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For The Win: Week 14

NFL Picks Against the Las Vegas Lines

Here I am again this year, back for more NFL picks. Just like last season, I will still be picking all of the NFL games each week, but I will try and help some of you with some confidence and rankings of the selections - which also may assist those of you with Las Vegas trips. I tend to rate games that I like (and some extras like Over/Unders) with 1-3 "Stars", which basically highlight my best bets for the week. Those games which have zero stars I don't truly like one way or the other, but will select to help those trying to get some advice for their weekly office pools or other contests that they may be participating in either this week or this season.

Week 13 was very good for me across the board, going 87.7% with my Best Bets / Stars for the week and 5-2 with my Picks of the Week – but I have to apologize for not including a few of my teasers.  I had them in my notes and in the draft of my article, but somehow a few of them fell onto the virtual floor.  Had I included those picks it would have been an extra 17-2 wins-losses for the week, which would have been awesome – but it’s not fair for me to include what does not get published.  Sorry about that, but I want to be clear and open about my results.  But it does go towards how well it worked out for Week 13, and here is hoping that the hot streak continues.  Week 14 is another full slate, so let’s dig in.

Here we go:

Note that the lines and Over/Unders are taken from VegasInsider.com.

Teams on a Bye Week – NONE (Byes are over!)

Teams coming off of a Bye Week – NONE

(Thursday) NEW ORLEANS (-1) at ATLANTA
Short weeks are tough, but these two teams from the NFC North know each other well enough to gear up for a Thursday matchup.  We all know the stories here – good offenses and opportunistic defenses, with top notch quarterbacks.  So how do we decide?  Matchups, or more importantly, noticing that Atlanta struggles with pass catching running backs.  The Alvin Kamara for Rookie of the Year campaign marches on.  PICK: Saints

BUFFALO (EVEN) vs. INDIANAPOLIS 
If you can jump on this before a line is locked down, do so.  Buffalo should be favored by about a touchdown at home regardless of Tyrod Taylor being ready to go or not.  The Colts are not going to fare well outside in the cold of Buffalo (light snow expected Sunday morning).  LeSean McCoy and the Bills’ defense should be able to handle this one.  PICK: Bills

CHICAGO (+6) at CINCINNATI 
Hey look, I’m picking a bad team on the road!  Yes, that rarely happens for me, but the case against the Bengals is pretty strong.  Cincinnati just blew a win against their divisional rivals (Pittsburgh) late Monday night at home, and are positioned for a big letdown.  Even if A.J. Green or Joe Mixon have solid showings, I expect the Bears to cover the number in an ugly matchup.  PICK:  Bears

CLEVELAND (+3.5) vs. GREEN BAY 
While everyone in Green Bay are begging the team to get one more win in case Aaron Rodgers is ready for Week 15, the Browns are running out of chances to get their first win.  The Browns have one more home game next week (Baltimore) then trips to Chicago and Cincinnati to close out the year.  With Josh Gordon back (you may have heard about that) and the suspect Packer secondary, Cleveland should be able to keep this close and could surprise the Packers.  Just remember, this is Cleveland – so don’t go crazy on a winless team here.  PICK:  Browns

OAKLAND (+4) at KANSAS CITY 
These two teams met back in Week 7 on a Thursday night in Oakland where Amari Cooper had a big game and it was an epic finish (31-30 Oakland).  Both teams have been up and down since (mostly down), but this is a great bounce back spot for both teams to build off their win from Sunday and make a postseason push.  The winner of this game will be 7-6 and at least tied for the AFC West lead, so this is a great game to key on for all sorts of reasons this week. With Michael Crabtree returning after a suspension, I like the Raiders to at least keep this one close and I will gladly take the points in a game I think finishes within three points, something like 27-24.  PICK:  Raiders

NEW YORK GIANTS (+5) vs. DALLAS 
This is a completely lost season for the Giants, but there is still plenty of motivation for Big Blue in this matchup.  For one, there is no love lost with the Cowboys, so officially eliminating them from the NFC East race would certainly give the Giants some pleasure.  Of course, I am burying the lead here as the main story is Eli Manning back in the saddle at quarterback (plus the firing of Bob McAdoo).  Eli is going to want to show everyone that he is not ready to retire, and that he can pick apart Dallas just like Philip Rivers did on Thanksgiving.  A motivated Giants team without the oppression of a bad head coach against a Dallas team lacking Ezekiel Elliott is a very easy call here.  PICK:  Giants

