Free NFL Pick’em: Week Fourteen
Week 14 is underway and we are only a month away from playoff football. Well, official playoff football. The playoffs essentially start in December and teams begin to play desperate. Other teams lay down as players begin to lose interest and look forward to the offseason and sunny beaches. I am looking for the teams I believe ‘want’ to win a Wild Card berth, they usually start to surface in the next week or two. The Titans, for example, played football last night like they ‘want’ respect, and they ‘want’ to bust heads in the playoffs. What about the Dolphins? The Colts? The Panthers? The Vikings? Which teams do you think can elevate their game when they need to most?
I had a solid week last week going 9-7 straight up and 10-6 against the spread, but I will have to be better going forward. I feel confident this will be the week, a 12-16 point week. I am carrying a 1-game lead into Week 14 in straight up pick’em. Last week, I narrowed the gap between Brad Castronovo and myself to 6 games ATS, and I have a feeling I can catch him. Keep up with our staff pick’em race as it comes down to the wire.
Here are my picks for Week 14 of the NFL season.
Atlanta at Green Bay
Spread: Green Bay -5
The Packers and Falcons have spiraled out of playoff contention and they have certainly left their fans disappointed with the 2018 season. The Packers losers of three straight, are coming off a loss to the Cardinals in Green Bay, resulting in a coaching change. The Falcons have lost four straight and they aren’t inspiring any confidence. I am going to run with this fact, the last five games played between these two teams, have all gone to the home team.
My Pick: Green Bay 27-26
Baltimore at Kansas City
Spread: Kansas City -7
The Chiefs behind their potent offense have topped 30 points in all but two games this season, 27 and 26 were the point totals of the two games they finished with under 30. It’s worth noting they won both of those games. It’s pretty remarkable what the Chiefs have accomplished, and their offense didn’t lose a step last week after losing their starting running back. What happens when the Ravens come to town? Baltimore boasts a 3-0 lifetime record in Arrowhead. The Ravens defense has allowed 30 points only twice this season. Something has to give. Since Lamar Jackson took over for the Ravens, they have rushed for more than 200 yards in all three games. Baltimore’s defense has allowed 255,249, and 131 total yards in those three games. How do you slow down elite offense? Keep them off the field. Call me crazy…
My Pick: Baltimore 27-24
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Carolina at Cleveland
Spread: Carolina -1.5
Carolina comes into this game with four consecutive losses and all of the sudden, they are clinging on to their playoff hopes. I decided to take a look at the last four games for the Panthers and I found out they have been relatively unlucky. Their numbers offensive and defensively have mostly stayed the same and they even improved in some areas. The only thing I noticed was a spike in sacks allowed, 12 in their first eight games, 12 in their last four games. Newton threw 4 interceptions against the Bucs last week and yet they lost by only one score (for the third consecutive week). His completion percentage is still as high as ever, and if there is anything I know about Newton, he is a proven winner.
My Pick: Carolina 30-20
Indianapolis at Houston
Spread: Houston -4.5
Before Week 13, I would have liked the Colts to pull off an upset against the Texans. Then the Colts crumbled against Jacksonville, and quite frankly Indianapolis has moved back to a one-dimensional offense. They just don’t run the ball enough. Meanwhile, the Texans are quietly ranked 2nd on the ground this year. Lamar Miller has been finding holes and the Texans offensive line has out-performed expectations. Watson and his squad get the W, and in the process, they effectively eliminate the Colts.
My Pick- Houston 33-24
New England at Miami
Spread: New England -8
The Patriots look primed to roll through December and take hold of another AFC East Title, something we are well accustomed to. The one-speed bump they have left is the middling Dolphins. Miami has won four of their last five against Brady and Co. in the Florida heat. The forecast for Sunday is 82 degrees and that temperature might be a little bit warmer than the Pats like. However, the Dolphins will likely be without star corner Xavien Howard, who is leading their defense and the league in interceptions. Miami doesn’t play well defensively unless they take the ball away, something they will have to do on Sunday. Last year during Week 14, Miami’s Xavien Howard picked off Brady twice and the Dolphins won down south. If Howard doesn’t play, say bye-bye to the playoffs in Miami.
My Pick: New England 30-17
New Orleans at Tampa Bay
Spread: New Orleans -9.5
The spread on this game is excessive, these teams have proven throughout the years that they are evenly matched when they take the same field on any given Sunday. Eight of the last nine games between these two have been a one-score game and I really like what the Bucs have done recently and I think they may be able to pull off an upset here. Betting on Winston is a tough thing to do, and betting against Brees is even harder. The Saints weren’t so hot last week against the Cowboys, but they have had a lot of time to re-focus. I am not getting cute here, but be prepared to sweat this one out.
My Pick: New Orleans 27-21
N.Y. Giants at Washington
Spread: N.Y. Giants -3.5
The Giants are rolling after a big win against the Bears and I am confident they win again on Sunday. Odell and Saquon continue to offer a promising future for Giants fans, and I have a feeling they might win out this year. Watch out! The Redskins are depleted at QB and their refusal to entertain certain free-agent quarterback options is disappointing. The Redskins are one of those teams, at least in their current situation, in which you absolutely avoid in December.
