Movie quote of the day:
“I don’t know half of you as well as I should like, and I like less than half of you half as well as you deserve.”
– Bilbo Baggins, “The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring” (2001)
Here are the matchups for week 14:
Week 13 record: 10-5 (66.7 percent)
2016 record: 113-77-2 (59.4 percent)
All-time record: 265-182-2 (59.2 percent)
Oakland Raiders (10-2) at Kansas City Chiefs (9-3)
Kansas City, Mo.
Line: KC -3.5
This is a tough game to predict. I really like Oakland and I think the Raiders are the better team than Kansas city, but Arrowhead Stadium is one of the toughest places to play in the NFL. I expect Alex Smith to throw a lot of quick throws underneath coverage and in the flat to help avoid the Raiders’ pass rush. With Karl Joseph out for Oakland, I think the Raiders will struggle to cover the Chiefs’ passing attack.
Prediction: Chiefs 24, Raiders 20
Pittsburgh Steelers (7-5) at Buffalo Bills (6-6)
New Era Stadium
Buffalo, N. Y.
Line: PIT -3
This is going to be a tough game for Buffalo. Pittsburgh has a very good passing game and the Bills have one of the worst pass defenses in the NFL – ranking No. 24 in yards per attempt. I think Ben Roethlisberger and Antonio Brown are going to have great games against the Bills. Buffalo is a tough place to play, but I think Pittsburgh gets the win in a close one.
Prediction: Steelers 27, Bills 24
Denver Broncos (8-4) at Tennessee Titans (6-6)
Line: TEN -1
I’ve been predicting Denver’s collapse for a while now, and I’m sticking with it this week. Tennessee has been one of the biggest surprises this year and Marcus Mariota has been playing well the last few weeks. I think Denver relies too much on its defense, and I think the Broncos will have a hard time forcing Mariota to make mistakes – he hasn’t turned the ball over in his last three games. Tennessee has had extra time to prepare, and I think the Titans’ defense will slow down the Broncos’ offense just enough to win in a low-scoring game.
Prediction: Titans 19, Broncos 14
Washington Redskins (6-5-1) at Philadelphia Eagles (5-7)
Lincoln Financial Field
Line: WAS -2
I wish I could take Philadelphia, but the Eagles are awful right now. They’ve lost seven of their last nine games and look like a dumpster fire in recent weeks. Kirk Cousins has been on a roll and I think he’ll torch Philadelphia’s defense – which ranks No. 23 in passing yards per attempt. It’ll be a close game, but I have to go with the Redskins.
Prediction: Redskins 28, Eagles 26
Arizona Cardinals (5-6-1) at Miami Dolphins (7-5)
Hard Rock Stadium
Line: ARI -1.5
I thought Miami was legit, but after getting waxed by Baltimore by 32 points last week I’m not so sure anymore. Even though I say that, I still don’t trust Arizona to win this game. The Cardinals haven’t showed any sign of turning their season around. It’s a long road trip for Arizona and West Coast teams rarely play well on the East Coast for early kickoffs. I think the Dolphins get the win.
Prediction: Dolphins 23, Cardinals 20
San Diego Chargers (5-7) at Carolina Panthers (4-8)
Bank of America Stadium
Charlotte, N. C.
Line: CAR -1.5
Another early kickoff for a West Coast team, which is why I have to go with Carolina. The Panthers were embarrassed during a prime time game last week, and I think they will be angry and bounce back this week. Neither defense is that good, which means this game could turn into a shootout. I expect Carolina’s home crowd to help lift the Panthers’ defense to get some stops and the win.
Prediction: Panthers 31, Chargers 24
Cincinnati Bengals (4-7-1) at Cleveland Browns (0-12)
Line: CIN -5.5
I’ve always been in the camp that Cleveland will win a game this season and I think this week is when that win comes. The Browns have had an extra week to prepare for a below average team. Plus, the game is at home and Cleveland can be a tough place for the opposing team to win. Cincinnati has an aging defense and I feel like the Browns’ offense shows up ready to play.
Prediction: Browns 26, Bengals 21
Chicago Bears (3-9) at Detroit Lions (8-4)
Line: DET -7.5
As a Packers fan, I need Detroit to stumble but I don’t think it’s this week. I know that I picked against Chicago last week and the Bears proved me wrong and won convincingly, but they’re still terrible. Detroit has been really hot recently and I haven’t seen anything from the Lions to make me think that will change. I think the Lions beat Chicago comfortably.
