NFL Week 14 Picks: Game-by-Game Predictions and More
It's Week 14 of the 2012 NFL season, which means that the postseason picture is becoming to come into focus as teams begin the fourth quarter of this year's slate of games.
There are any number of big games this week, highlighted by a matchup between the Houston Texans and New England Patriots that could go a long way towards determining home-field advantage in the AFC.
That's not the only game taking place this week, however, so from throwdown to turkey, blowout to brouhaha, here's a look at game predictions for each of Week 14's games with a bold prediction for each contest thrown in for good measure.
Denver Broncos at Oakland Raiders
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Bold Prediction: Denver Broncos running back Knowshon Moreno will make his fantasy owners happy campers, gashing Oakland's 28th-ranked run defense for 125 rushing yards and a touchdown.
Game Prediction: The Thursday night games have been sloppily played affairs more often than not, which should be right up the Raiders' alley since they specialize in playing sloppy football.
That's not a compliment, folks.
Denver 24, Oakland 13
St. Louis Rams at Buffalo Bills
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Bold Prediction: St. Louis Rams cornerback Janoris Jenkins will continue his recent scoring binge, returning his fourth interception for a touchdown in the past three weeks.
Game Prediction: Both the Rams and Buffalo Bills still entertain faint playoff hopes, but the inability of the Bills to stop the run and a healthy dose of Steven Jackson will drop the Bills to 5-8 and get the Rams back to .500.
St. Louis 20, Buffalo 17
Atlanta Falcons at Carolina Panthers
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Bold Prediction: Quarterback Matt Ryan has been mired in a slump of late, with six interceptions and two two touchdown passes over his last three games, but that slump will come to an end with a four-touchdown game against the Panthers.
Game Prediction: With the division clinched and a significant lead for home-field advantage, the Falcons are primed for a letdown game, but the Panthers' leaky defense will insure that this isn't the week that happens.
Atlanta 38, Carolina 20
Dallas Cowboys at Cincinnati Bengals
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Bold Prediction: This game features two of the NFL's best young wideouts in Cincinnati's A.J. Green and Dez Bryant of the Cowboys, and the duo will put on a show to the tune of 300 combined receiving yards and three touchdown catches.
Game Prediction: The Cincinnati Bengals have reeled off four wins in a row to get back into the playoff hunt, and that winning streak will continue at home against a Dallas squad that just can't seem to string two good games together.
Cincinnati 27, Dallas 21
Kansas City Chiefs at Cleveland Browns
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Bold Prediction: Rookie running back Trent Richardson has been solid for the Cleveland Browns this year, and Richardson will have the best showing of his NFL career by rushing for over 150 yards against Kansas City's 26th-ranked run defense.
Game Prediction: The Kansas City Chiefs rode a wave of emotion to a win last week over the Carolina Panthers, but with all the team has been through in the past week, emotion will give way to fatigue that will show in a loss to the Browns.
Cleveland 23, Kansas City 13
Tennessee Titans at Indianapolis Colts
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Bold Prediction: Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck is becoming a master of the fourth-quarter comeback, but his comeback skills won't be required Sunday after Luck tops 300 passing yards with three scores against the Titans' leaky pass defense.
Game Prediction: The Indianapolis Colts are one of the most surprising teams in the National Football League at 8-4, and at home in front of the "Chuckstrong" crowd, the Colts will make short work of Tennessee.
Indianapolis 27, Tennessee 13
New York Jets at Jacksonville Jaguars
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Bold Prediction: At halftime of Sunday's game between the New York Jets and Jacksonville Jaguars, all 11 fans in attendance will storm the ticket booth and demand their money back after enduring one of the ugliest 30 minute stretches of football in NFL history.
Game Prediction: The Jets will stick with Mark Sanchez as their starting quarterback Sunday against the Jaguars, and the team will be rewarded for its patience with Sanchez...by another loss.
Jacksonville 13, New York 10
Chicago Bears at Minnesota Vikings
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Bold Prediction: Adrian Peterson has been on an absolute tear of late with six straight 100-yard games, but that streak will come to an end as a stingy Chicago Bears defense stacks the box and limits the Minnesota Vikings running back to under 75 yards on the ground.
