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Kibbles and Picks 2021 - Week 15

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Ah yes – I was overdue for a spinning my wheels week.

Despite a strong 11-4 record in Week 14, I was unable to make even the slightest dent in Stella’s lead; she too went 11-4, leaving her eight games ahead with just four weeks left. If I’m going to make a move, I’d better do it soon.

I’ve got a shot at making some movement happen this week – we’ve got a full slate of games and Stella and I differ on seven of them. In an odd quirk, only three of those games will actually take place on Sunday – we’re at odds on the Thursday game, both Saturday contests and Monday Night Football.

As to what direction said movement takes, well … we’ll just have to wait and see.

We begin our journey on Thursday night, where I have picked the Chargers to beat the visiting Chief in Los Angeles. I’ll admit to some trepidation with regard to this one – the Chiefs looked awfully good last week – but I’ve liked what I’ve seen from the Chargers. As long as Justin Herbert is throwing the ball, they’ve got a shot against anyone – they score a ton and shouldn’t have too much trouble with the KC defense. Stella likes the Chargers too, but she doesn’t see how they’re going to be able to outscore this Chiefs team. She’s expecting a vintage Patrick Mahomes game, one where the QB puts up massive numbers. They’ll spread the ball around and put up a serious score – serious enough to hold off the also-serious score of LA. There’s the potential for some real offensive fireworks in this one.

Next, I’ve got the Raiders going into Cleveland and beating the Browns. Honestly, this is less about the Raiders and more about the Browns – tough to see how they’re going to be able to hold it together will all the roster churn they’re dealing with due to COVID. Stella’s going with her gut here – she thinks that Cleveland’s defense will handle the Raiders and that they’ll stitch together an offense that will score just enough to win. One thing we agree on – this is going to be an ugly game to watch.

I’m going with the Patriots on the road against the Colts. It’s an easy pick for me, despite the obvious strength of the Colts. Mac Jones has looked mature beyond his years and the New England offense has performed admirably in recent weeks – or at least, admirably enough. It’ll come down to the playmakers in the secondary – expect a pick or two – and whether the front seven can slow down Jonathan Taylor. You can’t stop him, but if you can hassle him, it should be enough. Stella swears this isn’t a deliberate troll – she just likes what she’s seen from Indy in recent weeks. And she doubts New England’s ability to deal with Taylor; she anticipates a very strong performance from him. She’s a little nervous about the Colts defense, but all things considered, she’s comfortable with her choice.

From there, we land in Pittsburgh, where I have the Steelers holding off the visiting Titans. I’m not a huge fan of this Steelers team – there’s a lot of inconsistency – but I think they get up for this game. Expect a lot of handoffs and short passes – Najee Harris is going to be busy – with Ben Roethlisberger taking a handful of downfield shots. Tennessee is going to struggle moving the ball against these Steelers. Stella doesn’t love the Titans, but she thinks the Steelers are due for a letdown of sorts. She thinks that the Titans front seven will contain Harris and hound Roethlisberger, leading to a turnover or two. As to the Tennessee offense, well … she doesn’t expect a lot of points. Just a few more than the Steelers will score.

After that, it’s the “Who Cares?” bowl – Houston/Jacksonville. I’ve got the visiting Texans because I had to pick someone and the Jags just fired Urban Meyer. Stella’s got the home Jaguars because she had to pick someone and the Jags just fired Urban Meyer. Perhaps the least consequential game of the entire season.

Next, we’re off to the Mile High City, where I’ve got the Broncos winning at home against the Bengals. Denver has felt very nondescript to me all season, but they’re putting up decent results. It’s not a sexy team, but they’re finding ways to win after a brutal four-game losing streak earlier this season. Plus, it’s tough to play at the higher altitude. Stella concedes all that, but admonished me for not acknowledging that the Bengals just have better players. Joe Burrow has his ups and downs but is an undeniable talent. Joe Mixon has led the way on the ground and Ja’Marr Chase looks ready to close the season strong. She’s not calling for a blowout, but Stella thinks Cincy will win this one fairly easily.

Last, on Monday night, we have the Vikings taking on the Bears in Chicago. This feels like the biggest reach of the week for me, but I’m going with the Bears. Chicago does a lot on the ground and the Vikings have struggled against the run this year. I’m also ready for a few dynamic plays from rookie QB Justin Fields – he’s inconsistent, but he should be able to perform against this iffy defense. If the Bears can slow down Dalvin Cook and company – a big if – they’ll win this one. Stella is going with the Vikings. She’s watched Kirk Cousins keep a steady hand leading this team – it’s not a spectacular offense, but no scheme could fully hide the light of Cook or Justin Jefferson. She also thinks that Minnesota will be able to get to Fields – everyone else has, after all – and push the rookie into making some mistakes. She likes the Vikes.

And there you have it. If I get all of these, I will be just a single game behind Stella. (Note: I will not get all of these.) But any kind of positive movement would be nice; my hopes of winning the season are fading fast, but I’d prefer not to get embarrassed.

Stella remains adorably merciless and utterly unconcerned.

(winners in caps)

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ALLEN’S PICKS

Thursday, Dec. 16

Kansas City at LA CHARGERS

Saturday, Dec. 18

LAS VEGAS at Cleveland

NEW ENGLAND at Indianapolis

Sunday, Dec. 19

Carolina at BUFFALO

ARIZONA at Detroit

NY Jets at MIAMI

DALLAS at NY Giants

Washington at PHILADELPHIA

Tennessee at PITTSBURGH

HOUSTON at Jacksonville

Cincinnati at DENVER

Atlanta at SAN FRANCISCO

Seattle at LA RAMS

GREEN BAY at Baltimore

New Orleans at TAMPA BAY

Monday, Dec. 20

Minnesota at CHICAGO

Week 14 record: 11-3

Season record: 123-84-1

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STELLA’S PICKS

Thursday, Dec. 16

KANSAS CITY at LA Chargers

Saturday, Dec. 18

Las Vegas at CLEVELAND

New England at INDIANAPOLIS

Sunday, Dec. 19

Carolina at BUFFALO

ARIZONA at Detroit

NY Jets at MIAMI

DALLAS at NY Giants

Washington at PHILADELPHIA

TENNESSEE at Pittsburgh

Houston at JACKSONVILLE

CINCINNATI at Denver

Atlanta at SAN FRANCISCO

Seattle at LA RAMS

GREEN BAY at Baltimore

New Orleans at TAMPA BAY

Monday, Dec. 20

MINNESOTA at Chicago

Week 14 record: 11-3

Season record: 131-76-1

Last modified on Thursday, 16 December 2021 09:11

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