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Dec. 10, 2004

NFL: Week Fourteen predictions

by Isamu Bae, Page Editor and Pratik Bhandari, Page Editor
So going into the fourteenth week of the NFL season, you'd expect that the playoff picture would be at least somewhat clear. Even a bit? Just a teeny tiny bit? But no, the NFC stinks so badly it has losing teams with a chance to get in. Shoot, even the Redskins still have a long-shot chance at the playoffs. The AFC is almost just as weird, except it has so many teams that are 6-6 or 7-5 that it's aggravating.

Nick 123-68-20
Izzy 122-69-0
Pratik 122-69-0
Mike 97-63-0

Sunday December 12, 2004

Chicago at Jacksonville - 1 p.m.
(Jacksonville -7.5)

Izzy's Pick Pratik's Pick Mike's Pick Nick's Pick
Chicago Jacksonville - Jacksonville

Izzy says: Chicago welcomed the return of Brian Urlacher with flying colors in a surprising victory over the Vikings last week and I think no matter who’s at QB (Chad Hutchinson), they have a chance. A healthy Urlacher shuts down an opponent’s running game (in this case Fred Taylor) and a healthy Charles Tillman blankets the top receiver (Jimmy Smith). That is a combo that Jacksonville will have difficulty getting past and there is no reason to believe they will. Chicago will run out of this with a winning streak on Thomas Jones and Anthony Thomas’ legs.

Pratik says: The Bears somehow beat the Vikings. According to Nick, the Bears currently have the four worst quarterbacks in the NFL: Craig Krenzel, Jonathan Quinn, Chad Hutchinson and the newly signed Jeff George. Their other quarterback, Rex Grossman, is decent, but until he comes back, the Bears will live or die on the play of their defense. We may as well dub Charles Tillman "The Moss-Slayer" as he limited the star to four receptions and 31 yards and generally frustrated him throughout the game. Now, however, the Bears play an angry Jacksonville team that barely lost to the Pittsburgh Steelers. Let's just say that the Jaguars are really angry so there is little to no possibility of them losing this game.

Cincinnati at New England - 1 p.m. (New England -11)

Izzy's Pick Pratik's Pick Mike's Pick Nick's Pick
New England New England - New England

Izzy says: Cincinnati pulled off a come-from-behind stunner against the Ravens last week, but the Patriots definitely know how to win games. Palmer is showing the NFL that he has the talent to pick apart top defenses, but beating the Patriots’ confusing defense will still be out of his league, for now.

Pratik says: Carson Palmer showed that he can tear up a great defense, but the Ravens are lacking something that the Patriots have: a great offense. No matter what Cincinnati does, the chances of the Patriots losing are very, very slim.

Cleveland at Buffalo - 1 p.m. (Buffalo -11.5)

Izzy's Pick Pratik's Pick Mike's Pick Nick's Pick
Buffalo Buffalo - Buffalo

Izzy says: The Bills are on a roll, plowing through offensive lines with sophomore RB Willis McGahee, which is giving gunslinger Drew Bledsoe enough time to find his receivers open. Cleveland? Well, their coach just retired. Forgive me for doubting the Browns will even put up much of a fight against the tough Bills defense.

Pratik says: Cleveland got trampled by New England and Buffalo barely squeaked past Miami last week. Buffalo, after discovering the talents of Willis McGahee, has been torrid on offense and has won five of their last six games, with their one loss being to the Patriots. Cleveland, however, has been o a decline and their play seems uninspired and ugly at times. Buffalo, with a good defense and a pretty good offense will manage to pull out a victory over Cleveland.

Indianapolis at Houston - 1 p.m.
(Indianapolis -10.5)

Izzy's Pick Pratik's Pick Mike's Pick Nick's Pick
Indianapolis Indianapolis - Indianapolis

Izzy says: Take two of “Dom Capers tries to slow Peyton Manning.” The Texans have never really been able to even touch Peyton Manning’s throws in their young history and things do not look as if they will change. The Texans lost Safety Marcus Coleman last week, seriously hurting their secondary. It will be another shootout, but the Colts and their opportunistic defense will fly out of here with another W.