Game Prediction: After a hot start, the Vikings have lost four of five games, and the team's inability to move the ball through the air will spell doom against a Bears club desperate to keep pace before next week's showdown with the Green Bay Packers.
Chicago 20, Minnesota 7
San Diego Chargers at Pittsburgh Steelers
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Bold Prediction: It's believed that Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger will return from a rib injury to face the Chargers, and Big Ben will keep the Steelers in the playoff hunt by throwing three touchdown passes against San Diego.
Game Prediction: You know, as good as the Chargers are getting at mailing games in, I'm surprised that the United States Postal Service hasn't enlisted them to do one of those flat-rate holiday ads.
Pittsburgh 30, San Diego 14
Philadelphia Eagles at Tampa Bay Buccaneers
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Bold Prediction: Rookie running back Bryce Brown of the Philadelphia Eagles has been on fire the past two weeks, but that fire will be put out on Sunday by a Tampa Bay run defense allowing fewer than 85 yards a game.
Game Prediction: After two straight losses, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are desperate for a win. After eight straight losses, the Philadelphia Eagles are desperate for the season to be over.
Tampa Bay 28, Philadelphia 13
Baltimore Ravens at Washington Redskins
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Bold Prediction: Washington Redskins running back Alfred Morris set a franchise record for rushing yards by a rookie last week, and Morris will keep that momentum rolling Sunday against an injury-depleted Ravens defense to the tune of 120 rushing yards and a touchdown.
Game Prediction: The Baltimore Ravens have a banged-up defense and have had their share of struggles on the road, and those struggles will continue this week against a Redskins team trying to keep their playoff dreams alive.
Washington 20, Baltimore 17
Miami Dolphins at San Francisco 49ers
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Bold Prediction: No player in the National Football League has more sacks in 2012 than outside linebacker Aldon Smith of the San Francisco 49ers, and Smith will continue his assault on the single-season sack record by piling up three more against the Dolphins.
Game Prediction: The 49ers are smarting after falling to the St. Louis Rams a week ago, and the 49ers will take those frustrations out on a Dolphins team that is solid defensively but has struggled moving the ball.
San Francisco 20, Miami 3
New Orleans Saints at New York Giants
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Bold Prediction: At 5-7, the New Orleans Saints are all but out of the playoff chase, but that won't stop quarterback Drew Brees from lighting up a suspect Giants secondary for 400 passing yards and four touchdowns.
Game Prediction: For whatever reason, the New York Giants appear bound and determined to always do things the hard way, and the road will be paved for more late-season heroics after the Giants fall to the Saints at home.
New Orleans 35, New York 31
Arizona Cardinals at Seattle Seahawks
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Bold Prediction: The Arizona Cardinals are the first team in NFL history to open the season with four straight wins before losing eight in a row, and that trend won't be reversed this week after the Seattle Seahawks gain more yardage in the first quarter than Arizona does in the entire game.
Game Prediction: The Cardinals have wisely decided to go back to John Skelton at quarterback, but given how well the Seahawks play at home it's almost certainly not going to make much of a difference.
Seattle 27, Arizona 7
Detroit Lions at Green Bay Packers
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Bold Prediction: Fans of the offensive side of the ball will be in for a treat on Sunday night, as quarterbacks Matthew Stafford of the Lions and Aaron Rodgers of the Packers will combine for 750 passing yards and six scoring strikes in a highly entertaining shootout.
Game Prediction: After a slow start to the season, the Green Bay Packers have righted the ship, and a late touchdown pass to James Jones will put the last nail in Detroit's playoff coffin while setting up a huge Week 15 NFC North showdown in the Windy City.
Green Bay 34, Detroit 30
Houston Texans at New England Patriots
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Bold Prediction: Houston Texans defensive end J.J. Watt is among the leading candidates to win Defensive Player of the Year in 2012, but it will be the NFL's second-leading tackler that steals the show when linebacker Jerod Mayo of the Patriots records a gaudy 15 tackles Monday night.
Game Prediction: The scheduling gods saved the best for last in Week 14, and after a back-and-forth affair that lives up to its billing, a late Tom Brady-engineered drive will set up a game-winning field goal that moves the New England Patriots to the head of the class in the AFC.
New England 27, Houston 26