Week 14 NFL Picks

I don’t know what I know, but I know I don’t know much.

Last Week:  4 – 9 – 0
Season:       92 – 92 – 9

Thursday (8:20PM ET)

Patriots 21 at Steelers 18
Pittsburgh was 7-4 with the 2-10 Arizona Cardinals and the 2-10 New England Patriots visiting Pittsburgh in consecutive weeks. 9-4 was right there for the Steelers. Nope. The offense plummeted back down to earth after one week of glory and the Steelers sit at 7-6 with their playoff dreams on life support. If you can’t take care of the two worst teams in the NFL, how am I supposed to believe the Steelers have any chance against the Colts, Bengals, Seahawks and Ravens? This awful offense doesn’t deserve the postseason.

Early Games (1:00PM ET)

Buccaneers at Falcons
Every single game this weekend has playoff implications and seven of the games feature two playoff hopefuls. Call me crazy, but I hate watch both of these teams. I can’t stand the Buccaneers offense because they have these flashes where they look unstoppable and then they go three and out for a solid hour. I’ve already made my displeasure with the Atlanta ball distribution clear, so I want repeat myself. However, Bijan Robinson had 13 touches last week. Does Arthur Smith hate yards, points and winning? BUCCANEERS +2

Lions at Bears
This is a really big game for Detroit’s playoff potential, in my opinion. I still don’t think they’re going to nab a top two seed, so there’s a good chance they’re going to San Francisco or Philadelphia at some point in the postseason. How the Lions do outside, on grass, in chilly weather is a pretty big deal when your defense cannot stop anybody. BEARS +3

Colts at Bengals
Are the Bengals alive? I think the Bengals are indeed alive! Jake Browning was very respectable Monday night. I thought Cincinnati did something most teams don’t do with their backup quarterback; they stayed relatively aggressive. Zac Taylor also gave the ball to his playmakers. Joe Mixon had his 2nd highest touches this season. Ja’Marr Chase saw more targets than he’s seen in over a month. Sometimes I think the NFL overthinks offense too much when they have elite quarterbacks. Just get the ball in the playmakers hands and good things will happen. This is what the 49ers do. The Bengals have more than enough playmakers to rally themselves into the playoffs. BENGALS -2

Jaguars at Browns
Jacksonville’s running game has fallen off a cliff. Before Travis Etienne’s 4.1 average Monday night, he hadn’t averaged more than 3.8 yards per carry since October 8th. The Jaguars are 30th in yards per rush attempt and it is killing them in the red zone. They convert touchdowns inside the 20 only 52% of the time. That is the lowest of any other AFC title contender. Miami is 75%, Buffalo 67%, Baltimore 64% and even the struggling Chiefs offense is at 56%. Even worse, many of the Jaguars recent red zone score have come from Trevor Lawrence running the ball in himself. That’s not going to be an option for a while and maybe even the remainder of the season. Add in the Christian Kirk injury and the Jaguars offense is going to need some help from a defense that has struggled to find consistency. JAGUARS +3

Panthers at Saints
Bryce Young needs out of Carolina. I don’t watch Young and think he’s a bust like Zach Wilson or Mitch Trubisky. His composure is fine, maybe too good even, because he likes to hold onto the ball too long. He just doesn’t have any weapons. The offense isn’t doing him any favors, and reports out of Carolina indicate the front office and coaching situation there is a complete disaster. Imagine going from Nick Saban’s Alabama program to a circus. Of course a 22 year old is going to look bad in that situation. SAINTS -4.5

Texans at Jets
The Jets defense is so good that whomever made the final call not to bring in a veteran quarterback in September deserves to be fired. Imagine where this team could be with a competent quarterback. The AFC Wildcard is a traffic jam of mediocrity. The Steelers, Browns and Broncos have all survived this season on defense despite less than stellar quarterback performance. The Jets could have been another of those teams if they could have elevated their quarterback play from disastrous to less than stellar. JETS +3.5

Rams at Ravens
I still need convincing on this Baltimore team. They’re a very good team, I just don’t see them as AFC Champions two months from now. Their closing stretch of @Jaguars, @49ers, Dolphins and Steelers will go a long in both determining their playoff seed and how I feel about them. Obviously, how I feel about them is far more important. As for the Rams… the Cooper Kupp derailment train is not under control and is still careening straight for a cliff. For his sake, I hope he’s not healthy because it is not pretty. RAVENS -7.5

