My Top 10 TV Shows of 2014

To say that there has been an abundance of good television shows this year is an understatement. I really wanted to make this list a top 20, then thought maybe 15, considered 12 for a moment, before realizing that it would only be right to narrow it down to just ten and give honorable mentions to all the shows that did not make the final cut.  Is that cheating? Maybe. But so what.  Here we go with honorable mentions (and for the record, there are no spoilers for any show):

Honorable Mentions: Comedies

Louis C.K and Sarah Baker combined for seven amazing minutes of television on Louie
Louis C.K and Sarah Baker combined for seven amazing minutes of television on Louie

Louie (FX) – Always great and this year’s episode of “And so did the fat lady” was perhaps my favorite half-hour of television this year.  Just a fantastic job by Louis C.K and guest star, Sarah Baker, a thoughtful, smart and funny 30 minutes that everyone should find and watch.

Brooklyn Nine-Nine (FOX) – The only network comedy I can stand to watch right now and it consistently makes me laugh every week.

Last Week Tonight (HBO), The Daily Show (Comedy Central) – John Oliver’s new show on HBO did a wonderful job of mixing the way The Daily Show covers topics in the news, with the way, The Bugle, Oliver’s podcast, finds important stories that are not being covered by the mainstream outlets.  Meanwhile, Jon Stewart’s Daily Show remains the go-to place for coverage of everything that is going on in the political world and beyond.

Silicon Valley (HBO) – Well put together show and enjoyable first season, but it was not must-see like the comedies that did make the list.

Jeffrey Tambour has his best role of an incredible career in Transparent
Jeffrey Tambour has his best role of an incredible career in Transparent

Transparent (Amazon) – The hardest omission from the top ten and one I desperately wanted to find a way to include it in the list.  Jeffrey Tambor is absolutely brilliant in the leading role, but the supporting cast is also fantastic and I watched the entire season within a week.

Honorable Mentions – Dramas

Mad Men (AMC), Homeland (Showtime) – Both of these shows have been among my favorites in previous years, but neither had strong overall seasons in 2014.  The second half of Mad Men and a string of five Homeland episodes were among the best installments of any show this year.  However, I seriously wondered why I was still watching Mad Men during the opening few weeks of the half-season, while I was outright hate-watching Homeland until it suddenly got good again.

Boardwalk Empire (HBO) – It was not the best season of this once-great gangster story, but it was good enough to give a fitting finale to the show.  The penultimate episode was one of the most entertaining hours of television in 2014.

In my mind, McNulty moved to Brooklyn from Bawlmore and vacations in Montauk
In my mind, McNulty moved to Brooklyn from Bawlmore and vacations in Montauk

The Affair (Showtime) – I thought this was a compelling and excellent new show, though to be fair, I will always watch McNulty (Dominic West) in a leading role.  Throw in any actors from The Wire and you can usually guarantee I will be in…except if it is a show about zombies (sorry The Walking Dead fans, you’ll not see that in my top 10…or Game of Thrones – all of my favorite shows take place in a version of the real world).  The split-narrative of The Affair could have turned out to be clunky after the opening episode, but it was handled brilliantly and gave the show a unique story-telling device.  Alongside Dominic West, Ruth Wilson is also great as the other participant in the affair that gives the show its title.

Sherlock (BBC/PBS) – My wife and I did not watch any of the Benedict Cumberbath/Martin Freeman version of Sherlock Holmes until this January, so it was tempting for me to include it.  However, the three episodes that were released in 2014 were not as good as what had come before, so it drops down to honorable mentions.

Justified (FX) – A really fun show every year, but next year’s final run of episodes with a much-anticipated showdown between Raylan Givens and Boyd Crowder could find it crack the top 10 in 12 months’ time.

