NFL Picks | Week 14
The Cardinals and Commanders are the only two teams on the NFL schedule that have not yet taken their bye, and they will do so in Week 14.
That leaves 15 games to make my NFL picks on, headlined by a critical NFC East clash on Sunday night as the Eagles visit the Cowboys and an AFC matchup between the struggling Chiefs and Bills on Sunday afternoon in Kansas City.
Here are my thoughts on all 15 matchups, including the five Week 14 picks and predictions I’ve already made.
My picks this season are 42-26-2 (61.4%) using lines listed in the bets section of this post.
All picks below are based on odds as of 3 p.m. ET.
Thursday Night Football
Patriots vs. Steelers
The total for this game opened at 32.5 and it didn’t take long for it to drop below the key number of 31 and down to 30.5 (even 30 at some books!). There’s no value anymore in betting the under if you missed those key openers, but drawing up a path to success for either offense seems particularly difficult in this matchup.
The Steelers’ back seven is quite vulnerable due to injuries now that safety Minkah Fitzpatrick is out with a broken hand, and you’d think the Patriots can’t really exploit that with Bailey Zappe at quarterback on Thursday.
One potential reason to be intrigued by the Patriots was Zappe’s willingness to push the ball down the field. You can hit explosives on this Pittsburgh secondary, and Zappe’s average depth of target was 11.3 on Sunday. There were a few dropped passes over the top of the Chargers defense that could have yielded a different result. Zappe took five sacks and ultimately averaged just 5.6 yards per attempt, but there were opportunities for more success.
The Patriots started 16 of their 24 series on Sunday with a run against the Chargers and had just a 54.2% series success rate on those sets of downs. Rhamondre Stevenson’s high ankle sprain downgrades the New England rushing attack, which has actually been decent this year (eighth in success rate, 18th in EPA per play).
The Steelers couldn’t sustain offensive success last week against a bottom-three defense in the NFL. Say what you want about New England as a whole, but the defense has been good on a play-to-play basis, ranking seventh in success rate allowed and 15th in EPA per play.
The Patriots won’t have much offensive success in this game, but how many points would you need to feel comfortable about your potential New England +5 bet? If the Patriots get to 10, is Mitch Trubisky getting to 15? Consider me highly skeptical that the Steelers find the end zone more than once.
Verdict: Bet New England +5 (+5 or better) | Bet Under at 31.5 or better (currently 30.5)
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Texans vs. Jets
The Jets quarterback situation is not something I’m particularly interested in involving myself with in bets at this current point. There’s negative respect in the market for the Jets offense, and there really shouldn’t be.
Instead of betting this game, let me present a different way of betting Houston. Texans rookie edge rusher Will Anderson just had the best game of his career last week in the win against Denver. His remaining schedule includes two matchups with sack-prone Will Levis, one with pocket statue Joe Flacco and one this Sunday against the Jets quarterback carousel. The Texans now also have an opportunity to steal the AFC South with the Trevor Lawrence injury.
Anderson is going to get a ton of opportunities to pile up sacks and counting stats to bolster his case to be the NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year Award. The current two competitors and favorites are Eagles DT Jalen Carter and Seahawks CB Devon Weatherspoon. Philly and Seattle’s defenses are both primed to get bullied this Sunday by Dallas and San Francisco. Neither guy has the counting stats to make that happen.
Verdict: Pass | Bet Will Anderson Defensive Rookie of the Year (+400, FanDuel)
Panthers vs. Saints
The Panthers were hoping to spark a big effort after Frank Reich and nearly the entire offensive staff were fired. Carolina did manage a cover, but nothing in that offense is encouraging going forward — 3-for-15 on third down, 4.1 yards per play, all while Bryce Young completed less than half of his passes. There was explosiveness to be found for the Panthers offense.
I’m not laying more than a field goal with Jameis Winston or Taysom Hill, but the Saints should have success running the ball against a poor Carolina run defense.
If the Panthers couldn’t find any offensive success against that Buccaneers defense in that spot, it’s hard to make the case to back them here. If you do, it’s heavily correlated to the under.
Vikings vs. Raiders
There’s no rest advantage for either team here since both are coming off a bye week.
We’ll get to see what the Vikings offense looks like with WR Justin Jefferson back in the fold. Given how bad the Raiders secondary has been, Minnesota head coach Kevin O’Connell will have a lot of options to get creative and get Jefferson involved.
