A Rookie of the Year Debate

Cam Newton.

Here are my Week 14 picks; home teams in CAPS.

STEELERS (-13.5) over Browns
I hate to give up nearly two touchdowns, but Colt McCoy has turned from a promising young quarterback to a step above Jimmy Clausen. Look for Rashard Mendenhall to have a field day against the Browns’ 31st ranked run defense.

Falcons (-2.5) over PANTHERS
Cam continues to impress, but Atlanta has an actual defense, unlike Tampa. And while I don’t like Atlanta as a playoff team, I love them tonight. They’ve got just too many offensive weapons to be thwarted by Charles Johnson, James Anderson, Charles Godfrey, and the eight practice squad players that make up the Panthers D.

T.J. Yates may not throw interceptions in Championship games, but I'd rather get that far than lose in the first round to the Jets.

Texans (+3.5) over BENGALS
If I’m the Texans, I make a call to Hattiesburg to see if Brett Favre will come out of retirement. T.J. Yates is good enough to stay afloat, but not good enough to win in the playoffs. Arian Foster and Ben Tate are a fantastic running duo, but when Huoston falls behind, TJ will be hard pressed to lead his team from behind even the Patriots’ D.

LIONS (-7.5) over Vikings
The Vikings’ pick of Christian Ponder 12th overall looks even worse right now because of just how deep this next quarterback draft class is. Andrew Luck. Robert Griffin III. Matt Barkley. Landry Jones. I’m not so hold on Jones, but three teams will find a franchise QB next May. And the Vikings will be picking in the top 5.

Saints (-3.5) over TITANS
This line makes absolutely no sense to me. Yes, Chris Johnson is averaging over 122 yards per game in the last three games, but Matt Hasselbeck isn’t in the same zip code as Drew Brees. To me, the Saints have the best chance in the NFC to beat the Packers. The Titans? I wouldn’t take them against the Raiders. I’m calling a big game for Lance Moore because this is your Lance in my Pants Lock o’ the Week.

RAVENS (-16.5) over Colts
I almost never want to give up more than two touchdowns, but this is the Colts we’re talking about. The difference between Baltimore and New England is that when they go ahead of the other team by a significant margin and start to pound the ball, the Ravens have Ray Rice instead of BenJarvus Green-Ellis and Danny Woodhead.

JETS (-8.5) over Chiefs
As bad as Mark Sanchez is, Tyler Palko is worse. He has one touchdown (a Hail Mary) and six interceptions. Six interceptions! The only way a quarterback so bad could keep his job is if the backup is a player who got cut for a QB who can’t throw competently. Whoops.

Eagles (+3.5) over DOLPHINS
I know I’m almost certainly going to miss this game. And I know the Eagles season keeps going from bad to worse while the Dolphins pick up momentum. But I can’t take Miami. I “believe” in Vince Young.

Patriots (-7.5) over REDSKINS
Rex Grossman, John Back, it doesn’t matter. The Patriots are going to roll this week.

JAGUARS (+1.5) over Buccaneers
Josh Freeman may not be playing, and even if he does, he’ll be banged up. Furthermore, I’ll take the Jaguars D and running game over the Bucs lack of both.

BRONCOS (-3.5) over Bears
I believe in the Tebow! Timmy Tebow, you will lead your flock to the promised land, praise the Lord! No Forte, no Cutler, this game is no problem. The Broncos are winning the AFC West. Wait, what?

Niners (-3.5) over CARDINALS
The Niners are favored by 13.5 at home against the Rams, win 26-0, then are only favored by 3.5 on the road versus the Cardinals? Kevin Kolb is a worse quarterback than Alex Smith. Come on Vegas.

CHARGERS (-6.5) over Bills
Maybe the Chargers aren’t dead yet. The shut down the pass (which neutralizes the Bills’ only strength) and can pound the ball with Ryan Mathews and Mike Tolbert. Guess what Buffalo can’t do. That’s it, stop the run.

Raiders (+11.5) over PACKERS
The chance that Carson Palmer beats Aaron Rodgers is between 2 and 1.7%, but I like the Raiders to keep it at a respectable margin. They’re going to feed Michael Bush the ball and bring the pressure to disrupt Mr. Rodgers’ game. The Giants showed this is how you can (come close to) beat them.

COWBOYS (-3.5) over Giants
The Giants just aren’t that good. They’ve got a pass rush and a great group of receivers, but the run game can’t stay healthy. The Cowboys are a solid all around–not great in any one category, but they don’t have any holes. Holes like a 29th ranked run defense, 23rd ranked pass defense, or 32nd-ranked run game. Cough, cough, Giants.

SEAHAWKS (-6.5) over Rams
Who scheduled the Seahawks and Rams for Monday Night Football, thinking it would even be an alright game? Whoever scheduled Alabama against LSU again, right?

Last Week: 10-6

Season: 95-97

Lance in my Pants Lock o’ the Week: 9-4

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