Week 14 NFL Preview and Picks: Can Panthers Get to 13-0?
The biggest story-line going into the 14th week of the 2015 NFL season has to continue to be Carolina’s bid for perfection. At 12-0, they’re getting awfully close to pulling off just the second 16-0 season ever, while the stretch run does not look overly daunting with two games against the Falcons and dates with the Giants and Buccaneers.
Will Carolina run the table? That remains to be determined, but they have to get out of week 14 alive first. Let’s break down that game and all the others as we issue our NFL picks for the new week:
Vikings @ Cardinals (-10)
Arizona has a salty line despite facing an 8-4 Vikings team that boasts Adrian Peterson. There’s a good reason for it, however. Minnesota appears to be rather one-dimensional on offense after getting shutdown at home by the Seahawks last week, while their defense will be sans three very key players. I think Minnesota should give this one a fight and beat the spread, but the Cardinals aren’t losing at home.
Pick: Cardinals 27, Vikings 20
(-1.5) Bills @ Eagles
LeSean McCoy returns to Philly for the first time since being traded during the off-season, which is the key story-line in a game between two teams that can ill afford to lose. The Eagles did get back on track last week, but Buffalo appears to have the more well-rounded team.
Pick: Bills 24, Eagles 20
(-9) Seahawks @ Ravens
Jimmy Clausen makes the rare feat of starting against the Seahawks for the second time this year, despite being on a different team this time around. Last time he had more weapons in Chicago and he got shutout. Something similar should be expected.
Pick: Seahawks 34, Ravens 6
49ers @ Browns (-1.5)
Johnny Manziel gets his job back this week, as he hosts the 49ers in Cleveland. San Francisco’s defense has really picked up as of late and Blaine Gabbert has looked pretty good, though, so I think the 49ers get the win.
Pick: 49ers 26, Browns 17
Lions @ Rams (pick’em)
I’m really not sure how this is a pick’em, as the Lions have looked fantastic for the past four weeks and the Rams have turned to mush. Detroit’s defense should smother Nick Foles and co. all day en route to a big win.
Pick: Lions 27, Rams 9
Titans @ Jets (-7)
Tennessee has looked pretty good for most of the year in terms of competiveness, but they’ve also struggled to finish close games. The Jets are at home and the more seasoned group, and they also have more on the line. I expect Gang Green to pull this one out.
Pick: Jets 26, Titans 16
Steelers @ Bengals (-3)
This is a huge game for the Steelers, as they have faint hopes of making a run at the AFC North, but also need to keep winning to make sure they simply get into the playoffs. The Bengals are at home and are understandably the favorites, but they’ve struggled a bit lately and Pittsburgh lost a close one last time. I think Big Ben and co. take them down in this one.
Pick: Steelers 34, Bengals 27
Colts @ Jaguars (-1)
This is basically a pick’em in what is a huge game for both teams. The AFC South remains up for grabs and a win for Jacksonville here would pull them within a game of first place. Indy just got demolished last week and Matt Hasselbeck isn’t really cutting it suddenly, so I’m on the Jags this week.
Pick: Jaguars 28, Colts 24
Chargers @ Chiefs (-10)
San Diego is borderline lifeless these days, as they’ve been torn down by injuries across their roster. KC, meanwhile, is on a six-game tear and has the playoffs on the mind. Considering it’s in Kansas City and the Chiefs just crushed the Chargers a couple of weeks ago, it’s hard not to go with Big Red.
Pick: Chiefs 30, Chargers 13
Redskins @ Bears (-3)
Washington had a chance to put a stranglehold on the NFC East and blew it. Chicago probably blew their slim chance at the post-season last week as well, but the Redskins are atrocious on the road. I expect a dog fight, but look for the Bears to play spoiler as they still try to cling to faint playoff hopes.
Pick: Bears 23, Redskins 20
Falcons @ Panthers (-7.5)
Carolina is at home and is undefeated, while the Falcons are flat out reeling. Atlanta had a chance to take a step towards the playoffs last week and failed. There isn’t much logic to support the road upset. Carolina stays perfect.
Pick: Panthers 29, Falcons 20
Saints @ Buccaneers (-3.5)
Tampa Bay is oddly a playoff contender at the moment, while the Saints can clearly only play at home. New Orleans is an abysmal 1-5 on the road this year and just lost running back Mark Ingram for the rest of the season. Tampa Bay looks for the sweep to get to 7-6.
Pick: Buccaneers 24, Saints 16
Raiders @ Broncos (-7.5)
Oakland looked like a promising team near the mid-way point of the season but have taken a dive with just one win in their last five games. The Broncos are undefeated with Brock Osweiler at the helm, and considering this one is in Denver, I like the Broncos.
Pick: Broncos 27, Raiders 17
Cowboys @ Packers (-7)
Dallas technically is still in the playoff hunt because their division is trash, but they won almost by accident last week. Green Bay got lucky last week as well, but they’re the better team and at home.
Pick: Packers 31, Cowboys 21
(-3) Patriots @ Texans
Houston looked like a bit of a fasad last week as they crumbled in Buffalo, so it will be very interesting to see if their defense can stifle Tom Brady and the Pats. I doubt it.
Pick: Patriots 33, Texans 17
(-1.5) Giants @ Dolphins
New York once again has a shot at taking over first place in the NFC East, only because the Redskins choked. Miami isn’t a very good team, so this might be the last time I give the Giants a vote of confidence.
Pick: Giants 23, Dolphins 21
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