Week 14 of the NFL season is here, and we’re at the point of the year where several teams are in must-win situations with the playoffs looming. The AFC Wild Card race is especially heating up at the moment, with arguably as many as nine teams competing for three spots in the postseason. At the bottom of this page, I’ll list my favorite spread, as well as an underdog parlay and a teaser I love. Let’s dive into this week’s slate of games.
Teams on bye: Indianapolis Colts, Miami Dolphins, New England Patriots, Philadelphia Eagles
My Week 13 record: 9-5 SU, 8-6 ATS, 7-7 O/U
My record overall: 117-75-1 SU, 108-86-1 ATS, 100-93-1 O/U
Thursday, December 9
Pittsburgh Steelers @ Minnesota Vikings
The Vikings’ loss to the Lions was ugly and not particularly fluky. Minnesota has been plagued by the same issues all season as Mike Zimmer’s seat is red-hot with play-calling issues holding back what is a very talented roster. The Vikings played an awful game on Sunday and still had a great chance to win before they played a ridiculous soft shell, prevent defense and allowed Jared Goff to dink and dunk his way to a game-winning touchdown. In the game this week, if we’re talking about Mike Tomlin vs. Mike Zimmer, it’s not even close. The Steelers’ defense has dealt with injuries all season and isn’t the same group it was last year. Reports that this will be Ben Roethlisberger’s final season in Pittsburgh should not come as a shock to anyone as he has struggled all year to push the ball downfield. Najee Harris has been excellent, but the efficiency metrics wouldn’t tell you that as he’s played against stacked boxes constantly. The Vikings are down some key front-seven pieces, so I believe Harris will have a solid game here. Minnesota could also be missing Dalvin Cook and Adam Thielen this week. I’ll take the better-coached, healthier team to win this game.
Pittsburgh Steelers: CB Joe Haden (foot) O
Minnesota Vikings: WR Adam Thielen (knee) O, OT Christian Darrisaw (ankle) O, DE Everson Griffen (personal) NFI-R
Matchup To Watch: Diontae Johnson (PIT WR) vs. Cameron Dantzler (MIN CB)
My Pick: Steelers win 23-20, Steelers cover, under 45 points
Week 14 Betting Picks Video
Sunday, December 12
Baltimore Ravens @ Cleveland Browns
The first time these teams played was perhaps the worst game of the season. The final score of 16-10 doesn’t do justice to how horrific the game was offensively, with six turnovers, nine punts, and just a combined 4.2 yards per play. Lamar Jackson did his best to give the game away with four interceptions, but the Browns couldn’t capitalize as their run game was as bad as I can remember it being under Kevin Stefanski. Jackson hasn’t thrown for more touchdowns than interceptions in a game in any of his last three outings, and he needs to reign in his play to make things easier. With Marlon Humphery now out for the rest of the season, the Ravens are now without their starting outside corners. However, Baker Mayfield hasn’t looked good in weeks, and I’m not confident that he can get it done as he hasn’t completed over 53% of his passes in almost a month. The Ravens have one of the best run defenses in the NFL, and the Browns are one of the most run-dependent teams in football. I don’t have a solid lean here with both offenses underperforming, and the under is probably the best bet.
Baltimore Ravens: CB Anthony Averett (knee) Q, TE Nick Boyle (knee) Q, OT Patrick Mekari (hand) Q, CB Marlon Humphery (shoulder) IR
Cleveland Browns: RB Kareem Hunt (calf) Q, WR Jarvis Landry (knee) Q, C JC Tretter (knee) Q, DT Malik Jackson (knee) Q, WR Anthony Schwartz (concussion) Q, TE Harrison Bryant (ankle) Q, DT Jordan Elliott (knee) Q, TE David Njoku (undisclosed) IR/COVID-19, OT Jack Conklin (kneecap) IR
Matchup To Watch: Alejandro Vilanueva (BAL OT) vs. Myles Garrett (CLE DE)
My Pick: Ravens win 20-16, Ravens cover, under 42.5 points
Jacksonville Jaguars @ Tennessee Titans
There may not be a team that was more in need of a bye week than the Titans as the injuries had started to rack up, and they were coming off two losses to the Texans and Patriots in which they scored just 13 points in each game. Tennessee got some good news on Monday as Julio Jones is expected to be back this week; his return is even more critical with A.J. Brown on Injured Reserve, along with Derrick Henry. Tennessee’s offense isn’t the same without those two, but the Jaguars looked disinterested for most of the game against the Rams last week. Jacksonville is dealing with offensive issues as Dan Arnold, their leading receiver the last time these teams played, remains on IR. James Robinson only got eight carries last week after fumbling and is still dealing with an ankle injury, as well. The Titans still have a litany of players on the injury report. Still, I have plenty of confidence in their defense coming to play against a shaky Trevor Lawrence, notably as Urban Meyer’s offense has failed to put him in positions to succeed all season. Tennessee should be able to get back on track this week following their much-needed bye.
