Pudge’s Picks – Week 15 2014

Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports

Julio Jones is a game-time decision

Since I’m going out of town this weekend, I’m posting this weekend’s picks a day early. That means that I probably won’t be able to factor in injuries as much as normal since the statuses of several players aren’t going to be as known to me as of Friday afternoon as they would be Saturday afternoon.

* All lines come from ESPN.

Pittsburgh Steelers (8-5) at Atlanta Falcons (5-8)
Sunday, December 14 at 1 pm ET on CBS

*Line: Falcons (+2.5)

This is a game where I’m going to give the Falcons the edge because they are playing at home, and Pittsburgh has struggled for the most part when they go on the road. This is a matchup the features two quality offenses against two weak defenses. Overall, the Steelers are a bit more balanced offensively and probably a bit better on the defensive side of the ball. But they have a very weak secondary with a limited pass rush, which should mean that Matt Ryan has plenty of time to locate his top weapon: Julio Jones, assuming he plays. If that is the case, then I think the Falcons can find a way to get enough stops on Antonio Brown and Le’Veon Bell defensively to pull out a squeaker.

Spread Pick: Falcons
Straight Pick: Falcons

Jacksonville Jaguars (2-11) at Baltimore Ravens (8-5)
Sunday, December 14 at 1 pm ET on CBS

*Line: Ravens (-13.5)

Jacksonville has a tendency to be competitive in games where they face weak quarterbacks and can establish the run. While Joe Flacco may not be a great quarterback, he’s been rock-solid as of late. And there are few teams harder to run the ball against the Ravens. So it’s unlikely to be a particularly competitive day for the Jags.

Spread Pick: Ravens
Straight Pick: Ravens

Green Bay Packers (10-3) at Buffalo Bills (7-6)
Sunday, December 14 at 1 pm ET on FOX

*Line: Bills (+5.5)

Green Bay is vulnerable, and this is a potential trap game against a good defensive line on a cold, bitter day in upstate New York. But I don’t think the Bills have enough firepower on offense, and the Packers have just a bit too much to get caught in the trap.

Spread Pick: Packers
Straight Pick: Packers

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2-11) at Carolina Panthers (4-8-1)
Sunday, December 14 at 1 pm ET on FOX

*Line: Panthers (-5.5)

Cam Newton is not going to play on Sunday, but Derek Anderson did fine against the Bucs in Week 1 on the road. The Bucs struggled with turnovers that week and have improved as of late. Anderson isn’t one that is overly prone to gift-giving as far as defenses go, so I think the Panthers should be fine without Newton this week.

Spread Pick: Buccaneers
Straight Pick: Panthers

Cincinnati Bengals (8-4-1) at Cleveland Browns (7-6)
Sunday, December 14 at 1 pm ET on CBS

*Line: Browns (+0.5)

With a few exceptions, the Bengals have been unimpressive on the road this season. When they win, they do just enough to pull out the victory. That might be something they do again this week. But they got waxed by the Browns on Thursday night a month or so ago, and going on the road against Johnny Manziel in his first start won’t be an easy task. It’s not to say that Manziel will be some savior, but his ability to make plays with his legs I think will cause problems for a what amounts to be an average Bengals defense.

Spread Pick: Browns
Straight Pick: Browns

Houston Texans (7-6) at Indianapolis Colts (9-4)
Sunday, December 14 at 1 pm ET on CBS

*Line: Colts (-6.5)

The Colts are 5-2 at home this year, while the Texans are 4-3 on the road. But the two Colts losses were to the Eagles and Patriots, while the four Texans win were against the Raiders, Titans, Jaguars and Browns. The point is, the Colts only lose to the best teams at home, while the Texans only beat the worst teams on the road. I don’t think that changes this week.

Spread Pick: Colts
Straight Pick: Colts

Oakland Raiders (2-11) at Kansas City Chiefs (7-6)
Sunday, December 14 at 1 pm ET on CBS

*Line: Chiefs (-10.5)

The Raiders were able to keep Jamaal Charles in relative check a few weeks ago in their surprise win, but I’m not sure they will again in Arrowhead this week. I think the game will be much more competitive than the line suggests it will be though.

Spread Pick: Raiders
Straight Pick: Chiefs

Miami Dolphins (7-6) at New England Patriots (10-3)
Sunday, December 14 at 1 pm ET on CBS

*Line: Patriots (-7.5)

The Patriots more often than not seem to drop a game late in the year to the Dolphins. Apparently, they got that loss out of their system in Week 1. With the Dolphins coming up to Foxborough in December on what is expected to be a cold day, coupled with improvements the Patriots have made since Week 1 to their offensive line, I expect the Pats to pull it out.

