By Scott Taylor and Dave Petrishen
TAMPA – Gary Kubiak has been fired in Houston. Wade Phillips is a head coach again. The Houston Texans look like they’re about to get the No. 1 draft pick (11 straight losses will do that) and the Indianapolis Colts can wrap up first place in the AFC South this week with a win and a Tennessee loss.
Oh yeah, and according to The Charlotte Observer, Carolina coach Ron Rivera’s attorney filed paperwork last month to trademark “Riverboat Ron” under trademark owner Coach Rivera LLC.
It’s an amazing world we live in, but after Jacksonville beat Houston 27-20 in the Thursday Nighter, it got a little more amazing. After all, Houston is now, officially, the worst team in the NFL (who saw that coming before the season started?), while Jacksonville has won four-of-five and is suddenly one of the hottest teams in the league.
Who would have guessed?
What might be even more amazing is that our two dunder… er, experts, were pretty good last week. Dr. Football went 11-5 (124-68) straight up and 8-8 (93-99) against the spread and after a 3-0 Thursday start, The Coach went 12-4 (125-67) straight up and 10-6 (100-92) against the spread.
This week, the Doc writes our brilliant rationalizations while the Coach just laughs and wonders aloud how hard it would be to officiate in the NFL. Or coach in Houston.
Kansas City Chiefs (9-3) at Washington Redskins (3-9) Line: Chiefs by 3.5.
What a difference a few weeks makes. The Chiefs, once the hottest team in football, are now struggling and are starting to break down due to injuries. Luckily, the Redskins are just what they need to get back on track as they have yet to beat a team with a winning record. The Coach says: I’m sure Andy Reid will still get a rise out of it when his team crushes Washington.
The Doc: TAKE THE CHIEFS TO WIN AND COVER.
The Coach: TAKE THE CHIEFS TO WIN AND COVER.
Minnesota Vikings (3-8-1) at Baltimore Ravens (6-6) Line: Ravens by 7.
Aside from their .500 record, the Ravens have one of the best defenses against the run. And they are unbeatable at home. And they are rested after last playing on Thanksgiving. And finally, they are 10th in the league against the run, which is pretty much all the offense the Vikings have. The Coach says: A loss this week is big for the Vikings. They’ll be a step closer to drafting a quarterback next season. You know what? Matt Johnson at Bowling Green does a better job reading his secondary receivers than Christian Ponder does.
The Doc: TAKE THE RAVENS TO WIN AND COVER.
The Coach: TAKE THE RAVENS TO WIN AND COVER.
Cleveland Browns (4-8) at New England Patriots (9-3) Line: Patriots by 10.
In four of their last six losses, the Browns have been defeated by at least 14 points and one of those losses was at home vs. Jacksonville. Now they face a healthy Patriots team and Tom Brady. The Coach says: I’m kinda pissed that Jason Campbell is ready to play QB for the Browns. I was all set for Alex (Trickshot) Tanney to get the call. I think he’d be the first Monmouth Fightin’ Scot ever to start an NFL game.
The Doc: TAKE THE PATRIOTS TO WIN AND COVER.
The Coach: TAKE THE PATRIOTS TO WIN AND COVER.
Oakland Raiders (5-7) at New York Jets (5-7) Line: Jets by 2.5.
Geno Smith’s offense hasn’t scored a touchdown since week 11, and Rex Ryan yanked him last week. The Raiders are terrible defending the pass, so he might play the whole game this week. Might. The Coach says: Geno’s back.
The Doc: TAKE THE JETS TO WIN AND COVER.
The Coach: TAKE THE JETS TO WIN AND COVER.
Indianapolis Colts (8-4) at Cincinnati Bengals (8-4) Line: Bengals by 6.
This is a huge AFC showdown. Edge goes to the home team in this one; the Colts despite their win last week haven’t played consistently all year. In three of their losses they’ve been blown out, something that I think will happen this week. The Coach says: This is a gigantic game for the Colts.
The Doc: TAKE THE BENGALS TO WIN AND COVER.
The Coach: TAKE THE BENGALS TO WIN AND COVER.
Detroit Lions (7-5) at Philadelphia Eagles (7-5) Line: Eagles by 2.5.
This has the makings of a shootout. The Eagles have won four straight and during that time Nick Foles has tossed 19 touchdown passes and has not thrown an interception. The Lions scored 40 against the Packers last week. If the Lions can reduce the turnovers, I’ll think they’ll stop the Eagles at home. The Coach says: The weather will play a huge role in this one. I’ll take Foles over Stafford on a lousy day.
