Pudge’s Picks – Week 16 2014

Kirby Lee/Image of Sport-USA TODAY Sports

Will Andy Dalton’s “struggle face” return in Week 16?

As I noted on Thursday, last week was a horrifically bad week for me. So much so that my confidence is extremely low going into this weekend’s slate of games. Right now, if I can get just seven of these picks right against the spread, I’ll be very happy. If asked two weeks ago, I would have said my goal was to finish above .500 for these final three weeks, but now it’s trended toward just treading water is good enough.

* All lines are from ESPN.

Philadelphia Eagles (9-5) at Washington Redskins (3-11)
Saturday, December 20 at 4:30 pm on NFL Network

*Line: Redskins (+8.5)

The Redskins are bad. It’s that simple. So why should I pick them to cover against the Eagles, when they couldn’t even against the Giants last week?

Spread Pick: Eagles
Straight Pick: Eagles

San Diego Chargers (8-6) at San Francisco 49ers (7-7)
Saturday, December 20 at 8:25 pm on CBS

*Line: 49ers (-2.5)

This is a game that could go either way, but I’m expecting the 49ers to snap their three-game losing streak at home against a Chargers team that hasn’t been particularly good when asked to go on the road this year. Keenan Allen won’t play for the Chargers, but Malcom Floyd has quietly had a better season, so I don’t think the former will missed as much as many think. But Allen clearly is the team’s go-to threat and that will be felt in some capacity.

Spread Pick: 49ers
Straight Pick: 49ers

Atlanta Falcons (5-9) at New Orleans Saints (6-8)
Sunday, December 21 at 1 pm ET on FOX

*Line: Saints (-6.5)

The fact that Julio Jones might not play on Sunday, pretty much dooms any chance the Falcons have this year. They just have showed zero life over the past two years when Jones has been either limited or out of the lineup. The Falcons are essentially a one-man team, and even a bad defense like the Saints can look competent against the Falcons offense. While I do think the Falcons will get up for this game and make it close, I just cannot in good conscience pick them to win unless Jones is healthy and playing at a high level.

Spread Pick: Falcons
Straight Pick: Saints

Cleveland Browns (7-7) at Carolina Panthers (5-8-1)
Sunday, December 21 at 1 pm ET on CBS

*Line: Panthers (-4.5)

The Browns have struggled to defend the run this year and are also beat up on the back-end, which is exactly the sort of matchup the Panthers need. Given that their playoff hopes are still alive, I expect the Panthers to play well in this game.

Spread Pick: Panthers
Straight Pick: Panthers

Detroit Lions (10-4) at Chicago Bears
Sunday, December 21 at 1 pm on CBS

*Line: Bears (+6.5)

The Bears are giving Jimmy Clausen his first real opportunity to start in three years, as he hasn’t really been in that position since the arrival of Cam Newton in Carolina back in 2011. I don’t expect things to get better for the Bears against the league’s best defense, although Clausen might be able to cut down on the turnovers that have been abundant by Jay Cutler in recent weeks.

Spread Pick: Lions
Straight Pick: Lions

Baltimore Ravens (9-5) at Houston Texans (7-7)
Sunday, December 21 at 1 pm ET on CBS

*Line: Texans (+4.5)

It sounds like the Texans are leaning towards starting Case Keenum at quarterback this week instead of Thad Lewis. While the Texans could do a lot worse as far as starting quarterbacks go, neither should be much of a match for a formidable Ravens defense. But I also don’t trust the Ravens as much as I should, given their struggles to beat Jacksonville last week.

Spread Pick: Ravens
Straight Pick: Ravens

Minnesota Vikings (6-8) at Miami Dolphins (7-7)
Sunday, December 21 at 1 pm ET on FOX

*Line: Dolphins (-6.5)

To what should have been no one’s surprise, the Dolphins pass protection has dipped since losing left tackle Branden Albert to injury. Tackles Ja’Wuan James and Dallas Thomas have struggled, and now the latter is injured. But that might not be a bad thing since Jason Fox could easily be an upgrade in pass protection. But the Vikings defensive line has stepped up as of late with strong play from Everson Griffen and Sharrif Floyd, so I think they’ll harass Ryan Tannehill plenty.

But of course, we cannot forget how much worse the Vikings offensive line is and the fact that they’re facing a much better defensive front of Miami’s. So despite my expectations that the Dolphins will struggle offensively, I don’t see a lot of hope that the Vikings will fare any better.

