Mike McCarthy has had better weeks.
The Packers head coach became the former Packers head coach Sunday night just hours after his team lost at home to the lowly Arizona Cardinals with Green Bay’s playoffs chances almost certainly dissipating in the process.
But he’ll surely land on his feet, especially with more head-coaching jobs expected to open soon, so don’t feel too bad for the former Super Bowl winner.
Maybe he should take some tips from the NESN.com trio of Mike Cole, Ricky Doyle and Andre Khatchaturian, who all had winning records with their against-the-spread picks in Week 13.
Here’s how they fared last week.
Mike Cole: 8-7 (92-93-3 overall)
Ricky Doyle: 10-5 (98-87-3)
Andre Khatchaturian: 9-6 (103-82-3)
Here are their Week 14 picks, with lines courtesy of OddsShark.
THURSDAY, DEC. 6
Jacksonville Jaguars at (-4) Tennessee Titans, 8:20 p.m. ET
Mike: Titans. Tennessee quarterback Marcus Mariota has absurd numbers in primetime games. Who knows how that actually translates in this game, but I’ll take it.
Ricky: Titans. Home teams are 10-4-1 ATS this season on Thursday night. Favorites are 11-3-1 ATS. While the Titans are hard to trust given their season-long inconsistency, the Jaguars’ offensive incompetency is even more alarming. Tennessee will do just enough while clinging to its playoff hopes.
Andre: Jaguars. Tennessee has been an enigma all year, so I’ll take the points, considering the Jaguars have a higher yards-per-play differential. The last four Jacksonville losses were by one score or less. The Jags keep games close, and only two of the Titans’ six wins are by four points or greater.
SUNDAY, DEC. 9
Atlanta Falcons at (-5.5) Green Bay Packers, 1 p.m.
Mike: Packers. No joke, the Falcons are allowing 175 rushing yards per game over the last four weeks. If this isn’t the week the Packers commit to Aaron Jones and the run, it will never happen.
Ricky: Packers. Not only must the Falcons prepare for one of the best quarterbacks in NFL history. But we also have no idea what Green Bay’s offense will look like with Joe Philbin calling the plays after Mike McCarthy’s firing. Tough spot, especially on the road, for an awful Atlanta defense that ranks near the bottom of the league in a bunch of categories.
Andre: Packers. It’s going to be in the 20s in Green Bay — not Matt Ryan weather — so the running game will be huge here. The Falcons allow nearly five yards per carry and the Packers are third in yards per carry. The Packers also are third in the NFL in sacks.
Baltimore Ravens at (-6.5) Kansas City Chiefs, 1 p.m.
Mike: Ravens. It’s going to be a tough few weeks for the Chiefs, who are adjusting to life without Kareem Hunt and have a Thursday night divisional showdown with the Chargers looming. Feels like this one will be a rock fight, so I’ll grab the points.
Ricky: Ravens. The Chiefs have the worst run defense in the NFL, according to Football Outsiders’ DVOA ratings. That’s less than ideal, especially going into a matchup where they’ll need to contend not only with upstart running back Gus Edwards but fleet-footed quarterback Lamar Jackson, who has totaled 54(!) carries in three games since taking over as Baltimore’s starting signal-caller.
Andre: Ravens. The Ravens run the ball a lot — they’re third in the league in rush attempts — and the Chiefs can’t stop the run. Kansas City allows 5.1 yards per carry. The Ravens also allow the fewest yards per play, and that should be enough to contain Pat Mahomes, who has 10 interceptions over the last eight games.
(-1.5) Carolina Panthers at Cleveland Browns, 1 p.m.
Mike: Panthers. Looking at the running game again, the Browns have allowed at least 120 yards on the ground seven times this season, and they’re 1-6 in those games. Christian McCaffrey should make it 1-7.
Ricky: Browns. The Panthers have been awful on the road this season, going 1-5 SU and ATS. With Cam Newton admitting he’s playing hurt — and looking like it in recent weeks — it’s not hard to envision the Browns stealing one in their own backyard, especially if they lay a few early licks on the Panthers quarterback.
Andre: Panthers. Cleveland allows the fifth-most rushing yards per game and the Panthers lead the league in yards per carry. If Carolina establishes the running game, it’ll take a load off Newton, who is 0-3 this year when throwing the ball 40 or more times in a game.
Indianapolis Colts at (-4.5) Houston Texans, 1 p.m.
Mike: Texans. Two straight road games against divisional foes is a tough task for the Colts, especially when the back half is the red-hot Texans.
Ricky: Texans. Houston has won nine in a row, and Andrew Luck has lost four straight against the Texans, with Indianapolis going 0-3-1 ATS in those contests. The Colts probably won’t get shut out like they did last week against the Jaguars, but don’t bank on much offensive success from Indianapolis. Houston’s defense can take over games.
Andre: Texans. The last time these two teams played, the Texans, who have a great rush defense, held Indy to 41 rushing yards and Luck threw the ball 62 times. The Texans will force Indy to be one-dimensional again. Luck when throwing the ball 40-plus times this season: 0-6
(-3.5) New York Giants at Washington Redskins, 1 p.m.