The Missing (BBC/Starz) – Another import from the UK, the first hour of The Missing was an incredibly hard show to get through, not because it was bad, but because of the harrowing nature of the subject matter.  James Nesbitt stars as the father of a boy who goes missing in France in 2006 and the duel narratives between present day and the events from eight years earlier are incredibly well intertwined.

Onto the main list. Continue reading

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NFL 2014 Week 17 Picks

The Falcons celebrate being not quite as bad as the Saints in 2014
The Falcons celebrate being not quite as bad as the Saints in 2014

It is the final weekend of the regular season in the NFL, which means that after Sunday, there are only 11 more meaningful football games until next September.  With that in mind, here are the main things that are up for grabs heading into the final weekend of the campaign.

  • The NFC South title – the only one of the six playoff berths not decided in the NFC, either Carolina or Atlanta will end up hosting a postseason game, despite the fact that neither can finish with any more than 7 wins.
  • The five NFC teams who have already booked their place in the playoffs are all jockeying for position.  Seattle, Arizona and Green Bay can all still realistically end up with the first seed, with the Seahawks having the inside track to home field advantage throughout January.  The Packers will be at least the 2 seed if they beat the Lions, but if they lose they could drop to the 6 seed and face a visit to the Cowboys – who will almost certainly be the 3 seed – for Wild Card weekend.
  • Five AFC teams have also already claimed a spot in the postseason, with New England guaranteed the 1 seed and Denver able to claim a first week bye if they can beat the Raiders at home.  Should the Broncos slip up, the Bengals can grab the second seed in the Conference by winning in Pittsburgh, but a loss would put the Steelers as the 3 seed and force Cincinnati to play their opening game of the playoffs on the road.
  • The final available Wild Card spot can still be won by any one of four teams: the Chargers, Chiefs, Ravens and Texans.  For Kansas City to make it, they need to beat San Diego then hope Baltimore and Houston both lose their contests.  If the Chargers win they are in, the Ravens need help from the Chiefs and to beat the Browns, while the Texans need to beat the Jaguars, then root for Cleveland and Kansas City.
  • The top spot in the draft will also be decided this weekend, with the Buccaneers facing the tough prospect of needing to lose to the woeful Saints to clinch the worst record in the league.  There could be a lot of coaches finding themselves out of a work come Monday, a day notorious for firings in the NFL.
  • I also have the opportunity to finish with an above .500 record picking against the spread for the fourth season out of four I have been making predictions.  Current record is 126-114, so only a 2-14 week or worse would prevent me from finishing with a winning record.  That being said…

Predictions

Last week, 9-7; Season, 126-114

Home teams in bold

Patriots -3.5 over Bills

Bears +6.5 over Vikings

Ravens -8.5 over Browns

Washington +6.5 over Cowboys

Colts -7.5 over Titans

Chargers +2.5 over Chiefs

Dolphins -5.5 over Jets

Saints -3.5 over Buccaneers

Giants -2.5 over Eagles

Texans -9.5 over Jaguars

Falcons -3.5 over Panthers

Broncos -14.5 over Raiders

Packers -7.5 over Lions

Seahawks -12.5 over Rams

49ers -5.5 over Cardinals

Steelers -2.5 over Bengals

 

Premier League Bumper Festive Edition

Toure scores City's third with what can only be described as a "thunder bastard" strike
Toure scores City’s third with what can only be described as a “thunder bastard” strike

In the seven days between Boxing Day and New Year’s Day, thirty games will be played in the English Premier League, as clubs face three matches apiece over the course of a week that could shape the title race, the contenders for the top four places, and the relegation battle.  Last weekend in the final round of fixtures before the madness begins, all of the top five teams won, while the bottom four were all beaten.

