NFL Week 17 Predictions: In the Nervous Light of Sunday

The NFL’s regular season sure goes by quickly. Even though it does feel like a long time ago when I woke up at 3 A.M., choking on my own mucus just hours after the Seahawks shut down Green Bay on opening night, the 17 weeks just fly by.

So for the last time this year, here are some thoughts on this week’s action.

REST: Colts at Titans, Bills at Patriots, Cowboys at Redskins

Some teams have little or really nothing to play for, but should they rest? I hate playoff rest, especially for a team that’s already earned a bye. That’s when you rest. Bill Belichick has not been one to make Week 17 an excruciating sight like Bill Polian’s Colts teams used to, so I expect Tom Brady and company to make short order of the Bills, but it really doesn’t even matter if they don’t.

Is this the first “rest game” for Andrew Luck? I think the Colts need to establish some rhythm on offense and the lowly Titans are a great opponent to do that against. I would aim for playing a half and hoping the offense puts up 17+ points before giving the backups the second half.

The Cowboys have a very slim chance of getting a bye, so they should rest DeMarco Murray, but I imagine he’ll play just long enough to get the yardage necessary to break Emmitt Smith’s single-season franchise record. Tony Romo should be a MVP favorite, so sitting could depress his numbers a little more than they already are with missing some time this year, but the Redskins are bad enough for him to add to his career-best season. Still, I would not have him in there in the fourth quarter along with anyone else that’s irreplaceable.

With a win in Washington, Dallas would join the 49ers (1984, 1989, 1990), 2001 Rams and 2007 Patriots as the only teams to go 8-0 on the road in a season.

Rams at Seahawks

No way will Jeff Fisher sweep the Seahawks with a home game where Seattle can clinch the No. 1 seed, but he might see his defense throw a cheap shot or two along the way. I picked Seattle to repeat all year long and I see no reason to change that. Russell Wilson won’t have the dynamic 300/100 game again, but I expect the Rams to struggle to reach 10 points in this one, especially if we’re just looking at offensive scoring.

Eagles at Giants

After Odell Beckham Jr. gets done with Cary Williams and Bradley Fletcher, he will replace Eli Manning in those “Unstoppable” commercials that never made any damn marketing sense. The Giants will end the season on a good note, and be ready to take down the Patriots in next year’s Super Bowl. Every four years, like leap year.

Lions at Packers

Well, you probably know the Lions haven’t won in Green Bay since 1991. Three weeks later Detroit won its last playoff game, 38-6 over Dallas. So it’s not hyperbole to say a win in Lambeau this week would be the biggest Detroit win since the 1991 season. We also know this is exactly the kind of game the Lions just don’t win. The Matthew Stafford era still carries this ugly graphic around:

StafWk17

Note: I watched Lindsay Rhodes and Brian Baldinger amusingly reference this stat on TV the other day. People are paying attention. Even good-looking blondes. 

That’s 3-29 against teams that finished the season with a winning record. He still technically hasn’t played a team that finished 9-7 yet. Buffalo could finish 9-7, but Detroit lost that game. Miami could finish 9-7 and Detroit actually won that game with one of Stafford’s five 4QC wins (most in 2014). Otherwise the record is 1-2 this year with a win over Green Bay in which Eddie Lacy almost scored as many points for Detroit (9) than the Stafford-led offense did (10). Detroit’s defensive turnaround has been great this year. The Lions have intercepted a pass in 12 consecutive games (longest streak in the league). The Lions have held 11 opponents to fewer than 18 points. I think the defense will do a respectable job against an offense that’s been incredible at home, but I think Detroit’s offense is going to lose this game by being too ineffective. This offense struggled in Chicago last week against a putrid defense. I just don’t see Stafford pulling this one out, though if you give him the ball last, he could deliver Detroit’s finest moment in 23 years.

Final prediction: Lions 13, Packers 24

Chargers at Chiefs

Does Chase Daniel exist for the sole purpose of starting against the Chargers in do-or-die games in Week 17? Hey, he might actually throw a touchdown pass to a wide receiver. Daniel played well enough to win last year in San Diego and that was with a backup-heavy roster. Andy Reid does a great job of getting the backup ready to play, so I actually don’t expect much of a drop-off, if any, in this one, which could be a high-scoring game. Philip Rivers will have to suck up the pain and play really well to get this win, but I do like the Chargers’ chances of claiming that last playoff berth in the AFC.

