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*Team listed in BOLD is my pick to win the game
Seattle (@ Baltimore) – The Seattle Seahawks are starting to peak at the right time and for the first time this season they are showing signs of being a true contender. The Seahawks have won three consecutive games and five out of their last six. Seattle’s offense has really come alive and has scored at least 29 points in each of the last four games. Their latest win was their most dominant of the 2015 season as they went into Minnesota and trampled the Vikings 38-7. Russell Wilson threw three touchdowns and also ran one in. Thomas Rawls ran for 101 yards and averaged 5.3 yards per carry. The Seahawks fly across the country to take on the Baltimore Ravens in Week 14, but this is a game that they should control from start to finish. Both Rawls and Wilson should have another strong game with their legs against the Ravens this week. Wilson should also be able to pick apart the Ravens’ secondary which has allowed 22 passing touchdowns on the year while only having four takeaways via interception. As for Baltimore’s offense, Javorius Allen will be the main focus on offense for the Ravens. I expect that he will have problems running the football and should average less than 4.0 yards per carry, but he will play a bigger role in the passing game because I expect the Ravens will abandon the run once they are trailing by more than one score. Kamar Aiken will be targeted often, but I expect Richard Sherman will shut him down, plus, I expect that Matt Schaub will have accuracy problems. There’s a high probability that you have already used the Seahawks this year, but in the event you haven’t, this is a great week to take them. I believe Seattle is the strongest play in Survivor Pools this week.
Next 3 Games:
Seattle: vs. Cleveland, vs. St. Louis, @ Arizona
Baltimore: vs. Kansas City, vs. Pittsburgh, @ Cincinnati
Kansas City (vs. San Diego) – The Kansas City Chiefs can thank their defense for helping them avoid their first loss in over a month by picking off Derek Carr on three occasions in the 4th quarter in Week 13, leading the Chiefs to their 6th straight win. The Chiefs and Chargers faced off against one another just three weeks ago and in that game the Chiefs blew out the Chargers 33-3 in San Diego. The Chiefs’ defense dominated that game which included a pick-six by linebacker Justin Houston. Houston sat out Week 13 and is questionable to play this week, which is a huge blow to the Chiefs’ defense, but fortunately for the Chiefs, they got by just fine without Houston last week against the Raiders. The Chiefs held Philip Rivers to just 178 yards on 19 for 30 passing in Week 11 and they had Rivers under pressure throughout that game as Rivers was hit five times and had four pass deflections. The key for Kansas City offensively will be their running game. The Chargers have allowed at least 102 rushing yards in every single game but two on the season. In fact, the Chargers have allowed an average of 130 rushing yards over the last three games. Charcandrick West and Spencer Ware will continue to split carries, but they should have a lot more success running the ball this week than they did last week against Oakland. If they can establish the run, Alex Smith should have success throwing the football and getting the ball into Jeremy Maclin and Travis Kelce’s hands. Granted, both Maclin and Kelce turned the ball over last week which ended the Chiefs’ streak of nine straight games without a turnover, but they’ll put that behind them this week in what should be strong games for both players. The Chiefs lead the all-time series 55-54 and have won three straight games against San Diego and have outscored the Chargers 75-10 in those three games. Adding in the fact that the Chargers are just 1-4 on the road makes the Chiefs a very strong play this week.
