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Week 14 Sunday NFL matchups, game times, and picks

With five weeks left in the regular season, NFL Week 14 has plenty of important storylines

Buffalo Bills v New York Jets Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

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Jacksonville Jaguars (4-8) at Tennessee Titans (7-5), 1:00 p.m. EST, CBS

Tennessee let me down last week. But I still see them as the team to win this division and Derrick Henry is the train they’ll jump on to get to the playoffs. Ryan Tannehill has a QB rating of 97 this season, which means he’s not bad enough to lose games for the team but he’s also not good enough to win them. He has 11 touchdowns to four interceptions on the year, with two of those interceptions coming in one game — Week 2 against Buffalo. It’s about the running game and defense. Jacksonville has been disappointing after starting off the season hot. But now they sit at third in the division with no real hopes of making the playoffs this year. The can, however, play the role of spoiler each week.

This game will matter more to Tennessee, which sits firmly at the top of the division. They will win and cover the spread at home.

Minnesota Vikings (10-2) at Detroit Lions (5-7), 1:00 p.m. EST, FOX

When you look at the records, you’ll wonder why the spread is so close. But the Detroit Lions have a tough team and quarterback Jared Goff has played very well this year as opposed to years past. He has a great connection with wide receiver Amon-Ra St. Brown and he has a running game to support him. Combine that with defense and you see why the Lions are consistently in position late in games to fight for the win. The Vikings have possibly the best wide receiver in football and they’re taking full advantage of it. Quarterback Kirk Cousins looks the part this season mostly because of Justin Jefferson’s ability but the Vikings also have a good run game with Dalvin Cook. But their defense is questionable according to almost every metric.

The Lions are favored at home and I think that’s for good reason. They are better than their record shows. They’ll beat the Vikings and prove they are coming for the throne soon.

Houston Texans (1-10-1) at Dallas Cowboys (9-3), 1:00 p.m. EST, FOX

How ‘bout them Cowboys? They look like legitimate contenders and I don’t see them slowing down anytime soon. They have scored 40 points or more in three of their last five games, with the most recent being a second-half 54-18 blowout over the Indianapolis Colts. Their defense is very good and I don’t think there is anything that the Texans can do to put a dent in their armor.

I just can’t feel comfortable betting for Dallas to cover such a huge spread. I think the Texans beat the spread — 17.5 is huge. But Dallas wins and keeps their eyes looking forward to the postseason.

Philadelphia Eagles (11-1) at New York Giants (7-4-1), 1:00 p.m. EST, FOX

This is now the third week in a row where I am saying this, and unfortunately I have been right. Brian Daboll’s early season success has come to an end. He came into this season with a team that no one expected to be great but started off fast and helped to form an energized and inspired group. But that luck has run out. They have hit the part of the schedule where falling back to reality is the reality. Running back Saquon Barkley is questionable with a neck injury but is expected to play. Division games are always tough but the Eagles are finally making a believer out of me. I thought they benefited from a softer schedule, which may be the case. But they are still winning consistently, and most times in a big way.

The Giants always keep games close, so they’ll beat the spread. But the Eagles won’t fall this week.

Cleveland Browns (5-7) at Cincinnati Bengals (8-4), 1:00 p.m. EST, CBS

After a season-and-a-half off, Deshaun Watson was very rusty — which was to be expected. But the Browns dominated the Texans with their defense. This week, I don’t know if the same formula will work. The Bengals are getting hot and healthy at the right point of the season. Quarterback Joe Burrow and wide receiver Ja’Marr Chase were phenomenal when it mattered last week to beat Kansas City. The Browns will need Watson to look like the QB he was when he was a starter for the Texans as opposed to the player we saw last week — if they want a chance to win.

It’s unlikely that the Browns look much improved offensively from last week. I think Burrow continues to roll and the Bengals win and cover.