DETROIT (EVEN) at TAMPA BAY 
Not a fan of making this pick not knowing if Matthew Stafford will play on Sunday, but if he does then I am very much in favor of the Lions against that bad Buccaneer defense.  Detroit’s defense is also quite opportunistic (seven touchdowns) and Jameis Winston is rather mistake prone.  The Lions are a live pick for a playoff push (at Tampa Bay, vs. Chicago, at Cincinnati, Green Bay) so every game matters, and I like Detroit to find a way in Florida.  PICK:  Lions

MINNESOTA (-2.5) at CAROLINA 
The Minnesota Vikings are 10-2 and right now would be the #1 team in the NFC for the playoffs, but they are barely a favorite on the road against Carolina.  The number (-2.5 or -3, depending where you look) basically says that this game is even with the Panthers getting the home field boost.  I am not sure I buy that, as the Vikings have been strong all year now on defense and offense, even with bumps (injuries) in the road.  Carolina has looked good and bad at points this year, and a return home may give them a lift – but the difference maker for me is the Panthers’ pass defense.  Carolina has allowed opposing quarterbacks at 92+ QB rating, and Case Keenum has plenty of talent to take advantage.  I see a tight game, but the Vikings know that a win here goes a long way in the NFC, especially with the Eagles and Rams matching up on Sunday.  PICK:  Vikings

HOUSTON (-2.5) vs. SAN FRANCISCO 
Jimmy Garropolo is 3-0 as an NFL starter, so there is that stat to consider, but the 49ers are still the 49ers.  Then again, the Texans are not to be confused with the Patriots or Eagles any time soon either.  I still go back to San Francisco being one of the worst rushing defenses to start the season, but they have improved overall but apparently at the expense of their performance against tight ends and wide receivers, which have sunk towards the bottom over the last five games.  The Texans are actually worse than the 49ers against wide receivers, so it comes down to which offensive players can take advantage the most in this matchup.  I tend to side with the home team with the best wide receiver (DeAndre Hopkins) and an upstart tight end / wide receiver (Stephen Anderson) even with Tom Savage as their quarterback.  Even Lamar Miller looks to be in a better spot than Carlos Hyde.  This game could easily be a shootout, but I am still siding with the home team.  PICK:  Texans

PHILADELPHIA (+2) at LOS ANGELES RAMS 
Not to get too far ahead of ourselves, but this matchup could be an NFC Championship Game preview six weeks in advance.  The Rams have looked strong behind Jared Goff and Todd Gurley, but Philadelphia was cruising the past two months right up until the loss in Seattle last Sunday night.  The term “good loss” gets used a bit too much, but I do think that the experience the Eagles gained against the Seahawks may help the team in the long run.  Seattle was the closest many of the younger Eagles players have come to experiencing a playoff game, and Philadelphia was right there with Seattle aside from a few key plays that made the difference.  The Eagles could be without Zach Ertz, but Trey Burton is a strong backup receiver and he will create mismatches against the Rams.  Philadelphia stayed out West to stay on schedule for this game in Los Angeles, which also should aid them this week.  I expect this to be a close, hard fought contest ultimately decided in the fourth quarter, and given the recent playoff-type atmosphere the Eagles just endured on the road, I slightly lean towards Carson Wentz over Jared Goff.  PICK:  Eagles

NEW YORK JETS (EVEN) at DENVER 
The Jets are playing well, while Denver is a dumpster fire this year.  You can analyze this all you want, but I will take Josh McCown over any quarterback that Denver can offer – unless Elway suits up himself this week.  PICK: Jets

ARIZONA (+3) vs. TENNESSEE
Tennessee needs to keep up with Jacksonville in the AFC South, and they could get some help if Seattle picks up a win in northern Florida on Sunday.  The Titans head out west to take on the Cardinals, who have been competitive with Blaine Gabbert under center despite losing three out of their last four.  Tennessee is solid against the run (3.5 YPC) but weak against the pass as three of the past four quarterbacks had 2+ touchdowns and all four starters against them exceeded 260 yards passing.  That bodes well for Gabbert, Larry Fitzgerald and even Ricky Seals-Jones with strong tight end performances against the Titans the past three weeks.   I expect this game to be far closer than many might expect, so I am taking the home team and the points.   ICK:  Cardinals

