Here’s The 2015 Week 14 NFL Thursday Night Pick
The AFC is currently favored to win Super Bowl 50 on the advanced line and it makes sense. Despite being undefeated, everyone still thinks Carolina is overrated. We’ll find out soon enough. The rest of the NFL is really nothing to get excited about except for the Arizona Cardinals. Tonight they’ll take on Minnesota in what could be a playoff preview. The fact that Minnesota is a playoff team in the NFC right now is what makes the NFC weak. Pittsburgh isn’t even in the top 6 in the AFC right now (partly due to Big Ben’s injuries), but no team in the league wants to face them in a playoff game. I’m ready to throw them in for the NFC East team because none of those four deserve to play a playoff game based on what we’ve seen this year. If Minnesota wants us to believe, they have to show up tonight. But will they?
Thursday Night Pick:
ARIZONA -9 over Minnesota
This game could get ugly for Minnesota very quickly. The key headline for the game is that the Vikings are missing four starters on defense. Three of them (Linval Joseph, Anthony Barr, and Harrison Smith) are near the top of the league in Pro Football Focus grades at their position and are specifically good at stopping the run. That means Arizona should control the game flow and get manageable third down situations. Naturally missing your two safeties doesn’t help your pass coverage either, especially when you have a 37-year old in Terrance Newman manning the slot against the likes of Larry Fitzgerald and John Brown. Arizona should move the ball with ease as Minnesota’s 17th ranked defense (according to Football Outsiders) gets exposed.
So can Minnesota keep up? I highly doubt it. Arizona’s ranked third against the pass and fifth against the run according to Football Outsiders. Those numbers may be a little inflated by their schedule, but the reality is only teams that can pass effectively score points against Arizona since Week 6. Pittsburgh dropped 25 because Landry Jones played well in relief and Arizona kept turning the ball over. Seattle scored 32, but 14 of those were because of turnovers. (One was returned for a touchdown and the other set up a really short field.) Cincinnati got things going in the second half against Arizona through the air as Andy Dalton put up 315 yards and two touchdowns.
Adrian Peterson complained during the week for more carries, but I don’t think the narrative street of feeding him the ball 30 times tonight is going to help against the fifth ranked run defense. Minnesota is going to have to throw to win and that’s a big problem. Minnesota’s ranked 25th in passing offense according to Football Outsiders and the numbers couldn’t be truer. Bridgewater is ranked 25th in the league in yards per attempt and has an 8:8 touchdown to interception ratio. He’s been sacked 34 times, tied for 4th most in the league. He’s ranked 28th in quarterback rating. As questionable as a stat as that is, being 28th as a starting quarterback obviously isn’t a good thing. Only two qualifying QBs throw for less passing yards per game than Teddy B. It’s going to be a long night for Minnesota in the desert.
J.Camm’s Pick: Arizona
Last Week: 9-7
Locks: 24-16 (Never would’ve locked up Indy last week had I known two offensive linemen would be declared out a few hours before the game.)