Next 3 Games:
San Diego: vs. Miami, @ Oakland, @ Denver
Kansas City: @ Baltimore, vs. Cleveland, vs. Oakland
Carolina (vs. Atlanta) – Carolina barely kept their undefeated season intact last week as the Saints gave them a real scare. The Panthers’ defense looked mediocre and was burned on a couple occasions, but it didn’t stop Cam Newton from cementing himself as the leading candidate for MVP this season. Newton put on a Superman type of performance to lead Carolina to their 12th win, completing 28 of 41 passes for five touchdowns, including a 15 yard touchdown throw to Jerricho Cotchery with 1:05 left in the game to put the Panthers up by 3. Newton was fantastic but could have had even better numbers if Ted Ginn Jr. didn’t drop two deep passes. Carolina has a very favorable matchup as they play hosts to the free-falling Atlanta Falcons this weekend. The Falcons started the season 5-0 and have since gone 1-6, including losing their last five games. In the first five games of the season, the Falcons scored 162 points (32.4 ppg). Since then, they have scored a total of 117 points over their last seven games (16.7 ppg) and have looked like a completely different team offensively. Matt Ryan has just 11 touchdowns and nine interceptions over that period, and Julio Jones has not scored a touchdown in the last four games which in turn has led to him to criticizing the play-calling for not getting him the ball in the end zone. I believe that the Panthers’ defense will revert back to their dominating ways and should hold the Falcons to less than 20 points on the game, just as they have done in each of their last five meetings against the Falcons. Offensively, Jonathan Stewart may not be able to get much going on the ground against a Falcons’ defense that holds opposing runners to just 3.8 yards per carry, but one positive for Stewart is that the Falcons have allowed 15 rushing touchdowns on the year. That could also mean that Cam may also run the ball in for a score once or twice this week. Carolina is averaging 31.1 points per game which ranks 3rd in the NFL and is averaging 36.4 points per game over their last five. The Panthers’ offense should keep rolling for another week against the Falcons, leading to their 13th straight win on the season.
Next 3 Games:
Atlanta: @ Jacksonville, vs. Carolina, vs. New Orleans
Carolina: @ NY Giants, @ Atlanta, vs. Tampa Bay
Denver (vs. Oakland) – Brock Osweiler remained undefeated and helped improve Denver’s record to 10-2 with their 17-3 win in San Diego in Week 13. Although Osweiler wasn’t lights-out in this game (16-26, 166 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT), he was good enough and helped manage the game. But this game was won by the Broncos’ defense despite the fact they were without three starters; DeMarcus Ware, T.J. Ward and Sylvester Williams. Granted, they were playing against a hapless Chargers team, but the defense dominated against a team that they were expected to dominate. This week they face off against the Raiders for the second and final time of the regular season. The last time they played, Derek Carr threw a crucial interception in the 4th quarter that was taken back for a touchdown by Chris Harris and was ultimately the nail in the coffin. Derek Carr is also coming off a game in which he imploded and threw three interceptions in the 4th quarter against the Chiefs which helped lead Kansas City to their comeback win, outscoring the Raiders 20-0 in the final quarter. Denver’s defense sacked Carr four times in their last meeting, but that also included seven QB hits and six pass deflections. The Broncos should have similar success against the Raiders offensive line this weekend and that could ultimately lead to Carr turning the ball over. Offensively, the Broncos will probably struggle running the ball with Ronnie Hillman and C.J. Anderson which means it will be up to Osweiler to once again manage the game, protect the football and do just enough to win this game. The Broncos have also won eight straight games against the Raiders with their last loss coming on September 12, 2011. This should be a fairly close-scoring game from the opening kickoff, but the Broncos are the better all-around team with a dominating defense, even if they are without Ware. I expect that Denver should end up extending their winning streak against the Raiders to nine games this week.
Next 3 Games:
Oakland: vs. Green Bay, vs. San Diego, @ Kansas City
Denver: @ Pittsburgh, vs. Cincinnati, vs. San Diego
NY Jets (vs. Tennessee) – Trailing the Giants 20-10 in the 4th quarter last week, Ryan Fitzpatrick led the Jets on their final two drives of regulation to send the game into overtime which resulted in a field goal and then the game-tying touchdown to Brandon Marshall with 27 seconds to go in the game. The Jets received the ball first in overtime and Fitzpatrick once again marched down the field against the Giants’ defense. Although the Jets couldn’t end the game on a touchdown despite having a 1st and goal on the Giants 8 yard line, they were still able to kick the field goal. Remember, the thing that matters most is the fact that the Jets came away with the win and now are the 6th seed in the AFC. The Jets will host the Tennessee Titans in Week 14 and they could be without Darrelle Revis once again this week. Marcus Mariota had himself quite the game against the Jaguars last Sunday afternoon throwing for 268 yards, averaging 9.7 yards per pass, throwing three touchdowns and also running for an 87 yard touchdown. Don’t expect Mariota to have that same kind of success against the Jets’ defense and their pass rush this week. The Jets will shut down Antonio Andrews and the Titans’ running game, leaving it up to Mariota to beat them through the air. New York’s pass defense has had mixed results this year and have been torched at times, but usually when that happens, it’s against teams with very good receivers like the Patriots, Jaguars and even the Raiders. Mariota has looked very good at times this season, but because the Titans lack true playmakers other than Delanie Walker, it has limited how good Mariota can and should be. Because of that reason, the Jets should be able to shut the Titans down offensively and help lead the New York Jets to their 8th win of the season.
