Editor Stephen Rhodes’ Picks – Week 14

San Diego Chargers running back LaDainian Tomlinson
Last week: 4-12-0
Overall: 79-70-3

Well, last week was obviously unsuccessful for me, but take comfort in knowing that I will rebound from last week’s fluke. Here’s your winners for Week 14:

Chicago (+3) at Washington

Will the hangover from the unfortunate death of Sean Taylor continue? My guess is probably not. But I think that Rex Grossman will have some success against a depleted Redskins’ secondary and there will be sacks to go around. Chicago should win this one outright.

Carolina at Jacksonville (-10)

I don’t expect the Jaguars or the Panthers, for that matter, to put up lots of points. But without a doubt, the return of Marcus Stroud only makes the Jags’ defense that much more imposing. A this point, I don’t think it matters who the Carolina QB is – he will be ineffective, pure and simple. Jacksonville in a rout.

Dallas (-11) at Detroit

At this point, I think the Lions better look towards the 2008 season as their playoff hopes have evaporated. Not to mention that they will be without WR Roy Williams this week – if not longer. We, of course know, what Dallas brings to the table. The only way Dallas loses is if they beat themselves (read: they don’t go head-hunting as CB Terence Newman and others have promised). Dallas wins easily.

Miami at Buffalo (-7)

I think it is acknowledged that the Miami Dolphins are the worst team in the NFL. Having said that, they could be spoilers for the rest of the season. Expect the Dolphins’ offense – or lack thereof – to be its usual underachieving self, meaning that QB John Beck will continue to have growing pains, including this week. Buffalo wins, but not impressively.

New York Giants (+3) at Philadelphia

This is most definitely a “must-win” game for the Eagles. Win and you live to see another week. Lose and you’re out. The Giants won’t take the Eagles lightly even though they have a hold on a wild-card berth; they can’t afford to lose. Philadelphia’s Brian Westbrook should do well once again (120 yards rushing, 1 TD, 50 receiving yards), but the Giants’ D-Line will produce, sacking McNabb several times. The Giants win this one in Philly.

Oakland at Green Bay (-10)

It’ll be interesting to see how Oakland will play as their QB is one Josh McCown. Or will it be Russell? It doesn’t matter as the Packers’ defense will be the difference in this massacre. The Packers won’t have to work as hard on offense this week; Green Bay wins big.

Pittsburgh (+14) at New England

Sorry, but this is my upset pick of the week. The Patriots haven’t been their impressive selves, as evidenced by narrow wins over Philadelphia and Baltimore have proven. I like the Steelers’ defense stopping the run, whch will make Tom Brady throw more than he’d want to. This should bode well for Pittsburgh’s secondary. Pittsburgh wins a tight one here. Miami? You’re welcome.

San Diego at Tennessee (PICK’EM)

This game’s a tough one to gauge. San Diego needs to continue winning to see the postseason, as does Tennessee. I like the Chargers’ chances this week as their defense should make Vince Young’s day a living hell. not to mention that they should be able to stuff LenDale White. San Diego wins a close game here.

St. Louis (+6) at Cincinnati

The Rams have been the perfect spoiler team thus far. But at the same time, the Bengals have all of that offense at their disposal. I like Rudi Johnson’s chances this week – 120 yards rushing and 2 TD’s. Palmer will produce but the running game will be the key here. That’s not to say that the Rams will roll over. Torry Holt should do well as should Stephen Jackson. Points will be scored, it just so happens that Cincinnati will score more of them than St. Louis.

Tampa Bay at Houston (PICK’EM)

It appears that Tampa is playoff-bound, but that doesn’t mean they’re overlooking the Texans. But I expect the Bucs’ secondary to intercept at least 2 passes from Houston QB Sage Rosenfels and the Texans’ Ron Dayne should be handled fairly easily. Tampa wins this one handily.

Arizona (+7) at Seattle

The health of Arizona wide receivers Anquan Boldin and Larry Fitzgerald will figure into what gameplan the Cards use this weekend. That aside, I like the Seahawks’ D-line chances rushing the passer. Not a ton of sacks, but enough pressure to confuse the Cards’ Kurt Warner. If Boldin and Fitzgerald don’t play then this game could get ugly. Seattle wins, but not by 7.

Minnesota (-8) at San Francisco

The Vikings are surging – the 49ers are looking for answers. I expect Adrian Peterson to put up ridiculous numbers against the 49ers’ D-line – somewhere between 145-150 yards and 2 TD’s. Neither QB – Tarvaris Jackson or Trent Dilfer will factor into this game. So in essence, this is AP vs. Frank Gore. Minnesota wins this one easily.

Cleveland (-3.5) at New York Jets

Why the bookies made the Browns only 3 1/2 point favorites is beyond me. What I do know is that Jamal Lewis should be able to embarrass the Jets’ D-line – look for 115 yards and a TD, at least. Browns QB Derek Anderson should well this weekend as other than Jets safety Darrell Revis, the secondary of New York is suspect. Cleveland wins this one by at least 10.

Kansas City (+6.5) at Denver

Denver needs to win this contest of they even want a sniff of the postseason. Kansas City is just playing the season out. Travis Henry’s back for the rest of the season which is good news for Denver. He should do well vs. the Chiefs’ D-line, but Cutler will have issues. That’s why I don’t expect the Broncos to win by 6 1/2 – even at home. 3 maybe, but not 6 1/2.

Indianapolis (-10) at Baltimore

Look for Peyton Manning to pick apart that Ravens’ defense (or lack of it) for 330+ yards and 3 TD’s. Addai should do OK, but Manning will be the reason Indy wins this week. The only bright I see for the Ravens is Willis McGahee; he should get his 100 yards and a TD against a porous colts run defense. Colts win by 14.

New Orleans (-5) at Atlanta

Neither team really has anything to play for, except for next season. Regardless, the Saints have the superior offense in this matchup. Because of that, expect Brees and Co. to exploiut the Falcons’ secondary to the tune of 315 yards passing yards and 3 TD’s for Brees. This game could be over with by mid-3rd quarter. Saints by 10 – at least.

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