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Week 14 NFL Picks

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Week 14 NFL Picks

This season, I’ll be providing my picks every week for you, our readers. I’ve been Gridiron Experts’ Pick ‘Em columnist for the past few seasons, and I’m glad to be back at it again! We’re hoping to have even more 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. You can also click over to see all our Free NFL picks for the week with more than a dozen Gridiron Experts picking each game.

Atlanta @ Carolina (-2.5)

Both teams come into Week 14 at 5-7 and are desperate for a win. Carolina looked out of sorts in last week’s loss to Miami, ushering in concern over Cam Newton’s ability to run their offense effectively. Matt Ryan will oppose Carolina, along with his most potent weapon this year RB/WR Cordarrelle Patterson. This offense looks different with Patterson healthy and making plays, and the Falcons are the best version of themselves with him at the centerpiece. WR Russell Gage has also improved in recent weeks, providing Ryan a reliable target and taking some attention off of breakout TE Kyle Pitts. On the other side, with RB Christian McCaffrey out for the season, Carolina is down to Chuba Hubbard and Ameer Abdullah to make an impact on the ground. With WRs DJ Moore and Robby Anderson patrolling the outside, they do have some playmakers… but only if Newton can get them the ball. I was very concerned by what I saw out of Cam last week and struggle to believe he’ll string it all together in 6 days. I’ll take Atlanta to pull the road upset. Falcons 24-22.  

Baltimore @ Cleveland (-2.5)

These two teams played two weeks ago, with the Ravens squeaking out a close one. Being that Cleveland is fresh off of their bye week, they’ll be playing the Ravens twice in a row here. While Baltimore has shown they can be among the AFC’s elite, they’ve also had some inexplicably bad losses. The Ravens also haven’t scored more than 20 points in their last 4 games. QB Lamar Jackson has been a bit erratic, and some injuries have held the birds back from being their best selves. Hopefully, if WR Marquise Brown is back closer to 100%, it’ll rekindle the deep game that makes their offense more dynamic. In the meantime, it’ll be up to steady TE Mark Andrews to make most of the plays for Jackson. Once you get past Brown & Andrews, though, there are not too many other dangerous weapons for defenses to worry about. Cleveland has also been inconsistent this year and has scored a combined 30 points in their last 3 games combined. QB Baker Mayfield is very clearly fighting through some injuries, while RBs Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt have been banged up all season as well. With an extra week to rest, I expect Hunt to be back closer to his usual form, and for the Browns to lean on their rush-first attack. At the end of the day, though, AFC North games are always close. When the chips are on the table late, I think Lamar will be able to do just enough to get Justin Tucker into range and pull off yet another sloppy win. Ravens 20-18.

Seattle (-7.5) @ Houston

Houston sits at 2-10 on the season, and rank near the bottom of the NFL in most relevant categories. While Seattle isn’t setting the world on fire at 4-8, they did log an impressive win over a surging 49ers squad last weekend. QB Russell Wilson looked to be (finally) fully recovered, and produced like we haven’t seen him since before his injury. With WRs DK Metcalf and Tyler Lockett looming on the outside, it shouldn’t matter that Seattle doesn’t have any semblance of a rushing attack. It is unclear as to who will start for the Texans, as both Davis Mills and Tyrod Taylor are taking snaps at practice, but in the end, it shouldn’t matter. Taylor brings a more dynamic approach to the offense with his rushing ability, but Seattle’s defense has also improved and should be able to contain the veteran. Look for Wilson & Co. to control this game from end to end and win on the road, covering the spread in the process. Seahawks 26-18.

Las Vegas @ Kansas City (-8.5)

Last week’s loss to Washington was the Raiders’ 4th in their last 5 games. In those 4 losses, Las Vegas scored less than 16 points. Now, they’ll head to Kansas City to brave the elements after playing their last 4 games inside of a Dome (3 away, 1 in Dallas.) While RB Josh Jacobs seems to be finally healthy and back to producing, the Raiders aren’t sure if they’ll have TE Darren Waller back from injury. Foster Moreau filled in last weekend but didn’t make much of an impact, leaving QB Derek Carr with Hunter Renfrow as his only truly consistent and effective receiving option. Kansas City has seemingly found their form both offensively and defensively. They’ve won 5 straight games, and in the process have allowed an average of 11.2 points per game to opposing offenses. QB Patrick Mahomes still doesn’t look to be his dominant self, but with a defense ceding so few points, he doesn’t need to be dominant to lead this team to a victory. RB Clyde Edwards-Helaire is back from the IR list and joins pass-catching options Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce, giving Mahomes plenty of options. I like Kansas City to lead this game from end to end and to exploit the Las Vegas defense. Mahomes, Kelce, and Hill should make enough plays to hold a lead throughout, and lead Kansas City to their 6th straight win. Chiefs 30-18. 

