2013 Regular Season: 139-84-1 (62.3%)
2012 Regular Season: 164-91-1* (64.3%)
Last Week: 7-9 (43.8%)
All-time Colts Predictions: 22-9 (71.0%)
Well, crap. I had a chance to outdo my picks from last year and I choked (all I can see is that iconic Reggie Miller photo with his hands around his throat). With my 7-9 performance last week it has put the pressure on... I have to do better than 25-7 during the last two weeks of the season or I will be taking a step back from last year.
It's still possible - I just have to step my game up.
Speaking of stepping games up - the Indianapolis Colts seemed to get a bit more on track against the Houston Texans last week. It was a needed win - and the defense really needed a dominant performance to get their confidence and swagger back. The Colts were actually able to get some pressure on the quarterback (in fairness, the Texans have given up the most quarterback hits all season) and create some turnovers - both had been M.I.A for weeks. The offense still wasn't able to finish drives and they continue to be far too dependent on the aging (but still accurate) leg of Adam Vinatieri.
It'll take more than field goals if the Colts hope to knock off the Kansas City Chiefs on the road this week. The Chiefs have proven themselves to be one of the elite teams in the AFC this season - if the Colts want any chance at a first round bye in the playoffs it'll take a win in Kansas City.
The bad news for the Colts is this: The Chiefs have been on fire since losing three straight (two to the Broncos, all three to divisional opponents) scoring 101 points in their last two games. Running back Jamaal Charles is the NFL's latest version of Marshall Faulk or Chris Johnson (the good year). He can run, he can catch and he has good speed - and even better moves. Quarterback Alex Smith has made a pretty decent career of being a 'game manager' which has served him pretty well - he doesn't make many mistakes and can beat you with his smarts. The Chiefs are trying to steal the division from the Broncos - and they have a legitimate shot at doing it - it starts with beating the Colts.
Other than that, the Chiefs won't be that tough for the Colts to beat this Sunday (sarcasm at it's finest).
The Colts will need their defense to continue to create turnovers and pressure the passer. They've been terrible at stopping the run this season - and make no mistake, the Chiefs will run their offense through Charles. If Indy can't stop the run (or at least slow it down a little) this one has the potential to get ugly. On offense, the Colts will need to establish some kind of running game of their own (which has been a challenge lately) and they will have to take shots downfield.
On paper it looks bad for the Colts - but remember, these always seem to be the games they pull out of nowhere (think Seahawks, 49ers, Broncos and Packers last year). Don't count them out.
Here are my best picks from last week:
Chiefs @ Raiders - I said to ignore the line and put money on the Chiefs - they were gonna win big. I think a 56-31 drubbing fit the bill nicely.
"The Chiefs made a statement last week against the Redskins (most teams do) and looked to be as good on offense as they are on defense. The Raiders are still wildly inconsistent and don't really stand a chance.
The line if small because it's a divisional game and the Chiefs are on the road. Don't be afraid - the Chiefs win BIG.
CHIEFS WIN 31-13"
Before we get to the games, here are some other fearless predictions, news and notes for Week 15:
- The holidays are a season of being thankful for what you have. At times this may have been a frustrating season for Colts fans - but look at the bright side. Tony Romo isn't our quarterback and, as weird as Jim Irsay may be, Jerry Jones isn't our owner. (You're feeling better already, right?)
- I know that people say that the AFC South is the worst division in football (and with good reason) but at least the Colts are playoff worthy. Look at the NFC East and realize that one of those teams will HOST a playoff game. WOW.
- I'm hoping that last week's strong performance was the signs of things to come from Trent Richardson. It's a silly thing to hope for but a strong finish to the season and a strong playoff performance will help me deal with the loss of that first round pick - a wide receiver sure would've been nice.
- When comparing Andrew Lucks stats with last year a few things are obvious. He needs only three touchdown passes in the last two games to eclipse last year's total and his completion percentage is quite a bit higher (although still not at the 60% benchmark). His interceptions are half what they were last year, too. The only thing that isn't as good is passing yards - he would need over 1,000 yards in the last two games to approach his total from last year.
On to the picks!
Indianapolis Colts (9-5) at Kansas City Chiefs (11-3)
Line - Chiefs by 6.5
The Colts seem to find a way to win these games - at least they did when Reggie Wayne was still on the active roster. In the last several weeks it's become obvious that the Colts can't run, can't stop the run, can't protect the passer, can't rush the passer and get off to slow starts. Not a good recipe for winning on the road.
The Chiefs, on the other hand, have responded well to adversity and seem to be playing some of their most dominant football of the season. They have a realistic shot at catching the Denver Broncos and should be pumped for this game. Jamaal Charles is one of the scariest players in the league and Kansas City's defense can generate a lot of pressure.
But - these are the Colts. They win the games they are supposed to have no chance in. I will probably regret it but I'm taking the Colts to win - they will find a way.
COLTS WIN 27-23
Miami Dolphins (8-6) at Buffalo Bills (5-9)
Line - Dolphins by 3
I can't say enough about what Joe Philbin has done with the Miami Dolphins. With all of the turmoil that has surrounded his team this season I didn't expect them to be in the hunt for a playoff spot. In fact, I thought Philbin was going to be unemployed. The Bills have shown flashes of being a decent team - but the Dolphins are better.
The weather is the only thing that makes this one interesting - but I'm taking Miami.
DOLPHINS WIN 24-17
Minnesota Vikings (4-9-1) at Cincinnati Bengals (9-5)
Line - Bengals by 7.5
Has there been a team that is harder to figure out than the Bengals (OK, besides the Colts)? Sometimes I really think that Cincy can make a playoff run - and other times I think they may lose the division to the surging Baltimore Ravens. The Vikings embarrassed the Philadelphia Eagles last week and may be able to ride that same momentum - and they'll have Adrian Peterson back.
