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Week 14 NFL Picks, Aiding And A'Betting: Falcons-Panthers, Patriots-Bears, Eagles-Cowboys

As the NFL teams fight for the playoffs, gamblers have a few remaining weeks to shape their season. It's Week 14 and the picks are in, as Chicago battles disrespect, Matt Cassel sees his appendix, and the Falcons finally face the Panthers.

The end of the season is near, and we know this because of two words: "playoff scenarios." This is the first weekend some NFL teams can clinch postseason spots, if they win and Team X loses and Team Y loses or ties and whatever, blah-blah, etc. Frankly, they're too boring and mostly far-fetched to get into here, but it reveals we have a few short weeks left to either pad winnings or make up for losses. Study well, pick smart, talk hard and, uh, protect this house. Or something.

The picks:

Indianapolis (-3) @ Tennessee. I had the supreme displeasure of having my four years at Georgia coincide with Peyton Manning's four years at Tennessee - so I've been watching this guy for awhile (yeah, we went 0-4). He's had some bad games, but I can't believe he'll let this downward spiral continue. This is one of those games where Manning takes complete control (his record in prime-time is ridiculous), and I can see Friday's "He's back!" headlines from here. PICK: Indianapolis

Atlanta (-7) @ Carolina. I'll be making my way up to Charlotte for my second Falcons road game of the year - but unlike early-season, sunny Pittsburgh, North Carolina will be less welcoming. The forecast predicts a high in the mid-40s, and rain throughout (which will be turning to snow as I leave town). It'll be interesting to see how Matt Ryan reacts to the elements, since it's no secret he prefers the indoors. Expect a heavy dose of Michael Turner, and probably a sloppy game - but this team ain't losing to Jimmy Clausen. PICK: Atlanta

Tampa Bay (-1 1/2) @ Washington. Three weeks ago, I wrote "the nuclear collapse is a'comin'" in reference to Washington. Four losses in the last five games (including embarrassing blowouts against the Eagles and Giants), the Albert Haynesworth fiasco, Donovan McNabb with a career-high 15 picks so far - well, folks, I think it's safe to say the collapse is here. And just to underline the point, they're home underdogs to Tampa "Can't Beat A Good Team" Bay. PICK: Tampa Bay

Cleveland @ Buffalo (-1). Don't you just want to pat these teams on the head? Both had their playoff hopes vanish quite awhile ago, but they keep producing mostly interesting games. It's like watching a dog chase its tail, but chase it with amazing, unbelievable energy. So noble and so sad. PICK: Cleveland

NY Giants (-2) @ Minnesota. I'm just plain tired of these teams. GO AWAY. PICK: Minnesota

Green Bay (-6 1/2) @ Detroit. If Drew Stanton has a couple more decent games, there could be some teams coming after him in the offseason. It wouldn't be a Matt Cassel-level circus (who signed for a stupid amount after playing for the injured Tom Brady), but wouldn't you rather have him on your team than Derek Anderson, Chad Henne, Jimmy Clausen or Alex Smith? PICK: Green Bay

Oakland @ Jacksonville (-4). I spent Thanksgiving with my uncle, a long-time Jaguars season ticket holder. I expected to have a shiny, happy conversation about both of our NFL teams, but the only smile was on my face. "Jacksonville benefits from an easy schedule, and never beats the good teams," he said. I pointed out their victory at Indianapolis, and - well, that was all I could think of. I've been pretty been high on the Jags, but upon further review, my uncle is right. Wins against Cleveland, Houston, Buffalo, Denver and Wade Phillips' Dallas, losses against San Diego, Philadelphia, Tennessee, Kansas City and the New York football Giants (and the Giants were the only team they stayed within three touchdowns of). So with the insight of an everyday fan, consider my enthusiasm downgraded. PICK: Oakland

Cincinnati @ Pittsburgh (-8 1/2). Oh, Cincinnati. Cincy, Cincy, Cincy. What am I going to do with you? I knew Drew Brees wasn't going for it on fourth down. You knew Drew Brees wasn't going for it on fourth down. And yet you went and did the most Cincinnati thing possible and jumped offside. I'm not even mad. I'm just disappointed. PICK: Pittsburgh

New England (-3) @ Chicago. I would assume this week's most annoying internet chatter is coming from Chicago Bears messageboards (I'm too attached to my sanity for find out). Both Bears fans and players have a long history of whining about "disrespect," and I have no doubt they're mortally offended at underdog status here. Ok, I was impressed with the Eagles win, but the rest of their schedule looks awfully shaky - beating Detroit by four and five, Buffalo by three, losing home games to Seattle and Washington - so I'm still not onboard. Hang with the Pats, and then we'll talk. PICK: New England

Seattle @ San Francisco (-5 1/2). I can't imagine the scalpers are going to be busy. PICK: Seattle

St. Louis @ New Orleans (-9). Is there a whiff of an upset here? There's definitely something in the air. PICK: St. Louis

Denver (-5 1/2) @ Arizona. Watching this game is like eating at a fast food restaurant attached to a gas station - it might resemble the real thing, but it's bound to make you sick. And I definitely advise gamblers to stay away, as this line has flown toward the Broncos over the last few days. It was Denver (-2 1/2) on Monday, which should sound the warning siren to look Arizona's way - but then you'd be betting on ARIZONA. You're better than that. PICK: Denver

Miami @ NY Jets (-5 1/2). Dol-phins like a melody in my head that I can't get out. Got me singin' like na-na-na-na everyday, like my iPod's stuck on replay. (Ironically, that damn song has been in MY head all day. So I shoehorned it in here in hopes of either cleansing my brain, or spreading the infection.) PICK: Miami

Kansas City @ San Diego (-7). It looks like Brodie Croyle will be under center for the Chiefs, taking his first snaps of the year. Starter Matt Cassel won't rule himself out after a Wednesday appendectomy, but come on - a Wednesday appendectomy. As in, Wednesday of THIS WEEK. Dude needs to sit the hell down. PICK: San Diego

Philadelphia (-3 1/2) @ Dallas. The Cowboys seem to be embracing their role as spoiler. With three wins in the last four games, Dallas has seriously dented the postseason hopes of both Manning boys, and could punch the Eagles in the neck with two games remaining between the teams. Rooting for the Cowboys will always feel unsanitary, but knowing they'll be sitting home during Round 1 makes it easier. PICK: Dallas

Baltimore (-3) @ Houston. Oh wow, I just realized two of Baltimore's biggest stars are named Ray (Lewis and Rice). Ray and Ray on the Ravens? And tackle Ramon Harewood is on injured reserve? Oh man, they have to sign Patrick Crayton, Braylon Edwards, and Ray Edwards in the offseason. And change their name to the Rayvens! YES! (Sorry, I get punchy by the end of these things.) PICK: Baltimore

Last week: 9-7-0
Overall: 106-79-7

Photographs by coka_koehler used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.