The schedule makers saved the best for last in NFL Week 14. On Sunday night Dallas is at the New York Giants in an NFC East showdown. Then on Monday night the Ravens and Patriots square off in a battle of division leading AFC rivals. While those two contests are the only ones (other than Thursday’s Raider-Chiefs game) between pairs of teams with winning records, there are still plenty of other interesting and competitive games.
Four other games are between clubs that both have at least a .500 record and genuine hopes for making the playoffs. Seattle at Green Bay, Pittsburgh at Buffalo, Denver at Tennessee and Houston at Indianapolis are all good matchups between teams fighting for a playoff spot. The only real stinkers this week are the Jets at Forty Niners and the battle for Ohio between Cincinnati and Cleveland.
NFL Week 14 Early Games on CBS
★★★★ 8-4 Denver Broncos at 6-6 Tennessee Titans
Sunday December 11 at 1:00 pm ET on CBS; Ian Eagle, Dan Fouts, Evan Washburn.
Titans -1 . . . . over/under 43½ . . . . TEN -120, DEN +100
• Broadcast in Alaska, Arkansas, northern Alabama, Los Angeles CA, Palm Springs CA, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Sioux City IA, Kansas, Bowling Green KY, northern Mississippi, Missouri (except Hannibal), Montana, Nebraska, Las Vegas NV, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon (except Eugene), South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, Washington and Wyoming.
Tennessee defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau should be able to confuse whomever is at quarterback for the Broncos. The Titans are better defending the run than the pass and newly signed Justin Forsett has shown no signs in the last two seasons of being the answer to Denver’s inability to run the ball. Without the advantage of opponent’s gasping for air at Mile High the Broncos could be looking at their fifth loss in their last nine games.
Prediction: Titans 23, Broncos 20
Titans -1 . . . . . under 43½ . . . . . Tennessee -120
Final Score: Titans 13, Broncos 10 ✓
Titans -1 ✓ . . . . . under 43½ ✓ . . . . . Titans -120 ✓
★★★★ 6-6 Houston Texans at 6-6 Indianapolis Colts
Sunday December 11 at 1:00 pm ET on CBS; Kevin Harlan, Rich Gannon.
Colts -6½ . . . . over/under 46½ . . . . IND -280, HOU +240
• Broadcast in Indiana, Louisville KY, Shreveport LA and Texas.
Houston is 1-5 on the road this year, averaging a league-worst 13.2 points per game away from home. After crushing the Jets last week the Colts seek their first back-to-back victories this season. Andrew Luck is playing better than he did early in the year and the Colts are healthier, with both lines performing better as well. I’ll take Luck at home over Brock Osweiler and his sub-60% completion rate on the road.
Prediction: Colts 27, Texans 20
Colts -6½ . . . . . over 46½ . . . . . Indianapolis -280
Final Score: Texans 22, Colts 17 x
Colts -6½ x . . . . . over 46½ x . . . . . Colts -280 x
★★ 4-7-1 Cincinnati Bengals at 0-12 Cleveland Browns
Sunday December 11 at 1:00 pm ET on CBS; Andrew Catalon, Steve Beuerlein, Steve Tasker.
Bengals -5½ . . . . over/under 41 . . . . CIN -240, CLE +200
• Broadcast in eastern Kentucky and Ohio.
I keep getting suckered in by big point spreads for the Browns, and keep getting hosed. Cleveland is not only winless, they are also an NFL-worst 2-10 against the spread. The Bengals aren’t much better: 4-7-1 straight up, 3-8-1 ATS; 1-5 S/U and 0-5-1 ATS on the road. Even without AJ Green Cincy should win this game against a rusty Robert Griffin at QB for Cleveland. On a side note former Patriot Jonathan Cooper will make his first start at right guard for the Browns.
Prediction: Bengals 24, Browns 23
Browns +5½ . . . . . over 41 . . . . . Cincinnati -240
Final Score: Bengals 23, Browns 10 ✓
Browns +5½ x . . . . . over 41 x . . . . . Bengals -240 ✓
★★★★ 7-5 Pittsburgh Steelers at 6-6 Buffalo Bills
Sunday December 11 at 1:00 pm ET on CBS; Jim Nantz, Phil Simms, Tracy Wolfson.
Steelers -3 . . . . over/under 46½ . . . . PIT -150, BUF +130
• Broadcast in New England, Alabama (except Birmingham and Huntsville), DC, Florida (except Jacksonville and Miami), Georgia, Louisiana (except Shreveport), Maryland, Mississippi (except Tupelo), New York (except NYC), North Carolina (except Charlotte), Pennsylvania (except Philadelphia), South Carolina, Virginia and West Virginia.
