NFL Week 14 Preview: Cowboys Face The Steelers, Bucs Battle The Panthers

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NFL Week 14 Preview: Cowboys Face The Steelers, Bucs Battle The Panthers

Once again, the NFL treats us to Thursday Night football. Once again, the game is a complete dud. I guess every Thursday night game can’t be Jets-Patriots.

SD 34, OAK 7

The Oakland Raiders continued the embarrassment that is their 2008 season with a  blowout loss to the disappointing San Diego Chargers.

JaMarcus Russell left the game with what I can only imagine was a case of utter embarrassment after throwing his second interception of the first half to the worst pass defense in the NFL.

Fantasy football playoffs started this week, and my tight end (Zack Miller) had 8 catches for 64 yards. So at least the Raiders accomplished something.

Now for the games that haven’t happened yet…

JAC @ CHI

Count me among the people who just don’t understand the Chicago Bears. Had you asked me in week seven, after their 48-41 victory over the Vikings, I would have told you they were going to run away with the NFC North.

Since then, they’ve lost three of five games, with their two wins coming against the Lions and Rams. Two of their three losses came in blowout fashion against the Packers and Vikings. A stretch that basically sucked the life out of their playoff chances.

Meanwhile, the 4-8 Jaguars have completely tuned out their head coach and are coming off a blowout loss to the Houston Texans.

I’m going to say Chicago wins, but only because they’re at home.

CLE @ TEN

Cleveland may fire Romeo Crennel, it depends on what happens in the next four games. Think about how ridiculous that is. They’ve watched the man coach the last few seasons. They’ve seen the results. They presumably have been paying relatively close attention. But the next four games are going to decide his fate.

And you wonder why some organizations just can’t get their act together. Tennessee is going to treat them the same way they treated the Lions. Disrespectfully late challenge flag and all.

PHI @ NYG

My good friend and Bleacher Report commenter Osi says that if the Giants go undefeated the rest of the way, they have to be considered one of the best teams ever. The only thing we disagree on is that he says it’s likely not going to happen.

I respectfully disagree.

MIN @ DET

I’m not sure how you can challenge the NFL’s drug policy given the wording, which loosely translated says “even if a doctor gives this to you, it’s blessed by a resurrected Jesus Christ, and the commissioner himself says it’s safe, if it ends up not safe, it’s on you.”

Of course, you could suspend half the Vikings team and they’d still have no problem with the lowly, pathetic, and soon to be infamous Detroit Lions.

HOU @ GB

To me, this game is similar to the Jacksonville-Chicago game. I just don’t have a good enough read on either team week-to-week to make a pick with any semblance of confidence.

Green Bay is a better team, and presumably should win. I don’t know. I’m mailing this pick in.

ATL @ NO

Who would have predicted Atlanta would be playing a meaningful game, perhaps the most meaningful game on this week’s schedule, on December 7th? Not me. Not Michael Vick. Not that loser coach whose name I won’t mention because it makes Falcons’ fans extremely violent.

The Saints are an extremely talented and frustrating team. They should be one of the, if not the best team in the NFC. And on some occasions, they have been. But not often enough. And this weekend, they’ll pay the ultimate price for their inconsistency.

The Falcons will end the Saints’ playoff hopes.

CIN @ IND

It’s amazing to me how many people wrote off the elder Manning when the Colts were struggling earlier this season. He’s Peyton Manning, for crying out loud. He’s won a Super Bowl. If Tom Brady never existed, he’d be the greatest quarterback of his generation.

You NEVER count out a great quarterback.

Ever.

It might be better for the Bengals if they just don’t show up…

MIA @ BUF

We’ve had football in London, now we get football in Toronto. Only with far less fanfare. And extremely expensive tickets.

Buffalo needs to win this game. They don’t want to make a bad first impression on their future hometown fans.

NE @ SEA

This is how bad the New England defense has been. I’m playing Matt Hasselbeck in my fantasy league this week, and I’m excited about how many points he’s going to score.

The Patriots will win this game, and they’ll probably win next week. They might win out. But they won’t win in the playoffs.

You can live with a bad secondary when you have a consistent pass rush. You can live with an inconsistent pass rush when you have a great secondary. The Patriots have a bad secondary and an inconsistent pass rush.

Tom Brady’s injury isn’t the problem anymore. Matt Cassel isn’t the problem. The defense is the problem. Raiding old-folks homes and bringing in Rosevelt Colvin and Junior Seau might keep people like me interested (I like watching the old guys play), but it’s not going to add any much needed speed to a painfully slow defense.

KC @ DEN

Who knows? I mean, seriously. Your guess is as good as mine. The Broncos get spanked by the Raiders, then spank the Jets. Now they’re playing the Chiefs.

They could win this game in a blowout, or get blown out. I’ve given up on trying to figure out the Broncos this season.

NYJ @ SF

See what happens when I jump on a bandwagon? I tell the world that the Jets are for real, that they’re the best team in the AFC, and that I’ve admitted that I’m wrong about them. They reward me by getting their butts kicked by a mediocre Broncos team.

Now that I’ve leaped onto the Steelers bandwagon, the Jets can go back to winning.

STL @ ARI

Arizona doesn’t beat good teams, but beats up on bad teams. St. Louis doesn’t beat bad teams, but gets destroyed by good teams. Nothing has to give.

DAL @ PIT

This is an intriguing matchup if Marion Barber is healthy. The Cowboys have a pretty dynamic offense when everyone is on the field. The Steelers have the best defense in the AFC, second best in the NFL.

That said, I’m not sure Barber is healthy. But this is going to be a pretty good game regardless. The Steelers will win, because they’re completely unstoppable right now.

WAS @ BAL

As a Patriot fan, I need the Ravens to lose this week. As a person who has watched a ton of Redskins and Ravens games, I’m completely and utterly convinced that the Ravens are going to demolish the Redskins.

Oh well.

TB @ CAR

This is a GREAT Monday night game. As boring and nondescript as the Buccaneers are, they’re 9-3 and sitting in a first place tie with Carolina. The Panthers, at home, have a chance to take sole possession of first place.

Carolina won an offensive battle with Green Bay last week, this week they’ll play a much different game. They’ll play a defensive struggle.

But the end result will be the same.

Sean Crowe covers the New England Patriots for Examiner.com and writes a bi-weekly column for Sports-Central.org.

He is a Senior Writer and an NFL Community Leader at Bleacher Report. You can email him at scrowe@gmail.com. His archive can be found here.

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