NFL picks, Week 14: Is Sean Payton talking to the Saints this year?

Chuck Cook -US PRESSWIRE

Week 14 is here, and we have picks and lines for every game. The Saints visit the Giants this weekend, so it's a good time to ask: Does anybody really believe that Sean Payton hasn't talked to the Saints this season?

It's Week 14, the playoff race is coming into focus, and Norv Turner and A.J. Smith are finally going to get fired. Life is good! Time for Picks. (All winners in bold.)

Star-divide

Ravens at Redskins (-2.5) -- If this Redskins team makes the playoffs and Robert Griffin III doesn't win MVP, that award basically becomes as meaningless as an ESPY.

Titans at Colts (-5.5) -- This seems like an ideal place for the Colts to have a letdown game, but we've reached the point in Andrew Luck's career where you'll ultimately win more money betting on him all the time than trying to cherrypick the one or two games where he may struggle. And the inverse is true for this Titans team, so...

Jets (-2.5) at Jaguars -- From Wikipedia:

Early symptoms are malaise and lethargy ... patients develop shortness of breath and bone pain. Other symptoms include skin changes with roughness, easy bruising and petechiae, gum disease, loosening of teeth, poor wound healing, and emotional changes. Dry mouth and dry eyes similar to Sjögren's syndrome may occur. In the late stages, jaundice, generalized edema, oliguria, neuropathy, fever, and convulsions, and eventual death are frequently seen.

This game will give you scurvy.

Bears (-3) at Vikings -- REMINDER: It is a tragedy for all of us that Adrian Peterson is stuck on the Vikings.

Screen_shot_2012-12-07_at_11

But lest we get all down, Ponder is now engaged to ESPN's Samantha Steele, and both of them seem pretty great, so that's cool. He proposed by spelling out "Marry Me" in Christmas lights on his house--that's some pretty romantic shit there. Good for him.

Good for them!

Love actually IS all around us.

Now please someone trade Adrian Peterson to a team that's not quite this shitty.

Falcons at Panthers (+3.5) -- Gruden to the Panthers? Maybe! It actually doesn't matter who the Panthers hire this offseason as long as they fire the coaches they have now. Read this article. Getting rid of Ron Rivera will be like multiplication by subtraction. Of course, if someone could just teach Cam Newton some LIFE LESSONS 101, maybe the Panthers would be Super Bowl bound and we wouldn't even be having this conversation.

Eagles (+7.5) at Bucs -- Now the Eagles... THERE'S a team that would be awful with or without their awful coach. And speaking of awful coaches, congratulations to Greg Schiano for crashing another victory formation and nearly starting a brawl on the field in Denver last week! The ultimate signature of a Schiano-coached football team.

Rams (+3) at Bills -- I wish I knew how to grab NFL highlights, because someone really needs to put together a video of Greg Zuerlein -- a.k.a. YOUNG G.Z. -- kicking/celebrating field goals with a young Young Jeezy blasting in the background. (Note: If this were happening with an nerdy NBA player named G.Z., a Jeezy mashup would have happened 8 weeks ago. More proof that the NBA internet is 10,000 times better than the NFL internet.)

Chiefs (+6.5) at Browns -- New soul-crushing details emerge from the Jovan Belcher story every day, the Browns also had a team employee commit suicide last weekend, and thinking about both teams playing this game just makes me sad. Instead, let's just watch this video to remember that the world isn't always so awful:

(HT: @19jms)

Cowboys (+3) at Bengals -- It would be very Cowboys to make a late playoff push here and get everyone's hopes up by heading into Week 16 at 8-6, then lose the final two games to go 8-8 and finish 7th in the NFC, then bring Jason Garrett back next year because of the team's progress during the second half of the year. Not saying that's exactly what's going to happen here, but it would be a very Cowboys thing to do.

Dolphins at 49ers (-10) -- Did you know Colin Kaepernick has a pet tortoise named Sammy?

Hmkyj
via Niners Nation

Related: This is great:

Now along comes Kaepernick. Since taking over for Alex Smith two games ago, he has convinced everybody in the Bay area that he’s the second coming of Steve Young.