In the early kick off on Saturday, Crystal Palace could consider themselves somewhat unlucky to have lost 3-0 at the Etihad against Manchester City.  The reigning champions did not break the deadlock until after half-time, then David Silva struck twice in 12 minutes to open up a 2-0 lead for City.  However, James McArthur should have reduced the deficit to a single goal, but he was erroneously ruled offside and his headed goal was chalked off by the officials.  With any hopes of a comeback gone with that decision, YaYa Toure ensured his team victory with an absolutely stunning left foot finish late on.  The three points temporarily pulled City level on points with Chelsea at the top of the table, until the Blues played on Monday night against Stoke, whom they beat 2-0 through goals from John Terry and Cesc Fabregas.

Arsenal were denied a victory at Anfield due to a late, late header from Martin Skrtel, who made it 2-0 in the eighth minute of injury time.  It had been treatment to Skrtel for a gash on his head that caused the long delay in play, but the dropping of two points can be more directly attributed to poor defending from the Gunners, who completely failed to pick up Liverpool’s biggest aerial threat at the set play.  That draw left Arsenal in sixth place, four points behind West Ham, who beat Leicester 2-0 last weekend in East London.  Behind the Gunners only on goal difference sits Tottenham, who were pegged back by Burnley after Harry Kane had nodded home the opener, but a cracking strike from Erik Lamela – his first Premiership goal – gave Mauricio Pochettino’s men three much-needed points.

Elsewhere, Queens Park Rangers continued to improve their home form with a 3-2 victory over fellow strugglers West Brom, a result that lifted them out of the relegation zone despite the fact that they have lost all eight matches they have played away from Loftus Road this season.  In the Tyne-Wear derby, Sunderland beat Newcastle for the fourth consecutive time, striking late through Adam Johnson, who grew up as a fan of the Magpies.  Manchester United were held to a draw away at Aston Villa, with the home side forced to play the final half an hour with only 10 men, after Gabriel Agbonlahor was sent off, a ridiculous decision that was later overturned upon appeal.  Southampton finally got a win, defeating Everton 3-0 at St. Mary’s, while Swansea piled more misery on Hull, winning 1-0 at the KC Stadium to leave Steve Bruce’s men second from bottom in the table. Continue reading

Premier League Festive Season Begins

How de Grinch stole points from Liverpool
How de Grinch stole points from Liverpool

Anybody who advocates a winter break in the Premier League is basically trying to ruin the best time of year to be a fan of English football. Between now and January 6th, there are four rounds of league fixtures, plus the third round of the F.A. Cup.  It is the time of year where maybe you do not win the title – that comes between March and May, which Sir Alex Ferguson so eloquently referred to as “squeaky-bum time” – but you can definitely lose it.  Seasons can be made by hitting a good run of form: teams can propel themselves into a top four race; move away from relegation trouble; or, conversely with a string of poor results, ambitions can be brought down before the Christmas decorations.

Since it is the season, the roundup of last week’s games will be brought to you in the style of Dr. Seuss’s “How the Grinch Stole Christmas”

Every team across England liked playing Tottenham a lot.

But the Swans, who came from South Wales, did not.

Swansea hated playing Spurs, they lost every season,

It didn’t matter how well they played, it seemed to forgo reason.

It could be perhaps that they missed too many chances,

Or spent too much time pinging around passes.

But I think the most likely reason of all,

Is that they did not stop Eriksen shooting the ball.

But whatever the reason, the passes or misses,

They lost two to one, to fulfill Pochettino’s wishes.

 

While over at Old Trafford, Rodgers had a sour frown

As he watched United send his team three nothing down.

And Rodgers knew every Red in the stands up above,

Unlike last year, were showing him no love.

“We made poor mistakes” he said in a post-match chat

“We won’t get anywhere playing like that.”

Rodgers snarled as he looked at the Premier League table

And realized his side was unlikely to be able,

To finish fourth, the thought made him laugh.

For Liverpool were sitting out of the top half.

 

At Stoke, a weak earlier after a loss,

Arsenal fans expressed feelings, without any gloss.

And they did something Wenger liked least of all,

They booed him at the station, for allowing a fall,

Of his team out of reach of the Champions League places,

Which made Gunners supporters show him their angry faces.

