NFL Game Picks: Week 14
Host Danny Murray and analyst Zac Kaye break down each game this week in the NFL:
With just a couple weeks to go in the 2019 NFL regular season, a few clear-cut Super Bowl contenders are beginning to emerge above the rest. The Ravens, Patriots, Saints, Seahawks and 49ers all sit at 10-2, while the 9-3 Packers and Bills and 8-4 Texans, Chiefs and Vikings aren’t too far behind. Should these gaudy records hold, football fans should be in for a pretty fantastic postseason. But there are still four weeks of regular season football to be played. With that said, let’s jump into the Week 14 edition of the NFL game picks.
Dallas Cowboys (6-6) at Chicago Bears (6-6)
Interestingly enough, Dallas and Chicago will play on Thursday for the second straight week, as both teams made an appearance on Thanksgiving in Week 13. The Bears were able to escape Detroit with a much-needed win, but the Cowboys were embarrassed at home by Buffalo. Despite their 6-6 record, the Cowboys are still in the driver’s seat for the NFC East thanks to another Eagles loss last week. The Bears, meanwhile, practically need a miracle to keep their playoff hopes alive. They won’t get it, as Dak Prescott and crew win to end a two-game skid.
Prediction: Dallas 27, Chicago 16
Carolina Panthers (5-7) at Atlanta Falcons (3-9)
At 5-7, the Panthers are just about finished in their playoff chase. Tuesday’s surprising firing of head coach Ron Rivera pretty much confirms that. Atlanta’s playoff hopes have been dead for a while now. The question here is whether or not the Falcons will follow suit and fire head coach Dan Quinn after yet another disappointing year. Atlanta got the upper hand the last team these teams met in Week 11. With slightly more momentum on their side than Carolina, which has lost its last four in a row, the Falcons avoid going 0-3 against the NFC South over a three-week span.
Prediction: Atlanta 23, Carolina 14
Baltimore Ravens (10-2) at Buffalo Bills (9-3)
For the fourth week in a row, the Ravens will take on a playoff-contending foe. They’ve shone in their past three outings, posting blowouts against Houston and Los Angeles and a slim home win over San Francisco. Buffalo, meanwhile, is entering its most arduous stretch of the season. Sunday’s match with Baltimore kicks off a three-game gauntlet in which the Bills travel to Pittsburgh and New England as well. We’ll find out if the Bills are for real or not depending on how they do. For now, mark this one down as a loss, but they very well could pull off the upset.
Prediction: Baltimore 30, Buffalo 22
Cincinnati Bengals (1-11) at Cleveland Browns (5-7)
In not so surprising fashion, the Bengals earned their first win of the season after bringing back Andy Dalton from the bench. It’s almost as if he isn’t the reason for Cincinnati’s dismal season. Regardless, the Bengals’ focus is now on ending Cleveland’s postseason hopes for good. The Browns are hanging on by a nail after their loss in Pittsburgh last week. As the preseason AFC North favorites, it’s clear that the Freddie Kitchens experiment hasn’t worked as planned. Still, the Browns stay alive with a win in Week 14, but the Bengals give their in-state rival a real scare.
Prediction: Cleveland 22, Cincinnati 19
Denver Broncos (4-8) at Houston Texans (8-4)
The Texans are hot at exactly the right time. They’ve followed up a hugely disappointing blowout loss to Baltimore with wins over division rival Indianapolis and the defending champion New England. All attention is on Lamar Jackson and Russell Wilson right now, but Deshaun Watson has re-entered himself in the MVP race. He’ll look to keep Houston rolling on Sunday against the 4-8 Broncos, which barely pulled out a win against a similarly struggling Chargers team. Houston wins big and solidifies its grip on the AFC South division.
Prediction: Houston 31, Denver 14
Detroit Lions (3-8-1) at Minnesota Vikings (8-4)
What a disappointing year it’s been for Detroit. The Lions have been competitive in literally every game they’ve played this season, as the largest margin of victory or defeat for Detroit so far came in its 12-point loss to Minnesota in Week 7. But the Lions have ended up on the wrong side of the deal at 3-8-1. Their playoff hopes are dead for good. Minnesota is on the flip side of that. Despite a close loss to Seattle on Monday night last week, the Vikings are still in prime position for a playoff berth. They inch closer to the postseason with a rebound win over Detroit.
Prediction: Minnesota 32, Detroit 20
Washington Redskins (3-9) at Green Bay Packers (9-3)
The other NFC North competitor, the Green Bay Packers, has a slight edge on Minnesota right now thanks to a 21-16 Week 2 victory over their division foe, and they’ll be looking to keep that edge by taking down Washington in Week 14. The Redskins have been surprisingly hot, winning their last two in a row over Detroit and Carolina, but you can expect that streak to end here. The Packers are a far more formidable opponent than either the Lions or Panthers, and Aaron Rodgers is not going to hand over the NFC North crown so easily. Packers win by double digits.
Prediction: Green Bay 29, Washington 13
Indianapolis Colts (6-6) at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (5-7)
It’s just about time to hit the panic button in Indianapolis. After a promising 5-2 start following the offseason departure of Andrew Luck, the Colts have slogged their way to a 1-4 record over the past month, including back-to-back losses to fellow playoff hopefuls Houston and Tennessee. They can’t afford to lose any more ground. The Buccaneers, meanwhile, are just about finished, but they’ve been known to cause some havoc every once in a while. Look for Jameis Winston and company to dash the Colts’ postseason hopes even further with a surprising win.