Next 3 Games:
Tennessee: @ New England, vs. Houston, @ Indianapolis
NY Jets: @ Dallas, vs. New England, @ Buffalo
Green Bay (vs. Dallas) – The Green Bay Packers had probably the most improbable win of the season last Thursday night against the Lions which ended on an Aaron Rodgers 61 yard Hail Mary for the game-winning touchdown to tight end Richard Rodgers. The Hail Mary was set up by a questionable facemask penalty against Devin Taylor, although everyone watching the game thought it was a penalty while they were watching it live. Although the Packers came away with the win, they looked pretty awful doing so. Eddie Lacy lost carries to James Starks and John Crockett, the Packers wide receivers continue to have problems getting open and catching footballs, and the offensive line can’t stop a pass rush. But luckily for Green Bay, they play host to a Cowboys team that can’t generate any kind of offense either. Matt Cassel’s accuracy is pretty brutal which led to another small outburst by Dez Bryant on Monday night after he wasn’t targeted in the end zone. Although it’s looking more and more likely that the Packers’ offense will just continue to have problems, they are still more talented than the Cowboys are offensively. The Cowboys’ inability to extend or finish drives is a huge red flag. The Packers on the other hand are able to put six points up on the board from time-to-time despite their issues. Add to the fact that the Cowboys are prone to turning the ball over (16 in the last eight games) and the Cowboys’ defense is unable to create turnovers (seven turnovers) and it makes the Packers a decent play at Lambeau Field in Survivor Pools this week.
Next 3 Games:
Dallas: vs. NY Jets, @ Buffalo, vs. Washington
Green Bay: @ Oakland, @ Arizona, vs. Minnesota
San Francisco (@ Cleveland) – Blaine Gabbert helped lead the 49ers to a win against the Chicago Bears in Week 13 and did so with both his arm and legs. With 1:42 left in regulation, Gabbert scrambled for 44 yards to score the game-tying touchdown, and then following Robbie Gould’s missed FG from 36 yards, which would have ended the game, Blaine Gabbert connected with Torrey Smith for a 71 yard game-winning touchdown in overtime. It was an impressive win for San Francisco considering it came on the road against a team fighting for the playoffs. The defense also did a nice job holding Jay Cutler to just 202 yards and Jimmie Ward even picked him off once and ran it back for a touchdown. The one knock on the Niners was their run defense as they allowed the Bears to run for 170 yards. San Francisco remains on the road for a second straight week and this time they take on the Cleveland Browns. The Browns were just crushed by the Bengals 37-3 and it seems as though their experiment with Austin Davis is over as the organization has decided to let Johnny Manziel start the final 4 games of the regular season. Manziel’s favorite receiver, Travis Benjamin injured his shoulder against the Bengals and his status is day to day as of right now. In Manziel’s three starts this year, he’s connected with Benjamin 13 times for 250 yards and two touchdowns. If Benjamin doesn’t suit up, Gary Barnidge and Duke Johnson will be Manziel’s go-to guys, but if Benjamin doesn’t play, it eliminates any kind of deep threat. For San Francisco, their offense will revolve around Anquan Boldin and even Shaun Draughn in the passing game, plus Gabbert will try to hit a deep ball or two with Smith. As long as the 49ers’ defense can hold the Browns to 3-and-outs, they should generate just enough offense to score on the Browns’ defense that allows an average of 28.9 points per game (31st in the NFL). San Francisco is a risky play this week, but if there was ever a week to take them, this would be the week to do it.
