Hey, it’s Moneyline Mo, the man in the know. I’m feeling refreshed after a great bounce back week. Going 9 and 5 is a way to make a living! We have one more abridged week and then a full slate of games returns in Week 15, and I can resume chasing my dream of a 16-0 week. I think “my dream” is a little too strong there. How about we just say “one of my dreams” instead? If all I was trying to do in life was have a perfect week of picks, that doesn’t seem like a lofty enough goal.
But now that I’m thinking about it, what are my goals? What am I trying to do with my life? Have I appreciated my accomplishments enough or am I being too content? Do I need to have 16-0 week, so I can have that closure and figure out the rest of my life from there? Big questions! For now, let’s focus on Week 14:
PITTSBURGH OVER MINNESOTA
What are the odds that news would leak that Ben Roethlisberger is likely retiring after this season right before he had back-to-back nationally televised games? I’m sure that was completely a coincidence and not deliberately timed so that he’d get some praise for his career just as a hedge in case Pittsburgh doesn’t make the playoffs and weren’t on-air for a national audience again after this month. It’s not like he made a big show of sitting on the bench soaking in the moment during his playoff loss to Cleveland so that there could be open speculation about what was next for him…
Pittsburgh is actually the underdog for this game, but I can see that flipping ahead of the game. My big prediction is that if Pittsburgh wins, Mike Zimmer will be fired this weekend. If Minnesota hadn’t been playing a short week, I think he would’ve been fired after the loss to Detroit—especially since it fucked up a six-team parlay for me! If my prediction comes true, I bet that Minnesota will follow Carolina’s lead and announce Zimmer’s dismissal during the early slate of Sunday games.
CAROLINA OVER ATLANTA
Speaking of Carolina, this past Sunday it was announced that Carolina had fired their offensive coordinator. There’s a few conspiracy theories floating about why Joe Barry was dismissed, but if you go back in the Moneyline Mo archives, I think you’ll see the root cause. Carolina has faltered on offense because they traded away Dan Arnold. He’s not a George Kittle, but I think he’s one of those tight ends that does everything right and it was a coup for Jacksonville to acquire him. The team and Sam Darnold just haven’t been the same without him.
BALTIMORE OVER CLEVELAND
I miss seeing Tony Siragusa on TV. The league was in a better place when he was standing in the back of an end zone dominating the broadcast. Why can’t we have that anymore? Heck, he doesn’t even need to be part of the call. I just want to see Tony Siragusa hanging out on the field when a team is in the red zone.
KANSAS CITY OVER LAS VEGAS
Here’s my advice on this game: We saw this matchup a month ago. Las Vegas couldn’t stop Kansas City when the game was in Las Vegas, and they certainly aren’t going to stop Kansas City in Kansas City. Speaking of advice, I once went to a Q&A with a celebrity chef and someone asked for her advice on the best type of olive oil to use. Her 100% sincere response was that the best thing to do was to go to the store and buy every bottle so that you can sample them for yourself and determine which one is your favorite.
That has stuck with me for a close to a decade and now anytime I’m making a purchase of any kind with my wife, I suggest we buy one of every type just so we know we have the one that best suits us. It hasn’t been funny in years, but I keep the bit going because it’s almost expectation that I reference it at this point.
TENNESSEE OVER JACKSONVILLE
Jacksonville was sacrificed last week to get Los Angeles (N) back on track, and that will be the case again this week to help get Tennessee out of their slump. Sure, every offensive weapon for Tennessee is currently injured, but they just need to hold on and get two or three more wins to secure a spot and hope everyone is healthy for the playoffs.
NEW ORLEANS OVER NEW YORK (A)
Shame on me for thinking that Sean Payton would create an offense to suit his two quarterbacks in Taysom Hill and Trevor Siemian. Taysom Hill can run the ball and Trevor Siemian can throw the ball. It seems obvious to me that the best way to utilize the talent you have isn’t to commit to one or the other as your full-time quarterback, but to rotate them in depending on down and distance to keep the opposing defense on its heels. Even if you didn’t commit to the rotation idea, I think another logical approach would be to aim to build a lead with Taysom Hill running the ball, but bring Trevor Siemian in if you are down multiple possessions and need to get to back in the game.
Instead, last week, Taysom hill hurt his hand but still was forced to throw the ball (which isn’t his strength) and was picked off four times. I’ve never liked Sean Payton, but at least thought he was an intelligent offensive mind. On second thought, maybe Drew Brees deserves most of the credit for the success in New Orleans over the years.
DALLAS OVER WASHINGTON
Dan Quinn was mocked for wearing his hat backwards while filling in for Mike McCarthy, but I guess I don’t have that same eye for criticism. It’s like how Bill Belichick is mocked for what he wears. Isn’t that a great reflection that clothes don’t make the man? I have no sense of fashion, so there’s absolutely bias on my end, but I’m trying to use my platform to have society be more accepting of people just wearing clothes they feel comfortable in. Be the change you want to see in this world!
