The playoff race is heating up and this will be a big weekend in the NFL. Here is a look at the match-ups in Week 14.
Ravens at -2.5 Dolphins
The Dolphins are coming off an important win on Monday Night Football, but the odds aren’t in their favor as they host the Ravens on Sunday afternoon. Both teams are currently sitting at 7-5, as they vie for that all-important last Wild Card spot. As the way things sit now, Miami is in that spot, but a win for Baltimore on Sunday would shake up quite a few things.
Even thought Dolphins escaped New York with a win on Monday, it certainly wasn’t with the most impressive of fashion. The Jets threw the ball just 13 times, but the Dolphins still struggled throughout most of the first three quarters. Luckily for them, Ryan Tannehill has one of the best 4th quarter QBRs in the league.
As for Baltimore, they are coming off a crushing 34-33 loss to San Diego. They’ve also had to deal with plenty of Ray Rice drama all season, which looks like it might be finally starting to wrap up. The Ravens aren’t favored on Sunday on the road, which could be a problem. However, they do finish their season with three games against Jacksonville, Houston, and Cleveland.
Steelers at -3 Bengals
At 7-5, the Steelers are also just out of the Wild Card picture. If they failed to make the playoffs this year, that would be the third season in a row with such a result. Unfortunately for them, the remainder of their schedule is looking to not be in their favor. They’ll start things off with a matchup at Cincinnati against a Bengals team that current leads the surprisingly tough AFC North at 8-3. Ben Roethlisberger has helped lead a Steelers offense that ranks 4th in the league with 299.3 passing yards per game. Despite a concern with Big Bens hand in Week 13, he looks to be healthy and ready to go in this divisional matchup on Sunday.
The Bengals have won three in a row, though the remainder of their schedule is incredibly difficult. They will play the Steelers twice, as well as the Browns and Broncos in Weeks 15 and 16, respectively. Despite the tough stretch, the Bengals also have the best odds in the AFC North to win the Super Bowl at 25/1. If they hope to live up to those expectations, they’ll certainly need to get off on the right foot with a win at home against Pittsburgh on Sunday.
Colts -3.5 at Browns
One of the more interesting matchups on the day could be the one between the Colts and Browns in Cleveland. The Browns are coming off a loss against Buffalo, in which Brian Hoyer was pulled after throwing his fifth interception in four games. After Hoyer was removed, Johnny Manziel entered the game and rushed for the first regular season touchdown of his career. It looks as if Hoyer will once again get the start on Sunday against the Colts, but it’s worth keeping a close eye on how long he’ll stay in if he’s not productive.
On the other side of the ball, you can bet that Andrew Luck will be productive. Luck leads an Indy offense that currently ranks first in the league with 326 passing yards per game. The Colts have also won 2 in a row, as well as 8 of their last 10 after dropping 2 in a row to start the season. The Colts aren’t a lock of the playoffs just quite yet. The Texans are currently 6-6, but both the Jags and the Titans have just 2 wins on the season. If Indy can get a win on Sunday, they’ll put a lot of pressure on Houston moving forward. Winners of two in a row, the Colts are favored in this one by 3.5, and they currently sit at 18/1 odds to win the Super Bowl.
Texans -5 at Jaguars
The Texans will need a win on Sunday if they hope to keep up with Indianapolis on the AFC South. After capturing the top pick in the NFL Draft last year, the Texans have had a much better season this year thanks in large part to JJ Watt. There have been plenty of other discrepancies under center for Houston, as both Ryan Fitzpatrick and Ryan Mallet have gotten snaps in recent weeks. Arian Forster has also shared majority of the workload with Alfred Blue, even though Forster has nearly 500 more yards than the second-stringer. Houston won against the Titans last week, and they are now favored on the road this weekend. Even though they’ve drastically improved since last year, they still sit at 300/1 odds to win this year’s Super Bowl. The good news for fans in Houston is that they will see Jacksonville in two of their final four games.
As for the Jags, it’s a whole lot of the same in Jacksonville. At 2-10, Jacksonville is already statistically eliminated from the playoffs, and they still have plenty of room to grow. Blake Bortles has provided hope, but he’s certainly not as electric as other first round quarterbacks before him. Bortles has also had trouble getting on the same page as Marquis Lee, who was the Jags second pick out of USC this past April. The Jags might be already looking ahead to the offseason, which could be why the 6-6 Texans are heavily favored despite being on the road this weekend.
Giants at Titans Pick em
Neither the Giants nor the Titans lived up to pre-season expectations. Whenever you have Eli Manning on your team, you are expected to compete for a playoff spot. However, at 3-9 and on a 7-game losing streak, the Giants are looking at yet another disappointing season. The only reason fans in New York should get excited for Sunday is with the hopes that they can break their losing streak against an equally poor Titans squad.
Tennessee started the season with big hopes for Jake Locker. However, Locker failed to meet expectations in his third season under center for Tennessee, and he was replaced by rookie Zach Mettenberger. The former quarterback out of LSU was the last pick by the Titans in the 2014 pick, but he now finds himself as the go-to option in Tennessee.