Mike: Giants. That Mark Sanchez is the Redskins’ quarterback now is bad enough. When you consider Washington also has offensive line issues, well, it could be another long afternoon for the journeyman.
Ricky: Giants. Too many injuries, and the Giants actually are showing some life.
Andre: Giants. Eli Manning is actually having a very strong season. He has the highest completion percentage of his career, lowest interception percentage of his career and highest yards per pass attempt since 2011. Washington has the sixth-worst yards per play differential.
New York Jets at (-3.5) Buffalo Bills, 1 p.m.
Mike: Bills. The Bills might have something in Josh Allen.
Ricky: Bills. The Jets are averaging just 13 points per game over the course of their six-game losing streak, during which they’re 1-5 ATS. They rank 30th in yards per game (301) and yards per play (4.9), while the Bills rank second in opponent yards per game (294.2) and opponent yards per play (4.9). It doesn’t matter who’s starting at quarterback for the Jets. Buffalo’s defense is too good.
Andre: Bills. The Bills allowed 175 total yards last week and still lost to the Dolphins. One has to assume they’ll make fewer mistakes against the Jets, who are 26th in turnover differential.
(-7.5) New England Patriots at Miami Dolphins, 1 p.m.
Mike: Dolphins. It’s not just that weird things tend to happen for the Patriots in Miami. New England generally has struggled on the road this season, having been outscored by 26 combined points in five road games. They’ll win, but it might be close.
Ricky: Patriots. The Dolphins mustered up just 175 yards last week against the Bills while surrendering 415. Somehow, Miami won by four points. The ‘Phins won’t have the same luck this week, as the Patriots typically take care of the football and don’t shoot themselves in the feet with penalties. The Dolphins, who absolutely need to force turnovers in this game, also figure to be without cornerback Xavien Howard, who has seven of the team’s 19 interceptions. Throw out the trends. The Patriots will roll.
Andre: Patriots. I don’t care if Miami has been a house of horrors for the Patriots, this Dolphins team is simply not good. They’re 6-6, but are 30th in yards-per-play differential. They’ve been successful because they force a ton of turnovers (2nd in interceptions), but New England is a disciplined football team and they’re not going to make mistakes. Expect Brady and the boys to feast on a Dolphins defense that allows the fifth-most yards per pass attempt.
(-8) New Orleans Saints at Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 1 p.m.
Mike: Bucs. Jameis Winston is finally starting to take care of the ball, and the Bucs are averaging 29 points per game over the last three weeks as a result. The Saints’ defense, especially the secondary, doesn’t inspire much confidence, which should allow Winston and Co. to keep it in the number.
Ricky: Saints. How will New Orleans bounce back from last Thursday’s loss in Dallas? By feasting on a Tampa Bay defense that ranks 29th against the pass and 30th against the run, per Football Outsiders’ DVOA ratings.
Andre: Saints. Drew Brees takes on a defense that allows the second-most yards per pass attempt. The Saints also allow a league-low 3.5 yards per carry and the Bucs are 30th in yards per carry, so expect a high-volume game from Winston, which doesn’t sound like a recipe for success.
Cincinnati Bengals at (-14) Los Angeles Chargers, 4:05 p.m.
Mike: Chargers. Have you seen the Bengals recently?
Ricky: Bengals. Trap game? Maybe. The Bengals suck — I can’t stress that enough — but let’s get weird.
Andre: Chargers. Since Week 10, the Bengals have been outscored 134-65 (average margin of 17 points per game.) Teams love to run on Cincinnati — they’ve allowed the most rushing attempts and the most rushing yards per game this season. That bodes well for the Chargers, who didn’t miss a beat last week without Melvin Gordon. L.A. still has the best yards-per-play differential in football.
(-5.5) Denver Broncos at San Francisco 49ers, 4:05 p.m.
Mike: Broncos. Phillip Lindsay has been awesome this season, especially as of late, averaging almost eight yards per carry in his last three games. He’s given the Broncos an offensive identity, which has made things easier for Case Keenum, too. It’s hard to see San Fran slowing them down.
Ricky: Broncos. You know who’s starting at running back for the Niners this week? Jeff Wilson Jr. Sounds like a NASCAR driver. Give me the Broncos.
Andre: Broncos. The 49ers have the worst turnover differential in football. They’ve only forced two interceptions all year, which bodes well for the turnover-prone Keenum. The Broncos should be able to run all over the Niners with Lindsay, who’s averaging more than six yards per carry this year.
(-2.5) Detroit Lions at Arizona Cardinals, 4:25 p.m.
Mike: Cardinals. The Lions are road favorites — lol. Arizona has run the ball well lately, averaging 128 yards per game over their last three games behind David Johnson and Chase Edmonds. Detroit is 0-6 when allowing 120 yards or more this season.