Spread Pick: Dolphins
Straight Pick: Dolphins

New England Patriots (11-3) at New York Jets (3-11)
Sunday, December 21 at 1 pm ET on CBS

*Line: Jets (+10.5)

As I tried to explain several weeks ago prior to the Jets-Patriots Thursday Night matchup, this series typically follows a template. The first game of the year is a close one, the second one is usually a lopsided Patriots blowout. Given that the first matchup was surprisingly a close one, I think history will repeat itself.

Spread Pick: Patriots
Straight Pick: Patriots

Kansas City Chiefs (8-6) at Pittsburgh Steelers (9-5)
Sunday, December 21 at 1 pm ET on CBS

*Line: Steelers (-3.5)

Unlike the Falcons, the Chiefs should do a better job getting pressure on Ben Roethlisberger and thus will get some stops when necessary. The main question is whether the Steelers defense can put the clamps on Jamaal Charles to the necessary level to stop the Chiefs offense, who really don’t have much else to go off. The Steelers clinch the playoffs with a win, and for some crazy reason I somehow believe that they’ll do so this week at home. That’s probably not a smart bet on my part, but for whatever reason I think this year’s Steeler team has a bit more “heart” than previous year’s versions.

Spread Pick: Chiefs
Straight Pick: Steelers

Green Bay Packers (10-4) at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2-12)
Sunday, December 21 at 1 pm on FOX

*Line: Buccaneers (+10.5)

The Packers struggled last week, which made sense given the Bills underrated defense. Fortunately, they won’t have to fear the same thing happening against the Bucs.

Spread Pick: Packers
Straight Pick: Packers

New York Giants (5-9) at St. Louis Rams (6-8)
Sunday, December 21 at 4:05 pm ET on FOX

*Line: Rams (-5.5)

On the few occasions I’ve seen the Giants this year, I’ve noticed how poorly Manning has played when he’s been pressured. That will likely occur throughout Sunday afternoon in St. Louis, so things aren’t looking promising for the Giants.

Spread Pick: Rams
Straight Pick: Rams

Indianapolis Colts (10-4) at Dallas Cowboys (10-4)
Sunday, December 21 at 4:25 pm ET on CBS

*Line: Cowboys (-2.5)

There are playoff implications here for the Cowboys, but that fact alone makes me skeptical of this team. They typically have failed when put in those situations, and it seems only right that it comes down to Week 17 for what seems like the umpteenth time with the Cowboys. The problem is that the Colts have looked lackluster the past two weeks, thanks to a dip in play from Andrew Luck. They’ll need him to step it back up this week, or else my earlier Cowboys prediction won’t come true.

Spread Pick: Colts
Straight Pick: Colts

Buffalo Bills (8-6) at Oakland Raiders (2-12)
Sunday, December 21 at 4:25 pm ET on CBS

*Line: Raiders (+5.5)

The Bills just beat the Packers, so it’s hard to like Oakland’s chances. But the Raiders have won two straight at home, and the West Coast trip could cause some problems for the Bills. It should be noted that the Bills haven’t won a West Coast game since 2004.

Spread Pick: Raiders
Straight Pick: Bills

Seattle Seahawks (10-4) at Arizona Cardinals (11-3)
Sunday, December 21 at 8:30 pm ET on NBC

*Line: Cardinals (+7.5)

While I think the Cardinals defense will step up this week to try and keep this is a low-scoring affair, there just doesn’t seem to be a lot of hope that the Cardinals can win unless they can hold Seattle to under 10 points. Ryan Lindley is starting at quarterback and even though Bruce Arians is somewhat deserving credit as a “quarterback whisperer,” he’s by no means a miracle worker.

Spread Pick: Seahawks
Straight Pick: Seahawks

Denver Broncos (11-3) at Cincinnati Bengals (9-4-1)
Monday, December 22 at 8:30 pm ET on ESPN

*Line: Bengals (+3.5)

Much has been made of the downtrending of Peyton Manning as of late, which is a fair criticism. But the key against the Bengals will be establishing the run with running back C.J. Anderson against a porous unit. However, if that is the case, it’s likely that the Broncos won’t have the sort of offensive output that we’ve grown accustomed to seeing with Manning at the helm.

But the Bengals are also playing in primetime, and are 2-6 under quarterback Andy Dalton when playing a night game. It’s just that anytime the spotlight is on Dalton, he seems to lay an egg. The opposite narrative is true for Manning, so I expect the Broncos to do their thing even if it’s far less spectacular than we’re used to.

Spread Pick: Broncos
Straight Pick: Broncos

About the Author

Aaron Freeman
Founder of FalcFans.com