Joshua Dobbs’ “Linsanity” run may be over after a really poor game in Chicago, but this is a much more favorable matchup. The Raiders defense will be passive, soft over the middle and try to take away explosives.
The market is right on for me here. These are two teams I’ve not really had strong takes on this season.
Seahawks vs. 49ers
The other high-profile rematch in the NFC (aside from Eagles vs. Cowboys) comes just two weeks after San Francisco beat the brakes off Seattle in Seattle on Thanksgiving. That game ended 31-13, but the underlying box score really wasn’t that close. Seattle had a huge kick return to set up a field goal and then had a pick-six on a deflection off Brock Purdy to get seven. The Seahawks were in a terrible spot that day because Geno Smith wasn’t fully healthy.
The bigger issue for Seattle here isn’t the offense, but the defense. The Seahawks couldn’t guard the Cowboys in Week 13 on Thursday Night Football without holding. The pressure has disappeared from the defensive profile altogether, and the 49ers offense feels like a supernova right now.
Much like Philadelphia, the primary weakness of the Seahawks is tackling. The Seahawks rank 29th in Pro Football Focus’ tackling grade. Good luck against Purdy and the Niners YAC machine. I also have no interest in betting the Niners the week after a huge emotional revenge victory in Philly where the market has them four points better than the rest of the NFL now. Seattle has the rest advantage and could surprise early to keep this close.
It’s also hard to see San Francisco not get to 30 points if it’s focused.
Eagles vs. Cowboys
The Eagles hold the tiebreaker with the Cowboys on conference record, so Philadelphia will remain in first place in the NFC East even with a loss on Sunday. It took a month, but the market has finally properly downgraded the Eagles defense. Dallas, Buffalo and San Francisco completely exposed the aging secondary and soft middle of the Eagles defense in the last six weeks. The Eagles have been outgained by 100+ yards in five straight games.
You have to adjust the totals up because the first game was in Philadelphia and this one is on the turf in Dallas. But consider the Cowboys closed +3, their team total was 21.5 and the overall total was 46 in the first matchup. Now in Dallas for the rematch, the Cowboys are -3.5, team total is 28.5 and the game total is 53.5.
The market has properly downgraded the Eagles defense and the market has loved this Dallas offense for a month now. Dak Prescott is playing at an MVP level and for my money, no quarterback in the NFL is playing better right now.
Since that last game, the Cowboys have further improved their use of the tight ends over the middle of the field. The Eagles have had no answers for pre-snap motion. The tackling has been mediocre. Philly signed LB Shaq Leonard, but he’s lost a step in coverage and there’s a reason the Colts moved on from him in the middle of a playoff push.
The Eagles should still be able to move the ball on the Cowboys in this game. The Dallas defense has been torched by Seattle and San Francisco this season. Philadelphia had no problems getting to 28 points in three quarters in the first meeting. You can’t lay 3.5 here, even though the trends on these teams would suggest that Dallas could win by multiple scores.
You’ve heard a lot of the media discussing Prescott’s performances in the context of the schedule. For me, the question about the Cowboys legitimacy as a Super Bowl contender comes down to how well the defense holds up against elite competition. Thus far, the results haven’t been pretty. Even Sam Howell was able to move the ball decently well against Dallas. The Eagles offense is nowhere near its best right now, but Devonta Smith and A.J. Brown against man has been very successful for Philly in the past and should be again here.
The total opened 49.5, which was hilariously low. Now at 53.5, I have to sadly pass on the over. Same is true for Dallas, which I’d bet at -2.5, but not at -3.5. Should be a good live betting game.
Titans vs. Dolphins
Miami should have no problems torching the Titans secondary in this game. Tennessee has struggled with explosive pass offenses and now top defender and run-stopper Jeffrey Simmons will miss this game with injury. The Titans defense is a bottom-10 unit and they haven’t been able to scheme and coach around it this season anymore. If the Dolphins are making a concerted effort to get Tyreek Hill to 2,000 yards, this is a game where they’ll look to run it up a bit.
The Dolphins defense is improving considerably, and the Will Levis experience isn’t all that different from Howell last week. There are periods of quality play and success, but the sacks and turnover-worthy plays are a major problem for the rookie second-round pick right now.