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Pudge’s Picks – Week 14

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Tony Gonzalez should be a difference-maker vs. Packers

Hopefully, Sunday’s picks fare better than Thursday’s.

Atlanta Falcons (3-9) at Green Bay Packers (5-6-1)
Sunday, December 8 at 1 pm ET on FOX

Line: Packers (-4.5)

The Falcons have the ability to beat a Matt Flynn-led Packers team. The problem for Atlanta is going to be pressure. Flynn is not a good quarterback in the face of pressure, but the Falcons have been able to provide next to no heat on opposing quarterbacks throughout the 2013 season. Thus, there is a reasonable expectation that with ample time in the pocket to find receivers like Jordy Nelson and James Jones, Flynn can be competent. But the key for the Falcons success will be stopping the running of Eddie Lacy. And while the Falcons had only a few lapses against the Bills last week in terms of their run defense, those sorts of lapses have been commonplace over the past two months. So if this game comes down to the Falcons needing to slow Lacy and pressure Flynn, to win, the Falcons defense is a bad bet.

On the opposite side of the ball, the key for Atlanta is getting a repeat performance from Roddy White and also getting an increased effort from Tony Gonzalez, who has been relatively quiet for the past month of the season due to the bracketed coverage and double teams he receives. The Packers secondary is suspect and has been gashed by tight ends throughout this season. This opens up the possibility for a balanced attack for the Falcons offense, and in the event of that happening, I’ll put more faith in Matt Ryan on the road than I would Matt Flynn at home.

Spread Pick: Falcons
Straight Pick: Falcons

Buffalo Bills (4-8) at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (3-9)
Sunday, December 8 at 1 pm ET on CBS

Line: Bucs (-2.5)

The Bills are coming off a tough loss to the Falcons, and going on the road against a resurging Bucs team is not a great recipe for success. The key in this game will be turnovers. Which rookie quarterback will do a better job protecting the football, thus allowing his running game to carry the day. If this week is anything like the past few weeks, the safer bet is Mike Glennon. But the degree of difficulty for Glennon should be much higher given that he’ll be facing a very formidable Bills pass rush.

Spread Pick: Bucs
Straight Pick: Bucs

Indianapolis Colts (8-4) at Cincinnati Bengals (8-4)
Sunday, December 8 at 1 pm ET on CBS

Line: Bengals (-5.5)

This game will decide the front-runner for the No. 3 seed in the AFC playoff race, with the Bengals holding the advantage. The Colts just haven’t looked very consistent without Reggie Wayne in the lineup, and while the Bengals took a huge hit with the injury to Geno Atkins, they still have a formidable defense that should be able to continue to keep the clamps on Andrew Luck.

Spread Pick: Bengals
Straight Pick: Bengals

Cleveland Browns (4-8) at New England Patriots (9-3)
Sunday, December 8 at 1 pm ET on CBS

Line: Patriots (-12.5)

I don’t like big spreads like this, and the Browns have been a fairly resilient team this year. And they should get the boost from Brandon Weeden not being in the lineup. But Jason Campbell just hasn’t been a very good quarterback on the road against good teams throughout his career. While Josh Gordon might have another big game against Aqib Talib (who has been nursing an injury the past month), it probably won’t be enough.

Spread Pick: Patriots
Straight Pick: Patriots

Detroit Lions (7-5) at Philadelphia Eagles (7-5)
Sunday, December 8 at 1 pm ET on FOX

Line: Eagles (-2.5)

Another game that could have serious playoff implications as both the Lions and Eagles are in battles for their respective division crowns and unlikely to win the wildcard at this point. It’s a fairly simple question for the Eagles, in do they have what it takes to slow down Megatron and Reggie Bush? But Detroit simply isn’t a very good road team, and Philly seems to have figured out how to win at home in recent weeks.

Spread Pick: Eagles
Straight Pick: Eagles

Kansas City Chiefs (9-3) at Washington Redskins (3-9)
Sunday, December 8 at 1 pm ET on CBS

Line: Redskins (+3.5)

This is the game the Chiefs need to get some pep back in their step. But the Chiefs pass rush has fallen off. But against a Redskins defense that gives up yards like there’s no tomorrow, there’s no way this game shouldn’t be decided by a touchdown or more.

Spread Pick: Chiefs
Straight Pick: Chiefs

Oakland Raiders (4-8) at New York Jets (5-7)
Sunday, December 8 at 1 pm ET on CBS

Line: Jets (-2.5)

Last week’s benching of Geno Smith certainly will have some impact on this week’s game. Either Smith will find a way to protect the football, and give a superior Jets team the victory at home, or his confidence will be shot and a middling Raiders team will find a way to win. But it’s hard to like the Raiders, who haven’t won a game in the Eastern time zone in almost exactly four years. I guess at some point that streak has to end. They’re not going to get a better opportunity than a struggling Jets team.

