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NFL Week 14 Predictions

Sports Staff |
December 7, 2012 | 3:38 p.m. PST


We're still four weeks from the end of the season and already three divisions and four playoff spots have been clinched! Our experts try to sort out this quickly-developing playoff picture, picking games for all NFC East teams not from Philadelphia, two NFC and AFC North clubs clamoring for a division title, and two AFC stalwarts battling for conference supremacy. 

AJ Green is having a breakout 2012 season, tallying 1107 yards receiving and 10 TDs. (Wikimedia Commons)
AJ Green is having a breakout 2012 season, tallying 1107 yards receiving and 10 TDs. (Wikimedia Commons)
Dallas Cowboys (6-6) @ Cincinnati Bengals (7-5)

Jeremy Bergman: Bengals 24, Cowboys 19

Combined, these two clubs have won seven of their last eight. Cincy has been streaky all season, and this last four-game stretch, when the Bengals play three teams in the playoff hunt, will test the young club, led by Andy and A.J. Dallas has defeated only one team currently above .500 all season - and that was on the first night of the season in New York. With DeMarco Murray back but still rusty, Tony Romo and the Cowboy offense will have trouble moving the ball with a balanced attack against Cincinnati's improved defense.

Evan Budrovich: Bengals 27, Cowboys 17 

The Bengals have won five straight and are now one of the sexy picks to win the AFC North. Andy Dalton to A.J. Green has been an electric combination this season, and that will continue against Dallas. Expect BenJarvus Green-Ellis to pound in some touchdowns as well to lead the Bengals to another victory. Sending the Cowboys' playoff chances home for the rest of the season.

Aaron Fischman: Cowboys 27, Bengals 24

The Bengals’ secondary has played pretty well this season. Their front seven has also been effective, tying Denver for the league-lead in sacks with 39. Tony Romo will be tested, but it’s important to remember that the return of a healthy DeMarco Murray adds much-needed balance to the Dallas offense. In Murray’s first game back, he gained 102 yards from scrimmage and would have had more had he avoided an 11-yard loss in garbage time.   

Jacob Freedman: Bengals 24, Cowboys 20

Tony Romo enters this game with some gusto after becoming the Cowboys' all-time leader in passing touchdowns, but Andy Dalton enters it playing some of the best football of his life, with 10 touchdowns over the Bengals' four-game winning streak. The Bengals haven't made the playoffs in consecutive years in 30 years, but Dalton and a suddenly competent BenJarvus Green-Ellis will move Cincy one step closer to getting off the snide and into the postseason in a shallow AFC. 

Max Meyer: Cowboys 24, Bengals 21

Even though no one should ever trust Tony Romo in December, I think the Bengals have been a little too lucky over their three-game winning streak. Expect the Cowboys to suck their fans in for at least one more week before their typical collapse.

Law Murray: Cowboys 23, Bengals 21

The Cowboys have DeMarco Murray back in the lineup, which will help them stay balanced in Cincy. Tony Romo is the biggest beneficiary, and at some point, the Dez Bryant mismatch will decide the game. The Cowboys stars have to show out on the road against a Bengals defense that hasn't allowed many touchdowns during their winning streak. 

Matthew Tufts: Cowboys 28, Bengals 17

If the Bengals are able to slow this matchup into a running game, they will have no problem against the Cowboys. Look for Romo and his strong receiving corps to air it out early and often, forcing Cincinnati to rely more heavily on Andy Dalton than Green-Ellis. If the Cowboys succeed in this, they'll come out with a win and keep their season alive.

Will AP be all smiles after the Bears are through with him? (Arvee5.0/Wikimedia Commons)
Will AP be all smiles after the Bears are through with him? (Arvee5.0/Wikimedia Commons)
Chicago Bears (8-4) @ Minnesota Vikings (6-6)

Bergman: Vikings 17, Bears 13

If it feels like the Bears and the Vikings have just played each other, well, you're right. Only two weeks ago, the Vikes lost in Chicago, 28-10. But now the Monsters of the Midway come to Minnesota where Chad Greenway is calling on the fans in purple to get "super duper drunk" for this vital NFC North matchup. The Dome will be rocking, so loud that the roof may just collapse - too soon? It will be that home-turf advantage, and a side of A.D. Peterson, that will propel the Vikings past the Bears and into an favorable wild card position.