Next 3 Games:
San Francisco: vs. Cincinnati, @ Detroit, vs. St. Louis
Cleveland: @ Seattle, @ Kansas City, vs. Pittsburgh
Tampa Bay (vs. New Orleans) – New Orleans lost their 4th straight game after falling to the Panthers in a hard-fought game, but in the end, all that matters is whether or not you scored more points than your opponent. Drew Brees and the Saints’ offense, most notably Brandin Cooks, did a nice job putting up points against the Panthers’ defense and the Saints’ defense also came up with a couple of turnovers which resulted in a touchdown and the first ever defensive two point conversion. But when push came to shove, the Saints’ defense couldn’t stop Cam Newton and the Panthers’ offense and I believe the Saints will probably have the same problem this week against the Bucs. These two teams squared off in Week 2, but Jameis Winston has certainly improved since then. The Bucs won that game 26-19 and Winston completed 14 of his 21 passes for 207 yards. Mike Evans didn’t catch a single pass in that game but you can expect him to end up with five or six catches while being targeted 8-10 times in this game. Doug Martin should be used as the Bucs’ workhorse in this game because the Saints allow an average of 4.9 rushing yards per attempt and 137.8 rushing yards per game, both ranking dead last in the NFL. With rumors that Sean Payton may be gone at the end of the season and the fact that the Saints are 1-5 on the road could result in the Saints just packing it in. The Bucs on the other hand are still fighting for their playoff lives. Tampa Bay is not a lock by any means in this game, but if you’ve already used all of the teams ranked ahead of the Bucs, this isn’t a bad time to take the Buccaneers.
Next 3 Games:
New Orleans: vs. Detroit, vs. Jacksonville, @ Atlanta
Tampa Bay: @ St. Louis, vs. Chicago, @ Carolina
Detroit (@ St. Louis) – As mentioned above, the Lions are going to try to bounce back from their gut-punching loss to the Packers last Thursday night. Fortunately for the Lions, they will travel to St. Louis to play a Rams team that is on a downward spiral having just lost their 5th straight game. The Rams’ offense can’t get anything going in the air or on the ground. Nick Foles’ issues with passing the ball were on display last Sunday against the Cardinals as he completed just 15 of his 35 passes (42.9%) for just 146 yards. Todd Gurley had one good run for 34 yards against the Cards, but that one run accounted for 83% of his rushing yards. Other than that run, he ran the ball eight times for seven yards. It’s tough to run the ball when teams are focused on stopping the running game because they know they won’t be beaten in the air. The Rams’ defense also hasn’t played well for five weeks. The run defense has allowed a minimum of 140 rushing yards in four of the last five games and they were also just torched by Carson Palmer for 356 passing yards and two touchdowns. Matthew Stafford and the Lions’ offense will attack the Rams through the air while trying to establish the run with Ameer Abdullah. The Rams have allowed an average of 26.4 points per game while the offense has been awful, scoring an average of 11 points per game during their five-game losing streak. I expect the Lions’ defense, which has played fairly well over their last four games (excepting the second half last week) should be able to shut down the Rams’ offense without any problems. So as long as Detroit can score 18-21 points this week, the Lions should be able to pull out the win on the road this week.
Next 3 Games:
St. Louis: vs. Tampa Bay, @ Seattle, @ San Francisco
Detroit: @ New Orleans, vs. San Francisco, @ Chicago
Indianapolis (@ Jacksonville) – Matt Hasselbeck’s perfect record as the Colts’ starting quarterback was snapped last week against the Steelers in a blowout loss on the road in Pittsburgh. Hasselbeck exited the game last week after being hit on the top of the head, but he is expected to be fine and to make the start this week in Jacksonville. Although Hasselbeck didn’t have the best game, it was the Colts’ defense that was dominated by Ben Roethlisberger and Antonio Brown. The Colts will face another pretty good passing attack in Blake Bortles and Allen Robinson. Allen Hurns is also expected to return this week, adding yet another weapon on offense. The one player to keep an eye on this week is tight end Julius Thomas who has caught 12 balls for 145 yards and four touchdowns in the two games he’s faced the Colts in his career. I do think the Jaguars are good enough to beat the Colts, but the fact remains that the Jags can’t close out teams and seem to find a way to lose, which we’ve seen over the last two weeks. Additionally, the Colts beat the Jags in overtime in Week 4. Jacksonville led most of that game, but couldn’t score in the 2nd half or overtime, and were unable to put the Colts away. I believe the results will be the same once again this week.