Jacksonville Jaguars: LB Myles Jack (knee) Q, LB Josh Allen (shoulder) Q, RB James Robinson (heel) Q, C Brandon Linder (back) Q, CB Tyson Campbell (abdomen) Q
Tennessee Titans: CB Janoris Jenkins (ankle) Q, LB David Long (hamstring) Q, S Kevin Byard (undisclosed) IR/COVID-19, WR A.J. Brown (chest) IR, WR Julio Jones (hamstring) IR, WR Marcus Johnson (hamstring) IR
Matchup To Watch: Andrew Norwell (JAX OG) vs. Jeffery Simmons (TEN DT)
My Pick: Titans win 31-17, Titans over, over 44 points
Las Vegas Raiders @ Kansas City Chiefs
Patrick Mahomes torched the Raiders in these teams’ last meeting with over 400 passing yards and five touchdowns, but he’s finished with under a 75 passer rating and two touchdowns to three interceptions in the other four of his last five games. The Chiefs have won those on the back of an ascendant defense. After allowing 32.6 points per game over the first five weeks of the season, the Chiefs have allowed just 13.7 points per game. The Raiders struggled to generate offense against this team a few weeks ago, and Derek Carr has thrown for over 300 yards just once since Henry Ruggs was released from the team. Darren Waller should be able to return this week, but the Raiders are light in the front seven with three injured linebackers in addition to Carl Nassib, one of their lead pass-rushers. Las Vegas had the rest advantage and the home-field advantage last week against Washington, but they looked largely unenthused and sluggish as they blew a ton of opportunities to take the lead. Kansas City has quietly covered the spread in three straight games. With their much-improved defense, I’ll bet on that trend to continue, regardless of whether or not Patrick Mahomes replicates his success against this team from earlier in the season.
Las Vegas Raiders: TE Darren Waller (knee) Q, DE Carl Nassib (knee) Q, LB Denzel Perryman (ankle) Q, LB Darron Lee (undisclosed) Q, RB Jalen Richard (illness) IR/COVID-19, LB Nick Kwiatkoski (ankle) IR, RB Kenyan Drake (ankle) IR
Kansas City Chiefs: OT Lucas Niang (ribs) Q, OT Rashad Fenton (knee) Q
Matchup To Watch: Tyreek Hill (KC WR) vs. Casey Heyward Jr. (LV CB)
My Pick: Chiefs win 27-14, Chiefs cover, under 52.5 points
New Orleans Saints @ New York Jets
Taysom Hill got his first start of the season last week, and it was a mixed bag of production as he ran for 101 yards but threw four interceptions and finished with a putrid QBR of just 28.3. The Jets should provide a friendlier matchup to increase his production this week after allowing Gardner Minshew to finish with a stellar passer rating of 133.7 in his first start of the year last week. In recent weeks, the Saints have been hampered offensively by injuries to starting running back Alvin Kamara and starting offensive tackles Terron Armstead and Ryan Ramczyk, and it’s unclear if those players will suit up this week. If they do, I have a lot of confidence in Sean Payton’s team covering the spread here. Elijah Moore continues to be the primary bright spot on a struggling Jets offense, and he finished with six catches for 77 yards and a touchdown last week despite facing a talented Eagles’ secondary. The Saints have been lights out against the run but vulnerable against the pass at times, so Moore is likely the team’s best bet to generating points in this one. Still, if Kamara can return this week, the Saints should have no problem winning by more than a touchdown against this team.