But on Saturday he made them stand up and shout,

As Arsenal beat Newcastle, without any doubt.

They sang! And they sang!

And they SANG! SANG! SANG! SANG!

And the more Wenger thought of the Arsenal fans happy-sing

The more he thought “I must stop this whole thing.

For if they are cheering and standing to clap,

How will they eat their fennel and quinoa wrap?

Why we beat them four-one, they should be more quiet,

I don’t want them ending their rich Emirates diet.”

 

At the Bridge, Jose got an awful idea,

Mourinho go a wonderful awful idea.

“I know just what to do” the boss laughed in his throat

“I’ll claim we don’t cheat, that will rock their boat”

And he chuckled and smiled as Cahill took a dive

That should have left Chelsea with only ten on their side.

“All we need is two goals, from Eden and Costa,

Then Bruce will be mad, as his side will have lost…ah!”

 

While over at Leicester, a Blues legend of yore

Popped up to give Man City a crucial score.

Frank Lampard’s strike was the match’s only goal,

Leaving City in second, and the Foxes in a hole.

Then the Eagles and Potters, Hammers and Black Cats

All scored a goal each, for two draws in two matches.

 

Now don’t asked what happened, to old Aston Villa,

Their 1-0 defeat at West Brom was hardly a thriller,

While the Saints also lost by that very same score,

That they were playing lowly Burnley, made it extra sore.

And Queens Park Rangers are no good away,

For which Everton made them pay.

Eight matches away from Loftus Road of which they’ve won none,

A trend that was continued, as the Toffees triumphed three-one.

 

This weekend, the most exciting looking fixtures are both being played on Sunday, as there is the Tyne-Wear derby between Newcastle and Sunderland; followed by Arsenal’s trip to the north-west to face Liverpool, a match that ended 5-1 last season.  On Saturday, the action starts with Manchester City hosting Crystal Palace; then Manchester United travel to Aston Villa, a fixture they have not lost since 1995; Southampton try to return to winning ways as they play Everton at St. Mary’s; QPR will need to continue their impressive home form as they take on West Brom; and Swansea are at Hull.  Also that day, Tottenham and West Ham both have home games against struggling opponents, as they host Burnley and Leicester respectively; while the league leaders Chelsea do not play until Monday, when they are away at Stoke.

Predictions

Last week’s jinx special, 3-7 (so 7 fixtures went they way I had hoped, I’m doing that again!); Season, 67-93

Home teams listed first, all predictions opposite outcome of what I want, draws mean I do not care.

Manchester City vs Crystal Palace – Away win

Aston Villa vs Manchester United – Away win

Hull vs Swansea – Away win

QPR vs West Brom – Draw

Southampton vs Everton – Home win (I would like a draw)

Tottenham vs Burnley – Away win

West Ham vs Leicester – Home win

Newcastle vs Sunderland – Home win

Liverpool vs Arsenal – Away win

Stoke vs Chelsea – Away win

 

NFL 2014 Week 16 Picks

The Bills overcame the Packers to keep their playoff hopes alive
The Bills overcame the Packers to keep their playoff hopes alive

We are down to the last two weeks in the 2014 regular season and, in the NFC, five teams are playing for four available playoff places, with three teams still in contention for the South division; while in the AFC, three teams have already clinched their place in the postseason, with nine teams playing for the other three bets, but only six of those have a realistic shot.  Here is a few of the highlights of Week 15, before getting to this weekend’s picks.

