NFL Confidence Pool Picks Week 14: Expert Pick'em Predictions No Point Spread
There are just four weeks left in the NFL season, and the playoff picture is starting to take shape. In the AFC, the Patriots and Ravens are all but locks to finish as the first and second seed (order TBD) and lock up the coveted bye week. The AFC South and AFC West still have plenty to play for, including the division title, while only one of the two wild-card spots appear to be up for grabs since Buffalo is 9-3 and two games up on the second wild-card spot. Pittsburgh, Tennessee, Oakland and Indianapolis are the main contenders, with Cleveland having an outside shot of sneaking in.
In the NFC, the Saints locked up the NFC South already, while the other three divisions will likely come down to the final two weeks. The NFC West has two 10-2 teams that are battling for the crown and the bye week, while the Packers lead the NFC North by one game over the Vikings and the Cowboys (by default) lead the NFC East by one game over the Eagles. It'll be extremely interesting to see how the last month of the season plays out.
Week 14 Confidence List (my selection listed first)
Green Bay Packers vs Washington Redskins: The Green Bay Packers did what they were supposed to do last week, and that was easily beat the Giants. Now they get to play another NFC East team and we expect the result to be the same. Washington played well last week to beat the Panthers, but the Panthers are in a free-fall mode, something the Packers are not. Green Bay wins this game by 14+.
Minnesota Vikings vs Detroit Lions: By all accounts, the Lions will be relying on David Blough at quarterback for the second straight game. He had a few good plays against the Bears on Thanksgiving but ultimately didn't do much to wow me. The Vikings need to win this game in order to keep pace with the Packers, and I think they win this game with ease. Dalvin Cook may or may not play, but they have enough without him to beat the lowly Lions.
Kansas City Chiefs at New England Patriots: This is just one of the many games that my excitement level is through the roof for. A rematch of last year's AFC Championship Game, Pat Mahomes and Co. take on Tom Brady and Co. at Foxboro. Normally, betting against the Pats on their home field is a losing proposition, but the Chiefs will be looking to exact some revenge from last year's playoff loss. The Chiefs also have too much firepower, while Brady is growing more and more frustrated with his stagnant offense. Chiefs win this game.
Houston Texans vs Denver Broncos: The Houston Texans thoroughly dominated the Patriots on Sunday night and got a much-needed win. Now they get to take on a Broncos team that backed themselves into a win on Sunday vs the Chargers but are still a team with no real direction. Deshaun Watson and DeAndre Hopkins should be able to light up the scoreboard against a Broncos team that is simply playing out the string.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs Indianapolis Colts: It seems like I pick Tampa Bay every week and every week I'm expecting a heart attack. I just can't quit the Bucs this week, as their offense is too explosive, and their run defense is tops in the league. The Colts have come crashing back down to earth and will likely miss the playoffs because of kicking woes. Tampa Bay wins this game going away.
Dallas Cowboys at Chicago Bears: Despite producing opposite results on Thanksgiving Day, the Bears are still a mediocre team at best, and I'm not buying the whole "Trubisky played well" narrative against a banged-up Lions team. Dallas, while playing below expectations, is still the superior team and we like them to bounce-back here in order to save their coach's job and move closer to winning the division.
Baltimore Ravens at Buffalo Bills: This is going to be a great game and one I'm really looking forward to watching. The Bills dominated the Cowboys for the entire game in their last outing, while the Ravens slugged it out with the 49ers at home. This is a tough spot for Baltimore, but their offense simply cannot be stopped right now. Not sure Josh Allen will be able to keep pace with Lamar Jackson in terms of production.
New Orleans Saints vs San Francisco 49ers: This Saints vs. Niners game is going to be really good, and I'm excited about it. The Saints have three extra days to prepare for this solid 49ers' team, while the 49ers are playing their second straight road games. Not many teams go into the Superdome and come away with a victory. The Saints may have locked up the division already but are still fighting to lock up the No. 1 seed. We think they get the job done in front of their home fans.
Pittsburgh Steelers at Arizona Cardinals: Don't look now, but after an 0-3 start the Pittsburgh Steelers are 7-5 and sit in the second wild-card spot, just ahead of the Titans. The Steelers have gotten great production from a plethora of depth players, and we don't see that stopping any time soon. The Cardinals have been brutal lately, losers of five straight, and we don't see them pulling off the upset in this spot.
Oakland Raiders vs Tennessee Titans: These two teams come into this game in opposite form with the Raiders having been blown out in two straight, while the Titans have won three straight. Tennessee currently sits a half-game back of the Steelers for the final wild-card spot, but I don't think they should be favored in this game. It's one thing playing as an underdog, but laying points on the road with a team that's not used to being in the role of a favorite is bad practice. Oakland isn't as bad as their last two games indicate, and they should be able to bounce-back in front of their home fans.
Los Angeles Rams vs Seattle Seahawks: This is a tough spot for the Seahawks. They've played in three straight tough, grueling games and now have to play on a short week on the road in LA. The Rams may not be the Rams of last year, but they had a get-right game against the Cardinals, and I'm sure their confidence is boosted coming into this game. I think the Seahawks are going to eventually run out of steam, and I believe this is the game it's going to happen.
Cleveland Browns vs Cincinnati Bengals: Ah yes, 1-10 vs the Cleveland Browns. I'm excited to see the way the Browns manage to lose this game and hurt the Bengals chance at the No. 1 overall pick. I wouldn't bet on this game with your money let alone mine, but how do you not take the Browns straight up to win, at home, with all the talent they have? Andy Dalton is back under center for the Bengals, but I'm not so sure that's a good thing.
Philadelphia Eagles vs New York Giants: The Eagles had every chance of getting themselves back in the playoff picture against Miami and blew it. Something isn't right. And while I picked them this week over the hapless Giants, I still have no faith in them. Oh, and it should help the Eagles cause to go up against Eli Manning, who will be getting the start under center.
Jacksonville Jaguars vs Los Angeles Chargers: I want absolutely nothing to do with this game, and neither should you. The Chargers and Jaguars both suck. The Chargers keep inventing ways to lose games they should win, while the Jaguars may never have a No. 1 QB for as long as they are a franchise. Hard pass in terms of betting this game, but we'll take Minshew and the fact he's fighting for a job over the useless Chargers.
Atlanta Falcons vs Carolina Panthers: This is another game I want no part of. The Falcons came crashing back down to earth on Thursday with their loss to the Saints, while the Panthers embarrassed themselves at home with a loss to the Redskins. Both teams are eagerly awaiting the season to be done. And for me, this game comes down to which team has more offensive weapons, and that's the Falcons. Not to mention, the Panthers just fired Ron Rivera. Trying times indeed.
Miami Dolphins at New York Jets: And the last game I want absolutely no part of is this game. The Dolphins essentially won their Super Bowl last week by coming back from a 14-point deficit to beat the Eagles in humiliating fashion (for the Eagles). The Jets lost to the previously winless Cincinnati Bengals, which tells us all we need to know about how serious the Jets are taking the final handful of games. Hard pass on this game, but I'll take Fitzpatrick over Darnold right now because I like his beard and because he can actually be effective at times.
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