New Orleans Saints: OT Terron Armstead (knee) Q, OT Ryan Ramczyk (knee) Q, DE Marcus Davenport (shoulder) Q, LB Pete Werner (elbow) Q, WR Lil’Jordan Humphrey (hamstring) Q, RB Mark Ingram (illness) IR/COVID-19, DE Cameron Jordan (illness) COVID-19/IR
New York Jets: DE John Franklin-Meyers (hip) Q, LB C.J. Mosley (back) Q, WR Elijah Moore (quadriceps) Q, DT Sheldon Rankins (knee) Q, OG Laurent Duvernay-Tardif (ankle) Q, TE Ryan Griffin (ankle) Q, RB Tevin Coleman (concussion) O, CB Michael Carter II (concussion) O, WR Corey Davis (groin) IR
Matchup To Watch: Elijah Moore (NYJ WR) vs. Marshon Lattimore (NO CB)
My Pick: Saints win 23-10, Saints cover, under 44 points
Dallas Cowboys @ Washington Football Team
The Cowboys will be happy to have the extra days off this week, and they should be the healthiest they’ve been in quite a while for this pivotal divisional game. Dallas should have Amari Cooper back in better shape after coming back from a bout with COVID-19, which will be huge as Dak Prescott hasn’t been at his best lately. The Washington pass defense has weirdly been playing much better recently, allowing just 217.7 passing yards per game over its past three games, but they are still allowing the third-most passing yards on the season. Dak Prescott should be able to take advantage. Jonathan Allen and Da’Ron Payne can make life difficult for Ezekiel Elliott on the ground, but the Cowboys can get creative with their play-calling now that their offense is much healthier. On the other side, Dallas’s run defense has been one of the most improved units in football, and the pass-rush could be getting a massive boost with the potential return of Randy Gregory. Taylor Heinecke has been playing above his paygrade for the past few weeks, and I don’t quite buy that to continue. Washington is in trouble with a Cowboys’ defense that feasts on havoc and a rapidly improving offense in terms of health.
Dallas Cowboys: LB Micah Parsons (hip) Q, RB Tony Pollard (foot) Q, WR Cedrick Wilson (ankle) Q, DE Randy Gregory (calf) IR
Washington Football Team: OG Brandon Scherff (knee) Q, DE Jonathan Allen (groin) Q, WR Curtis Samuel (groin) Q, S Landon Collins (foot) Q, OG Wes Schweitzer (ankle) Q, RB J.D. McKissic (concussion) Q, LB Jamin Davis (concussion) Q, TE Logan Thomas (knee) IR
Matchup To Watch: Amari Cooper (DAL WR) vs. Kendall Fuller (WAS CB)
My Pick: Cowboys win 30-20, Cowboys cover, over 49 points
Atlanta Falcons @ Carolina Panthers
There hasn’t been a more up-and-down-and-sideways team than the Panthers this season, and it’s made it impossible to bet on them confidently. Christian McCaffrey will miss the rest of the year with an ankle injury, and his lack of health has hampered the offense. The firing of offensive coordinator Joe Brady was inevitable with the underperforming offense expectations. The change could jump-start an incredibly vanilla group that should be running a lot more RPOs and motion offense with Cam Newton under center. A matchup with the Falcons could provide an excellent opportunity to try some new plays out this week. The Panthers’ defense is the best unit in this game, and the fact that they rank top ten in both points and yards allowed is impressive considering they have the seventh-worst turnover margin in the NFL. This year, Atlanta is one of the six teams with a worse margin, and Matt Ryan has struggled behind an inconsistent offensive line. However, Russell Gage has been playing much better football lately, and he finished with 11 catches for 130 yards last week. His emergence as a reliable pass-catcher, along with Cordarelle Patterson and Kyle Pitts, should give the team enough versatility offensively while Calvin Ridley remains away from the group. Atlanta made Tampa work hard for their win last week, and I have more confidence in Matt Ryan than Cam Newton this year. This one should be a game to circle for a potential underdog teaser this week.