Budrovich: Bears 24, Vikings 13 

The Bears defeated the Vikings in dominant fashion two weeks ago, and I do not see that changing in this matchup. Adrian Peterson will have a monster day for Minnesota but Christian Ponder will not make the key plays to convert drives into touchdowns. On the other side of the ball, Jared Allen and Co. better get to Cutler quick or else the Vikings have no chance of containing the Bears. I see Marshall putting up over 150 yards receiving, leading the Bears to a convincing victory. 

Fischman: Bears 21, Vikings 13

The once-5-2 Vikings are in danger of losing for the fifth time in six games and falling to 6-7. Although Minnesota has only lost one home game this season, it relies too heavily on its running game. Yes, Adrian Peterson is darn good, but Viking quarterback Christian Ponder has posted QB Ratings below 60 in three of his last four games. Even without Brian Urlacher, the Bears’ defense should be able to key on the rushing attack and beat its divisional rival for the second time in three weeks.

Freedman: Bears 23, Vikings 14

Once again, there are signals of doubt at the quarterback position in Minnesota. Adrian Peterson has been better than even the most extreme of optimists expected before the season, but Ponder looked helpless against the Bears two weeks ago and not much has changed on the Minnesota sidelines. The absence of Brian Urlacher and Tim Jennings will hurt the Bears in the passing department, but Jay Cutler has carried the offense due to Matt Forte being banged up these past few weeks, and will engineer the Bears another step closer to the playoffs. 

Meyer: Bears 28, Vikings 17

No Brian Urlacher or Tim Jennings for the Bears? No problem. No Percy Harvin for the Vikings? Problem. Expect the Bears to destroy the Vikings for the second time in three weeks.

Murray: Bears 24, Vikings 21

The Vikings have the worst receivers in the NFL this side of New York/Jersey without Percy Harvin, and we see that whatever Adrian Peterson does is undone by Christian Ponder's ineffectiveness. The Bears aren't great shakes on offense either outside of Brandon Marshall, but as we saw two weeks ago, the Vikings' offense will probably help Chicago out. 

Tufts: Bears 21, Vikings 17

With a banged up defense, the Bears need to rely on keeping this game high-scoring to keep the ball out of Adrian Peterson's hands. Christian Ponder cannot go pass for pass with Jay Cutler, even against a Chicago defense that is not what it used to be. Expect Brandon Marshall to have a big game and carry the Bears over their NFC North rival.

Ray Rice needs to help out the Raven offense if they have any hope of keeping up with RGIII. (Wikimedia Commons)
Ray Rice needs to help out the Raven offense if they have any hope of keeping up with RGIII. (Wikimedia Commons)
Baltimore Ravens (9-3) @ Washington Redskins (6-6)

Bergman: Redskins 27, Ravens 20

There are high stakes in this most recent Battle of the Beltway. The RGIII bandwagon is getting heavier and more crowded - all thanks to the attention and viewer hounds at ESPN - and is threatening to overturn with even more weight and pressure to come. But I believe in Griffin, I believe in Kyle Shanahan, and I don't believe at all in the Raven defense that surrendered 23 points to Charlie Batch. 

Budrovich: Redskins 24, Ravens 17

RGIII has been on fire over his last three starts, while Joe Flacco has struggled to find any rhythm. With both teams going in different directions, momentum should play its course for the banged up Ravens. Without Ray Lewis, Ed Reed, and a slew of others, the top-ranked Redskins rushing attack will have a huge day. That in itself will give the Redskins the lead early and the time of possession to pull out the victory.

