Week 14 NFL picks against the spread
Week 13 was as weird as expected. The Eagles and Falcons didn't come through in our games of the week, but we appropriately went 13-1 in picking winners for the rest of the games.
That means the bar has been set higher for Week 14 as we try to up that total to at least 14 wins. Just maybe, in three weeks, we can then push for perfection. The glass is always near full is this business.
Here are this week's predictions and prognostications, both against the spread and straight up. Thanks again to Bovada for the Week 14 betting lines.
Co-Game of the Week: Eagles at Rams (n/a), Sunday, 4:25 p.m., FOX
Jared Goff and Carson Wentz get to meet on the same field during their breakout second seasons. The Eagles after the Seahawks game stayed out in California to avoid a long trip back west, which should help them recover nicely from the shellshock of Seattle. Philadelphia’s fans and players will feel at home in Los Angeles, and Wentz can do a better job of getting away from Aaron Donald and the Rams' front than Goff will against Fletcher Cox and the Eagles’ front.
PICK: Eagles win 34-27.
Co-Game of the Week: Vikings (-3) at Panthers, Sunday, 1 p.m., FOX
The Vikings have racked up wins over the Rams, Saints and Falcons this season, and this is another chance for them to build their strong NFC resume as the new team to beat for the No. 1 playoff seed. When the Panthers can't run, which teams don’t do on Minnesota, everything unravels offensively around Cam Newton. They also don't force too many turnovers, and Case Keenum protects the ball. They also will have a ton of trouble covering both Stefon Diggs and Adam Thielen.
PICK: Vikings win 24-14 and cover the spread.
Game of the Midweek: Saints (-1 1/2) at Falcons, Thursday, 8:25 p.m., NBC
The Saints have Mark Ingram and Alvin Kamara. The Falcons have Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman. At this point, it’s easier to trust the dominant dynamic backfield duo of 2017 over the one from ’16. Drew Brees also has been playing better than Matt Ryan all season, and, for some reason, Atlanta doesn't have much of an advantage in its new home. New Orleans can smell the NFC South title and will keep up the divisional momentum after ripping Carolina.
PICK: Saints win 27-24 and cover the spread.
Lock of the Week: New York Jets (-1) over Denver Broncos, Sunday, 4:05 p.m., CBS
What? Taking a barely favored 5-7 team over a 3-9 team on the road in one cold guarantee? Yes. The Jets, unlike the Broncos, are playing inspired and exciting offense. They are giving up big plays defensively but don’t need to worry much about that with the anemia on the other side. The Jets will fly to a Mile High with Josh McCown, who is much better than anything the hosts can trot out at quarterback.
PICK: Jets win 24-10 and cover the spread.
Upset of the Week: Arizona Cardinals over Tennessee Titans (-3), Sunday, 4:05 p.m. ET, CBS
The desert was a trap for the other AFC South power, the Jaguars, just two weeks ago. Marcus Mariota’s slumping season has made the Titans inconsistent, and the Cardinals can contain him and his limited healthy weapons. Blaine Gabbert isn't good, but he can deliver the ball where needed downfield against a weak pass defense. Arizona’s aggressiveness pays off for the team to rebound at home.
PICK: Cardinals win 17-16.
Chicago Bears at Cincinnati Bengals (n/a), Sunday, 1 p.m., FOX
The Bengals are good at taking care of business in the early Sunday window at home against bad teams. Mitchell Trubisky and Jordan Howard won't fare well against a frustrated defense itching to rebound from the second half against Pittsburgh. Cincinnati can win with plenty of running and safe passing from Andy Dalton.
PICK: Bengals win 20-13.
Dallas Cowboys (-6) at New York Giants, Sunday, 1 p.m., FOX
The firing of Ben McAdoo and the re-starting of Eli Manning should, in theory, give the Giants an extra spark under Spags, especially with a chance to drag the Cowboys out of the playoff with them. But Dallas, like it was against Washington, is the better team on both fronts and will grind out another must-win with Dak Prescott and the pass rush doing just enough.
PICK: Cowboys win 23-20 but fail to cover the spread.
Detroit Lions at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (n/a), Sunday, 1 p.m., FOX
Matthew Stafford is hurting and just trying to survive in order to put the Lions in position to steal another wild-card berth. With the defense leaking to join the running game sputtering, he’ll need to be at his best. Luckily, the Buccaneers’ pass defense is awful, and they also can’t put much pressure on the QB. In a battle of big-armed QBs, it’s easier to trust Stafford on the road than Jameis Winston at home, especially in the fourth quarter.