Panthers at Falcons

It seems ridiculous one of these teams will get a home playoff game, and possibly against an opponent (say Arizona) they could probably beat. These teams usually play tight games, which usually favors Atlanta. However, I think the team that can get its skill guy going (Jonathan Stewart for Carolina, Julio Jones for Atlanta) strong will get the win. I lean towards Atlanta just because it’s at home and Matt Ryan has been better than Cam Newton this season, but it’s certainly a coin-flip game. Neither team has been very good for any sustained period this season. I’m just confused why this game wasn’t played at 1 p.m. to give that time slot something more meaningful on Sunday. Let us focus heavily on DET-GB in peace, though that game’s more likely to be a blowout than this one.

Raiders at Broncos

Denver will have to play this game out just so the Bengals can’t jump ahead for a No. 2 seed, but if this is anything but a massacre of the Raiders, then maybe there is something rotten in the state of Colorado. I expect Peyton Manning to rebound from Monday night and lead the league in touchdown passes for a record fifth time by surpassing the 40 mark again. His teams have usually been aware of receiving feats, so I imagine he’ll try to get Emmanuel Sanders up to 10 touchdowns. He has nine this year. One more and he’ll join Demaryius Thomas and Julius Thomas with at least 10 touchdowns this year, making the 2014 Broncos the third offense to ever have at least three double-digit touchdown receivers. Manning was the quarterback of the first two offenses.

3x10

Bengals at Steelers

I already wrote a little preview at FO this week on the game, so let me provide a Pittsburgh fan’s perspective. I think Cincinnati’s win over Denver helps the Steelers in this one. Cincinnati won’t be playing for its playoff lives anymore since both teams are in, but this is for the division and likely a No. 3 seed. The Steelers have been much better at home this year, especially the offense which will need to play very well to win. That’s where the Steelers are this year. The defense can’t be trusted, so Ben Roethlisberger has to play borderline great for the Steelers to win. I actually think compared to the 42-21 game a few weeks ago in Cincinnati, we’ll see much lower scoring in this one. A.J. Green possibly being limited could be a big boost for the Steelers, but that’s why Jeremy Hill is the guy to watch. I can see him outrushing Le’Veon Bell, but it’s the passing battle that the Steelers need to win decisively. Roethlisberger played a piss-poor game in Week 16 two years ago against the Bengals that eliminated the Steelers from the playoffs. This defense has given him trouble in the past. His last game against them looks more like an outlier than anything. So I think he’ll have more of the team’s fate on his shoulders and will have to deliver a very good performance whereas Dalton will have more help. The Bengals can certainly win this game, but they’ve only won two games on the road in prime-time against a quality opponent since I’ve been born. So what do you think I’m going to pick here?

Final prediction: Bengals 17, Steelers 24

Note: I went all Jay Cutler on this final prediction piece of the regular season, meaning I didn’t proofread anything. If something’s wrong, I don’t currrr. You’re not replacing me with Jimmy Clausen. 

NFL Week 17 Predictions

After going 8-8 in Week 1, I’ve managed 15 straight winning weeks.

Winners in bold:

  • Bears at Vikings
  • Saints at Buccaneers
  • Jaguars at Texans
  • Bills at Patriots
  • Jets at Dolphins
  • Cowboys at Redskins
  • Eagles at Giants
  • Browns at Ravens
  • Chargers at Chiefs
  • Colts at Titans
  • Cardinals at 49ers
  • Rams at Seahawks
  • Raiders at Broncos
  • Lions at Packers
  • Panthers at Falcons
  • Bengals at Steelers

I know it’s been such a home-road season for the contenders (minus Dallas), but damn, 75% home teams? Oh well. Trust the gut. The teams I picked to win were only 9-7 in the first matchup this season.

Season Results

  • Week 1: 8-8
  • Week 2: 9-7
  • Week 3: 11-5
  • Week 4: 8-5
  • Week 5: 11-4
  • Week 6: 9-5-1
  • Week 7: 10-5
  • Week 8: 10-5
  • Week 9: 11-2
  • Week 10: 10-3
  • Week 11: 8-6
  • Week 12: 12-3
  • Week 13: 9-7
  • Week 14: 11-5
  • Week 15: 14-2
  • Week 16: 10-6
  • Total: 161-78-1
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NFL Week 16 Predictions

I have to be brief today for personal reasons, but I’ll have an epic-sized game preview for Broncos-Bengals on Football Outsiders on Sunday.

