Let’s not pretend we’re any smarter than even a casual fan. Picking the winner of Week 14’s Thursday Nighter was not a difficult task.
I mean it was Denver (9-3) at Oakland (3-9) after all. It doesn’t take a rocket surgeon to come to the conclusion that the Broncos, with Peyton Manning at quarterback are going to be better than Oakland with Carson Palmer under centre.
Anyway, this is how The Coach and The Doc saw Thursday night’s match:
What a mismatch…in wrestling terms we have a “squash match”. The Broncos have won seven straight games and the Raiders have lost their last five. Peyton Manning had his way against the consistently horrible Raiders defense (338 yards, three TDs) as the Broncos won the first meeting 37-6 in Week 4, and he was just getting warmed up. Denver has already clinched a playoff spot but now must focus on getting a first-round bye. The Raiders will miss the playoffs for the 10th straight season. The Coach says: “There is no possible way you can make this exciting.”
So what happened?
Denver 26 Oakland 13
Peyton Manning went 26-for-36 for 310 yards and one touchdown — his 30th touchdown of the season as Denver improved to 10-3 and won their eighth straight game. The Broncos had already wrapped up the AFC West title, but another win couldn’t hurt. Knowshon Moreno carried 32 times for 119 yards and a touchdown and Matt Prater kicked four field goals. Carson Palmer completed 19-of-30 attempts for 273 yards and two touchdowns as Oakland fell to 3-10.
The boys are 1-0 straight up and 1-0 against the spread to start the week. Nice.
On Sunday, there are 14 more games including San Diego at Pittsburgh, Tennessee at Indianapolis, Chicago at Minnesota, the Eagles at Tampa, Dallas at Cincinnati, Baltimore at Washington and in the Sunday Nighter, Detroit plays at Green Bay. The Monday Nighter, with Houston at New England is a dandy.
Last week Dr. Football was 10-6 (123-69) straight up and 8-8 (94-98) against the spread while The Coach went 11-5 (124-68) straight up and 9-7 (93-99) against the spread.
This week, as always, The Doc writes our rationalizations while The Coach drinks gallons of Diet Coke and rants uncontrollably:
Kansas City Chiefs (2-10) at Cleveland Browns (4-8) Line: Browns by 6.5.
The Chiefs emotional win last week can’t hide the fact that they are a terrible team and even worse on the road. The Browns have a two game winning streak going and have the run defense to limit Jamaal Charles. I’m not thinking anyone in Cleveland is excited about the return of Brady Quinn. Or nervous about it either. The Coach says: “Brandon Weeden is the new Ryan Tannehill. Browns by 10”.
THE DOC: TAKE THE BROWNS TO WIN AND COVER.
THE COACH: TAKE THE BROWNS TO WIN AND COVER.
Baltimore Ravens (9-3) at Washington Redskins (6-6) Line: Redskins by 1.5.
Baltimore can cinch playoff spot this week with a win if Steelers or Bengals lose. I could make a few “fired up” jokes here at Terrell Suggs expense, but I will hold back. Washington has played extremely well the last few weeks and I think RG3 has found his groove especially after beating up the Giants on Monday night. I think the momentum continues. The Coach says: “Terrell Suggs is going to play with a torn bicep. He might not be at the top of his game, but he’s the toughest S.O.B. since Jack Youngblood.”
THE DOC: TAKE THE REDSKINS TO WIN AND COVER.
THE COACH: TAKE WASHINGTON TO WIN AND COVER.
San Diego Chargers (4-8) at Pittsburgh Steelers (7-5) Line: Steelers by 7.5.
Big Ben returns, but in this one, the Steelers won’t need him. The Chargers have NEVER won in Pittsburgh (0-14 all time) and have not beaten a team with a winning record this season. The Coach says: ”Is Norv Turner still coaching in San Diego? Really?”
THE DOC: TAKE THE STEELERS TO WIN AND COVER.
THE COACH: TAKE THE STEELERS TO WIN AND COVER.