Spread Pick: Raiders
Straight Pick: Raiders

Miami Dolphins (6-6) at Pittsburgh Steelers (5-7)
Sunday, December 8 at 1 pm ET on CBS

Line: Steelers (-3.5)

Miami’s problems stem from their lack of firepower. And if the Steelers were a weaker defense and offense, I think they would have a better shot. This one should be a defensive struggle, but at least have Antonio Brown.

Spread Pick: Steelers
Straight Pick: Steelers

Minnesota Vikings (3-8-1) at Baltimore Ravens (6-6)
Sunday, December 8 at 1 pm ET on FOX

Line: Ravens (-7.5)

The question is whether or not Adrian Peterson’s recent success (357 rushing yards the past two weeks) is due to him getting back to old form, or just playing two of the league’s weakest run defenses in Chicago and Green Bay. My guess is the former, and thus I’ll take the Ravens defense to slow him down and basically get another home win.

Spread Pick: Vikings
Straight Pick: Ravens

Tennessee Titans (5-7) at Denver Broncos (10-2)
Sunday, December 8 at 4:05 pm ET on CBS

Line: Broncos (-12.5)

The Broncos haven’t blown anybody out, meaning they haven’t won by more than two touchdowns since Week 8. And really, their last two blowouts (vs. Washington and Jacksonville) were competitive games up until the start of the second half. So really, we’re going back to Week 4 since the Broncos have laid the smackdown on anyone. The Titans defense is underrated, but I’m not sure they are good enough to keep this one from getting away from Ryan Fitzpatrick.

Spread Pick: Broncos
Straight Pick: Broncos

St. Louis Rams (5-7) at Arizona Cardinals (7-5)
Sunday, December 8 at 4:25 pm ET on FOX

Line: Cardinals (-6.5)

This should be a good defensive contest. The key for St. Louis is pressuring Carson Palmer, and forcing some turnovers. Because frankly, they can’t move the ball with Kellen Clemens at quarterback. They need to rely on their running game to stay in this game, which means not allowing Arizona to get out to an early lead. But if Robert Quinn can destroy Levi Brown for 3 sacks, what is he going to do against Bradley Sowell?

Spread Pick: Rams
Straight Pick: Cardinals

New York Giants (5-7) at San Diego Chargers (5-7)
Sunday, December 8 at 4:25 pm ET on FOX

Line: Chargers (-3.5)

It seems like the Chargers have morphed into the Jets as a team that is good every other week. But if that’s the case, then this should be an “on” week for them against an overrated Giants team. With Jason Pierre-Paul injured, I just don’t see much to like about the Giants ability to stop Philip Rivers and the Chargers offense. The real question is going to be whether or not the Chargers secondary can contain the Giants receivers. This has the makings of a shootout, and I’ll take the home team.

Spread Pick: Chargers
Straight Pick: Chargers

Seattle Seahawks (11-1) at San Francisco 49ers (8-4)
Sunday, December 8 at 4:25 pm ET on FOX

Line: 49ers (-2.5)

Fresh off their drubbing of the Saints, I think people are probably going to overrate the Seahawks a bit. Apparently Vegas isn’t, with the 49ers being favored. Throughout most of this year, the Seahawks just haven’t been a dominant road team. The 49ers haven’t been a great home team either, but I think Colin Kaepernick will pick up his first win against Seattle this week.

Spread Pick: 49ers
Straight Pick: 49ers

Carolina Panthers (9-3) at New Orleans Saints (9-3)
Sunday, December 8 at 8:30 pm ET on NBC

Line: Saints (-3.5)

I don’t think having the short week against a tough Panthers defense will help the Saints offense much this week. But Carolina has yet to really slow down the Saints at all in the dome under Ron Rivera, and even with his rock-solid defense this year, I think that Saints offense will be too much as they have been for every opponent they’ve faced at home. I’m just betting on Sean Payton over Rivera.

Spread Pick: Saints
Straight Pick: Saints

Dallas Cowboys (7-5) at Chicago Bears (6-6)
Monday, December 9 at 8:30 pm ET on ESPN

Line: Bears (+1.5)

This game has the makings of another shootout. The Bears have hit the wall, as their defense has fallen off hard. But the Cowboys defense is terrible as well. And I think this game could see Josh McCown and Tony Romo each hitting 350 yards passing.  I’ll put more faith in DeMarco Murray and Sean Lee than the Bears right now.

Spread Pick: Cowboys
Straight Pick: Cowboys

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Author: Aaron Freeman

Aaron is the founder of FalcFans.com.

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