Baltimore Ravens (8-4) at Pittsburgh Steelers (5-7), 1:00 p.m. EST, CBS

Now where have I seen this story before? Quarterback Lamar Jackson has his team in first place in the division, gets injured and then they don’t even make the playoffs. Last year was the same sad song for Ravens fans. Jackson is potentially out for 2-4 weeks and he’s the real key to their offense when it’s rolling. The Steelers won’t make the playoffs, but they are playing to protect head coach Mike Tomlin’s streak of never coaching a losing season. And quarterback Kenny Pickett is building something beautiful with wide receiver George Pickens.

The Pittsburgh Steelers beat up on a Lamar Jackson-less Ravens team. They win and cover the spread.

New York Jets (7-5) at Buffalo Bills (9-3), 1:00 p.m. EST, CBS

No Zach Wilson? No problem for the Jets. Mike White has stepped in and played well enough to beat the Chicago Bears and almost lead the team to victory against the Vikings last week. But the real test is coming this week when they play a team with a solid defensive unit. The Bills are without edge rusher Von Miller for the remainder of the season and will also be without defensive tackle Jordan Phillips this week. But overall the team is much healthier than the first time around. Safety Jordan Poyer is back and the team is undefeated when their All-Pro safety plays — and 1-3 when he’s unavailable. Quarterback Josh Allen also looks healthy again and ready for each week.

The Bills start redemption properly and beat the Jets and cover the spread.

Kansas City Chiefs (9-3) at Denver Broncos (3-9), 4:05 p.m. EST, CBS

What a humbling experience this season has been for quarterback Russell Wilson. After being traded from Seattle and extended to franchise quarterback money, it appears he has lost his locker room and is in the midst of the worst statistical season of his career. On the other side, quarterback Patrick Mahomes is once again the clear favorite to win the MVP award in a season where he’s playing arguably his best football without wide receiver Tyreek Hill.

Russ won’t be able to get anything going. Mahomes will embarrass the Broncos to make up for losing to the Bengals last week. The Chiefs will cover and win big.

Carolina Panthers (4-8) at Seattle Seahawks (7-5), 4:25 p.m. EST, FOX

The Panthers are clearly looking to the future. Although quarterback Baker Mayfield hasn’t lived up to his draft status, he most certainly was the best quarterback on the roster for the season. The Panthers chose to demote him to QB3 behind Sam Darnold and P.J. Walker, leading to Mayfield’s request to be released. After the team granted his request, they look toward the future while trying to give fans something to remain hopeful about. The Seahawks come into Week 14 one game back of San Francisco for the lead in the division and holding the last spot in the NFC playoff picture. They can’t afford to lose this game to the Panthers.

Seattle wins and covers on the shoulders of my pick for NFL Comeback Player of the Year, Geno Smith.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (6-6) at San Francisco 49ers (8-4), 4:25 p.m. EST, FOX

Since the trade deadline, the 49ers have been the team that no one wants to face. They have a very dynamic offense regardless of who’s under center at quarterback. Running back Christian McCaffrey and wide receiver Deebo Samuel present nightmares for every defensive coordinator, and the Niners boast the best defense in the league in virtually every category. Quarterback Tom Brady was able to come back last week against the New Orleans Saints, but this is not the same defense. The 49ers get to the quarterback with ease and they have a strong secondary that doesn’t allow much separation when the quarterback has time.

The Niners have the defense that every team wishes to field. Brady will be frustrated early and often. San Fran takes this one and covers the spread.

Miami Dolphins (8-4) at Los Angeles Chargers (6-6), 8:15 p.m. EST, NBC

This game was actually tough for me to pick. Everything is telling me that the Dolphins should win this game with ease. But the Chargers have wide receiver Keenan Allen back and it seems that quarterback Justin Herbert is getting healthier by the week. He’s making the throws we were used to seeing him make before his rib injury. But the Dolphins have the leverage with every matchup in this game. They should be able to take advantage of the Chargers’ underperforming defense and they should also be able to get to Herbert often. But LA has been getting better and they aren’t quite ready to give up on the season. Austin Ekeler is one of the best running backs in the league and I expect the Chargers to try and keep the explosive Dolphins offense off the field and control the clock.

Chargers win with an upset in LA.