Next 3 Games:
Indianapolis: vs. Houston, @ Miami, vs. Tennessee
Jacksonville: vs. Atlanta, @ New Orleans, @ Houston
Chicago (vs. Washington) – Chicago had to be excited that the 3-8 San Francisco 49ers were paying a visit to Soldier Field last week since they were in the middle of fighting for an NFC playoff spot. Robbie Gould is viewed as the goat of that game after having missed a 40-yard field goal in the 3rd quarter and a 36-yard game-winning field goal attempt. But Jay Cutler is also to blame since he threw a pick-6, and the defense is also at fault for giving up a 44-yard game-tying touchdown run to Blaine Gabbert as well as the 71-yard game-winning touchdown to Torrey Smith in overtime. Chicago now sits two games out of the playoffs behind the Seahawks. But lucky for them, they have yet another winnable game at home against Washington who are coming off a bad loss to the Dallas Cowboys on Monday night. Washington had trouble moving the ball and had to settle for field goals throughout the game until DeSean Jackson caught the game-tying touchdown catch late in the 4th quarter. Chicago has placed Martellus Bennett on IR so that means that Alshon Jeffery is going to have to step up in this game and I expect him to have roughly 12 targets again this week. Cutler will also check down to Matt Forte a lot using him as his safety net. I also expect a good mix of Forte and Jeremy Langford running the ball against Washington since they allow their opponents to average 4.6 rushing yards per carry. The Bears’ run defense isn’t any better than Washington’s, but the question is how effectively Matt Jones can run the football. On the season, Jones is averaging just 3.4 rushing yards per game. Yes, that isn’t very good, but what’s even worse is the fact that he has carried the ball 152 times with only 211 yards over the last eight games, which comes out to an average of just 1.38 rushing yards per carry. I think Jones will have a little more success than that this week, but the Bears’ secondary, which allows just 211 passing yards per game (2nd in the NFL) will make things tough by focusing on stopping Kirk Cousins, Jordan Reed and DeSean Jackson. I do think Chicago finds a way to win this game, but with the Bears being a poor team at home (1-5) and Washington being a poor road team (0-5), I do feel it’s pretty risky to risk your Survivor Pool on the Bears this week.
Next 3 Games:
Washington: vs. Buffalo, @ Philadelphia, @ Dallas
Chicago: @ Minnesota, @ Tampa Bay, vs. Detroit
Miami (vs. NY Giants) – Leading by 10 points in the 4th quarter, Giants head coach Tom Coughlan made one of the biggest boneheaded calls a coach has made this season by electing to go for it on 4th down on the Jets’ 4 yard line as opposed to taking the points and kicking the field goal to put the team up by 13. Eli Manning proceeded to throw an interception and the Jets went on to eventually win the game in overtime. The Giants’ running game is non-existent and the only player that Eli Manning can trust is Odell Beckham. Beckham should be able to torch the Dolphins’ secondary in this game, just as he does against pretty much everyone else, but the Dolphins will make sure to double team him throughout the game. Miami’s offense has been up-and-down this year and it’s always hard to predict what you’re going to get from them. But I expect that they will make sure to run the ball with Lamar Miller with the hopes that it will open up the passing game for Ryan Tannehill. Tannehill’s accuracy is a concern, but he has weapons in Jarvis Landry and DaVante Parker who are both capable of making big plays, just as they did against the Jets two weeks ago. If the Dolphins can control the clock by running the football and refrain from turning it over, the Dolphins should be able to beat the Giants.
Next 3 Games:
NY Giants: vs. Carolina, @ Minnesota, vs. Philadelphia
Miami: @ San Diego, vs. Indianapolis, vs. New England
Houston (vs. New England) – New England and Houston face off against one another this weekend and both teams are looking to rebound from their losses in Week 14. The injuries are starting to really take a toll on the Patriots and it shows on the offensive side of the football. Tom Brady’s offensive line struggles to protect him, LeGarrette Blount isn’t running the ball well, and the receivers have problems catching the football. Brady is frustrated and it is showing. Houston’s defense, most notably J.J. Watt, is hoping to feast on a Patriots’ offensive line that is decimated by injuries. Brady should still put up decent numbers and could target running back James White more than any other receiver (running back in his case) for a second straight week, but I do believe the Patriots will have trouble scoring touchdowns and may have to settle mostly for field goals. I think Houston is also going to have problems scoring against New England’s defense, as they will focus onshutting down DeAndre Hopkins. That means I’m expecting this to be a defensive type of game which is hard-hitting and low-scoring and will come down to whichever defense or specials teams comes through with the big, decisive play in the game.