LOS ANGELES CHARGERS (-6) vs. WASHINGTON 
I see some parallels with the Chargers and the Vikings this week, as both teams are poised to take advantage of two other playoff-caliber teams squaring off against each other.  If the Chargers win this week, they will be 7-6 an no worse than tied with either the Chiefs or Raiders atop the AFC West.  Washington’s offensive line is in shambles and the Chargers are red hot right now with three wins in a row.  They can see a path to the playoffs but it gets much bumpier if they do not beat Washington in this spot.  Two divisional games loom (at Kansas City, Oakland) on either side of a trip to the Jets in Week 16, so a win here is huge.  I think Philip Rivers, Keenan Allen and even Hunter Henry (plus Melvin Gordon III) produce plenty of offense to help the Chargers get the win at home.  PICK: Chargers

SEATTLE (+3) at JACKSONVILLE 
What a spot this is for both Seattle and Jacksonville.  Seattle is coming off a big home win over the Eagles, and they could be in a strong position to run the table (Rams, at Dallas, Arizona).  Similar to the Eagles, Jacksonville is not used to postseason caliber football, but that is what they are likely to face against Seattle. The Jaguars are also positioned well for the postseason, but their path is so much easier to January that the pressure is not on them nearly as much as it is for Seattle.  Given how hot Russell Wilson is, he can handle it – even against a formidable Jaguars defense.  It will be close, but I am taking the Seahawks in a close one, 24-20.  PICK: Seahawks

PITTSBURGH (-5.5) vs. BALTIMORE 
Sunday wraps up with an AFC North clash in Pittsburgh between the Steelers and the Ravens.  Baltimore may be 7-5, but it has to be one of the weakest 7-5 records I have seen in quite a while.  On paper this looks like an even matchup with both offenses scoring 23 points a game on average and the defenses giving up just over 17, but digging deeper the scores are likely to be even lower.  The Steelers are a better home team than away, and with an Over/under at 43.5, a 23-20 outcome is predicted.  The problems I see for Baltimore is how they will move the ball, as Joe Flacco has had one of his worst seasons as a pro.  Pittsburgh should be poised to exploit the secondary of the Ravens as Jimmy Smith and company has really struggled against WR1s of late.  I expect Ben Roethlisberger to find Antonio Brown quite often and pick apart the Baltimore secondary to win by double digits, something like 27-13.  PICK:  Steelers

(Monday) NEW ENGLAND (-11) at MIAMI
An AFC East contest closes Week 14, and it looks like it may go out with a whimper instead of a bang with the Patriots big favorites over the Dolphins.  Miami continues to limp towards the end of the regular season, and while they often get up for New England, they just lack the ability and talent to compete with the Patriots.  New England can score in so many different ways and they continue to hold opponents under 17 points every week.  Patriots win 34-13.  PICK:  Patriots

BEST BETS

Once again this year I will give not only the "Best Bets" but also a rating of each one on a 1-3 "Star" scale. The more stars, the more I like that side of the game.