Spread Pick: Dolphins
Straight Pick: Patriots

Washington Redskins (3-10) at New York Giants (4-9)
Sunday, December 14 at 1 pm ET on FOX

*Line: Giants (-6.5)

The Redskins have looked really bad as of late with five straight losses. But if there’s any team left on their schedule that you can comfortable say that even Colt McCoy is good enough to beat, it’s the Giants. The Giants are mediocre across the board with the lone exception of Odell Beckham and he should certainly wreak havoc against a bad Redskins secondary. But McCoy needs to just manage the game and facing a Giants run defense that is ranked 30th in the league, hopefully Alfred Morris should allow him to do that.

Spread Pick: Redskins
Straight Pick: Redskins

Denver Broncos (10-3) at San Diego Chargers (8-5)
Sunday, December 14 at 4:05 pm ET on CBS

*Line: Chargers (+3.5)

The Broncos have had most of their struggles on the road this year, while the Chargers are at their best at home. This should make for a tightly contested game. But I think the Broncos defense is just a bit too strong for the Chargers offense for the latter to pull out the win.

Spread Pick: Chargers
Straight Pick: Broncos

New York Jets (2-11) at Tennessee Titans (2-11)
Sunday, December 14 at 4:05 pm ET on CBS

*Line: Titans (+1.5)

Jake Locker will be inserted back into the starting lineup this week. The Titans’ recipe for success when Locker has been under center has generally been relying on their running game, which allows Locker to manage the game. But they’ll be facing one of the league’s toughest run defenses. However the Jets do have a weak secondary, which even a subpar quarterback like Locker should be able to attack.

Spread Pick: Titans
Straight Pick: Titans

Minnesota Vikings (6-7) at Detroit Lions (9-4)
Sunday, December 14 at 4:25 pm ET on FOX

*Line: Lions (-7.5)

The Lions dominated the Vikings in the trenches in their last matchup and forced three Teddy Bridgewater interceptions. While I think the Vikings might fare better this week, I doubt it’s to the degree where they get the win. Also factor in that Calvin Johnson did not play in that previous game, which was a 17-3 Lions win. The Lions could potentially double that offensive output this week.

Spread Pick: Lions
Straight Pick: Lions

San Francisco 49ers (7-6) at Seattle Seahawks (9-4)
Sunday, December 14 at 4:25 pm ET on FOX

*Line: Seahawks (-9.5)

Colin Kaepernick has never played particularly well against the Seahawks, with a career passer rating of 50.6 in five starts against them. And when playing in Seattle, it’s slightly lower at 49.6. The Wilson-Kaepernick series has featured the Seahawks outscoring the 49ers 94-33 in games in Seattle. I don’t have a lot of confidence that the 49ers will figure things out this week. But you never know, as usually the minute you write off a team, that’s the week they decide to show up.

Spread Pick: Seahawks
Straight Pick: Seahawks

Dallas Cowboys (9-4) at Philadelphia Eagles (9-4)
Sunday, December 14 at 8:30 pm ET on NBC

*Line: Eagles (-3.5)

This is a game that should decide the division, as the Cowboys need this win if they want their most realistic shot of winning the NFC East and making the playoffs. They face the Colts at home and Redskins on the road to close out their schedule, while the Eagles have a pair of road games against the Redskins and Giants. Ultimately, the Cowboys defense is just too soft to handle the Chip Kelly offense, even with Mark Sanchez at the helm.

Spread Pick: Eagles
Straight Pick: Eagles

New Orleans Saints (5-8) at Chicago Bears (5-8)
Monday, December 15 at 8:30 pm ET on ESPN

*Line: Bears (+2.5)

It’s supposed to be a chilly night in Chicago on Monday, which shouldn’t bode well for the Saints. But the team decided to shake things up by benching former first-round safety Kenny Vaccaro this week. If things don’t turn around for the Saints this week, then I doubt anything they can do will have the desired effect. The Bears aren’t a particularly good team, and without his security blanket in Brandon Marshall, I don’t expect Jay Cutler to hunker down against a weak Saints defense especially given the lack of faith between him and the coaches.

Spread Pick: Saints
Straight Pick: Saints

About the Author

Aaron Freeman
Founder of FalcFans.com