Ravens at Texans

While I’m picking the Ravens to win, this is a game I’d stay far away from in betting on or investing in for fantasy football. Everyone expects the Baltimore defense to dominate because it’s likely Case Keenum at quarterback, and he just signed with the team this week. But that’s exactly why this game is dangerous. Keenum, albeit under different coaches (one fittingly the OC of the Ravens now, Gary Kubiak), was a mad bomber at times last season and the Texans have talent on offense. Sure, I bet he’ll turn it over and take some bad sacks, but I think he can hit some big plays too and keep this one interesting. You also can’t fully trust Joe Flacco and the offense on the road against J.J. Watt and company. Ravens barely squeaked by the Jaguars at home last week, so this one could be far more interesting than it looks on paper.

Patriots at Jets

This is Rex Ryan’s “Last Stand” as coach of the Jets. This game has only two possible outcomes: 3-point upset or the Patriots blow them out by 35. I’m going with the latter. Thursday games are bad predictors and Chris Ivory’s 100-yard game certainly looks like an outlier for the season. I think the Patriots shut down the run and cruise in this one.

Chiefs at Steelers

I’ve been saying all week Alex Smith will finally throw a touchdown pass to a wide receiver. That’s just how the Steelers have been playing in the secondary. I’m a little worried with some of the Dwayne Bowe reports, but he’s still the best candidate. This could be a high-scoring game. Chiefs have allowed 21 passing touchdowns and two rushing touchdowns (both to Latavius Murray), so I think this is a game where Ben Roethlisberger will have to throw a few scores, perhaps long passes to avoid the red-zone struggles. From 1999-2013, Andy Reid was 3-23 against AFC playoff teams, including 0-6 last year with the Chiefs. He’s at least 1-2 this year with a win over NE and two losses to Denver. I like the Steelers to get the win and clinch a playoff spot at home.

Bills at Raiders

Buffalo wins but I’m predicting Charles Woodson registers his 60th career interception. Enjoy it, because it could be a long time before we see another player hit that mark.

Seahawks at Cardinals

Seattle’s led in 51 consecutive games, which I think is the all-time NFL record. That’s the entire Russell Wilson era. He might be able to go up 3-0 and win this game on Sunday night. Sure, we’re bashing the Cardinals so hard because they have Ryan Lindley at quarterback, so maybe they shock us and actually score 13 points. I just can’t see how they’re going to get things done against this defense, which is also good against the run.

How bad is Lindley? Well, let’s put his 2012 rookie season in context. I did a study this past summer on FO on how pressure impacts a quarterback. When a quarterback’s not pressured, he usually plays efficiently. Only the absolute worst quarterbacks have a poor DVOA when they’re not pressured. Lindley? Well he had the absolute worst DVOA without pressure of any quarterback from 2010-13.

Worst DVOA Without Pressure, 2010-13

NOPRES

When you’re behind Caleb f’n Hanie, you know you suck. Maybe Lindley won’t be as poor under Arians as he was in Arizona two years ago, but the Seahawks are not the defense to get better against.

NFL Week 16 Predictions

I had the Jaguars on TNF and the game wasn’t as bad as expected. Let’s see how the first Saturday NFL double-header since New Year’s Eve 2005 works out. Four pretty disappointing teams going at it.

Winners in bold:

  • Eagles at Redskins
  • Chargers at 49ers
  • Lions at Bears
  • Browns at Panthers
  • Falcons at Saints
  • Packers at Buccaneers
  • Ravens at Texans
  • Vikings at Dolphins
  • Patriots at Jets
  • Chiefs at Steelers
  • Giants at Rams
  • Colts at Cowboys
  • Bills at Raiders
  • Seahawks at Cardinals
  • Broncos at Bengals

Season Results

  • Week 1: 8-8
  • Week 2: 9-7
  • Week 3: 11-5
  • Week 4: 8-5
  • Week 5: 11-4
  • Week 6: 9-5-1
  • Week 7: 10-5
  • Week 8: 10-5
  • Week 9: 11-2
  • Week 10: 10-3
  • Week 11: 8-6
  • Week 12: 12-3
  • Week 13: 9-7
  • Week 14: 11-5
  • Week 15: 14-2
  • Total: 151-72-1