I'm taking Cincinnati, but only because they are at home... and I will give them their three points.
BENGALS WIN 27-24
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (4-10) at St. Louis Rams (6-8)
Line - Rams by 5.5
The Rams beat the New Orleans Saints last week in an upset (although the Rams always play the Saints tough) and always seem to make me believe they're better than they are. Both of these teams are flawed and that makes this game tough to predict. Each are starting quarterbacks who started the season on the bench and I don't have much confidence in either.
I'm taking the home team - but all bets are off.
RAMS WIN 34-27
Cleveland Browns (4-10) at New York Jets (6-8)
Line - Jets by 2.5
I really don't like the Jets. They play a style of football that I don't really care for and I think Rex Ryan is to coaching as Jerry Jones is to owner... ing. With that said, the Browns have nothing going for them and it's clear that they've started to plan for next year.
JETS WIN 23-20
Dallas Cowboys (7-7) at Washington Redskins (3-11)
Line - Cowboys by 2.5
Despite everything, the Dallas Cowboys still control their own destiny. If they can win out their final two games they will win the division. They get the Redskins this week - a team that has been a train wreck all season long. Kirk Cousins played well (better than RGIII) but it wasn't enough last week - and it won't be enough this week either.
Cowboys find a way.
COWBOYS WIN 27-24
New Orleans Saints (10-4) at Carolina Panthers (10-4)
Line - Panthers by 3
The New Orleans Saints aren't the same team on the road as they are at home. The Carolina Panthers got embarrassed in the Super Dome they last time these two teams matched up - and they won't let it happen again. I like the Panthers to control the game and frustrate Drew Brees throughout.
PANTHERS WIN 27-20
Tennessee Titans (5-9) at Jacksonville Jaguars (4-10)
Line - Titans by 5
Isn't it hard to believe that these two teams are only one game apart? It seems only a few weeks ago that the Titans were a (somewhat) legitimate threat to challenge the Colts for the AFC South title. The Jacksonville Jaguars have played much better of late and I think they have enough to beat the Titans.
I'm taking the Jaguars at home.
JAGUARS WIN 23-17
Denver Broncos (11-3) at Houston Texans (2-12)
Line - Broncos by 10.5
This one won't be close. The Houston Texans gave up on this season a long time ago and the Broncos are well rested (coming off a Thursday game) and Peyton Manning has had ten days to stew on the loss to the Chargers. This one won't be close.
It's the lock of the week.
BRONCOS WIN 41-24
New York Giants (5-9) at Detroit Lions (7-7)
Line - Lions by 9
The Detroit Lions will probably look back at their 2013 season and wonder what could have been. The division was pretty much handed to them when Aaron Rodgers and Jay Cutler went down with injuries and they couldn't take advantage. If they lose this week they will be finished.
I think they can pull it together at home.
LIONS WIN 27-20
Arizona Cardinals (9-5) at Seattle Seahawks (12-2)
Line - Seahawks by 10.5
Seattle is one of the best teams in the league - and they are even more dangerous at home. The Cardinals are making a playoff push and are much improved under Bruce Arians. I think the Cardinals give the Seahawks all they can handle this week - maybe enough to win... just a hunch.
I'm taking Seattle - but it won't be by ten points.
SEAHAWKS WIN 31-27
Pittsburgh Steelers (6-8) at Green Bay Packers (7-6-1)
Line - Packers by 2
Aaron Rodgers still isn't cleared to play and that hurts Green Bay. The Packers have been able to stay alive in the playoff hunt while they wait for Rodgers but this one won't be easy. The Steelers have had a rough season to this point and won't lay down in Green Bay.
I'm taking the Packers - but I won't be surprised either way.
PACKERS WIN 24-17
Oakland Raiders (4-10) at San Diego Chargers (7-7)
Line - Chargers by 10
I think the Chargers are one of the most underrated teams in the NFL - and I think the Raiders are one of the worst. I think the Chargers win this game - but it won't be by ten points. Divisional games are always hard to predict.. .and the Raiders defense gave Phillip Rivers fits last time these two met up.
Take the Chargers - but it'll be closer than you think.
CHARGERS WIN 34-27
New England Patriots (10-4) at Baltimore Ravens (8-6)
Line - Ravens by 2.5
The Ravens have been playing some pretty good football lately and are trying to chase down the Bengals in the AFC North. The Patriots need one more win to wrap up the AFC East but they aren't the same team without Rob Gronkowski.
I think the Ravens win this one at home - but I don't feel great about it.
RAVENS WIN 27-24
Chicago Bears (8-6) at Philadelphia Eagles (8-6)
Line - Eagles by 3
The Bears are the second highest scoring team in the league (behind the Broncos) and now that Jay Cutler is back they have the potential to be VERY dangerous. They have one of the best running backs in the league, the best wider receiver combinations and Cutler was able to knock off some rust last week. The Eagles are good - but not good enough to beat the Bears.
BEARS WIN 34-27
Atlanta Falcons (4-10) at San Francisco 49ers (10-4)
Line - 49ers by 13
The Falcons have been one of the biggest disappointments in the league this season. San Francisco is quietly having a decent season and they could be the sleeper team of the NFC. I think the Falcons turn the ball over too many times to remain competitive and the 49ers pull away in the second half.
49ERS WIN 27-17
Agree? Disagree? As always, comments are welcome! I will track my picks during the season and brag when I'm right (and pretend I was right when I'm wrong). Pick against me if you dare - remember, I'm a Predictificationist.
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