The Doc: TAKE THE LIONS IN AN UPSET.
The Coach: TAKE THE EAGLES TO WIN AND COVER.
Miami Dolphins (6-6) at Pittsburgh Steelers (5-7) Line: Steelers by 3.
The Dolphins are playing their second consecutive road game, and while they were able to beat the Jets last week, they haven’t been able to string together two straight wins since September. The Steelers, despite last week’s set back in Baltimore are the better team after a horrible start, with Big Ben tossing eight touchdowns vs. no interceptions in his last three games.
The Doc: TAKE THE STEELERS TO WIN AND COVER.
The Coach: TAKE THE STEELERS TO WIN AND COVER.
Buffalo Bills (4-8) at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (3-9) Line: Buccaneers by 2.5.
Can’t see the Bills being very motivated after last week’s loss, they’re done for another year. The Bucs are done too, but over the last month their only loss was to Seattle in overtime having beat the Panthers, Lions, and Falcons. The Coach says: Homefield advantage. It will be Talk-like-a-pirate Sunday in Tampa.
The Doc: TAKE THE BUCCANEERS TO WIN AND COVER.
The Coach: TAKE THE BECCANEERS TO WIN AND COVER.
Atlanta Falcons (3-9) at Green Bay Packers (5-6-1) Line: No Line.
Quite simple; no Rodgers, no victory. And he’s doubtful. The Coach says: Even if Max Hall got the call to play quarterback in Green Bay, outdoors against a bad dome team, the Packers are better.
The Doc: TAKE THE FALCONS.
The Coach: TAKE THE PACKERS TO WIN (AND COVER).
Tennessee Titans (5-7) at Denver Broncos (10-2) Line: Broncos by 12.
The Titans second consecutive road game takes them to Denver. Big trouble. The Broncos haven’t won by at least 10 points since late October, but that will change on Sunday. The Coach says: This won’t be close.
The Doc: TAKE THE BRONCOS TO WIN AND COVER.
The Coach: TAKE THE BRONCOS TO WIN AND COVER.
St. Louis Rams (5-7) at Arizona Cardinals (7-5) Line: Cardinals by 6.
The Rams have won two of their last three, beating the Colts and the Bears, but losing to the 49ers. Nobody (including me) thought Kellen Clemens could compete at such a high level. St. Louis has it tough this week; not only is this their second consecutive road game, but the Cardinals haven’t lost to a team with a losing record all season. The Coach says: The Cards are just better.
The Doc: TAKE THE CARDINALS TO WIN AND COVER.
The Coach: TAKE THE CARDINALS TO WIN AND COVER.
New York Giants (5-7) at San Diego Chargers (5-7) Line: Chargers by 3.
The Giants have won five out of their last six, but this is their second consecutive road game as well. San Diego may have lost last week to the Bengals, but they did beat the Chiefs in Week 11 and they seem to play better against tougher opponents. Phillip Rivers is having a great season, and I think the Giants will feel that on the road. The Coach says: Will we see the good Philip Rivers or the bad Philip Rivers? I don’t have a lot of faith in the good one showing up.
The Doc: TAKE THE CHARGERS TO WIN AND COVER.
The Coach: TAKE THE GIANTS TO WIN AND COVER.
Seattle Seahawks (11-1) at San Francisco 49ers (8-4) Line: 49ers by 3.
Strange spread…an 11-1 team the underdog against an 8-4 team? Colin Kaepernick passing attack has struggled all year and now he faces the Seahawks ferocious pass defense. Seattle continues to roll. The Coach says: Seattle should be favored. That team is the real deal.
The Doc: TAKE THE SEAHAWKS IN AN UPSET.
The Coach: TAKE THE SEAHAWKS TO WIN.
Carolina Panthers (9-3) at New Orleans Saints (9-3) Line: Saints by 3.5.
The Saints are coming off a Monday night beat down in Seattle and face a very hot Panther team. But like the fans in Seattle, the hometown crowd will probably will them to a win. But it will be close. The Coach says: This is the biggest game of Cam Newton’s career.
The Doc: TAKE THE SAINTS TO WIN BUT NOT COVER.
The Coach: TAKE THE SAINTS TO WIN AND COVER.
Dallas Cowboys (7-5) at Chicago Bears (6-6) Line: Bears by 1.
Two teams that can dominate at times, but they also have problems on defense. I think this will be another shoot out, and on Monday nights I usually go for the home team. The Coach says: Josh McCown can win a job with a win this week.
The Doc: TAKE THE BEARS TO WIN AND COVER.
The Coach: TAKE THE BEARS TO WIN AND COVER.