by Aengus Moorehead
Once again, it's time to gear up for this week's slate of NFL games. Time is running out on this NFL season -- the fantasy playoffs start this week, in most cases -- and the proximity to the end of the season is providing a clearer delineation between those teams that have something to play for and those that do not. This week, there are five spreads of a touchdown or more, with two more lines lingering at 6.5, so it won't come as a shock if some of these perceived mismatches end up in blow outs. Here are my truth and consequences for week 14:
The Best of the Rest
St. Louis Rams (+3.5) at Buffalo Bills
My Take: Tough one as St. Louis is coming off an excellent win over a good San Francisco team, 16-13 in overtime, and the Bills beat an improved Jacksonville team with relative ease 34-18. A big issue will be made about the weather as a dome team plays an outdoor team, but unless it is brutally cold it is not that big of an issue. Both teams are playing for jobs and respect and the timing of the game here in December is on the Bills side. Buffalo covers.
Kansas City Chiefs (+5.5) at Cleveland Browns
My Take: The Browns are not as bad as the 4-8 record indicates. There were two close wins over Pittsburgh and Oakland and a number of competitive losses. For the Chiefs it is about regrouping and trying to find purpose and meaning. Both teams will show up and play hard and logic says it will be a three-point win for one team. Chiefs keep it close.
Philadelphia Eagles (+7.5) at Tampa Bay Buccaneers
My Take: It’s simply a matter of attrition: Philadelphia has been beaten up and thinned out as the season has developed. The Eagles have no offensive line and not much of a quarterback..yet. They're basically playing out the string at this point and will find it hard to duplicate their solid offensive performance from last week. Tampa Bay covers
Chicago Bears (-3.5) at Minnesota Vikings
My Take: The injuries the Bears have are significant. Brian Urlacher, Tim Jennings and a limited Matt Forte. In the past the Bears have dominated these head-to-head divisional games but they are vulnerable now even though two weeks ago they beat the Vikings 28-10. Adrian Peterson is playing the best football perhaps of his career right now, and Minnesota is 5-1 at home. Vikings cover
Atlanta Falcons (-3.5) at Carolina Panthers
My Take: The Falcons are a team that is at their best when times are toughest. Mentally tough. Against New Orleans last week they won 23-13 but Matt Ryan was 1-for-11 on third down and threw for a season low 165 yards. They do have a bit of a buffer in the desire to achieve home field throughout the playoffs. And in the last Carolina game the Falcons won by two points in Week 4. Divisional game, could be a repeat. Carolina covers.
Tennessee Titans (+5.5) at Indianapolis Colts
My Take: The Colts' locker room is a much better place to be than the Titans' locker room. Indianapolis owns a lot more confidence at this point in the season and, at home, deserves a clear nod. Colts cover.
Miami Dolphins (+10.5) at San Francisco 49ers
My Take: The Dolphins are beginning to fade from the playoff picture and the 49ers will be hoping to avoid a similar slide in their quest for a division title with another loss this weekend. San Francisco has yet to lose consecutive games in 2012, but still owns just a slim margin over the Seattle Seahawks for first place in the NFC West.
Every game the 49ers have lost, the next week they come back and played well. Seven times this year Miami has scored 20 points or less, San Francisco is still very good on defense. At 8-3-1, they are only one-half game up on the Seahawks. 49ers respond and cover.
Arizona Cardinals (+10.5) at Seattle Seahawks
My Take: Confident that the Seahawks win, but by how much? If Arizona can only score six points on the Jets, how are they going to score 20 or more in Seattle where the Seahawks play with such great energy. It was Arizona that won the first game in Week 1, 20-16, and won three after that, but lost eight since. Seattle is 5-0 at home and Russell Wilson has a QB rating of 122. The Cardinals had 15 third down plays against the Jets and converted zero. Seattle covers.
Detroit Lions (+6.5) at Green Bay Packers
My Take: December cold in Green Bay, advantage home team. The first game was a close 24-20 win but the Packers had some serious kicking issues. In the last two Packer games, Aaron Rodgers has a 70 per cent completion rate and seven touchdowns. He knows the personnel well and should have significant one-on-one moments to isolate and use big time. But, as a divisional game Detroit knows Green Bay too and no one has been able to stop Calvin Johnson. Detroit covers.
aaron rodgers - brian urlacher - calvin johnson - matt forte - matt ryan - russell wilson - tim jennings