NFL Week 14: Pick and Predictions

I’m not always right, but sometimes I am right on the money. The Rams took care of business with relative ease against the Patriots, giving me the trifecta with the straight pick, ATS, and the over/under. 

The Rams’ defense was too much for Cam Newton and the Pats

New England was simply outmatched in the one-sided affair. As I pointed out in my pre-game breakdown, Los Angeles brought a Top-3 defense and a Top-10 offense to the contest and just presented more problems than the Pats were capable of dealing with. 

Cam Akers marked his territory as the featured back in the Rams’ offense, rushing for 171-yards on 29-carries. New England’s middle-of-the-pack run defense couldn’t do anything about it and the Rams defense made sure the Pats couldn’t get anything going. 

Cam Akers ran wild on the Patriots’ defense

There was a point early in the game where Bill Belichick opted not to kick the field goal which would have put the Pats down 17-6 at halftime and they would be receiving the 2nd half kickoff. Obviously, he respected the LA defense for good reason but it’s unlike Belichick to pass up incremental advantages. 

After blasting the Chargers 45-0, it must have been a humbling experience to go back to the same building and getting dominated all night long. There was no scoring in the 4th quarter as the Rams merely bled the clock to the best of their ability.

(8-4)Tennessee Titans vs. (1-11)Jacksonville Jaguars (+7.5, 53)

Breakdown: The Titans got humiliated by the Browns last week and I get the feeling they are going to take it out on the Jags. Derrick Henry has made a habit out of thrashing Jacksonville late in the season and I don’t see any reason why this game would be any different. The Jags have the 3rd worst run defense in the league and this is a must-win for the Titans. Even though the Tennessee defense hasn’t been very good this season, it should be more than enough for them to get the job done. These teams played in a shootout early in the season, but things have changed a lot since then. 

Pick: Titans

ATS: Titans -7.5

Over/Under: Under 53

(6-6)Arizona Cardinals vs. (5-7)New York Giants (+1.5, 45)

Breakdown: At this point, I’m a little sad that I was right about the Cardinals being mediocre because they were one of the more exciting teams to watch. You can tell that miracle win over the Bills still stings a little, but that feels like an eternity ago as they’ve lost three in a row and four of their last five games. The Giants, on the other hand, are one of the hottest teams in football, winning four in a row and taking a W off the Seahawks in Seattle with no Daniel Jones. That morning game gets extra tough for the West Coast teams heading East as it gets late in the season. It isn’t going to be that cold, but it’s not Arizona weather and Deandre Hopkins has been nursing some neck and back injuries that could ding his effectiveness. The Giants’ defense has been very good as of late and, if their D-line can stay disciplined in containing Kyler Murray, they should have a good shot to keep their win streak alive. 

Pick: Giants

ATS: Giants +1.5

Over/Under: Under 45

(11-1)Kansas City Chiefs vs. (8-4)Miami Dolphins (+7, 49.5)

Breakdown: Now that the Steelers are no longer unbeaten, the door is open for the Chiefs to take the #1 seed in the AFC. The Dolphins have shown that they are good but still a young team learning how to win. They have struggled with sub-500 teams in their last four games and Kansas City is a whole different animal. The Chiefs haven’t blown the doors off in the last couple of games, but one was against a top-tier defense in Tampa Bay and the other was a division clash. Miami is young and has good team speed on defense, but slowing down the KC offense is easier said than done. It’ll be a good litmus test for the Fins, but I see them losing by a TD.

Pick: Chiefs

ATS: Chiefs -7

Over/Under: Under 49.5

(9-3)Green Bay Packers vs. (5-7)Detroit Lions (+7.5, 55)

Breakdown: Even though the Lions came back from 10-pts down to beat the Bears last week, I’m going to attribute that mostly to Chicago’s continued downhill slide. Green Bay beat up on the Eagles, as expected, and if they can just get the Saints to give up a game down the stretch they can take the #1 spot in the NFC. Detroit is still without Kenny Golladay and Jeff Okudah but will be getting D’Andre Swift back in theory. If they can run the ball this could be interesting and the Lions aren’t totally out of the playoff hunt so it could be close. Plus, Green Bay doesn’t have the best defense but I’ll still take the Packers to get it done.  

Pick: Packers

ATS: Packers -7.5

Over/Under: Over 55

(6-6)Minnesota Vikings vs. (7-5)Tampa Bay Buccaneers (-6.5, 51.5)

Kirk Cousins and Tom Brady both have a lot riding on this game.

