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‘Must Win’ Games for Many Headline Week 14 Picks

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Sep 16, 2013; Cincinnati, OH, USA; Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger (7) talks with Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton (14) after the Cincinnati Bengals defeated the Pittsburgh Steelers 20-10 at Paul Brown Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

Who Dat Dish NFL Pick’em rolls on with the final month of regular season picks! I know, it’s a sad thought when you think about there only being four weeks of regular season play left in the year. The top pickers (Barry, Andrew, and myself) each finished at 11-5 this week. The race remains intense, but Barry still has a two game lead over second place. Simon and Federico remain hot on the trail, but need some strong weeks to take over the top spots.

Let’s look at the standings after Week 13 action:

  1. Barry (@HarahanWhoDat), 131-60-1
  2. Andrew (@ShootsMcGavin), 129-62-1
  3. John (@JohnJHendrix), 129-62-1
  4. Simon (@Daugulis), 126-65-1
  5. Federico (@FedeFerrari10), 124-67-1
  6. MacGyver (@SaintsTailgate), 122-69-1
  7. Ryne (@RHancock19), 115-76-1
  8. Ian (@IDear_Sports), 114-77-1

Having sixteen matchups to choose from remains increasingly challenging, and we know how respective games can go south fairly quickly, even when a team is heavily favored. We get kicked off with a pretty decent Thursday Night Football matchup, and have a heck of a Sunday Night Football game to look forward to, as well as late games on Sunday.

Here’s how Week Fourteen picks look:

 Dallas (8-4) at Chicago (5-7)

The Cowboys were embarrassed during their traditional Thanksgiving game when they were pummeled by the Eagles 33-10. Tony Romo didn’t look right in that game, and they only produced 267 total yards of offense. The Bears enter suffering a similar fate on Thanksgiving. They jumped out to an early 14-3 lead, but then Matthew Stafford and Calvin Johnson stole the show. It’s been tough to figure out Thursday Night Football, and we can all speculate that Dallas is poised for another December meltdown. I think the Bears have what it takes to steal this one against the Cowboys, and really put some pressure on them to finish their season. Should the Boys win, it’ll be their first winning season since 2009.

Pittsburgh (7-5) at Cincinnati (8-3-1)

The Steelers took a step back after last week’s loss to the Saints. It wasn’t necessarily the offense, it was the defense. I figured Dick Lebeau would have frustrated Drew Brees tremendously, but Brees and the Saints didn’t turn the ball over and picked them apart. The Bengals remain in firm control of the AFC North, but a loss would severely complicate things. These two teams face other twice this month, and have split matchups over the past couple of years at their respective venues. I feel the Bengals are playing slightly better at this point, which has been fueled by recent strong defensive play.

Indianapolis (8-4) at Cleveland (7-5)

Brian Hoyer was named the starting quarterback at least for one more week, which is not the most exciting news if you’re the mass media and a fan. Johnny Manziel doing anything makes headlines, and I’m sure it’s only a matter of time before he gets his shot at starting. Mike Pettine is smart to start Hoyer against the Colts (even if you don’t like it), as the team desperately needs a victory to stay in the playoff discussion. Hoyer has the chemistry, and he’s their best option to win. However, Andrew Luck is one of the hottest quarterback in the NFL right now. The defensive matchups against the talented wide receiving corp of the Colts should be a good one to watch, but I like the Colts to win.

Tampa Bay (2-10) at Detroit (8-4)

I mean, do we even give the Bucs a chance here? The Lions should continue to roll, especially playing at home.

Houston (6-6) at Jacksonville (2-10)

The Texans had a huge game from Ryan Fitzpatrick last week, and that has to be a bit frustrating if you’re a fan. Where was this all season? Where could the Texans be if Fitzpatrick would have played at that type of level? They aren’t out of the playoff discussion, but they have to keep winning. The Jags aren’t exactly a pushover (ask the Giants). They swept the Texans last season, which broke a five game losing streak against them. The Texans defense should help them win this one, but you just never know.

Baltimore (7-5) at Miami (7-5)

Both of these teams need this win, as Miami clings to the sixth playoff spot in the AFC Playoff Picture. With Baltimore on the outside looking in and looking to forget about last week’s home loss to the Chargers, they should be up to the challenge that Miami will throw at them. They’ve won four straight against the Dolphins, including three straight road games. Expect this to be a high-octane matchup.

New York Jets (2-10) at Minnesota (5-7)

The Jets showed that they weren’t going away quietly against the Dolphins, and nearly ‘earned one for Rex’ last week. In general, both New York football teams have just had a rough one this year. The Vikings had a whopping 210 total yards of offense, but managed to beat the Panthers 31-13 thanks to two special team touchdowns. On one hand, it’s encouraging to get that type of production. On the other hand, where’s the offense? This team hasn’t utilized Cordarrelle Patterson nearly like it should, and he’s voiced his frustration with it. The Vikings should win, but issues still exist outside the whole Adrian Peterson thing.

