus-18 turnover differential — the worst in the league.
Ricky: Vikings. Blake Bortles has more career pick-sixes (11) than wins (10). He’s not very good and neither are the Jaguars.
Chicago Bears at (-7.5) Detroit Lions, Sunday, 1 p.m.
Mike: Bears. Pretty sure I’d be .500 for the season if I would just take the Lions every now and then. But this still has all the makings of a letdown game, sandwiched between a good win last week in New Orleans and a three-game gauntlet against the Giants, Cowboys and Packers to finish the season.
Andre: Bears. The Bears have the third-best yards per play differential in the NFL despite their crappy record and considering the Lions have only played in one game that hasn’t been decided by seven or fewer points, I think Chicago does enough to cover.
Ricky: Lions. The Bears are coming off a 20-point win over the 49ers, but it took inclement weather, an historically bad quarterback performance by Colin Kaepernick and a bunch of damage against San Francisco’s atrocious run defense to get there. This week, the Bears are playing indoors on the road against a good quarterback (Matthew Stafford) and a far better run defense. Quarterback Matt Barkley will need to make plays for Chicago, and I don’t see it happening.
(-6) Cincinnati Bengals at Cleveland Browns, Sunday, 1 p.m.
Mike: Bengals. The Bengals looked like they figured out some things last week in their blowout of Philly, and Cleveland coach and ex-Cincinnati offensive coordinator Hue Jackson won’t have too many secrets against his old team.
Andre: Bengals. I changed my pick the second I found out RGIII is starting. Since his phenomenal rookie campaign, Griffin has 20 touchdowns and 19 interceptions along with a dismal 5-16 record.
Ricky: Bengals. Banking on an NFL team to beat Cleveland by a touchdown? Seems like a good bet to me. The Browns aren’t just winless. They’ve been getting waxed most weeks.
Arizona Cardinals at (-1) Miami Dolphins, Sunday, 1 p.m.
Mike: Cardinals. The Ravens exposed the Dolphins last week for what they are: a “meh” team that lives on running the football. Take that away — which Baltimore did, bottling up Jay Ajayi — and your chances of winning greatly increase. The Cardinals allow fewer than 4 yards per carry.
Andre: Dolphins. Arizona is a completely different team away from the desert. Their only road win this season came against San Francisco. They average only 4.7 yards per play on the road — nearly a yard fewer than their home average. Carson Palmer has also been sacked 35 times this season (tied for third-most) and Miami leads the league in hurries.
Ricky: Cardinals. The Dolphins’ run defense ranks 30th in the NFL, which poses a problem when facing a Cardinals rushing attack anchored by David Johnson, who’s perhaps the most dynamic player in football. Miami also is 0-12 ATS in its last 12 December games, for whatever that’s worth.
Houston Texans at (-6) Indianapolis Colts, Sunday, 1 p.m.
Mike: Colts. Houston might technically lead the AFC South, but only six teams have a worse point differential on the season. Indy had some swagger with Andrew Luck back, and they’ll look to avenge a Week 6 loss to Houston.
Andre: Colts. The Texans’ pass rush has missed J.J. Watt in 2016, posting just a 5.2 percent sack percentage compared to a 7.5 percent mark last season. If you give Andrew Luck time, he’ll hurt you, which he did against Houston in Week 6. The Colts led 23-9 in the fourth quarter before Brock Osweiler and the Texans made a miraculous comeback and won in overtime.
Ricky: Colts. Indianapolis’ defense is beatable, but Houston — much like the Jets on Monday night — doesn’t have the offense to expose the Colts’ flaws. The Texans also are dealing with injuries to defensive end Jadeveon Clowney and cornerback Johnathan Joseph, so that works in the Colts’ favor in their quest to put up points against an otherwise decent D.
Denver Broncos at (-1) Tennessee Titans, Sunday, 1 p.m.
Mike: Titans. Jacksonville tried to attack the Broncos’ “weakness” by running the ball all day last week. They had some success (4 yards per carry), but Blake Bortles screwed it up by throwing two picks. I feel confident saying Marcus Mariota is a little better than Bortles.
Andre: Titans. Denver has a great defense, but their rush defense is very average. They allow 4.2 yards per carry (17th). The Titans have an excellent rushing attack (4.8 yards per carry, 3rd) and I think they’ll control time of possession by a wide margin in this one, especially against the Broncos who lead the NFL with 43 three-and-out drives. This also might be a trap game for the Broncos, who might have their eyes set on the Patriots in Week 15.
Ricky: Broncos. The Titans have been unable to string together wins — 1-9 ATS in their last 10 games after a victory, including 1-4 this season — and I’m not sure they’re ready for the big time, even though I really like Tennessee in the context of the weak AFC South. Expect the Broncos’ defense to make a play late that seals it.
San Diego Chargers at (-1.5) Carolina Panthers, Sunday, 1 p.m.
Mike: Chargers. There aren’t a lot of teams over which the Panthers should be favored. Neither of these teams have much to play for, but give me the guy with the bolo tie over the guy with no tie.
Andre: Panthers. These two teams have turned the ball over a combined 48 times this season but I think Carolina has a better chance to force turnovers and make life uncomfortable for the opposing quarterback because of their lethal pass rush that has 34 sacks on the season.
Ricky: Chargers. The absence of Luke Kuechly, assuming he doesn’t return from his concussion, will continue to play a role this weekend against a Chargers offense that can put up points.
(-2) Pittsburgh Steelers at Buffalo Bills, Sunday, 1 p.m.
Mike: Steelers. Normally, you’d side with the Bills in a December game in Buffalo with snow in the forecast, but Ben Roethlisberger is arguably the best cold-weather quarterback in football — not to mention the Steelers’ offense is heating up, averaging more than 25 points per game over their last four.