Prediction: Tampa Bay 26, Indianapolis 21
Miami Dolphins (3-9) at New York Jets (4-8)
The Miami Dolphins, previously thought by many to be the worst NFL team in the modern era and a team that would struggle to win a single game this year, has now won three of the past five. Perhaps “hot” is not the right word, but they’re certainly a team that no one should take lightly, especially not the Jets, which somehow followed up a three-game winning streak that included a 34-3 decimation of Oakland with an embarrassing 22-6 loss to previously winless Cincinnati. The Dolphins got the upper hand the last time these two met, and they’ll get it again here.
Prediction: Miami 22, NY Jets 15
San Francisco 49ers (10-2) at New Orleans Saints (10-2)
It seems like the game of the week just keeps getting bigger every week. The 49ers are in their third straight high-stakes showdown, boasting a 1-1 record so far after crushing Green Bay and losing on a last-second field goal to Baltimore. They’ve got a lot to play for, as the 10-2 Seahawks have quietly stolen the division lead. New Orleans has already wrapped up the NFC South, but it still wants to secure a first-round bye in the playoffs, and the No. 1 overall seed sure sounds sweet to the Saints. Expect a fight to the finish with the home team coming out on top.
Prediction: New Orleans 31, San Francisco 30
Los Angeles Chargers (4-8) at Jacksonville Jaguars (4-8)
Quarterback trouble seems to be the common theme in this matchup. Sure, injuries have cost Los Angeles a couple close contests, but Philip Rivers just doesn’t seem to have it anymore. He played well enough last week in Denver to keep his team in it, but it just hasn’t been his season. Likewise, the Jaguars have experienced issues with Nick Foles in the starting role after he returned from his shoulder injury. Gardner Minshew is expected to retake the helm for Sunday’s game. Perhaps he’s still got a little bit of Minshew Magic leftover from his early-season run.
Prediction: Jacksonville 26, LA Chargers 21
Tennessee Titans (7-5) at Oakland Raiders (6-6)
Seemingly out of nowhere, Tennessee has emerged as a serious contender for the playoffs. The Titans have always been on the outside looking in, but as unpredictable as they are, no one took them seriously. Now, they’re just one game behind Houston in the AFC South. Oakland looked like a serious playoff contender, then proceeded to receive back-to-back spankings from the Jets and Chiefs. It’s also been revealed that star running back Josh Jacobs has been playing hurt. That spells disaster for an Oakland team quickly going down the wrong path. Titans win this one.
Prediction: Tennessee 31, Oakland 20
Kansas City Chiefs (8-4) at New England Patriots (10-2)
Sure enough, after being on the losing end twice in the last four games, Tom Brady is once again receiving the “is he washed?” questions. The answer is no, but the Patriots may not be the complete powerhouses that we thought they were previously. They’ve shown that they can be vulnerable, and Patrick Mahomes may be able to take advantage of that. The Chiefs offense has been rolling since his return, and it should keep rolling, even against a great New England defense. Kansas City gets revenge for last year’s AFC championship game loss.
Prediction: Kansas City 28, New England21
Pittsburgh Steelers (7-5) at Arizona Cardinals (3-8-1)
Leave it to the Pittsburgh Steelers to rebound from an 0-3 start and quarterback troubles to find themselves at 7-5 and right in the heart of the playoff race. They’ve won six of their last seven and are just a few weeks away from daylight. Of course, they have to take care of business first, and that involves traveling to the desert and knocking off the lowly Cardinals. Arizona hasn’t exactly been turning any heads lately, as the Cardinals have lost their last five in a row. Mike Tomlin’s crew keeps rolling by defeating Arizona for its seventh victory in eight games.
Prediction: Pittsburgh 23, Arizona 10
Seattle Seahawks (10-2) at Los Angeles Rams (7-5)
Outside of a Week 4 win at Arizona and a Week 7 loss to Baltimore, every game that the Seahawks has played in has been decided by one score. No matter the opponent, you can almost always guarantee a close one when Seattle is involved. That trend should continue in Week 14 with the 7-5 Rams looking to slide into the playoff picture. But that’s a difficult task. Russell Wilson and company have been taken to the wire week after week, but no one has defeated the Seahawks since mid-October. Somehow, some way, they’ll find a wacky way to win again.
Prediction: Seattle 26, LA Rams 25
New York Giants (2-10) at Philadelphia Eagles (5-7)
The NFC East certainly hasn’t had the prettiest display of football this season, as the Cowboys currently lead the division at 6-6. The Eagles are still very much in at 5-7, and the Giants are just only barely mathematically eliminated at 2-10. They haven’t won a game since September, and they’re only just barely out of it. Perhaps the most exciting thing to watch will be the return of Eli Manning, as rookie Daniel Jones has been sidelined with an ankle injury. Look for him to cause the Eagles stress one last time, but ultimately expect the home team to get the job done.
Prediction: Philadelphia 17, NY Giants 14
DJ Bauer is a junior majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email email@example.com.