Week 14’s NFL City of Champions staff picks results:
Shetler – 7-8 (117-73-1)
Weiss – 7-8 (117-73-1)
Gajtka – 9-6 (116-74-1)
Harding – 10-5 (112-78-1)
Here are the staff’s picks for Week 15 of the NFL regular season.
New York Giants at Atlanta
The Falcons likely only need one more win to clinch top seed in the NFC. The Giants on the other hand are still trying to fight off the Cowboys and the Redskins to claim the crown in the NFC East division. Both teams situations will likely make for a great game. Eli Manning continues his hot and cold season while his defense has also been streaky. Roddy White has been listed as a game time decision for the Falcons. Matt Ryan has a chance to eclipse 5,000 yards this season, but would need 3 solid performances to do so. If they clinch the NFC he likely will miss the final game to rest.
Falcons: Harding, Weiss
Giants: Shetler, Gajtka
Minnesota at St. Louis
Christian Ponder has struggled a little bit, but luckily he has Adrian Peterson behind him. Peterson could be a solid MVP candidate as well as Comeback POY. He averages 6.0 yards per carry, a luxury no other team in the NFL can boast. The Vikings are still ok for a playoff chase with a 7-6 record. The Rams have surprised a few people with a 6-6-1 record. Bradford has a chance to lead the Rams to their first winning season since 2003. The Rams defense have not allowed a running back to gain more than 65 yards in their last 4 games.
Vikings: Harding, Gajtka
Rams: Weiss, Shetler
Jacksonville at Miami
Montell Owens stepped in for Maurice Jones-Drew last week and burst for 120 yards 1 TD and 3 receptions. The Jags will need the big running game as Chad Henne returns to Miami where he was cut this last offseason. Cecil Shorts will likely return this week giving Henne another solid target. The Dolphins have been struggling on offense and its no surprise why. Rookie Ryan Tannehill has 8 TDs and 12 INTs this season. He has the fewest TDs of any quarterback with at least 280 passing attempts according to ESPN.
Dolphins: Harding, Weiss, Shetler, Gajtka
Green Bay at Chicago
The Packers are 9-4 and Bears are right behind them at 8-5. This game will likely decide the NFC North. The Packers are looking for a chance to take the 2 seed in the playoffs, giving them a bye in the first week. Only the Falcons and the 49ers have a better record in the NFC right now. Clay Matthews is expected to return today after suffering a hamstring injury and missing a few games. The reeling Bears know this is their last chance to make a move for the division title. They have also struggled to keep players healthy lately and will play again without Brian Urlacher. Missing their middle linebacker causes concern for stopping the run, which the Packers have done much better lately.
Packers: Harding, Shetler, Gajtka
Washington at Cleveland
The Redskins are coming off a big win against the Ravens. Washington was more concerned about RGIII’s health after the game. The rookie sensation took a scary hit to the knee and sat out the remainder of the game. Fellow rookie Kirk Cousins took over and went 2 for 2, 26 yards and 1 TD. Cousins will get the start again this weekend for the Skins. Washington is still chasing a playoff spot and will need a big game from Cousins against the Browns. Cleveland has struggled, but shown a few streaks of greatness. Much of their streaks come from the success of Trent Richardson.
Redskins: Harding, Weiss
Browns: Shetler, Gajtka
Denver at Baltimore
The Ravens made a big move in firing offensive coordinator Cam Cameron. This will impact Joe Flacco who has been average all season after saying he is an elite quarterback. No elite QB gets his offensive coordinator fired. Much of the concern for Cameron came from the lack of touches by Ray Rice. They have a workhorse in Rice and weren’t putting the ball in his hands. Jim Caldwell will take over as the OC. Peyton Manning and company are looking for a bye in the first round of the playoffs. They are currently tied with the Patriots for the 2nd best record in the AFC.
Broncos: Harding, Weiss, Gajtka
Indianapolis at Houston
Houston is coming off a prime time beat down in New England. The Texans still boast the AFC’s best record, but had a few weaknesses exposed. With the best record they have clinched a playoff berth, but have not yet clinched the AFC South. The Colts are right chasing with a 9-4 record, just two games back with three left to play. Rookie Andrew Luck has turned the Colts team around in just one year. They were the league’s worst team just last year and are now in the playoff race. Luck’s stats are not the best, but he has been effective.
