Vinnie is much more excited than usual at the number of games whose odds can work in your favor. Plus, another “sure thing” kind of pick.
Minnesota Vikings @ Carolina Panthers (+7): Here it is, folks, the rare four-star pick; Vinnie has only gone to such lengths on two other occasions this year, but the lopsided matchup in this case cannot be overstated. On the obvious side of things, there’s Brett Favre and Adrian Peterson versus an average defense that isn’t particularly spirited playing at home … along with DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart versus the always formidable Vikings run defense. Also important, Antoine Winfield came back onto the scene in a big way last week and can help out a lot against the likes of Steve Smith. But the vital piece of information you need to know, is that Carolina was already playing without Jordan Gross at left tackle but now is also without Jeff Otah at right tackle. How on earth will the Panthers O-line (and tight ends) be able to protect Matt Moore, Vinnie wonders.
Gimme the Vikings minus the points.
Chicago Bears @ Baltimore Ravens (-10): Vinnie imagines the theme of this game becoming a heavy dose of Ray Rice in the first half, coupled with the Ravens defense harassing Jay Cutler and forcing several turnovers, followed by a boring second half of ball control offense by Baltimore as they salt the game away. Although Joe Flacco likely won’t have to pass the ball very often, this one presents a good enough matchup that he’s capable of some good numbers as well. Baltimore will keep its playoff hopes alive with a blowout at home this Sunday.
Gimme the Ravens minus the points.
Green Bay Packers @ Pittsburgh Steelers (-1): This one garners three stars simply because Vinnie is aghast that Pittsburgh is favored. It’ll take place at Heinz Field, which is admittedly worth some sort of advantage, but just about every other advantage Vinnie conceives of is swinging Green Bay’s way. The Steelers pass defense has been abused in recent times, and the front seven hasn’t been as stalwart versus opposing running backs as it had been early in the season. Meanwhile, Ryan Grant has been on a roll and Aaron Rodgers, with help from Donald Driver and Greg Jennings, is capable of picking apart even the best of defenses. And don’t expect much from Rashard Mendenhall, Vinnie says, from the looks of how well Green Bay has been defending against the run.
Gimme the Packers plus the points.
Oakland Raiders @ Denver Broncos (-13.5): Divisional matchup so anything’s possible, right? Blah, blah. The pressuring Broncos defense will be throwing everything but the kitchen sink at Charlie Frye, the latest unexciting quarterback to start for Oakland. And don’t expect much production from the Raiders running game, as Denver will have no problem putting plenty of points on the board. Knowshon Moreno could very well have the game of his life against Oakland this Sunday, and Brandon Marshall will do his best Week 14 Brandon Marshall impression. The Broncos will win big, realizing how close they are to sealing up a playoff berth.
Gimme the Broncos minus the points.
Miami Dolphins @ Tennessee Titans (-4): With a big question mark around who plays quarterback for Tennesse this Sunday, between Vince Young and Kerry Collins, Vinnie isn’t buying that the home team deserves to be favored by four points. The Titans hold a huge advantage every week, in the form of Chris Johnson, but Miami has been playing some darn good football lately. While Chad Henne tends to be a bit streaky, he has improved markedly the last couple months and faces a Titans defense which struggles mightily against the pass. Should be a close game, whether the Dolphins win outright or Tennessee keeps a narrow lead right down the final gun.
Gimme the Dolphins plus the points.