The Weekly Blitz: Three NFL Picks Against the Spread for Week 14
In picking three NFL games against the spread (ATS) for "entertainment purposes only" every week, last week was very "entertaining."
To borrow and alter a phrase from Charlie Sheen, I was "tri-winning."
Finishing 3-0 ATS last week and improving to 26-10-3 (72.2 percent) ATS on the season, I threw in an extra pick (not counted in stats) writing that I thought that the Patriots would beat the Colts but that the Colts would cover the 20-plus point spread, which is exactly what happened.
With a solid record, I'm now tempted to pull a Jose Reyes and pick only one game to maintain my cover percentage. But, of course, I won't.
Here are my three picks against the spread for Week 14:
The recent success of the San Diego Chargers in the month of December has been widely publicized. With quarterback Philip Rivers under center, San Diego is 21-3 in December (and 3-0 in January during the regular season).
Against a depleted Jaguars secondary, Rivers threw for 294 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions on Monday Night Football. He now has back-to-back games with no interceptions and a full complement of offensive skill players healthy and back in the lineup.
While the Chargers have been inconsistent and bad this season, the Bills have struggled recently as well. After getting off to a 4-1 start, the Bills have lost six of seven games including their past five games. During their five-game losing streak, they have scored more than 20 points only once.
While the Chargers have struggled with the health of their offensive line, the Bills have recorded a league-low 17 sacks this season. Earlier in the season, the Bills were creating plenty of turnovers, but they have only four takeaways in their past five games. Only the Colts have less.
Perhaps I'm making too many assumptions, but I like Rivers to pick apart the Bills secondary and continue his December dominance.
Coming into this week's key divisional matchup, the Giants are losers of four straight games (to quality opponents). While there may not be any moral victories in the NFL, the Giants have to feel as good as one could expect after a close loss to the unbeaten and reigning champion Packers.
On the other hand, the Cowboys are coming off an inexplicable loss to the Cardinals in overtime. While the Cowboys may technically be in control of the NFC East with a one-game lead over the Giants, you can almost sense the division slipping out of their hands.
After all, December hasn't exactly been their month (unlike the Chargers).
The Giants have won four of their past six matchups over the past three years. Even if the Cowboys win this game, however, it wouldn't surprise me if it's decided by a field goal or less.
More than anything, this game is a hunch, but I would take the points and the mentally tougher team here.
The Cardinals have two things going for them: (1) they have won four of their past five games and (2) they likely won't face 49ers linebacker Patrick Willis. However, the Cardinals only loss during that stretch was to San Francisco, 23-7.
That said, the 49ers have the league's top-ranked scoring defense and run defense. No running back has gained more than 64 yards against them and no running back has rushed for a touchdown against them. Considering Beanie Wells is dealing with an assortment of injuries himself, I don't expect the Cards to buck the trend even if Willis does not play.
While running back Frank Gore has not run the ball as well as he did during his five-game streak of games with 100-plus yards, only four players have more receiving yards than Michael Crabtree (270) in his team's past three games. In his last matchup against them, Crabtree, who is a start in our Start'em, Sit'em this week, had a season-high 120 receiving yards.
The great thing about the 49ers and Jim Harbaugh is you know he's not going to let up at any point. In fact, I wouldn't be surprised if the 49ers had a big lead and Harbaugh called timeout with 10 seconds to go to call a flea flicker.
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