Before we dive into the new week, let's take a peek back at what happened around the league in Week 14. Every NFL slate is crazy in its own way, but last week's collection of games went past the level of wackiness we're used to.
Indianapolis at Tennessee: Jeff Fisher played for the cover, rather than the win, in the game's final minute; there was a logical window where the field goal was the proper play, but Fisher apparently has never played Madden. A touchdown pass on the final play of the game made Tennessee a winner at +3. Well covered, Fish.
NY Giants at Minnesota: Well, the game was supposed to be in Minnesota, but a massive snowstorm and a spotty roof put the kibosh on that. The Giants felt right at home in Detroit, stomping the Vikings easily.
Tampa Bay at Washington: The Redskins got 900 rushing yards from Ryan Torain(notes) in the first quarter but couldn't turn it into any points, mainly because kicker Graham Gano(notes) was in point-shaving mode with a series of wayward kicks (two shaved in, two shaved out). A last-minute Washington touchdown seemed to force overtime, but Hunter Smith(notes) couldn't hold the PAT snap and the game ended right there (making winners of the Redskins at +2).
Oakland at Jacksonville: The Raiders at +4 looked pretty good when Darren McFadden(notes) scored with 1:53 to play, squaring the game, but a long kick return and a subsequent touchdown gallop from Maurice Jones-Drew(notes) bailed out the Jacksonville backers.
Green Bay at Detroit: The Packers weren't doing much in the first half against Detroit's underrated defense, but the Lions typically like to blow games in the second half. Alas, Aaron Rodgers(notes) suffered a concussion in the second quarter and there goes your game. Detroit wins outright.
Cincinnati at Pittsburgh: The Steelers offense couldn't manage a touchdown against Cincinnati's messy defense, but no worries – a pair of Carson Palmer(notes) pick-sixes were enough to steer the home team to a cover.
Baltimore at Houston: The Texans rallied for 21 points in the final 22 minutes of regulation, forcing overtime. A push or better seemed likely for the Texans at +3, but a loose Matt Schaub(notes) throw on the second possession of overtime turned into a defensive score and a six-point Ravens win. Houston's backers would have secured a win had the Texans failed on their two-point conversion at the end of regulation.
What's the point to all this? Accept the variance, amigos. Sometimes we cover for crazy reasons, and sometimes we don't cover for crazy reasons. As Eddie Felson told us in The Color of Money, "The balls roll funny for everybody, kid."
With all that silliness out of the way, let's try to get some Week 15 winners:
Jets +6 at Steelers: New York's been exposed in recent weeks, no doubt on that, but this number looks too high to me. Pittsburgh's got its share of issues, too: a messy offensive line, a secondary you can throw the ball on. The game is also a lot more important to the Jets, and you always should beware the desperate club.
Jaguars +5 at Colts: Everyone knows that Indy is vulnerable against strong running games and physical teams, and that's exactly what the Jaguars are. The last six meetings have been decided by 21 total points.
Eagles +3 at Giants: Reflexively I like taking the points in any NFC East game, and I trust Philadelphia's offense week-to-week much more than I trust the Giants.
Rams E vs. Chiefs: The St. Louis defeat at New Orleans was a little misleading – the Rams were poised to make it a one-score game at the end of the first half, but Sam Bradford(notes) made a poor decision and it turned into a pick-six for the Saints. That's a 10-to-14 point swing, and there's your game. Will Matt Cassel(notes) be sharp after a week off? Will be even be able to play? Can he decipher Steve Spagnuolo's creative blitz packages? The Rams have been a decent value all year and I'm not backing off them now.
Lions +6 at Buccaneers: The win-loss records are very misleading with these teams; if you go by point differential, the teams are almost even (Detroit is -24 on differential, while Tampa is -7). It takes a while for Josh Freeman(notes) to get into a flow – he's got a 74.8 rating in the first quarter, and the Bucs generally come out with conservative game plans. The Lions should be able to move the ball on Tampa as well – the Bucs can't stop anyone's running game at the moment, and it looks like Shaun Hill(notes) has a shot to return. An upset is possible here.
Survivor: The Chargers and Patriots are obvious but you probably don't have them available to you. I'd like to steer away from the Dolphins, a team that doesn't play its best ball at home. Dallas would be my third choice, Oakland my fourth option.
Last Week: 1-4 (38-30 season)