NFL Week 14 Predictions and Storylines

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Honolulu transplant from Nashville, Tennessee. Teaching high school English during the day, coaching Track & Field in the afternoon, then drinking enough to do it all over again.

Too competitive for an amateur, too amateur to be competitive.

We’re in the last stretch of the regular season and our prior conceptions about a lot of teams are changing all the time. With a larger sample size, we are starting to separate fact from fiction and all the nonsense about “narratives” gets put away in favor of more realistic opinions. The Seahawks, Titans, and Browns are going to be held back by their defenses while the Steelers, Rams, and Ravens are actually held back by their offenses. Last week I managed 9-6, bringing my total to 77-39. I have a good feeling about some of my NFL Week 14 predictions. Some good spreads and underdogs. Find out which ones below and thank me later.

Patriots (6-6) @ Rams (8-4)
Spread: Rams -6
Prediction: Rams 20-17

The Patriots wrecked the Chargers and my heart is in pieces. Bill Belichick is still the best coach in the league and Anthony Lynn’s team was totally outclassed. The Rams are not the Chargers, though, and have established dominance in the crowded NFC West. They have an elite pass D and that D is gonna stick it to the Patriots the whole game. I’m expecting a run heavy game that stays pretty close. Rams win but don’t cover.

Sean McVay applauds his team after a win
Harry How / Getty Images

Broncos (4-8) @ Panthers (4-8)
Spread: Panthers -4
Prediction: Panthers 20-10

Who is Drew Lock? A promising QB with swagger and moxie who never gives up? Maybe. But this isn’t a feel good movie where the improbable losers beat the bullies.This offense is limited by coaching and quarterbacking. Of course, Carolina isn’t exactly a bully type of team. Nonetheless, the Panthers have talent and the disadvantage of a tough schedule, putting them top 10 in offensive DVOA. Denver conversely is 32. Pick Denver at your own risk.

Texans (4-8) @ Bears (5-7) 
Spread: Texans -1.5
Prediction: Texans 24-20

Since their bye in Week 8, the Texans defense has improved to 12th in EPA/play, which is probably less indicative of overall talent but more helpful in seeing how they perform against the Bears offense. Even without their top wideout last week, the Texans kept a competitive game at home with the Colts. The Bears, on the other hand, are on a 6 game slide against a variety of teams, including 1 score losses to the Vikings and Lions. Give me the Texans in this matchup while the Bears flounder offensively. 

Cowboys (3-8) @ Bengals (2-9-1)
Spread: Cowboys -3.5
Prediction: Cowboys 20-14

I won’t spend much time overthinking this one. The Bengals are without superstart franchise rookie QB. Offensive line is doodoo. Defense is about as bad as Dallas. It’s not pretty. Andy Dalton is the epitome of average, even being the basis of the Dalton scale, If he plays on the positive side of the scale, this offense plays well enough to win. That being said, I’m not confident in them at all and the Bengals could absolutely steal this one. I think the Cowboys win but I’m keeping my eye on this game.

Titans (8-4) @ Jaguars (1-11)
Spread: Titans -7.5
Prediction: Jaguars 33-30

By all accounts, the 8-4 team is better than the 1-11 team. But in the NFL, the expression goes “any given Sunday,” which could apply this week when a falling Titans team goes up against a Jaguars team that always seem to stay competitive. The last time these two met, the Jaguars gave Tennessee Hell down to the wire. At home, against a division rival, Jacksonville brings the thunder against Tennessee. Am I also saying this to avoid a jinx on my favorite team? Possibly. But a Tennessee loss is certainly realistic, at least enough of one that I am not betting on them this week. Ask me again when they play Green Bay, though.

Chiefs (11-1) @ Dolphins (8-4)
Spread: Chiefs -7.5
Prediction: Chiefs 24-17

The Dolphins could make for a fun underdog pick, but the Chiefs are the best team in football with the best QB in football. While Xavien Howard is playing out of his mind, Mahomes has proven to be immune to elite defenses. The Chiefs defense is not playing as well as it has been, ranking dead last in passing EPA/play allowed since Week 9, the week after throttling the Jets.. It’s a little concerning, but the Dolphins are not the team that has me worried. I think it gets closer than it should, but the Chiefs pull out the win.

Xavien Howard intercepts a pass against the Bengals
Wilfredo Lee

Cardinals (6-6) @ Giants (5-7)
Spread: Cardinals -2.5
Prediction: Cardinals 21-17

The Giants pulled a legitimate win over Seattle last week and I am convinced that the Titans and Seattle are the same team. The Giants are an average team, with a rookie tackle that is improving and Daniel Jones exchanging his butterfingers and finally eating a Snickers. I think the Cardinals aren’t living up to their potential, especially in recent weeks, but they have the juice to take out the mediocre Giants. Arizona is above average and it’s enough to beat New York.

Vikings (6-6) @ Buccaneers (7-5)
Spread: Buccaneers -6.5
Prediction: Buccaneers 30-20

I really like the Vikings. Kirk Cousins is underrated and Justin Jefferson is electric. Defensively they have their own underrated LB in Eric Kendricks, who might miss this week though. If the offense can get out of its own way, they’re another team with big potential. Unfortunately for them, they’re playing the Buccaneers. Lavonte David anchors a solid defense that has the displeasure of facing Mahomes’s Chiefs and Head Coach Sean McVay’s Rams. Coming off a bye week, Tampa Bay should be ready to go and reestablish their place in the NFC playoff picture. 