Pratik says: What with the way that Peyton Manning is throwing the ball, the only question is whether he will break the touchdown record this week or next week. The Texan corners are pretty good, so I expect him to break it next week at home against the Ravens.

New Orleans at Dallas - 1 p.m.
(Dallas -7.5)

Izzy's Pick Pratik's Pick Mike's Pick Nick's Pick
Dallas Dallas - Dallas

Izzy says: Aaron Brooks is in trouble, as is Jim Haslett. Not only is Coach Haslett a virtual lock to lose his job this season, Aaron Brooks is as well after a series of nutty turnovers and an absolute lack of leadership. If there is any way to retain his job, it is to pick on struggling defenses like the Dallas Cowboys, which has not been the case this season. Parcells, showing that he is a firm believer that the Cowboys are still in the hunt, is pulling every string he can and riding the hot legs of Julius Jones… a formula that has led the ‘Boys to two straight wins and likely a third.

Pratik says: Julius Jones is a godsend for Cowboys fans, as one of our readers so graciously pointed out last week. He rushed for 198 yards and three touchdowns as the Cowboys won a shootout in Seattle. New Orleans, however, just lost to the Panthers and is really in trouble. Expect Parcells to use Jones and the Cowboys stellar offensive line to wear down the Saints and to eventually win the game.

New York Giants at Baltimore - 1 p.m.
(Baltimore -10)

Izzy's Pick Pratik's Pick Mike's Pick Nick's Pick
Baltimore Baltimore - Baltimore

Izzy says: After two straight fourth-quarter collapses, the Ravens defense has taken a lot of heat. Against Eli Manning, they will reclaim their name as one of the most feared defenses in a “blowout” victory.

Pratik says: When you give up 31 points to the ‘Skins, something’s wrong. Also, when you give up 24 points in the third quarter, something’s wrong (especially if the hallmark of your team is defense). Both of these teams played absolutely horrid football last week and they will both look for a win this week, but Baltimore is the one that’s going to come out on top. Let’s face it, Coughlin switched out Warner way too early…they were still in playoff contention when he pulled him! The Giants were 5-2 and off to one of their best starts in years, but now they are at 5-7 and in danger of losing the wild card race to the Rams. Baltimore takes pride in their defense, and frankly, they let the team down last week. Unless you are playing Peyton Manning, there is no excuse for giving up 24 points in a quarter. Anyway, expect the Ravens defense to take its frustration out on Eli Manning as they get the W.

Oakland at Atlanta - 1 p.m.
(Atlanta -7.5)

Izzy's Pick Pratik's Pick Mike's Pick Nick's Pick
Atlanta Atlanta - Atlanta

Izzy says: Look! The Raiders have some bite! Atlanta and Michael Vick will be out for vengeance, though, after being embarrassingly shut out by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Oakland’s secondary is still struggling and will not be able to find an answer to super tight-end Alge Crumpler. That lack of answer will light the torch to their defeat.

Pratik says: Atlanta got shut out last week against Tampa Bay and Kansas City lit up Oakland. Ugh. Every time I start to believe that the Falcons are playing well, they have some bonehead game where they lose horribly. Anyway, the Falcons should beat up on the struggling Raiders. Key word there: should.

Seattle at Minnesota – 1:00 p.m. (Minnesota -6.5)

Izzy's Pick Pratik's Pick Mike's Pick Nick's Pick
Minnesota Minnesota - Minnesota

Izzy says: Randy Moss wants vindication. One week after being dominated yet again by sophomore cornerback Charles Tillman, he looks to get revenge against Seahawks corner Marcus Trufant. The Vikings do not look like the second-half collapse team of last year, so look for them to bounce back in a big win against the falling Seahawks.