  • Buffalo’s defense proved their worth as they held the Packers to just 13 points and intercepted Aaron Rodgers twice, as the Bills overcame Green Bay to keep their playoff hopes alive.
  • Arizona clinched their playoff spot with a 12-6 Thursday night victory over the Rams in St. Louis.  Despite being reduced to their fourth string quarterback with an injury to Drew Stanton, the Cardinals defense looks like a unit that could keep any team in check and gives them a chance to beat anyone, especially at home.
  • Dallas beat the Eagles 38-27 on Sunday night, but if they lose at home to the Colts this weekend, they could still enter Week 17 with their own playoff chances out of their own hands.
  • Jay Cutler and the Chicago Bears have been so bad this season that a defeat at home to the New Orleans Saints means that the highly paid quarterback has been benched for this weekend’s game against the Lions and is unlikely to start under center for the team ever again.
  • Detroit sit atop the NFC North at 10-4, but four of their wins have been by four points or fewer.  In all likelihood, to win their division the Lions will need to win in Green Bay in Week 17, something they have not done since 1992.
  • In the AFC, Indianapolis, Denver and New England have all now clinched their divisions, while the remaining three playoff spots could be taken by AFC North teams, as the Bengals, Ravens and Steelers could all still be playing January football.  Cleveland look done, despite not being mathematically eliminated, as Johnny Manziel put up a big fat zero on the scoreboard and threw three interceptions in his first start for the Browns last Sunday.
  • The Thursday night matchup this week is between the Jaguars and the Titans – combined record: 4-24.  Think we can miss that one this time.

Predictions

Last week, 7-9; Season, 117-107

Home teams in bold

Jaguars -3.5 over Tiatans

Washington +8.5 over Eagles

Chargers +2.5 over 49ers

Falcons +6.5 over Saints

Lions -6.5 over Bears

Browns +4.5 over Panthers

Packers -10.5 over Buccaneers

Steelers -3.5 over Chiefs

Dolphins -6.5 over Vikings

Patriots -10.5 over Jets

Ravens -4.5 over Texans

Rams -5.5 over Giants

Bills -5.5 over Raiders

Cowboys -2.5 over Colts

Cardinals +7.5 over Seahawks

Bengals +3.5 over Broncos

 

 

 

 

Premier League Roundup and Preview: Man United vs Liverpool

When things go badly for Tottenham, they completely implode and the entire club takes an entire step backwards.  When things go badly for Chelsea, they still manage to go well. At least that is how it feels.  Take the 2011/12 season, when the Blues ended up finishing sixth in the Premier League and below Spurs for the first time in more than a decade.  Although they had finished in the top four, Tottenham were then denied a place in the Champions League when Chelsea overcame Bayern Münich in the final of that year’s competition and took the berth for the following campaign themselves.  Even a down year  in the league finished off as being one of Chelsea’s most successful ever seasons.

This trend continued last weekend: for the first time this season, in any competition, Chelsea lost a game.  They were beaten 2-1 by Newcastle, who played with a fervor and vigor that absolutely meant they deserved the win.  The lead for Jose Mourinho’s side at the top of the table was cut to just three points thanks to Manchester City’s 1-0 home victory over Everton, yet by the end of the day it still looked as though the Blues were closer to the title than they had been before those adverse results.  That was because City’s success came at a very high price, as their talisman Sergio Aguero suffered a ligament injury in the match that will rule him out of action for at least a month – the worst possible timing given the number of fixtures that take place of the festive period.  Chelsea may not be invincible, but the Premier League title does look inevitable for them this season. Continue reading

NFL 2014 Week 15 Picks

Rodgers throws a touchdown pass to Jordy Nelson on Monday night as the Packers stayed perfect at home in 2014
Rodgers throws a touchdown pass to Jordy Nelson on Monday night as the Packers stayed perfect at home in 2014

The first of the Week 15 games kicks off in just over half an hour, so a quick look at the current playoff chances for each team by conference, before getting to the weekly picks.

AFC:

Out – Oakland Raiders, Tennessee Titans, New York Jets, Jacksonville Jaguars

Almost certainly in – New England Patriots, Indianapolis Colts, Denver Broncos (all three can clinch berth this weekend)

Dueling out for the North – Cincinnati Bengals, Pittsburgh Steelers, Baltimore Ravens (latter have to win all three of remaining games and hope neither Steelers nor Bengals do the same).

