We’re back with the 14th edition of MTS’ weekly picks against the spread for the 2016 season. Unlucky Week 13 got the best of Perry as he posted a 7-8 record ATS (2-2 on his Pledges). But Perry refuses to stay down, and continues to rely on odd superstitions.
Here’s Perry’s take on how Week 14 will play out.
An asterisk denotes one of Perry’s “Pledges of the Week.” (Don’t call them “locks”; there’s no such thing!)
Week 14 Picks ATS
Thursday, December 8
Oakland Raiders at Kansas City Chiefs (-3)
The Chiefs are the last team to beat the Raiders, and it came all the way back in Week 6. Kansas City came away victorious because its offense got out to a quick start – which resulted in Oakland abandoning the ground game – and the defense forced two Derek Carr turnovers. The Chiefs only allowed 64 rushing yards that game, but have since given up an average of 125.9 per game on the ground.
Oakland’s offense has been on fire since that last loss, averaging 32.2 points per game. No team has allowed fewer sacks this season (12), and they have only turned the ball over nine times on the year (fourth). The latter will be crucial going against a Chiefs defense that has generated 25 turnovers (first).
The Raiders have too many weapons around Carr to be slowed down a second time by the Chiefs, and I don’t see Alex Smith being able to take advantage of a spotty Oakland defense.
Pick: Raiders (+3)
Sunday, December 11
Washington (-1) at Philadelphia Eagles
This game will mark the third-straight week Washington is on the road, having already lost the first two (at Dallas and Arizona). Fortunately for them, the Eagles are riding a three-game losing streak of their own.
Philadelphia has had a lot of success at home this season (4-1), but the offense hasn’t been the same without Ryan Mathews in the backfield.
Kirk Cousins will bounce back from his two turnovers against Arizona and will shoulder the load for Washington offensively.
Pick: Washington (-1)
Houston Texans at Indianapolis Colts (-6)
The Texans have now lost three straight, and their issue at quarterback doesn’t seem to be getting any better. On the bright side, their defense remains strong, ranking fifth in total defense.
The Colts are back at scoring points now that Andrew Luck is under center, but he won’t have the luxury of picking on the Jets secondary this week. Instead, he’ll face the Texans’ fifth-ranked pass defense.
As bad as Osweiler has been, the Colts defense doesn’t pose any sort of threat (28th in total defense). Houston will be able lean on Lamar Miller and its defense to keep this one close.
Pick: Texans (+6)
Cincinnati Bengals (-6) at Cleveland Browns
Robert Griffin III is healthy (for now), and may be back under center for the Browns this Sunday. There’s just one problem with that: he’s not a good quarterback. Pair that with the Browns’ horrible defense, and you’ve got a recipe for an 0-13 team.
The Bengals figured out how to play offense without A.J. Green in Week 13, and Andy Dalton will enjoy similar success in this one.
Cleveland’s smallest margin of defeat in their last four games is 14, and I don’t see them keeping this a one-score game.
Pick: Bengals (-6)*
Denver Broncos at Tennessee Titans (-1)
Without Trevor Siemian under center, the Broncos offense did not look good, amassing 206 total yards against Jacksonville. Fortunately, Siemian is expected to return this week. More good news for Denver: its defense has been much better against the run in the last two.
The Broncos will likely sell out to stop the run, meaning man coverage on the outside. Tennessee does not have the receivers to punish them for it, so we’re going to be treated to another defensive battle. As was the case last week when Denver played the Jags, there is only one defense I’m comfortable betting on in this game.
Siemian will make just enough plays against the Titans’ 26th-ranked pass defense to squeak out a victory on the road.
Pick: Broncos (+1)
Arizona Cardinals at Miami Dolphins (-2)
The Cardinals are holding onto slim playoff hopes as they hit the road for three of their final four. David Johnson continues to do it all for them offensively, while their defense relentlessly feasts on the mistakes, generating 20 turnovers on the season. Why aren’t they better than their 5-6-1 record? Giveaways have plagued them all season.
Bad news for the Cards: the Dolphins have nine takeaways in their last five games. To counter this, I expect Arizona to feed Miami – which surrenders 4.7 yards per carry (30th) – a heavy dose of Johnson on the afternoon, while the Dolphins own ground game will continue to be slowed by the absence of Mike Pouncey.
Pick: Cardinals (+2)
Chicago Bears at Detroit Lions (-8)
One of these teams will be playing with vengeance on its mind as it looks to expand its lead in the NFC North, while the other just jeopardized its shot of landing DeShone Kizer in the 2017 draft.
The Lions’ defense has held opponents under 21 points in six consecutive weeks (16.7 per game in that span), and will now see Matt Barkley and the 30th-ranked scoring offense. To Barkley’s credit, his two starts have accounted for the Bears’ highest and third-highest scoring games.
However, he didn’t put up points against Tennessee until garbage time and then had the pleasure of facing the 49ers’ league-worst defense. The Lions won’t give up garbage time points like the Titans, and Matthew Stafford will lay a beating on the Bears’ banged-up defense.
Pick: Lions (-8)
Pittsburgh Steelers (-2) at Buffalo Bills
Now winners of three straight, the Steelers might be peaking at the perfect time. The winning streak can be largely attributed to the improved play of their defense, which is only allowing 289.8 total yards per game over the last five. The emergence of Ladarius Green as a secondary weapon to Antonio Brown in the passing game makes the Steelers offense that much more dangerous, too.
