NFL Game Picks: Week 14
The final four weeks of the NFL regular season are upon us, and we’re finally beginning to see some playoff-clinching scenarios. The Rams are the first team to lock up a playoff spot, as well as a division title, while the Raiders and 49ers are the first two teams to be officially eliminated from playoff contention. More of these scenarios are sure to unfold in week 14, so let’s take a look at this weekend’s slate of games.
Jacksonville Jaguars (4-8) @ Tennessee Titans (6-6)
Week 14 kicks off with what is likely to be one of the least interesting games of the week. It always seems like the Jaguars and Titans are boring games, even with both being playoff teams last year. Jacksonville has lost five of its last six against the Titans, so the Jaguars turn it around by avoiding the season sweep and putting a splinter in Tennessee’s playoff hopes.
The pick: Jacksonville 19, Tennessee 12.
Atlanta Falcons (4-8) @ Green Bay Packers (4-7-1)
What was once a hopeful season has turned to dust for both the Falcons and Packers. At 4-8 and 4-7-1 respectively, both teams’ postseason hopes are just about shot. Still, the advantage lies with Atlanta, as Green Bay is fresh off a terrible loss to the lowly Cardinals, which resulted in the firing of head coach Mike McCarthy. The Falcons strike while the time is right.
The pick: Atlanta 30, Green Bay 18.
New York Jets (3-9) @ Buffalo Bills (4-8)
The Jets have reached their lowest point in 2018. Last week’s squandering of a 16-0 lead over Tennessee resulted in New York’s sixth straight loss, their ninth on the year. Even though Buffalo lost last week too, the Bills were just a Charles Clay touchdown catch away from pulling off the victory, and Josh Allen has looked solid since his return. Bills take this one.
The pick: Buffalo 24, NY Jets 13.
Carolina Panthers (6-6) @ Cleveland Browns (4-7-1)
Perhaps no team is sliding out of the playoff picture at a more rapid pace than Carolina. At the start of November, the 6-2 Panthers were looking like a surefire playoff team, but a four-game slide has put them on the teetering point. Although Cleveland has started to lose its reputation for total futility, a Panthers loss in Cleveland would almost certainly signify the end.
The pick: Carolina 26, Cleveland 24.
Indianapolis Colts (6-6) @ Houston Texans (9-3)
Of all the 1 p.m. games on Sunday, this is the one to watch. The Texans are flying high with nine straight wins, and although the Colts were shut out in Jacksonville last week, Andrew Luck has proven this team can be right in the heat of the playoff mix at just the right time. The previous meeting resulted in an exciting 37-34 win for Houston. Expect a similar outcome this time.
The pick: Houston 31, Indianapolis 27.
Baltimore Ravens (7-5) @ Kansas City Chiefs (10-2)
The Ravens kept their playoff hopes alive with a much-needed win in Atlanta last week. Kansas City survived a scare from Oakland, but Patrick Mahomes still looked to be in tip-top shape with four touchdown passes. The key for the Ravens will be to find a way to slow down the Chiefs offense. Even with Kareem Hunt gone, it will be no easy task. Kansas City gets to 11 wins.
The pick: Kansas City 31, Baltimore 17.
New England Patriots (9-3) @ Miami Dolphins (6-6)
Somehow the Dolphins are still just barely hanging around in the AFC playoff picture. One would think that a visit from New England would be a death sentence for the Fins, but that’s not necessarily true. Four of the last five matches between these two in Hard Rock Stadium have resulted in Miami victories. Can the Dolphins do it again? They very well could.
The pick: Miami 26, New England 16.
New Orleans Saints (10-2) @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers (5-7)
New Orleans’ offensive struggles in Dallas last week made for a rare occurrence, but with the NFL’s third-worst defense next up, it should remain an outlier. Still, it’s worth noting that the Buccaneers have won their last two with Jameis Winston playing almost perfectly, and they handed the Saints their first loss back in September. Maybe this one is closer than once thought.
The pick: New Orleans 37, Tampa Bay 29.
New York Giants (4-8) @ Washington Redskins (6-6)
Like we see in the NFL so often, this game is between two teams trending in opposite directions. The Giants, winners of three of their last four, are looking to keep their season headed the right way, while the Redskins, losers of their last three, are down to their third-string quarterback Mark Sanchez. If what’s expected to happen comes true, this one could get ugly.
The pick: NY Giants 29, Washington 10.
Cincinnati Bengals (5-7) @ Los Angeles Chargers (9-3)
It’s hard to believe, but the Bengals were 4-1 at one point. In the time since Andy Dalton and A.J. Green have both been ruled out for the remainder of the season with injuries. The Chargers have been flying high with eight wins in the last nine games, and there’s no doubt that the comeback victory in Pittsburgh last week is a momentum booster. Chargers win with ease.
The pick: LA Chargers 40, Cincinnati 16.
Denver Broncos (6-6) @ San Francisco 49ers (2-10)
Speaking of AFC West teams that have been hot, how about the Broncos? With three wins in a row, Denver has put itself back in the mix for a possible wild-card berth. The next three weeks see the 49ers, Browns and Raiders. It’s possible that the Broncos win all three. But first, they’ll take care of business in Santa Clara, as the Niners seem like they just want the season to end.
The pick: Denver 32, San Francisco 14.
Philadelphia Eagles (6-6) @ Dallas Cowboys (7-5)
The chance for vengeance is now, and it’s never been more important. A month after being knocked off at home on national TV, the Eagles will have their second chance to beat the division rival Cowboys. Lose, and the NFC East looks like a closed race. Win, and things suddenly get more interesting. That’s what’s on the table for Philadelphia.
The pick: Philadelphia 27, Dallas 24.
Detroit Lions (4-8) @ Arizona Cardinals (3-9)
Every once in a while, we get one of those games in which neither party really matters in terms of structuring the playoff picture. This is one of those games. At a combined 7-17, Detroit and Arizona make for a game that only true football fans will watch. Matthew Stafford has been known to occasionally pull out some magic, so maybe he’ll do it here.
The pick: Detroit 28, Arizona 16.
Pittsburgh Steelers (7-4-1) @ Oakland Raiders (2-10)
On paper, this looks like a mismatch, but then again, that’s what was said about last week’s game between Kansas City and Oakland. Still, with their first back-to-back losses of the season, the Steelers are angry, and they shouldn’t underestimate the Raiders. Even if James Conner is out for this one, Ben Roethlisberger should have no problem doing most of the work.
The pick: Pittsburgh 39, Oakland 19.
Los Angeles Rams (11-1) @ Chicago Bears (8-4)
The Bears will be in primetime for the third time in the past four weeks, counting Thanksgiving. Of course, this will be their biggest test of all, as Todd Gurley and the Rams have looked unstoppable aside from a minor snag against New Orleans back in early November. If the Giants can beat the Bears, then surely the Rams can do the same. Still, this one should be close.
The pick: LA Rams 33, Chicago 27.
Minnesota Vikings (6-5-1) @ Seattle Seahawks (7-5)
Though this game doesn’t shine with the same star power as its Sunday night predecessor, it arguably has more at stake in terms of playoff implications. Winner finds itself in prime position to snag a wild-card bid in the NFC. The loser is left wondering what might have been. Whatever the final result may be, this ought to be one of the week’s must-watch games.
The pick: Seattle 22, Minnesota 20.
DJ Bauer is a sophomore majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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