Matt Vensel is in his first year at the Star Tribune after covering the Ravens for the Baltimore Sun for six years. He is a Pittsburgh native and a Penn State grad. Follow him at @mattvensel.


Mark Craig has covered the NFL for 23 years, and the Vikings since 2003 for the Star Tribune. He is one of 44 Pro Football Hall of Fame selectors. Follow him at @markcraignfl.


Master Tesfatsion is the Star Tribune’s digital Vikings writer. He is a 2013 graduate of Arizona State and worked for mlb.com before arriving in Minneapolis. Follow him at @masterstrib.


Week 14 Picks & Power Rankings

Posted by: Mark Craig under NFC Updated: December 8, 2013 - 8:27 AM

What would you rather do on a Sunday morning than wake up early and read weekly picks and power rankings involving 32 teams that basically are of equal strength and ability to beat, lose to or tie anyone on any given Sunday, Monday, Saturday, Thursday (and some day, when the revenue ceiling needs to be extended to a gazillion bazillion dollars, Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday as well)?

CRAIG'S NFL POWER RANKINGS
BEST OF THE BUNCH
1. Seahawks (11-1)
Why:
Time for a math test. What do you get when add up the league’s No. 1 pass defense, a top-3 running game, a top-3 passer rating and the second-best turnover ratio? Answer: The best team in the league and soon-to-be No. 1 seed in the NFC.

THE REST

2. Patriots (9-3); 3. Broncos (10-2); 4. Panthers (9-3); 5. 49ers (8-4); 6. Saints (9-3); 7. Eagles (7-5); 8. Bengals (8-4); 9. Lions (7-5); 10. Chiefs (9-3); 11. Cardinals (7-5); 12. Colts (8-4); 13. Dolphins (6-6); 14. Ravens (6-6); 15. Cowboys (7-5); 16. Giants (5-7); 17. Chargers (5-7); 18. Rams (5-7); 19. Jaguars (4-9); 20. Steelers (5-7); 21. Titans (5-7); 22. Raiders (4-8).

THE VIKINGS
23. Vikings 3-8-1 (Last week: 28):
Adrian Peterson is on pace for 1,611 yards rushing. He has 3,305 yards in his past 28 games, an average of 118 per game. The Vikings’ record in those 28 games: 13-14-1. That’s how important it is for the Vikings to find some consistent composure at the quarterback position.

THE REST

24. Bears (6-6); 25. Jets (5-7); 26. Packers (5-6-1); 27. Falcons (3-9); 28. Buccaneers (3-9); 29. Redskins (3-9); 30. Bills (4-8); 31. Browns (4-8)

WORST OF THE BUNCH
32: Texans (2-11):
Cleveland temporarily wrestled this spot away from Houston when it lost at home to the Jaguars last Sunday. But the Texans really stepped up by falling for the 11th straight game at Jacksonville on Thursday. Last Dec. 23, then-Texans coach Gary Kubiak was 12-2 heading into that day’s home game against the Vikings. His next 17 games: 3-14, including a loss to the Vikings. Kubiak’s slide ended with his firing on Friday.

THE PICKS

VIKINGS
Vikings plus-6 ½ at Ravens. The pick: Ravens 34, Vikings 24.

When you’re old enough to remember Bud Grant coaching pre-1985, it always feels strange saying the Vikings are at a disadvantage outdoors in cold weather. The Ravens aren’t the team that won last season’s Super Bowl. But they’re very good at home and they’re in the playoff chase.

Last week: Bears plus-1 at Vikings: The pick: Vikings 28, Bears 17. The final: Vikings 23, Bears 20 OT. Record: 7-4-1, 6-6 vs. the spread.

UPSET SPECIAL
Chiefs minus-3 at Redskins. The pick: Redskins 28, Chiefs 23.
Why?:
Kansas City’s 9-0 start has become a confidence-shaking 0-3 slide. The collars are probably getting a little snug in K.C.

Last week: Saints plus-4 ½ at Seahawks: The pick: Saints 38, Seahawks 35. The final: Seahawks 34, Saints 7. Record: 4-9.

THE REST
Browns plus-11 ½ at Patriots: Patriots by 7.
Raiders plus-2 ½ at Jets: Jets by 3.
Colts plus-6 ½ at Bengals: Bengals by 7.
Panthers plus-3 at Saints: Saints by 7.
Lions plus-2 ½ at Eagles: Eagles by 7.
Dolphins plus-3 at Steelers: Steelers by 6.
Bills plus-2 ½ at Buccaneers: Buccaneers by 3.
Titans plus-12 at Broncos: Broncos by 14.
Rams plus-6 ½ at Cardinals: Cardinals by 3.
Giants plus-3 at Chargers: Chargers by 7.
Seahawks plus-2 ½ at 49ers: 49ers by 3.
Falcons plus-3 at Packers: Packers by 7.
Cowboys pick at Bears: Cowboys by 7.

Record: Last week: 8-5; 6-7 vs. the spread. Overall: 101-76-1; 79-94-4 vs. the spread.

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LA Angels 4 Bottom 4th Inning
Baltimore 3
Seattle 5 Top 5th Inning
Cleveland 0
Chicago WSox 2 Bottom 4th Inning
Detroit 2
Washington 0 Top 5th Inning
Miami 0
Philadelphia 2 Bottom 5th Inning
NY Mets 0
Milwaukee 1 Top 6th Inning
Tampa Bay 0
Toronto 3 Top 5th Inning
Boston 1
Arizona 0 Top 6th Inning
Cincinnati 2
Colorado 3 Bottom 1st Inning
Chicago Cubs 1
NY Yankees 1 Bottom 2nd Inning
Texas 0
Minnesota 0 Top 2nd Inning
Kansas City 0
Oakland 0 Bottom 2nd Inning
Houston 1
Atlanta - A. Harang 9:10 PM
Los Angeles - J. Beckett
St. Louis - L. Lynn 9:10 PM
San Diego - T. Ross
Pittsburgh - F. Liriano 9:15 PM
San Francisco - T. Hudson
NY Giants 8/3/14 7:00 PM
Buffalo
Winnipeg 7/31/14 6:00 PM
Hamilton
Toronto 8/1/14 6:00 PM
Montreal
Brt Columbia 8/1/14 9:00 PM
Calgary
Saskatchewan 8/2/14 6:00 PM
Ottawa
Connecticut 80 FINAL
Atlanta 89
Washington 60 4th Qtr 5:04
New York 64
Chicago 24 2nd Qtr 7:00
San Antonio 34
Seattle 23 2nd Qtr 7:21
Tulsa 22
Los Angeles 9:00 PM
Phoenix
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Date/Opponent Time W L Score
2014 preseason     
Aug 8 - vs. Oakland 7 pm
Aug 16 - vs. Arizona 7:30 pm
Aug 23 - at Kansas City 7 pm
Aug 28 - at Tennessee 7 pm
2014 regular season     
Sep 7 - at St. Louis Noon
Sep 14 - vs. New England Noon
Sep 21 - at New Orleans Noon
Sep 28 - vs. Atlanta 3:25 pm
Oct 2 - at Green Bay 7:25 pm
Oct 12 - vs. Detroit Noon
Oct 19 - at. Buffalo Noon
Oct 26 - at Tampa Bay Noon
Nov 2 - vs. Washington Noon
Nov 9 - Bye
Nov 16 - at Chicago Noon
Nov. 23 - vs. Green Bay Noon
Nov. 30 - vs. Carolina Noon
Dec 7 - vs. NY Jets Noon
Dec 14 - at Detroit Noon
Dec 21 - at Miami Noon
Dec 28 - vs. Chicago Noon

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