The Huddle: NFL Week 14

This week, we check out what's coming as the NFL playoff picture gets a bit clearer.
This week, we check out what’s coming as the NFL playoff picture gets a bit clearer.

It’s Huddle Time once again, Place to Be Nation! With everyone fresh off turkey dinners and more stuffing than a cheap couch, we move on to Week 14 of our NFL forum. This week, our panel checks in on the emerging playoff picture, shows some love to Baltimore, and explores the best of the rest.

Kickoff Questions:

JT Rozzero:

1. How fucked is Seattle’s D without Earl Thomas?

2. Can Oakland win in New England in the playoffs?

3. Pretender or Contender: Giants? Ravens?

J Arsenio D’Amato:

Seattle has enough playmakers on defense like Sherman, Chancellor, and Bennett to get by anyone. Oakland definitely has an explosive offense that can get it done in New England.

The Giants are definitely pretenders with a porous offensive line, no running attack and an inexperienced first-year coach. One and done. Baltimore is ramping up its game and is a definite contender. John Harbaugh is an elite coach that gets his teams to peak during the postseason.

JT Rozzero:

Baltimore has the D and experience. I would argue that the Ravens could be the one team the Pats really don’t want to see. The Ravens have proven they can win in Foxboro and honestly should have won there two years ago as well. With Brady hobbled and no Gronk, a team like the Ravens could be trouble for them.

JT Rozzero:

How classic were the choke jobs by Miami and Buffalo (Sunday)?

J Arsenio D’Amato:

The AFC East has been Three Blind Mice chasing New England for the last 15 years (with) a couple of exceptions.

(Not) Pictured: The Dolphins, Bills, and Jets.
(Not) Pictured: The Dolphins, Bills, and Jets.

Roger Morrissette:

I’m no fan of Pittsburgh, but if the Steelers stay healthy, I think the Ravens are going to have trouble making the playoffs. The Steelers’ schedule is pretty light the rest of the way and the Ravens are heading to NE on Sunday to test JT’s theory. In all likelihood, the division comes down to Week 16 in Pittsburgh. Tough not to like the Steelers in that game.

JT Rozzero:

You don’t think the Ravens can get the last Wild Card?

Roger Morrissette:

They are a game back of Denver now and have games at NE and Pitt in their last four.

JT Rozzero:

I think it depends on Siemian too. Lynch looks terrible. I know Denver has the D, but its offense is in trouble if he has to start more down the stretch, especially if Booker can’t do much. Maybe Forsett jump starts the Broncos.

You can also argue Baltimore’s D isn’t that far off from Denver’s at this point.

Roger Morrissette:

The tea leaves say Semian plays this week. Denver closes tough too after playing In Tennessee this week: Home for NE, @ KC, and home for OAK. If they go 2-2, the Ravens need to win one of the two brutal road games to tie them. Honestly not sure how the tiebreakers would shake out.

Our boys dig the 7-5 Ravens, in large part due to a smothering defense.
Our boys dig the 7-5 Ravens, in large part due to a smothering defense.

Brian Bayless:

Giants are a pretender. That offense is hot garbage.

The Ravens are a contender. The AFC is not strong and their strong D can cause a lot of problems, especially for a team with a weak O-Line like the Patriots.

Roger Morrissette:

I feel the Ravens pulling a no-show against the Jets could really come back to haunt them. They are 2-3 on the road with the wins being against Jax and Cleveland by a combined seven points.

It’s really tough to see them winning in NE or Pitt. It’s always possible (Le’Veon) Bell or Ben (Roethlisberger) goes down between now and then, which would open the door for them, though.

Roger Morrissette:

I agree on the Giants – by any metric they were one of the worst 8-3 teams in NFL history coming into this week’s game. Their D is good, but Eli is having a bad year. It’s always possible they turn it on, but for now they look like pretenders.

I think the Seahawks’ D takes a step back without Thomas, but their offense is peaking at the right time again. Seattle at Dallas for the NFC title is the game everyone wants to see.

Brian Bayless:

To be fair, the Pats have played a really soft schedule and the Steelers with Landry Jones at QB. And I’m not putting much stock in their defense against the Rams, as that team is a joke coached by a clown who couldn’t even find the challenge flag in his coat pocket.