Tennessee Titans (4-8) at Indianapolis Colts (8-4) Line: Colts by 5
The Colts are 5-1 at home, and have won 15 of past 19 in this series including a 19-13 OT win in October, and are in a hunt for a playoff spot. The Titans are awful on defense, allowing 30 points per game, and allowing a 101.7 passer rating to opposing quarterbacks. Andrew Luck; can you say “rookie of the year”? The Coach says: “This won’t be close.”
THE DOC: TAKE THE COLTS TO WIN AND COVER.
THE COACH: TAKE THE COLTS TO WIN AND COVER.
New York Jets (5-7) at Jacksonville Jaguars (2-10) Line: Jets by 2.5.
The Jets are a train wreck, and have made the decision to stick with Mark Sanchez which is a good idea because it’s a road game. The angry mob known as Jets fans can’t stand him, and hometown boy Tim Tebow is still out with broken ribs. The Jags were blown out in Buffalo last week, and at home are 1-5 this season, so playing at home is not that much of an advantage. But I can smell an upset in the making just to keep torturing Rex Ryan. The Coach says: “I just want to see another buttfumble.”
THE DOC: TAKE THE JAGUARS IN AN UPSET.
THE COACH: TAKE THE JETS TO WIN AND COVER.
Chicago Bears (8-4) at Minnesota Vikings (6-6) Line: Bears by 2.5.
Speaking of upsets, I believe the MOA Field will host one as well. The Vikings are 5-1 at home, RB Adrian Peterson is playing like a guy in search of a new contract, and the Bears will be missing Brian Urlacher. Expect another huge day for AP. The Coach says: “Hopefully, with Percy Harvin done for the year, Adrian and his pal Noodle-arm will come to some kind of understanding. Which is: Giving the ball to Adrian Peterson is better than trying to lob it to somebody else.”
THE DOC: TAKE THE VIKINGS IN AN UPSET.
THE COACH: TAKE THE VIKINGS TO WIN.
Atlanta Falcons (11-1) at Carolina Panthers (3-9) Line: Falcons by 3.
The Falcons have clinched the division, but they have a chance to lock up the bye in the next couple of weeks. They also are rested after playing 10 days ago. The Panthers secondary is a bad match for Matt Ryan and all those weapons he has at his disposal. The Coach says: “Yikes!”
THE DOC: TAKE THE FALCONS TO WIN AND COVER.
THE COACH: TAKE THE FALCONS TO WIN AND COVER.
Philadelphia Eagles (3-9) at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (6-6) Line: Buccaneers by 7.5.
Tampa Bay is still in the playoff hunt, while the Eagles Andy Reid continues his farewell tour. Philly has lost eight in a row and is playing their second consecutive road game. I don’t think Nick Foles wanted to become a starting QB this way. Watch for the Bucs Josh Freeman to have a huge day passing. The Coach says: “Andy Reid has four more games as head coach of the Eagles. It won’t be a pretty sight.”
THE DOC: TAKE THE BUCCANEERS TO WIN AND COVER.
THE COACH: TAKE THE BUCS TO WIN AND COVER.
St. Louis Rams (5-6-1) at Buffalo Bills (5-7) Line: Bills by 3.
Kind of weird that these teams are still in the playoff hunt. The Rams are coming off a hard fought win last week against the 49ers at home, the comfy confines of a Dome. The Bills home is no Dome. The elements will favor Buffalo as the Rams are known to be an indoor team and have managed only one road win so far this season. It will be close though. The Coach says: “This is the perfect NFL game for the Goodell Era. Two teams with losing records who haven’t been eliminated from the playoffs 12 games into the season. This is parity run amok.”
THE DOC: TAKE THE BILLS TO WIN BUT NOT COVER.
THE COACH: TAKE THE BILLS TO WIN AND COVER.
Dallas Cowboys (6-6) at Cincinnati Bengals (7-5) Line: Bengals by 3.
