(Editor's note: Every week this season, gay teenage NFL fan Jeremy Brener will give his perspective and predictions for the upcoming week).
Philadelphia is a storied sports city, but fans there are going through a rough patch. The Flyers have missed the playoffs twice in the last three seasons; the Sixers are the laughingstock of the NBA; the Phillies had the worst record in baseball this season; the Union have not seen the playoffs since 2011 and the Eagles are having another subpar year, despite being first place in their lousy division.
The Eagles were coming off three bad losses to non-playoff teams and Coach Chip Kelly was on the hot seat. However, in the biggest upset of the season in a win against the Patriots, the Eagles found themselves on the front cover of the Philadelphia Daily News Monday morning. On the next page was a profile of another Philadelphia winner, Braeden Lange.
For those of you who don't remember Braeden's story, he is a 12-year-old gay lacrosse player who was on the brink of suicide until he came across a video from former professional lacrosse player Andrew Goldstein, who became the first openly gay player to be drafted in North American sports. Andrew and Braeden were key in starting The Courage Game, a lacrosse game held this past May in Philadelphia to promote LGBT equality (watch ESPN's great coverage). Braeden is using his platform to also start The Courage Home, which will shelter homeless LGBT youth.
I can't help but admire and look up to Braeden, someone five years younger than me. His display of confidence, maturity and passion for fighting for what he believes in is inspiring. I can only hope that one day I will find that same level of confidence, maturity and passion in my life. It's hard to think that he is only 12 and already doing so much with his life. He's making the most out of his life early on, and the positive attention he is receiving just goes to show that LGBT visibility in sports may not be as far away as we think it is.
The local Fox affiliate did a great profile and interview with Braeden and his parents, but being an Eagles fan, Braeden was jazzed about something else:
Here's what's going on in Week 14:
Game of the Week
Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Cincinnati Bengals
The Bengals find themselves tied at the top of the AFC at 10-2 with the Patriots and Broncos. The first of their last four games of the season is this week's game against the Pittsburgh Steelers. As important as this game is for the Bengals, it is equally as important for the Steelers. The Steelers impressed against the Colts last week, winning 45-10 on Sunday Night Football, but they are on the outside looking in for the AFC Wild Card race at 7-5. A win on Sunday could vault them back in the playoff picture and keep them alive in the AFC North race. A Bengals win and they clinch the division.
This is the second meeting between the division foes this season, and the Steelers lost 16-10 at home after a Bengal comeback in the fourth quarter. Since that defeat against the Bengals, the Steelers offense has come together, scoring at least 30 points in each of the last four games. The offenses for both teams are rolling and clicking at just the right time. This game will be a shootout, but the winner will be the team that can make a stop in the clutch. I like the Bengals at home, winning 37-35.
Upset of the Week
San Francisco 49ers over Cleveland Browns
Believe it or not, the 2-10 Cleveland Browns are favored to beat the 49ers this week. Granted, the 49ers are not much better, only winning four games so far this season. Half of those wins have come from games that Blaine Gabbert started. Gabbert became the starter in Week 9 and has played better than the guy he replaced, Colin Kaepernick. The former first-round pick has performed well in every start, and now he faces a defense that has allowed 30 points in each of the last four contests
The Browns are starting Johnny Manziel this week, his fourth start of the season. One of the Browns wins came in Manziel's first start against the Titans, but the Browns have more problems than just their quarterback. The defense has underperformed, the rushing attack has been nonexistent, and the coaching has been subpar. The fact that they are favorites blows my mind. The 49ers are riding some momentum with an overtime win against the Bears, and the Browns have been lackadaisical and awful this season. 49ers win 20-10.
Fantasy Start of the Week
Bills WR Sammy Watkins vs. Philadelphia Eagles
Watkins was the highest drafted wide receiver in what was one of the best rookie wide receiver classes the NFL has ever seen. Watkins was overshadowed by Kelvin Benjamin, Mike Evans, and Odell Beckham Jr. Despite being fourth among wide receivers in receiving yards, he still managed to record 982 yards. Watkins is underrated and he is on pace to break his total from last season. He has eclipsed over 100 yards in each of the last two games, and he has scored three touchdowns in that span. This week, he faces the team allowing the most points to opposing wide receivers, the Philadelphia Eagles. The Eagles have allowed points in droves, and will likely be focusing their game plan on the devil they know, former Eagles RB LeSean McCoy. However, the one that will burn them is the devil they don't know, and he could have a huge day in Philadelphia.