Afternoon Games (4:05PM ET)

Vikings at Raiders
Minnesota is making a mistake by keeping Joshua Dobbs under center. His production dropped off in Arizona about this time and his turnovers picked up. It happened a little earlier in Minnesota but the results were disastrous against Chicago. I think Jaren Hall was the better choice to run the offense, protect the football and lead the Vikings into a Wildcard spot. He only had two drives against the Falcons before his head caved in, but he was accurate and decisive. Dobbs is erratic and impulsive. It sure is exciting at times but it’s going to burn the Vikings. RAIDERS +3

Seahawks at 49ers
When you watch the 49ers, how often do you think, “Wow, what an amazing throw by Brock Purdy?” Not very often, right? He had a tremendous throw against Seattle Thanksgiving night, so he’s certainly capable of making them, he simply doesn’t need to. I don’t mean this as a snub against Purdy either. It’s more to point out how good Kyle Shanahan is at scheming offense. He gets his playmakers open in open space better than anyone else in the league and Purdy is the perfect quarterback to understand where his receiver is going to get open and when he needs the ball. Against the Eagles Sunday, Purdy was throwing to guys in bubbles of open space. Of course, the Eagles defense was horrible, but Shanahan’s wizardry is what separates the 49ers from the rest of the league. SEAHAWKS +11

Bills at Chiefs
Yesterday I claimed the Buffalo Bills were a top ten team. Allow me to defend myself. If the Bills were matched up against any team in the NFL and your life depended on picking the correct winner, how many times would you NOT pick Buffalo? San Fransisco is the only obvious answer. Philadelphia, Miami, Dallas, Baltimore, KC? Sure, I might lean in that direction but I’m not feeling totally confident about it. Jacksonville, Detroit? A coin flip at best. That’s eight teams. Aren’t you taking Buffalo in every other situation? I think so. Regardless of their record, the Bills are a top ten team. BILLS +1

Broncos at Chargers
Brandon Staley is fired with a loss. He has to be, right? Their playoff chances drop off a cliff with a loss and I find it hard to believe he has the full support of that locker room after falling short of expectations for three straight seasons. With that said, I hope he wins, because I don’t want to watch the Broncos offense in the playoffs. Maybe if they renamed their quarterback it would be easier, but Russell Wilson was awesome to watch and now he’s a quarterback that can’t really throw the football. He looks old and it makes me feel old. I don’t need more of that in my life. CHARGERS -2.5

Sunday Night (8:20PM ET)

Eagles at Cowboys
I think I said enough about the Eagles yesterday, but I would like to know if there was a ceremony where Derek Barnett passed the off sides crown to Josh Sweat, and if there was, why weren’t fans able to watch? I don’t get jumping off sides on defense. Just stare at the football. When it moves, you move. This is kind of Dallas’ Super Bowl. They know everyone says they haven’t beaten a good team yet. They need this to have any shot at the division title. The Eagles are reeling a bit. A nice performance in a win could cement Dak Prescott as MVP favorite going into the final quarter of the season. There’s just too much wind in Dallas’ sails and I think the Eagles could get blown out again. COWBOYS -3.5

Monday Night (8:15PM ET)

Titans at Dolphins
Apparently Brian Flores was actually not a good coach. Does this mean all the media people that cried his firing was an absolute injustice owe an apology? Of course not, that’s not how accountability works in 2023. I’ll admit, I didn’t understand the firing of Flores two years ago either, but I’m quite confident I didn’t assume the Dolphins were an incompetent, racist organization. Hearing Tua not hold back this week was telling. DOLPHINS -13.5

Packers at Giants
If Tyrod Taylor doesn’t have a brain malfunction at the end of the 1st half in Buffalo and if Saquon Barkley just keeps running in the final two minutes against the Jets, guess who is 6-6 and in the thick of the NFC Wildcard race? That’s right, it’s the New York Giants. The Giants could have easily let go of the rope months ago. It says a lot about Brian Daboll and his staff at how competitive the Giants have remained despite the injuries and heartbreaking losses. Green Bay and Justin Love have been great and that hype train is rolling a little too fast right now. GIANTS +6.5

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