The Bills continue to pound teams on the ground, but have not been able to slow their opponent’s rushing attack down. Buffalo has surrendered 322 rushing yards over the last two games, and stumbled offensively when forced to play from behind.
Neither of these teams can afford a loss right now, but Big Ben is the quarterback I trust in desperation time.
Pick: Steelers (-2)*
San Diego Chargers at Carolina Panthers (-1)
The Panthers headed into Seattle very undermanned defensively on Sunday night, and they got completely embarrassed. They may be even more shorthanded this week as Kurt Coleman and Mario Addison are uncertain to return, while Charles Johnson and Darryl Worley join them with questionable tags.
San Diego won’t give them any sympathy, though, as they have had to deal with injuries to key players all season.
This game is going to come down to which offense can protect the ball, and I’ll take Philip Rivers coming off a tough loss.
Pick: Chargers (+1)
Minnesota Vikings (-3.5) at Jacksonville Jaguars
Neither of these two offenses has been able to win games for their teams, but one has proven they sure know how to lose a game. If you’re not sure which I’m referring to, this stat should clear it up: Blake Bortles has thrown 11 pick-sixes in three seasons but has only recorded ten career wins.
The Jags’ only hope here is Chris Ivory returning to full health and carrying the offensive load, because if Bortles is allowed to throw the ball more than 20 times, he’ll be adding to his pick-six total. I just don’t see Ivory being injury-free.
Pick: Vikings (-3.5)*
New York Jets at San Francisco 49ers (-2.5)
The Jets just showed us how awful they truly are on Monday night, but they shouldn’t worry too much heading into this one, since the 49ers proved the exact same thing the day before.
One of these teams is fully aware of how bad its quarterback situation is but has little recourse (San Fran). The other is giving its young backup a chance to audition for the future. We saw our second true sample from the Jets’ Bryce Petty in the second half on Monday night; Petty did the unthinkable and looked even worse than when he started against the Rams in Week 10.
If the Jets want to win this game (losing is more beneficial at this point), they’ll let Matt Forte run wild against the 49ers’ dead-last rush defense. The Jets’ awful secondary is no secret at this point, but Kaepernick won’t be able to take advantage of it. To be clear, I’m betting on the Jets defensive line, not Bryce Petty.
Pick: Jets (+2.5)
Atlanta Falcons (-6) at Los Angeles Rams
With the Bucs hot on their tail, the Falcons need to regain that sense of urgency they played with earlier this season. Their biggest problems have been some costly turnovers and, well, the entire defense, which ranks 27th in total yards.
The D will have a chance to build some confidence this week against the worst offense in the league. First-overall pick Jared Goff is showing that he has a long way to go before the fan base will buy into him as the future.
Atlanta will put this one away quickly.
Pick: Falcons (-6)*
New Orleans Saints at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (-2.5)
I’m really starting to buy into what the Bucs are doing lately. Aided by an emerging pass-rush, the secondary has been much better; on offense, they’re starting to prioritize the ground game with Doug Martin back in the lineup.
Drew Brees has been relied upon to win shootouts all season, but he can’t do so if he’s not on the field. The Saints defense has been pretty good against the rush (3.9 yards per carry; tenth), but their secondary can’t cover anyone. This will be a major issue when they line up against Mike Evans.
The Bucs are 6-1 when they don’t commit more than one turnover, and the Saints defense has only created two takeaways in the last three weeks.
Pick: Bucs (-2.5)
Seattle Seahawks (-2.5) at Green Bay Packers
In spite of winning their last two games, I’m not ready to say the Packers have turned it around. They beat an Eagles squad that also just got pounded by the Bengals, and they allowed a Brock Osweiler-led Texans team to hang around far too long.
Aaron Rodgers is having to carry the offense, but I expect a similar offensive output as last week. Without any sort of ground threat, the Seahawks’ defense will be able to focus on getting after Rodgers. The loss of Earl Thomas will undoubtedly hurt Seattle’s secondary, but their pass-rush will help hide the void.
The Packers’ defense will be let down by the secondary again, as I expect a healthy Russell Wilson to have his way through the air.
Pick: Seahawks (-2.5)
Dallas Cowboys (-3) at New York Giants
The Giants defense held the Cowboys to their lowest rushing total on the season in their first meeting back in Week 1 (101 yards), but that was Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott’s first game in the pros. That game also marks the last time the Cowboys lost.
I don’t see the Giants having the same success slowing down Elliott. As a result, they’ll need Eli Manning to break out of this slump he’s found himself in, and take advantage of the Cowboys’ 29th-ranked pass defense.
This just hasn’t been Eli’s year and I don’t expect that to change.
Pick: Cowboys (-3)
Monday, December 12
Baltimore Ravens at New England Patriots (-7)
This is a lot of points to lay on a team that’s lining up against the top-ranked total defense and missing its best offensive weapon (Rob Gronkowski). But we’re also dealing with Tom Brady, and we’ve seen him do it without Gronk before. Malcolm Mitchell and Chris Hogan have emerged as reliable options to go along with the trio they deploy in the backfield. (I’d name them, but Jeff Fisher made it look really hard.)
Baltimore’s offense exploded against Miami last week (38-6), but it was only the sixth time the team eclipsed 19 points this season. I wouldn’t expect the Ravens to light up the scoreboard in this matchup with the second-ranked scoring defense.
The Ravens may be able to bring some pressure against Brady, but they don’t have the secondary to take away the Pats’ quick-game. With homefield advantage still up in the air, look for the Pats to make a statement.
Pick: Patriots (-7)
Photo Credit: Fernando Cesar Nox (flickr) [https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/].