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NFL picks, predictions for Week 14: Patriots clear Chiefs; Steelers edge Cardinals; 49ers stop Saints

Sporting News — (Tadd Haislop)

As the NFL season progresses, one would think more information about all 32 teams should make game picks and predictions easier. Based on the game lines for Week 14, the opposite appears to be the case.

Of all the games on the Week 14 NFL schedule, only two opened with double-digit point spreads: the Packers big over the Redskins and the Vikings big over the Lions. Nine of the games on the schedule feature lines of a field goal or fewer, making those matchups essential toss-ups.

Such is life in the world of picks and predictions for the NFL, a league in which parity continues to flourish. After all, the no-good Bengals, Dolphins and Redskins won games last week. Anything can happen in Week 14.

Here are our Week 14 NFL picks straight up, all the way through the Monday night game in Philadelphia. All odds are courtesy of SportsInsider.com.

MORE: Get the latest NFL odds & betting advice from Sports Insider

NFL picks, predictions for Week 14

  • Dallas Cowboys (-3) at Chicago Bears

Thursday, 8:20 p.m. ET, Fox/NFL Network/Amazon Prime Video

Most assumed this would be a matchup of Thanksgiving Day winners, but only the Bears took care of their business last week. The Cowboys' loss to the Bills has them back down at .500 with the same 6-6 record as that of Chicago. Yet because the Bears are all but out of the NFC North race and the Cowboys amazingly still lead the NFC East, the home team has more to lose in Week 14. That will lead to an inspired effort from Matt Nagy's bunch, but on a frigid Chicago night, Dallas will benefit from a more effective rushing attack and more efficient quarterback play.

Pick: Cowboys 24, Bears 20

  • Baltimore Ravens (-5) at Buffalo Bills

Sunday, 1 p.m. ET, CBS

The Ravens are easily the hottest team in the NFL and the new No. 1 in Sporting News' power rankings. Yet there are the Bills, chilling just one game behind the new Super Bowl favorites in the win-loss column. Nobody will confuse Josh Allen for Lamar Jackson, but the Buffalo quarterback is coming off a performance in Dallas that was highlighted by a career-high 120.7 passer rating. He should have another solid game against the Ravens, but the problem for the Bills is on the other side of the ball. Their defense is great against the pass and good-but-not-great against the run. Against Jackson and Baltimore's league-best rushing attack, Buffalo needs to be great.

Pick: Ravens 27, Bills 20

  • Washington Redskins at Green Bay Packers (-14)

Sunday, 1 p.m. ET, Fox

While the Packers are massive favorites against the Redskins with good reason, they can't afford to take this game lightly. For what it's worth, which for Washington is more than nothing, the Redskins amazingly are still alive in the NFC East, and their rushing attack is solid enough to give the Packers' 25th-ranked rush defense some issues. Of course, Washington's run defense is even worse. The game plan it used to upset Carolina — stuff Christian McCaffrey and make Kyle Allen win the game — won't work in Green Bay against Aaron Jones and Aaron Rodgers.

Pick: Packers 31, Redskins 14

  • Denver Broncos at Houston Texans (-7 1/2)

Sunday, 1 p.m. ET, CBS

This has trap game written all over it for the Texans, who are trying to keep their edge in the AFC South and will play the second-place Titans next week. While a matchup against rookie QB Drew Lock might not seem like a big deal for a defense that (mostly) got the best of Tom Brady last week, Denver will benefit from the wild card that is a passer who has just one game on tape. In the end, though, Deshaun Watson will continue his hot streak at home and put up just enough points to preserve the Texans' division lead.

Pick: Texans 23, Broncos 20

  • San Francisco 49ers at New Orleans Saints (-3)

Sunday, 1 p.m. ET, Fox

In a week stuffed full of intriguing NFL games, especially as they relate to the playoff picture, this is the best. One could argue the 49ers should have defeated the Ravens last week on a long road trip in bad weather, so there's no reason to believe they can't beat the Saints on another long road trip, this time in the comfort of indoor conditions. Of course, there's nothing comfortable about the Superdome for road teams, especially in big games like this. San Francisco for that reason needs to keep Jimmy Garoppolo out of third-and-long situations, and with its diverse short passing game and strong rushing attack on early downs, it can do just that. On the other side of the ball, Drew Brees can't render moot the 49ers' pass rush the way Lamar Jackson could.

Pick: 49ers 24, Saints 21

  • Cincinnati Bengals at Cleveland Browns (-8)

Sunday, 1 p.m. ET, CBS

The Freddie Kitchens Tries To Save His Job Tour begins with a game against the Bengals. Because Cleveland is all but out of the AFC playoff race at this point, how it plays against a terrible (albeit no longer winless) division rival will be telling. If the Browns take care of business Sunday and handle the Bengals the way they should, it could lead to the kind of late-season charge that would keep Kitchens around for 2020. A loss, especially on the heels of the debacle in Pittsburgh, would spell bad news for the coach. For at least one week, we'll assume the Browns' talent will be enough.