Following a four game mid-season losing streak, the Steelers have rebounded with three straight victories. With LB Ryan Shazier back on the field the Pittsburgh defense has vastly improved. The Steelers surrendered an average of just ten points per game during the current winning streak – with two of those wins coming on the road. Similar to the Steelers with Shazier, Buffalo is a much better team when LeSean Mcoy is able to play. Take away two games with very limited action and the running back is averaging 125 yards from scrimmage per game. The Shazier-McCoy matchup will be fun to watch, and will likely determine the outcome. Forecast is for snow and 15-25 mph winds, but that shouldn’t be much of a factor considering that the Steelers are used to that type of weather.
Prediction: Steelers 24, Bills 20
Steelers -3 . . . . . under 46½ . . . . . Pittsburgh -150
Final Score: Steelers 27, Bills 20 ✓
Steelers -3 ✓ . . . . . under 46½ x . . . . . Steelers -150 ✓
★★★ 3-9 Chicago Bears at 8-4 Detroit Lions
Sunday December 11 at 1:00 pm ET on CBS; Spero Dedes, Solomon Wilcots.
Lions -7½ . . . . over/under 43½ . . . . DET -330, CHI +270
• Broadcast in Illinois, Iowa (except Sioux City), Michigan, Hannibal MO and Wisconsin.
Former Patriot Akiem Hicks is coming off a 10-tackle, two-sack game last week. Detroit center Travis Swanson is out with a concussion, and guard Graham Glasgow will slide over to replace him. 2015 first round pick Laken Tomlinson would then start at guard; how those two fare versus Hicks will determine whether or not the Bears can pull off an upset. Chicago was able to pressure Matthew Stafford into early interceptions in a week three victory. However the Detroit defense has come on strong lately, holding opponents to an average of 16.3 points over the last six games.
Prediction: Lions 24, Bears 17
Bears +7½ . . . . . under 43½ . . . . . Detroit -330
Final Score: Lions 20, Bears 17 ✓
Bears +7½ ✓ . . . . . under 43½ ✓ . . . . . Lions -330 ✓
NFL Week 14 Early Games on FOX
★★★ 5-7 San Diego Chargers at 4-8 Carolina Panthers
Sunday December 11 at 1:00 pm ET on FOX; Sam Rosen, Brady Quinn, Jennifer Hale.
Panthers -1½ . . . . over/under 48½ . . . . CAR -125, SDG +105
• Broadcast in San Diego CA, Santa Barbara CA, Augusta GA, Columbus GA, North Carolina and South Carolina.
With C Ryan Kalil and RT Michael Oher on injured reserve, the Carolina offensive line has turned into a sieve. As a result Cam Newton has completed less than 50% of his passes in three straight games, and has surpassed a 60% completion rate just once all season. San Diego should be able to dominate the line of scrimmage behind Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram. Despite the long trip for an early kickoff the Chargers should win this game; they are the better team on both sides of the ball.
Prediction: Chargers 24, Panthers 20
Chargers +1½ (one unit) . . . . . under 48½ . . . . . San Diego +105
Final Score: Panthers 28, Chargers 16 x
Chargers +1½ x . . . . . under 48½ ✓ . . . . . Chargers +105 x
★★★ 5-6-1 Arizona Cardinals at 7-5 Miami Dolphins
Sunday December 11 at 1:00 pm ET on FOX; Chris Myers, Ronde Barber, Holly Sonders.
Cardinals -1½ . . . . over/under 43½ . . . . ARI -125, MIA +105
• Broadcast in New England (except Hartford), Arizona, Florida (except Jacksonville), Boise ID and Rochester NY.
After going 7-1 on the road last year the Cardinals are just 1-4 away from home in 2016, and have lost three straight on the road. Miami is due to bounce back after last week’s epic failure at Baltimore, but Arizona does have some matchups in their favor. The Cardinals can run the ball with David Johnson, who leads the NFL with 1,709 yards from scrimmage (142 ypg). Miami ranks 30th against the run in both yards per carry (4.7) and yards per game (130). However the Dolphins have an advantage with Cameron Wake and Ndamukong Suh against an o-line that is poor in pass protection. I’m thinking both teams regress to their norms after last week’s games. Arizona hasn’t shown me any reason to believe in them either on the road, or in consecutive games.
