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NFL 2014-15 Season Q3 Report and Week 14 Picks

Bold Prediction from Week 13: Falcons over the Cardinals. – RIGHT – Too easy, too easy. The Cardinals are starting a very slow crumble since Carson Palmer was injured. They are in a much different mental state then they were when the season began. When they were winning to begin the season without Palmer there was always knowledge that he was coming back. “Hey we are this good now, wait until we get our franchise QB back” was the feeling around the locker-room. Now, that knowledge and safety net of Palmer is gone. Missing something that you know is not coming back is much harder than missing something that you know will eventually return.

Guaranteed Lock from Week 13: Eagles over the Cowboys. –RIGHT – The “Sanchize” lives to play another day! Nick Foles’ who?! Big win for the Eagles on Turkey day.

Counting my Week 13 predictions I am 7-4 in my bold and 7-4 in my guaranteed locks for the season. You can send me any financial gains you have made to my PO Box at seasons end.

3rd Quarter Award for Best team: Green Bay Packers (9-3). The potential preview of the Superbowl was a great game and the reason why I put Green Bay as the best team in the NFL. Aaron Rodgers is hands down the best QB right now in football and this team can win in any condition. I might be a little concerned with a neutral site matchup against the Broncos or Patriots but Green Bay already proved it once winning a Superbowl a few years ago in Dallas. (Runner up award: New England Patriots)

3rd Quarter Award for Worst Team: New York Jets (2-10). I have made no secret about how awful this team is from the top of the organization to the bottom. This team will guaranteed go through a complete overhaul in the offseason and will be off the playoff radar for the next 3-4 years. I weighed putting the Tennessee Titans into this slot but the emergence of Zach Mettenberger as a seemingly viable NFL Quarterback places them just behind the Jets in race for the worst team. (Runner up award: Tennessee Titans)

Surprise 3rd Quarter Award for a team: Cleveland Browns (7-5). I have waited long and patiently enough but the Browns have finally earned my recognition for one hell of a season. They are 1 win away from guaranteeing a non-losing season for the first time in years. I know they are in the midst of a mid-season QB controversy but they are very much alive and fighting for the AFC North crown. Ultimately if they do make the playoffs I have little faith in them making anything happen but it would still be a giant step in the right direction for this franchise. Even though the Bengals currently have the lead in the division, anyone of the teams involved could win. (Runner up award: All the teams in the NFC South who are about to win the Division with a sub .500 record)

3rd Quarter NFL MVP: Aaron Rodgers, QB, Green Bay Packers AND Tom Brady, QB, New England Patriots– At this point in the season I am looking at the first tie for MVP since Steve McNair and Peyton Manning tied back in 2003/2004 season. Top to bottom, Brady and Rodgers are near identical…..to include them both wearing #12 (I’m sure by now you have heard Bill Belichick’s GOLDEN comment for that one). The one category that Rodgers has on Brady is the interceptions but even then we are arguing 3 vs 6. Kudos to these guys for knocking DeMarco Murray off my MVP perch (who held the top spot for most of the year). Barring a statistical downfall from one of these two guys, I can easily see the award going to them both.

3rd Quarter Defensive MVP: JJ Watt, DE, Houston Texans – 5th in the League in Sacks (11.5), 2 defensive TD’s this season, 3 forced fumble, 5 fumble recoveries and 8 passes defensed. – Watt is guaranteed the Defensive MVP award even if he is unable to finish the season or the Texans miss the playoffs (hell Watt won it last year on the same 2 win team). I do like Justin Houston from the Chiefs (current league sack leader) but Watt literally makes every play happen for him. Houston is more of a system pass rusher (for a mental visual, compare his talents to Clay Matthews where I would compare Terrell Suggs to JJ Watt) where it doesn’t matter if you put Watt at the DT, Left or Right End or anywhere else, he is so freakishly talented that he can dominate.

What to expect for the Final Quarter of the season:

  • I mentioned above that one of the biggest storylines I have my eye on is the Cleveland Browns and their Quarterback situation. Early today it was confirmed that Brian Hoyer will get one more chance against Indianapolis on Sunday. I fully expect him to be on a short leash especially since Manziel did come in and was effective, but not effective enough to fully take the job away. Cleveland has to strike now that the iron is hot and literally anyone can win the AFC North. I personally would have went with Manziel as the Browns will go down early verse the Colts and Hoyer just doesn’t have the explosive play capability to surge the Browns back. If Cleveland loses on Sunday you can be assured that Manziel is in the following week.
  • I mentioned in my midseason report that I thought the Cowboys and Seahawks would choke the most coming down the stretch and I will stand by my statement. I know Seattle has turned it on as of late in back to back Division beat downs but I just expect them to falter towards the very end. They have a very tough road to finish the season against the Eagles, 49ers, Cardinals and Rams to round out this year’s campaign. For the Cowboys, the writing is becoming clearer on the wall. They are reforming back to the Cowboys of old and are not completing games from start to finish. They benefit from an easier schedule with 2 of their last 4 against inferior teams (Bears and Redskins) and have tougher games against the Colts and Eagles.

Bold Prediction for Week 14: Buccaneers over the Lions. Similar to my Cowboys and Browns theories, the Lions will always be the Lions until proven different. Just when you expect them to waltz to 9-4, Tampa Bay will have something to say in the upset win.

Guaranteed Lock for Week 14: Bengals over the Steelers. Time to put the 2014 Pittsburgh Steelers to bed. They looked dominant weeks ago and the sexy pick for an underdog Superbowl win but since the gears have fallen off. Now, there are strong rumors that Ben is injured (stop me if you haven’t heard this before) walking into a must win game for them. I like Cincinnati to derail the Steelers and send them to their 3rd straight off season without a playoff birth.

 

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Tony Bitkowski

Contact Tony on Twitter @TonyBitkowski.

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