NFL Week 15 Predictions: So We Meet Again

This week’s schedule has 11 divisional games we already saw this season. Setting aside Week 17’s, this is only the fourth time since 2002 a week had at least 11 divisional games:

  • Week 14, 2003 – 12
  • Week 13, 2005 – 12
  • Week 2, 2006 – 11
  • Week 15, 2014 – 11

I did a study on divisional rematches (2002-2013) that went up yesterday. You can’t reliably use a first matchup to predict the second. The game’s too complex for that to work.

For some teams this week is almost a last stand for relevance in 2014. Lose and you might as well look ahead to next year.

Texans at Colts

As has been the case since 2012, this matchup features each team’s best player going head-to-head. As long as the Colts don’t let J.J. Watt live in the backfield, they’ll win the game like they always win at home against Houston. Why? The Texans never have the quarterback to match points with Luck, regardless of how great Watt might be. I’m going to paste something I sent in an e-mail yesterday about the topic of Watt and the MVP, which I touched on last week.

I think Watt can make the case that he’s the best at his position by a wider margin than any other player at their position, including the quarterbacks. If we look at stats like Win Probability Added (WPA) or Expected Points Added (EPA) from Advanced Football Analytics, then Watt crushes his competition. Watt is 137 percent above the runner-up in WPA this year and 133 percent higher in EPA, while Aaron Rodgers ranks ahead of No. 2 Peyton Manning by 25 percent in WPA and 48 percent in EPA. However, the problem with these metrics for defenders is the same as the problem with evaluating defensive ends in general: we only focus on the positives. With quarterbacks, we’re still penalizing them for sacks, turnovers and incompletions which make scoring difficult. With Watt, he’s not docked for failing to generate more pressure or sacks or creating more turnovers. We don’t criticize him for getting blocked out of dozens of plays per game. Despite Watt’s monster season, Houston is a 7-6 team with a perfectly mediocre defense, ranked 15th in DVOA at Football Outsiders. Every quarterback the Texans have beat this season was either a rookie or has since been benched (RGIII, Manuel, Hoyer). Meanwhile, Rodgers and Manning are leading 10-win teams with the top two offenses in DVOA. That’s the mark of quarterback value shining through whereas one defender can only do so much for his team, even if he’s the best defender in the league.

Luck will do enough to continue this streak of 20-point games and the Colts will clinch the AFC South.

20

49ers at Seahawks

The wheels are coming off in San Francisco and now the 49ers head to the house of horrors known as Seattle. The 49ers are averaging 11 PPG in Seattle under Colin Kaepernick. They scored 3 points at home on Thanksgiving. This would be a huge upset that I just don’t see happening. Seahawks keep rolling.

Steelers at Falcons

I almost want to say I’ll eat my keyboard if both teams don’t score 28+ points, but there’s a reason I really don’t gamble on NFL games. This one looks destined for a ton of points, but you just never know. Julio Jones’ health can be a big deciding factor in what kind of track meet we get, because if he’s fine, then the Steelers are toast in the secondary again. The best quarterbacks the Steelers have played this year are Drew Brees and Andrew Luck and they really didn’t pass the test in either of those games. That’s why Ben Roethlisberger has to play great and I think he should be at that level against this Atlanta defense with its lack of a pass rush. Le’Veon Bell will also have a shot for a fourth 200-yard game. Maybe I’m thinking too much of the 34-34 tie (2002) or the 41-38 overtime game in 2006 between these teams, but I smell a game-winning drive again in this one and each quarterback will hope he has the ball last. Also a rare meeting between two QBs who actively have at least 25 GWDs.

Packers at Bills

Do you believe in deja vu? In Week 15 of the 2011 season, a hot Green Bay team (13-0) with Aaron Rodgers rolled into Kansas City and surprisingly lost its first game of the season. The Chiefs played shutdown pass defense and Kyle Orton was very efficient at quarterback in a 19-14 win. A lot of the ingredients are present again three years later with this game in Buffalo. The Packers have not been as sharp on the road this year and Buffalo’s pass defense can be stingy at times. More importantly the front four is good at getting pressure, which is the crucial element to slowing down Rodgers. You really don’t want to blitz him. His offensive line has been playing much better lately though and I still expect the Packers to win, but there’s potential here for an upset. It’s Buffalo’s last real shot to keep this season alive.