Atlanta Falcons: DE Jonathan Bullard (ankle) Q, WR Calvin Ridley (personal) NFI-R
Carolina Panthers: RB Christian McCaffrey (ankle) IR
Matchup To Watch: Jake Matthews (ATL OT) vs. Haason Reddick (CAR DE)
My Pick: Falcons win 26-20, Falcons cover, over 43.5 points
Seattle Seahawks @ Houston Texans
For the first time in a long time last week, Russell Wilson wasn’t a detriment to the Seahawks. It was the first game since September that he completed over 70% of his passes and the first time all year that he completed 80% of his passes, and while he did throw an interception, his two touchdowns helped deliver his team the win. Seattle’s opportunistic defense forced three San Francisco turnovers and held the Niners scoreless in the second half. There’s plenty to dislike about this Seahawks team. Wilson was battered on Sunday, getting hit eight times and sacked four times, but they were able to run for 146 yards against a much better run defense than they will face this week in the Texans. Houston doesn’t even know who its starting quarterback will be this week. Still, neither Tyrod Taylor nor Davis Mills has been impressive for weeks now, and the Texans’ offensive line is arguably the worst in the league with both of its starting offensive tackles still on Injured Reserve. The Texans looked helpless last week, and the line in this game should be ten or more. Seattle will be a prime teaser candidate this week.
Seattle Seahawks: WR DK Metcalf (foot) Q, RB Alex Collins (abdomen) Q, RB Travis Homer (calf) Q, OG Damien Lewis (elbow) Q, OT Brandon Shell (shoulder) Q, S Jamal Adams (shoulder) O
Houston Texans: C Justin Britt (knee) Q, OG Tytus Howard (ankle) Q, DE Jonathan Greenard (foot) Q, TE Brevin Jordan (hand) Q
Matchup To Watch: Brandin Cooks (HOU WR) vs. D.J. Reed Jr. (SEA CB)
My Pick: Seahawks win 31-13, Seahawks cover, over 43.5 points
Detroit Lions @ Denver Broncos
Kudos to the Lions on earning their first win of the season. The seeds had been planted, although I didn’t expect it to come on the first week the team was without its best all-around offensive weapon in D’Andre Swift. Amon-Ra St. Brown stepped up with ten catches and a touchdown, Brock Wright scored the first touchdown of his career, and Jamaal Williams had 80 yards from scrimmage. That was easily Jared Goff’s best game of the season, but I don’t expect it to continue against Denver, who ranks tenth in passing yards per game allowed. The defense has gone through several iterations as it’s dealt with injuries to key players. Still, they played excellent football last week against Patrick Mahomes in holding the former MVP to just over 50% passing with no touchdowns and an interception. Patrick Surtain II picked off Patrick Mahomes and is having an excellent rookie season. In addition, the front seven has been given a boost by the midseason additions of Kenny Young and Stephen Weatherly. Javonte Williams rank for over 100 yards as he was the full-time starter with Melvin Gordon sidelined last week, and he looks like a future superstar. The young talent on this Denver team should continue to step up, and Teddy Bridgewater should play an efficient game against a porous defense.
Detroit Lions: RB D’Andre Swift (shoulder – AC joint) Q, OT Penei Sewell (shoulder) Q, TE T.J. Hockenson (hand) Q, OG Jonah Jackson (illness) Q, OG Halapoulivaati Vaitai (illness) Q
Denver Broncos: OLB Bradley Chubb (shoulder) Q, DE Shelby Harris (ankle) Q, RB Melvin Gordon (hip) Q
Matchup To Watch: Penei Sewell (DET OT) vs. Bradley Chubb (DEN OLB)
My Pick: Broncos win 23-13, Broncos cover, under 43.5 points
New York Giants @ Los Angeles Chargers
Daniel Jones remains sidelined with a neck injury, and Mike Glennon was concussed in the game against Miami, so we will likely see Jake Fromm make his first career start on Sunday. He led Georgia to some solid seasons in the SEC, but there’s a reason the Bills moved on from him after one year with the team as their fifth-round pick in 2020. The Chargers’ defense smothered Joe Burrow behind an injured offensive line last week as they got to the Cincinnati quarterback six times on Sunday. Austin Ekeler had an uncharacteristic two lost fumbles, and if it weren’t for those turnovers, the Chargers likely would have beaten the Bengals by a lot more than 19 points. Justin Herbert opened up the offense on Sunday with some long bomb plays, and the Chargers’ increased aggressiveness helped them to their best offensive performance in weeks. The Giants’ defense wasn’t particularly good to begin with, but an injury to starting cornerback Adoree’ Jackson will leave them at even more of a disadvantage. While Saquon Barkley could have a good game against what has been a very vulnerable run defense, it’s hard to imagine Jake Fromm coming close to keeping pace with Justin Herbert.
