NFL Week 14 Picks
After a season where I won the Gridiron Experts Staff Pick ‘Em contest, I’ll be providing my picks every week for you, our readers. Last year, I went 64.5% straight up, and 55.4% against the spread… so I’m hoping to replicate that success this year. Each week, I’ll give you my picks for the game, and a short write-up centered around the key reason why I’m making the pick that I am. Last week, I went 8-8 straight up and 10-6 against the spread. Unfortunately, my lock of the week didn’t come through (10-3 for the season).
You can also click over to see all our Free NFL picks for the week with the staff.
Dallas (-2.5) @ Chicago
Both of these teams played on Thanksgiving, and both weren’t at their best, to say the least. Chicago labored to a 4-point win over David Blough and the Lions, while the Cowboys fell to the Bills in Dallas. Dak Prescott has been quite good this year, despite leading the Cowboys to a 6-6 record. On the other hand, Mitchell Trubisky hasn’t been at his best, and the Bears have stumbled to a 6-6 record of their own. With the Packers and Vikings surging in the NFC playoff picture, it seems Chicago will be on the outside looking in. While the Chicago defense is still formidable, it’s taken a step back after last year’s stint of dominance. Khalil Mack is still one of the best athletes in the game, but the production hasn’t quite come at the level it did last year. I think that this will be your typical low-scoring, cold, December Thursday Night game where both teams will underperform. With that said, I feel that Dallas has the edge offensively, and has a pretty strong defense to boot. With the Divisional Race’s weight on their shoulders, I like Dallas to rebound and take this game in Chicago. Cowboys 21-17.
Carolina @ Atlanta (-2.5)
In their first game without Ron Rivera at head coach, Carolina will travel to Atlanta. Both of these teams are coming off of losses ni Week 13. The Falcons scored late to fall to New Orleans by a score of 26-18, while the Panthers were embarrassed, falling at home to the lowly Redskins. Christian McCaffrey seems primed for a big game, as Atlanta has had trouble defending elite runners. McCaffrey is in the midst of an amazing campaign but was held in check by Washington last week. I think he’ll be out for blood in this game, and should touch the ball a ton in what I think will be a high scoring affair. DJ Moore has also had a breakout campaign and should draw a ton of targets from QB Kyle Allen. Matt Ryan will be tested by this stout Carolina secondary. It looks like he’ll get Julio Jones back, which will be a big boost for this offense, but Ryan will have to play better if this team is going to succeed. I do think that Atlanta’s defense has the capacity to force turnovers and that they’ll be able to get into Kyle Allen’s head as this game goes on. I like the Falcons to win an absolute nail-biter at home, forcing a timely turnover late to seal the deal. Falcons 28-27.
Baltimore (-5.5) @ Buffalo
Buffalo knocked off Dallas in Jerry World on Thanksgiving and put themselves on the map. Baltimore didn’t play until Sunday but beat the NFC’s best 49ers on a last-second Justin Tucker field goal. These teams are a combined 19-5 and this should be a great game to watch. Both QBs have been impressive throwing the ball… but they truly shine in the rushing game. Lamar Jackson, the league frontrunner for MVP, has rushed for 977 yards and 7 TDs, while Bills QB Josh Allen has rushed for 340 yards and a team-best 8 TDs. Both teams also have strong defenses, ranking 3rd (Buffalo) and 5th (Baltimore) in points against. Both teams have been susceptible to the passing attack though, as they both rank in the bottom third of the league in pass defense. Mark Ingram has provided a 1-2 punch with Jackson, excelling in running inside, while Jackson has provided a spark to the outside. Look for this dynamic duo to grind it out on Sunday. In the end, I think this game will come down to which team can score late. While both teams have proven the ability to run the ball, I think the timely pass completions and big plays late will determine the outcome. I believe in both of these quarterbacks, but can’t pick against Jackson right now, as he’s at the top of his game. Ravens 30-23.