Broncos at Chargers

Ever since the schedule came out in April I had the Broncos pegged as a 13-3 team with losses at Seattle, at New England and at San Diego. The St. Louis game was a shock to say the least. But here we are this week and I’m a little shaken in confidence with San Diego, but I can’t forget Manning’s Law. Bad stuff usually happens when he plays the Chargers, and of course this team should be playing with the utmost urgency at 8-5. This won’t be an easy game even if the Broncos have already handled the Chargers once this year. I’m not sure where the offensive game plan is for this one, but the new reliance on running has taken something away from the crispness of the passing game. I expect Manning will throw for over 200 yards and a few touchdowns this week, but I also count on John Pagano’s bunch to come up with a takeaway and challenge this game to the final possession. Even if Denver’s up 21 points they still usually make the final score a one-possession game. Still, I think Denver gets the win with the chance to clinch the AFC West on the line.

NFL Week 15 Predictions

I bought into the Rams on TNF and paid for it with another impotent offensive showing against Arizona’s ridiculous defense. Not even Ryan Lindley could throw that game away.

Winners in bold:

  • Bengals at Browns
  • Jaguars at Ravens
  • Dolphins at Patriots
  • Raiders at Chiefs
  • Redskins at Giants
  • Buccaneers at Panthers
  • Steelers at Falcons
  • Packers at Bills
  • Texans at Colts
  • Broncos at Chargers
  • Jets at Titans
  • 49ers at Seahawks
  • Vikings at Lions
  • Cowboys at Eagles
  • Saints at Bears

I initially went Falcons, but finding out Sunday morning that Julio Jones is likely out, I’m going with Pittsburgh. I know, this usually backfires, but I think in a close, high-scoring game that will cut into Atlanta’s ability to score. The Steelers have the better offense to begin with. The gap’s bigger now.

Season Results

  • Week 1: 8-8
  • Week 2: 9-7
  • Week 3: 11-5
  • Week 4: 8-5
  • Week 5: 11-4
  • Week 6: 9-5-1
  • Week 7: 10-5
  • Week 8: 10-5
  • Week 9: 11-2
  • Week 10: 10-3
  • Week 11: 8-6
  • Week 12: 12-3
  • Week 13: 9-7
  • Week 14: 11-5
  • Total: 137-70-1

NFL Week 14 Predictions: Try To Write It Down Into a Perfect Sonnet or One Foolish Line

I am feeling better this week and have some random thoughts to share on a few Week 14 games.

Colts at Browns

This is a bad game for Vontae Davis to miss with Josh Gordon getting his share of targets. He only needs a little space to break a huge play. Brian Hoyer has to know he’s on a short leash and must play better before he loses his job to Johnny Manziel. I think he’ll play a good game and the Cleveland offense will have to score a decent amount to get the win. The Colts haven’t played a road game since November 3 and this is statistically one of the best pass defenses Andrew Luck will face this year. I doubt he’ll fear Joe Haden on T.Y. Hilton and the Colts have a bunch of other weapons to go to anyway. I just hope this isn’t viewed as a week to get T-Rich going because of that dreadful trade. The best backs on the field will probably be the undrafted ones (Isaiah Crowell and Dan Herron).

The Colts surprisingly haven’t had a 4QC/GWD this year, so I think this could be the one in a 27-24 type of finish.

Texans at Jaguars

Houston should win this game, but I just wanted to reiterate a point about the ludicrous thought of J.J. Watt for MVP in 2014.

Not only is Houston just a 6-6 team, but the Texans’ strength of victory is 22-50 (.306).

Furthermore, look at the quarterbacks Watt and the Texans have feasted on in those wins:

  • RGIII (benched)
  • Derek Carr (rookie’s second start)
  • EJ Manuel (benched)
  • Zach Mettenberger (rookie in his 1st and 5th starts)
  • Brian Hoyer (slumping and may be benched too)

Now here comes rookie Blake Bortles with his league-worst 15 interceptions and poor 9.1% sack rate.