New York Giants: WR Sterling Shepard (quadriceps) Q, WR Kadarius Toney (quadriceps) Q, WR Kenny Golladay (ribs) Q, RB Saquon Barkley (ankle) Q, CB Adoree’ Jackson (quadriceps) Q, QB Mike Glennon (concussion) Q, QB Daniel Jones (neck) D
Los Angeles Chargers: RB Austin Ekeler (ankle) Q, DE Joey Bosa (hand) Q, CB Asante Samuel Jr. (concussion) Q, DT Linval Joseph (shoulder) Q, WR Keenan Allen (illness) COVID-19/IR
Matchup To Watch: Mike Williams (LAC WR) vs. James Bradberry (NYG CB)
My Pick: Chargers win 33-20, Chargers cover, over 45.5 points
San Francisco 49ers @ Cincinnati Bengals
The Bengals were on the verge of getting blown out of their own building, Joe Burrow suffered a painful finger injury, and the cards were stacked against them in all kinds of ways. Burrow showed a ton of toughness and heart in helping the Bengals pull within 2 points, but their effort was ultimately not enough. The injuries to Burrow and Joe Mixon will be the big stories to keep an eye on this week, and it’s easy to imagine this line moving very quickly if either is ruled out. Tee Higgins is coming off a second-straight 100-yard receiving day, and his ascension has timed up with Ja’Marr Chase’s declining production. Both are excellent wideouts capable of beating the San Francisco cornerbacks, but Burrow’s health and the injured offensive line are problematic. The 49ers are expecting to get back Fred Warner and Deebo Samuel this week, arguably its two best players, and the return of Samuel should allow Jimmy Garoppolo to play a lot better than he did in a mistake-filled poor showing against Seattle. George Kittle came up huge with nine catches for 181 yards and two touchdowns last week in the absence of Samuel. I’ll be back later this week to update this pick based on each team’s respective health, but I’m not expecting Burrow to be 100%, so I’ll take the Niners for now.
San Francisco 49ers: WR Deebo Samuel (groin) Q, RB Elijah Mitchell (concussion) Q, LB Fred Warner (hamstring) Q, DT Maurice Hurst (calf) Q, CB Emmanuel Moseley (ankle) O
Cincinnati Bengals: QB Joe Burrow (finger) Q, RB Joe Mixon (neck) Q, CB Chidobe Awuzie (foot) Q, WR Tee Higgins (ankle) Q, OT Riley Reiff (ankle) Q, C Trey Hopkins (knee) Q, LB Logan Wilson (shoulder) D
Matchup To Watch: George Kittle (SF TE) vs. Jessie Bates (CIN S)
My Pick: 49ers win 26-23, 49ers cover, over 46.5 points
Buffalo Bills @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers
I picked the Bills to win on Monday Night Football at home, but they somehow allowed the Patriots to attempt just three passes all game and beat them on their own turf. Given the awful weather conditions, it’s challenging to have any sweeping takeaways from that game. Still, the loss of All-Pro cornerback Tre’Davious White hangs over the Bills heading into a matchup against the potential MVP Tom Brady. White would have seen a lot of Mike Evans this week, and the Bills will be much more vulnerable against the pass moving forward. It’s fair to say Tom Brady isn’t in his prime anymore, but he consistently finds a way to get the job done, and he burned Atlanta last week with 368 passing yards and four touchdowns. Tampa is a much tougher team than Buffalo right now, as well, on both sides of the ball, and an increasingly healthy Buccaneers’ defense should give Josh Allen everything he can handle. Allen has been far too inconsistent this season to trust him in a road matchup against this Buccaneers team, especially with the short week after a grueling divisional matchup. The Buccaneers’ defense is built to take advantage of mistake-prone quarterbacks and pair that with an efficient ball-control offense; I love Tampa in this matchup.