Fischman: Redskins 31, Ravens 24

The Ravens are simply a better defense when linebacker Terrell Suggs is on the field. With his status still in question, he’ll likely be a game-time decision. While it’s true that Jim Harbaugh’s Ravens are 18-4 following a loss and have won 15 in a row in that situation, the Ravens’ defense will be in for a rude awakening when rookies Robert Griffin III and Alfred Morris assert their will. This defense will wish it was facing Charlie Batch and the Steeler running back committee instead.   

Freedman: Redskins 23, Ravens 17

Terrell Suggs and Ray Lewis are still out, while this season has shown how Ed Reed just doesn't have the speed he used to. The Ravens allowed 23 points to Charlie Batch last week, and Robert Griffin III must be chomping at the bit. Every time I doubt RG3, I'm made for a fool, plus I like the way that Alfred Morris has become yet another anonymous star running back out of Mike Shanahan's system. The Redskins are real, and will keep rolling against one of the weaker 9-3 teams I can remember.

Meyer: Redskins 27, Ravens 20

I'm sorry, but I can no longer pick against RG3. He's way too good. On the other hand, the Ravens are a fluky team and they managed to lose to Charlie Batch. And RG3 is a lot more dynamic than Batch. 

Murray: Ravens 20, Redskins 17

Ray Rice didn't touch the ball in the fourth quarter in Sunday's loss. I understand Joe Flacco is in a contract year, but getting the ball to Ray Rice about 25 times should be mandatory at this point. Flacco still matters in this game because the Redskins still aren't great in coverage, but he has to be efficient. The Ravens have played solid defense as far as bending and not breaking, and that needs to continue against RGIII. 

Tufts: Redskins 35, Ravens 30

RGIII has been phenomenal so far this season, and has the Redskins poised to make a run for the NFC East crown. The Ravens have all but locked up a playoff berth, but may run into some trouble stopping Griffin's running ability. If RGIII can switch it up and keep the Ravens' defense on edge, Washington could pull this one out and stay in contention for the NFC East.

Drew Brees and the Saints have had a rough go of it without Sean Payton. (Creative Commons)
Drew Brees and the Saints have had a rough go of it without Sean Payton. (Creative Commons)
New Orleans Saints (5-7) @ New York Giants (7-5)

Bergman: Giants 35, Saints 27

Fear not, fans of Big Blue. The Giants always lose early in December when they're on route to glory - Green Bay and Washington in 2011, Washington in 2007. I guess you could say it's a rite of passage that every Super Bowl-winning Giant club must lose to the Skins in December. Well, here we go again. The Saints may be the first victim on Eli's dumbfounding path to a third championship.

Budrovich: Giants 35, Saints 21 

Everyone is down on the Giants, but per usual, this is the point in the season when they turn on the jets with their pass rush and passing attack. Eli Manning will attack the Saints' weak secondary, connecting with Victor Cruz for two touchdowns. With the Saints fading from the playoff picture, Drew Brees will do his best to keep his team close. That being said, Justin Tuck and the rest of the Giants D-Line will be Brees Hunting all night. 

Fischman: Giants 30, Saints 28

The Saints are simply not the same this year without head coach Sean Payton, who was suspended for the entire season. New Orleans miraculously held Matt Ryan to 165 passing yards, but it couldn’t stop the run and committed five turnovers on the offensive end. Brees will be smarter with the football, but the Giants have finally been successful in the deep passing game for two games in a row. This balanced attack will be especially successful against a porous New Orleans defense.

Freedman: Giants 31, Saints 24

I'm sad to say it, but last week's loss in a must-win situation against the Falcons could be the straw that broke the Saints' back. The mythical powers of RG3 prevailed last week, but don't forget that these Giants hammered Aaron Rodgers and the Packers 38-10 two weeks ago. The Saints' offense is similarly reliant on the quarterback, and the Giants' defense will continue to excel against unbalanced squads and not let Drew Brees get the ugly memory of last week's five interceptions out of his head quite yet.

Meyer: Saints 31, Giants 30

Drew Brees will be back with a vengeance after throwing five interceptions last week. I think the Saints will be playing with more urgency this weekend, knowing that their playoff fate depends on it. Also, the Giants have a knack of slipping up at home.