Cincinnati @ Cleveland (-8.5)
The Bengals got their first win of the season last week with their longtime starter Andy Dalton back under center. The Browns, on the other hand, fell to the Steelers in a game that was underwhelming, to say the least. Baker Mayfield will need to play better and has to get his top weapon, Odell Beckham Jr., back on track. Mayfield has leaned on stud RB Nick Chubb and WR Jarvis Landry for most of the season, but if he doesn’t get Beckham clicking on all cylinders, I think this offense will continue to struggle. Cincinnati will need to replicate last week’s success, and that will hinge on them getting WR Tyler Boyd and RB Joe Mixon heavily involved. They do get WR John Ross back this week from the IR, and that should draw some secondary attention away from Boyd and Mixon. In the end, though, I don’t think Cincinnati’s defense will be up to the task. The Browns have too many weapons, and I don’t believe that Cincy has the playmakers to shut them down completely. I don’t think it’ll be pretty, but I do think Cleveland will win comfortably. Look for Beckham to find the end zone, and for Chubb to score twice as well. The Cleveland defense will do the rest, forcing multiple turnovers. I’ll take the Browns to win and cover at home. Browns 27-14.
Washington @ Green Bay (-13.5)
I know the Redskins won last week, but I’m not going to talk myself into Dwayne Haskins going to Lambeau and doing anything of substance. The only thing that Washington has going for them is the semi-breakout of RB Derrius Guice who strung together another strong performance last week. However, I believe that Mike Pettine will be able to gameplan to control the Washington rushing attack, and force Haskins to try and win the game… which he won’t. Aaron Rodgers should methodically pick apart this Redskins defense, and I think Aaron Jones will get back on track as well. Give me Green Bay to win this one by two scores on the Frozen Tundra. Packers 28-13.
Denver @ Houston (-9)
Drew Lock took the ball in his first career start and knocked off the LA Chargers with a late Brandon McManus field goal. In a 4-8 season, there haven’t been many highlights for Denver, but Lock’s win was certainly one of them. The rookie went 18-28 with only 134 yards. He added 2 touchdowns, compared to 1 INT… but all that matters is that the Broncos got the win. WR Courtland Sutton was especially impressive, converting two of his catches for TDs, and tallying 74 yards overall. Sutton has been unreal this year and is asserting himself as a “matchup-proof” every-week WR1. Speaking of WR1s, the Houston Texans have one of the game’s best in DeAndre Hopkins. Nuk usually draws the opposing team’s best corner and opens things up for his speedster WRs, Will Fuller and Kenny Stills. With QB Deshaun Watson playing some amazing football, it’s hard to think that Drew Lock can head into Houston and knock off this 8-4 Texans team that just beat the Patriots. I think that they’ll keep it close for a while, but that Houston will eventually pull away. Look for Watson to slowly but surely take over the game and for Will Fuller to find his way back into the end zone in this contest. Give me Houston to cover. Texans 30-18. (LOCK OF THE WEEK).
Detroit @ Minnesota (-12.5)
Minnesota came up just short in a battle with the 10-2 Seahawks on Monday Night Football. They also had a bit of an injury scare when WR Dalvin Cook went down with a shoulder injury and missed most of the second half. It seems like Cook will be fine for this week’s game… so the Vikings can breathe a sigh of relief. Provided he does play, I think Cook will absolutely take this game over. Detroit hasn’t been very good against the run this year, and I think that Cook and backup RB Alexander Mattison will get a lot of work in this game. Then, once the defense is focused in on shutting down the run game, Kirk Cousins will make some timely throws to his WRs (whether it includes the injured Adam Thielen or not.) Detroit will be quarterbacked by David Blough for the second straight week, it seems. Blough had a respectable first performance, throwing for 280 yards and a TD against Chicago on Thanksgiving. RB Bo Scarborough has filled in admirably at RB, and WRs Kenny Golladay and Marvin Jones have given Blough reliable targets to toss to. However, I just don’t see this team being able to outscore the Vikings and beat the formidable Minnesota defense. The Vikings haven’t lost at home this season yet, and it won’t happen for the first time when David Blough comes to town. Vikings 33-18.
San Francisco @ New Orleans (-2.5)
This game could be a preview of the NFC Championship game. Both offenses are potent and flush with weapons, and both defenses are quite strong as well. Alvin Kamara and Michael Thomas are among the game’s best skill players and you can bet Brees will try to force-feed them the ball in space and let them work. However, the Saints’ skill players do drop off after that. On the other side, the 49ers thrive with their dynamic rushing attack which should get Matt Breida back this week. Between Breida, Tevin Coleman, and Raheem Mostert (who balled out this week), the Saints will have plenty to prepare for. WR Deebo Samuel has also emerged as a crucial piece of the San Fran offense and a reliable target for QB Jimmy Garoppolo. Look for Samuel and Emmanuel Sanders to pace the receiving corps in this contest as Jimmy G tries to find his groove against Marshon Lattimore and this sneaky good Saints defense. In the end, I trust the 49ers defense just a little bit more to make a big stop late and feel that Nick Bosa & Co. will have better success getting to Drew Brees than anyone else has this season. I think this battle of behemoths will live up to the hype and think that the 49ers will squeak out a close win here. 49ers 27-26.
