NFL Week 14 Picks
The 2008 NFL Season has just four weeks remaining until playoffs start. Our team writers and handicappers hand out four picks for Week 14.
Houston Texans (5-7) at Green Bay Packers (5-7), 1:00 PM ET
Quarterback Aaron Rodgers is probably getting more blame than he deserves for the Green Bay Packers' problems. Matt Schaub, meanwhile, can't take any credit for two straight Houston Texans wins.
With Rodgers getting some heat for losing close games, the Packers look to bounce back from their latest defeat Sunday when they host a Texans team that may be set to put Schaub back in the starting lineup.
Green Bay (5-7) is 1-4 in games decided by five points or fewer after making a habit of winning close games in its charge to the playoffs last season. It's been convenient for Packers fans to blame Rodgers after Green Bay traded Brett Favre to the New York Jets in August, but coach Mike McCarthy knows his starting quarterback's play is probably the least of his worries.
The Packers won their only meeting against the Texans, 16-13 at Houston on Nov. 21, 2004.
Minnesota Vikings (7-5) at Detroit Lions (0-12), 1:00 PM ET
With a one-game lead in the NFC North, the Minnesota Vikings need every victory they can get to remain atop the division. Having a pair of Pro Bowl defensive linemen on the field instead of the sideline certainly can't hurt their cause.
After a federal judge at least temporarily blocked the NFL from suspending them, Kevin and Pat Williams will likely be available to the Vikings on Sunday for their road game against the winless Detroit Lions.
Kevin Williams and Pat Williams were among six NFL players suspended for four games Tuesday for testing positive for a banned diuretic, which can be used as a masking agent for steroids.
On Wednesday, a Minneapolis judge issued a temporary restraining order against the suspensions at the players' request, though the NFL got the case moved to federal court. That led to Friday's decision by U.S. District Judge Paul Magnuson, who blocked the suspensions because he needed more time to consider the case after several hours of arguments from the league and the NFL Players Association.
With the Williamses - who are unrelated - anchoring their defensive front, the Vikings (7-5) boast the league's No. 2 rushing defense, allowing 73.1 yards per game. In the 60 games they've played together, Minnesota has allowed just three individual 100-yard rushing performances.
If the suspensions are ultimately upheld, the Vikings will look to Fred Evans, Ellis Wyms, Letroy Guion and the newly signed Jimmy Kennedy to fill in for their Pro Bowl pair.
The Vikings have won 12 of their past 13 meetings with the Lions overall, and five of the last six matchups in Detroit.
St. Louis Rams (2-10) at Arizona Cardinals (7-5), 4:15PM ET
Venturing outside the comfort zone of the subpar NFC West has brought the Arizona Cardinals back down to earth.
Some extra time off and facing a division rival may be just what the Cardinals need to get back on track and clinch their first division title since 1975 on Sunday when the St. Louis Rams visit University of Phoenix Stadium.
"To play a game like this at home, if there is any mini-crisis of confidence, I think it will evaporate pretty quickly," coach Ken Whisenhunt told the team's official Web site.
The Cardinals (7-5) are all but assured of winning the terrible NFC West, needing only one win or one San Francisco 49ers loss over the final four weeks. But Arizona has looked vulnerable lately with back-to-back defeats to NFC East teams, following a home loss to the reigning Super Bowl champion New York Giants with a 48-20 pounding at the hands of the Philadelphia Eagles on Thanksgiving night.
Before those two losses, Arizona had won five of six, including three straight against division opponents. The Cardinals are seeking their first division title since they were located in St. Louis and won the NFC East 33 years ago.
Arizona has won the last four games between the teams by a combined 150-83 score.
Dallas Cowboys (8-4) at Pittsburgh Steelers (9-3), 4:00PM ET
With Tony Romo and Ben Roethlisberger getting healthy, the playoff hopes of the Dallas Cowboys and Pittsburgh Steelers are looking up.
All they'll see this weekend, however, are a pair of defenses intent on taking them down.
Romo and Roethlisberger square off on Sunday in Pittsburgh, as Dallas pays its first visit to Heinz Field in a matchup of teams riding three-game winning streaks - and two of the NFL's most sack-happy defenses.
Romo's broken right pinkie and Roethlisberger's separated right shoulder have received a lot of attention this season, and with good reason as the duo have two of the highest winning percentages among active starting quarterbacks.
Romo is 26-9 (74.3 percent) as a starter for Dallas (8-4) while Roethlisberger is 47-19 (71.2 percent) under center for the Steelers (9-3) since his rookie season in 2004.
Roethlisberger hasn't missed any time despite injuring his throwing shoulder in Pittsburgh's season opener, but Romo's pinkie cost him three games. Considering Brad Johnson went 1-2 and threw five interceptions as a starter, the Cowboys couldn't wait to get him back, and Romo has delivered.
Since his return on Nov. 16, Romo has guided the Cowboys to three straight wins. He was 22-of-34 for 331 yards on Thanksgiving Day in a 34-9 rout of Seattle that now has Dallas tied with Atlanta for the NFC's second wild-card spot.
The Steelers and Cowboys last played in Pittsburgh at Three Rivers Stadium in 1997, and their only meeting since came in Dallas in 2004 during Roethlisberger's rookie season. He went 21-of-25 for 193 yards with two touchdowns in the Steelers' 24-20 win.
Posted: 12/6/08 9:00PM ET