Three massive matchups take place in NFL Week 14. On Thursday, Dec. 7, the New Orleans Saints travel to battle the Atlanta Falcons. Saints versus Falcons is not only one of the great rivalries in the NFL, it’s also a must win game for the Falcons. A loss could seriously damper the defending NFC Champions’ chances of making the playoffs this season.
On Sunday, the Philadelphia Eagles head to L.A. to battle the Rams. Can Philadelphia bounce back from their first loss since Week 2? The Rams will try to prevent the Eagles from doing so. Also on Sunday, is a massive game between the Carolina Panthers and the Minnesota Vikings. The door is open for Minnesota to grab home field advantage throughout the playoffs.
Carolina won’t be an easy out, though. Check out my 2017 NFL Week 14 Preview!
2017 NFL Week 14 Preview
Thursday, Dec. 7
New Orleans Saints -1.5 at Atlanta Falcons +1.5
The New Orleans Saints travel to Atlanta on Thursday night to battle the rival Falcons. Atlanta allows around 113 rushing yards per game. That’s going to make it difficult for the Falcons to stop the Saints rushing attack.
New Orleans racked up 157 rushing yards versus Carolina in Week 13. It’s difficult to see the Saints two-headed rushing monster of Mark Ingram and Alvin Kamara not racking up another 150 yards against Atlanta. If that happens, Atlanta should be in some trouble.
This line has already gone from Falcons -2 to Saints -1.5. New Orleans could get starting cornerback Marshon Lattimore back. If they do, a blowout win is all but assured.
Best Pick: Saints -1.5
Sunday, Dec. 10
Detroit Lions Off at Tampa Bay Buccaneers Off
The line should remain off until Wednesday afternoon when the Lions say if QB Matthew Stafford will play or not. Detroit blew it against the Baltimore Ravens in Week 13. The Bucs got their offense going versus the Green Bay Packers in Week 13.
So, they’re the play against the spread no matter what Stafford’s status is. The big question is how much of a favorite Tampa’s going to be if Stafford can’t go. It probably won’t be by much because Tampa is 3-8-1 against the spread this season.
Oakland Raiders +4 at Kansas City Chiefs -4
To me, this is a bad betting line. The Chiefs will put up points, no doubt. But, KC’s defense allowed the Jets to score 38 points against it. I don’t see KC’s defense holding down Oakland’s offense.
Even though Oakland is a terrible road team against the spread, the Raiders have the weapons to score a ton of points versus the Chiefs. This game should be a shootout like it was in Week 7 when Oakland beat KC 31 to 30.
4 points is a lot to give up in this game. I can’t do it. I’m backing the Raiders.
Pick: Raiders +4
Green Bay Packers -3.5 at Cleveland Browns +3.5
Green Bay found a way to beat the Tampa Bay Buccaneers even though QB Brett Hundley threw for less than 85 yards. The reason is because the Packers managed to rush for 199 yards versus Tampa Bay’s defense.
Because Green Bay QB Aaron Rodgers can’t play until Week 15, the Packers are going to try and rush it again versus Cleveland’s defense. That’s where the dilemma lies. The Browns’ rush defense allows an average of 96.9 rushing yards per game. All told, Cleveland allows 327.2 total yards per. The Browns rank tenth in total yards allowed per game. They rank sixth in rushing yards allowed per game.
Although Cleveland is one of the worst football teams I’ve ever seen, I believe this is the moment. Green Bay’s defense isn’t very good while Cleveland’s defense is decent. I think this is the week the Browns get their first straight up win.
Best Pick: Browns +3.5
Minnesota Vikings -3 at Carolina Panthers +3
The Vikings have won 8 straight games. However, this will be Minnesota’s 4 road game in their last 5. Eventually, things should go south for the Minnesota Vikings. Will things go south this Sunday?
I believe they will. Carolina goes into Week 14 having lost to the rival New Orleans Saints. The Panthers are a very good 8 and 4 straight up. Carolina had won 4 in a row before losing to New Orleans. Although Minnesota’s defense gets most of the press, Carolina’s defense is pretty good. Only a team like New Orleans could have racked up so many yards versus the Panthers.
This should be a tight game. I’m backing the Panthers.
Pick: Panthers +3
Chicago Bears +7 at Cincinnati Bengals -7
The Chicago Bears travel to Cincinnati to battle the Bengals in a game where neither team inspires much confidence. One difference is that the Bengals have a better defense. That’s enough of a difference for me to side with Cincinnati even though the Bears defense isn’t bad.
Why? Chicago’s offense is terrible. I’m not sure how much blame should fall on QB Mitch Trubisky’s shoulders. Chicago has become one-dimensional where they just don’t allow Mitch to throw the football more than 15 times a game. He’s like an MLB pitcher on a pitch count.
Bengals should win and cover.
Pick: Bengals -7
San Francisco 49’ers +3 at Houston Texans -3
It’s hard to be all over the Houston Texans at -3 in this. That’s what I must do, though. The reason is because San Francisco remains one of the worst teams in the NFL against the rush. Houston running back Lamar Miller is plenty talented enough to keep San Francisco’s whirling all over the place.