Miami @ NY Jets (-5.5)
Do I have to pick this game? After losing last week to the Bengals, I don’t know how I can trust the Jets. But when they’re playing Miami at home, I just might have to. In the end, I think their defense is just a little bit better than Miami’s and I think I trust them to make the stops they need to late. Ryan Fitzpatrick will be his usual electric self, and the Dolphins will hang around in this one. I do think that Le’Veon Bell will have his best game of the season, and that he’ll touch the ball a ton against this leaky Miami defense. When the chips are on the table, I think Sam Darnold will connect on some clutch throws late and put the Jets over the top at home. Jets 28-27.
Indianapolis @ Tampa Bay (-2.5)
The Colts are coming off of a tough loss to division foe Tennessee, while the Bucs knocked off the Jags last week. Indianapolis’ defense is actually pretty solid, and I wouldn’t be shocked to see them pick off Jameis multiple times in this game (like everyone else does.) While Marlon Mack still might not be back from injury, I think TE Jack Doyle and WR Zach Pascal will be enough to dominate this terrible Tampa Bay secondary. Pascal had a breakout game last week when he got targeted 10 times against Tennessee, and Doyle added 6 catches on 11 targets for 73 yards and a TD. With Brissett honing in on these two options, I think Indy’s offense will score a solid chunk of points, and that the defense will hold the Bucs to a respectable total. However, the Bucs have a strong run defense of their own. Not to mention, they have two of the league’s best receivers on the outside for Winston to target. Despite his turnover woes, I think Jameis will get the ball to Evans and Godwin enough for them to take the game over and propel the Bucs to win a close one at home. Buccaneers 27-24.
LA Chargers (-2.5) @ Jacksonville
Gardner Minshew will return as the Jaguars’ starting QB in this contest. Minshew was incredibly average in his return, throwing for only 147 yards, a TD and an INT on 27 attempts. But, we all saw the Minshew Mania that took over the NFL earlier this season. With WRs DJ Chark, Dede Westbrook, and Chris Conley starting to assert themselves as a legitimate triple threat, Minshew should have plenty of options. Not to mention, RB Leonard Fournette has had a solid season and has become more involved in the passing game. Last week, Fournette hauled in 9 of 11 targets. I think Minshew’s playbook will be diluted a bit, and the Jaguars will try to get him on track early. The LA Chargers defense is pretty solid across from them, as they’ll need to deal with the likes of Melvin Ingram, Joey Bosa, and possibly Derwin James… not an easy task. Philip Rivers hasn’t been great, but he does have a plethora of weapons that I’m simply not convinced the Jags are prepared to defend. I think that Rivers will have another inefficient game, but that he’ll connect on enough meaningful throws to put LA over the top in this one. I believe that the Melvin Gordon/Ekeler backfield should eat up this Jacksonville defense that has struggled against the run, and that will open up passing lanes for the heavily targeted Keenan Allen and breakout TE Hunter Henry. I like the Chargers to steal this one on the road. Chargers 24-20.
Pittsburgh (-2.5) @ Arizona
Duck Hodges will start again for the Steelers as they continue to contend in the AFC Wild Card race. Hodges has grown a fantastic rapport with WR James Washington, who has been thriving in the absence of stud WR Juju Smith-Schuster. RB James Conner will also likely miss this game, which means Benny Snell and Jaylen Samuels should shoulder the load again for the Steelers’ rushing attack. For Arizona, Kyler Murray will lead the offensive attack in what’s been an up-and-down season for the Cardinals. Christian Kirk and Larry Fitzgerald are suddenly the offense’s focal point with the shocking disappearance of (former) stud RB David Johson. The Rams really magnified the flaws in this Arizona defense last weekend, as they put a beatdown on the Cardinals in the desert. Given the damage that Robert Woods and Cooper Kupp did through the air last weekend, I believe that James Washington is primed for yet another productive afternoon. Look for Washington and Hodges to connect early and often and for the steelers coast Steelers 24-20.