* ONE STAR GAMES *

  • (Thursday) NEW ORLEANS (-1) at ATLANTA
  • BUFFALO (EVEN) vs. INDIANAPOLIS  (take BUFFALO up to -3)
  • OAKLAND (+4) at KANSAS CITY 
  • OAKLAND at KANSAS CITY (OVER 46.5)
  • MINNESOTA (-2.5) at CAROLINA  
  • HOUSTON (-2.5) vs. SAN FRANCISCO 
  • NEW YORK JETS (EVEN) at DENVER 
  • SEATTLE (+3) at JACKSONVILLE 
  • PITTSBURGH (-5.5) vs. BALTIMORE 
  • (Monday) NEW ENGLAND (-11) at MIAMI  
  • CHICAGO “FOR THE WIN” (+240) at CINCINNATI 
  • CLEVELAND “FOR THE WIN” (+150) vs. GREEN BAY 
  • OAKLAND “FOR THE WIN”  (+170) at KANSAS CITY 
  • NEW YORK GIANTS “FOR THE WIN” (+190) vs. DALLAS 
  • ARIZONA “FOR THE WIN” (+145) vs. TENNESSEE
  • SEATTLE “FOR THE WIN” (+125) at JACKSONVILLE 
  • 2-TEAM, 6-POINT TEASER:
    • OAKLAND at KANSAS CITY (OVER 40.5)
    • OAKLAND (+4) at KANSAS CITY   
  • 6-TEAM, 6-POINT TEASER (6.1-1 ODDS):
    • PITTSBURGH (+0.5) vs. BALTIMORE 
    • LOS ANGELES CHARGERS (EVEN) vs. WASHINGTON 
    • (Monday) NEW ENGLAND (-5) at MIAMI
    • SEATTLE (+9) at JACKSONVILLE 
    • OAKLAND at KANSAS CITY (OVER 40.5)
    • MINNESOTA (+3.5) at CAROLINA  
  • 7-TEAM, 6-POINT TEASER (8.9-1 ODDS): 
    • PITTSBURGH (+0.5) vs. BALTIMORE 
    • LOS ANGELES CHARGERS (EVEN) vs. WASHINGTON 
    • (Monday) NEW ENGLAND (-5) at MIAMI
    • SEATTLE (+9) at JACKSONVILLE 
    • OAKLAND at KANSAS CITY (OVER 40.5)
    • MINNESOTA (+3.5) at CAROLINA  
    • HOUSTON (+3.5) vs. SAN FRANCISCO
  • 8-TEAM, 6-POINT TEASER (12.75-1 ODDS):
    • PITTSBURGH (+0.5) vs. BALTIMORE 
    • LOS ANGELES CHARGERS (EVEN) vs. WASHINGTON 
    • (Monday) NEW ENGLAND (-5) at MIAMI
    • SEATTLE (+9) at JACKSONVILLE 
    • OAKLAND at KANSAS CITY (OVER 40.5)
    • MINNESOTA (+3.5) at CAROLINA  
    • HOUSTON (+3.5) vs. SAN FRANCISCO 
    • NEW YORK GIANTS (+11) vs. DALLAS 
  • 9-TEAM, 6-POINT TEASER (18.25-1 ODDS):
    • PITTSBURGH (+0.5) vs. BALTIMORE 
    • LOS ANGELES CHARGERS (EVEN) vs. WASHINGTON 
    • (Monday) NEW ENGLAND (-5) at MIAMI
    • SEATTLE (+9) at JACKSONVILLE 
    • OAKLAND at KANSAS CITY (OVER 40.5)
    • MINNESOTA (+3.5) at CAROLINA  
    • HOUSTON (+3.5) vs. SAN FRANCISCO 
    • NEW YORK GIANTS (+11) vs. DALLAS 
    • OAKLAND (+10) at KANSAS CITY  

** TWO STAR GAMES **

  • 2-TEAM, 6-POINT TEASER:
    • PITTSBURGH (+0.5) vs. BALTIMORE 
    • LOS ANGELES CHARGERS (EVEN) vs. WASHINGTON 
  • NEW YORK GIANTS (+5) vs. DALLAS 
  • LOS ANGELES CHARGERS (-6) vs. WASHINGTON 
  • 4-TEAM, 6-POINT TEASER (2.65-1 ODDS):
    • PITTSBURGH (+0.5) vs. BALTIMORE 
    • LOS ANGELES CHARGERS (EVEN) vs. WASHINGTON 
    • (Monday) NEW ENGLAND (-5) at MIAMI
    • SEATTLE (+9) at JACKSONVILLE 
  • 5-TEAM, 6-POINT TEASER (4.10-1 ODDS):
    • PITTSBURGH (+0.5) vs. BALTIMORE 
    • LOS ANGELES CHARGERS (EVEN) vs. WASHINGTON 
    • (Monday) NEW ENGLAND (-5) at MIAMI
    • SEATTLE (+9) at JACKSONVILLE 
    • OAKLAND at KANSAS CITY (OVER 40.5)

*** THREE STAR GAMES *** 

  • 3-TEAM, 6-POINT TEASER (1.65-1 ODDS):
    • PITTSBURGH (+0.5) vs. BALTIMORE 
    • LOS ANGELES CHARGERS (EVEN) vs. WASHINGTON 
    • (Monday) NEW ENGLAND (-5) at MIAMI

PICK(S) OF THE WEEK:  Chicago, Oakland, New York Giants, Minnesota, Houston, New York Jets, Los Angeles Chargers, Seattle, Pittsburgh, New England, Oakland/Chiefs Over 46.5

RESULTS

Last Week

  • OVERALL: 9-6-1 (60.0%)
  • BEST BETS (STARS): 28.6-4 (87.7%)
  • PICK OF WEEK: 5-2 (66.7%)

Season

  • OVERALL: 100-84-8 (54.3%)
  • BEST BETS (STARS): 198.64-185-3 (51.8%)
  • PICK OF WEEK: 57-36-2 (61.3%)

Good luck this weekend!

Questions, suggestions, and comments are always welcome to pasquino@footballguys.com