SEATTLE OVER HOUSTON
As if I didn’t already dislike Seattle enough, they went ahead and signed Adrian Peterson last week. Yuck. We still just need that one more loss from Seattle to ensure they don’t make the playoffs this year. And that loss sure isn’t going to happen this week.
DENVER OVER DETROIT
On Sunday night, we got to watch in prime time how Denver’s offense is a mess. They drained the clock (which you know I love), but it almost seemed like it was by accident rather than intentional. At the end of their 11-minute drive in the second quarter, they just couldn’t finish the job and couldn’t get back in rhythm offensively after that.
I don’t have anything against Pat Shurmur or Teddy Bridgewater, but I remain convinced that if Denver started fresh next year with a new offensive coordinator and a couple quarterbacks (one veteran and maybe a rookie successor-in-waiting), they could be a real contender in 2022. They really would be a logical spot for Aaron Rodgers, because you know he’d probably have them hire Alex Van Pelt as offensive coordinator, and just run the whole thing himself while Vic Fangio focused on defense. It could be one heck of a marriage. For now though, I think Denver is going to continue to linger in the bubble of teams just outside of the playoffs. That loss to Kansas City pretty much knocked them out of contention.
LOS ANGELES (A) OVER NEW YORK (N)
You guys ready for the return of Sex and the City this week? I know it has a different name, but we’re all calling it Sex and the City, right? Is there any chance of this getting the characters right after the two dreadful movies? Will the dynamic work without Samantha present?
Real talk, readers: I’m probably a Miranda, with the caveat that I would have been more supportive of Steve in Season 3 when he was practicing for his upcoming half-court shot at Madison Square Garden. If he had been successful, he would have won a million dollars! It was a possibility of life changing money. He had every right to take the opportunity seriously! I still don’t buy Steve ever cheating on Miranda like the b-plot from the first movie, but maybe the lingering effects from his failed attempt at a seven-figure payout contributed to his infidelity.
As for this game, get ready for a bunch of Jake Fromm (State Farm) jokes. If they haven’t started already, I assure you that they are coming.
SAN FRANCISCO OVER CINCINNATI
Cincinnati gave me a scare last week after they scored 22 consecutive points after trailing 24-0. Thankfully, Los Angeles pulled away and I got to momentarily feel vindicated in thinking Cincinnati is going to regress down the stretch. I’m hoping that regression continues this week against a team I am still very high on. I know San Francisco lost last week, but they were without Deebo Samuel. Samuel was confident that he’d return for this game, so I hope he’ll be back in the fold and San Francisco can resume their playoff push.
Last week, Joe Burrow and Taysom Hill were the latest quarterbacks to hurt their hands on a pass attempt. To have this specific type of fluke injury in a season makes me think that there could be a correlating cause. My best guess is that defenders are being more cautious around quarterbacks to avoid roughing the passer penalties. So maybe instead of trying to complete a sack attempt as the quarterback releases a ball and risking a 15-yard penalty, they could be focusing more on disrupting the throw which is leading to hands, fingers and wrists getting banged along the way. I don’t have the game film or analytics to back my theory up, but this just reinforces the need to create the Mo Football Focus database.
TAMPA BAY OVER BUFFALO
New England is the current number one seed in their conference and Tom Brady is the likely frontrunner for MVP at this point. Same as it ever was, same as it ever was.
While Buffalo needs this game more than Tampa Bay does, I think there could be some lingering effects from the Monday night loss. Plus, not that he needs any extra motivation, but Tom Brady is certainly going to aim for the MVP trophy now that it is readily attainable for him. And that just makes Tampa Bay even scarier down the home stretch of the regular season.
GREEN BAY OVER CHICAGO
If Pittsburgh beats Minnesota on Thursday night, then Green Bay could clinch the division with a win against Chicago on Sunday night. And if you’ve been paying attention to the predictions in this column, you’ll have noticed that is exactly what I think is going to happen!
Join Milwaukee Record this Sunday night at the Cactus Club to watch the game and enjoy a halftime performance by Garden Home. If my prediction comes true, get a “Moneyline Mo was right” chant going as Rodgers kneels to seal the game and the division.
ARIZONA OVER LOS ANGELES (N)
What a way to wrap up the week! I think this will be the exact opposite of the previous Monday night game between New England and Buffalo. Both teams just had a tune-up last week with games that were essentially scrimmages, so my expectation is for this one to be a high-scoring affair. I think these teams are closer than they were compared to their Week 4 matchup, which Arizona won 37-20, but I still am giving the edge to Arizona.
And that’s it for Week 14! Kind of wild that this used to be the full length of the regular season with no bye weeks, right? Can you imagine if the playoffs started next week? What would have to get us through the month of January and beginning of February?! Thank goodness that changed.
LAST WEEK: 9-5
SEASON TO DATE: 117-76-1