The Week 14 picks are coming up, but a few things real quick from 30,000 feet over the Rocky Mountains after a splendid midweek visit to Chicago for Thursday Night Football ...
Let's start with a pretty crazy statistic: The Seattle Seahawks haven't lost a game by double digits since Nov. 6, 2011. That little tidbit becomes even more remarkable when you consider 2014's 19 other current playoff contenders have gotten whipped (as in: losing by at more than two TDs) at least once this year:
» New England lost by 27 to Kansas City.
» Miami lost by 19 to both Buffalo and Kansas City -- in back-to-back weeks.
» Buffalo lost by 15 to New England.
» Cincinnati lost by 26 to New England ... by 27 to Indianapolis ... and by 21 to Cleveland.
» Cleveland lost by 18 to Jacksonville(!) ... by 16 to Houston ... and by 16 to Buffalo.
» Pittsburgh lost by 20 to Baltimore ... and by 21 to Cleveland.
» Baltimore lost by 20 to Pittsburgh.
» Indianapolis lost by 17 to Pittsburgh ... and by 22 to New England.
» Denver lost by 22 to New England ... and by 15 to St. Louis.
» San Diego lost by 37 to Miami.
» Kansas City lost by 16 to Tennessee.
» Dallas lost by 23 to Philadelphia.
» Philadelphia lost by 33 to Green Bay.
» Green Bay lost by 20 to Seattle ... and by 21 to New Orleans.
» Detroit lost by 17 to Carolina ... and by 25 to New England.
» Atlanta lost by 22 to Baltimore.
» New Orleans lost by 21 to Dallas ... and by 17 to Cincinnati.
» Arizona lost by 21 to Denver ... and by 16 to Seattle.
» San Francisco lost by 25 to Denver ... and by 16 to Seattle.
In other words, if any team other than Seattle (which remains in legitimate jeopardy of not even reaching January) wins the Lombardi, at least one team will forever be able to claim, "We destroyed the 2014 Super Bowl champs!"
Speaking of blowouts, the winner of this year's 20/20 Hindsight Award for Strangest Week 1 Double-Digit Victory is ... a tie! The co-recipients:
That Week 1 victory got the Ken Whisenhunt era in Tennessee off to a nice start. Since then, though, it's been grim ... or, as it's likely known in Nashville, status quo. It's so bleak, I sometimes speculate if the Titans actually disbanded four years ago and now only pretend to exist as a prank on the inattentive football fan. Really, who or what stands out about this team over the last half-decade or so? CJ2K and his rapid demise? Jake Locker's inability to stay healthy? LenDale White's booze-fueled weight gain? Albert Haynesworth's head-stomping issues? Given the lack of any objective reason for optimism on the horizon, maybe it'd be better if my working theory were true.
Beleaguered Lions fans and hopeful NFC playoff contenders might both be waiting for Detroit to collapse, but the Football Gods have delivered Jim Caldwell's gang an early Christmas gift in the form of the schedule. Over the next two weeks, the Lions get the Bucsand Vikes in Ford Field, before heading to Chicago to play the fading Bears. If the Lions just beat the teams they're supposed to beat, they'll have 11 wins -- almost certainly good enough to reach the postseason.
If the Lions take care of business, the odd team out will come from the quartet of Philly, Dallas, Seattle and Arizona. (Yes, I've already written off San Francisco.) As it happens, those four teams will get to settle each other's hash over the next couple weeks. The Eagles can wrap up the East title if they beat the Seahawksand Cowboys at the Linc ... but if they lose both, they could fall all the way out of the mix. It's a similar feast-or-famine situation for the clinging-to-the-first-seed Cards, who have games remaining against the Chiefs, Rams, Seahawks and 49ers. (Yes, you've already written off Arizona ... but I wanna see 'em on Sunday before rendering my final decision.) Related/belated Thanksgiving moment of appreciation: I'm thankful I own a TV on which to watch pro football.
I don't want to sound arrogant, but I've never met my equal when it comes to watching TV. (I'm also a sublime orderer of restaurant food.) NFL Media's Elliot Harrison and I got together on Tuesday to watch some TV -- specifically, pieces of the original broadcasts of three great games between the Cowboys and Bears -- in this week's episode of "The NFL's Infinite DVR":
Haloti Ngata is a massive loss for the Ravens. If you doubt his significance to that defense, go back and watch Baltimore's Super Bowl XLVII win over the Niners. Run-dominant San Francisco couldn't do anything on the ground ... until Ngata went out with an injury. From that point on, Colin Kaepernick and Frank Gore were unstoppable (... which is why I still say the Niners should've run on fourth-and-goal instead of throwing a fade to Michael Crabtree.)
It's flat, it's unusually cold for way too much of the calendar year, its primary airport is a nightmare and its hot dog condiments are an outrage. (Tomato slices?! Sheesh.) All those things said, Chicago is one of America's true gems. Already looking forward to returning for the 2015 NFL Draft in April -- and to extending my Culinary Tour with NFL Media/Dave Dameshek Football Program player Handsome Hank Hodgson. For those keeping track, Handsome and I have now had tremendous meals in NYC (steaks at Quality Meats; sausage links at Cannibal); Austin, Texas (barbeque at the Salt Lick); NOLA (maque choux at Coquette); and now, steamed crab legs, super-spicy calamari and an estimated 74 Heiny drafts in the dive raw bar at the Half Shell in the Lincoln Park area of Chicago.
Alright, my flight's landing soon, so let's get to the picks!
WARNING: Do NOT continue reading if you don't want to know the final scores of the Week 14 games.
(1-0 this week, 12-4 last week, 128-61-1 on the season)
Enjoy Week 14! I hope your team wins (unless they're playing my team).