Wild Card Race – Most likely: Bengals/Steelers/Ravens (the two that do not win the division); San Diego Chargers. Outside chance: Miami Dolphins, Buffalo Bills, Kansas City Chiefs, Houston Texans, Cleveland Browns.

NFC:

Out – Washington; New York Giants; Chicago Bears; Minnesota Vikings; Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Almost certainly out – San Francisco 49ers, who must win in Seattle this Sunday to have any chance remaining of making the playoffs.

Almost certainly in – Green Bay Packers (can clinch place with win over Bills); Detroit Lions (two easy games prior to Packers matchup in Week 17).

Battle for the North – Dallas Cowboys, Philadelphia Eagles – winner this weekend in first place, but Cowboys face Colts next week.

Battle for the West – It would take a cataclysmic collapse for the Cardinals to miss out as they sit at 10-3 and 11-5 should be enough to clinch a wildcard at least.  The Seahawks are looking like the team that rode a strong defense to the Super Bowl last February however, and the two meet next weekend in Arizona.

Stumbling to the South – Atlanta Falcons, New Orleans Saints, Carolina Panthers (latter least likely as Cam Newton is out following a car accident this week).

Wild Card Race – Whoever is second in the NFC North between the Detroit Lions and Green Bay Packers should get one berth.  The other is between the losers of the division races in the East and West, with Dallas most at risk to miss out altogether.

Week 15 Picks

Last week, 7-9; Season, 110-98

Home teams in bold

Rams -3.5 over Cardinals

Steelers -2.5 over Falcons

Bills +5.5 over Packers

Browns +0.5 over Bengals

Colts -6.5 over Texans

Chiefs -10.5 over Raiders

Patriots -7.5 over Dolphins

Washington +6.5 over Giants

Buccaneers +5.5 over Panthers

Ravens -13.5 over Jaguars

Chargers +3.5 over Broncos

Titans +1.5 over Jets

Lions -7.5 over Vikings

49ers +9.5 over Seahawks

Cowboys +3.5 over Eagles

Bears +2.5 over Saints

 

 

 

Premier League Roundup and Weekend Preview

There have been twenty games played in the Premier League over the last week, so here is a rundown of how results have left the table.

Title Race

No matter how old Drogba gets, he will always score against Tottenham
No matter how old Drogba gets, he will always score against Tottenham

Chelsea remain the clear favorites for the title, but their 0-0 draw away at Sunderland allowed Manchester City to cut the gap to the leaders down to six points.  They did so by beating previously-second Southampton 3-0 at St. Mary’s, then on Wednesday they overcame a bogey fixture by beating the Black Cats at the Stadium of Light, a ground where they had lost their last four league matches 1-0.  That same evening, Chelsea maintained their 100% home record and dominance over Spurs with a 3-0 victory at Stamford Bridge.  With Diego Costa suspended for amassing five yellow cards – though he should have received a red one against Sunderland – Didier Drogba and Loic Remy both got on the scoresheet, adding to Eden Hazard’s opener.

This weekend, Manchester City host Everton, while Chelsea are back in the North-East, this time to face Newcastle, who have beaten the Blues in their last two meetings at St. James’s Park.

Struggle For The Top Four

For much of the early running, Southampton have been Chelsea’s closest challengers at the top of the table, but a tough run of fixtures has seen them drop to ten points behind the leaders, while those behind them in the table are closing in on the Saints.  They followed up their home defeat against Manchester City with a 1-0 defeat at the Emirates, with Arsenal scoring a very late winner.  Those three points showed the resilience of the Gunners this season, who also beat West Brom by the same scoreline last weekend.  It was the fourth time this campaign that Arsene Wenger’s men have picked up points with goals scored in the 89th minute or later – as they did so in their 2-1 win against Crystal Palace and 2-2 draws with Everton and Hull.  Without those additional six points, Arsenal would be in 12th place and any Champions League aspirations would probably be beyond them.  Many consider Wenger’s teams to have a weak mindset and be prone to collapses, but there is a clear battling quality to this side that has kept them in contention for a top four spot. Continue reading

