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Kibbles and Picks 2020 - Week 15

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Man – I needed that.

Thanks to an 11-5 run last week, I have cut three games from Stella’s lead; she managed to go just 8-8 for the week. That’s a big chunk and I’m happy to have it, but it does mean that I’m still eight games behind her with just three weeks (counting this one) left in the season. Basically, I have to do what I just did thrice more – if I do that, I squeak out the win.

As you might guess, I’m not exactly brimming over with confidence.

We’re looking at six games this week, although a couple of them feel like reaches – frankly, I have to start throwing some darts if I’m going to have any chance of catching up. The accuracy of those darts remains to be seen, of course. Stella certainly isn’t worrying about it.

First up, in the Thursday night matchup, I’m going with the Chargers to win on the road against Las Vegas. I’ve really liked what I’ve seen from Austin Ekeler since his return from injury; I’m guessing the connection between him and QB Justin Herbert will remain strong. Keenan Allen is poised to catch a bunch of balls as well, facing a middling Vegas D. Stella isn’t super high on the Raiders, but she does think that there’s a good chance that Derek Carr will be able to make some things happen against the Chargers. She also expects that Josh Jacobs will have some success moving the ball on the ground. Her thought is that Las Vegas will control the pace on offense and force the young QB Herbert into a mistake or two on defense; to her mind, that’ll be enough.

Next, I’m picking the Cowboys to win at home against the 49ers. This isn’t because of any strong feelings with regard to Dallas – I have a lot of questions, frankly – but I need to take some swings and this one makes as much sense as any. I’m hoping that the Cowboys can get the ground game rolling enough to allow some breathing room for Dak Prescott in the pocket. Fingers crossed. Stella views San Francisco as the superior team (though she concedes that both are kinda bad), and while she has some questions about the offense, she thinks they’ll at the very least hang on to the ball better than they did last week. That alone should be enough to get them over the hump in a game that promises to land with a resounding thud.

From there, my homer heart beats as loudly as ever. I’m going with the Patriots on the road against the Dolphins. Now, in previous years, this would have been a trap game for the Pats – it always seemed as though they’d manage to lose meaningless late-season games against Miami. This is not previous years. I’m counting on the ground game to be reinvigorated and the defense to be charged up – but I need both to happen for this pick to land. I’m not feeling great. Stella is going with Miami because she, unlike me, is able to think pragmatically. This Dolphins squad still has a shot at the playoffs; they’ll be coming hard in this one. She’s worried about injuries and about young QB Tua Tagovailoa potentially getting rattled, but she ultimately thinks that this is the week that New England locks in its first sub-.500 record of the 21st century.

I like Chicago to go into Minnesota and beat the Vikings. While the Bears have had a bit of controversy at quarterback and have only just snapped a six-game losing streak, they’re still in the hunt. I’m counting on running back David Montgomery to get it going on the ground and for the Bears D to force a big turnover to eke out a low-scoring win. Stella likes the Vikings here – she thinks that Kirk Cousins will find ways to get the ball to stud rookie Justin Jefferson and wily vet Adam Thielen. And lest we forget, Dalvin Cook is here – he’s struggled against the Bears in the past, but Stella expects this week to be a different story.

After that, I have the Washington Football Team at home taking down the visiting Seahawks. A lot of this hinges on the health of Alex Smith – he’s not flashy, but he should take care of the ball against Seattle. If WFT can squeeze a big play or three out of Terry McLaurin, Logan Thomas and/or Antonio Gibson, their Chase Young-led defense should keep them close enough to win. Stella likes the Seahawks here, though she’s wary of the deceptively effective Washington D. Still, she expects that Russell Wilson will find ways to break down WFT with the help of D.K. Metcalf. She also thinks that Seattle’s defense has some life left in it; Smith and company better watch out.

Lastly, I have the Browns going into New York and taking down the host Giants. Cleveland definitely lost a heartbreaker last week, but Baker Mayfield and company put up a hell of an effort against the Ravens. This Giants offense is not that one – Daniel Jones is not Lamar Jackson. I expect the Browns to bounce back, particularly on the defensive side; keep an eye out for some big plays on that side of the ball for Cleveland. Stella is on record as liking the Browns, so this pick kind of makes me wonder if she knows something that I don’t. She’s actually being pretty cagy on this one, alluding to home field and the like, but not offering any specifics beyond the idea that this New York defense is strong enough to handle an emotionally drained Browns team coming off a short week. Actually – that’s probably enough.

And there we have it. Six games. If I get all of them, things get interesting. If I get none of them, that’s the ballgame. Odds are, I’ll get some of them and we’ll stay pretty much where we are.

I’m going to lose to my dog, aren’t I?

(winners in caps)

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ALLEN’S PICKS

Thursday, Dec. 17

LA CHARGERS at Las Vegas

Saturday, Dec. 19

BUFFALO at Denver

Carolina at GREEN BAY

Sunday, Dec. 20

TAMPA BAY at Atlanta

San Francisco at DALLAS

Detroit at TENNESSEE

Houston at INDIANAPOLIS

NEW ENGLAND at Miami

CHICAGO at Minnesota

Seattle at WASHINGTON

Jacksonville at BALTIMORE

NY Jets at LA RAMS

PHILADELPHIA at Arizona

KANSAS CITY at New Orleans

CLEVELAND at NY Giants

Monday, Dec. 21

PITTSBURGH at Cincinnati

Week 14 record: 11-5

Season record: 127-80-1

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STELLA’S PICKS

Thursday, Dec. 17

LA Chargers at LAS VEGAS

Saturday, Dec. 19

BUFFALO at Denver

Carolina at GREEN BAY

Sunday, Dec. 20

TAMPA BAY at Atlanta

SAN FRANCISCO at Dallas

Detroit at TENNESSEE

Houston at INDIANAPOLIS

New England at MIAMI

Chicago at MINNESOTA

SEATTLE at Washington

Jacksonville at BALTIMORE

NY Jets at LA RAMS

Philadelphia at ARIZONA

KANSAS CITY at New Orleans

Cleveland at NY GIANTS

Monday, Dec. 21

PITTSBURGH at Cincinnati

Week 14 record: 8-8

Season record: 135-72-1

Last modified on Thursday, 17 December 2020 11:22

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