NFL Week 14 Preview and Predictions
Week 14 Headlines
Mike McCarthy Fired: Following a 20-17 defeat at the hands of the Arizona Cardinals, the Packers have decided to fire Head Coach Mike McCarthy. McCarthy coached the Packers last Super Bowl team in 2010.
Hunt Released: The Kansas City Chiefs have released running back Kareem Hunt after video surfaced on Friday that showed the star running back attacking a woman. The team stated that the decision was made after it was revealed that Hunt lied about the details of the incident.
Sanders Done for Season: Broncos Receiver Emmanuel Sanders has suffered a torn Achilles tendon, and will miss the remainder of the season.
Green Done For Season: A.J. Green was placed on injured reserve after aggravating his toe injury on Sunday.
Olsen Done For Season: Panthers Tight End Greg Olsen suffered a ruptured plantar fascia during the team's loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. As a result, he will miss the remainder of the regular season.
Fantasy Football Start Em/Sit Em
Starting Quarterbacks: Philip Rivers, Ben Roethlisberger, Baker Mayfield, Josh Allen, and Lamar Jackson.
Sitting Quarterbacks: Matt Ryan, Jared Goff, Derek Carr, Nick Mullens, and Eli Manning.
Starting Running Backs: Aaron Jones, Mark Ingram, Sony Michel, Jaylen Samuels, and David Johnson.
Sitting Running Backs: Tevin Coleman, Marlon Mack, Chris Carson, Doug Martin, and Peyton Barber.
Starting Wide Receivers: Amari Cooper, Julian Edelman, Jarvis Landry, Brandin Cooks, and D.J. Moore.
Sitting Wide Receivers: Tyler Boyd, Calvin Ridley, John Brown, Demaryius Thomas, and Allen Robinson.
Starting Tight Ends: Eric Ebron, Jared Cook, David Njoku, Trey Burton, and Mark Andrews
Sitting Tight Ends: Austin Hooper, Chris Herndon, Kyle Rudolph, Jordan Reed, and C.J. Uzomah.
Starting Defense/Special Teams: Chargers, Broncos, Bills, Patriots, and Giants.
Sitting Defense/Special Teams: Vikings, Browns, Colts, Bengals, and Bears.
Game Picks (Season Record 121-74-2)
Titans vs. Jaguars: Whenever these two teams get together, you can always expect one of those sloppy and ugly football games. It’s never pretty or high scoring for that matter. The Jacksonville defense showed up last week as they shut out the Colts. And given the 6-0 score, the shutout was mandatory. While the Titans have been the model of inconsistency in the NFL this season, they are 4-1 at home. The Jags, on the other hand, haven’t won on the road since Week 1. And whenever they meet up with the Jaguars, it seems they somehow manage to get the best of them.
Prediction: Titans win 15-12
Browns vs. Panthers: The Panthers stunning free fall has many wondering if they were ever for real. The defense has been completely exposed as a bad unit and Cam Newton has come back down to earth while playing hurt. It’s hard to trust that they’ll ever turn this thing around. It may be too late. At this point, an argument can be made that the Browns are playing better than they are. The Browns will play hard at the very least and the Panthers have struggled on the road.
Prediction: Browns win 24-24
Chiefs vs. Ravens: Baltimore is getting hot at the perfect time. With the Steelers current level of play, the Ravens playoff hopes are still very much alive. Despite me constantly predicting against him, Lamar Jackson hasn’t done anything to cost his team the game. In a way, he reminds me of Tim Tebow. It’s not pretty but does manage to leave the stadium with a win. Fortunately for him, the Chiefs defense isn’t going to trouble him too much. After all, they were just shredded by the Raiders a week ago. The Chiefs offense, however, will provide a challenge for the Ravens defense. Despite recent controversies that cost them their lead rusher, it was still business as usual for the Chiefs offense. They still hung 40 points on the hapless Raiders defense, and their rushing attack was more by committee. Time will tell of Spence Ware can be a lead running back again, but the offense will produce regardless. In a tightening AFC race, the Chiefs cannot afford any missteps. If things go wrong, they could go from home field advantage to going on the road for a wildcard game. I believe the Ravens will give the Chiefs a lot of trouble. So much trouble in fact that I’m going with the upset. I believe a lack of a running game and a weak defense will begin to cost them. Also, I believe the Ravens defense will play out of their minds this week and shock the football world.
Prediction: Ravens win 24-21
Texans vs. Colts: Houston will have a chance to clinch the AFC South with a win over the Colts. Despite having one of the best records in the AFC, the Texans have yet to get the respect they deserve. I’ve been saying it for weeks now, but the Texans are rounding into the best two-way team in the AFC. Each game they show a new wrinkle and improvement to their play. By the time others begin to give them their respect, it may be too late. The Colts, on the other hand, suffered a setback against the Jaguars. They were shut out in embarrassing fashion against the Jags. While the Colts aren’t as bad as the shutout suggest, don’t expect things to get better so quickly. Andrew Luck has lost four straight starts against the Texans. Additionally, the Texans defense has the ability to take over games.
Prediction: Texans win 27-17
Dolphins vs. Patriots: I cannot recall a season where the Patriots record was so good, but the hype around them was so low. I understand that the team isn’t really playing at an elite level anymore, but their style has always been sustainable. Limiting mistakes and exploiting the mistakes of others never fails. Up next, the Patriots will take their annual trip to Miami. Historically, the Patriots have had trouble in Miami. They’ve lost four out their last five games in Miami. The Dolphins are probably the worst six-win team in the NFL, but they’ll be competitive due to recent historical precedent as well as the current level of play from the Patriots. However, they will eventually make key mistakes that will cost them the game.
