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- Week 14 Predictions: Steelers' Stand

Chris Pokorny December 11, 2005
Chris Pokorny
PFC Owner & Writer

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It is Week 14 and teams are now starting to clinch the playoffs. The Indianapolis Colts are very close to clinching home-field advantage throughout the playoffs, but they still have three tough games left on their schedule - including this week against the Jacksonville Jaguars. Unfortunately for a team like the Pittsburgh Steelers, they could all but be eliminated from contention this week if they fall to the red-hot Chicago Bears. With San Diego, Kansas City, and Jacksonville battling for the wildcard, the Steelers need to win-out it seems to even have a chance.

We're also at the time of the year where the most dangerous teams can be those with losing records. A team like the Oakland Raiders are looking for a spark without Collins, and will be looking to spoil the playoff hopes of teams around the rest of the league.

Let's get to the Week 14 games of the week.

(Red = Prediction).

Not the Patriots, the Jaguars
Indianapolis Colts vs. Jacksonville Jaguars
If you want to find the best competition for the Colts, look no further than the Jaguars. Jack Del Rio's team always stays in the game until the final seconds versus the Colts, and they even defeated them once last year. Despite being without Byron Leftwich, the Jaguars have find success under David Garrard. The Jaguars play the Colts a tad better on their home field rather than in the Colts' dome, playing towards Jacksonville's favor.

What's not in the Jaguars favor is simply how good the Colts are. The Colts were in a couple of close games early on this year, but since then they have been in complete control of every single game it seems, even against the Patriots and the Steelers. When these two teams met earlier this season, Manning had an awful quarterback rating. The Jaguars are very good at defending the pass, but the Colts' offense is gelling better than in their first meet. On top of that, Garrard will make mistakes after being flushed out by the Colts' linemen. Colts win by at least a touchdown.

Defense Wins Championships
Chicago Bears vs. Pittsburgh Steelers
The classic statement always says that "defense wins championships". This game features two teams with the ability to make game-changing plays defensively, which is why the Bears are on a tear currently. The Steelers have the potential defensively, but they have not executed lately. Since the Bears don't have an offense to speak of though, the Steelers will try and force Kyle Orton into mistakes all game. The Bears know this though, and will play it very safe as they have done all year.

The Steelers cannot win if their running game never gets going. Willie Parker and Jerome Bettis have not been able to establish anything lately, causing Ben Roethlisberger to throw more often, resulting in more mistakes. With the Steelers already losing three in a row, it's do or die time. Pittsburgh will come through in the clutch, and win this game the same way the Bears have done it: defensively.

Control of the NFC South
Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs. Carolina Panthers
With the Atlanta Falcons beginning to fall out of the picture, the NFC South will come down to one of these two teams. If the Panthers lose, they can still make up ground in the final few games. If the Buccaneers lose, they'll probably be fighting for a wildcard spot. The Buccaneers' defense has started to return to its dominant form the past few weeks, which will make it difficult for Jake Delhomme to put up points quickly.

There is a chance that the Panthers won't have to rely on Delhomme is DeShaun Foster puts on the same performance as he did last week. Foster played his best game of the year in a crucial game. If the Panthers are going to win, they must have a fair mixture of both attacks. Too many times this year Delhomme has been the reason the Panthers have won or lost. Last week they gave a complete effort, and they'll do the same this week against Chris Simms and the Buccaneers.

Heading in Opposite Directions
Kansas City Chiefs vs. Dallas Cowboys
A few weeks ago I may have picked the Cowboys to win this game, but these two teams have headed in opposite directions since then. The Chiefs are putting on a show offensively and chipping in enough on defense to win games, while the Cowboys don't have the same type of explosiveness they had earlier in the season. The Chiefs know they have to stay step-for-step with the Chargers and Broncos, making every win a crucial one.

Despite the Cowboys struggling, they are still staying competitive. This game could be very similar to the Broncos and Chiefs game from last week, a shootout. Both teams have potential defensively, but once the tempo of the game is controlled by the offense, it stays that way. Trent Green's days of making mistakes are far and few between, but Drew Bledsoe continues to make costly ones week in and week out. Once the shootout gets going, a Bledsoe turnover will give the Chiefs control of the game - even on the road.

And now, the rest of the week...

St. Louis Rams vs. Minnesota Vikings
Ryan Fitzpatrick had one good offensive showing, and that may be all he sees this season. Last week against the Redskins, the Rams could not do anything early on to stay in the game. The Vikings have gone from a team under Daunte Culpepper that looked like an automatic "W" into a team that looks like an automatic "L" on your schedule. Although the change came when Brad Johnson took over, that's not the real reason the Vikings are getting it done. Their defensive acquisitions in the offseason took a few weeks to settle in, but they're living up to the hype now.

