Pigskin Pick ‘Em: Hitting the final quarter of the year

  • Thursday, December 5, 2019 12:07am
  • Sports

We’ve reached the home stretch of the NFL season with 75% of the schedule completed after the 13th week of action. Speaking of the number 13, last week was particularly unlucky, even in a season filled with zany results. The New York Jets entered their matchup with the winless Cincinnati Bengals having scored a whopping 34 points in three consecutive games, all victories for Gang Green. Their stellar play would surely continue against a Bengals team allowing 25 points per contest wouldn’t it? Logic doesn’t work in the NFL. The Jets managed a meager six points and provided Cincinnati with their first victory.

Things were even more dire in Carolina where a Panthers team, still clinging to slim playoff hopes, dropped a game at home against the hapless Washington Redskins. The result of which led to the firing of Panthers Coach Ron Rivera earlier this week. The Philadelphia Eagles experienced a similar letdown in Miami. The Eagles are still alive in the NFC East race, but you wouldn’t know it after the team allowed a three-win Tuna team to put 37 points on the board leading to the upset. The only good news in a 7-8 week against the spread, which dropped our season total to 82-101, was the Seattle Seahawks topping the Minnesota Vikings on Monday night!

COWBOYS @ Bears +3

I’m going with the Fighting Jerry’s on Thursday night. A pick that should make every Cowboys fan worry and bring a sense of relief to Bears backers like the Clarion’s own Joey Klecka. Both teams are 6-6, both teams have even 3-3 records at home and away. The Cowboys season has felt more dramatic, but the Bears have equally disappointed in many ways. Coin flip. Cowboys win 24-17

SEAHAWKS @ Rams +1

This is a scary game for a Seahawks team that overtook the 49ers in the division after last week’s win over the Vikings. The Rams are ultra-talented, but for whatever reason the LA offense hasn’t been able to thrive like it did a season ago. In particular, Rams QB Jared Goff has really struggled. Seattle has won a bevy of close games this year, Sunday will be no different. Seahawks win 30-23

Panthers @ FALCONS -2.5

Your guess is as good as mine in this one. The Panthers just fired their coach because they stink at football. The Falcons are 3-9 and have won just a single game at home all season. In fact, the odds are good that Falcons coach Dan Quinn will be the next one to get fired. I’m siding with Atlanta because I’m contractually obligated to pick a team. That’s it, that’s my reason. Falcons win 28-20

RAVENS @ Bills +5.5

This is one of the easier contests to pick this week. The Bills impressed in Dallas on Thanksgiving but it’s fair to ask how much of that was the Bills playing good football and how much of that was the Cowboys simply being bad. Baltimore has separated itself from the league with wins over the Patriots, Seahawks and 49ers. The Bills are next. Ravens win 31-14

BENGALS @ Browns -8.5

The Browns talked trash all week, in the aftermath of the Cleveland-Pittsburgh brawl a few weeks ago, only to lay an egg in the rematch. Which is about the most Cleveland Browns thing to do ever. I just don’t trust this Browns team to give more than a touchdown against anyone, even against a team as lowly as the Bengals. Cincinnati is more competitive with Andy Dalton at QB, something they proved last week in a win over the Jets. Browns win 23-20

Redskins @ PACKERS -13

I’m not buying the Redskins recent success as anything more than a scheduling quirk. Washington benefitted from playing Detroit and Carolina, two teams ravaged by injuries, and rapidly falling apart. The Packers are not like those two teams. Green Bay can’t afford to overlook a bad Redskins team, not with the Vikings a game back in the NFC North race. Packers win 34-13

Lions @ VIKINGS -13

See the previous game remarks. This is a critical game for Minnesota. The Vikings must rebound from last week’s loss in Seattle to stay in the mix for a division crown. It’s especially important knowing the Packers have a likely victory in hand over the Redskins. Detroit is really bad at scoring and preventing points. All of which points to a big Vikings victory. Vikings win 28-9

49ERS @ Saints -2.5

What an incredible matchup to kick off the early slate of games Sunday morning. Both teams are 10-2 but in the incredibly difficult NFC the Saints are currently the number one seed and the 49ers 5th. Even a win over the Saints doesn’t guarantee the 49ers jump to first in the conference. My head hurts trying to figure out all the scenarios. I do think the 49ers have the highest upside of anyone in the NFC, but they also have the least proven QB. 49ers win 27-23

DOLPHINS @ Jets -5.5

If this wasn’t a newspaper column and I was simply texting out NFL picks I would send the puking emoji to describe this game. I guess I’ll go with the Dolphins. The Jets have a better record, but I’ve been more impressed by the Dolphins improvement over the course of the year. Dolphins win 21-17

COLTS @ Bucs -2.5

The Colts seem like the type of team where every time you finally feel like its safe to write them off, they win a couple games. The Bucs are the opposite of that. Tampa has talent and we keep waiting for them to put it all together, but they always find a way to disappoint as soon as you start believing. Colts win 23-17

Broncos @ TEXANS -9

Denver has been in a lot of close games this year, which makes laying nine points a little scary, but I don’t have any faith in Broncos third string QB Drew Lock. I think that’s his name. It’s getting hard to follow with how often Denver changes QB’s. The Texans do not have a QB issue. Deshaun Watson is really good at passing the ball and running the ball. The QB even caught a TD pass last week. Is there anything Watson can’t do? Texans win 31-13

CHARGERS @ Jags +3

The Jaguars did the sensible thing and re-inserted rookie passer Gardner Minshew as the starting QB. Replacing Minshew with Nick Foles never made sense. One path to winning in the NFL is getting good play out of a QB on a rookie deal. Minshew has shown enough to get that opportunity but now that you have played Foles and he struggled, he’ll be much hard to trade this off-season. Jags always gonna Jag, I guess. Chargers win 26-17

TITANS @ Raiders +2.5

The Titans are red hot, the Raider are not. Tennessee has won gone 5-1 with Ryan Tannehill under center. During that stretch Tannehill has appeared competent, which is in start contrast to the rest of his NFL career. Two weeks ago, the Raiders were 6-4 and very much looking like a contender in the AFC West. After crushing defeats against the Jets and Chiefs, Chuckie’s gang of misfits looks like they can’t move to Vegas soon enough. Titans win 30-20

Chiefs @ PATRIOTS -2

Has a 10-2 team ever looked as vulnerable as the Patriots do now? There are rumors that Tom Brady is considering leaving the only franchise he has ever played for at the end of the season. The wide receiver room is a collection of players deemed replaceable by other teams. They have no running game to speak of. How long can Belichick’s vaunted defense keep the ship afloat. I’m not ready to fade the Pats at home but a Chiefs win in this spot would not shock me. Patriots win 27-24

Steelers @ CARDINALS +2.5

We’re reaching a word count limit, so we’ll keep it short. I don’t trust any QB nicknamed “Duck” to win a road game in the NFL. Cardinals win 28-21

GIANTS @ Eagles -9.5

Both of these team’s stink. The Giants will turn back to Eli Manning to fill in for the injured Daniel Jones. I don’t know what that means. The Eagles just surrendered 37 points to the Dolphins. I do know that’s bad. Eagles win 20-17

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