Wednesday, 4 December 2013

NFL Week 14 review

What did we learn in Week 13?

Well the Seattle Seahawks have possibly punched their ticket to New York in February by securing home field advantage throughout the playoffs, while not totally tied up, should they go to San Francisco this weekend and win they will be all but their by owning tiebreaks over the 49ers, New Orleans and Carolina who they have all beaten this season thus far.

What Monday night's dominant performance versus the Saints showed was how difficult it is for visiting teams to function on the road in the raucous atmosphere of Seattle - we all know it is loud, but if a team cannot even get play calls right and have to change personnel constantly they do not give themselves much of a chance.  The loud atmosphere induces mistakes from veterans. 

That coupled with the fact that Russell Wilson is turning into a master orchestrator of this offence with options everywhere for him to distribute - run, play action, wide out, tight end, solo run; helped by the now named Legion of Boom defence which makes the great look bad as Brees did on Monday.

I think back to the draft of 2012 and all the talk about who will win a Super Bowl ring first between RG3 and Andrew Luck. Might Russell Wilson, the 3rd round pick who beat Matt Flynn for the starting job, beat them both to the vaunted status of Super Bowl champion.

Other things to consider: the Packers need Aaron Rodgers back asap, Geno Smith should not be dumped but needs to be benched to save his season, Denver will be the No 1 seed in the AFC and Houston could be the team with the No 1 pick in the 2014 draft.

Week 14 predictions

Texans (2-10) at Jaguars (3-9)
The Jags came up big on the road at Cleveland suddenly becoming a fun team to watch with running backs throwing TD passes.  The Texans were 14 points up on the Patriots but in a shoot-out Tom Brady beat Case Keenum.  Keenum is a decent QB but he needs some more time studying.  The Jaguars are oddly the favourite in this encounter and should win.
Prediction: Jaguars by 7

Colts (8-4) at Bengals (8-4)
The Bengals are still winning without setting the world alight and the same can be said for Andrew Luck. The key to this game will be how well the Bengals D can attack Luck who has taken many beatings this season, and will rely on Donald Brown who is favoured to Trent Richardson at running back. You can run on the Bengals though.
Prediction: Bengals by 4

Falcons (3-9) at Packers (5-6-1)
The Packers are treading water but still have a chance of making the playoffs; whilst Aaron Rodgers has not been cleared he has not been ruled out.  It may ultimately come down to the man himself, but they need him. They still have Lacy and some talent at wide out; however, the Falcons have been playing hard through these awful injuries. They still have Julio Jones and Tony Gonzalez, and Detroit showed up this poor secondary on Thanksgiving.
Prediction: Falcons by 3 (if Rodgers does not start)

Browns (4-8) at Patriots (9-3)
The Patriots have the chance to further secure the #2 seed behind the Broncos who look unstoppable. The Browns have come close to 6-6 but obviously have had their usual run of bad luck as always.  Brady looks to be back in the groove helped by the return of Gronkowski to full health and Shane Vereen in his best Kevin Faulk impression. Josh Gordon should have another 100+ yard receiving game
Prediction: Patriots by 8

Raiders (4-8) at Jets (5-7)
The Jets will not make the playoffs and you doubt that Rex Ryan will lie down and await the draft.  He benched Geno Smith again, the Raiders did some good things against Dallas on Thanksgiving with Matt McGloin showed some real poise under pressure helped by Rashad Jennings at running back.
Prediction: Raiders by 4 (and £50 to a mate of mine)

Lions (7-5) at Eagles (7-5)
Now Detroit have the lead of the NFC North, a home playoff game is there for the taking, they have to find a key to some consistency. However, Nick Foles rarely turns the ball over and he will be tested by that front 7 for sure.  Expect big numbers for everyone in terms of fantasy.
Prediction: Eagles by 3, over 80 points

Dolphins (6-6) at Steelers (5-7)
The Dolphins impressively went into the Meadowlands and shut down the Jets to get back to .500 and still have the most realistic chance of making the playoffs.  They can maintain that by beating the Steelers who had gained a second wind but seem to have run out of steam again due to injuries and ageing.
Prediction: Dolphins by 3

Bills (4-8) at Buccaneers (3-9)
This should actually be quite an entertaining game, but the Bills are somewhat like the Browns in that their record should be better whilst the Bucs have done better than people suspected they would.
Prediction: Bucs by 4

Chiefs (9-3) at Redskins (3-9)
Kansas City need to get back on the W bus after two defeats to the Broncos and a solitary shoot out loss to San Diego; luckily they face the woeful Redskins who still play a terribly sub-par RG3 who is not the man he was last season.
Prediction: Chiefs by 10

Vikings (3-8-1) at Ravens (6-6)
The Ravens will win this one, but Adrian Peterson will be the beast he always is.
Prediction: Ravens by 7

Titans (5-7) at Broncos (10-2)
The Broncos won two big games in three weeks sandwiching a close loss in New England. Whilst much is made of Manning's aversion to cold weather, the AFC must go through the Mile High to get to New York. After 4 TDs for Eric Decker last week, which WR will be the popular target, whilst that was merely a match-up decision, expect Welker/D.Thomas to get their fair share of targets this week.
Prediction: Broncos by 10

Rams (5-7) at Cardinals (7-5)
The Cardinals still have ambitions of making the playoffs, but they require the 49ers to slip up and then beat them in the last weeks of the season.  The Cardinals are doing well with Carson Palmer who is finding Fitzgerald/Floyd frequently. That's a lot of f's
Prediction: Cardinals by 6

Giants (5-7) at Chargers (5-7)
The Chargers are another side with a false record, but they should beat the Giants whose momentum has waned and were helped by the Redskins faux pas on Sunday night.
Prediction: Chargers by 7

Seahawks (11-1) at 49ers (8-4)
The Seahawks put down a marker for the rest of the season, and they have the number of Colin Kaepernick and the 49ers offence.  The 49ers have to find an answer to that D and also attempt to stop a rampant Russell Wilson. Good luck
Prediction: Seahawks by 7

Panthers (9-3) at Saints (9-3)
The Saints this week will be the team benefiting from the 2nd loudest home field. However, we know what the Saints can and will do at home. This is the test for these Carolina Panthers, who have avoided banana skins, overcome the Patriots and impressed generally. This is the game for them to make people stand up. The Saints found it difficult to stop Wilson's play action and run option with either himself or Marshawn Lynch. The Panthers have a great run attack whilst Greg Olsen is getting good numbers.
Prediction: Panthers by 3

Cowboys (7-5) at Bears (6-6)
Josh McCown v Tony Romo; this should be a good one.  Alshon Jeffrey has had two 200+ yard receiving games this season, the Cowboys have a poor secondary so McCown may have some fun. But then so will Tony Romo, who is in greater sync with his receivers presently.
Prediction: Cowboys by 3

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