Texans: Weiss, Shetler, Gajtka
Tampa Bay at New Orleans
Both of these teams are likely eliminated from the playoffs. The Bucs were in a solid position to make a push but several blown leads have them behind the 8-ball. Rookie Doug Martin continues to be the Bucs bright spot on the offensive side of the ball. Josh Freeman has a lower than average completion percentage, but does boast a 25 TD to 8 INT ratio. Coach Schiano has made a nice push this season despite not making any friends with other coaches. Drew Brees has struggled the last few weeks but is still one of the league’s best QBs. He has 32 TDs 18 INTs and over 4,000 yards passing.
Saints: Harding, Weiss, Shetler, Gajtka
Detroit at Arizona
Arizona is trying to recover from a 58-0 thumping delivered by Seattle last week. The Cardinals have now lost 9 in a row after starting the season 4-0. Coach Ken Wisenhunt is definitely on the hot seat for his job. The Lions have also struggled this season after making the playoffs a year ago they are also 4-9. They too are on a losing streak of 5 games.
Lions: Harding, Weiss, Shetler, Gajtka
Carolina at San Diego
Both teams are coming off big wins from last week. The Panthers beat the Falcons and the Chargers beat the Steelers. The Chargers who still have a slim chance of playoff hopes with a 5-8 record will need another big week against Cam Newton. Stopping Newton’s legs are the big problem for most teams. If they can force him to throw they will have much better luck against the Panthers. The Chargers rag-tag offensive line played very well for coming off the streets to beat the Steelers. Carolina will need to get pressure on Rivers to win the game.
Chargers: Harding, Weiss, Shetler, Gajtka
Seattle at Buffalo
The Seahawks control their own destiny in the playoff race. They rely heavily on Marshawn Lynch to carry the ball. Rookie Russell Wilson has been serviceable for the Seahawks offense. Seattle also uses very quick defenders to lead a solid pass rush. Buffalo also relies heavily on the run game. Last week they were held to just 65 yards on the ground against the Jags. For Ryan Fitzpatrick to find success it starts with the running game to open the play action.
Seahawks: Harding, Weiss, Shetler, Gajtka
Pittsburgh at Dallas
The Steelers are coming off a tough loss at home against the Chargers. They can still make the playoffs by winning out as they Bengals are still on the schedule. Ben Roethlisberger returned last week and was very sluggish in the first half. Look for the Steelers to utilize the no huddle to try to get more rhythm. Tony Romo has more turnovers than any other QB at home. Many of those were in one game against the Bears early in the year. Dallas needs the win to try to keep pace with other teams for the wildcard in the NFC.
Steelers: Harding, Gajtka
Cowboys: Weiss, Shetler
Kansas City at Oakland
The Chiefs boast the league’s 5th best run game, but still are one of the league’s worst offenses. They converted just one third down last week against the Browns. The problem for the Chiefs all stem from the QB position as they don’t have any viable options. The Raiders haven’t been much better offensively. Last week Oakland converted just two third downs. The Raiders run defense is also 26th in the league, so expect a quick game with a constant running clock.
Raiders: Weiss, Shetler, Gajtka
San Francisco at New England
This is a big game for New England to keep pace with the Broncos for a first round bye in the playoffs. The same goes for the 49ers who boast the NFC’s second best record due to their tie with the Rams a few weeks back. Tom Brady continues to show why he is a special players. The Patriots thumped the Texans on prime time to show they are still the Patriots you need to respect. San Francisco fans are getting anxious to see how the QB conundrum will play out. Only time will tell if Colin Kaepernick was the right choice.
Patriots: Harding, Weiss, Shetler, Gajtka
New York Jets at Tennessee
Rex Ryan is trying very hard not to be wrong with saying his team could make the playoffs when they were 4-7. Now they are 6-7 and in the chase. They could benefit from a Pittsburgh loss, but a Pittsburgh win next week. The Jets QB situation is still one of the most skeptical in the league. Chris Johnson and the Titans will need to power the ball with heavy run game. Getting Jake Locker in third and short situations will give them a chance to ruin New York’s playoff hopes.
Jets: Shetler, Weiss, Gajtka