NFL Picks: Week 13

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NFL Picks: Week 13

By Rich Levine
CSNNE.com

When history calls, Ill always answer.

Unless a Seinfeld re-run is on, in which case I just have my secretary take a message.

But with LeBron returning to Cleveland on Thursday, I couldnt resist, and made my own Decision to hop a flight to Ohio and watch the madness unravel with some real Cavs fans. Ill be writing about it for Friday, so in turn, my NFL picks got bumped.

OK, not bumped. Just down-sized. Here we go for Week 13.

Good luck.

The Game: Houston at Philadelphia (-7)

The Eagles are the leagues second-highest scoring offense, while the Texans are the galaxys worst defenseas long as Rusty Smith isnt playing QB. Thankfully for Philly, their quarterback is slight better.

The Pick: Eagles (-9)

The Game: Buffalo at Minnesota (-5.5)

After this one, cue a barrage of sappy, suck-up stories about hownow that the playoffs are out of reachBrett Favre is just out there slinging it, and having the time of his life. Hes never had so much fun playing football! theyll write, as you violently slam your head against the wall like Gus Frerotte.

The Pick: Vikings (-5.5)

The Game: Cleveland at Miami (-4.5)

Brandon Marshalls likely playing, which should help the Dolphins cause. On the other side, Jake Delhommes likely playing, which should REALLY help the Dolphins cause.

The Pick: Dolphins (-4.5)

The Game: Denver at Kansas City (-9)
So let me get this straight, the Broncos dropped 49 points on the Chiefs three weeks ago, and now theyre nine point DOGS in Kansas City? Yeah, I guess it makes sense. Specifically, the dogs part. Also, dear Josh McDaniels, I know I said this last week, but what are you trying to prove by not playing Tim Tebow right now? Do you have Brandon Lloyd on your fantasy team or something?

The Pick: Chiefs (-9)

The Game: Washington at the NY Giants (-7)

Heavy favorites always scare me in the NFC East. Especially when that heavy favorite is so banged up at receiver that they brought Phil McConkey and Stephen Baker the Touchdown Maker in for workouts this week.

The Pick: Redskins (7)

The Game: Chicago (-3.5) at Detroit

With last weeks impressive win over Philly, and the Patriots on tap for next Sunday, this just wreaks of a trap game for the Bears. Cant you smell it? Its awful!

No, wait. Thats just the scent of Jahvid Bests fantasy season.

The Pick: Lions (3.5)

The Game: Jacksonville at Tennessee (-3)

I was looking forward to seeing Cortland Finnegan go head to head with Jacksonvilles No. 1 receiver until I remembered they dont have one. I know thats a unnecessary jab on a first place team, but with Kerry Collins back behind center, I think the Titans will right the ship a little this week. At least enough to take down the Jags at home.

The Pick: Titans (-3)

The Game: San Francisco at Green Bay (-9)

My dream scenario is for it to be so cold at Lambeua that the foam around Mike Singletarys mouth freezes into some sort of ice goatee. That would make my Sunday. Also, speaking of Singeltary, if hes smart hell just list Brian Westbrook as a Game-Time Decision. Just so he feels at home.

The Pick: Packers (-9)

The Game: New Orleans (-7) at Cincinnati

Despite the unraveling of Cincys season, Cedric Benson isnt ready to quit: I want to end with a bang! he told reporters this week. Hmm, maybe hes hinting at the Bengals making a run at Plaxico Burres? I cant think of a better destination. Except for maybe Philly.

The Pick: Saints (-7)

The Game: Atlanta (-3) at Tampa Bay

The biggest test yet for the Best Worst Team in Football theory. I cant turn my back on it now. Although, I will admit to being slightly worried about the Roddy WhiteAqib Talib. If Talib can keep Roddy under wraps, the Falcons offense might crumble. Also, how many struggling rappers out there are kicking themselves for not thinking of the name Aqib Talib before it became famous. The name alone would be worth a verse on the next Young Money mix tape.

The Pick: Falcons (-3)

The Game: Oakland at San Diego (-13)

This is a serious spread for a team whose top four receivers will either be playing hurt or not playing at all. Not to mention the fact that Mike Tolbert, San Diegos most consistentgoal line back is injured, too. Anyway, werent we just talking about this was the year the Raiders started to turn things around? That was like three weeks ago, right?

The Pick: Raiders (13)

The Game: Carolina at Seattle (-6)

Matt Hasslebeck did a pretty decent Jake Delhomme impression last week against the Chiefs, but hes not really that bad. However, Jimmy Clausen is, and when thrown into the madness that is Qwest Field, hell be wise to bring a change of Underoos to the stadium.
The Pick: Seahawks (-6)

The Game: Dallas at Indy (-5.5)

This is the toughest game of the week for me. I mean, the Cowboys were one easily-avoidable fumble from beating a very good Saints team, and more importantly, remaining undefeated in the post-Wade Phillips Era. On the other hand, Indy just looked so bad last week, and at home, too. Thats not supposed to happen. Anyway, in the end, I have to go with Indy. Mostly, because I dont see Peyton throwing up two clunkers in a row, but also because the Roy Williams fumble was more than just one easily avoidable mistake. It was just another example of a team that doesnt know how, or doesnt have the fortitude to consistently win games. Regardless of the coach.

The Pick: Colts (-5.5)

The Game: St. Louis (-3.5) at Arizona

The funniest thing that pot-stirring reporter could have said when asked about his altercation with Derek Anderson was:

Oh, I couldnt even hear him. A beat writer from San Francisco intercepted the words before they got to me.

