With Week 14 here, there are now only four more weeks of the NFL regular season, in which teams can find a way to sneak into the playoff picture, or to make headway as a top seed with home field advantage.
The slate of games for Week 14 aren’t as sexy as last week’s list, but there are still plenty of great matchups, including the Eagles and Cowboys, Chiefs at San Diego, Pats vs. Bears and Baltimore traveling to Houston to take on the Texans.
Last week’s picks were a mess – and that’s what being overly aggressive will get you. This week’s selections are slightly more conservative, and here’s hoping for better results.
It’s once again time to “Pick Your Knows” – the only time it’s not a disgusting habit – and here are Week 14’s scheduled games (spreads as they appear through CBSSports.com).
Pick Your Knows: NFL Week 14 Picks Against the Spread
Indianapolis Colts at Tennessee Titans (+2.5)
The Colts’ top passing offense takes on a Titans pass defense that’s ranked 23rd in the NFL. Peyton Manning has suddenly become an interception machine. Chris Johnson hasn’t put up big numbers recently either, but the Colts are vulnerable against the run. It should be a competitive game, and it’s hard to pick against Manning, even with the recent struggles and team injuries.
KP’s Pick: Indianapolis
Oakland Raiders at Jacksonville Jaguars (-4.5)
The Jags have been playing solid football and Maurice Jones-Drew has excelled over the last month. MJD should continue to see more success against the Oakland run defense. The Raiders have a solid run game and are tied for the NFL lead in sacks, so expect Oakland to control time of possession and create headaches for David Garrard in the backfield. The Raiders keep this game close. Take Oakland and the points.
KP’s Pick: Oakland
Cleveland Browns at Buffalo Bills (-1.5)
No one allows more rushing yards than the Bills and Cleveland’s biggest offensive weapon is beastly running back Peyton Hillis, who will likely bowl over the Buffalo defense. On top of that, the Bills – after playing well and keeping games close for a month – have been beaten handily over the last two weeks. Expect the Browns to win this game outright.
KP’s Pick: Cleveland
Cincinnati Bengals at Pittsburgh Steelers (-9.5)
In its last matchup with the Bengals, the Steelers allowed a late Cincy charge on the road, but still came away with a six-point victory. This time, Big Ben is still banged up, but will play – and the Bengals are in a complete freefall. This is the highest spread of the week, but the Steelers, while playing at home and coming off an emotional win against the Ravens, should be able to leave with at least a ten point victory over the hapless Bengals.
KP’s Pick: Pittsburgh
Atlanta Falcons at Carolina Panthers (+7.5)
The Panthers are fairly solid against the pass, but Atlanta has a balanced offensive attack, and therefore should still be able to pick the Panthers apart. Carolina has also allowed the third most sacks in the NFL. Overall, this one looks like a fairly lopsided matchup on paper – and the Panthers overall don’t have enough weapons to keep this game close. Atlanta covers.
KP’s Pick: Atlanta
New York Giants at Minnesota Vikings (+3.5)
Brett Favre is the most banged up that he’s ever been, but Tarvaris Jackson did move the offense last week when replacing him. But that was the Bills and this is the Giants, a team that has a ruthless pass rush and a great pass defense. Reports out of New York also have Hakeem Nicks practicing some this week, and if he’s able to come back, the Giants are that much better. The Vikings are usually solid at home, but not this week. Giants cover easily.
KP’s Pick: New York Giants
Green Bay Packers at Detroit Lions (+6.5)
The Lions will be going with Drew Stanton again, who held his own last week. However, this time, Stanton faces the Packers 6th ranked pass defense – a group that’s managed 16 interceptions on the season. Green Bay also has a talented defensive front and a potent passing offense. All signs point to the Packers covering on the road.
KP’s Pick: Green Bay
Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Washington Redskins (+2.5)
The Bucs lost a few key defensive players last week to injury (including Aqib Talib), which could give Tampa Bay’s solid pass defense a hit. But Washington’s offense hasn’t been all that potent, and while the Redskins run game may get Ryan Torain back, the ‘Skins still likely won’t run all over the Bucs. Tampa Bay had Atlanta on the ropes last week – and should be able to cover on the road against a struggling Washington team.