Breakdown: Thanks to a Cardinals loss, the Vikings are now the 7th seed in the NFC playoff race but they get a tough test against the Buccaneers coming off their bye week. Minnesota has been up and down all season, barely beating the Jags and Panthers in their last two games and losing to Dallas three weeks ago. Tampa Bay mostly lost to good teams and their defense is still one of the top units in the league, particularly against the run. If they can shut down Dalvin Cook and force Kirk Cousins to beat the pass rush, I like their chances. Jamel Dean looks like he could miss that game for the Bucs which could help Minny’s passing attack. I’ll take the team with the better defense and Tom Brady. 

Pick: Bucs

ATS: Bucs -6.5

Over/Under: Under 51.5

(3-9)Dallas Cowboys vs. (2-9-1)Cincinnati Bengals (+3.5, 43.5)

Breakdown: This is a meaningless game. Dallas blew their shot at winning the crap chute known as the NFC East and the Bengals aren’t nearly as exciting without Joe Burrow. Hopefully, nobody gets seriously injured. Two bad defenses should produce a high scoring game. I’ll take Dallas and their slight experience edge. 

Pick: Cowboys

ATS: Cowboys -3.5

Over/Under: Over 43.5

(4-8)Denver Broncos at (4-8)Carolina Panthers (-3, 45.5) 

Breakdown: This is another meaningless game, at least when it comes to post-season implications. Christian McCaffrey won’t be back to rescue fantasy owners either. Denver has looked pretty good on occasion but you just never know. This one has shootout written all over it too as neither defense has shown the ability to shut down an opposing offense. Let’s hope it’s high-scoring and maybe get some fantasy points out of it. 

Pick: Broncos

ATS: Broncos +3

Over/Under: Over 45.5

(4-8)Houston Texans vs. (5-7)Chicago Bears (pick ‘em, 45.5)

Breakdown: Just when it looked like Houston may go on a run, Will Fuller gets suspended for doping. Their division loss to the Colts last week effectively ended the little remaining playoff potential the Texans had. Fortunately for them, the Bears have lost 6 in a row, which gives them the 3rd longest losing streak behind the Jets and the Jaguars. That’s some pretty unfavorable company. If the Bears can blow a 10-pt, 4th-quarter lead to the Lions, there’s no way I’m trusting them in this game. DeShaun Watson will be the best player on the field and he’ll give the Texans the best shot to win this game. (*Note: Apparently I picked the Bears when I did my picks on Thursday and that’s the pick that made it to the spreadsheet. So, I’ll abide by the pick I put on the chart).

Pick: Bears

ATS: Bears (pick ’em)

Over/Under: Over 45.5

(0-12)New York Jets vs. (8-4)Seattle Seahawks (-13.5, 47)

Breakdown: Seattle better win this game. They looked inept offensively against the Giants, some of which you can attribute to a good Giants’ defense, but that was a game they are supposed to win. Losing a game like that at home this late in the season isn’t a good sign for a team that had just taken the division lead back. The Jets have been inching closer to getting their first win but there’s no way they should win this one. The Hawks need to use this game to get their confidence back. They’re better on both sides of the ball but they still have to go and prove it. Big spreads are hard to cover, but I’ll go with Russell Wilson and company. 

Pick: Seahawks

ATS: Seahawks -13.5

Over/Under: Under 47

(8-4)Indianapolis Colts vs. (7-5)Las Vegas Raiders (+2.5, 51.5)

Which one of these QBs can lead their team to a much-needed win?

Breakdown: This is one of the premier matchups this week as both teams need wins. Josh Jacobs is still questionable but will probably play while S Jeff Heath and CB Damon Arnette as both missing from the Las Vegas secondary. With T.Y. Hilton starting to get in rhythm with Philip Rivers, the Colts’ passing attack could do some damage in this game. The Raiders’ defense wasn’t very good to begin with and being short-handed in a crucial game is a tough draw. The Colts have a Top-10 defense and look to be at full health so I have to side with Indy on this one. 

Pick: Colts

ATS: Colts -2.5

Over/Under: Under 51.5

(10-2)New Orleans Saints vs. (3-8-1)Philadelphia Eagles (+6.5, 45)

Breakdown: After an abysmal season, questionable coaching has brought us to the Jalen Hurts era in Philadelphia. Well, probably not but we’ll get to see how he does getting the start. He gets a tough draw against a Top-4 defense in New Orleans. I was very critical of D-coordinator Dennis Allen as the Saints couldn’t stop anybody from doing anything through the first month of the season but, to his credit, he’s turned things around and made his group one of the best in the NFL. You’d think the Saints were bound to lose at least one game while Drew Brees is out, but it probably won’t be this one. How they are only a TD favorite doesn’t make sense, but oh well. 

