Despite some success in place of Carson Palmer, Cardinals QB Drew Stanton has lost two straight road games, putting their division title hopes in jeopardy.
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A month ago it seemed that if the then-9-1 Arizona Cardinals simply played .500 football the rest of the way they’d win the NFC West division title and secure home field advantage. Not at 9-3 and with the Eagles and Packers all caught up that narrative has all but vanished. With two straight losses to the Atlanta Falcons and Seattle Seahawks, the Cardinals are now not only in danger of losing the division title to the quickly-ascending Seahawks, but missing out on the playoffs entirely.
The Cardinals final four games of the season are against the Chiefs, Rams, Seahawks and 49ers – none of whom are an easy opponent, and none of whom will forgive the Cardinals recent offensive woes since QB Carson Palmer suffered a season-ending injury and was replaced by Drew Stanton. The offense which had scored 20 points or more for eight straight weeks has now failed to break the number in either of the last two games. All of the Cardinals’ opponents have defense which are in absolute shutdown mode and efficient offenses that scarcely turn over the football. The Cardinals’ “next man up” mantra will really need to prove its effectiveness as they enter this critical 4-game stretch.
Here are the picks for Week 14 of the NFL season:
Detroit Lions over Tampa Bay Buccaneers – One more win and the Lions have their first winning season since 2011 – that’s an opportunity the Lions will not allow even the thorn-in-the-side Buccaneers to take from them.
Indianapolis Colts over Cleveland Browns – Here’s a guarantee: If the Browns are trailing, but still in the game by halftime, Johnny Manziel finishes the game.
Pittsburgh Steelers over Cincinnati Bengals – The Steelers are at their best when their backs are against the wall, and when facing virtual playoff elimination with a loss, they’re going to put their best foot forward in this game.
Houston Texans over Jacksonville Jaguars – After seeing what Houston’s offense was able to do last week, just imagine what the Texans’ defense will be able to do against one of the lowest scoring offenses in the NFL.
Miami Dolphins over Baltimore Ravens – The Dolphins have three of their final four games at home. If they can’t win in front of their home crowd with a potential playoff berth on the line, who CAN they beat?
Minnesota Vikings over New York Jets – The two teams have struggled in many of the same ways at times, the difference is: the Vikings know who their QB is, the Jets do not.
New Orleans Saints over Carolina Panthers – The Saints have had a rough start to their season, but with a four-game stretch that includes games against the Bucs, Bears and Falcons, the Saints could very well march into a division title with a winning or .500 record.
New York Giants over Tennessee Titans – The wheels have completely fallen off for both of these two teams, so the pick has to go for the team with the better playmakers and better QB. And even on his worst day Eli Manning is better than Jake Locker.
St. Louis Rams over Washington – Could the Rams be scouting one of their QB targets for 2015 when the play against Washington? At the very least they’ll fight out with certainty how much punishment QB Colt McCoy can take.
Denver Broncos over Buffalo Bills – The schedule kinds were not kind enough to the Bills as they try desperately to get into the playoffs for the first time in 15 years, but with this sure-to-be blowout game against the Broncos, then a home-finale against the Packers, the Bills could be out of it before they even get a chance to play the Raiders or Patriots on the road.
Kansas City Chiefs over Arizona Cardinals – The Cardinals are hurting or less effective in just about every position right now. The Chiefs have their identity down pat and will simply subject Arizona to their patented “death by 1,000 papercuts” style of offense
San Francisco 49ers over Oakland Raiders – The scary thing about the Raiders 52-0 loss to the Rams last week is that Rams QB Shaun Hill isn’t even that good. Imagine what Colin Kaepernick, Frank Gore and Anquan Boldin can do, as well as that playmaking defense. Frightening.
Philadelphia Eagles over Seattle Seahawks – Forget about Mark Sanchez and the offense for a moment, this Eagles defense has been in absolute lockdown mode at home.
New England Patriots over San Diego Chargers – Unlike most teams that go cross-country, the Patriots are not only immune but seemingly invigorated by trips to unfamiliar environments.
Green Bay Packers over Atlanta Falcons – These two teams have had their run-ins in the past in the playoffs and other key playoff-clinching matches. Ironically, the Falcons will fall to 5-8 after this loss and still need only to beat the Saints on the road to stay a front-runner for the division title.