Prediction: Lions 31, Bears 14
Houston Texans (6-6) at Indianapolis Colts (6-6)
Lucas Oil Stadium
Line: IND -6.5
I think this is when Indianapolis is going to re-assert itself as the top dog in the AFC South division. The Colts have been playing well – winners of three of their last four games. Also, Houston has been awful on the road this season. Andrew Luck should be able to move the ball against Houston’s defense at home, and I don’t think Brock Osweieler is good enough to outscore Luck on the road.
Prediction: Colts 31, Texans 20
Minnesota Vikings (6-6) at Jacksonville Jaguars (2-10)
Line: MIN -3.5
Both of these teams are currently dumpster fires. The winner of this game is going to be the team that is less of a dumpster fire though – which is Minnesota, in my opinion. I know that the Vikings have had a ton of injuries, but Jacksonville has lost seven games in a row and haven’t scored more than 22 points during that stretch. Scoring points against Minnesota’s defense will be a tough task, and I think the Vikings win a close, low-scoring game.
Prediction: Vikings 20, Jaguars 15
New York Jets (3-9) at San Francisco 49ers (1-11)
Santa Clara, Calif.
Line: SF -2.5
San Francisco has lost 11 games in a row, but I think that streak will end this week. The Jets are just as bad as the 49ers, if not worse. It’s a long road trip to Santa Clara. Indianapolis’ defense made Bryce Petty and the Jets’ offense look bad at home Monday night. If the Colts can do that, so can San Francisco’s defense. I think the 49ers force the Jets’ offense to make some mistakes and create a short field for Colin Kaepernick.
Prediction: 49ers 20, Jets 17
New Orleans Saints (5-7) at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (7-5)
Raymond James Stadium
Line: TB -2.5
Tampa Bay has quietly won four games in a row against decent competition. Jameis Winston has been playing well, but the real story is the Buccaneers’ defense – which has given up just 53 points during Tampa Bay’s four-game win streak. New Orleans is starting to fall apart – losers of three of its last four games. I picked Tampa Bay to make the playoffs in the preseason, and I’m sticking with it.
Prediction: Buccaneers 27, Saints 23
Atlanta Falcons (7-5) at Los Angeles Rams (4-8)
Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum
Line: ATL -6
Unless the Rams’ defense can force Matt Ryan and the Falcons’ offense to make a bunch of turnovers, I’m not sure I see a scenario where Los Angeles wins this game. I think Atlanta has lost some of its steam, but the Falcons are still a much better team than Los Angeles. I don’t think Jared Goff can keep up with Ryan when it comes to scoring points, although I’m looking forward to watching him play and see if he can. I think the Falcons’ defense gets some stops and they get an easy win.
Prediction: Falcons 34, Rams 17
Seattle Seahawks (8-3-1) at Green Bay Packers (6-6)
Green Bay, Wis.
Line: SEA -3
I want to pick Green Bay because I feel like the Packers are starting to hit their stride, but I’m still skeptical. The Packers have beat two teams the last two weeks that don’t have winning records and offenses that are struggling. Seattle’s offensive line is awful, but Green Bay’s defense is banged up. I think Russell Wilson will make plays through the air and with his legs and keep the Packers’ defense on its heels, and keep Aaron Rodgers off the field.
Prediction: Seahawks 24, Packers 21
Baltimore Ravens (7-5) at New England Patriots (10-2)
Line: NE -7
If this game were in Baltimore, I would put New England on upset alert because the Ravens have a tough defense. With the game in Foxboro, I think Baltimore’s defense won’t be as tough as it would be at home. Also, I think Tom Brady and New England’s offense should handle the Ravens’ defense at home even with Rob Gronkowski out for the season.
Prediction: Patriots 30, Ravens 21
Game of the week:
Dallas Cowboys (11-1) at New York Giants (8-4)
East Rutherford, N. J.
Line: DAL -3.5
Dallas’ only loss this season was to the Giants in week one. If this game were in Arlington, I wouldn’t think twice about picking the Cowboys, but it’s in the Meadowlands. I’ve gone back and forth on this pick and I have to go with Dallas. The Cowboys are hot and have proven me wrong several times this season, and they have shown zero sign of slowing down. I think the Giants will keep the game close, but I think Dallas’ run game will be too much in the end.
Prediction: Cowboys 28, Giants 23
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