New Orleans (-4.5) @ New York Jets

The Jets haven’t impressed recently, despite the return of QB Zach Wilson. They’ve lost 4 of their last 5 games. However, it’s worth noting that the Saints haven’t been great either, dropping 5 straight games. New Orleans’ losing streak came mostly without RB Alvin Kamara, who has been nursing a knee injury. Kamara is back to practice, though, and should lead the Saints to East Rutherford on Sunday. With that said, the Saints will be without RB Mark Ingram who is on the COVID-19 list and will miss this game. With Kamara back in the fold, it gives QB Taysom Hill a huge weapon to play with. Hill has been trying his best to make things work with the likes of Ingram, Marquez Callaway, and Lil’Jordan Humphrey, so Kamara’s return will be a shot in the arm. The Jets’ offense, on the other hand, took a huge blow this past week with WR Corey Davis being declared out for the season. With Davis out, WR Jamison Crowder and RB Tevin Coleman will have to make more plays. The biggest X-factor here is the Saints’ pass defense. They rank 5th in the NFL in interceptions, and Wilson has struggled at taking care of the ball. I like New Orleans to deploy a steady dose of Kamara and to force a few turnovers on the way to a road win & cover. Saints 21-16.

Jacksonville @ Tennessee (-8.5)

Tennessee is coming off of their much-needed Bye Week, and it looks like they’ll see the return of WR Julio Jones who completed a short stint on IR and has continued practicing. With Jones back in the fold, it gives QB Ryan Tannehill a much-needed option on the outside. While young WR Nick Westbrook-Ikhine has flashed during Jones’ absence, the veteran’s presence makes the Titans’ offense much more dynamic and less predictable. With the absence of Derrick Henry, the Titans will yet again deploy the duo of D’Onta Foreman and Dontrell Hilliard. They form a nice little 1-2 punch with Hilliard’s pass-catching ability, and Foreman’s more traditional North/South running game. In any event, the Titans need a win badly to keep pace in the AFC Playoff race and keep their hopes of the #1 seed alive. Jacksonville has lost 4 in a row and has scored a combined 48 points in those 4 games (12 ppg.) QB Trevor Lawrence has more interceptions than he does TDs, and Urban Meyer has done some inexplicable things with this offense… most recently only giving James Robinson 9 touches last week against the Rams. I think the Titans’ home-field advantage will push them over the edge here, and that the return of Jones will provide a spark. Give me Tennessee to get back on track at home and cover the spread in the process. Titans 27-15. 

Dallas (-3.5) @ Washington

The Football Team is flying high, having won 4 games in a row over some quality opponents. On the other hand, Dallas has floundered a bit, dropping 3 of their last 5 games. The Cowboys also might be without the services of RB Tony Pollard, who has a foot injury and will be a game-time decision on Sunday. Should Pollard miss the game, QB Dak Prescott will instead need to focus on his trio of receivers- Lamb, Cooper, and Gallup, and RB Ezekiel Elliott to exploit the Washington defense. Elliott has been a bit banged up this year, so they might need to spread the ball out a bit more through the air to give Elliott extended in-game rest. With that said, Prescott is no stranger to slinging the ball repeatedly, and that seems to be an area that teams can exploit against Washington. With DE Chase Young out for the year, it massively impacts Washington’s ability to rush the passer. Additionally, their secondary ranks 25th in Interceptions, having only picked off 6 passes this year. QB Taylor Heinicke has kept this team together this year, mostly while focusing on stud WR Terry McLaurin and letting Antonio Gibson pace the rushing attack. Gibson’s health was a bit marred early in the season, but he seems to be back to full speed now. While Washington is vastly improved, I do think Dallas is due for a rebound. Look for them to unleash Prescott. With that said, Washington isn’t an easy place to play, and this team is red hot. I see Dallas squeaking this one out late by a field goal, making Washington my pick with the +3.5 spread. Cowboys 27-24.