Pratik says: Why is Seattle so bad at defense? They were up by ten with 2:46 left to play. And they lost. I wonder why the Seahawks fans didn't storm the field and start going crazy. It must be insanely frustrating to have a team that was supposed to contend for the Super Bowl end up floundering like fish out of water when the good teams are supposed to be wrapping up their respective divisions. And then we move on to Minnesota. They should also be ashamed of themselves. They lost to the Bears! Let me put this in perspective: Chad Hutchinson is the starting QB for the Bears. Argh!!! This is getting me frustrated. Anyway, as long as Moss can walk, he’ll be able to burn the Seattle defense (or lack thereof), so put this one down as a W for the Vikings.

Miami at Denver – 4:05 p.m.
(Denver -11.5)

Izzy's Pick Pratik's Pick Mike's Pick Nick's Pick
Denver Denver - Denver

Izzy says: After a close loss to the San Diego Chargers last week, the Broncos are in desperate need for wins to separate themselves from the Ravens in their charge towards the last wild card slot. To do so, they must win the easy games like this game against the Miami Dolphins. There is little reason to believe the running tandem of Reuben Droughns and Tatum Bell will fail them this week.

Pratik says: Denver gets to avenge a close loss to the Chargers by beating up on the chumps that are the Miami Dolphins.

New York Jets at Pittsburgh – 4:05 p.m.
(Pittsburgh -6)

Izzy's Pick Pratik's Pick Mike's Pick Nick's Pick
Pittsburgh Pittsburgh - Pittsburgh

Izzy says: The Jets welcomed back star QB Chad Pennington last week, but it likely will not be enough to take down the surging Pittsburgh Steelers. Really, after a great game from Ben Roethlisberger, it looks like very few teams can stop the Steelers at all.

Pratik says: Will this be the week that the rookie phenom known as Big Ben finally gets upended? Maybe so, what with the Jets great offense, led by Chad Pennington, and their aggressive defense that specializes in speed, especially rookie linebacker Jonathan Vilma. However, the Steelers haven't lost yet and I won't bet against them until they start to lose.

Detroit at Green Bay - 4:15 p.m. (Green Bay -9.5)

Izzy's Pick Pratik's Pick Mike's Pick Nick's Pick
Green Bay Green Bay - Green Bay

Izzy says: Last week was embarrassing for the Packers. Months after almost knocking the Packers out of the NFC Championship game, the two teams look like they’re on totally different levels. Favre’s continuous touchdown games streak was stopped, as was RB Ahman Green. Luckily for the Packers, Detroit will not be able to do that. With a struggling quarterback situation, the high-flying Lions now look like the tired, exhausted Lions. With the spit-fire attack of Brett Favre and Green, things don’t look any better for the Lions this week.

Pratik says: Yes, yes, I know that Green Bay got fricasseed against the Eagles, but please don't say such sacrilegious things as, "Detroit's going to beat Green Bay." Brett Favre may not be as good as he used to be. He may have lost the zip in his throw. He may even be the second best offensive player on his team. But the man is still Brett Favre and that means that he is still a good quarterback. He will make sure that the Packers don’t lose sight of the playoffs and that they don’t lose this week.

San Francisco at Arizona - 4:15 p.m.
(Arizona -6.5)

Izzy's Pick Pratik's Pick Mike's Pick Nick's Pick
Arizona Arizona - Arizona

Izzy says: All San Francisco can do is hold the fort until next year… or maybe the year after that. Whatever the case, the Niners look devastated. The Cardinals? They’ve made some strides, but coach Dennis Green is going back to Josh McCown. This is likely the second and last chance for McCown to prove himself a starter-worthy quarterback in the NFL. The chance to do it against the abysmal Niners is priceless.

Pratik says: Eeew… Why would any sane person subject themselves to this type of torture? Arizona wins in, by far, the ugliest game of the week.