Buffalo Bills: WR Emmanuel Sanders (personal) Q, DT Star Lotulelei (toe) O, LB A.J. Klein (illness) IR/COVID-19
Tampa Bay Buccaneers: CB Sean Murphy-Bunting (undisclosed) Q, CB Jamel Dean (concussion) Q, C Ryan Jensen (ankle) Q, DT Vita Vea (knee) Q, OG Ali Marpet (abdomen) Q, RB Ronald Jones (illness) Q, S Jordan Whitehead (calf) O
Matchup To Watch: Mike Evans (TB WR) vs. Levi Wallace (BUF CB)
My Pick: Buccaneers win 28-23, Buccaneeers cover, under 53.5 points
Chicago Bears @ Green Bay Packers
The last time the Packers played the Bears, Aaron Rodgers screamed “I still own you!” at the Chicago faithful, and this time around, he’s going to own the Bears on primetime. I frankly don’t understand why this game was selected on Sunday Night Football, as I’m not sure who thought the Bears were going to be good this year. This game will also be their second appearance on SNF, but I digress. Rodgers exposed the Bears’ defense with a very efficient performance last time around, and that was with Khalil Mack, their All-Pro defensive end, still healthy and active. The Bears have two injured quarterbacks, neither of whom has been consistently good this year and will have a tough time moving the ball against a much-improved Green Bay defense. The Packers could be getting David Bakhtiari, Jaire Alexander, and Za’Darius Smith, a trio of All-Pro talents, back as soon as this week. They should be healthier and better-rested in general after their well-timed bye week. The Packers are currently my pick to win the Super Bowl, and they should have no problems with a hapless Chicago team. Expect a heavy dose of Aaron Jones and A.J. Dillon on the ground as Green Bay wins by multiple scores on the back of a dominant defense and efficient offense.
Chicago Bears: QB Andy Dalton (hand) Q, QB Justin Fields (ribs) Q, RB David Montgomery (shoulder) Q, WR Allen Robinson (hamstring) Q, WR Marquise Goodwin (foot) Q, DE Akiem Hicks (ankle) Q, DE Mario Edwards (ribs) Q
Green Bay Packers: QB Aaron Rodgers (toe) Q, WR Davante Adams (hamstring) Q, OT David Bakhtiari (knee – ACL) Q, CB Kevin King (hip) Q, WR Randall Cobb (groin) O, LB De’Vondre Campbell (illness) COVID-19/IR, CB Jaire Alexander (shoulder) IR
Matchup To Watch: Davante Adams (GB WR) vs. Jaylon Johnson (CHI CB)
My Pick: Packers win 40-17, Packers cover, over 44.5 points
Monday, December 13
Los Angeles Rams @ Arizona Cardinals
The Rams destroyed the Jaguars last week with a final score of 37-7 to end their three-game skid, but I’m not convinced. This Cardinals team beat down the Rams by a final score of 37-20 in Los Angeles earlier this season, and that was when the Rams still had Robert Woods, an integral part of both their passing and rushing offenses. I don’t care what Matthew Stafford says, he hasn’t looked healthy in weeks, and this offense is ultra-reliant on Cooper Kupp without much in the way of other help. The lack of unpredictability and variety on offense has made opposing defenses’ lives easy this season, and Arizona’s defense already showed it has the formula to beat this team with its blend of speed and physicality upfront. Kyler Murray and DeAndre Hopkins finally got back in the lineup for the Cardinals last week, and you have to wonder if the timing was intentional so they could be at their most healthy and prepared for this critical divisional matchup. Murray didn’t need to throw the ball much as the Cardinals led wire-to-wire against the Bears last week, and frankly, it’s unclear how much he’ll have to throw the ball against the Rams. This Los Angeles team still hasn’t proven to beat quality opponents, and I have to bet on what we’ve seen all year.
Los Angeles Rams: WR Cooper Kupp (toe) Q, RB Darrell Henderson (thigh) Q, C Brian Allen (knee) Q, CB Robert Rochell (chest) Q
Arizona Cardinals: CB Byron Murphy (foot) Q, OG Justin Pugh (calf) Q, TE Zach Ertz (shoulder) Q, RB Chase Edmonds (ankle) IR
Matchup To Watch: DeAndre Hopkins (ARI WR) vs. Jalen Ramsey (LAR CB)
My Pick: Cardinals win 30-24, Cardinals cover, over 52 points