Mike Ivcic’s Week 14 NFL Preview and Free Picks

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Mike Ivcic’s Week 14 NFL Preview and Free Picks ]]> include($base_url . “/includes/header.htm”); ?>

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By Mike Ivcic, UltimateCapper Contributing Writer

Check out the “Playoff Predictor” at the bottom of the picks column for the rest of the season.

Atlanta Falcons @ Carolina Panthers
Sun, 1pm, FOX
Line: Falcons by 3
Atlanta blew a winnable game against Houston, and now must find a way to beat Cam Newton and the Panthers to avoid possibly falling outside of the playoff race. Postseason-caliber teams find ways to win these games late in the season, but Carolina is poised to play spoiler in what could suddenly become a one-berth NFC South.
Pick: Carolina 27, Atlanta 24

Houston Texans @ Cincinnati Bengals
Sun, 1pm, CBS
Line: Bengals by 3
Cincinnati actually has a favorable next two games before their season finale against the Ravens, so a win here would be tremendous pressure on the Jets, Titans, Raiders, and Broncos to also keep winning. Houston managed to grind out a win against the Falcons, but will likely need better offensive production this week to match Andy Dalton, A.J. Green and the rest of the Bengals offense. With T.J. Yates at the helm, I don’t think Houston can do it.
Pick: Cincinnati 28, Houston 20

Indianapolis Colts @ Baltimore Ravens
Sun, 1pm, CBS
Line: Ravens by 17
Quite frankly, this is the hardest spread to pick of the entire week. On one hand, Baltimore’s offense can be downright dreadful at times, but they did just beat Cleveland by 24 on the road. But Indianapolis just covered a 21-point spread in New England. I’m going to go with the defense in this one, but asking Joe Flacco to win by more than 3 is usually a risky proposition, so 17 might just be a bit too much.
Pick: Baltimore 20, Indianapolis 10

Kansas City Chiefs @ New York Jets
Sun, 1pm, CBS
Line: Jets by 10.5
As a Jets fan, I don’t like seeing that high number. The Jets offense simply isn’t good enough to take such a high spread. I know the Chiefs only scored a last-second heave of a touchdown against the Bears last week, and I don’t think they’ll do much more than that against Gang Green, but that just means it’ll be another low-scoring snoozefest at the Meadowlands.
Pick: New York 17, Kansas City 10

Minnesota Vikings @ Detroit Lions
Sun, 1pm, FOX
Line: Lions by 10
Another high number, though this one might be warranted. If Tim Tebow and the Broncos can put up 35, imagine what the high-flying Lions offense will do. I was impressed with Detroit’s resolve last week in New Orleans, and for the first time all season, I’m starting to believe the Lions will actually make the playoffs. Sure, it might be because the Giants, Cowboys, Eagles, Bears, and Buccaneers have all underachieved for various reasons, but a win her for Detroit and they might be feeling quite pleased with their wild card chances.
Pick: Detroit 38, Minnesota 21


New England Patriots @ Washington Redskins
Sun, 1pm, CBS
Line: Patriots by 9
I took the points with the Pats last week, only to watch Curtis Painter suddenly start finding receivers like a real NFL quarterback. Somehow, I’d actually be MORE surprised if the same thing happened this week with Rex Grossman – which says a whole lot about the state of the Redskins right now.
Pick: New England 35, Washington 13

New Orleans Saints @ Tennessee Titans
Sun, 1pm, FOX
Line: Saints by 4
Drew Brees would probably be the runaway MVP in any other season, but instead has probably already conceded that award to Rodgers. Still, the Super Bowl is the most important thing to these players, and if New Orleans can catch San Fran, then the postseason could set up nicely for a rematch at Lambeau between the Packers and Saints. That makes this a must-win game for both teams, a game I think will ultimately wind up being the best of the weekend.
Pick: New Orleans 30, Tennessee 24

Philadelphia Eagles @ Miami Dolphins
Sun, 1pm, FOX
Line: Dolphins by 3
Miami has begun their annual “Save Tony Sparano” campaign, rallying from an 0-7 start to a surprising 4-8 mark, with their only loss coming Thanksgiving Day in Dallas. Meanwhile the Eagles continue to struggle to reach their preseason expectations, though they will have everyone back (Vick, Maclin, McCoy) for this game. That might be enough to propel them to a victory.
Pick: Philadelphia 21, Miami 16

