Friday, December 10, 2010, 9:03 a.m.
By Ryan O'Halloran
Here are the Week 14 picks as the NFL starts its final quarter of the season with eight road favorites in the Sunday-Monday games:
Buccaneers (minus 2) at Redskins: Free of Albert Haynesworth and his drama plus Tampa Bay on a two-game losing streak and a game-time forecast of 52 degrees and rain equal a Washington victory. Redskins 17-13.Ravens (minus 3) at Texans: ESPN needs a good Monday night game the last four have been decided by 42, 21, 21 and 31 points. Baltimore is looking a first-round trip to Kansas City if the standings stay the same. More losses down the stretch and Gary Kubiak may be headed to Denver. Ravens 27-19.Bengals (plus 8.5) at Steelers: Cincinnati has lost nine straight games and couldn't finish off New Orleans last week. Pittsburgh is trying to keep pace for a first-round bye and getting to avoid New England until the AFC title game. A no contest. Steelers 30-14.Patriots (minus 3) at Bears: Short week and travel for the Patriots but it doesn't matter. That's how good Tom Brady and the offense looked last week in dismantling a supposed-to-be-dominant Jets defense. Seeing the Bears in person earlier this year, it's hard to believe they've won five straight since losing to the Redskins. Patriots 34-21.Browns (plus 1) at Bills: Buffalo was making things close until last week's dud in Minnesota while the Browns squeaked out a win at Miami. Pick the Browns they're 6-0 against the spread the last three years on games played on an artificial surface. Browns 27-24.Raiders (plus 4) at Jaguars: It's tough to like Jacksonville because it's been so dreadful as a favorite (3-12 against the spread) but the Raiders are 3-12 on their last 15 trips to the Eastern time zone. The Jaguars stay atop the AFC South. Jaguars 21-20.Giants (minus 2) at Vikings: New York travels to Minnesota for the third straight season and lost the first two meetings. It's Brett Favre or Tarvaris Jackson at quarterback for the Vikings, reborn with two consecutive wins for Leslie Frazier. They won't make it three and fall to 0-7 as underdogs against the spread. Giants 28-24.Packers (minus 6.5) at Lions: Green Bay should already be looking back at its overtime loss to the Redskins. It might be why the Packers don't make the playoffs. Detroit continues to play hard but the Green Bay makes it 11 straight in this series. Packers 33-17.Falcons (minus 7) at Panthers: Atlanta has NFC home-field advantage in its mitts after rallying last week at Tampa Bay. But I still wouldn't make the Falcons favorites to make the Super Bowl even with their home prowess. The Panthers? Worst team in the NFL. Falcons 31-3.Rams (plus 9) at Saints: After losing 16 of its previous 17 road games, St. Louis has won at Denver and Arizona the last two weeks. But now a test against a big boy. New Orleans has won five straight and no team wants to face the Saints in the postseason if they're scoring like they have recently (30 or more points in four straight games). Saints 26-23.Seahawks (plus 4.5) at 49ers: San Francisco continues to get some Vegas affection even though it was blown out at Green Bay and its last home game was a shutout loss to Tampa Bay. Seattle wins - I guess. Seahawks 12-7.Dolphins (plus 5.5) at Jets: New York needs to bounce back from Monday's shellacking by the Patriots to hang on to the No. 5 spot in the AFC since the division title is likely out of their grasp. Miami is 6-7 in December road games since 2004 but it runs into a decent team that's in a bad mood. Jets 24-15.Broncos (minus 5.5) at Cardinals: The Josh McDaniels Error mercifully ended Monday, meaning Pat Bowlen will be paying three head coaches in 2011 - McDaniels, his replacement and Mike Shanahan. The Broncos are a mess and they need to start by hiring a veteran personnel executive. Cardinals 23-20.Chiefs (plus 7) at Chargers: Had San Diego not laid an egg last week against Oakland, this game would have been to draw even with Kansas City. As it is, the Chargers need to win to stay afloat because they're two games behind in the wild card hunt. Their best chance is the division. Chargers 20-17.Eagles (minus 3.5) at Cowboys: Dallas is 3-1 under Jason Garrett and should be 4-0 and the Cowboys will score points against Philadelphia. But the Eagles, if they're able to get out of their own way, are able to score as many as needed. Eagles 38-34.RecordsStraight: 13-2 last week, 110-68 season
Spread: 9-6 last week, 79-102-2 season
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