PICK: Lions win 34-27.
Green Bay Packers (-3 1/2) at Cleveland Browns, Sunday, 1 p.m., FOX
This is it for Brett Hundley, likely the last game he needs to help the Packers win so he can hand things off to Aaron Rodgers for another improbable playoff push. The good news is Hundley has played much better on the road than at Lambeau Field. DeShone Kizer will have his moments with Josh Gordon on the other side, but Hundley will use his own deeper, more talented receiving corps to save the day against another bad pass defense.
PICK: Packers win 20-17 but fail to cover the spread.
Indianapolis Colts at Buffalo Bills (n/a), Sunday, 1 p.m., CBS
The Colts can't stop the run. The Bills can't stop the run. One team has LeSean McCoy, and the other has venerable Frank Gore. Should Tyrod Taylor miss the game for Buffalo, it won’t be easy with Nathan Peterman. But expect the hosts to keep it simple and feed McCoy often to keep their front from being exposed by Gore, Marlon Mack and some Jacoby Brissett. A lot of running, a lot of field goals, a little Bills victory.
PICK: Bills win 19-16.
Oakland Raiders at Kansas City Chiefs (-4), Sunday, 1 p.m., CBS
The Raiders’ offense now has Marshawn Lynch going, and they should get back both Michael Crabtree and Amari Cooper, who burned the Chiefs in the first meeting. But the Chiefs, despite their loss at the Jets, also revived their passing game with Travis Kelce and Tyreek Hill. Alex Smith and Derek Carr are headed to another shootout. Give the slight edge to Kansas City because of desperation at Arrowhead.
PICK: Chiefs win 30-27 but fail to cover the spread.
San Francisco 49ers at Houston Texans (-3), Sunday, 1 p.m., FOX
Jimmy Garoppolo is for real, and soon, he might be spectacular. For the second straight week, he’s the best quarterback on the field on the road. The 49ers have found a way to overachieve defensively, while the Texans continue to fall apart with bigger lapses. Kyle Shanahan outsmarts Bill O’Brien here, as the latter remains hampered by Tom Savage.
PICK: 49ers win 23-20.
Washington Redskins at Los Angeles Chargers (-6), Sunday, 4:05 p.m., CBS
The Redskins’ offensive line has become a makeshift mess, not exactly what you want when you’re about to face the pass rush of Joey Bosa. Their defensive front is also falling apart, not exactly what you want when you’re about to face Melvin Gordon and Austin Ekeler. Keenan Allen and Hunter Henry can attack the weaknesses of Washington’s pass defense, too. Philip Rivers easily out-duels Kirk Cousins.
PICK: Chargers win 26-17 and cover the spread.
Seattle Seahawks at Jacksonville Jaguars (-3), Sunday, 4:25 p.m., FOX
The Jaguars usually prey on one-dimensional passing teams, because it allows their “Sacksonville” pass rush to pin its ears back and take over, setting up takeaways for their talented secondary. They are bound to make some big pressure plays on the Seahawks, but Seattle can make it equally ugly on Leonard Fournette and Blake Bortles. At the end of the game, Seattle has the one player to pretty it all up on a field-goal drive: Russell Wilson.
PICK: Seahawks win 20-17.
Baltimore Ravens at Pittsburgh Steelers (n/a), Sunday, 8:30 p.m., NBC
The Ravens have found their identity of Alex Collins’ physical running and their defense’s consistent pounding. But they’ll need Joe Flacco to find his one-time clutch self to knock off the Steelers in Heinz Field to stay in the AFC North race. Without Jimmy Smith, however, Baltimore won’t have answers for Antonio Brown, and a heavy dose of Le’Veon Bell will ring it home for Pittsburgh.
PICK: Steelers win 24-17.
New England Patriots (-11 1/2) at Miami Dolphins, Monday, 8:30 p.m., ESPN
The Patriots won’t have Rob Gronkowski, but they’ll have their red-hot running game in a rematch from just two weeks ago, this time with their defense facing Jay Cutler. Tom Brady will again have fun attacking the Dolphins’ overmatched corners, and there’s a good bet for another Cutler pick six against a talented secondary that’s playing much better than it was earlier in the season.
PICK: Patriots win 30-17 and cover the spread.