NFL Pick ‘Em: Week 14

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Picking the winners and losers of NFL Week 14

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Four games separate us from now and the beginning of the 2012 NFL Playoffs; what a great time of the year it is.

Forget the Christmas shopping and holiday spirit; it’s that wonderful time of year when every NFL game matters and one weekend can be the difference between watching the playoffs from the comfort of home and spending them on the field, battling for every inch of turf. It’s that special season when every extra point counts and one sack can make or break postseason dreams.

Put simply, this is when football is at its best as the playoffs come within sight. In only four weeks, the regular season will be over and we’ll have our field of twelve teams set, ready to battle it out for the right to play for the Lombardi Trophy.

Here’s a look at the Week 14 matchups, including a winner-loser prediction and quick insight into why I believe each game will go one way or the other. Enjoy.

My Week 13 picks were a small upgrade from the week before, as I came away from Monday night’s matchup with a 9-7 record in hand. Although it wasn’t a huge accomplishment, it’s a respectable record that’s definitely worth being proud of at this unpredictable point in the NFL season. Seeing as there are many factors playing into these weekly matchups, it’s no surprise that calling a successful week is becoming harder and harder to do as the time ticks away until the postseason begins. Here’s to a better week and a better overall record when all is said and done in Week 14.

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Oakland Raiders (3-9) vs. Denver Broncos (9-3)

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While the Raiders continue to play like they’re trying to lose, the Broncos are looking like one of the top late-season Super Bowl contenders. With the help of future Hall of Famer Peyton Manning, Denver is finally relevant and will roll Oakland over with little effort.

My pick: Broncos win in a landslide

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Washington Redskins (6-6) vs. Baltimore Ravens (9-3)

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The Ravens have been barely getting by lately and couldn’t overcome a Steelers team led by Charlie Batch last weekend. With the Redskins doing everything in their power to get into playoff positioning, expect RG3 to give it everything he’s gone and come away with a win.

My pick: Redskins win, taking control of the NFC East

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Cincinnati Bengals (7-5) vs. Dallas Cowboys (6-6)

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While the Cowboys remain a part of the NFC East race, they’re going to fall victim to a Bengals team that’s making a serious push for the postseason. While the offense is making plays, the Cincinnati defense is keeping opponents at bay. Plus, Tony Romo can’t handle the December pressure.

My pick: Bengals win, keeping the AFC North race tight

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Buffalo Bills (5-7) vs. St. Louis Rams (5-6-1)

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With a sneaky running game and a defense that’s better than most teams expect, the Rams are suddenly a hard-to-beat team that’s capable of putting any opponent in the lost column. It’s a little too late, but they rack up a few late-season wins like the one this weekend against the Bills.

My pick: Rams win with the momentum from Week 13 upset

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Tampa Bay Buccaneers (6-6) vs. Philadelphia Eagles (3-9)

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It has been a train-wreck type of season for the Eagles, who have lost eight straight games and are headed for a Top 10 draft pick. The Buccaneers, however, are still in position to make a postseason push and should keep pace this weekend. On a positive note: expect a big game from Bryce Brown.

My pick: Buccaneers win as the Eagles continue to crumble

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Carolina Panthers (3-9) vs. Atlanta Falcons (11-1)

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Regardless of the fact that Cam Newton hasn’t been too shabby as of late, the Falcons are still rolling along and maintaining their standing as one of the best teams in the NFL this season. Whether it’s the passing attack of the stout defense, Atlanta will find a way to come out victorious yet again.

My pick: Falcons win as their historic season rolls along

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Cleveland Browns (4-8) vs. Kansas City Chiefs (2-10)

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Does anyone really care who wins this game? Well, the Chiefs do as they hope to keep playing with the type of chemistry that they showed last week in the wake of Jovan Belcher’s murder-suicide. They played well last week and will continue to finally play with a sense of purpose.

My pick: Chiefs win as the playing-for-Belcher mindset lasts

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Pittsburgh Steelers (7-5) vs. San Diego Chargers (4-8)

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The Chargers continue to come close to landing in the win column, yet incompetence and turnovers consistently stand in their way. The Steelers, coming off of a big divisional win, will take advantage of that San Diego inconsistency, but it won’t be easy.

My pick: Steelers win one that’s closer than it should be

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Indianapolis Colts (8-4) vs. Tennessee Titans (4-8)

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The Colts have put all of their hope in rookie Andrew Luck, and he’s made the most of the team’s unwavering confidence in him. Game after game, the young gunslinger carries his teammates to victory and will do the same this weekend against a disastrous Titans defense.

My pick: Colts win as the Luck train keeps on chuggin’

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Jacksonville Jaguars (2-10) vs. New York Jets (5-7)

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The biggest problem at this point for the Jets: Mark Sanchez is still their starting quarterback. Despite being benched and replaced by Greg McElroy, who eventually threw the game-winning touchdown, New York continues to settle for subpar passing. The Jaguars will take advantage.

My pick: Jaguars win because Sanchez is still starting

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Minnesota Vikings (6-6) vs. Chicago Bears (8-4)

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Through the last few games, Christian Ponder has proven that he’s not the franchise quarterback he appeared to be at the start of the season. The offense has been single-handedly sabotaged by his untimely turnovers, and the Bears will feast on his failures all game long. Oh, and Percy Harvin is gone.

My pick: Bears win because of their defensive dominance

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San Francisco 49ers (8-3-1) vs. Miami Dolphins (5-7)

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Coming off of a huge loss courtesy of the Rams, the 49ers will be looking to bounce back and reassert their dominance at the top of the NFC West. Facing a lackluster Dolphins teams that’s all but out in 2012, they’ll have the perfect opportunity to solidify their standing.

My pick: 49ers win, silencing critics of Kaepernick

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Seattle Seahawks (7-5) vs. Arizona Cardinals (4-8)

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Time and time again, Russell Wilson pulls a win out of his back pocket and keeps the Seahawks in the playoff hunt. In the meantime, the Cardinals couldn’t buy a win. While they’ll probably put up a commendable fight, Arizona just doesn’t have the tools to upset Seattle.

My pick: Seahawks win on shoulders of Wilson

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New York Giants (7-5) vs. New Orleans Saints (5-7)

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The Giants are caught in a downward spiral, and haven’t been able to show any semblance of consistency over the past few weeks. The Saints, however, are still hoping onto those crazy hopes of entering the postseason alive. It’ll be a shootout, but New Orleans should come out on top.

My pick: Saints win, throwing a huge wrench into the NFC East works

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Green Bay Packers (8-4) vs. Detroit Lions (4-8)

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Despite their winning record, it’s been a hectic year for the Packers, who are lucky to be in their current position considering their struggles. The Lions are desperate to prove that they aren’t a complete disappointment, and will leave Green Bay wondering what happened to them on Sunday.

My pick: Lions win with a last-second touchdown

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New England Patriots (9-3) vs. Houston Texans (11-1)

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In a battle of two of the top current contenders, it should be a battle of who can field the better defense. Both offenses are explosive and have the ability to put up points in a hurry, while the defenses are susceptible to quick strikes. It should be a high-scoring contest that crowns the king of the AFC.

My pick: Texans win, gaining momentum as Super Bowl favorites

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