San Francisco’s offense could find some luck against Houston’s terrible pass defense. The Texans allow 235.8 passing yards per game. Still, I’ll take the better rushing team at home giving up only a field goal.
Pick: Texans -3
Indianapolis Colts Off at Buffalo Bills Off
Vegas oddsmakers aren’t going to set a line in this game until Buffalo updates everyone on QB Tyrod Taylor’s status. If Taylor doesn’t play, Indianapolis could upset the Bills straight up. The reason I write that is because Buffalo’s defense has become one of the worst defenses in the NFL versus the rush.
The New England Patriots pounded the Bills for 191 rushing yards from 35 carries in Week 14. Indianapolis has a decent, young, running back in Marlon Mack. There’s a chance that the Colts give Mack the ball many times in this game just to see what they’ve really got.
I like the Colts.
Dallas Cowboys -5 at New York Giants +5
My hope is that interim Giants’ head coach Steve Spagnuolo starts the great Eli Manning at quarterback. If he does, I believe the Giants could beat Dallas straight up in this. The Giants are much better than their 2 and 10 record indicates.
While Dallas is good, Eli to WR Sterling Shepard is a combination that the Cowboys should have trouble containing. Dallas also faces the Giants a week after dominating their biggest rivals, Washington, in a Thursday night matchup.
I’ll take the 5 points on the G-Men.
New York Jets -1.5 at Denver Broncos +1.5
The Jets travel to Denver to battle the Broncos in a game with a whacked out betting line. There’s no way that the Jets shouldn’t be 6-point favorites in this game. Forget handicapping. Think about effort. The Broncos have none on either offense or defense.
The Jets battle in every game. Even when they’re terrible, the Jets fight hard. That’s why J-E-T-S is 7 and 4 against the spread while the Broncos are 2-9-1 against the spread. I think the Jets are a best pick.
Best Pick: Jets -1.5
Tennessee Titans -3 at Arizona Cardinals +3
The Titans are a terrible passing team. Tennessee averages 202.4 passing yards per game. That’s bad news for the Titans because the Cardinals allow less than 100 rushing yards per. Tennessee’s skated by bad teams to get to their 8 and 4 straight up record.
The Cardinals aren’t a good team. They’re better than many of the teams that Tennessee has faced this season. Arizona beat the Jaguars straight up as a dog only a couple of weeks ago. If Zona can move the ball against the Jaguars’ defense, they can definitely move the ball against Tennessee’s defense.
I like Arizona straight up.
Best Pick: Cardinals +3
Washington Redskins +6.5 at L.A. Chargers -6.5
The Chargers have played at such a high-level that I can’t help but feel this a trap game. Washington is better than what they showed in the blowout loss to the Dallas Cowboys in Week 13. Washington is a decent 3 and 3 against the spread in road games this season. The Chargers are a terrible 2 and 4 against the spread in home games.
Washington should, at the very least, cover the spread.
Pick: Washington +6.5
Seattle Seahawks +3 at Jacksonville Jaguars -3
Seattle could end up the favorite after the Seahawks upset the Philadelphia Eagles 24 to 10 as a home dog this past Sunday. I’d be happy with that. Why? Seattle doesn’t match up well with Jacksonville. Not at all.
Seattle’s D should have a tough time holding down the Jags’ rushing offense while Seattle’s offense will have trouble keeping Jacksonville’s defense from getting to QB Russell Wilson. Seattle can’t rush the football all that well. It means the Jags easily cover the spread.
Best Pick: Jaguars -3
Philadelphia Eagles +2.5 at L.A. Rams -2.5
Everyone believes the Philadelphia Eagles bounce back from their loss to the Seattle Seahawks in Week 13. I don’t. Philadelphia had trouble containing QB Russell Wilson. The Rams’ offensive line is much better than Seattle’s.
Not only that, but the Rams’ defensive line has played much better in recent weeks. I think LAR is peaking while Philly peaked about 3 weeks ago. I like the Rams.
Pick: Rams -2.5
Baltimore Ravens +7 at Pittsburgh Steelers -7
There’s a lot of drama in Sunday night’s battle between the Baltimore Ravens and the Pittsburgh Steelers. Baltimore has been on a mini winning streak while the Steelers are 10 and 2.
I thought Baltimore’s 44 to 20 win over the Detroit Lions in Week 13 was one of the most impressive performances I saw. What it tells me is that the Ravens have gotten better. Pittsburgh? They struggled versus lowly Cincinnati in a 23 to 20 non-cover win.
I’ll take the Ravens on Sunday night.
Pick: Ravens +7
Monday, Dec. 11
New England Patriots -11 at Miami Dolphins +11
Monday night’s game lacks a lot of fanfare because Miami should have no chance against the New England Patriots. Then again, the Dolphins thumped the Denver Broncos in Week 12. I believe Miami plays okay versus the Patriots this coming Monday night.
Okay doesn’t mean that Miami covers the spread. New England should beat Miami by at least 14 points. That means the Pats cover. New England all the way.
Pick: Patriots -11