Colts (8-4) @ Raiders (7-5)
Spread: Colts -2.5
Prediction: Colts 30-20

The Raiders, man. Inconsistent as hell offensively and one of the worst units defensively. They barely squeaked by the Jets of all teams after getting stomped by Atlanta the week prior. The Josh Jacobs injury is not what’s holding this team back, as the Raiders have the 2nd best 3rd down EPA/play. Instead, it’s just major mistakes, an uninspiring -2 turnover differential, and a middle of the pack redzone scoring percentage. The Colts, conversely, are a defense-reliant team at the moment, despite having name brand offensive weapons. While I don’t think they’re as elite as their record suggests, I certainly do believe they can beat any team in the league when things click. The Raiders don’t have enough on defense to hang and lose this one.

A graph shows offensive efficiency on 3rd downs this season for all teams.

Jets (0-12) @ Seahawks (8-4)
Spread: Seahawks -13.5
Prediction: Seahawks 30-21

The Seahawks and the Titans are almost the same team- elite offenses held back by a depressingly bad defense. They can’t generate a pass rush and they can’t cover. Denzel Mims is continuing his coming out party this week and I am here for it. They won’t win – they shouldn’t win if they still want Trevor Lawrence – but they can make a little noise. Even if at the end of the day it is all just noise, it’s good for fantasy owners of Mims and Crowder. Mr. Unlimited should look like his old self and DK Metcalf should get back in the endzone this week. 

Packers (9-3) @ Lions (5-7)
Spread: Packers -7.5
Prediction: Packers 24-13

If a team scores 30 points, either the offense is talented or the opponent’s defense is bad. When the Bears scored 30 on the Lions last week, it’s certainly not because Trubisky turned into Mahomes overnight. The Packers should wipe the floor with the Lions, who couldn’t score a point against Carolina three weeks ago and allowed the Texans to light up the board with 45 points the week after. Detroit is certainly not what I would call a “bad” team but the Packers are good, really good, and usually “good team beats not good team.” That doesn’t change this week.

Falcons (4-8) @ Chargers (3-9)
Spread: Falcons -2.5
Prediction: Falcons 31-24

I’ve given up on the Chargers. They are outcoached and outplayed at nearly every position, never able to get out of their own way. The Falcons still run a very capable offense, especially against bad defenses, and I think the Chargers get run over again. Justin Herbert is still my favorite rookie to watch and root for, and against the Falcons he should still have some wow throws. At the end of the day, I think the Falcons take this one but the score makes it look closer than it really feels.

Justin Herbert is sacked by two Patriots in Week 13.
NBC Sports Boston

Saints (10-2) @ Eagles (3-8-1)
Spread: Saints -7.5
Prediction: Saints 24-14

Who are these Saints? They were almost completely overlooked this offseason and early season but are suddenly a lot of people’s favorites to at least make an NFC championship appearance. If Drew Brees comes back strong from injury and capable of physically making the important throws, then this might be the most complete team in the conference. A tough defense and effective, if not elite, offense, the Saints should route the Eagles. I’m a big Jalen Hurts guy, but it sucks that his first handful of NFL starts are against teams like this. I’m rooting for him, but there it won’t be a lot happening on offense this week for them.

Washington (5-7) @ 49ers (5-7)
Spread: 49ers -3.5
Prediction: Washington 17-14

The Washington Football Team should get a nice gift card from the Chiefs for Christmas, since handing the Steelers their first loss. Washington has a good defense and decent offensive weapons, while the 49ers have a top 3 offensive coach in Kyle Shanahan. The guy schemes people open better than anyone else and finds ways to win despite the rash of injuries this year and the revolving door of QB 

Steelers (11-1) @ Bills (9-3)
Spread: Bills -1.5
Prediction: Bills 27-24

The Steelers finally lost their first game of the regular season and face their next challenge in the form of a very good Bills team. Josh Allen has been excellent at improvising this year, which will be crucial for taking down the defensive behemoth. The Bills defense is incredibly average and will struggle to handle the return of James Connor and the exceptional receivers, but this is a team built for shootouts while I don’t really think the Steelers are up for that task. If the Bills get ahead, they stay ahead, but there is definitely some worry here. I think this will be my favorite game to watch this week. 

Josh Allen escapes the pocket to throw on the run against the 49ers.
Michael Chow / Arizona Republic

Ravens (7-5) @ Browns (9-3)
Spread: Ravens -1
Prediction: Browns 24-17

The Ravens are not the same team from last year, even if most of their pieces returned. If receivers aren’t catching balls and defenses are on to your shtick, then it makes it difficult to do anything successfully on offense. The defense is still a solid unit, and the team is good, but the Browns are setting themselves up as the challengers to Pittsburgh’s title belt. The Browns can do it all offensively and defensively (when healthy) and finally have a competent coach. This team is lacking some wins against more serious contenders and will struggle against better defenses, but they have a chance to make their case this week against a division rival at home.

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Episode 90