NFL. Week 14 Predictions: Our Picks Against the Spread


The N.F.L. made its way through a few weeks of odd schedules caused by coronavirus delays, and appears set for its first “normal” week in a while. Or at least the league is starting out with that plan until any virus-related adjustments are needed.

The week doesn’t have a signature game to look forward to, but matchups between the Chiefs and Dolphins and the Steelers and Bills are entertaining enough, and more than a few teams should be looking to step up as they fight for spots in the expanded playoff field.

Here is a look at N.F.L. Week 14, with all picks made against the spread.

Last week’s record: 8-7

Overall record: 94-93-5

Kansas City Chiefs at Miami Dolphins, 1 p.m., CBS

Line: Chiefs -7 | Total: 49.5

It is nice to be the Chiefs (11-1). Kansas City let Denver stay uncomfortably close for much of last week’s game and then simply pushed the “win now” button, got a touchdown pass from Patrick Mahomes to Travis Kelce, a 48-yard field goal from Harrison Butker and a win-sealing interception from Tyrann Mathieu. That it looked so easy made the rest of the game remarkably frustrating in retrospect.

The Dolphins (8-4) are not on the Chiefs’ level, but they are also not a team to trifle with. Miami’s defense can make an opponent pay for its mistakes — cornerback Xavien Howard is leading the N.F.L. in interceptions (eight) and passes defended (16) — and the team’s offense is adept at chewing up clock and doing enough to score.

The script for this game could mirror Kansas City’s previous game. Miami could easily stay in it for much of the game, but when the Chiefs need to score, Mahomes will make that happen. The Dolphins deserve plenty of respect, but being only 7-point underdogs to the Chiefs is its own version of respect. Pick: Chiefs -7

Washington Football Team at San Francisco 49ers, 4:25 p.m., Fox

Line: 49ers -3 | Total: 43.5

Both of these teams are 5-7, but they are going in different directions. The Footballers have been steadily improving on both sides of the ball, and just pulled off a shocking upset of Pittsburgh. The 49ers have mostly survived in a season destroyed by injuries, but are coming off a huge letdown loss against Buffalo in which the backup quarterback Nick Mullens’s flaws were on full display. If this were truly a home game for San Francisco, it might have played to its favor, but with the 49ers relocated to Arizona, Washington has a good chance to keep winning. Pick: Footballers +3

Green Bay Packers at Detroit Lions, 4:25 p.m., Fox

Line: Packers -7.5 | Total: 55

The Lions (5-7) showed serious offensive improvement in the first game under their interim coach, Darrell Bevell, with the caveat that their come-from-behind victory came against the reeling Bears. Detroit may find offensive success, but probably not enough to matter as its overmatched defense tries to slow down the electric Packers (9-3), who are led by Aaron Rodgers, Aaron Jones and Davante Adams. There is always the chance that a heavily favored team will take the opportunity to slow things down and accept a smaller win, but the Packers have not been taking any games off offensively, and Rodgers is having one of the best seasons of his career — which is extremely high praise for a two-time winner of the Most Valuable Player Award. Pick: Packers -7.5

A conspiracy theorist might suggest that Williams or Coach Adam Gase, or both, were trying to lock in the No. 1 pick in the draft, but that falls apart when you consider it was exactly the type of galaxy brain decision the overly aggressive Williams is known for. His firing the next day seemed to confirm it was simply a brutal call, and nothing more than that.

So now the Jets have four games to eke out a win in hopes of avoiding 0-16. Their quest begins on the road in Seattle as two-touchdown underdogs against the Seahawks (8-4). Seattle is struggling too much to buy in on such a large point spread, but the Seahawks have plenty of playoff-related motivation to win, so there shouldn’t be any surprises. Pick: Jets +13.5

Denver Broncos at Carolina Panthers, 1 p.m., CBS

Line: Panthers -3.5 | Total: 46.5

A lot of teams pack things in when their record goes sideways, but the Broncos (4-8) and the Panthers (4-8) have kept fighting all season, making their opponents work hard to beat them. Imagining Denver’s defense if linebacker Von Miller were healthy, or Carolina’s offense with fewer injuries, makes it easy to be enthusiastic about both teams heading into next season. For now, they are both a little too flawed to matter, but there is every reason to believe a game between them should be entertaining. Pick: Panthers -3.5

Atlanta Falcons at Los Angeles Chargers, 4:25 p.m., Fox

Line: Falcons -2.5 | Total: 49.5

This game should have a playground feel to it, as both offenses are more than capable of airing the ball out, and neither defense puts up much resistance. Justin Herbert, a rookie, has the Chargers (3-9) ranked fourth in the N.F.L. in passing. The veteran Matt Ryan has the Falcons (4-8) ranked seventh in spite of some injuries to his receivers this season. It is a safe bet that a group of talented pass-catchers that includes Keenan Allen and Mike Williams (Los Angeles) and Julio Jones and Calvin Ridley (Atlanta) will produce more than a few highlight-reel-worthy plays. While Los Angeles could end up struggling for a second consecutive week should left tackle Sam Tevi be out, this could easily come down to which team has the ball last. Pick: Chargers +2.5

Houston Texans at Chicago Bears, 1 p.m., CBS

Line: Texans -2 | Total: 44.5

It had seemed like wide receiver Will Fuller V’s suspension would devastate Houston’s offense, but the Texans (4-8) were a fumbled snap away from pulling off a huge upset of the Colts last week thanks in large part to the emergence of Keke Coutee, who put up a career-best 141 yards receiving after coming into the day with 38 yards for the season. Houston showed enough to be favored on the road against a team with a superior record, though that probably has more to do with Chicago’s six-game losing streak than it does with the Texans’ offense.

A quick primer for those who are not familiar with betting lines: Favorites are listed next to a negative number that represents how many points they must win by to cover the spread. Bills -2.5, for example, means that Buffalo must beat Pittsburgh by at least 3 points for its backers to win their bet. Gamblers can also bet on the total score, or whether the teams’ combined score in the game is over or under a preselected number of points.

All times are Eastern.



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