Week 14 was predictable in so many ways, as is evidenced by my 3-1 NFL picks column. We didn’t learn a whole lot this time around because the results held true to our previous weeks of learnings. But nonetheless we gleaned a few things from this past weekend.
Lessons Learned Week 14
1. The Giants have the Cowboys’ number. That’s two wins over them this season. However, don’t go overboard and bet the G-Men each week. You’ll probably see an inflated line based on this result. Make no mistake about it – this was a grudge match with risk of a letdown immediately afterwards.
2. The Bengals proved that they will be a thorn in everyone’s side the rest of the way. We knew they’d clobber the Browns, but Cincy also showed that they still have a little swagger left.
3. The Titans are a good team that were lucky to escape with a win over the Broncos. A late fumble prevented them from dropping under .500. Can they win the AFC South this season, though? Of course! It’s the AFC South, folks.
4. I’ve not been high on the Raiders’ chances at a Super Bowl this year because I believe them to be a flawed team that relies too heavily on Derek Carr. I don’t think their defense is good enough in clutch situations. And last Thursday was evidence of that.
5. The Dolphins are done. No Ryan Tannehill? No chance. We’ve seen the Matt Moore show before and it was cancelled – more than once!
6. The Bucs are legit. A quarterback that’s growing as a player and leader, a defense that’s becoming more confident and running game that can win in December. Look out, Atlanta!
7. The Packers won a big game, sure, but that defense is still suspect. Russell Wilson is allowed to have an off game, particularly when they can sleepwalk to a divisional crown. Clay Matthews is playing with one arm, for goodness sakes. Plus, Aaron Rodgers is clearly hobbling around. Be wary, football betting fans.
8. LeVeon Bell might be the league MVP and he hasn’t even played a full season! That performance versus Buffalo was legendary. I think the Steelers win the AFC North and make a run at the title – and it will be because of Bell.
9. Quietly, Washington won a big game on the road and is still relevant in the playoff hunt – and Kirk Cousins had an off game!
10. Detroit avoided the trap game loss and gutted one out against a hungry Bears team. Good on them. But if reports about Stafford injury are accurate it could all be for naught. This is a thin team that needs everything to go their way to keep winning.
11. The Vikings are tough team to figure out. I just don’t know if that running game is good enough to keep defenses honest in the last few weeks here. If the Vikings want to stay in the hunt they’ll need to continue to get turnovers from their defense.
12. The Texans really surprised me with their road win over the Colts. Remember, they’re playing without J.J. Watt, too. I’m not saying that they’re a contender, but they’re clearly better than Indy, who is now cooked. I know, the Colts are only a game out of first, but come on, that loss at home was sad.
Matthew Ross is a sports commentator and a radio host on TSN 690 Radio in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. Follow him @MatthewWords.