Oakland Raiders vs. New York Jets
Benching Collins and going to Tuiasosopo really shouldn't be due to a performance issue. The Raiders simply know that they're done, and may be looking to see if Randy Moss can develop a better connection with someone other than Collins. The Jets cannot put points on the board when it comes down to it though, virtually eliminating any chance of them staying in a game right from the get go. Raiders win on the road in Tuiasosopo's first start of the season.

New England Patriots vs. Buffalo Bills
Although J.P. Losman didn't do too much after the first quarter last week, we are beginning to see his development as the weeks go by. The Bills, despite their record, pose a definite threat to the Patriots. The last time they faced each other, the game was down to the wire. The Bills are out of contention, but this is their most important game of the season that remains. They will take chances left and right, and it'll pay off as the Bills pull the "upset" over Tom Brady and the Patriots.

Houston Texans vs. Tennessee Titans
I don't know what's worse: the Texans losing convincingly, or losing a heartbreaker. They've experienced heartbreakers the past two weeks, but their fortune will change on the road against the Titans. The Titans have to deal being without Brandon Jones, Roydell Williams, and Erron Kinney on offense. Steve McNair will sling a few touchdowns, but someone on the Titans offense will cough up the ball, leading to a late Texans' touchdown.

Cleveland Browns vs. Cincinnati Bengals
These two teams met in Week 1, which marked the beginning of the Bengals' offensive outburst. The Browns simply could not beat Carson Palmer. The Bengals defense has given up a ton of points lately, but they force enough turnovers to win games. Cleveland's offense lost Braylon Edwards last week, but rookie Charlie Frye showed some promising signs. Unfortunately for the Browns, the only thing they'll get out of this one is to see how well Frye can play from behind again.

Washington Redskins vs. Arizona Cardinals
Kurt Warner appears to finally be on the same page with the rest of the offense, and even J.J. Arrington is showing some signs of life in the running game. The underachieving Redskins were able to shut down the Rams last week, while Clinton Portis and the Redskins' running game dominated. With the recent downfall of Mark Brunell, the Redskins will continue running the ball right at the Cardinals and hold the Cardinals to field goals down near the red zone.

San Francisco 49ers vs. Seattle Seahawks
It's rare that a team can completely dominate two weeks in a row, but that could be the case this week for Seattle. The Seahawks have been playing outstanding football all year, but their prime time win on Monday Night may have opened eyes around the league. The 49ers fight hard every week, but they simply do not have the talent to even come close to matching up with the 49ers. Seahawks win in a blowout.

New York Giants vs. Philadelphia Eagles
The Eagles attempt at a "three-headed monster" will fail in this game, since none of them will have any momentum throughout the game. This will be the second straight embarrassment for the Eagles in their own stadium, and will officially eliminate them from the playoffs. The Eagles are so depleted that Eli Manning and Tiki Barber shouldn't even have to work hard for their yards today.

Miami Dolphins vs. San Diego Chargers
The Dolphins had an amazing comeback last week, but that won't be the case against the Chargers. San Diego is starting to pull away from the rest of the teams in the AFC in terms of performances week in and week out. Drew Brees can afford to play a safe game plan in this game, because the Dolphins will not be able to form the same connection that Chris Chambers had last week. Tomlinson and the Chargers will have a fun day in another blowout, making the Dolphins playoff hopes slim.

Baltimore Ravens vs. Denver Broncos
Denver has to be feeling the pressure after their AFC West lead went from two games to one, but they'll be relieved at the fact that they aren't facing an offensive powerhouse this week. Kyle Boller will be pressured all game long as usual and fumble the ball, while Jamal Lewis and Chester Taylor will never get things going. Jake Plummer is starting to become mistake prone at times, but the Ravens defense isn't as intimidating without some of their star players.

Detroit Lions vs. Green Bay Packers
The Packers are definitely due for a win. This game really doesn't mean anything for either team, but if Favre can prove something these last few games, it always provides a positive outlook for next year. When these two teams met early in the season, the Lions won and looked as if they could be a legitimate contender. That's not the case now, since both of these teams are trying to stay out of the NFC North cellar.

New Orleans Saints vs. Atlanta Falcons
I know things have been tough for the Saints this year, but Aaron Brooks has played poorly this whole year. In years past he has been a very underrated quarterback, but I can't even remember any highlights of him this year. The Falcons will dismantle the Saints like they did the Lions two weeks ago; they just need to figure out how to beat the contending teams.

That's it for this weeks predictions. My survivor winning streak is now at three games after the Colts beat the Titans in a blowout last week. This week, I'm taking the Denver Broncos to defeat the Baltimore Ravens. The Ravens usually pose a threat due to their defensive play for an upset, but the Broncos are on another level compared to them.

Predictions Record to Date: 124-68
Last Week: 13-3
Survivor Streak: Won 3(Sea over SF, SD over Was, Ind over Ten.)

I have been on a roll in my predictions the past few weeks, and am currently on pace for my best season-prediction record ever. I can't wait for the Saturday games to begin next week.

-Chris Pokorny


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