After a white-hot Week 12 Confidence Pool, we cooled in Week 13 by going 9-7 straight up, but it was the Packers getting stunned by the Cardinals in the 14th spot and Saints losing to the Cowboys at No. 11 that did the damage. Let’s move on to Week 14 where we rate our most confident straight up pick from (16) all the way to our least confident (1). The point spread on each game is in parentheses, but these picks are not against the spread.
Week 13 Straight Up Record: 9-7 (94 of possible 120)
16. Chargers: Bengals at Chargers (-14): The best online sportsbooks, found all in one place at Sportsbook Review, are dealing the Chargers as two-touchdown favorites over the mortally wounded Bengals. Not only do the Bolts blast the Cats but cover the number as well.
15. Steelers: Steelers (-11) at Raiders: Pittsburgh let the Bolts back in the game and snatched defeat from the jaws of victory when LA’s Mike Badgley drilled a 29-yeard chip shot with time expiring on Sunday night. The only thing expiring this week will be the woeful Raiders.
14. Patriots: Patriots (-8) at Dolphins: The Fish are 5-1 straight up and against the spread at home, so this is not exactly a cakewalk for the Patriots. However, it’s December and that’s the month that New England historically refuses to lose.
13. Packers: Falcons at Packers (-6): Aaron Rodgers gets what Aaron Rodgers wants, and this past week it was Mike McCarthy’s head on a plate. If this isn’t enough to wake the Packers up after a staggering loss to the Cardinals then more heads will roll.
12. Saints: Saints (-8) at Bucs: Every single day of the year Sportsbook Review delivers lines on all sports from the best online sportsbooks and today virtually all are uniform in hanging Nawlins as eight-point road favorites over the Bucs. Can’t say I blame them.
11. Titans: Jaguars at Titans (-4½): Tennessee was as game and gritty late as they were lethargic and uninspired early in their win over the Jets in Week 13. This Thursday they face a Jags team whose offensive game plan is devised around their field-goal kicker. The Titans not only have a kicker of their own but a quarterback too!
10. Texans: Colts at Texans (-5): The Colts were shut out Sunday, allowing the Jaguars to score six runs in their defeat last week. This week they face the stingiest defense over the last several weeks and a Texans team that is riding a nine-game winning streak, soon to make it 10.
9. Chiefs: Ravens at Chiefs (-7): This should be a true test of just how well KC can hang against a ferocious defense. The Kareem Huntless Chiefs better find a running game soon but chances are they won’t find it against one of the best run-stop units in the league. That said, Arrowhead Stadium is a tough place to get a win and the Ravens won’t.
8. Cowboys: Eagles at Cowboys (-4): The Redskins lost another battle at Wounded Knee as Colt McCoy joined Alex Smith on the trainer’s table Monday and the Eagles took over from there once Mark Sanchez trotted onto the field. It wasn’t as impressive as Philly fans want to believe and the Boys will be ready to deliver a dose of reality this week.
7. Bills: Jets at Bills (-3): Apparently Sammy and the Jets will be reunited this week in Buffalo but it won’t matter because New York’s offense is downright offensive and the Bills own the No. 1 passing defense in the league. Surprising, right?
6. Broncos: Broncos (-5½) at 49ers: Denver is fairly low on the totem pole this week because this just smells like a potential upset. Denver doesn’t score very much and San Francisco’s Nick the Kid tossed for over 400 yards last week against Seattle. Gun to my head, I take Denver but getting points, I’m with the Niners.
5. Rams: Rams (-3) at Bears: Soldier Field won’t be easy for Jared and the Juggernauts, but Mitch Trubisky’s shoulder woes should allow LA to secure the win.
4. Seahawks: Vikings at Seattle (-3): The Vikings’ offense got a shave at the Razor last week against the Patriots and the going won’t be any easier for their second straight road game against a stout foe.
3. Giants: Giants (-3½) at Redskins: Who will be under center for the Washington this week? Pick your retread (Mark Sanchez most likely) because it won’t matter as the Giants have a legitimate, albeit fading, Eli Manning, who will look like his brother circa 2013 compared to whomever the Skins pluck from the trash heap.
2. Lions: Lions (-2) at Cardinals: Not sure what we saw last week when the Cardinals pulled the upset over the free-falling Packers but it won’t happen again.
1. Browns: Panthers at Browns (+1½): The Panthers are revealing themselves as a paper tiger while the Browns continue to be erratic but capable of beating mediocre teams. Carolina fits that profile.