Prediction: Dolphins 24, Cardinals 17
Dolphins +1½ (two units) . . . . . under 43½ . . . . . Miami +105
Final Score: Dolphins 26, Cardinals 23 ✓
Dolphins +1½ ✓✓ . . . . . under 43½ x . . . . . Dolphins +105 ✓
★★ 6-6 Minnesota Vikings at 2-10 Jacksonville Jaguars
Sunday December 11 at 1:00 pm ET on FOX; Kenny Albert, Daryl Johnston, Laura Okmin.
Vikings -3½ . . . . over/under 39½ . . . . MIN -170, JAC +150
• Broadcast in Alaska, Jacksonville FL, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Montana, North Dakota, Toledo OH, South Dakota and Wisconsin.
Jacksonville has lost seven in a row. Minnesota has lost six of their last seven, but at least their defense is keeping them in a position to win. Even with safety Harrison Smith sidelined the Viking defense should be able to do enough to carry Minnesota to a victory.
Prediction: Vikings 23, Jaguars 13
Vikings -3½ (two units) . . . . . under 39½ . . . . . Minnesota -170
Final Score: Vikings 25, Jaguars 16 ✓
Vikings -1½ ✓✓ . . . . . under 39½ x . . . . . Vikings -170 ✓
★★★ 6-5-1 Washington Redskins at 5-7 Philadelphia Eagles
Sunday December 11 at 1:00 pm ET on FOX; Kevin Burkhardt, John Lynch, Pam Oliver.
Redskins -2½ . . . . over/under 46½ . . . . WAS -130, PHI +110
• Broadcast in Alabama, Arkansas, California (except San Diego and Santa Barbara), Colorado, Connecticut, DC, Georgia (except Augusta and Columbus), Hawaii, Idaho (except Boise), Indiana (except Indianapolis), Illinois, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, New York (except Buffalo and Rochester), Ohio (except Cleveland and Toledo), Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Tennessee (except Nashville), Texas, Utah, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia and Wyoming.
Washington is dealing with multiple injuries to their offensive line. All-Pro left tackle Trent Williams returns from his suspension just in time for the Skins. Presuming that Kirk Cousins is given a decent amount of time, he should be able to pick apart a mediocre Philadelphia secondary. Washington is in a tough spot having to play a third straight road game, but they are definitely the better team. Playing away from home hasn’t bothered Cousins, who has 18 touchdowns to only four picks in his last nine road games.
Prediction: Redskins 31, Eagles 27
Redskins -2½ . . . . . over 46½ (two units) . . . . . Washington -130
Final Score: Redskins 27, Eagles 22 ✓
Redskins -2½ ✓ . . . . . over 46½ ✓✓ . . . . . Redskins -130 ✓
NFL Week 14 Late Games on CBS
★ 3-9 New York Jets at 1-11 San Francisco 49ers
Sunday December 11 at 4:05 pm ET on CBS; Greg Gumbel, Trent Green, Jamie Erdahl.
Niners -2½ . . . . over/under 43½ . . . . SFO -150, NYJ +130
• Broadcast in Arizona, California (except LA and Palm Springs), Jacksonville FL, Miami FL, Minnesota, Reno NV, New York City, Charlotte NC, Eugene OR and Philadelphia PA.
The San Francisco defense is awful and the Niners have lost eleven straight, including five in a row at home. In their last three home games SF has lost by an average of 16 points. At least the Jets have a decent defense.
Prediction: Jets 17, 49ers 13
Jets +2½ (one unit) . . . . . under 43½ (one unit) . . . . . New York +130
Final Score: Jets 23, 49ers 17 OT ✓
Jets +2½ ✓ . . . . . under 43½ ✓ . . . . . Jets +130 ✓
NFL Week 14 Late Games on FOX
★★★★ 5-7 New Orleans Saints at 7-5 Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Sunday December 11 at 4:25 pm ET on FOX; Thom Brennaman, Charles Davis, Chris Spielman, Peter Schrager.
Buccaneers -2½ . . . . over/under 51½ . . . . TAM -140, NOR +120
• Broadcast in Mobile AL, Arkansas, Florida, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Roanoke VA, Beckley WV and Charleston WV.
New Orleans had trouble throwing the ball against Detroit, so expect the Saints to return to a more balanced offense that worked effectively earlier this year. The Tampa Bay defense ranks 26th in yards per rush (4.4) and 25th in rushing yards per game (116). The Bucs have been hot but even though this is a division game they could be caught looking ahead to next week’s Sunday night game against the Cowboys.