Andre: Steelers. After suffering a heartbreaking defeat to the Dallas Cowboys, the Steelers have allowed just 4.2 yards per play in the last three games — easily the best mark in the league. They have 13 sacks in those three games compared to having 13 in the first 10 of the season.
Ricky: Steelers. The Steelers always seem to play well late in the season — they’re 11-1 SU and 10-1-1 ATS in their last 12 December games — and Pittsburgh’s defense has been coming into its own.
New York Jets at (-2.5) San Francisco 49ers, Sunday, 4:05 p.m.
Mike: Jets. There are so many good games, and if you willingly choose to watch this one, you should be deported to the moon.
Andre: 49ers. A blind squirrel finds a nut once in a while.
Ricky: 49ers. I’m rooting for the refs.
New Orleans Saints at (-2.5) Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Sunday, 4:25 p.m.
Mike: Saints. Three of the Saints’ starting offensive linemen were listed as limited this week on the injury report, running back Mark Ingram is battling a lingering toe injury, and wide receiver Michael Thomas (who’s having a great season) didn’t practice Wednesday. That’s a lot to overcome.
Andre: Saints. The Bucs have turned the ball over in five consecutive games and making mistakes against Drew Brees will cost them. The Saints also have protected Brees this season, which will be important against a tough Bucs pass rush.
Ricky: Bucs. The Saints’ offense isn’t quite as explosive away from the Mercedes-Benz Superdome — 6.8 yards per play at home and 5.5 yards per play on the road — so the Bucs should be able to keep up, especially given New Orleans’ awful pass defense.
(-6) Atlanta Falcons at Los Angeles Rams, Sunday, 4:25 p.m.
Mike: Rams. Look, the Rams stink. But if they made a catch here or there last week, they at least could have been competitive against the Patriots. The Falcons are not the Patriots, and the L.A. defense has allowed 14 points or fewer in three of four home games.
Andre: Rams. The Falcons have the most explosive passing attack in the league, but if it’s one thing the Rams do well it’s defending the pass (allow 6.6 yards per attempt, fifth-best). I think Jared Goff makes a few plays and L.A. steals one at home.
Ricky: Falcons. Sure, the Rams’ defense could make life difficult for Matt Ryan and Co., but their offense is anemic. Los Angeles is averaging 11.7 points per game over its last six games. The Rams have scored 10 points or fewer in five of those matchups.
(-2.5) Seattle Seahawks at Green Bay Packers, Sunday, 4:25 p.m.
Mike: Seahawks. I actually picked the Packers in “The Spread” this week, but that was before Mike McCarthy announced the Packers would be without Nick Perry this week. Clay Matthews is playing through a separated shoulder (!) and that’s just the tip of the Packers’ injury iceberg. Eventually, it catches up with you.
Andre: Seahawks. Snow is expected at Lambeau Field, but Russell Wilson is excellent in cold weather. In seven career games under 40 degrees, Wilson has a 109.4 quarterback rating with 15 touchdowns and three interceptions, completing 67.6 percent of his passes. The cold favors the better defensive team which is clearly the Seahawks, who should be able to take advantage of the Packers’ minus-5 turnover differential.
Ricky: Seahawks. The Packers are just too one-dimensional to match up with the Seahawks, whose defensive prowess is well-documented and whose offense has found its stride (with the exception of a Week 12 slip-up against the red-hot Bucs).
(-3) Dallas Cowboys at New York Giants, Sunday, 8:30 p.m.
Mike: Cowboys. I know the Giants beat the Cowboys in Week 1, and I know the Giants actually have a highly ranked run defense, which is big against Dallas. But I also know the Cowboys are a much different team now (11 wins in a row is pretty good proof), and New York’s rush defense stats are padded by facing five of the 10 worst run offenses — of which they are one.
Andre: Giants. The Giants allow just 3.6 yards per carry (fourth) and I feel like the Cowboys got a little complacent in Week 13 in what was easily the ugliest win of their season. That’ll happen when you’re 11-1 with nobody really challenging you for the top spot. Losing Jason Pierre-Paul hurts the Giants’ pass rush and I’m not certain the Giants win straight up, but the Cowboys don’t force turnovers (only four interceptions all season) and it’s easy to move the ball against them (allow 5.8 yards per play, 27th).
Ricky: Giants. New York limited Ezekiel Elliott to his lowest rushing output of the season in Week 1. He totaled 51 yards and averaged 2.6 yards per carry (3.9 yards per carry is his second-lowest average in a game this season). Acknowledging there’s some natural progression certain rookies undergo throughout Year 1, I still like the Giants’ chances of mitigating the Cowboys’ biggest strength at home.
MONDAY, DEC. 12
Baltimore Ravens at (-7) New England Patriots, Monday, 8:30 p.m.
Mike: Ravens. Three of the last five games between these two teams have been decided by four or fewer points, and that doesn’t include a Baltimore win. That Ravens defense is real good and should be able to hold the banged-up Patriots offense in check.
Andre: Patriots. Tom Brady still has only thrown one interception this season and I’m still not completely sold on the Ravens even after their huge win over the Dolphins. The Ravens were successful because their run defense is the best in the league (allow 3.4 yards per carry) and despite an increase amount of rushing attempts for the Patriots this year compared to last, they aren’t exactly a ground and pound team so they won’t have to rely on the run to win and cover.
Ricky: Ravens. This marks the Patriots’ first real test since losing Rob Gronkowski for the season, and New England now will be without another viable receiving option in Danny Amendola. Injuries coupled with the Ravens’ suffocating run defense means Tom Brady will need to take over. And while I don’t doubt that he can, these teams typically play each other close, anyway. Give me the points.
Thumbnail photo via Troy Wayrynen/USA TODAY Sports Images
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