Week 14 of the NFL season begins tonight, and, as always, we have your betting back with our weekly picks and predictions against the spread.
There are only a few short weeks left before the playoffs begin, which is when lines tighten up and value is hard to come by. Fortunately, there’s a full 16-game slate on tap with a ton of potential to make some coins, so let’s take a look at the contests.
*Point spreads courtesy of ScoresAndOdds.com, home team in CAPS.
Denver Broncos (-10.5) at OAKLAND RAIDERS
While it’s never fun to lay double digits in a divisional rivalry, these two teams simply aren’t in the same class.
We fully predict that Peyton Manning’s Broncos are going to thrash Oakland in the Black Hole by a wide margin, just as they dismantled their opponent 37-6 in Week 4 at Mile High.
The Broncos are still fighting for a playoff bye and on an absolute tear, while the Raiders are in the midst of a five-game slide that includes three losses at home.
Lay the points in this Thursday Night Football showdown.
WASHINGTON REDSKINS (-2.5) vs. Baltimore Ravens
Believe it or not, Robert Griffin III’s magic has lifted the ‘Skins from life support and their playoff hopes are riding on the outcome of this game.
After beating the G-Men on Monday Night Football, Washington has a short week of rest and preparation time for the fierce Ravens, but should have no problem parlaying momentum into victory and inching closer to the NFC East crown.
There’s no reason to doubt RGIII in this game, just as a miracle postseason appearance wouldn’t be a shock at this point.
Kansas City Chiefs (+6.5) at CLEVELAND BROWNS
In the wake of the recent tragedy in Kansas City, it’s tough to go against the Chiefs. They have banded together after the horrible Jovan Belcher murder-suicide, and many players are likely using the game as a distraction from the reality of what happened the past week.
With that said, we imagine they’ll put their hearts and souls into this one against Cleveland, winning a second straight game and helping turn the franchise around after such an awful incident.
San Diego Chargers (?) at PITTSBURGH STEELERS
There is no line available for this game right now, but we like the Steelers giving up to five points, as long as Ben Roethlisberger is back in the lineup.
INDIANAPOLIS COLTS (-5.5) vs. Tennessee Titans
It took overtime for the Colts to beat the Titans in Week 8, but we doubt this upcoming one is going beyond regulation.
The Colts have won six of their last seven games, and Andrew Luck engineered a brilliant, come-from-behind victory against the Lions last week, proving why he’s a franchise signal-caller and No. 1 overall pick.
We expect Luck’s, and his coaching staff’s, confidence to be at a sky-high level going into this one, which should see Indianapolis win in a blowout.
JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS (+2.5) vs. New York Jets
The Jags suffered a setback last week when their running game stalled and Chad Henne finally looked human.
However, we’re giving them the edge now that the team is back home and playing the lowly New York Jets, who just announced that Mark Sanchez would retain his starting job in Week 14.
To say the least, things aren’t so rosy in New York, and Gang Green is going to continue their implosion down in Florida.
Chicago Bears (-3) at MINNESOTA VIKINGS
The Bears are sitting at 8-4, tied with the Packers atop the NFC North. They cannot afford to allow the 6-6 Vikings to win this, as it would allow Green Bay to get an edge and put Minnesota even with them, with a chance to fall out of playoff contention.
We foresee the Chicago defense bearing down (excuse the pun) on Adrian Peterson and baiting sophomore signal-caller Christian Ponder into numerous turnovers.
Don’t be surprised when the Bears win by at least a TD and cover.
CAROLINA PANTHERS (+3.5) vs. Atlanta Falcons
Cam Newton and the Panthers were stunned by the Chiefs last week, but should put together a much better performance against the Dirty Birds in their second matchup of the season.
Remember, Carolina had this matchup in the bag a few weeks ago before Matt Ryan led his team to an improbable victory. Lightning likely won’t strike twice, so take the points with the home dog here.
TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS (-7.5) vs. Philadelphia Eagles
After a collapse against the Denver Broncos, the Bucs fell back to .500 and moved to the outside looking in at an NFC wild-card spot.
Coach Greg Schiano, QB Josh Freeman, rookie RB Doug Martin and the feisty rushing defense are far too good to allow the Eagles to beat them at home, and they will allow rookie signal-caller Nick Foles to throw as much as he wants.
This is an ideal matchup for a Tampa team with the top running D and a weak secondary to come away with a big win, which we expect will be by a 10-point margin or more.
St. Louis Rams (+3) at BUFFALO BILLS
The Rams only have one road win on the season (plus a tie with San Francisco), but that will not deter them from stealing this one in Buffalo.
Buffalo is too inconsistent and gives up far too many games by its own volition to win a second straight contest at home. We like the resurgent Rams here to claim a third straight and keep their distant playoff dreams alive.
Dallas Cowboys (+3) at CINCINNATI BENGALS
After watching the Giants fall on Monday night, the Cowboys players have all the motivation they need to come out and spank the Bengals on Sunday.
Many declared the season over in Big D after a Thanksgiving day loss to the Redskins, but Washington also managed to breathe life into the Cowboys' chances by knocking off the Giants.
It’s going to be a hectic finish in the NFC East, and we think the Cowboys will be in the picture after beating the Bengals.
SAN FRANCISCO 49ers (-10) vs. Miami Dolphins
The 49ers can’t be happy with their overtime loss to the Rams, and will be looking to avenge things when the struggling ‘Phins, who haven’t won on the road since Week 8, head cross-country to Candlestick Park.
While the Fish were able to hang in the game with the Patriots last week, it’s going to be a different story against a much tougher defense after a multi-thousand mile trip.
Lay the points and take the home team in a game the Niners should easily win by two touchdowns or more.
New Orleans Saints (+5) at NEW YORK GIANTS
NOLA needed to beat the Falcons last week and failed, but the franchise still has a chance to sneak into the playoffs with a crucial win against Big Blue.
It’s not time for Giants fans to panic quite yet, but we predict there will be a three-way tie atop the division after the Saints come into MetLife and steal a victory on Sunday.
Don’t sleep on Drew Brees and that offense, as RGIII proved the N.Y. defense is vulnerable and beatable right now.
SEATTLE SEAHAWKS (-10.5) vs. Arizona Cardinals
Whenever the Seahawks are at home, they are a must-bet team.
There’s something about CenturyLink Field that just makes Russell Wilson and the rest of the team play at a higher level, and they shouldn’t have a problem avenging their early-season loss to the Cards.
GREEN BAY PACKERS (-6.5) vs. Detroit Lions
We love this Sunday Night Football line and have it marked down as our play of the week, at least while it’s under seven.
The Packers are simply too dominant and have too much to play for in order to lock up the NFC North to fall to the lowly Lions, who seem to find a new way to lose every single week.
All those crushing defeats are taking their toll on Detroit, and that will culminate in a blowout at Lambeau Field.
NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS (-3.5) vs. Houston Texans
Monday Night Football will showcase arguably the two best teams in the AFC, the Pats and the Texans.
It’s hard to pick a winner here, and Vegas obviously doesn’t see a clear-cut one, with the Pats only favored by half a point at a neutral location (home field is almost always worth three).
We’re going to lean with New England, as they have been rolling as of late and could soon surpass the Ravens to take the No. 2 seed in the conference and secure a crucial bye on the way to yet another Super Bowl run.
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