A guy scoring five touchdowns, including a 1-yard catch while already up 24 in the fourth quarter, is an asinine argument for someone to be named the Most Valuable Player in the league, yet that’s what Watt’s teammates and some fans are selling now because there’s really nothing else going on with Houston’s season. You’re 6-6? Cheers. That’s good for 12th place in the AFC.

It also helps Watt that defensive end is one of the most blameless positions in football. You don’t hear someone bash Watt or any pass-rusher for not getting to Tony Romo when he evaded him and threw a touchdown. Keep in mind the Texans lost that game in overtime. Where’s the criticism? Yet if you play defensive back and get burned for a touchdown, you can guarantee someone will point that out. Hell, Richard Sherman allowed a few first downs to Keenan Allen and people acted like he was exposed. A star defensive end can get locked down on 85-90% of the snaps in a game, but if he gets one sack some people will think he had a good game. People bash quarterbacks for not putting up enough points. Why don’t we bash a DE for not generating enough stops and pressure? Some of them are making close to QB money after all.

We’ve seen the Texans lose 14 games in a row with Watt playing at a high level. We’ve seen them allow 40+ points in games he shined. He’s a great player. He’s running away with DPOY.  Maybe he should get more red-zone snaps at tight end. He’s just not MVP material when his impact on the game is so minimal compared to the quarterback position where several great players are having incredible seasons.

Steelers at Bengals

I know the Steelers for some reason play Marvin Lewis’ Bengals better in Cincinnati (10-2 since 2003) than they do at Heinz Field (6-5), but I’m calling my shot on this final quarter of the season.

The Steelers will lose in Cincinnati, lose in Atlanta, beat Kansas City and beat Cincinnati to finish 9-7. Too little, too late. Shouldn’t have pissed around with Tampa Bay and the Jets.

Ravens at Dolphins

Close game last year won 26-23 by Baltimore. This is almost a “loser goes home” game right here, and I think there may be a little more pressure on Miami to get the win at home with the gift of Haloti Ngata’s suspension. Miami still has a very tough game left in New England. Baltimore is more than capable of winning its last three games, but if they drop this one and Miami only loses once more, that’s 10-6 for both with the Dolphins having the H2H win. So yeah, it’s a big one. I just think with or without Ngata, that Baltimore secondary is struggling and Ryan Tannehill has been playing solid. They’ll get a boost in the running game with Ngata out and I like the Dolphins to sneak out a close one.

Bills at Broncos

Julius Thomas is a game-time decision (ankle), but will his return make the Broncos worse on offense? All the rage the last two weeks has been Virgil Green’s blocking, a revamped OL, some 6-OL sets and C.J. Anderson’s excellent running. Peyton Manning’s never had an offense with two 200-yard rushing games in the same season, let alone back-to-back games. I think Thomas was missed in the red zone and he should have an impact there, but the Broncos may want to limit Wes Welker’s playing time and keep the 2-TE sets more with Thomas in the slot when he’s up to full health. Buffalo has a front four to get pressure on Manning, so it’s a good week to experiment with that extra protection. I think given time Manning will have a big day at home and Kyle Orton will be the one taking the majority of the game’s sacks. Something to watch for is Connor Barth’s kickoffs in the Mile High altitude. He was awful in Kansas City, routinely giving the Chiefs good starting field position. If he can’t get touchbacks at home, the Broncos may still have a major kicking dilemma.

49ers at Raiders

After an inexplicable fake punt loses the game on the final play, Jim Harbaugh races to midfield to a gang of Oakland players and rips off his shirt to reveal a “Just Win Baby” Raiders t-shirt. The screwjob is complete.

vince

That probably won’t happen, but it would be so much fun to see the NFL perfectly emulate old-school wrestling. You know, back when shit was called WWF.

Seahawks at Eagles

This is a big one with a lot of interesting layers, many of which were covered by my co-workers at Football Outsiders this weekend.

The Eagles have allowed a league-worst 14 pass plays of 40+ yards, but Seattle’s lost its vertical edge with the departure of Golden Tate and failure to do anything with Percy Harvin. It’s shocking to see Russell Wilson is the only current starter getting over 60% of his yards from YAC (60.9%) this season. His scrambling has been a bigger threat this year, but we’re still waiting to see a game where Wilson has to throw a lot. He’s never thrown more than 37 passes in any game, which is insane given how quickly (and often) most quarterbacks do that in their career (click to enlarge).