Fantasy Sit of the Week
Raiders WR Michael Crabtree vs. Denver Broncos
Crabtree has had a bounce back season. The former 49er did not get any offers in free agency except from the team on the other side of the Bay Area. He only received a one-year deal, but got himself a $35 million extension yesterday. Congratulations on your extension Michael Crabtree, but you are my sit for the week. It's not that you are not scoring, because you have scored a touchdown in your last two games, but you haven't eclipsed more than 55 yards in your last four games, and you have a tough matchup against division rival Denver this week. The last time you faced Denver, Crabtree had only 54 yards receiving. Denver has allowed the fewest amount of fantasy points to opposing wide receivers. And with Crabtree's recent numbers over the last month and his last game against the Broncos, look for history to repeat itself.
Fantasy Pick-up of the Week
Buccaneers TE Austin Seferian-Jenkins
Tight end injuries are still a problem for this week's fantasy matchups. Martellus Bennett, Rob Gronkowski, and Jimmy Graham will not be playing this week, and for owners of the aforementioned tight ends, they may have picked up someone like Ryan Griffin of the Texans, or my fantasy pickup of the week for last week, 49ers tight end Vance McDonald. However, if Austin Seferian-Jenkins is still a free agent in your league, he could be the optimal replacement that could save your season. Seferian-Jenkins is coming off an injury that held him out since Week 2. He returned two weeks ago, and he is going to get more looks in the offense as he continues to heal. And with the Buccaneers playing the Saints, the team allowing the most fantasy points to tight ends, Seferian-Jenkins could be a quick plug-in that could be the difference whether or not you make the playoffs.
Lock of the Week
Seattle Seahawks over Baltimore Ravens
This game was originally the Sunday Night Football matchup of the week, but the NFL used its flexible scheduling to move it earlier to a 1 p.m. EST start. I will give the Ravens credit; they have fought and competed in every game this season, not losing a game by more than eight points. However, their streak of 12 one-score games will end this week. The Seahawks' offense has been flying lately, scoring at least 29 points in their last four games, three of those being wins. The Seahawks also boast the best rush defense in the NFL and is still home to the Legion of Boom. This week, the defense faces the "Human Pick Six" in Matt Schaub and backup rookie running back Buck Allen, who has played well in Justin Forsett's absence, but has yet to face a defense of the Seahawks' magnitude. The Seahawks were not looking like their normal selves at the beginning of the year, but now, they are once again, a team that nobody wants to face when January comes. I like the Seahawks in a 27-13 win.
Buzzer's Best Bet
Outsports co-founder Jim Buzinski will make one pick each week against the spread.
Dallas +7 at Green Bay. Pick: Green Bay
The Cowboys without Tony Romo can't score many points, which puts a big strain on their defense. That's a problem against a Packers team that saved its season on Aaron Rodgers' Hail Mary last week and that has had 10 days off to recharge their batteries. The Cowboys will be game but won't have enough firepower to overcome Rodgers. I have lost my last two picks, so let's get back in the win column.
Last week: 0-1. Season: 7-6.
Hot Player of the Week
Seahawks WR Doug Baldwin
Baldwin has been a major reason behind the Seahawks' recent success. Since Seattle's bye, he has recorded 24 receptions, 433 yards, and six touchdowns in four games. He's returned to his WR1 form that he was in during Seattle's Super Bowl run. With Marshawn Lynch out for an indefinite amount of time, Seattle needs Baldwin's production to continue if the Seahawks want to return to their third straight Super Bowl. Not only has he been hot on the field, but when he's off the field, he reminds me of Tyson Beckford, so it should be obvious as to why Doug Baldwin is my Hot Player of the Week.