Week 14 is big for a lot of people. For most, it starts their fantasy football playoffs! I hope all RahlReviews viewers have had success this year and stay tuned, because next year I hope to be able to add that to our coverage. It also lets a lot of fan bases know where they really stand in the league.
Most teams now know what their recent future holds. Some have to face the realization that they are only playing these remaining games because they have to. Others are switching into a different gear and hopefully making a press for January football.
This extra playoff spot will continue to make these next couple weeks super competitive. A lot of teams who maybe second or third in their division, now have added assentive to buckle up and come ready every Sunday. A lot of great games are on the dock each week and I hope we can find some big lines against quality opponents.
Kansas City Chiefs 11-1 (-7) @ Miami Dolphins 8-4
Now that the Steelers finally lost, we can crown the Chiefs as the best team in the league and be done with it. I mean because they have dominated each and every opponent they faced. Never mind the fact that they lost to a Raiders team who needed a Hail Mary at the end to beat the winless Jets. Never mind the fact that they also barely beat a bad Broncos team on prime time, needed a last second drive to beat the Raiders in their second matchup, two point victory against the Panthers, and almost let the Buccaneers come back. Now I’m disparaging the Chiefs by any means. This offense leads the league by a whole 30 yards a game, second in PPG, and second in point differential. But those blow outs came early. This is still a great team but I don’t think they are the “lay up” everyone thinks they are.
Miami on the other hand still can’t get no damn respect. They only ran through the NFC West and have somehow strung together wins despite altering their offense midway through. Last week should of been a lot worse on the scoreboard but they couldn’t cash in from the one or five. Miami though has shown to have a decent winning formula. Jump on you early and control time of possession in the second half. They are fifth in first half points and seventh in second half possession time. The early winning script helps that defense to play loose and cause the turnovers that really swing the momentum their way. This defense also is second In takeaways and points against. But it’s Miami, why should we take them serious?
Kansas City hasn’t blown a team out since the Jets in week seven. Yet they are always favored by 7-10 points a game. Not that they aren’t worthy but they are 1-4 ATS in their last five. Meanwhile Miami is 4-1. Kansas City also has the Saints next week. How many times in the past have we seen teams overlook the “easy” opponent. This line is big enough to catch me. Miami +7
Minnesota Vikings 6-6 @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers 7-5 (-6.5)
Minnesota might of had one of the toughest schedules this year. They sadly had to play the competitive divisions in the AFC/NFC South and throw in a game against Seattle because it wasn’t hard enough. Despite the hellacious schedule, this offense has still been able to chug along a top five pace. They absolutely cashed in with Justin Jefferson. Coming into the draft process, everyone thought he would just be a slot guy. But his routes are so clean. His hands are automatic and ultimately already looks like Stefon Diggs. Call me crazy all you want but he has more yards tans touchdowns on this year, but yet he has 29 less catches. This dude is a star that pairs well with Thielen who just finds every open spot in the zone. Cook is proving to everyone that last years success is no fluke. He fits perfectly with this offensive coordinator and it’s sad their defense isn’t where it was in the recent past. They are bottom ten in yards and points against, don’t force a lot of turnovers or sacks. They hit a hot streak but Mike Glennon looked good last week. It sucks the defense is lagging so much further behind the offense.
Tampa has been in this free fall as of late. They brought in AB and lit the headlines on fire but then have gone 1-3. Now we can’t blame that totally on AB but there is something to be said for chemistry. Godwin as well has finally been able to put some games together and stay healthy, despite getting finger surgery just a week ago. It’s really been the defense that’s brought them down. In their first eight games of the season, the only allowed on average 20.6 ppg. Their last four? 28.75. That one extra touchdown would of been the deciding factor in two losses. We have also seen these corners get torn up by solid competition. I don’t know many other duos better than what the Vikings are bringing.
