Week 14 picks

After three quarters of the season, we’re beginning to see which teams are for real.

There are some intriguing match-ups in week 14; games featuring teams you wouldn’t have thought would be in playoff contention at this time of year.

Every one of these four games has a surprising team involved (some for good reasons, and some for bad reasons). I’m taking every team who is not surprising. Consistency and attention to detail wins in the NFL.

New York Giants (8-4, 3-2 road) @ Minnesota (5-7, 4-2)
Mike’s pick: NEW YORK GIANTS

  • The Giants are rushing, rushing the passer and creating turnovers. If that’s not a recipe to beat the Vikings, I don’t know what is.
  • Brett Favre may or may not play. Either way, the Vikings offense is becoming more one-dimensional each week.
  • The Giants run game got on track last week, and the Giants look to pound the rock again, with tenacious runners like Brandon Jacobs and Ahmad Bradshaw.

St. Louis (6-6, 2-4 road) @ New Orleans (9-3, 4-2 home)
Mike’s pick: NEW ORLEANS

  • St. Louis currently leading their division with a rookie quarterback and a handful of injuries.
  • New Orleans is at home, and is getting healthy. Drew Brees is very happy with Chris Ivory’s production, as well as the return of Reggie Bush. That running game will give Brees and his receivers time to work. When you give that group time to work, you’re almost certainly giving up points.

Kansas City (8-4, 2-4 road) @ San Diego (6-6, 4-2 home)
Mike’s pick: SAN DIEGO

  • This is a tough game to pick. Few casinos even have a line for this game. The ones that do are choosing San Diego to be a seven point favorite. So although I picked San Diego to win, I would pick Kansas City with the points.
  • Kansas City isn’t good on the road. San Diego is hopeful to get Antonio Gates healthy enough so he can play again. If he’s active, he will give Kansas City’s defense a lot of problems.
  • Matt Cassel may not even play, due to a mid-week appendectomy surgery. If he doesn’t play, the Chargers are almost guaranteed to win (the Chiefs back-up QB, Brodie Croyle, is 0-9 in his career as a starter and has yet to play this season).

New England (10-2, 4-2 road) @ Chicago (9-3, 4-2 home)
Mike’s pick: NEW ENGLAND

  • If Chicago were playing against any other team, I’d probably take them. The Bears have really surprised me this year, and are playing really well, especially at home. However, after last Monday night’s game, how can you pick against the Patriots?
  • If the Bears do win, Julius Peppers (rushing Tom Brady) and Devin Hester (winning field position on kicks/punts) will be key.

Upset of the Week: Cincinnati @ Pittsburgh (-9)
Mike’s pick: CINCINNATI (+9)

  • Cincinnati lost a close game at home to the defending Super Bowl champions, due to a lack of focus. Pittsburgh is coming off a game where they lost another offensive lineman and their starting tight end.
  • Cincinnati is healthier than the Steelers, and they should be motivated to play spoiler against their division rival.
  • The Bengals may not win, but in this game with all that each team is currently dealing with, I’ll happily take the nine points.

Fantasy Stud of the Week: Aaron Rodgers (@ Detroit)

  • Rodgers has found a nice rhythm with wide receiver Greg Jennings. Over the last three weeks, this duo has hooked up 18 times for 393 yards and five touchdowns.
  • Even if the Lions lock down Jennings, Rodgers is a threat to run. He’s rushed 53 times for 284 yards (5.4 avg.) and four touchdowns so far this season.
  • The Lions lead pass rusher (Kyle Vanden Bosch) is out for the year, which should make Aaron Rodgers’ job a little easier on Sunday.

Fantasy Dud of the Week: Ronnie Brown (@ New York Jets)

  • The Jets are really upset about the blowout loss to New England in week 13.They will be more aggressive than usual on Sunday, daring the Dolphins to throw (the Jets have Darrelle Revis on Brandon Marshall, who only has one touchdown all year).
  • Brown is averaging 14.8 touches in his last five games. For him to be at his best, he needs to have twice as many touches. I doubt he will see those touches, as the Jets should be up early, and limit Brown’s production.