Next 3 Games:
New England: vs. Tennessee, @ NY Jets, @ Miami
Houston: @ Indianapolis, @ Tennessee, vs. Jacksonville
Arizona (vs. Minnesota) – Carson Palmer had yet another great game last week against the Rams torching St. Louis for 356 yards and two touchdowns as he led the Cardinals to their 6th straight win of the season. They will host the Vikings on Thursday night in what I believe will be a lot closer game than what many people think. Granted, the Vikings were just torched by the Seahawks both in the air and on the ground, but I think the Vikings’ defense will play a lot better than they did last week. Minnesota should shut down Arizona’s running game, but Arizona will ultimately beat the Vikings in the air with Palmer using all of his weapons in Larry Fitzgerald, Michael Floyd and John Brown. The key for Arizona will be shutting down Adrian Peterson because they know that the Vikings will have a lot of problems beating them through the air.
Next 3 Games:
Minnesota: vs. Chicago, vs. NY Giants, @ Green Bay
Arizona: @ Philadelphia, vs. Green Bay, vs. Seattle
Buffalo (@ Philadelphia) – LeSean McCoy makes his return to Philadelphia for the first time since being traded to Buffalo back in March. Don’t think for a second that McCoy hasn’t had this game circled on his calendar all year, and I’m sure that Rex Ryan is looking forward to using a heavy dosage of McCoy against his former team that currently allows 124.7 rushing yards per game. But I also expect that Sammy Watkins will be targeted often and could be in line for yet another 100+ yard game for the third straight game. As for Philadelphia, Ryan Matthews is expected to return this week, but it’s anyone’s guess which player(s) Chip Kelly will use at running back. The Eagles could decide to use all three running backs (Murray, Mathews and Sproles) equally against a Bills’ defense that has allowed an average of 112.6 rushing yards per game over the last 10 games. DeMarco Murray caused some waves by notifying the Eagles front office that he’s not happy with how he’s being used, so I wonder if that could prompt Kelly to use him more, or if Kelly just decides to keep him locked down on the sidelines. Buffalo should go into Philly and come away with the road victory, but due to the fact that the Bills have not consistently played well from week-to-week makes them a very risky play this week.
Next 3 Games:
Buffalo: @ Washington, vs. Dallas, vs. NY Jets
Philadelphia: vs. Arizona, vs. Washington, @ NY Giants
Pittsburgh (@ Cincinnati) – The Bengals took control of the #1 overall seed in the playoffs this weekend with their dominating win against the Browns. Now they have to travel to Pittsburgh this week and face off against a Steelers’ offense that is extremely potent with a healthy Ben Roethlisberger. In his last four starts, Roethlisberger has thrown for 1,533 yards (383 ypg) and 10 touchdowns. In fact, on the season, Big Ben has thrown for at least 334 yards in all but two games. One of the teams he didn’t light up for 300+ yards is the Bengals. In their last meeting, which the Bengals won 16-10, Roethlisberger completed 62.2% of his passes for 262 yards but he threw three interceptions and just one touchdown. Andy Dalton didn’t have his best game either, completing 23 of 38 for 231 yards with two picks and just one touchdown. That was also the game when Le’Veon Bell was carted off the field, but DeAngelo Williams filled in nicely for Bell, carrying the ball nine times for 71 yards. I think that the Steelers don’t let go of the lead this time and secure their 8th win of the year while handing the Bengals just their 3rd loss of the season. Either way, this should be a great game between two very good teams that could vie for the AFC supremacy, making this a game I’d avoid.
Next 3 Games:
Pittsburgh: vs. Denver, @ Baltimore, @ Cleveland
Cincinnati: @ San Francisco, @ Denver, vs. Baltimore
Week 14 Survivor Pool Rankings:
1. Seattle Seahawks
2. Kansas City Chiefs
3. Carolina Panthers
4. Denver Broncos
5. New York Jets
6. Green Bay Packers
7. San Francisco 49ers
8. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
9. Detroit Lions
10. Indianapolis Colts
11. Chicago Bears
12. Miami Dolphins
13. Houston Texans
14. Arizona Cardinals
15. Buffalo Bills
16. Pittsburgh Steelers