Now the Vikings are on a three game skid ATS. But they have been favored in every matchup. Looking back they are actually 4-1 on the season as an underdog. This team competes hard week in and week out. The buccaneers are good and will probably win this game. But I don’t believe they are 6.5 points better. This is a Vikings team battling for a playoff spot. I think they come out strong and might even get an early lead. Thielen and Jefferson both go for 80+ yards. Vikings +6.5
Pittsburgh Steelers 11-1 @ Buffalo Bills 9-3 (-1.5)
Well Steelers fans, we had to see that coming. The loss of Dupree was not going to get filled immediately. This is arguably a top five pass rusher in this game and a third round rookie shouldn’t be expected to be Bud Dupree. We are gonna need to get pressure from other places and we got a glimpse of that on Monday. Mike Hilton came in and got two TFL. He has a great way of getting pressure on the QB from the corner back position. Avery Williamson didn’t look bad but there is a drop off. Also we will probably be without our best corner back Joe Haden, just in time for an elite wide receiver to come knocking. Now the offense needs to learn to do something other than just 4 yard slants and crosses. The reason for that interception at the end was because Sweat saw that same play all game. He made the adjustments and so did everyone else in Washington. We have had a big target on our backs all year with that undefeated record. But that was a wake up call. The emotional game against Baltimore still hung over them and now they need to gather themselves and get ready for a possible playoff primer.
Buffalo fans have to feel ecstatic I would think. Yeah you have three losses but one of those was last second Hail Mary. They have looked solid week in and week out, except for that Jets game, that was pretty bad. I love the Alex Smith story and he is deserving of the Comeback Player of the Year Award. But Josh Allen has taken a huge stride this year as a passer. A guy who is supposed to be a “deep ball guy” is only fourth in completion percentage on the season, fifth in yards and sixth in touchdowns. He is still utilizing his athleticism as a runner but it’s only when necessary. Having a guy like Diggs has done wonders for his growth. To have a guy who has the route running/sure hands combo just makes a guy feel comfortable. Beasley has taken the number two role and ran with it. Buffalo really needs to use that number one pick next year for a running back. Because this offense is already looking solid, imagine if it was well rounded?
When the line first opened at -2.5 to Pittsburgh, they were still undefeated. The public took that loss and flipped it all the way to Buffalo as a favorite. Sadly I think Buffalo can win by more. The Steelers are having a lot of crucial injuries hit right now. I think some regression is also due for this offense. The drops have been a terrible issue and I need to see it before I can believe it. Buffalo -1.5
Baltimore Ravens 7-5 (-2) @ Cleveland Browns 9-3
Alright, Baltimore went off on prime time against Dallas so let’s crown them as the next great thing again. But it was Dallas, so why do I hear a bunch of people back on this black and purple bus. I’ll admit, that ball to Hollywood in the corner was pretty and Lamar deserves credit, but he had a bunch of other throws that made you scratch your head. But what we all saw was the dream game script for Baltimore. Get up early, pressure the quarterback and just run the clock out. They are still first in rush yards per game. The defense may not have the stars at the typical positions, but they are still top ten. Marlon Humphrey should be an automatic Pro-Bowler. I spoke after the draft about how they stole the first round with Queen. He is still so raw but he has shown a natural ability at locating the ball. Ngakoue is still getting familiar but we have seen him perform at an elite level before. I don’t hate this Baltimore team but I feel like a lot of people think this is last years team, when it really isn’t. Defenses have been able to find a decent game plan for Lamar, the defense has shown cracks and ultimately its a new team. They will still run the ball down your throat but we have seen what happens when they don’t get an early lead.
Now everyone remembers what happened last week against the Titans, but let’s not forget how they balled out earlier in the year against a Dak led Cowboys team. They kind of share the same recipe as Baltimore. They just want to run the ball and let Baker take advantage of one on ones on the outside. Another thing that’s kind of weird about this team, they are actually better without their best playmaker. It’s almost like the offense was tight when OBJ was on the field. Now they can just run when they want, Baker can spread the ball around, and they just look like they are having more fun. Recently they have been forced to play in arguably the worst weather this year in back to back games. So their stats sadly look bad but we just saw what happened when the winds aren’t 20+ mph. The defense has some work to do but at times they can show up. They are really middle of the pack in every category which tells me they aren’t consistently average, yet they win.
Cleveland is coming in on a four game win streak. Those wins aren’t against bums either, Texans,Raiders, and Titans to name the good ones. Yet they are the dawg? I think that’s the public over reacting to what we saw in primetime. The Browns are a smooth team that has shown the ability to beat you through the air and the ground. I think the Browns can take advantage of the Ravens weaknesses and show the world they are here. Browns +2.5