Kansas City @ New England (-2.5)
Patrick Mahomes will head to New England and try to avenge his playoff loss from last year. Mahomes has been quite good in his 3rd professional season, throwing for just about 3,000 yards and 20 TD to only 2 INT. Mahomes has a dynamic pass-catching combo in speedster Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce that any defense will have trouble defending. Stephon Gilmore has been amazing defensively for the Patriots, but he can’t be in two places at once. If he shadows Kelce, Tyreek will have to explode. And if he shadows Tyreek, well, Travis Kelce will need to step up. Needless to say, both of these receiving options far eclipse any weapon that New England has to offer. The Patriots’ loss to the Texans really scared me. Before, I thought a Patriots/Ravens AFC Championship game was a lock. Now, I’m not so sure. The Houston defense really isn’t all that great without JJ Watt, and the Patriots struggled to score 22 points against them. The Kansas City defense has been much better as of late, and I think that they’ll keep the Chiefs within striking distance. You can never count out the legendary Tom Brady, and I certainly don’t feel comfortable picking against him. But, this time of year gets crazy, and after New England’s performance last weekend, they might have trouble rebounding in time for this tough matchup. Give me the upset. Chiefs 24-23.
Tennessee (-2.5) @ Oakland
The Titans are as hot as any team in football right now, having won 5 of their last 6 games. The Raiders, on the other hand, have lost 2 in a row, and are stumbling their way out of the playoff picture. In their past 2 games combined, Oakland has scored only 12 points total. Tennessee, on the other hand, has scored 73. In fact, since Ryan Tannehill has taken over at QB for the Titans, the offense has averaged just a hair shy of 30 points per game. Not bad at all. RB Derrick Henry is pacing this Titans offense and is demanding a ton of the opposing defense’s attention. In doing so, that attention is diverted away from the passing attack… and Tannehill has been super accurate when he throws the ball. He’s also uncorked some deep balls over the past few games, making this offense quite dynamic. With Josh Jacobs banged up and Derek Carr playing below average football, it’s hard for me to pick Oakland in this one. I think the Raiders might keep it close at home, but ultimately feel that Derrick Henry will continue his magic run, gashing the Oakland defense in the process. Give me the road favorites to win and cover. Titans 30-24.
Seattle (-1) @ LA Rams
Man, the Seahawks have looked good as of late. Their only two losses on the year are to the Ravens and the Saints… two teams that have combined for a 20-4 record. In recent weeks, they’ve knocked off the 49ers in San Francisco (10-2 on the season), and the Vikings on Monday Night Football (now 8-4 on the season.) Los Angeles beat down the Cardinals in Arizona, and Jared Goff played his best game as of late. Robert Woods also had a semi-breakout, logging 172 yards on 13 catches (18 targets). Todd Gurley has also been better as of late, rushing for 95 yards and a TD in the desert. However, this Seahawks defense has been pretty strong this season, and Jared Goff will have his work cut out. On the other side, Russell Wilson is one of the game’s best quarterbacks and is trying to chase down Lamar Jackson in the MVP race. The difference here is that it’s Seattle playing in a prime time game. Building off of a statistic I provided last week, under Pete Carroll, the Seahawks are 29-5-1 in Primetime games. The lights are on… so I’m not picking against Russ. Seahawks 31-27.
NY Giants @ Philadelphia (-8.5)
In a Soap Opera-esque twist of fate, Eli Manning seems like he’ll start at least one more game against the Eagles. Accordingly, Philly has to be licking their chops as the G-Men travel to town. The Giants’ best chance to compete is if they finally get Saquon Barkley going. The elite RB has shockingly only rushed for 544 yards this season, adding only 2 TDs. Manning will also be targeting Saquon through the air, along with WR Golden Tate (Questionable with a concussion) and TE Evan Engram, who should make his return from injury this week. In the end, the Giants offensive line has made it very difficult for their QB to succeed this year, as Manning (formerly) and Jones (more recently) have been sacked, hit, and fumbled more times than I can count. Philly will look to get back on track after last week’s embarrassing loss to the Dolphins. But, I think a matchup with the porous NY secondary should be just what the doctor ordered. I suspect TEs Zach Ertz and Dallas Goedert, and WR Alshon Jeffery will be heavily involved, and each individually have a shot to top 100 yards in this one. Eli should give Giants fans a few reasons to cheer, but I also think he’ll find a way to turn the ball over multiple times. I’ll take the Eagles to win and cover at home. Eagles 28-18.
Enjoy the games! Until next week…