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NFL Week 14 Picks

NFL Week 14
 
Thursday, Dec. 9
 
8:20 p.m. ET (NFL Network)Indianapolis Colts (6-6) at Tennessee Titans (5-7)
My biggest question about the Titans: How did they beat the Giants by 19, the Jaguars by 27 and the Eagles by 18? My biggest question about the Colts: Can Peyton Manning win a must game when he's in the worst stretch of his career? For Manning's immediate future, and Jeff Fisher's long-term one, this is a surprisingly big game for two teams with a combined record of 11-13.
 
Sunday, Dec. 12
 
1 p.m. ET (CBS)Cleveland Browns (5-7) at Buffalo Bills (2-10)
Sleet, snow, 21-mph winds Sunday afternoon in Orchard Park. Let's play two! Actually, let's watch a duel between Peyton Hillis and Fred Jackson. First back to 125 yards wins. I'll take Hillis (217 carries, 962 yards), who should pass 1,000 yards by the average fan's third Molson.
 
1 p.m. ET (CBS)Cincinnati Bengals (2-10) at Pittsburgh Steelers (9-3)
Close because the Steelers will have Ravens hangover. One request for this game: Can it be played, and end, without complaints from the Bengals that the refs are bending over to be fair to the Steelers, and without complaints from the Steelers that the big, bad league office keeps picking on them? Please?
 
1 p.m. ET (CBS)Oakland Raiders (6-6) at Jacksonville Jaguars (7-5)
Sixth straight 100-yard game for Maurice Jones-Drew, as I see it. Imagine this amazing thought emanating from the Jacksonville postgame locker room if this happens: We've got the AFC South in our hands if we can beat the Colts in Indy next week.
 
1 p.m. ET (Fox)Tampa Bay Buccaneers (7-5) at Washington Redskins (5-7)
I take you back to March 2009. Albert Haynesworth's the biggest prize on the free-agent market. (Roll that one around in your head for a while; it should tell you how dangerous veteran free-agency is.) The final two contenders are Washington and Tampa Bay. Haynesworth picks Washington; he doesn't want to sign with a losing, rebuilding team. Two questions: Think Albert would like to have a mulligan on that call? And think the Bucs are deliriously happy Haynesworth said no?
 
1 p.m. ET (Fox)Green Bay Packers (8-4) at Detroit Lions (2-10)
Watch your back, Aaron Rodgers. But I don't think even a couple of good whacks from Ndamukong Suh will prevent Rodgers from a 300-yard passing day inside the Detroit dome.
 
1 p.m. ET (Fox)New York Giants (8-4) at Minnesota Vikings (5-7)
Seems like 11 years ago, but it was actually 11 months ago when Brett Favre threw four touchdown passes and the Vikings ran up the score in a 44-7 rout of the GMen to close the '09 season. Four touchdown passes for Favre? Not happening in this one. I might set the over-under on "series played, Favre'' at four.
 
1 p.m. ET (Fox)Atlanta Falcons (10-2) at Carolina Panthers (1-11)
Atlanta's final four games are bookended by matches against the 1-11 Panthers. Sweet. How exactly does Atlanta lose home-field in the NFC?
 
4:05 p.m. ET (Fox)St. Louis Rams (6-6) at New Orleans Saints (9-3)
St. Louis is finally looking like a good team. Six wins match the total of the previous three years. Sam Bradford's won two straight road games. Steven Jackson's on the verge of his sixth straight 1,000-yard season. Chris Long's got six sacks in his last seven games. Rodger Safford's a bear at left tackle. Too bad they're playing the defending Super Bowl champions, who are getting healthy, playing at home and getting as explosive on offense as they've ever been (34, 30, 34 and 34 points the last four weeks).
 
4:05 p.m. ET (Fox)Seattle Seahawks (6-6) at San Francisco 49ers">49ers (4-8)
Everyone wonders why Alex Smith replaces Troy Smith at quarterback. Pretty simple. With no Frank Gore, the Niners' run game isn't dominant, so they'll have to spread the field much of the game. Alex Smith is more accurate than Troy, with much more of a mastery of the offense, and Troy's been misfiring in each of the past three weeks. Pretty logical for a coach who doesn't care about 2011 one bit; all Mike Singletary wants to do is find a way to win one game right now.
 
4:15 p.m. ET (CBS)Denver Broncos (3-9) at Arizona Cardinals (3-9)
In the latest chapter of the 2010 book, "Interim Coaches Lead Charmed Lives,'' Eric Studesville ("STOO-dis-ville,'' as he told me this week) becomes the third one this year to open his head-coaching career with a road victory.
 
4:15 p.m. ET (CBS)New England Patriots (10-2) at Chicago Bears (9-3)
It could be an awful weather day in the spaceship just off Lake Michigan, and what makes it worse for the Bears is a lightning bug named Danny Woodhead. He'll be the Pats' not-so-secret weapon, along with short stuff to the rookie tight ends.
 
4:15 p.m. ET (CBS)Miami Dolphins (6-6) at New York Jets (9-3)
Miami can't score, and Rex Ryan's going to have his defenders lathered into a this-is-our-whole-season-right-here frenzy (better than let's-go-get-a-GD-snack frenzy). Somehow, the Jets are going to find a way to rebound from one of the worst games in their history, or I'll be very surprised.
 
4:15 p.m. ET (CBS)Kansas City Chiefs (8-4) at San Diego Chargers (6-6)
Can't see this being a Chargers' walkover with Matt Cassel out. Don't forget that last year, with three minutes to go at Baltimore, Brodie Croyle had the Chiefs tied 24-24.
 
8:20 p.m. ET (NBC)Philadelphia Eagles (8-4) at Dallas Cowboys (4-8)
It's all about the quarterback here ... but could that quarterback be Jon Kitna? Since Jason Garrett took over, Jon Kitna's a 68-percent passer, with seven touchdowns and two interceptions. Even with Dez Bryant, I think Kitna makes this a good game, not a Michael Vick-led walkover.
 
Monday, Dec. 13
 
8:30 p.m. ET (ESPN)Baltimore (8-4) at Houston Texans (5-7)
The Ravens are tough to forecast, but I do know this: prime time, Monday night, coming off a loss to their bitter rivals, ticked off ... they'll not only win, but also get one heck of a talking-to on the field before the game from Ray Lewis.
 

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