Murray: Giants 31, Saints 28

The Giants had the division won a month ago, but the Giants never make things easy on themselves. Luckily they get to face Drew Brees in New York (RE: New Jersey) this time. The Giants need to break out that defensive game plan they had against the Packers two weeks ago. It should prevent the Payton-less Saints from dropping another 40-burger on them. 

Tufts: Giants 28, Saints 24

Both teams in this matchup find themselves in a must win scenario heading into Sunday. The Saints are trying to regroup and stay in the playoff chase after two tough losses to NFC powerhouses Atlanta and San Francisco, while the Giants are simply looking to hold on to their lead over Washington. In the end however, the team with the more balanced offense will win, and that has to go to New York.

Tom Brady has been here before, but will he be able to move the ball against the Texans' D? (Mongomez93/Wikimedia Commons)
Tom Brady has been here before, but will he be able to move the ball against the Texans' D? (Mongomez93/Wikimedia Commons)
Houston Texans (11-1) @ New England Patriots (9-3)

Bergman: Patriots 31, Texans 27

Matthew Stafford threw for 441 yards and 2 TDs against the Texans on Thanksgiving. Chad Henne threw for 354 yards and 4 TDs at Houston. Even Jake Locker threw for 301 yards and a TD in a losing effort last week. The common thread between those three quarterbacks? None have won a Super Bowl, an MVP, or let alone, a division. Tom Brady's won all of those things, many times.

Budrovich: Patriots 27, Texans 20

In a matchup for AFC supremacy, Tom Brady’s offense will outplay the balanced Texans. The Patriots new-found running back star, Stevan Ridley, has scored a touchdown in five straight games and I expect that trend to continue. The Texans D will keep this game close, but Tom Brady will do just enough to set up a game-winning drive for the victory. 

Fischman: Patriots 30, Texans 27

Tom Brady is not as comfortable in the red zone without his favorite target, Rob Gronkowski. With that said, Aaron Hernandez, Wes Welker and company will have to suffice. While Brady is talented enough to adapt, it also helps that the Texan secondary has struggled badly in two of it last three games and one of those quarterbacks was Chad Henne. Expect this Monday nightgame to go down to the wire. Andre Johnson will have a big game to keep his team close.

Freedman: Patriots 28, Texans 24

The Texans are tied for the league's best record thanks to a steady diet of Arian Foster and one of the league's most fierce defenses. Unfortunately for Houston and to great pleasure to Tom Brady, elite cornerback Johnathan Joseph is still out, as are pass-rushing savants Brooks Reed and Brian Cushing. After rumors of his demise in New England, Wes Welker is still the top target in a balanced Patriots' passing game, and Tom Terrific will relish the Monday Night spotlight and get his squad in prime position for a first-round bye.

Meyer: Patriots 35, Texans 28

The Texans will have difficulty defending the highest scoring team in the league and the team with the best turnover differential. The Patriot offense is simply too explosive for any team to contain right now. 

Murray: Texans 30, Patriots 28

Best game of the year contender. I remember the 2009 matchup: Arian Foster broke out, Wes Welker tore his ACL, the Patriots shuffled QBs back and forth with the game on the line in Week 17. I expect this to be a shootout, with the Texans getting another big game from Matt Schaub (best veteran QB Patriots have seen since Peyton Manning two months ago) and Brandon Lloyd remaining in a witness protection agency. 

Tufts: Patriots 31, Texans 27

In a battle for AFC supremacy, two truly balanced offenses will collide in Foxboro. The Patriots will have to protect Tom Brady against one of the most dominant defenses in the league, while the Texans will be looking for their secondary to step up and shut down Brady's top receiving targets. Houston has been dominant nearly all season, but when snow starts to fall in December at Gillette Stadium, the Patriots are nearly unbeatable.

Season Standings

Max Meyer 47-22

Matthew Tufts 47-22

Evan Budrovich 44-25

Jacob Freedman 43-26

Jeremy Bergman 41-28

Aaron Fischman 40-29

Law Murray 33-25



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