Or something like that. Theres room for some improv.

One more thing: I have no problem with how Anderson handled his press conference. Its cool if the reporter wanted to ask the question once, but after that it was time to let it go. Just because someones laughing on the sideline doesnt mean he doesnt care. I see people smiling at funerals all the time. That doesnt mean theyre not grieving. Just that theyre human.
The Pick: Cardinals (3.5)

The Game: Pittsburgh at Baltimore (-3)

Vegas doesnt know whats going on here. And really, Im not sure either, but I do have a hunch, for whatever its worth. Both of these teams are dealing with injuries, and to important players along the offensive line. The Steelers have been hit a little harder, and have struggledwith the loss to the Pats and near, should-have-been, how-the-hell-wasnt-that-a-loss to Buffalobut at the same time, because theyve been dealing for a longer time, theyre more adjusted. The reserves are starting to feel a little more comfortable.

Meanwhile, the injury to Michael Oher is huge for the Ravens. The wound is fresh. And Im not sure theyll be ready for the biggest game of their season (so far)

The Pick: Pittsburgh (3)

The Game: NY Jets at New England (-3.5)

This just feels like a field goal game, doesnt it? Or maybe a one-pointer? Like couldnt you just see 17-16 or 24-23? But all that being said, the Pats are in a groove. They made an important statement on Thanksgiving. They proved that they could flec their muscles and blow a team out. It was the first time in sometimeeven with their big wins over the Steelers and Coltsthat you were actually in awe of their offense. And I think that carries over. Maybe not into a blowout, but at least enough to give them a four-to-seven point win.
The Pick: Patriots (-3.5)

Record:
Last Week: 5-11
Overall: 87-82-4

Rich Levine's column runs each Monday, Wednesday and Friday on CSNNE.com. Rich can be reached at rlevine@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Rich on Twitter at http:twitter.comrlevine33

With Thomas drawing attention, Stevens turns to Rozier in big moment

With Thomas drawing attention, Stevens turns to Rozier in big moment

BOSTON – Prior to Saturday’s game, Terry Rozier talked to CSNNE.com about the importance of staying ready always, because “you never know when your name or number is going to be called.”

Like when trailing by three points in the fourth quarter with less than 10 seconds to play?

Yes, Rozier was on the floor in that scenario and the second-year guard delivered when his team needed it.

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But Rozier’s fourth quarter heroics which forced overtime against Portland, did not provide that much-needed jolt that Boston needed as the Blazers managed to fend off the Celtics in overtime, 127-123.

For Rozier’s part, he had 15 points on 6-for-13 shooting.

The 15 points scored for Rozier was the most for him since he tallied 16 in a 30-point Celtics win at Orlando on Dec. 7.

But more than the points, the decision by head coach Brad Stevens to draw up a play for him in that moment, a time when most of what Boston does revolves around the shooting of Isaiah Thomas who has been among the top-3 scorers in the fourth quarter most of this season, was surprising to many.

And at that point in the game, Thomas already had 13 fourth-quarter points.

Stevens confirmed after the game that the last shot in the fourth was indeed for Rozier, but Thomas’ presence on the floor was important to its execution.

“He (Thomas) also draws a lot of attention,” Stevens said. “So I think you just weigh kind of … what kind of shot you’re going to get, depending on who it is.”

Rozier had initially screened for Thomas, and Thomas came back and screened for him.

“I was open as soon as I caught … and I let it fly,” Rozier said. “Coach drew up a play for me and it felt good to see the ball go in.”

Being on the floor at that time, win or lose, was a victory of sorts for Rozier.

He has seen first-hand how quickly the tide can change in the NBA for a young player.

After a strong summer league showing and a solid training camp, Rozier had earned himself a firm spot in the team’s regular rotation.

But a series of not-so-great games coupled with Gerald Green’s breakout night on Christmas Day, led to his playing time since then becoming more sporadic.

Rozier, in an interview with CSNNE.com, acknowledged it hasn’t been easy going from playing regular minutes to not being sure how much court time, if any, he would receive.

But he says the veterans on the team have been good about keeping his spirits up, and one in particular – Avery Bradley – has been especially helpful.

Like Rozier, Bradley’s first couple of years saw his playing time go from non-existent to inconsistent. But Bradley stayed the course and listened to the team’s veterans who continued to tell him that his hard work would pay off sooner or later.

Those same words of wisdom Bradley received in his early days, he passes on to Rozier.

“It’s big,” Rozier told CSNNE.com. “He (Bradley) tells me things like that. I felt I was ready for this (inconsistent minutes) after all that he told me. It’s big to have a guy like him that has been through it all with a championship team, been around this organization for a while; have him talk to you is big. It’s always good. That’s why I stay positive, and be ready.”

Which is part of the reason why Stevens didn’t hesitate to call up a play for the second-year guard despite him being a 33.3 percent shooter from 3-point range this season – that ranks eighth on this team, mind you.

“He’s a really good shooter,” Stevens said of Rozier. “I think with more opportunity that will show itself true, but he made some big ones in the fourth quarter. We went to him a few different times out of time-outs, and felt good about him making that one.”

And to know that Stevens will turn to him not just to spell Thomas or one of the team’s other guards, but to actually make a game-altering play in the final seconds … that’s major.

“It helps tremendously,” said Rozier who added that his confidence is through “the roof. It makes me want to do everything. You know defense, all of that. It’s great, especially to have a guy like Brad trust you."