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Pudge’s Picks – Week 15

December 15th, 2013

Thursday Night Football hasn’t been that kind to me over the past six weeks, where I’ve compiled a 1-5 record when picking against the spread. Here’s hoping that I pick Sunday’s slate of games as well as I did a week ago where I went 9-6 against the spread.

Washington Redskins (3-10) at Atlanta Falcons (3-10)
Sunday, December 15 at 1 pm ET on FOX

Line: Falcons (-6.5)

Sure, the Redskins are in disarray, but this isn’t a good matchup for the Falcons. They don’t have a pass rush, so regardless of who starts at quarterback for the Redskins (it’ll be Kirk Cousins), he’ll have plenty of time to locate his receivers. And the strength of the Redskins offense still remains Alfred Morris, and the fact that the Falcons run defense has been porous throughout this season doesn’t bode well for them. It’s a boost for the Falcons that Redskins tight end Jordan Reed looks out for this game, otherwise he was likely to have a field day against Zeke Motta, who will draw his first start of the season.

The major positive for Atlanta is that Washington might have one of the few defenses that is worse than their own. And given the more comfortable confines of the Georgia Dome, the Falcons offense should look competent if not good this week.

Spread Pick: Redskins
Straight Pick: Falcons

Buffalo Bills (4-9) at Jacksonville Jaguars (4-9)
Sunday, December 15 at 1 pm ET on CBS

Line: Jaguars (+1.5)

The main cause for success for the Jaguars over the past month has been the play of their defense. The Bills defense is still one of the better units, so this has the makings of a competitive, defensive battle. But at the end of the day, I like the Bills offense much more than the Jags, especially with injuries to Maurice Jones-Drew and Cecil Shorts for the latter.

Spread Pick: Bills
Straight Pick: Bills

Chicago Bears (7-6) at Cleveland Browns (4-9)
Sunday, December 15 at 1 pm ET on CBS

Line: Browns (-1.5)

I doubted Jason Campbell’s ability to have a good performance on the road last week, and paid for it. But the main reason I’m taking the Browns is I like that Joe Haden should be able to marginalize one of the Bears top wideouts, and Jay Cutler may be a little rusty in his return from injury. And the Browns still do have Josh Gordon.

Spread Pick: Browns
Straight Pick: Browns

Houston Texans (2-11) at Indianapolis Colts (8-5)
Sunday, December 15 at 1 pm ET on CBS

Line: Colts (-6.5)

In reality, I don’t really like the Colts in this game. They have tended to play better the week after a big loss, and they lost big to the Bengals last week. I do think J.J. Watt could wreak havoc on that Colts interior line, but I just can’t take the Texans anymore. They have taken over the Jaguars spot as the team that I refuse to pick for the remainder of this season.

Spread Pick: Colts
Straight Pick: Colts

New England Patriots (10-3) at Miami Dolphins (7-6)
Sunday, December 15 at 1 pm ET on CBS

Line: Dolphins (+2.5)

Tom Brady and the Patriots seem to have a late-season loss to the Dolphins more often than not over the years, and I don’t imagine this game will be any different. With what was once a good defensive unit playing like crap the past few weeks, I suspect even an offense as vanilla as Miami’s could be able to make this a game.

Spread Pick: Dolphins
Straight Pick: Dolphins

Philadelphia Eagles (8-5) at Minnesota Vikings (3-9-1)
Sunday, December 15 at 1 pm ET on FOX

Line: Vikings (+4.5)

For whatever reason, this game screams “upset alert” particularly with Adrian Peterson being limited, and the Eagles on a five-game win streak. But the Eagles have been rock-solid on the road this year, and I’d be a fool to pick against them.

Spread Pick: Eagles
Straight Pick: Eagles

Seattle Seahawks (11-2) at New York Giants (5-8)
Sunday, December 15 at 1 pm ET on FOX

Line: Giants (+6.5)

The Seahawks had their letdown game last week, so they should be ready to bounce back this week against the Giants. Playing an early game on the east coast is a concern, but the Giants just aren’t a good matchup against Seattle, not without Jason Pierre-Paul to rush the quarterback.

