NFL Picks Week 14: Examining Recent Odds and Expert Predictions

Chris Roling@@Chris_RolingFeatured ColumnistDecember 7, 2017

ARLINGTON, TX - NOVEMBER 30:  Preston Smith #94 of the Washington Redskins pursues Dak Prescott #4 of the Dallas Cowboys in the first half of a football game at AT&T Stadium on November 30, 2017 in Arlington, Texas.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

The NFL's Week 14 is going to be a problem for those who make picks or are brave enough to enter the odds arena. 

As playoff races start to heat up and underdogs begin emerging, playing either angle becomes more difficult. This seems especially the case in Week 14 where, as of this writing, only four games have spreads of six or more points. 

Oddsmakers out in Las Vegas don't feel like a ton of these games will be easy picks in blowout fashion. This means there are close contests between capable opponents (for better or worse) muddying the outlook. 

Let's enter the fray and point out some good matchups to target by glancing over the entire schedule and offerings.

              

NFL Week 14 Schedule, Odds

New Orleans (-1.5) at Atlanta | O/U 53

Chicago at Cincinnati (-6) | O/U 

Detroit at Tampa Bay | O/U 

Green Bay (-3.5) at Cleveland | O/U 40.5

Indianapolis at Buffalo | O/

Minnesota (-3) at Carolina | O/U 41

Oakland at Kansas City (-4) | O/U 47

San Francisco at Houston (-3) | O/U 42.5

Dallas (-4) at N.Y. Giants | O/U 41.5

N.Y. Jets (-1) at Denver | O/U 41

Tennessee (-3) at Arizona | O/U 44

Washington at L.A. Chargers (-6) | O/U 46

Philadelphia (-2.5) at L.A. Rams | O/U 50.5

Seattle at Jacksonville (-3) | O/U 39.5

Baltimore at Pittsburgh (-7) | O/U 

New England (-10.5) at Miami | O/U  

             

Chicago at Cincinnati (-6)

Normally, a team like the Cincinnati Bengals coming off a short week thanks to a Monday game and recovering from a heated rivalry isn't one to roll with. 

But we're talking about the Chicago Bears here. And true enough, over at NFLPickWatch, 97 percent of the experts polled side with the Bengals. 

These Bears have lost five games in a row, including letting the miserable San Francisco 49ers come to town in Week 13 and escape with a 15-14 victory. Though he has looked good at times, rookie quarterback Mitchell Trubisky only threw for 102 yards and a score. 

The usually stout Bears defense has also struggled, coughing up 23, 27 and 31 points over its prior three outings. Even the 23 is a red flag because it happened against a Green Bay Packers team without Aaron Rodgers

It's safe to say the outlook isn't as negative for the Bengals. They're hobbled coming out of another violent game against the Pittsburgh Steelers and don't figure to have injured guys such as Vontaze Burfict and Joe Mixon on the field. 

Yet the Bengals have still won two of three. Over that stretch, Andy Dalton has erupted for seven touchdowns and no picks while the defense has allowed more than 20 points once. This one goes down in Cincinnati, so a Bengals defense in the cold that boasts 34 sacks and allows fewer than 20 points per game shouldn't have a problem flustering a rookie into mistakes and otherwise stuttering a one-dimensional attack. 

Prediction: Bengals 24, Bears 14

            

Dallas (-4) at N.Y. Giants

This one between NFC East rivals just keeps getting more interesting. 

The Dallas Cowboys and New York Giants played to a 19-3 result in favor of the former way back in Week 1. Things haven't gone as planned for either team since—the Cowboys are 6-6 and have lost three of four, while the Giants are 2-10 and just fired head coach Ben McAdoo and general manager Jerry Reese. 

Stuck in the middle of all the drama for the Giants is quarterback Eli Manning, who had a superb ironman streak of starts snapped because the coaching staff decided to bench him in favor of Geno Smith. After the firings, Manning is back to being the starter.  

Manning has been nothing but a professional about the situation: 

Switching to Smith under center didn't make much of a difference. The Giants still went to Oakland and took a 24-17 loss to a 6-6 Raiders team, while Smith threw for 212 yards and one score. His ground game crawled to 2.7 yards per carry. 

Manning being back under center isn't going to make much of a difference either. The problem isn't just quarterback play in New York, hence Manning only sitting on 14 touchdowns and seven interceptions. 

This writeup doesn't feature the Cowboys much because they aren't as interesting (which is a good thing). Sans Ezekiel Elliott, Dak Prescott has struggled at times, and the Cowboys have crumbled all year against quality opponents such as the Los Angeles Rams (35-30), Atlanta (27-7), Philadelphia (37-9) and Los Angeles Chargers (28-6). 

Even so, the Cowboys shouldn't have any problems shutting down a miserable offense without threats both through the air and on the ground. It's going to be an ugly contest, but Prescott has enough around him to control the pace and squeak out a win. Experts agree, with 93 percent of those polled so far siding with the Cowboys. 

Prediction: Cowboys 26, Giants 20

            

Washington at L.A. Chargers (-6)

Say hello to one of the easier lines of the week. 

Those Chargers are on fire, having rattled off three straight wins and six overall since Week 5, putting themselves in the AFC West title conversation. Few quarterbacks are playing better than Philip Rivers (21 touchdowns, seven interceptions) right now, and his 35-sack defense is only permitting 17.7 points per game. 

Then we have the visiting Washington Redskins, a 5-7 squad searching for reasons to show up and compete. Quarterback Kirk Cousins has led the charge in this area publicly. 

"We do have a one percent chance, so I'm going to play believing we can do our part, which is four weeks long, and then who knows?" Cousins said, according to Stats LLC (via ESPN.com). "In theory, we still have something to play for and that is enough for me."

The Redskins have lost three of four and five of eight, with one of the two wins a simple escape of the Giants. The problems started in the offseason when the team let offensive talent get away and guys like Terrelle Pryor Sr. have been busts. Not helping the offense is a defense coughing up 26.2 points per game to rank 30th. 

This Redskins defense doesn't have the personnel to line up and stunt a Chargers attack featuring Keenan Allen, Hunter Henry and others. Whereas Washington has struggled all season, Rivers' attack has kept the games close regardless of opponents, with most losses coming against great teams like Philadelphia, Jacksonville and New England. 

It's safe to say Washington isn't a great team, and there isn't even a divisional rivalry here to motivate the Redskins into playing well. Rivers should be motivated while he hopes to gun the Chargers into the playoffs—and 88 percent of experts concur. 

Prediction: Chargers 30, Redskins 20 

        

Stats courtesy of NFL.com. Odds according to OddsShark.