Pick: Saints

ATS: Saints -6.5

Over/Under: Under 45

(5-7)Washington Football Team vs. (5-7)San Francisco 49ers (-3, 43.5)

Breakdown: I wouldn’t have thought Washington would be the ones to end the Steelers’ undefeated season, but here we are. They have played very well lately and won four in a row on the strength of their defense and Alex Smith’s leadership. The Niners are still beat up and not having Emmanuel Mosley in the secondary will hurt. Washington won’t have breakout RB Antonio Gibson to drive the offense, so it’ll be interesting to see how both sides approach the game. Nick Mullens has played okay as the starter but Washington showed their Top-10 defense is legit against Pittsburgh. Both teams need this, but I’m done picking against the better defenses. 

Pick: Washington

ATS: Washington +3

Over/Under: Under 43.5

(4-8)Atlanta Falcons vs. (3-9)Los Angeles Chargers (+2.5, 49.5)

Breakdown: This is another meaningless game when it comes to the overall league picture. The Chargers got shutout 45-0 by the Patriots and we saw what just happened to them on Thursday. Atlanta has played pretty well recently besides the two losses to the Saints in the last three games, but the Saints are good. No Julio Jones means I’ll be hoping Todd Gurley has a big day. Los Angeles has the 10th worst rush defense in the league, 7th worst in yards-per-carry. It’s tough to say the Falcons are significantly better, but I think they are. A healthy Joey Bosa is a headache for any team and could factor into the pass attack of Atlanta. All the more reason to let Gurley lead the way. 

Pick: Falcons

ATS: Falcons -2.5

Over/Under: Over 49.5

(11-1)Pittsburgh Steelers vs. (9-3)Buffalo Bills (+1.5, 47.5)

This could be a changing of the guard type of game

Breakdown: This is the game of the week as two of the league’s best teams jockey for playoff position in Orchard Park. The Steelers haven’t looked good the past two weeks, dropping everything in sight and failing to run effectively without James Conner but he’ll be back this week. They will be without CB Joe Haden and LB Robert Spillane who have both played a big role in their Top-6 defense. That bodes well for Josh Allen and the Bills’ offense who’s coming off a big game against a solid 49ers’ defense. This is a litmus test game for Buffalo. If they play their best and they are capable of beating the Steelers. We’ve seen they are beatable and no Joe Haden means the Bills receivers are going to be much harder to deal with. I’m not sure what’s going on with Pittsburgh, maybe it’s the cold, but it’s going to be close to freezing by game time on Sunday Night Football. Cold weather usually favors the team with the better run game and defense, but screw it. I’ll wear my heart on my sleeve for this one. Go Bills!

Pick: Bills 

ATS: Bills +1.5

Over/Under: Over 47.5

(7-5)Baltimore Ravens vs. (9-3)Cleveland Browns (+2.5, 45.5)

Two run dominant team square off in a pivotal AFC North showdown

Breakdown: I would have thought Baltimore would have the better record at this point in the season, but Cleveland has surprised us all heading into this Monday night showdown. The Ravens’ defense has shown they are still pretty good and with Lamar Jackson back, they present problems for the Browns. Keep in mind when these teams met in Week 1, the Ravens dominated 38-6. A lot has changed and Cleveland has no doubt been playing better as of late. This is pretty close to a must-win game for Baltimore as they try to get that final playoff spot. I won’t be surprised if the Browns get the W, but it’s all on the line for the Ravens.

Pick: Ravens 

ATS: Ravens -2.5

Over/Under: Over 45.5

Nick’s PicksNick ATSOver/UnderChristen’s PicksVanger ATSToast ATS
RamsRams -4.5Under 44.5RamsPats +4.5Pats +4.5
TitansTitans -7.5Under 53TitansTitans -7.5Titans -7.5
GiantsGiants +1.5Under 45GiantsCards -1.5Giants +1.5
ChiefsChiefs -7Under 49.5ChiefsChiefs -7Chiefs -7
PackersPackers -7.5Over 55PackersLions +7.5Packers -7.5
BucsBucs -6.5Under 51.5VikingsVikes +6.5Vikes +6.5
CowboysCowboys -3.5Over 43.5BengalsBengals +3.5Cowboys -3.5
BroncosBroncos +3Over 45.5PanthersN/AN/A
BearsBearsOver 45.5BearsHoustonHouston
SeahawksSeahawks -13.5Under 47HawksJets +13.5Hawks -13.5
ColtsColts -2.5Under 51.5ColtsColts -2.5Colts -2.5
SaintsSaints -6.5Under 45SaintsSaints -6.5Saints -6.5
WashingtonWash +3Under 43.549ersNiners -3Wash +3
FalconsFalcons -2.5Over 49.5FalconsFaclons -2.5Chargers +2.5
BillsBills +1.5Over 47.5BillsBills +1.5Pitt -1.5
RavensRavens -2.5Over 45.5RavensBrowns +2.5Ravens -2.5

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