Spread Pick: Seahawks
Straight Pick: Seahawks

San Francisco 49ers (9-4) at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (4-9)
Sunday, December 15 at 1 pm ET on FOX

Line: Buccaneers (+5.5)

Call me crazy, but I like the Bucs in this game. The 49ers are coming off a big win at home against the Seahawks, and going on the road against a decent Bucs team. It smells like a trap!

Spread Pick: Bucs
Straight Pick: 49ers

Kansas City Chiefs (10-3) at Oakland Raiders (4-9)
Sunday, December 15 at 4:05 pm ET on CBS

Line: Raiders (-4.5)

The musical chairs act at quarterback shouldn’t help the Raiders much, with Matt McGloin getting the start. The Chiefs were on a bit of a skid there, but seemingly got things back on track against the Redskins last week. They should be able to handle the Raiders, but you never know.

Spread Pick: Chiefs
Straight Pick: Chiefs

New York Jets (6-7) at Carolina Panthers (9-4)
Sunday, December 15 at 4:05 pm ET on CBS

Line: Panthers (-11.5)

This pick really boils down to the coaches: Rex Ryan vs. Ron Rivera, and call me crazy but I’ll take Ryan 10 times out of 10. Carolina is the better team, and I suspect that defense will eat against Geno Smith and the Jets offense, but I also suspect the Jets defense will step up their game to limit Cam Newton enough to allow the Jets to cover.

Spread Pick: Jets
Straight Pick: Panthers

Green Bay Packers (6-6-1) at Dallas Cowboys (7-6)
Sunday, December 15 at 4:25 pm ET on FOX

Line: Cowboys (-6.5)

It’s really hard to pick a team helmed by Matt Flynn, but that Cowboys defense is a disgrace, and as long as Eddie Lacy can run and be effective, I suspect the Packers can find a way to overcome their quarterback problem. Injuries to Bruce Carter and Sean Lee should make the Packers run game more effective, and I think Josh Sitton can neutralize Jason Hatcher, which should make Flynn’s biggest weakness (his poise under pressure) not as big an issue.

Spread Pick: Packers
Straight Pick: Cowboys

Arizona Cardinals (8-5) at Tennessee Titans (5-8)
Sunday, December 15 at 4:25 pm ET on FOX

Line: Titans (+2.5)

It’s fairly simple, this matchup features the Arizona Cardinals defense against Ryan Fitzpatrick. I do think the Titans defense can keep it close, but the Titans need Chris Johnson to be only the second 100-yard rusher against this Cardinals defense this season. It’s possible, but unlikely.

Spread Pick: Cardinals
Straight Pick: Cardinals

New Orleans Saints (10-3) at St. Louis Rams (5-8)
Sunday, December 15 at 4:25 pm ET on FOX

Line: Rams (+5.5)

In the Kellen Clemens Era, the Rams have only managed to look like a competent team when they’ve had really strong defensive performances. That could happen this week, if they can get Robert Quinn and Chris Long to terrorize Drew Brees like they are capable of doing. The Saints aren’t a great road team, but they should be good enough to overcome the Rams in the end.

Spread Pick: Saints
Straight Pick: Saints

Cincinnati Bengals (9-4) at Pittsburgh Steelers (5-8)
Sunday, December 15 at 8:30 pm ET on NBC

Line: Steelers (+2.5)

I just have a good feeling about this Steeler team that disappointed me last week with a loss to the Dolphins. I like the fact that the Steelers were able to keep A.J. Green contained in their Week 2 loss to the Bengals. Their offensive line wasn’t as good then as it is now, and neither was Antonio Brown. All of these factors, plus the soulless demeanor of Andy Dalton makes me believe the Steelers come away with the win.

Spread Pick: Steelers
Straight Pick: Steelers

Baltimore Ravens (7-6) at Detroit Lions (7-6)
Monday, December 16 at 8:30 pm ET on ESPN

Line: Lions (-5.5)

I don’t have a lot of faith in this Lions team, but I do realize that is mainly because of their inability to win against quality competition on the road. At home, it’s a different story, and that’s where they will be facing a Raven team that is basically the same: inept on the road.

Spread Pick: Lions
Straight Pick: Lions

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