St. Louis at Carolina - 4:15 p.m.
(Carolina -6.5)

Izzy's Pick Pratik's Pick Mike's Pick Nick's Pick
Carolina Carolina - Carolina

Izzy says: Who can stop the Carolina Panthers? With an injury reserve list longer than three practice squads combined, the Panthers have rallied under coach John Fox and look like threats to charge into the NFC playoffs and wreak some havoc. The Rams look defeatable, though the emergence of rookie RB Stephen Jackson is giving them hope. Their defense is their Achilles Heel, however, and there is little reason to believe they’ll be able to slow, much less stop the droning machine of the Panthers’ running attack behind Nick Goings.

Pratik says: Somebody has got to knock some sense into Carolina. How are they winning? Fourteen, count 'em, fourteen players are on the injured list. They are winning with a guy named Nick Goings running the ball. Utterly unbelievable. St. Louis, meanwhile dug itself out of the hole they were in by beating up on the hapless 49ers last week. Now, they play a resurgent Carolina team that has really come on strong the last couple of weeks. I don’t like the way the Rams are playing lately; they seem to be lagging farther and farther behind the average teams in the league. Expect Carolina to win another game and to stake a claim for that elusive wild card spot.

Tampa Bay at San Diego - 4:15 p.m.
(San Diego -5)

Izzy's Pick Pratik's Pick Mike's Pick Nick's Pick
San Diego San Diego - San Diego

Izzy says: This is a matchup of two relatively surprising teams. Well, one is a pleasant surprise, the other came out of the blue. Tampa Bay is coming off of a shut out of the Atlanta Falcons and seems to have found their quarterback in Brian Griese. The Chargers have just beaten the Denver Broncos in their “most important game in the last 10 years.” While the Bucs defense is looking good again, it is questionable whether they can stop both Gates and Tomlinson… very few teams have managed that feat this year.

Pratik says: San Diego, easy.

Philadelphia at Washington – 8:30 p.m.
(Philadelphia -9.5)

Izzy's Pick Pratik's Pick Mike's Pick Nick's Pick
Philadelphia Philadelphia - Philadelphia

Izzy says: I feel bad for the Redskins and their fans, but this is going to be an achingly close loss… again. Patrick Ramsey is looking more and more like the quarterback of the future for the Redskins, but the Eagles are on fire and looking at one goal: the Lombardi Trophy. That bodes ill for the Redskins as they hold the Eagles down just enough to barely lose.

Pratik says: However much I want to believe that the 'Skins can win this game, I cannot in good conscience pick them to win over an Eagles team that just slaughtered the Packers a week ago. Expect a hard fought battle, much like the one that was played at Lincoln Financial the last time these two teams met, with the 'Skins maybe building on their offensive success last week against the Giants, but unfortunately, the Eagles will win the game.

Monday December 13, 2004

Kansas City at Tennessee - 9 p.m.
(Tennessee -2.5)

Izzy's Pick Pratik's Pick Mike's Pick Nick's Pick
Kansas City Tennessee - Kansas City

Izzy says: This could have looked like an interesting game when the schedule makers set the game. I bet they anticipated a matchup of two playoff-bound teams, with Steve McNair facing off Priest Holmes. Unfortunately both of these teams have broken down this season, with the Chiefs having put Holmes on the IR this week and struggling to find any sort of offensive rhythm and defensive stoppage. The Titans have an injury list long enough to make a book and are building up their young players for the future. Monday Night Football game worthy? No. Still, the Chiefs will manage to run out of this with a win on the power of their offensive line. Hey, at least the Chiefs are relatively healthy.

Pratik says: Kansas City is just too capricious a team for people to know what they are going to do. If they only played average defense, they could be great, but they just don't have the players to field an intimidating defense. Tennessee is realizing more and more what a difference a player like Steve McNair makes to their franchise so I think that as long as the Titans have him under center, they will win the game.

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  • Aero Smith on January 20, 2005 at 11:09 AM
    u need to pick tougher games instead of easy ones like JAX and CHI. Duh!!
    PHI at WAS who do u think is gonna win. Its pretty obvious. Even with these pathetic picks u still have a bad reord. How do i get on the staff and pick games. I could do a much better job than u clowns do.
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