Tampa Bay Buccaneers @ Jacksonville Jaguars
Sun, 1pm, FOX
Line: Buccaneers by 2
In the spirit of college bowl season, it’s the “Not-Even-People-in-Florida-Care.com” bowl. Tampa’s lost 7 straight, Jacksonville’s less than 5 years away from losing its team. FOX has gotta be loving this one.
Pick: Tampa Bay 14, Jacksonville 10


Chicago Bears @ Denver Broncos
Sun, 4:05pm, FOX
Line: Broncos by 3.5
The legend of Tim Tebow will soon be a part of NBC’s Grimm if this keeps up, but the Broncos now have the inside track to winning the AFC West and get a Bears team that couldn’t score with Matt Forte – and now he’s done for the year. A once promising season takes another hit in the Mile High city, without either principle of their trade two seasons ago – Orton and Cutler – participating.
Pick: Denver 17, Chicago 9

San Francisco 49’ers @ Arizona Cardinals
Sun, 4:05pm, FOX
Line: 49’ers by 4
I thought Arizona would keep the game close the last time these two teams played, and instead they got shut out. I’ll take the four points, since the Niners still have homefield and a first round bye hanging in the balance and the Cardinals have a whopping nothing left to play for.
Pick: San Francisco 27, Arizona 10

Buffalo Bills @ San Diego Chargers
Sun, 4:15pm, CBS
Line: Chargers by 7
Talk about two teams spiraling the wrong way. Perhaps the Chargers have begun their recovery with the pounding they put on the Jags on Monday, but neither team is playing postseason football this year. Since the Chargers still have an outside shot at the division, we’ll give them the motivation edge and the win, but not by a full touchdown.
Pick: San Diego 24, Buffalo 20

Oakland Raiders @ Green Bay Packers
Sun, 4:15pm, CBS
Line: Packers by 11.5
To show you how poor this weekend’s slate of games is, this is the game that gets CBS’ top crew of Nantz and Simms. I know the Pack are undefeated, but the Raiders have more mysterious foot ailments than an episode of House. There’s no way Oakland can hang with Rodgers and company at Lambeau.
Pick: Green Bay 37, Oakland 17

New York Giants @ Dallas Cowboys
Sun, 8:20pm, NBC
Line: Cowboys by 3
Along with Packers-Raiders and Saints-Titans, this is the only other game with playoff implications for both teams, and of the three is clearly the marquee matchup. For all the haters out there that scream about the same teams always playing on Sunday Night Football, get ready – a Giants win here would almost guarantee the final SNF matchup of the year will be the return game at MetLife Stadium in Week 17 to decide the NFC East title. As for this game, I’m not buying Tony Romo in a big spot until he proves it – more than once.
Pick: New York 27, Dallas 24

St. Louis Rams @ Seattle Seahawks
Mon, 8:30pm, ESPN
Line: Seahawks by 10
Poor ESPN. They really got stuck with a lot of bad games this season, through no fault of their own. After all, this was the Sunday night Week 17 game last season to decide the NFC West. And no one thought Kansas City and San Diego would be as bad as they are. Still, this game falls in the “must-watch-something-else” category, even though the Seahawks are trying to make a miraculous late-season rally for the second straight year. This game will help that cause.
Pick: Seattle 24, St. Louis 10

Straight Up: 129-62
Against Spread: 95-85-11

1. Baltimore Ravens
2. New England Patriots
3. Houston Texans
4. Denver Broncos
5. Pittsburgh Steelers
6. New York Jets                   
7. Cincinnati Bengals
8. Tennessee Titans
9. Oakland Raiders
10. San Diego Chargers
11. Buffalo Bills
12. Miami Dolphins
13. Kansas City Chiefs
14. Cleveland Browns
15. Jacksonville Jaguars
16. Indianapolis Colts

1. Green Bay Packers
2. New Orleans Saints
3. San Francisco 49’ers
4. New York Giants
5. Detroit Lions
6. Atlanta Falcons                  
7. Dallas Cowboys
8. Seattle Seahawks
9. Chicago Bears
10. Carolina Panthers
11. Philadelphia Eagles
12. Arizona Cardinals
13. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
14. Washington Redskins
15. Minnesota Vikings
16. St. Louis Rams

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