NFL 2014 Week 14 Picks

Calvin Johnson now has the record for touchdown catches on Thanksgiving
Calvin Johnson now has the record for touchdown catches on Thanksgiving

There is just a quarter of the regular season remaining and so the race for the 2014 NFL playoffs is heating up.  Here are some of the highlights from the Week 13 action:

  • After losing nine consecutive Thanksgiving Day contests, the Lions won their home contest for a second year in a row, beating the Bears 34-17.
  • There was no such home success for either the Cowboys or 49ers on Turkey Day; Dallas lost 33-10 to the Eagles, losing pace in the NFC East and keeping them in with a chance of finishing 8-8 for the fourth straight year; while San Francisco were beaten 19-3 by Seattle, who had won by the same scoreline the week before against Arizona.
  • Here’s the game I really want to talk about of course, the Packers beat the Patriots 26-21, in a contest many were projecting as a preview to the Super Bowl.  Aaron Rodgers played superbly, as did the Green Bay defense, causing Tom Brady to go on two separate sideline rants. Or, according to Bill Simmons on his weekly podcast with Cousin Sal, the Patriots stayed vanilla to avoid showing the Packers anything ahead of a rematch in February.  That’s why Brady wasn’t too upset I guess…
  • Two points significantly swung the AFC North: Cincinnati hung on to beat the Buccaneers 14-13, surviving thanks to Tampa Bay having 12 men on the field on a play that would have set up a potential game-winning field goal; then the Chargers came from behind to beat the Ravens 34-33 in Baltimore.  With the Steelers losing at home to the Saints and Browns being beaten in Buffalo, the Bengals are now in pole position to win the most competitive division in the NFL this year.
  • The NFC is starting to shape up, with only nine teams still in realistic contention for a playoff place. One out of the Falcons and Saints will make the playoffs from the South,  then there are seven teams battling for five spots in the other three divisions: Green Bay, Detroit, Seattle, Arizona, San Francisco, Dallas and Philadelphia.  Because so many of the contenders face each other, both the Packers and Lions can put themselves in a very strong position prior to their Week 17 meeting.  At 7-5, the 49ers are favorites to be one of the two teams to miss out, but since they play Seattle and Arizona in the final four weeks, they still have their destiny somewhat in their own hands.
  • By comparison, the AFC is congested and the 6-6 Texans are just a game back of six teams tied on 7-5 for the second wild card spot.  The only four AFC teams who are out of playoff contention have won either 1 or 2 games each.  With 12 teams going for the postseason, there are of course many match ups over the next four weeks between two teams trying to make the playoffs.  Over recent weeks, the Patriots have been drafted in as one of the two potential top seeds in the AFC, but if they were to lose in San Diego this weekend (where the Chargers are 5-1 in 2014), and the Dolphins beat the Ravens at home, then next week’s contest between New England and Miami would be for the lead in the AFC East.  I still think the Patriots will win that matchup and the division, but there is still plenty of opportunity for the seedings to shift significantly.

Week 14 Picks

Last week, 8-8; Season, 103-89

Home teams in bold

Bears +3.5 over Cowboys

Steelers +3.5 over Bengals

Colts -3.5 over Browns

Lions -9.5 over Buccaneers

Titans +0.5 over Giants

Rams -2.5 over Washington

Dolphins -2.5 over Ravens

Jets +5.5 over Vikings

Panthers +9.5 over Saints

Texans -4.5 over Jaguars

Broncos -9.5 over Bills

Cardinals -0.5 over Chiefs

49ers -7.5 over Raiders

Seahawks -1.5 over Eagles

Chargers +3.5 over Patriots

Packers -11.5 over Falcons