Smith is coming back from a concussion, ushering in the attendant QB controversy. But he is looking like Wally Pipp and Kaepernick is Lou Gehrig. All I can do is look in the mirror and sigh.

Forgive me, but I suffer from turtle-ism. I have no turtles, and I don’t want any. I know that attitude qualifies me for an AARP card, and I’ve tried to get with it.

I realize turtles are ways to pay homage to your religion, children and motorcycle gang. I’m cool with LeBron James looking like a turtle conservationist.

I still cringe when I go to the gym and see middle-aged women with a pet turtle as her phone background. They have bigger arms than I, so I never make fun. But I can’t shake the notion that a person’s home is a temple, and you don’t fill temples with shell-covered reptiles.

I am 100 percent on the Colin Kaepernick/Tortoise bandwagon.

Cardinals at Seahawks (-10) -- Notes from Doug Farrar at Shutdown Corner:

  • "Over his last four games, Andrew Luck has completed 89 passes in 167 attempts for 1,192 yards, eight touchdowns and nine interceptions."
  • "Over his last four games, Robert Griffin III has completed 69 passes in 102 attempts for 882 yards, nine touchdowns, and one interception."
  • "Over his last four games, Russell Wilson has completed 72 passes in 107 attempts for 878 yards, nine touchdowns, and no interceptions."

It's actually great that Wilson struggled early in the year, because for a second there it looked like he was going to be engulfed by the "HE'S AN UNDERDOG WHO JUST WINS" stories that would have slowly driven us all insane. Now? He's quietly playing great, the Seahawks are lurking as a potential killer in the NFC, and because he's been upstaged by bigger names, he actually is the underdog who just keeps winning, only now we can enjoy it all without being waterboarded with stories about Russell Wilson's intangibles. This is awesome, and so are the Seahawks.

Saints (+4.5) at Giants -- Six months after the entire world wondered how the NFL could possibly monitor whether Sean Payton communicates with his team in 2012, the New York Times chimes in to ask the same thing:

Rick Nelson, a counterterrorism and intelligence expert who works at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, said in a telephone interview that "from a technical perspective, there’s really very little the N.F.L. can do" to keep Payton from being in touch with his coaches or players if he wants to make contact. Nelson ran down a long list of potential options for discreet communication, including dummy Twitter accounts, disposable cellphones and encrypted e-mails.

This is notable because A) They actually interviewed a counterterrorism expert about this, and B) Imagining Sean Payton purchasing disposable cell phones every week to talk about the Saints' awful defense is really a wonderful image. Does he wear a disguise to buy them? What could he possibly say that would change anything at this point? All of which is to say, it sounds like Sean Payton might be a much sadder, more desperate version of Stringer Bell.

Also from that Times piece:

In terms of trying to monitor Payton’s activities, Nelson added, the N.F.L.’s options are limited. The league is restricted by basic privacy laws...

NOPE. Don't believe that the NFL's restricted by anything at this point. Roger Goodell would absolutely illegally tap Sean Payton's phone if he could.

Which reminds me:

1101121217_600_medium
David Yellen/Time

SERIOUSLY?

The headline, the subscript, the way millions of people will see it in airports and nod without thinking, the look on Goodell's face... God that cover is infuriating.

Drew Magary actually read the story and has the appropriate response over at Deadspin -- complete with a perfect Dazed and Confused reference -- but from now one when anyone asks why I hate the NFL in 2012, I will just forward them that cover and be done with it. We're past the point of coherent arguments here; let's just keep republishing that smarmy image of THE ENFORCER until everyone gets angry enough to start a revolution.

Lions (+6.5) at Packers -- It's now December and the Packers still look kinda crappy for about 60 percent of every game they play. The defense is overrated, the offense is inconsistent, and all of this means that they are probably going to win the Super Bowl.

Texans (+3.5) at Patriots -- LET'S GO TEXANS.

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Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

LAST WEEK: 7-8

OVERALL RECORD: 85-84-3

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