My Pick: N.Y. Giants 20-12
N.Y. Jets at Buffalo
Spread: Buffalo -3.5
Buffalo gave one away in Miami last week, and it would have been their third consecutive victory. I am pretty sure most fans located outside of the New York State area didn’t pick the Bills to win three games all season, let alone in a row. Buffalo fans don’t fret, the Bills get back on track this week against a Jets team they have dominated in recent years. The Bills have taken care of the Jets in Buffalo in five of six. The Jets are terrible offensively and poor rookie Sam Darnold will start this week after missing a few games, and he’ll probably wish he had stayed sidelined.
My pick: Buffalo 16-13
Cincinnati at L.A. Chargers
Spread: L.A. Chargers -14.5
The Bolts are my lock of the week after a strong performance last week in Pittsburgh. It seems the Chargers are for real, and they are set on proving that point. With a win on Sunday, they clinch a playoff berth, one that Rivers is most certainly craving. Cincinnati is injured, and their fans are tired, tired of cheering the Bengals, tired of cheering the Bengals coached by Marvin Lewis. Unless their fan base actually desires to go 7-9 every single year? I’d say Lewis doesn’t make it to next Sunday… yeah right. Do not be afraid of the big line, it won’t be pretty.
My Pick: L.A. Chargers 34-10
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Denver at San Francisco
Spread: Denver -3.5
Phillip Lindsay has run away from the competition in Denver, literally. His emergence as the best back in Denver gives the Broncos a glimmer of hope in the AFC playoff race. Bradley Chubb has made an equally valuable impact on the defensive side of the ball, recording 10 sacks on the season thus far. I’ll be watching this game on Sunday to see how the rookie receivers look for the Broncos. DaeSean Hamilton and Courtland Sutton will have to step if the team wants to win games beyond this Sunday, so let’s see what they can do against the lowly 49ers.
My Pick: Denver 26-19
Detroit at Arizona
Spread: Detroit -3
Detroit has been dreadful this season, and they are 1-4 on the road. The silver lining behind those road losses? Three of the losses came against teams currently in the playoffs, and the fourth was against the Jimmy Garoppolo-led 49ers. As for the Cardinals, Arizona had been dreadful at home, their only win coming against the Jimmy Garoppolo-less 49ers. Your guess is as good as mine in this one. I will say the Cardinals lost rookie wide receiver Christian Kirk for the season, and he was a regular contributor for their already weak offense.
My Pick: Detroit 20-17
Philadelphia at Dallas
Spread: Dallas -3.5
I usually don’t get excited about the overrated NFC East and its plethora of over-hyped games. But this game may just be the first one I am excited about. I want to see if the Cowboys can deliver the knockout punch. They are pretty darn good behind their running game and defense. However, the road to the playoffs runs through the defending champs. Philadelphia looked good last week, and I am sure they will bring their A-game. I think this one will be a nail-biter, but I’m feeling the Cowboys.
My Pick: Dallas 24-21
Pittsburgh at Oakland
Spread: Pittsburgh -10
Pittsburgh blew a big lead at home last week and their struggles continued against the AFC West. They are now 0-3 against the AFC West and the last team they will face requires a long west coast trip to Oakland. The Steelers historically struggle in Oakland. Hold on now, I am not picking the Raiders, but I do expect the Raiders to cover 10. I won’t be surprised if this game winds up close. Of course, last week I said I wouldn’t be surprised if the Steelers crushed the Chargers and we saw how that turned out…
My Pick: Pittsburgh 31-23
L.A. Rams at Chicago
Spread: L.A. Rams -3.5
Trubisky is set to return for the Bears and they will need him if they intend to knock off the Rams. I have been critical of the Bears in the past, but they have proven to be a competitive team on both sides of the ball. Last week I picked the Bears to lose to the 3-8 Giants, this week I am picking the Bears to beat the 11-1 Rams. Why? Jared Goff has played relatively average on the road for the Rams this season. To be specific, he has played six games home, and six games away. Away, he has 600 less yards passing, half the TDs, more than double the INTs, a completion percentage 8 points lower, and naturally, a passer rating 32 points lower. If Goff slips at all, the Bears will capitalize and ride their home crowd to victory. Who says the league is changing? Defense can still win…
My Pick: Chicago 27-20
Minnesota at Seattle
Spread: Seattle -3
Seattle has won three straight overall and I am riding that wave all the way to the playoffs. Russell Wilson keeps balling out and the Seahawks continue to run the ball like they haven’t in years past. On top of that, the Seahawks have won four straight against the Vikings. Minnesota is the model team for inconsistency, along with the Titans. You never know which team will show up. I am not about to pick the Vikings on the road in what will certainly be a deafening atmosphere, one week after the Vikings were shut down in New England. Seattle on the other hand, is a big-game battle-tested machine. Go Hawks.
My Pick: Seattle 30-28[the_ad id=”79657″][the_ad id=”61518″]