Oct 30, 2014; Charlotte, NC, USA; New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees (9) dives over the top for a touchdown during the third quarter against the Carolina Panthers at Bank of America Stadium. The Saints defeated the Panthers 28-10. Mandatory Credit: Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports

Carolina (3-8-1) at New Orleans (5-7)

After a major upset victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers, the Saints look to continue their winning ways. They certainly looked like a scary threat to the rest of the NFC after that game, but now they’ll return home needing to break a three-game skid. Fun Fact: After losing seven straight games at home to the Panthers from 2002-2006, the Saints have won four of the last five matchups against the Panthers in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.

New York Giants (3-9) at Tennessee (2-10)

Quite honestly, your guess is as good as mine. The Giants were supposed to beat up on the Jaguars last week, but clearly fell apart in the end. They were up 21-3 at the half for goodness’ sake! It’s a battle of two of the league’s worst, so you honestly don’t know what to expect out of this game. At the end of the day, I have to side with Eli and company, especially if they have a healthy Rashad Jennings.

St. Louis (5-7) at Washington (3-9)

The Redskins are a pretty big mess this year, and wind up with their fifth losing season out of the past six years. It’s crazy to think that this team won the division in 2012 and RGIII was the offensive rookie of the year. The Rams are a team you can never figure out. Their two lone road wins this season were against the Bucs and 49ers. They tend to hang in with the good teams, and struggle against the bad. Despite that, I’ll side with the Rams because of their defense.

Kansas City (7-5) at Arizona (9-3)

Both of these teams need a win here, as they are both losers of their last two respective games. I could spend all sorts of time telling you how the offenses need production from specific groups and players, but I’ll just default to the 6-0 home record the Cards have going for them. Quietly, University of Phoenix Stadium is gaining a reputation for a place that road teams can’t win.

Buffalo (7-5) at Denver (9-3)

I’m suddenly reminded of the days when Jim Kelly and John Elway would face off against each other. Did you know that every one of the nine matchups from 1979-1994 was played in Rich Stadium (Buffalo)? Kind of crazy to think how that played out. While this particular matchup doesn’t feature nearly as many strong names as some of those from that 15 year span, it still features two of the top AFC teams. When you peel back the layers on the Bills, they have struggled against the stronger teams (Chargers, Chiefs, Texans). I just don’t believe they have enough to walk into Sports Authority Field at Mile High and beat the Broncos.

San Francisco (7-5) at Oakland (1-11)

Oakland’s only hope is a repeat of what they did against Kansas City. Even with a struggling 49ers franchise (see the off the field stuff, including Jim Harbaugh), they’ll win here. If they don’t, then stick a fork in them for the rest of the season.

Nov 27, 2014; Arlington, TX, USA; Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Mark Sanchez (3) celebrates a touchdown in the first quarter with tight end Zach Ertz (86) against the Dallas Cowboys at AT&T Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

Seattle (8-4) at Philadelphia (9-3)

Enter the USC storyline of Pete Carroll and Mark Sanchez. These two teams are certainly among the tops in the NFC right now, and this matchup expects to deliver a pretty entertaining game. We know that the Seahawks defense is strong and the Eagles offense is equally as strong. However, over time we’ve seen this not work out for opposing teams of the Seahawks. What ultimately will save the Eagles in this matchup is their defense’s ability to generate turnovers, but the Seahawks have only turned it over nine times this season, which is good for second best in the league. It could be a troublesome game for the Seahawks, but I think they’ll sneak past the Eagles in this one.

New England (9-3) at San Diego (8-4)

These two haven’t squared off since the beginning of the 2011 season. A lot of the cast and characters are similar. The big headline will be Brady vs. Rivers. The last time they faced each other, they combined for 801 yards passing. However, it was Rivers’ mistakes that did the Chargers in. Rivers has played consistently strong all year (worthy of Pro Bowl consideration in my opinion), and has only had one real bad game (Dolphins – 3 interceptions). Do the Chargers have what it takes to make the upset? Surely, but the Patriots are the strongest team in the AFC, and they should win.

Atlanta (5-7) at Green Bay (9-3)

The Falcons travel to Lambeau to take on the NFL’s best, I don’t see it happening.  If that doesn’t convince you, then just know the only road wins the Falcons have to show for this season are against the Bucs and Panthers. Yes, the NFC South has been that bad.

Agree or disagree with our picks? Who do you have as a ‘upset of the week’ candidate?

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