Saturday Convenient Weekend m orning during the NFL season, we'll wake up early, take a hearty cut at predicting the unpredictable league, wince at how it went the week before and ponder the definition of insanity.
There are no NFL layups for injury-riddled road teams that have gone 1-6 overall and 0-4 on the road the past seven games. But there are the Jacksonville Jaguars, who have matched the Vikings’ futility and raised the pot to 0-7 overall and 0-3 at home over the past seven games.
That’s how a free-falling Vikings team gets favored by 3 1/2 during a stretch in which it has gone from best record in the NFL to eighth-best record in the NFC.
Who’d have thought the Vikings would need to visit Florida to find a spot that’s been colder than Winter Park the past seven weeks?
Even the 49ers, 1-11 and losers of 11 straight, are favored at home today. Of course, they are playing Bryce Petty and the Drivebreakers.
Meanwhile, the Cowboys, 11-1 and winners of 11 straight, are favored by 3 1/2 on the road against the only team that has beaten them — a Giants team that’s 8-4 and is more desperate for wins. I would have made that my Upset Special, but the Browns are back in action after the league refused to bend on its rule that Cleveland can be guaranteed not to lose only one week per year.
WEEK 14 PICKS
Vikings minus-3 1/2 at Jaguars: The Pick: Vikings 15, Jaguars 9.
Why?: They’ve gone from the best record in the NFL (5-0) to the eighth-best record in the NFC (6-6). They’ve gone from unbeaten on the road (2-0) to always-beaten on the road (0-4 since the bye). But they’re playing Blake Bortles, who may become a good quarterback some day. But that day isn’t today. Bortles and the Jags will make more mistakes than the Vikings, and that hasn’t been an easy feat the past seven weeks. Give the points and take the Vikings.
Bengals minus-5 1/2 at Browns: The Pick: Browns 18, Bengals 17.
Why?: The Browns were off last week, so it was a rare opportunity for me to accurately pick an upset. But the league allows only one week per year in which the Browns are guaranteed not to lose. So I’m back on the Browns-won’t-go-0-16!-although-I-kinda-think-they-will ledge for the
Battle of Pillow Fight for Ohio Part II. Whoever the quarterback, coach and GM are this week, they have my shaky unconditional support that they’ll win one game in 2016 before losing 10 to 12 more after the 2017 draft.
LAST WEEK: Eagles minus-1 1/2 at Bengals: The Pick: Bengals 28, Eagles 27. The result: Bengals 32, Eagles 14. Record: 4-8.
Broncos plus-1 1/2 at Titans: Broncos by 3
Texans plus-6 1/2 at Colts: Colts by 3
Steelers minus-1 1/2 at Bills: Steelers by 3
Chargers plus-1/2 at Panthers: Chargers by 10
Redskins plus-1/2 at Eagles: Redskins by 6
Cardinals plus-1/2 at Dolphins: Dolphins by 7
Bears plus-8 1/2 at Lions: Lions by 14
Jets plus-1 1/2 at 49ers: Jets by 3
Falcons minus-5 1/2 at Rams: Rams by 7
Seahawks minus-2 1/2 at Packers: Packers by 7
Saints plus-2 1/2 at Buccaneers: Buccaneers by 10
Cowboys minus-3 1/2 at Giants: Giants by 6
Ravens plus-7 1/2 at Patriots: Patriots by 8
Record Last week/season:8-6 / 86-63-2
Vs. spread Last week/season:8-6 / 70-81
CRAIG'S LIST: NFL Power Rankings
1, Patriots (10-2)
2, Cowboys (11-1)
3, Chiefs (10-3)
4, Raiders (10-3)
5, Broncos (8-4)
6, Lions (8-4)
7, Seahawks (8-3-1)
8, Falcons (7-5)
9, Buccaneers (7-5)
10, Ravens (7-5)
11, Steelers (7-5)
12, Giants (8-4)
13, Packers (6-6)
14, Dolphins (7-5)
15, Bills (6-6)
16, Titans (6-6)
17, Colts (6-6)
18, Vikings (6-6)
19, Cardinals (5-6-1)
20, Redskins (6-5-1)
21, Bengals (4-7-1)
22, Eagles (5-7)
23, Chargers (5-7)
24, Texans (6-6)
25, Saints (5-7)
26, Bears (3-9)
27, Panthers (4-8)
28, Rams (4-8)
29, Jaguars (2-10)
30, Jets (3-9)
31, 49ers (1-11)
32, Browns (0-12)