Pick: Browns 27, Bengals 23

  • Carolina Panthers at Atlanta Falcons (-2)

Sunday, 1 p.m. ET, Fox

This is the Save Your Coach Bowl, a game in which the all-but-dead Panthers are desperate to stop a four-game losing skid that includes a loss to these Falcons a few weeks ago. Of course, the result of Sunday's game might not matter when it comes to Ron Rivera's job security, especially after Carolina's latest embarrassing loss, at home against Washington. The same could be said for Dan Quinn, though Falcons owner Arthur Blank has shown the kind of support Rivera hasn't gotten from David Tepper. Both teams will be motivated to play hard for those coaches despite their lost seasons, and in a close game, we'll go with the better QB.

Pick: Falcons 24, Panthers 21

  • Miami Dolphins at New York Jets (-6)

Sunday, 1 p.m. ET, CBS

Last week's developments, with the Dolphins somehow beating the Eagles and the Jets somehow losing to the Bengals, make this game interesting as it relates to the 2020 NFL Draft order. Of course, nobody on the field or the sidelines Sunday in New York will care about draft picks, so the more talented team should have an advantage. We think that's the Jets, especially against Miami's still-awful defense. But after last week, who knows?

Pick: Jets 28, Dolphins 17

  • Indianapolis Colts at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (-3)

Sunday, 1 p.m. ET, CBS

The Colts are falling behind in the AFC South and wild-card races, and the Buccaneers, though all but out of the NFC wild-card hunt, have been playing inspired over the last few weeks. This feels like a game that will come down to the last possession, and with Indianapolis still banged up on offense, Tampa Bay has the better set of playmakers to decide the game in the fourth quarter.

Pick: Buccaneers 27, Colts 24

  • Detroit Lions at Minnesota Vikings (-15 1/2)

Sunday, 1 p.m. ET, Fox

This is a monsterous line for a division rivalry, which says a lot about the state of the Lions. Even as they play with third-string quarterback David Blough, Detroit's struggles are more about defense, and that unit is set up for a rough day against a Vikings offense that should get Adam Thielen back in the lineup. Detroit can't slow down Minnesota on the field or in the chase for the NFC North title.

Pick: Vikings 27, Lions 17

  • Los Angeles Chargers (-2 1/2) at Jacksonville Jaguars

Sunday, 4:05 p.m. ET, Fox

Both of these teams are on frustrating losing streaks, with the Charges continuing to find amazing ways to lose one-score games. The Jaguars, meanwhile, have lost each of their last four games by three or more scores, which is why they're going back to Gardner Minshew as their starting quarterback over Nick Foles. It's difficult to fathom how either team can continue to play with motivation this late in their respective lost seasons, but somebody has to win. We'll take the team with the Minshew Magic.

Pick: Jaguars 23, Chargers 20

  • Kansas City Chiefs at New England Patriots (-3)

Sunday, 4:25 p.m. ET, CBS

The annual "This Might Be It For Tom Brady And The Patriots Game" arrived later than usual this season, but it came in the form of New England's loss to Houston last week. Now comes the "Oh, Never Mind; The Patriots Are Fine Game." The spark Brady and Co. found in garbage time against the Texans could ignite an offense that's getting healthier and forming its identity. Even at home, New England will need it against Kansas City, because Patrick Mahomes is getting hot again. The rushing attack the Pats have been trying to establish all season should get going against the Chiefs, which should lead to a game flow that minimizes the damage Mahomes can create.

Pick: Patriots 27, Chiefs 23

  • Pittsburgh Steelers (-1 1/2) at Arizona Cardinals

Sunday, 4:25 p.m. ET, CBS

Even against the Steelers and their stingy defense, Kyler Murray and Co. are bound to play better than they did in their blowout loss to the Rams last week. That should make for good matchups on both sides of the ball, as Arizona's 31st-ranked scoring defense doesn't pose much of a threat to the Steelers' limping offense. Both of these teams have played in a lot of close games this season. The difference between them is that Pittsburgh has won those games.

Pick: Steelers 23, Cardinals 21

  • Tennessee Titans (-2 1/2) at Oakland Raiders

Sunday, 4:25 p.m. ET, CBS

A few weeks ago, the Raiders were the hot AFC wild-card contender. Now that team is the Titans, winners of three straight and tied with the sixth-seeded Steelers with their 7-5 record. Oakland, meanwhile, has been blown out in two straight games. In terms of yardage stats on both offense and defense, these teams are mirror images of each other. The difference is the Titans allow just 19.5 points per game, and the Raiders allow 27, fifth worst in the league. Just for the hell of it, let's go with a score based on those averages.

Pick: Titans 27, Raiders 20

  • Seattle Seahawks (-2) at Los Angeles Rams

Sunday, 8:20 p.m. ET, NBC

If the rematch is anything like the first Seahawks-Rams game this season, NBC's "Sunday Night Football" viewers are in for a treat. Thanks to its get-will game in Arizona, Los Angeles is back on track just in time for a showdown that could determine whether it reaches the playoffs. For many reasons, namely Russell Wilson and a superior overall running game, Seattle should win. But that would make a division game in the NFL unpredictably predictable.

Pick: Rams 30, Seahawks 24

  • New York Giants at Philadelphia Eagles (-8 1/2)

Monday, 8:15 p.m. ET, ESPN

The Eagles, losers of three straight games, keep failing to take advantage of the Cowboys' losses. By the time Monday night's game arrives, they'll know whether they have yet another opportunity to catch their rivals in the NFC East race. Regardless, there's no reason to think Philadelphia will lose at home to a dreadful New York team, so Dallas needs a victory.

Pick: Eagles 26, Giants 14