Prediction: Saints 31, Buccaneers 27
Saints +2½ (one unit) . . . . . over 51½ . . . . . New Orleans +120
Final Score: Buccaneers 16, Saints 11 x
Saints +2½ x . . . . . over 51½ x . . . . . Saints +120 x
★★★★★ 8-3-1 Seattle Seahawks at 6-6 Green Bay Packers
Sunday December 11 at 4:25 pm ET on FOX; Joe Buck, Troy Aikman, Erin Andrews.
Seahawks -3 . . . . over/under 45 . . . . SEA -145, GNB +125
• Broadcast in almost all markets. Available everywhere except for those areas airing the Saints-Bucs or Falcons-Rams game. Also not available in the San Francisco bay area due to NFL broadcast rules.
Green Bay getting point at home is almost unheard of, especially after a pair of wins. The Packers improved dramatically on defense the last two weeks, but that may be a function of the opposing offenses. Seattle has been playing very well and the Green Bay defensive back seven is in bad shape right now. I’ll take Russell Wilson and Seattle’s superior defense. Regardless of the outcome this should be a great game for football fans to watch.
Prediction: Seahawks 30, Packers 24
Seahawks -3 . . . . . over 45 . . . . . Seattle -145
Final Score: Packers 38, Seahawks 10 x
Seahawks -3 x . . . . . over 45 ✓ . . . . . Seahawks -145 x
★★★ 7-5 Atlanta Falcons at 4-8 Los Angeles Rams
Sunday December 11 at 4:25 pm ET on FOX; Dick Stockton, David Diehl, Kristina Pink.
Falcons -6½ . . . . over/under 45 . . . . ATL -270, LAR +230
• Broadcast in Alabama (except Mobile), southern California (except San Diego) and Georgia.
I am leery of Atlanta’s offense outdoors against a good defense. Now add in WR Julio Jones attempting to play through a turf toe injury that makes it extremely difficult to plant your foot. And for good measure WR Mohamed Sanu has already been ruled out with a groin injury. If the Rams didn’t have such an inept offense then LA plus the points at home against a team traveling cross country would be the easy pick. But can anyone have faith in a Jeff Fisher-coached team?
Prediction: Falcons 24, Rams 20
Rams +6½ . . . . . under 45 . . . . . Atlanta -270
Final Score: Falcons 42, Rams 14 ✓
Rams +6½ x . . . . . under 45 x . . . . . Falcons -270 ✓
NFL Week 14 Prime Time Games
★★★★★ 11-1 Dallas Cowboys at 8-4 New York Giants
Sunday December 11 at 8:30 pm ET on NBC; Al Michaels, Cris Collinsworth, Michele Tafoya.
Cowboys -3½ . . . . over/under 46½ . . . . DAL -190, NYG +170
Much was made of the Giant’s six game winning streak, but that was a house of cards. I know you can only play who is on your schedule, but look at who Big Blue played prior to losing to Pittsburgh. Defeating the Browns, Bears, Bengals, Eagles and Rams isn’t all that difficult. Last week Le’veon Bell gashed the G-Men for 118 yards on the ground another 64 yards on six receptions. Ezekiel Elliott should be able to run all day as well. That will neutralize any hope the Giants have of staying in the game with their pass rush. Dallas will be out for revenge for their only loss of the season, and get it.
Prediction: Cowboys 27, Giants 20
Cowboys -3½ (one unit) . . . . . over 46½ . . . . . Dallas -190
Final Score: Giants 10, Cowboys 7 x
Cowboys -3½ x . . . . . over 46½ x . . . . . Cowboys -190 x
★★★★★ 7-5 Baltimore Ravens at 10-2 New England Patriots
Sunday December 11 at 8:30 pm ET on BSPN; Sean McDonough, Jon Gruden, Lisa Salters
Patriots -7 . . . . over/under 45½ . . . . NWE -300, BAL +250
Joe Flacco and the Baltimore offense had a breakout game against Miami last week. That was an anomaly though, don’t expect a repeat of that performance. The Ravens rank 30th on third down (34.1%), 24th in yards per play (5.1) and 21st in scoring (21.3 points per game). Baltimore does have an excellent defense though, allowing just 17.2 points per game (2nd in the NFL). OT Nate Solder will need some help slowing down OLB Terrell Suggs. The Ravens excel against the run, so the Patriots will once again rely on quick short passes to a variety of targets.
