Pigskin Picks: Feel the heat

Cold, Hard Football Facts for Dec 03, 2008



Is it hot in here, or is it just our picks?
 
As the weather has turned colder in the northern parts of the country, we have heated up like steamy sex under an electric blanket. Week 13 marked our best performance of the season, as we went 12-4 against the spread and lifted our overall mark to 95-92-5.
 
We also banged out a 13-3 record straight up, putting us at 123-68-1 (.643) for the season. That's a sizzling 55 games over .500.
 
We even nailed one game exactly: Tampa Bay 23, New Orleans 20. The Bucs win but the Saints cover – precisely as we predicted.
 
Yet there's no time to bask in the afterglow. Looking to keep pounding away in Week 14, here's what we envision:
 
Oakland at San Diego (-9½)             
After being nearly even in the first meeting, the Raiders now just have to stay within a touchdown and a field goal against a disillusioned Chargers team that has lost 5 out of 6? We'll take.
 
The pick: Chargers 23, Raiders 16
 
Cincinnati at Indianapolis (-13½)                             
The Colts, who have sunk to 20th in Scoreability, have only covered a number this big once all year, and their already-weak run defense will be without middle linebacker Gary Brackett.
 
The pick: Colts 24, Bengals 13
 
Jacksonville at Chicago (-6½)                                  
Smarting from the loss to divisional-rival Minnesota, the Bears will vent their frustration on the Jaguars, who rank ninth-worst in Defensive Passer Rating and just placed Pro Bowl cornerback Rashean Mathis on IR.
 
The pick: Bears 27, Jaguars 20
 
Houston at Green Bay (-6)               
The Texans may suffer a hangover after winning big in their first appearance on Monday Night Football, and the Packers should be able to exploit a defense that ranks fourth-worst in Bendability.
 
The pick: Packers 31, Texans 22
                       
Cleveland at Tennessee (-13½)                   
Down to their third quarterback (Ken Dorsey) and facing the team that ranks first in Bendability and second in Defensive Passer Rating, it's tough to see the Browns generating much offense.
 
The pick: Titans 28, Browns 10
 
Minnesota at Detroit (no line)
This game is off the board due to Vikings defensive tackles Pat and Kevin Williams possibly being suspended, but Minnesota should be able to cover 10 or so even without them. Adrian Peterson will show the league's worst run defense why his nickname is "All Day."
 
The pick: Vikings 30, Lions 14
 
Philadelphia at N.Y. Giants (-7)                   
The distractions of the Plaxico Burress incident could present an opportunity for the Eagles, but the Giants – a perfect 7-0 against Quality Opponents – will find a way to come out on top.
 
The pick: Giants 27, Eagles 24
 
Atlanta at New Orleans (-3)             
In what figures to be a high-scoring game, the Saints should keep their flickering playoff hopes alive behind Drew Brees and his league-leading Passing Yards Per Attempt.
 
The pick: Saints 34, Falcons 30
 
N.Y. Jets (-4) at San Francisco                    
Despite last week's debacle against Denver, the Jets still rank No. 1 in Scoreability, and they are facing a 49ers team that is fifth-worst in Bendability.
 
The pick: Jets 31, 49ers 24
 
Miami at Buffalo (-1)            
Under the roof of Toronto's Rogers Centre, the Bills lose their home-field advantage of playing in the elements, but a No. 13 ranking in Scoreability (despite two missed field goals last week) should help deliver a victory – and please the crowd of crazy Canucks.
 
The pick: Bills 23, Dolphins 20
 
Kansas City at Denver (-9)                                                              
At home, the Broncos have lost three straight and never won by more than a field goal; they also rank near the bottom of most defensive categories, suggesting the Chiefs will we able to hang around.
 
The pick: Broncos 27, Chiefs 22          
 
St. Louis at Arizona (-14)
The Cardinals won by 21 on the road in the first meeting, but because they rank dead last in Bendability, we foresee the Rams riding a now-healthy Steven Jackson to the cover.
 
The pick: Cardinals 31, Rams 19
 
Dallas at Pittsburgh (-3)
The rock-solid Steelers defense, ranked fourth in Bendability and first in both yards and points allowed, should be able to limit the resurgent Cowboys offense and grind out a tough win.
 
The pick: Steelers 21, Cowboys 20
 
New England (-4½) at Seattle                                  
The Seahawks are a ghastly 0-7 versus Quality Opponents, and their next-to-last Defensive Passer Rating bodes well for Matt Cassel's return to statistical prominence.
 
The pick: Patriots 27, Seahawks 17
 
Washington at Baltimore (-5)
The Redskins are sputtering offensively, having generated 10 points or fewer in their last three games against winning teams, and their productivity is unlikely to increase against the 8-4 Ravens, who boast the league's best Defensive Passer Rating.
 
The pick: Ravens 20, Redskins 10 
                                   
Tampa Bay at Carolina (-3)  
In this showdown for NFC South supremacy, both teams own 9-3 records, but the Buccaneers have been more than a touchdown better against Quality Opponents (+7.6 points), while the Panthers have been nearly a touchdown worse (-6.4).
 
The pick: Buccaneers 16, Panthers 13

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