There’s only 4 weeks left in the NFL season. Bye weeks are over. The Chiefs and Saints have already clinched a playoff berth and three more teams can lock one up this week. Several teams could be on the brink of elimination with 4 already out of it. The NFC East remains a close division that has allowed several struggling teams to keep their playoff hopes alive. My NFL Week 14 picks are here, and I’ll be discussing each game and the impact of it. Last week I went 9-6, bringing my overall record to 119-72-1 (119-73-1 including TNF). I hope to improve on that with this week’s 16 game slate.
Lock of the Week
I can’t see the tanking New York Jets beating a playoff contender after all this. The Seahawks were just embarrassed by the Giants at home. They don’t really have to try to win this one, but this is QB Russell Wilson’s opportunity to gather momentum and bounce back from his recent struggles. I think he’ll show off his skills with a strong offensive game. QB Sam Darnold and the Jets will not be competitive, especially with multiple receivers sitting out.
Upset of the Week
I’m taking Vegas in the upset here. Expect another strong game out of TE Darren Waller, who is coming off a dominant performance at MetLife Stadium. The Colts are in for a close one. I think QB Philip Rivers will have some good moments, but struggle with turnover issues that prevent him from leading the Colts to victory. Even though they almost lost to the Jets, the Raiders will remain in the playoff race after this win.
The Other Games
|TNF (Posted to Social Media Thursday)||After annihilating the Chargers, the Pats will have the tougher of their two LA matchups. This one should come down to the wire. Rams DT Aaron Donald could make it hard for the Pats to run it up the middle, but they’ve gotten innovative with the run game in the past and can do it again. I do think QB Cam Newton will need to pass a bit more in this one though. The Rams should make it close, but CB Stephon Gilmore and the Pats secondary will limit QB Jared Goff’s receivers and allow for the Pats to edge out a victory.|
|Especially now that RB Myles Gaskin is out, I can’t see a Dolphins upset happening. The Chiefs offense should be able to perform at its usual level, even against Brian Flores’ defense. I’m expecting a decent game out of QB Tua Tagovailoa and the Dolphins, but it won’t be enough to keep up with Kansas City.|
|This is a battle of two backup QBs, so one would expect a low scoring game. I don’t think so. Both these defenses have struggled this year. I think this will be a typical Cowboys shootout. The Cowboys will post a strong offensive performance, only to be defeated because of their lackluster secondary.|
|RB Derrick Henry typically dominates against Jacksonville, and I’m expecting the same in this one. QB Ryan Tannehill is throwing the ball a bit more and will contribute a couple pass TDs as well. I think RB James Robinson will try to keep up with Henry, but the Jaguars will not be competitive here as QB Mike Glennon struggles.|
|The Texans offense is in shambles, so if they have a standing chance at a victory, they need to step up on defense. That shouldn’t be that hard against QB Mitch Trubisky. I still think the Bears will win in the end as Watson struggles without WR Will Fuller and with WR Brandin Cooks shadowed by CB Kyle Fuller. The Bears should remain in the playoff race after this one.|
|QB Teddy Bridgewater is lacking weapons here, as WR D.J. Moore is out. WR Curtis Samuel will play but missed several practices this week and we don’t know how prepared he’ll be for this matchup. Even so, I think Bridgewater will be able to outperform struggling Broncos QB Drew Lock and lead Carolina to victory in a close game. He’ll rely on WR Robby Anderson in the victory.|
|The Cardinals have struggled a bit lately, while the Giants have taken the edge in the NFC East. The Giants just beat the Seahawks in Seattle with backup QB Colt McCoy. I think they can handle the Cardinals at MetLife Stadium with QB Daniel Jones back. QB Kyler Murray and WR DeAndre Hopkins will lead the Cardinals to keep this one close, but it won’t be enough.|
|The Vikings secondary has had problems all year, so I don’t expect them to be able to stop what might be the best WR trio in the league. Minnesota’s offense has had some insane success of late too, and while I expect to see some of that against Tampa, it won’t be enough to take down QB Tom Brady and his offense.|
|The Falcons should be able to put up some points against a struggling Chargers D. However, QB Justin Herbert will be motivated to bounce back after getting shutout by New England. Look for the Chargers offense to succeed at this against a flawed Falcons D.|
|This is a battle of two of the league’s newest mobile QBs, Taysom Hill and Jalen Hurts. Hill has been getting into a groove with the Saints which isn’t surprising if you consider his excellent surroundings. I think Hurts will make this close as he relies on checkdowns to RB Miles Sanders and his tight ends, but he’s no match for this Saints offense.|
|With CBs Jeff Okudah and Desmond Trufant both injured, I’m expecting a monster game out of QB Aaron Rodgers and WR Davante Adams. The Lions will be more competitive in this one with RB D’Andre Swift back in the lineup. However, Swift is no Dalvin Cook. He won’t be enough for the Lions to keep up with a thriving Rodgers-Adams duo. I have the Packers winning this and clinching a playoff berth.|
|I think Washington will struggle against this San Francisco D. WR Terry McLaurin will meet his match in CB Richard Sherman. The rest of the offense will struggle under pressure from a strong front seven. The Niners won’t score that much either, but I could see a strong game out of TE Jordan Reed and some big plays by the RBs to allow for the 49ers to get out to a lead and keep their playoff hopes alive.|
|SNF||The Steelers started this year 11-0. Then they lost to the Washington Football Team. Even if they hadn’t lost to Washington I would have predicted the Steelers to fall short in this one. The Bills run game will most likely struggle here, but QB Josh Allen has a cannon for an arm and can beat the Steelers by relying on WRs Stefon Diggs and Cole Beasley. Pittsburgh will struggle against the Bills secondary as Allen is able to outplay QB Ben Roethlisberger and lead the Bills to victory. However, it’ll be the Steelers who clinch a playoff berth, as the Bills would need a Raiders loss to clinch, and the Steelers just need a loss from one of Miami, Vegas, or Tennessee.|
|MNF||In the first game between these two teams, QB Lamar Jackson and the Ravens dominated. A lot has changed since that game. The Ravens have lost 4 of 6 after a 5-1 start. I’m expecting them to get into a groove here despite the tough matchup. QB Lamar Jackson will put up a decent game but be unable to dominate like he did in Week 1 as defenses have begun to figure him out. I have the Browns pulling off the upset in a close one as Baltimore’s path to the playoffs narrows.|
That’s all for my picks for this week. Stay tuned for more NFL coverage and posts about other sports soon.