KP’s Pick: Tampa Bay
Seattle Seahawks at San Francisco 49ers (-4.5)
The Seahawks give up a lot of yards, especially against the pass – but San Francisco is again changing its starting QB – this time back to Alex Smith. Expect mistakes from him, even against this defense. The Niners are better against the run than the pass, but Seattle’s weak run offense likely won’ be used as much as the passing game. This game should be back and forth all day, and it’s a safe bet to pick Seattle and the points here.
KP’s Pick: Seattle
St. Louis Rams at New Orleans Saints (-8.5)
Steven Jackson has been the top rusher during all but three of the Rams’ games this season, with only McFadden, Gore and Turner topping him. Expect a heavy dose of him to try and keep the Saints offense off the field. New Orleans has a top notch pass offense and a very solid pass defense, too. Therefore, expect a challenge for rookie Sam Bradford – but this is the gut pick of the week, that St. Louis can manage to keep this game at around a touchdown or less.
KP’s Pick: St. Louis
Denver Broncos at Arizona Cardinals (+3.5)
Only the Buffalo Bills allow more rushing yards than these two teams – and when looking at each team, Knowshon Moreno has been running well the last few weeks, while the Cards are still struggling with moving the ball on the ground due to ineffectiveness and injuries. Denver also will be playing its first game under interim head coach Eric Studesville. The Broncos play inspired football under its new coach, and cover on the road.
KP’s Pick: Denver
Kansas City Chiefs at San Diego Chargers (-6.5)
After last week’s home loss to the Raiders, the Chargers now sit two games back of the Chiefs with four to go. Therefore, one could call this a must win situation – and playing at home with a solid run defense, the Chargers should be able to keep KC’s biggest strength in check. Chiefs QB Matt Cassel also had his appendix removed this week and is a question mark. San Diego covers at home and gets to within a game of the division lead.
KP’s Pick: San Diego
New England Patriots at Chicago Bears (+3.5)
The Patriots will be working on short rest after dismantling the Jets on Monday night. Chicago’s O-line and Jay Cutler have been playing better, but they will be hosting a unique and balanced Patriots attack. The Bears excel against the run game, but the Patriots have a unique dink and dunk pass attack that will likely give Chicago headaches all day. Pats cover on the road.
KP’s Pick: New England
Miami Dolphins at New York Jets (-6.5)
Both the Dolphins and the Jets have rush defenses ranked in the top ten, making this a game that will certainly be won in the trenches. The Jets will be ticked after its blowout loss to New England, but this is a New York team short on rest, and one that – aside from Cincinnati on Thanksgiving – hasn’t beaten an opponent by more than a touchdown since Week 5. Miami will keep this game close throughout. Take the ‘Fins and the points.
KP’s Pick: Miami
Philadelphia Eagles at Dallas Cowboys (+3.5)
The Cowboys continue to play well – and if not for a Roy Williams fumble against the Saints on Thanksgiving – Dallas would be 4-0 under Jason Garrett. Because of the way Dallas is rolling, it’s hard to imagine that the ‘Boys won’t make this a close game at home, even against an Eagles team that has the most yards per game in the NFL, and second most points per game. Vick will be able to move the offense, while Dallas will miss Dez Bryant, who was injured last week. But in the end, expect a one score game – and this pick is banking on the game going down to a game-winning field goal.
KP’s Pick: Dallas
Baltimore Ravens at Houston Texans (+3.5)
The Texans still have the league’s worst pass defense, and the Ravens – sporting a balanced attack – should be able to move the ball well against Houston, while limiting its mistakes. Baltimore is also likely ticked off after last Sunday night’s loss to the Steelers. Houston’s playoff hopes are dwindling and will need this game badly. But in the end, it’s the Baltimore defense, which forces enough mistakes to cover on the road.
KP’s Pick: Baltimore