Mac's NFL Picks - Week 14

No prolonged introductions this week. I've been up since 2am and just spent 10 hours in airports and airplanes, including two early morning hours flying from Boston to Cincinnati while sitting in front a guy who snored so loudly, a jet engine and Pearl Jam's "Live at the Gorge, July 23rd, 2006" on the iPod couldn't drown him out.

Now I'm off to find some chow, an ice cold northwest beer and a place to hunker down to watch tonight's game between the Chicago Bears and Washington Redskins on the NFL Network, because it's sure as hell isn't available on the hotel TV and I didn't fly from Boston to Seattle to sit in a hotel room.

Last Week: 9-7

2007 Season: 91-95-6

Chicago at Washington (-3) – I'm still baffled that the NFL didn't intervene and push this game back a few days. To ask the Washington Redskins to play a game on Sunday, bury their teammate on Monday, and then turn around and play on Thursday night, just strikes me as being somewhat cruel. Pick: Bears +3

Miami at Buffalo (-7) – Dan Marino came out and reminded Dolphins fans that they need to be patient, which is probably sound advice, because I don't see Miami winning anytime soon. With the direction the ‘Phins are heading, I wonder if it's more difficult to go winless than it is to go undefeated. Pick: Bills -7

St. Louis at Cincinnati (-6 ½) – The only interesting thing about this meaningless game is that FOX has thawed out Pat Summerall and shipped him to Cincinnati to do the play-by-play.

I'll admit, it'd be great to hear "there's a flag on the play" when a coach challenges a play, or "Deacon Jones with the tackle", if you know, people were actually watching. Pick: Bengals -6 ½

San Diego (-1) at Tennessee – Someone needs to tell me what the San Diego Chargers have done to be favored on the road against a the Tennessee Titans, because I just don't see it. The Titans are every bit as good as the Chargers, and since this one is in Nashville, I like the home team. Pick: Titans +1

NY Giants at Philadelphia (-3) – A week after throwing four interceptions against the Minnesota Vikings, a "skittish" Eli Manning somehow bounced back to lead his team to a come-from-behind victory on the road against the defending NFC Champs. I guess the saying "If you live long enough, you'll see everything" is true. Pick: Eagles -3

Carolina at Jacksonville (-10 ½) – Think about all the things that have gone wrong for the Carolina Panthers this year: A 5-game losing streak. A 1-5 record at home. Quarterback Jake Delhomme landing on IR before October. Steve Smith getting banged up and no other wide receiver picks up the slack. The guy they signed to back-up Delhomme plays so poorly, the head coach opts to not play him at home to protect him from a hostile home crowd.

Despite all that, if they somehow beat the Jaguars, and both Arizona and Detroit lose, the Panthers would be just a game behind the Minnesota Vikings for the 2nd wild card spot in the NFC.

I hereby withdraw my dissenting opinion and fully admit that the AFC is the much stronger conference. Pick: Jaguars -10 ½

Tampa Bay (-3) at Houston – Even without Jeff Garcia, the Buccaneers should beat Sage Rosenfels and the Houston Texans. That shouldn't come as a surprise, either. This is a team that lost the anchor of the offensive line, it's top two running backs, and whose best receivers are Ike Hilliard and Joey Galloway, both on the wrong side of 30, and are 8-4 and can clinch the NFC South this week. Pick: Buccaneers -3

Oakland at Green Bay (-10 ½) – The Raiders soundly defeated their bitter rivals last week, and gave their fan base a glimpse at their future (JaMarcus Russell), so do you think the Oakland Raiders can ride that euphoric wave into Lambeau Field and shock the world by beating the great Brett Favre on his home turf?

Nah, me neither. Pick: Packers -10 ½

Dallas (-11) at Detroit – After beating the Green Bay Packers on quasi-national television last Thursday night, Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo hopped on a private jet with Jessica Simpson to spend the weekend with her in Los Angeles.

Hey, if you removed the private jet, the weekend in Los Angeles and Jessica Simpson, his weekend was eerily similar to mine. Pick: Cowboys -11 (Who called the Lions collapse?)

Arizona at Seattle (-7) – I'm sure Seattle Seahawks head coach Mike Holmgren is going to remind his team that they can clinch a 4th straight NFC West title with a win over division rival Arizona on Sunday. I'm sure he'll also mention that the ‘Hawks have lost their last two games to Arizona, and that their tailspin last December started with a Week 14 loss to the Cardinals.

Oh, and I'll be at this game, so… Pick: Seahawks -7

Minnesota (-8 ½) at San Francisco – I can't think of any team that wants to play the Minnesota Vikings right now. Pick: Vikings -8 ½

Cleveland (-3 ½) at NY Jets – Be honest: Before the season, if you had to pick which former Bill Belichick assistant coach would be in the best position to roam the sidelines during an NFL playoff game as a head coach, would Romeo Crennel have cracked your Top 5. Pick: Browns -3 ½

Pittsburgh at New England (-10 ½) – Is this Super Bowl 42 and a third? Honestly, looking at the last two games the Patriots have played, the blueprint is right there for all to see: The team that beats them is going to be willing and able to run the football, can stop the run, and disguise their blitzes.

That sounds like the perfect way to describe the Pittsburgh Steelers, doesn't it? Let's face it: This is the Patriots' last hurdle. If the Steelers can't beat them, nothing will stop them from going 16-0. Pick: Steelers +10 ½

Kansas City at Denver (-6 ½) – I don't know why, but I always get a chuckle out of Mike Shanahan needing a win in December to pull within a game of .500. Pick: Chiefs +6 ½

Indianapolis (-9) at Baltimore – Have you seen the fallout in Baltimore after Monday night's loss to the Patriots? Boy, I haven't seen football fans in Baltimore this upset since the morning after some Mayflower vans…oh…um, never mind. Pick: Colts -9

New Orleans (-4 ½) at Atlanta – What angle is Tony Kornheiser going to use when he hops up on his soapbox right before kickoff? Katrina? Michael Vick and dogfighting? We eagerly await your words of wisdom, Tony. Pick: Saints -4 ½


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