Week 14 saw two perennial AFC powers falter, a couple of division races tighten up, a newcomer to the post season inch closer to their official invite, and a new record set for regular season wins. Perennial powers Pittsburgh, losers of four in row, and New England, losers of two in a row, are starting to cause some serious concern for their fans.
The Steelers lost to Oakland 27-24, giving up two fourth quarter touchdowns to a team that had been averaging only 11 points a game. At 6-6, it is doubtful they will even make the playoffs.
The Patriots lost 22-21 to division rival Miami, cutting their lead in the AFC East to one game. Cincinnati won their ninth game of the season, beating Detroit 23-13. This, combined with Pittsburgh’s loss as well as Baltimore’s loss to Green Bay on Monday night gives them a three game lead in the AFC North as well as the tie breaker over these two teams by virtue of their season sweep.
The Indianapolis Colts left no doubt as to which team is the best in the AFC South with their 27-17 win over Tennessee. This win put them at 12-0 for the season, as well as setting a new record for most regular season wins in a row at 21.
Denver won again beating Kansas City 44-13, and is still only one game back of San Diego in the AFC West. The Chargers beat Cleveland 30-23 for their seventh straight victory.
Jacksonville firmed up their grip on a wildcard spot beating Houston 23-18, and the Jets kept their postseason dreams alive with a 19-13 win over Buffalo last Thursday night.
Moving onto week 14 in the AFC, the key match ups we will be reviewing are; Pittsburgh @ Cleveland, Miami @ Jacksonville, and Denver @ Indianapolis.
After four straight losses, last year’s Super Bowl Champions are not only out of the AFC North division race, they are in real danger of not even making the playoffs. Breakdowns in all phases of the game have plagued the Steelers. The low point in their season came last week when Raider QB Bruce Gradkowski led not one, but two fourth quarter scoring drives including throwing the game winning TD with 15 seconds left to play, dropping their record to 6-6.
Without SS Troy Polamalu in the line-up, they have a very average secondary that can be scored on. Fortunately, they face the 1-11 Browns this week who have made an art of blowing the few opportunities they have had to win games this year, taking losing to a whole new level.
While it is doubtful Pittsburgh will make the post season the way they are currently playing, it should still be good enough to beat the Browns on Thursday. I like the Steelers and the OVER.
Both these teams were left for dead earlier in the season, but they have continued to find ways to win games, keeping themselves squarely in the AFC playoff picture.
Looking at their stats for the year they are extremely similar on both sides of the ball. They will both look to run the ball and control the line of scrimmage as to avoid putting the game completely in the hands of their quarterback. My intangible in this game is Miami’s resilience this season as they have played one of the toughest schedules in the league and are still 6-6.
Given the fact that they need this game a bit more than the Jaguars I’m going with the Dolphins and the UNDER.
The division is clinched, home field advantage is all but locked up, and the winning record is set so how much motivation can the Colts muster against a Denver team that still needs to win is the big question in this game?
They are playing at home so this adds a bit of incentive as well as the fact that they have not technically locked up home field advantage throughout the playoffs, but will that be enough to cover a touchdown spread to a hungry Broncos team?
Denver has recovered from their mid season slump and is back to playing the way that got them to 6-0 in the first place. Their defense is ranked third overall and second against the pass which helps to negate the Colt’s biggest strength; their passing game. On offense they will look to grind it out on the ground against an Indianapolis defense that is ranked eightenth against the run.
I like the Broncos and the UNDER.
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