SideLion Report Week 14 Picks
By Matt Urben
Last week, the Lions won convincingly for the first time this season. After dispatching of the Saints, it’s back to Ford Field to take on those pesky Chicago Bears. Check out what our writers had to say about the upcoming Lions-Bears game. Then, we each picked one other game from around the league to keep your eye on as well. Brandon has taken the lead on the once-mighty Al. Ty is tanking for the first pick. Jack and I are within a game So, let’s get to this week!
Al Stahl (6-6)
Just like last week, the Lions are going to have an impressive defensive effort against a bad Bears offense and the Detroit offense is going to put together efficient scoring drive after efficient scoring drive.Remember when the Lions kept dropping passes earlier in the season? Well, that’s happening to the Bears right now.They had 10 drops in one game just two weeks ago. Terrible quarterback Matt Barkley actually looked good in that game too. The Bears receivers rewarded him by dropping a game-winning touchdown. Twice.
The Bears receivers rewarded him by dropping a game-winning touchdown. Twice. Detroit has had their offensive struggles this season but have still managed to score 22.9 points per game, good for 18th in the league. Chicago averages a full 5.9 points less per game. That’s 30th in the league behind only the Browns and Rams. A stouter Detroit defense should have no problem holding their opponent to under 20 points for a 5th straight game.
Seattle-26, Green Bay-17.
When you look at total yards, there isn’t much difference between the 8-3-1 Seahawks and the 6-6 Packers. Less than 3 yards separate their offense in yards per game; less than a 5-yard difference in passing yards per game and less than 3 yards difference in rushing yards per game. Defensively, the yards are similar, with all of those stats being between 7 and 17 yards of each other. Even when you look at points per game, a much better indicator of an offense’s quality, the Packers only average 2.6 more points per game.
But when you look at scoring defense, the difference stands out. Seattle gives up 16.2 points per game compared to the Packers’ 25.2. That’s a difference of 9 points per game, which is the margin of victory I give to the Seahawks. As is often the case with December games in Lambeau, weather may prove to be a factor Sunday but if it is, I think it ends up affecting the home team more so than Seattle. The Seahawks are a team that just last January traveled to Minnesota to play a game that was -6 degrees at kickoff. They’ve got this.
– Follow Al @LethalSax
Brandon Finley (8-2)
Detroit-34, Chicago Bears-10.
With 3 tough games coming up after this divisional rematch, I wouldn’t put it past them to overlook the Chicago game again, resulting in a closer game than anticipated. The Lions defense is healthy and the offense seems to have gotten over a mid-season season slump, coming off of an impressive win against the New Orleans saints. Keep Jordan Howard contained and it should lead to a 9-4 record heading to East Rutherford to play the Giants.
New York Giants-24, Dallas Cowboys-21.
Bright lights, primetime, big games. Eli has been there and done that. With two rings in his career, I imagine the stage set here is not too much for the veteran QB. That being said, it takes a solid linebacker corps and secondary to stop the Cowboys offense. While Eli Apple, Landon Collins, and the Giants’ secondary are playing excellent football, I don’t think there is enough at the linebacker position to hold Ezekiel Elliott at bay for 4 quarters. It comes down to if Dak can be comfortable in the passing game or will New York create turnovers. I love the way Landon Collins is playing football right now and I think he is the difference maker here.
-Follow Brandon on Twitter @Finley_BD
Matt Urben (5-7)
Revenge is a dish best served at Ford Field in week 14 of the NFL season. That’s what Detroit must be thinking after these lowly Bears nearly ruined their season in week 4. At the time, Detroit’s offense was stalling out and their defense was busy making Brian Hoyer look like he was back at Michigan State. Fast forward ten weeks, and the Lions have a two-game division lead with four games left to play. I like Detroit to take care of business this time, having built confidence from a four-game win streak. Golden Tate goes for over a hundred yards and a TD.
Atlanta-33, Los Angeles-21.