Baltimore’s recent winning streak (four out of five) has caught people’s attention. However, all four of those wins were at home; their only road victories were at Cleveland and Jacksonville. Those two teams are a combined 2-22. They beat an injured Steeler team and then won against Cleveland again and Cincinnati. While the win over Miami was impressive I just cannot picture Baltimore winning this game. What will John Harbaugh whine about this time?
Prediction: Patriots 24, Ravens 20
Ravens +7 . . . . . under 45½ . . . . . New England -300
Final Score: Patriots 30, Ravens 23 ✓
Ravens +7 -push- . . . . . under 45½ x . . . . . Patriots -300 ✓
★★★★★ 10-2 Oakland Raiders at 9-3 Kansas City Chiefs
Thursday December 7 at 8:30 pm ET on NBC; Al Michaels, Cris Collinsworth, Michele Tafoya.
Chiefs -3½ . . . . over/under 46 . . . . KAN -175, OAK +155
I felt the combination of Oakland’s inferior defense, Derek Carr’s injury and the home field advantage delivered by an underrated Arrowhead Stadium crowd would result in a Kansas City win. I didn’t anticipate Tyreek Hill having such an impact. To me Spencer Ware and KC running the ball would be the decisive factor, but the Chiefs ran for just 65 yards. Alex Smith was able to pass the ball downfield for 264 yards while Carr went just 17-41 for a paltry 117 yards.
Prediction: Chiefs 31, Raiders 20
Chiefs -3½ (two units) . . . . . over 46 . . . . . Kansas City -175
Final Score: Chiefs 21, Raiders 13 ✓
Chiefs -3½ ✓✓ . . . . . over 46 x . . . . . Chiefs -175 ✓
NFL Week 14 Parlays and Teasers
3-Game Parlay (one unit): x
Jaguars vs Vikings -3½ ✓
Giants vs Cowboys -3½ x
Cardinals at Dolphins +1½ ✓
5-Team 6-Point Teaser (two units): xx
Falcons at Rams +12½ x
Buccaneers vs Saints +8½ ✓
Cardinals at Dolphins +7½ ✓
Colts vs Texans +12½ ✓
Jets at 49ers under 49½ ✓
Tale of the Tape
For the second week in a row my teaser and parlay were blown up by a low scoring game. Two weeks ago I anticipated the Packers-Eagles game to be high scoring based upon those two defenses. Philly only managed to score 13 points and the total was under by 7½ points. Last week was more of the same. I expected Detroit-New Orleans to be a high scoring affair. The Detroit defense had its best game of the season, limiting the Saints – at home no less – to 13 points as well. In retrospect I should not have been surprised; that was the sixth straight game that Detroit has held an opponent to 20 or fewer points.
Week 13 Results:
10-5 Straight Up
7-8 Against the Spread
2-unit plays: 3-3, -60
1-unit plays: 3-0, +300
3-Game Parlay: 1u, -110
5-Game Teaser: 2u, -220
18 units invested
6-5, -90 on $1980 risk.
Year to Date Results:
114-76-2 Straight Up
102-85-5 Against the Spread
5-unit plays: 1-0, +500
4-unit plays: 1-0, +400
3-unit plays: 6-5-1, +120
2-unit plays: 35-19-1, +2800
1-unit plays: 39-26-1, +1030
Parlays: 3-8, +1410
Teasers: 6-5, +2610
91-63-3, +8870 on original $2310 risk.
384.0% ROI on original $2310 bankroll.
31.5% ROI on $28,160 (256 units) of total weekly investments.
6-5, -90 on 18 units (-4.5%) in Week 13.
6-9-1, -360 on 28 units (-11.7%) in Week 12.
9-2, +2380 on 16 units (+135.2%) in Week 11.
4-9, -510 on 18 units (-25.8%) in Week 10.
7-4, +850 on 17 units (+45.5%) in Week 9.
11-2, +3470 on 27 units (+116.8%) in Week 8.
3-6, -480 on 12 units (-36.4%) in Week 7.
9-3-1, +1300 on 17 units (+69.5%) in Week 6.
7-7, +50 on 22 units (+2.1%) in Week 5.
9-2, +1910 on 18 units (+96.5%) in Week 4.
3-9-1, -1280 on 22 units (-58.2%) in Week 3.
9-3, +950 on 20 units (+43.2%) in Week 2.
9-2, +840 on 21 units (+36.4%) in Week 1.
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