I would not be shocked to see the Ravens win in New England.

Roger Morrissette:

It is certainly possible (since) they always play the Pats tough. Shutting down the Rams proves nothing.

JT Rozzero:

Pats fans are going to be out in force if the Brissett/Bills loss costs them home field.

Roger Morrissette:

It will come down to the Ravens’ D — outside of this week’s explosion against huge pretender Miami — the Ravens’ offense has been pretty pedestrian. Below average at RB and WR, although Perriman has given them a nice lift.

What do you guys think happens in the Thursday game? It seems perfectly set up for a KC win: At Arrowhead, and Thursday’s (games) are generally bad for the offenses. I like the Chiefs.

Khalil Mack and the Raiders will look for win No. 11 Thursday at Kansas City.
Khalil Mack and the Raiders will look for win No. 11 Thursday at Kansas City.

Brian Bayless:

(Jeremy) Maclin might be playing in that game too, but knows with the Thursday games anymore. They always seem to be a crapshoot.

Roger Morrissette:

The Chiefs whacked them in Oakland too.

J Arsenio D’Amato:

KC has pulled out two improbable victories back to back. The Chiefs’ anemic offense is going to preclude them from keeping up with the Raiders. Eric Berry is their most dangerous weapon and he plays defense.

Roger Morrissette:

The Raiders give it up on the ground big time and Smith gets the ball out so quickly, it negates Mack. I just think they are a bad matchup for Oakland.

Eric Berry is on another level – such an inspiring story.

J Arsenio D’Amato:

The new reverse two-point rule has resulted in stunning victories for both Denver and KC.

Atlanta was riding high after taking the lead and were hit with Berry’s haymaker and never touched the ball again.

Matt Ryan rarely throws interceptions, but each one seems to result in a soul-crushing pick-six — or pick two in this case.

Roger Morrissette:

What a terrible way to lose! At least New Orleans was just kicking an extra point. That play call by Atlanta was indefensible. Literally the one thing they couldn’t afford. You have to either run it or throw something in the back of the end zone.

Matt Ryan (C) and the Falcons took a brutal one-point loss this past Sunday.
Matt Ryan (C) and the Falcons took a brutal one-point loss this past Sunday.

J Arsenio D’Amato:

Teams have to be more cognizant of the run back on those plays. Everyone is in attack mode, planning on going up by three, without being cautious and securing the lead.

Atlanta is still in good shape to take the division, though, as the Scheduling Gods have gifted them the Niners, Rams, Saints and Panthers for their last four games.

Joel Barnhart:

Other questions to consider: Looking at the top teams in the league: NE, Oakland, Dallas, Detroit, Seattle, KC, NYG, what has gotten those teams to this point? What about weak spots for those teams?

Also, looking at the bottom of the league, what will CLE, JAX, and SF need most to help turn things around?

JT Rozzero:

Cleveland needs a QB, Jax needs a QB, and SF needs everything,

JT Rozzero:

NE got there through coaching and organizational excellence. Injuries and defense are the Pats’ weaknesses, as usual.

Oakland’s issue is inexperience and D, but the Raiders’ offense is completely locked in and they believe they can beat anyone. It started Week One with the ballsy two-point conversion to win in New Orleans.

JT Rozzero:

Dallas may be the most all-around complete team, but at the end of the day, they are relying on rookies — who could hit a wall soon — in key spots.

Seattle is Seattle, while KC is doing KC things.

(The Lions), to me, are a bit of a pretender just because they win so many close games via comeback. Often tough to replicate that in the playoffs. Stafford is having a great year, (although) I don’t trust Jim Caldwell.

Giants have no O-line and Eli has been dog shit most of the year.

With just a few weeks left in the regular season, sit back and enjoy the week’s games, Nation. We’ll catch you again next time, right here inside The Huddle!

Author: Joel Barnhart

A big-time baseball nerd, Joel is currently teaching English as a Second Language in San Antonio, Texas. In addition to his MLB passion, he enjoys good whiskey, good music, good movies, and good friends. He is currently engaged in an ongoing 12-year online debate over the merits of bubble wrap.