Atlanta had their hearts ripped out last week when the Chiefs stole their two-point conversion and the win from right under QB Matt Ryan.The Bucs and Falcons are both 7-5 and the division is still totally up in the air. The Rams, meanwhile, are still trying to see what they have in Jared Goff — whos 70 quarterback rating hasn’t inspired much confidence. The Rams will han g for awhile but won’t have enough offense to take down the Falcons, who have much more to play for. Jeff Fisher did just get an extension after all.
– Follow Matt @MattUrben88
Ty Finch (2-8)
By now, I hope you are betting against my score predictions every week and making a pretty penny. You’re welcome; I do it for the fans. However, this week, it would take a mighty letdown from the Lions for my pick to fail again.
This is a Bears team that the Lions need to take care of. Similarly to week 4, when the Lions brought their collective “F” games, the only way the Lions lose is if they beat themselves. The Bears are even worse than the last time these teams played, with many key players on Injured Reserve. They are down to their 3rd string quarterback, who hadn’t thrown a touchdown pass before this year. The Lions are a much better team than in week 4 as well. The defense especially has taken a sharp uptick since then.
Even if DeAndre Levy does not make his long-awaited debut, that side of the ball should have no problem shutting down Matt Barkley and friends. That being said, the Lions offense has had a tendency to stall for long periods of time against average or better defenses, of which Chicago has. So even though the Lions are the better team in all facets, I don’t think a blowout is in the cards.
At this point, I’m playing for the first pick in the SideLion Report writer’s draft in the offseason. Luckily, I went to the Jeff Fischer School of Making Excuses, so it’s definitely the schedule maker’s fault. Who picked these games for me to preview? This is a travesty.
The Miami Dolphins need to win this game to have a reasonable shot at making the playoffs in the AFC. The Cardinals are close to out of the race in the NFC. The Dolphins are winners of six out of their last seven, while the Cardinals have not won or lost more than two games in a row this year. The two teams could hardly be further apart, and that, of course, means that every pre-conceived notion I might have about this game is 100% false. The Cardinals should win this game with talent alone. The Dolphins should win this game on form and record. The biggest advantage in the game is that of Miami’s passing attack (23rd in DVOA) vs. Arizona’s pass defense (3rd in DVOA).
So if the Dolphins get off to a slow start, the Cardinals will take advantage of the Dolphins needing to pass. Therefore, in the spirit of this year, this means that the Cardinals will take an early, insurmountable lead, and subsequently lose it when the Dolphins throw for 400 yards on the secondary. Jay Ajayi, the star of the Dolphins offense, will rush for -13 yards, and Arizona will fumble away the ball after a defensive interception four times. The game will end on a tie, the win eventually given to the Cardinals after an obscure rule is found in the rulebook.
– Follow Ty @Finchty
Jack Ozark (6-4)
Last week the Lions showed they can lead for a complete game. This team is adapting every week and unlike seasons in the past, they are getting healthier and better as the final weeks approach. When Detroit played the Bears earlier in the season, the offense struggled to move the ball at all. This was the same game Golden Tate was benched, and Stafford threw two ill-timed interceptions. So basically everything was going wrong for the Lions and they still managed to keep the game close.
This time, the Bears are down about half of their starters. The only trouble the Lions’ defense could have is trying to stop Jordan Howard, as their last matchup was his coming out party. Expect the Lions to key in on the run, daring Matt Barkley and his rag tag group of second tier receivers to beat the Lions’ red hot secondary. With that said, you’re welcome Bears fans for getting you that much closer to a top pick in the draft.
NFC East football is somehow always competitive. This is a game that the Redskins should easily win, considering they are at home and need some redemption after falling off the past two weeks. However, even though the Eagles have come crashing down from their red-hot start, they are going to give Washington trouble.
I think the main reason to watch this game is because of DeSean Jackson. The ex-Eagle might be going back to Philly after reports claimed they would try to sign him this offseason. So I think the Redskins are going to force feed him deep balls so he won’t forget how much he loves Kirk Cousins and hates everything about the Eagles. And once DeSean has beaten them deep, you always get a little adrenaline rush thinking that he might actually drop the ball on the one-yard line again. That thrill alone makes this game very watchable.
– Follow Jack @J_zark