This is a huge game for both teams who are both in the playoff chase. The Bengals have won their last four and Tony and the Boys put up 38 points on the board last week. Having RB DeMarco Murray back is great for Dallas, as the O-line won’t provide Romo the protection he needs, forcing him to make mistakes. Look for a few big turnovers for the Bengals defense to be the difference. The Coach says: “There is a chance this could be the most interesting game of the week.
THE DOC: TAKE THE BENGALS TO WIN AND COVER.
THE COACH: TAKE THE BENGALS TO WIN AND COVER.
Miami Dolphins (5-7) at San Francisco 49ers (8-3-1) Line: 49ers by 10.
The Dolphins go coast to coast to face a 49ers team playing at home for the first time in three weeks. San Fran will be out to avenge a dismal outing last week against the Rams. Both teams provide solid defenses, but the 49ers provide a the top defense in the league, one that Miami’s Ryan Tannehill won’t be able to do much against. Niners QB Colin Kaepernick should bounce back, but still lacks experience and it will show. The Coach says: “If San Francisco doesn’t win this by three touchdowns there should be a quarterback controversy. Because Alex Smith would win this mismatch by three touchdowns.”
THE DOC: TAKE THE 49ers TO WIN BUT NOT COVER.
THE COACH: TAKE THE 49ers TO WIN AND COVER.
New Orleans Saints (5-7) at New York Giants (7-5) Line: Giants by 5.
The Saints Drew Brees is 4-0 all-time against the Giants with 11 TDs vs. zero picks but face a New York team who can capitalize on their defense the struggles against the run. The Giants need this win to keep their dream on defending their Super bowl title in February, something that Eli Manning wants to do bad, because that game in February might be against his brother’s team. The Coach says: “Time for Eli to step up.”
THE DOC: TAKE THE GIANTS TO WIN AND COVER.
THE COACH: TAKE THE GIANTS TO WIN AND COVER.
Arizona Cardinals (4-8) at Seattle Seahawks (7-5) Line: Seahawks by 10.5.
One of the Cards early season wins was against Seattle in what seems to be a long time ago. Arizona has now lost eight in a row, and now travels to the toughest place in the NFL for a visitor. Will it be John Skelton or Ryan Lindley at QB? It really doesn’t matter since the Cardinals can’t score anyway, especially against the Seattle D. The Coach says: “If John Skelton has a pulse, Ken Whisenhunt will start him at QB.”
THE DOC: TAKE THE SEAHAWKS TO WIN AND COVER.
THE COACH: TAKE THE SEAHAWKS TO WIN BUT NOT COVER.
Detroit Lions (4-8) at Green Bay Packers (8-4) Line: Packers by 6.5.
Consider this; Detroit has lost 20 games in a row at Lambeau Field. Good grief! In their previous meeting this season in Detroit, Green Bay scored late to beat the Lions 24-20. That’s when the Pack was struggling early on. Despite the Lions Calvin Johnson playing out of his mind of late, Aaron Rodgers with a 100-plus rating in all seven meetings against the Lions will get his yards plus the big win. The Coach says: “Lions fans can only hope this is Game 1 of the Jim Schwartz Farewell Tour.”
THE DOC: TAKE THE PACKERS TO WIN AND COVER.
THE COACH: TAKE THE PACKERS TO WIN AND COVER.
Houston Texans (11-1) at New England Patriots (9-3) Line: Patriots by 3.
Good Monday Nighter. The Texans and Pats are both Super Bowl favorites at 9-2 odds coming into this one, and the winner here will be the clear-cut favorite moving forward. This game is probably a preview to the AFC Conference Championship, a game that the Patriots seldom lose. Houston has had all kinds of problems against good passing teams and I think they will struggle against Tom Brady. Look for the Patriots and Brady to have a huge game as they are on a 10-1 run on Monday night, with an average victory margin of 20 points. The Coach says: “Game of the Week. Maybe regular season game of the year.”
THE DOC: TAKE THE PATRIOTS TO WIN AND COVER.
THE COACH: TAKE THE PATRIOTS TO WIN AND COVER.