Ricky: Lions. The Cardinals just placed left tackle D.J. Humphries on injured reserve, meaning Arizona now is without all five members of its projected offensive line. That might not matter much against the Lions, who don’t have the best pass rush, but it speaks to the overall mess in Arizona (last week’s win in Green Bay notwithstanding). Also, the Lions have lost five of their last six, but consider their schedule in that stretch: vs. Seattle, at Minnesota, at Chicago, vs. Carolina, vs. Chicago (Thanksgiving), vs. Los Angeles Rams. Yikes.
Andre: Cardinals. Arizona’s pass rush is for real. They’re tied for third in sacks and Matthew Stafford has been sacked 23 times in the last five games. He also only has four touchdowns and five picks in that span. The Lions have the fourth-worst yards per play differential and they haven’t scored more than 22 points in their last six games.
Philadelphia Eagles at (-3.5) Dallas Cowboys, 4:25 p.m.
Mike: Cowboys. The Eagles’ secondary remains a mess, and it’s not like they’ve been tested much the last couple weeks. That changes this week against Amari Cooper, who has played at an All-Pro level since being acquired, a stretch in which Dallas has gone 4-1.
Ricky: Eagles. The Cowboys’ recipe for success? Control the clock, grind it out, limit mistakes, lean on the defense. Sometimes, it works. Like last week, when Dallas upset New Orleans. But the Eagles, for all of their flaws, are the best time-of-possession team in the NFL. They can control the line of scrimmage on both sides, and Dak Prescott isn’t good enough to fully capitalize on Philadelphia’s lackluster secondary. The Eagles’ offense also is trending in the right direction thanks to Golden Tate’s increased comfort, Josh Adams’ emergence and Darren Sproles’ return.
Andre: Cowboys. The last time these two teams played, Ezekiel Elliott ran the ball for 151 yards and a touchdown. The Eagles allow five yards per carry and Zeke should have another big game. When Zeke rushes for fewer than 70 yards, the Cowboys are 0-4 this season. Zeke’s been on a roll as of late and because of that Prescott is making fewer mistakes. He has just one interception over the last seven games.
(-10.5) Pittsburgh Steelers at Oakland Raiders, 4:25 p.m.
Mike: Raiders. The Steelers will be without James Conner, which hurts, but I also wonder whether Pittsburgh will get caught looking ahead to next week’s must-win matchup vs. the Patriots. Just feels like a letdown spot for the occasionally flaky Steelers.
Ricky: Raiders. The Steelers probably will do something stupid at some point.
Andre: Steelers. Oakland has the worst yards per play differential in the NFL and they’ve recorded a league-low 10 sacks this season. Oakland also allows the most rushing yards per game, so if Pittsburgh gets the run going, it’ll be easier for Ben Roethlisberger to succeed, especially if he has time to throw.
(-3) Los Angeles Rams at Chicago Bears, 8:20 p.m.
Mike: Rams. Chicago has struggled to run the ball since losing Kyle Long to injury, and the interior offensive line has some major problems. That’s an area you can expect Aaron Donald and the Rams’ pass rush to exploit on Sunday night.
Ricky: Bears. Chicago has the most takeaways in the NFL (30), and that’ll prove huge at Soldier Field, where the Bears are 10-3-1 ATS in their last 14 home games. The Bears have a very well-rounded defense, and Mitchell Trubisky’s return should spark Chicago’s offense, especially given his ability to make plays with his feet. The Bears rank No. 6 in first-half points per game (15.2) and No. 1 in opponent first-half points per game (6.2), so they’ll deflect the Rams’ initial haymaker and seize momentum.
Andre: Rams. Chicago hasn’t been great running the ball this season with just 4.1 yards per carry. There might be a lot of pressure on Trubisky if the Bears can’t get the run going. The Rams have put up at least 30 points in 10 of their 12 games this season and I just don’t think Chicago, who is 30th in yards per play, has the offense to match that.
MONDAY, DEC. 10
Minnesota Vikings at (-3) Seattle Seahawks, 8:15 p.m.
Mike: Seahawks. ‘Tis the season for Russell Wilson to go on a run. Actually, the Seattle QB has been dynamite since Week 3, with a 122.6 passer rating over his last 10 games. The Minnesota secondary is banged up, too, which won’t help its cause.
Ricky: Seahawks. Seattle almost always steps up in big spots, going 15-2 SU and 13-3-1 ATS in 17 home primetime games with Pete Carroll as head coach. The Vikings have made strides defensively, but their offense is way too unbalanced. Minnesota has thrown on 67.31 percent of its offensive plays, which is the highest frequency in the NFL just one season after the Vikings threw 54.07 percent of the time (28th). That tells me the Vikings are leaning too heavily on their shiny, new, expensive toy (quarterback Kirk Cousins), much to their detriment.
Andre: Seahawks. Last week, the Vikings failed to record 100 rushing yards in a game — again — and, as a result, Cousins threw the ball more than 40 times — again. The team is 0-5-1 when Cousins chucks it more than 40 times a game and that might happen again this week. The Seahawks are also rarely on defense. They’ve been on the field for 717 defensive plays this season, which is the second-fewest in the league.
Thumbnail photo via Christopher Hanewinckel/USA TODAY Sports Images
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