Prediction: Patriots win 27-20
Redskins vs. Giants: Is there anything left of the Redskins at this point? Injuries have completely destroyed a team that at one time has the best record in the NFC East. I’m not sure they even have enough left to defeat the Giants.
Prediction: Giants win 20-12
Buccaneers vs. Saints: New Orleans should be angry and fired up after an embarrassing outing in Dallas one week ago. They were physically dominated in the trenches on both sides of the ball and could never get it going on offense. The Buccaneers defense won’t offer much resistance, even after they picked off Cam Newton four times. On motivation alone, I expect the Saints to roll over the Bucs in this one.
Prediction: Saints win 38-28
Packers vs. Falcons: Both of these teams effectively had their playoff hopes ended following losses last week. The Packers took it one step further and fired their head coach. Given the state of the Falcons defense, the Packers should have no trouble at all moving the ball around the field. Also, the Falcons offense has suffered regression of their own. And lastly, I don’t like the chances of a dome team going to Green Bay and getting a win.
Prediction: Packers win 30-20
Bills vs. Jets: Quietly, the Jets have joined the ranks of the NFL tank parade. At least the Bills play with some pride.
Prediction: Bills win 21-16
Chargers vs. Bengals: The Chargers finally earned their signature win of the season by completing the comeback against the Steelers. Their next game is but a mere formality. Now that the Bengals have lost A.J. Green, their season is all but over. Without their two best offensive weapons, they cannot hope to keep up with the Chargers for long.
Prediction: Chargers win 38-13
49ers vs. Broncos: Three-straight wins has the Denver Broncos right back in the playoff picture. And if they can maintain this level of play, they may be able to win out and make things very interesting in the AFC wildcard picture. Their opponents this week are the 49ers, who are currently leading in the tank standings by way of strength of schedule. This team’s level of play has decreased in each of the past three weeks. So don’t expect any changes here.
Prediction: Broncos win 24-10
Cowboys vs. Eagles: Dallas may be the hottest team in the NFC at the moment after they extinguished the red-hot Saints. Their identity is being built on tough defense and physical running plays. After that, Dak plays the role of game manager for the offense. The Eagles ranged to keep their playoff hopes alive by beating what was left of the Redskins. However, the Eagles have injury woes of their own. Their defense has been ravaged by injuries. I’m not sure they’ll be able to effectively stop the Cowboys. Their hopes rely on Carson Wentz playing like he did last season. And even then, he’ll have to compete against the Cowboys defense. So maybe the trash talk is more of a reflection of hope instead of reality. Because the Eagles will likely need the Cowboys to choke in order to beat them.
Prediction: Cowboys win 23-17
Raiders vs. Steelers: After blowing back to back games, the Steelers are in desperate need of a win. Which means a trip to Oakland is just what they needed. They should win this game rather easily, but they should approach with caution. As shown by their performance last week, the Raiders might have more fight in them than people realize.
Prediction: Steelers win 30-21
Cardinals vs. Lions: Who would’ve thought that it would be the Cardinals who would put an end to the Packers season. While the win was great, it did harm their draft positioning. Unfortunately, I don’t believe the Cardinals good fortune will continue. They have lost six games by double-digit margins this season. That’s the most in the NFC. Josh Rosen is a rookie quarterback that plays like one. So he’ll make his fair share of mistakes. This will enable the Lions to get a win off of them.
Prediction: Lions win 23-13
Bears vs. Rams: The Cowboys upset victory over the Saints has handed a golden opportunity to the Rams. They now control their own fate in the race for home-field advantage. A quick glance of their schedule shows that their next two games will be the last hurdles. Up first, are the Bears. It’s beginning to sound like Mitch Trubisky will make his return to the Bears lineup. He’ll be tasked with keeping the ball safe. While the Rams defense is underachieving in many aspects, they are still an opportunistic unit. And with Aqib Talib back, expect the Rams to show more press man and blitzes. The real match will be between the Bears defense and the Rams offense. With the weather sinking below 30, expect to see a lot of Todd Gurley in this one. And to offset the Bears front seven, I expect the Rams offense to be quick with their passing. The Bears should be focused on stopping Gurley and forcing turnovers. In the end, I just feel like Trubisky will be the one making too many mistakes. And that will cost the Bears dearly in a close game.
Prediction: Rams win 28-23
Seahawks vs. Vikings: It’s interesting. The Vikings signed Kirk Cousins to put them over the hump and win big games. Two weeks ago, they managed to beat the Packers in primetime. Last week, they were beaten by the Patriots. This week will be yet another opportunity for the Vikings to prove themselves. And with the playoff picture tightening up, the Vikings cannot afford many more off days. The Seahawks will provide a tough challenge for them with physical play on both sides of the ball. Furthermore, the Seahawks have Russell Wilson, who is currently red hot. As always, the Vikings have the talent to beat any team, but can they be trusted? I think not. I believe the Seahawks smash-mouth approach on both sides of the ball will make them uncomfortable. And Cousins unreliable nature will rear its ugly head once again. As punishment for their inconsistent play, the Seahawks will be taking their spot in the driver’s seat of the NFC wildcard spot.