Detroit @ Denver (-7.5)

Detroit pulled off their first win of the season against Minnesota last weekend but now has to head to Denver for a matchup with the Broncos. Denver sits at 6-6 and had a strong effort from rookie RB Javonte Williams last week who logged 178 all-purpose yards and a TD in Melvin Gordon’s absence. Gordon seems to be coming back for this week’s contest, so that’ll give the Broncos yet another solid option. QB Teddy Bridgewater has been decent this year but certainly hasn’t set the world on fire. Despite last week’s win, the Lions aren’t incredibly fearsome. Especially without RB D’Andre Swift continuing to miss practices, their offensive weapons are limited. With Jared Goff throwing to the likes of Josh Reynolds, Kalif Raymond, and Amon Ra St. Brown, I think the Denver defense will dominate this game, and that Denver should cruise to a home win and cover. Broncos 29-17.

San Francisco @ Cincinnati (-0.5)

Both of these teams dropped their Week 13 contests as favorites and will look to rebound here. San Francisco is a bit banged up with RB Eli Mitchell and WR Deebo Samuel looking to be very questionable for Sunday’s game. Certainly, their presence would provide a huge boost to this San Francisco offense, which would be left with TE George Kittle and WR Brandon Aiyuk as primary weapons if they were to sit this game out. Cincinnati’s defense doesn’t make things easy on opposing offenses, either. They rank 12th in points allowed and rank 4th with 32 sacks on the season. Certainly, if they’re able to pressure QB Jimmy Garoppolo, it’ll make things very difficult on the 49ers. Cincinnati’s attack has mostly centered around RB Joe Mixon this year, who has averaged 81.5 rushing yards per game and has scored a whopping 12 TDs so far this season. With Mixon pacing things on the ground, Burrow will look to Ja’Marr Chase, Tee Higgins, and Tyler Boyd to reel in his passes, and spell the heavy dose of Mixon. At the end of the day, I see this as a close game between two teams vying for playoff positions. I do think that Kyle Shanahan’s game-planning will play a big factor here and that the 49ers will squeak out this road upset. 49ers 26-24.

Buffalo @ Tampa Bay (-3.5)

The Bills lost a blustery home game to New England and has now fallen in 3 of their past 5 games. To make matters worse, Tom Brady and the Buccaneers await them in Tampa Bay. While the weather will be milder, the competition will certainly be as fierce. Brady has led the Buccaneers to 3 straight wins, and Tampa seems to have found their scoring groove. With 30 points or more in their past 3 wins, Brady is relying on his long-time buddy TE Rob Gronkowski through the air, and breakout RB Leonard Fournette rushing the ball. Fournette has been great as of late, and has 9 scores on the season, with 5 of those TDs coming in his past 2 games. Both of these teams can score points, but they also have pretty stout defensive units to boot. With elite secondaries at play and gunslinging QBs, this will be fun to watch. I do believe that the home field advantage will help the Bucs down the stretch and that Tampa Bay has a major advantage with their defensive line, which is one of the league’s best at stopping the run and ranks 4th with 32 sacks. I’ll take the defending champs to win at home by a field goal. However, giving up 3.5 points seems just a bit too much against a Buffalo team that will be fighting tooth and nail to stay within striking distance of an AFC East title. Buccaneers 27-24.

Chicago @ Green Bay (-11.5)

We all know what happened last time Aaron Rodgers played the Bears, as he reminded the Soldier Field faithful that he “owns” them. Now, he’ll host Chicago at Lambeau and look to repeat his winning ways over the Bears yet again. Green Bay sits at 9-3, despite dropping 2 of their past 4 games and coming off of a bye week. Rodgers will be well-rested and prepared to outduel rookie QB Justin Fields and the Bears. With WR Randall Cobb out for some time, Rodgers will be honing in on All-Pro WR Davante Adams more than usual and will look to get deep-threat Marquez Valdes-Scantling more involved as well. With Aaron Jones and AJ Dillon pacing the backfield, there’s no shortage of weaponry on the Packers. The Bears, on the other hand, really only have two impact players that Green Bay will need to plan for. RB David Montgomery has excelled as of late since returning from IR, and WR Darnell Mooney has gelled well with the young Fields. Allen Robinson should return for this game, but I’m not sure how much it matters, given his lackluster performance so far this year. Green Bay also has a top-5 defense in points allowed, and holds a strong advantage in all 3 phases, it seems. I’m hard-pressed to see anything less than a Packers blowout here and will take Green Bay to win and cover at home. Packers 33-18.

Enjoy the games! Until next week…

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