Here are Rob’s picks for week 14.

New York Giants (8-4, 3-2 road) @ Minnesota (5-7, 4-2)
Rob’s pick: NEW YORK GIANTS

  • The Giants are coming off of a big win over the Redskins, and by big win I mean they whopped Washington, 31-7. Minnesota doesn’t know if Brett Favre is going to start or not, and if he does, it is to preserve his record of games started. Either way the Giants have a knack for drafting defensive ends who love to get to the QB.
  • Rookie DE Jason Pierre-Paul has four sacks in the past two games; not to mention Justin Tuck and Osi Umenyiora. That stable of pass rushers is not good news for the Vikings offensive line as they have had trouble protecting Favre all year. The Giants are going to pound the Vikings and move to 9-4 on the year.

St. Louis (6-6, 2-4 road) @ New Orleans (9-3, 4-2 home)
Rob’s pick: NEW ORLEANS

  • The Rams are on a two game, road win streak but this week they will be playing their third game in a row on the road against the 9-3 Saints. While Rams QB Sam Bradford is playing exceptionally well as a rookie with basically no help at wide receiver, the Saints defense is ranked third overall (199.2 yards per game) and first overall in the NFL, giving up only eight touchdown passes all year.
  • This should be a fairly competitive game as all of the Saints games have been this year. New Orleans is the better team and are playing too well for the Rams to beat them at home.

Kansas City (8-4, 2-4 road) @ San Diego (6-6, 4-2 home)
Rob’s pick: SAN DIEGO

  • Chiefs QB Matt Cassel underwent an appendectomy on Wednesday and historically it takes at least a week or so to fully recover from the operation. There has been no word yet if Cassel will start or not but if he doesn’t, the Chiefs must rely on QB Brody Croyle who is 0-9 as a starting quarterback.
  • This isn’t the best news for the Chiefs as they are currently in first place of the AFC West, but are being chased by their week 14 opponent the San Diego Chargers (lead by MVP Candidate Philip Rivers). Kansas City is having an exceptionally good year but I can’t see Cassel playing on Sunday (and if he does he won’t be as effective when he’s healthy).
  • Bottom line, Croyle has proven he can’t get the job done but the Chiefs do have a little breathing room and shouldn’t risk further injury with Cassel.

New England (10-2, 4-2 road) @ Chicago (9-3, 4-2 home)
Rob’s pick: NEW ENGLAND

  • Here’s week 14’s heavy weight bout. This game’s winner is the real deal. Can the Patriots underwhelming defense (ranked 31st overall) stop the Bears offense which is 29th overall?.
  • All I have to say is “Touchdown” Tom Brady will take over this game, rally the Patriots to victory and leave the windy city atop the AFC at 11-2. I’m not a big fan of New England but my hat’s off to coach Bill Belichick for always having a well thought-out, always solid game plan.

Upset Pick of the Week: Cleveland @ Buffalo Bills (-1)
Rob’s pick: CLEVELAND (+1)

  • The Cleveland Browns are my upset pick of the week for the second week in a row, simply because they are playing great football right now. They have found their running back of the future in Peyton Hillis.
  • Their rookie cornerback  Joe Haden has an interception in four straight games and his name been brought up in the defensive rookie of the year discussion.
  • The Bills have been playing well while QB Fitzpatrick has been doing everything he can to give the Bills a chance to win. Unfortunately, I don’t think Buffalo’s defense (ranked dead last 32nd giving up an average 170.9 yards per game) can stop Hillis. The Browns will travel up to chilly New York as the underdog and come home with a win.

Fantasy Stud: Maurice Jones-Drew (@ Oakland)
Projected stats: 23 carries, 125 yards, 2 TD; 4 receptions, 30 yards

Fantasy Dud: Cedric Benson (@ Pittsburgh)
Projected stats: 16 carries, 53 yards

Rob and I agree on every game, except for the upset. In the big game of the week, I wouldn’t be surprised if Chicago won. But it’s so tough to bet against Tom Brady.

We hope you enjoy week 14, and that you advance in your quest for a fantasy football title.

Thanks for reading.

-Mike

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