TPS NFL Weekly Locks: Week 14

philip riversWeek 13 set us back a bit as our picks went 1-3.  The Patriots got off to a great start, but an early 14-0 lead was not enough as their late collapse would lead to a 22-21 loss.  The 49ers were equally disappointing, surrendering a late field goal to the Seahawks which would eventually be the difference.  The Bengals looked to have the cover for us, but gave up a meaningless touchdown to the Lions late in the fourth quarter which would spoil the celebration for those who bet on Cincy (like us) and the rather large 13-point spread.  The only bright spot on the weekend would be the Eagles destruction of the Falcons.  This left us at 24-26-2 on the year. Now we must once again work our way back up from below the .500 mark beginning this Sunday.

Here is how we see things shaping up in the following four week 14 games.

Game: San Diego Chargers @ Dallas Cowboys

Pick: San Diego Chargers +3 1/2

Reason: This game should be a good one as there are plenty of playoff implications on the line for both teams.  The San Diego Chargers have been red hot, winning their last seven in a row after starting the season 2-3.  Philip Rivers has been stellar as usual and LaDanian Tomlinson has seemingly regained his stride after a rough start to the season.  However, he will likely have a tough time against a Cowboys defense that has been especially strong as of late, but his presence should be enough to keep the likes of DeMarcus Ware and company honest.  The Chargers defense has also experienced a dramatic improvement from the beginning of the season and that has been a major contribution to their mid-season run.  Expect that to once again be the case on Suday in Dallas as the Chargers should be able to keep this one within a field goal, and may very well win outright.

Game: Cincinnati Bengals @ Minnesota Vikings

Pick: Minnesota Vikings -6 1/2

Reason: Upon looking at the Bengals play in recent weeks, it is hard not to question their play and label them as a Super Bowl pretender.  They do seem to come out strong against “stronger” teams, but over the last three weeks they have lost to the Raiders and struggled to put away the Browns and Lions.  Now they will once again have to face a “real” team when they visit Minnesota to take on the Vikings.  Bengals running back Cedric Benson has made a name for himself as a back that can produce big numbers against tough run defenses, but don’t expect much from him Sunday against the league’s second best run defense (the Bengals rank first).  Palmer has also struggled this year as he couldn’t even generate much of an air threat agauinst the Lions terrible secondary.  The Vikings defense should make things difficult for Cincy’s offense, and Favre should be able to put enough points on the board to get the Vikings another home victory (they have yet to lose at the Metrodome), and cover the spread in the process.

Game: Denver Broncos @ Indianapolis Colts

Pick: Under 44 1/2

Reason: This game between the Broncos and Colts will pit two of the league’s top defensive units against one another  Both teams are tied for second in the league allowing an average of only 16.8 points per game thus far through 12 games.  They also field two of the league’s best secondaries as both Denver and Indianapolis have allowed less than one touchdown per game through the air.  That means their may be a lot of running in this match up and the clock should continue to move.  You can also expect plenty of field goals to be kicked as both coaches will want to take whatever points they can get.  When Indy plays, there is always the possibility of a shootout, but against the Broncos secondary, don’t expect that to be the case this time around.  Take the under in this one.

Game: Arizona Cardinals @ San Francisco 49ers

Pick: Arizona Cardinals -3 1/2

Reason: When these two teams played earlier in the season, the 49ers were able to pull off the upset on the road and had seemingly made a statement as a contender to take the NFC West crown.  Both teams have since went in opposite directions as the 49ers have fallen out of contention and the Cards have all but clinched another division title.  The big stat going into this game is Arizona’s 5-1 record on the road.  They have also won 4 of their last 5, with the only loss coming on the last play against Vince Young and the Tennessee Titans.  Warner and company will be out for revenge and are looking to make a statement in this one.  They can clinch the NFC West with a win and there is no better way for them to prove they are the best in the division than by beating the 49ers in San Francisco.  Expect them to do just that, and cover the 3 1/2 point spread in the process.

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