37RW

This could be the week with the Eagles ranking 8th against the run in DVOA and having just contained DeMarco Murray and that consistent Dallas running game that has tortured most of the league. Perhaps more importantly, the Eagles have the ability to score points. We know Seattle’s defense is healthy and playing at a high level again, but Chip Kelly is a whole different beast from Arizona/49ers and the game is in Philly.

The Eagles have scored at least 20 points in 21 consecutive games (16-5 record), tied for the 10th-longest streak in NFL history (including playoffs). The record is 25 games (2010-12 Saints). The fact this streak is alive is amazing considering the offense scored 0 in San Francisco, but three return touchdowns still gave them 21. Don’t discount the impact of special teams on the Eagles’ season.

We keep setting up Mark Sanchez to fail this year, but he’s doing okay so far. In the blowout loss to Green Bay, he literally threw one bad pass and took a few sacks and still trailed 30-3 for it. That loss didn’t say much about him. He never had a chance really. The Seahawks do not pose that kind of dynamic offense, but I think Wilson’s going to have to have one of his best games this season to get the win. This isn’t another 19-3 game by any means.

I hate to say it because I already see Sanchez making me eat my words, but I think he’ll struggle with the Legion of Boom and the Seahawks will keep rolling towards what could be another strong finish that puts them in prime position for a repeat.

Patriots at Chargers

Circadian rhythms, December records and Justin Bieber curses? What the heck are we talking about here? All I know is Philip Rivers is 0-5 against the Tom Brady/Bill Belichick duo, and outside of an ass-kicking in the 2007 regular season, the losses have been right out of a Greek tragedy.

Two game-tying field goals from 50+ yards away missed at the end. Eric Parker’s butterfingers. Martyball. Marlon McCree fumbling a Brady INT on fourth down with a 21-13 lead. Rivers having to play on a torn ACL for the 2007 AFC Championship. LT on the bike. Three straight fumbles recovered by NE in the 2010 meeting, the last time they played in SD. Four more turnovers in NE in 2011 by San Diego’s offense, including a Vince Wilfork pick.

Can San Diego win this game? Sure, but I just don’t see it happening. Darrelle Revis will contain Keenan Allen and the bigger Brandon Browner could limit the deep-ball threat of Malcolm Floyd. I think Eddie Royal and Antonio Gates have to play huge for Rivers in this one, as does the running game. He pulled out a great 4QC in Baltimore last week, but something just always goes wrong at the worst moment when he’s playing this team. I’m not sure San Diego has any answers for the tight ends of the Patriots.

Denver will be rooting like hell for San Diego to win and suffer a letdown in next week’s game, giving the Broncos a nice path to the No. 1 seed. However, I imagine we’ll see the opposite. After a loss to NE, the Chargers rally and drop Denver in Week 15, which I’ve been penciling in as a Denver loss since April. But the No. 1 seed in the AFC is very much going to be in control of what San Diego does these next few weeks.

Falcons at Packers

This is like Russell Stover taking on Hershey Chocolate. The only intrigue is whether the Packers dominate so much by ground or air and where it leaves Aaron Rodgers on this list of the most passing yards through 100 starts since 1960. He needs 293 yards to break the record.

100

NFL Week 14 Predictions

I had the Cowboys on TNF and the streak of 8-8 seasons is over. However, this could still be a 10-6 non-playoff team and that Romo back injury that led to losses to Washington and Arizona will be the main culprit.

Winners in bold:

  • Colts at Browns
  • Buccaneers at Lions
  • Panthers at Saints
  • Texans at Jaguars
  • Rams at Redskins
  • Ravens at Dolphins
  • Jets at Vikings
  • Steelers at Bengals
  • Giants at Titans
  • Chiefs at Cardinals
  • Bills at Broncos
  • 49ers at Raiders
  • Seahawks at Eagles
  • Patriots at Chargers
  • Falcons at Packers

Season Results

  • Week 1: 8-8
  • Week 2: 9-7
  • Week 3: 11-5
  • Week 4: 8-5
  • Week 5: 11-4
  • Week 6: 9-5-1
  • Week 7: 10-5
  • Week 8: 10-5
  • Week 9: 11-2
  • Week 10: 10-3
  • Week 11: 8-6
  • Week 12: 12-3
  • Week 13: 9-7
  • Total: 126-65-1