Panthers at -9.5 Saints
This is a huge spread for a Saints team that is currently only 5-7. The truth is that the NFC South is one of the worst in the league, and it’s still up for grabs by nearly every team in it. However, with Drew Brees under center, it’s hard to ever count the Saints out of things. Another key factor to note could be comments made earlier this week about New Orleans preparing for the post-Brees era, which the Super Bowl winning quarterback didn’t take too kindly to. Now that they are coming off a big 35-22 win over Pittsburgh, the Saints would love to get another win to gain momentum as they push to win the NFC South.
As for the Panthers, it looks like pollsters knew what they were talking about before the season started when the picked Carolina to go from first to worst in 2014. Despite winning the NFC South last season, the Panthers have recorded just a 3-8 record and run the risk of finishing last in the division this year. They currently are on a 6-game losing streak, and they lead the NFC with a 103-points against differential. Along with Cam Newton’s mediocre success under center, the Panthers have also struggled to find much of a running game this season. The irony is that they could still potential win the NFC South if things go their way, but they’d need to get things off on the right foot with a win over New Orleans on Sunday. Be sure to check in with sportspicks.com to see how the rest of the season goes for the NFC South and the rest of the NFL.
Buccaneers at -9.5 Lions
The only team in the NFC South that is making the Panthers look good is the 2-10 Buccaneers. The Lions look to win their second game in a row after a victory against Chicago on Thanksgiving Day. Before the win over the Bears, the Lions had lost two games in a row and plummeted down many rankings lists. As the Lions have shown in previous years, they are notorious for falling apart late in the season. Luckily for them, their next three games are against Tampa Bay, Minnesota and Chicago, all of which they are likely to be favored in. The Lions are heavy favorites in this one, and they currently rank at 30/1 odds to win the Super Bowl.
Bills at -9.5 Broncos
Three weeks ago the Broncos lost to the Rams, and many were questioning whether or not this is a team that is ready to represent the AFC in the Super Bowl again. After back-to-back wins against Miami and Kansas City, Denver has moved to 9/2 odds to win the Super Bowl, which puts them behind Green Bay and New England. This weekend Denver will hope to notch their 10th win on the season when they welcome Buffalo to town.
The Bills have now won two games in a row, including an impressive victory against Cleveland last weekend. At 7-5, Buffalo needs clutch wins to end the season if they hope to make the playoffs. However, their schedule is one of the toughest in the league, as they will play Denver this weekend, Green Bay in Week 15, and then New England to finish off their season. Another note to keep an eye on this weekend is the return of Kyle Orton to Denver, where he will be making his first start since being replaced by Tim Tebow before the Peyton Manning era begin.
Chiefs at -1 Cardinals
The Chiefs have lost two in a row, but they still remain in one of the two Wild Card spots for this year’s postseason. Unfortunately for them, things won’t get much easier as they face off against a Cardinals team that is 9-3. However, the Cardinals have lost two in a row and don’t look to be nearly as powerful as they did before Carson Palmer went down with an injury.
Drew Stanton has done his best to help carry the load for Arizona since Palmer was injured, but he has been throw to the wolves without much support. The Cardinals have the 31st run offense in the league, as they average just 74 yards per game. Now more than ever, the Cardinals will need their defense to come up big. If they don’t, the team that had the best record in the league just a few weeks ago could be in a dangerous spot with just a few weeks left in the season. The Cards do remain favored by 1 at home on Sunday, but there is plenty on the line for both teams.
49ers -8.5 at Raiders
Add the 49ers to the list of teams hoping that the Cardinals will get upset by Kansas City on Sunday. After losing handedly to the Seahawks on Thanksgiving, the 49ers are in quite the precarious position and are at risk of missing the playoffs this season. San Francisco has dropped all the way to 30/1 odds to win the Super Bowl, and their schedule in the final three weeks of the season includes games against San Diego, Seattle, and Arizona. Luckily for them, they can try and get some momentum going this weekend against a Raiders team that boasts the worst record in the league this year.
Despite being just 1-11 and holders of the worst record in the NFL, the Raiders have to be given credit for sticking to their guns this year. They named rookie Dereck Carr the starter at the beginning of the year, and they’ve relied on him throughout most of the year. Unfortunately, they haven’t given Carr much help, as they have a running offense that is ranked dead last with just 72.5 yards per game. The Raiders will be hosting a Bay area rival at home, but they still have their work cut out for them on Sunday afternoon.
Seahawks at -1 Eagles
You have to look forward to this matchup between the Seahawks and the Eagles on Sunday afternoon. Both teams are still in the conversation for the top spot in the NFC, and this game could be influential for either that is trying to grab that spot. Both teams are coming off two-game winning streaks; as the Seahawks notched wins over divisional opponents Arizona and San Francisco, while the Eagles have beaten the Titans and Cowboys. With a high powered Chip Kelly offense, the Eagles rank 5th in the league in rushing and 6th in passing, while the Seahawks rank first in the league in rushing. Seattle also has the third ranked passing defense and fifth best rushing defense.
There has been plenty of talk this week about whether or not Chip Kelly has any interest in heading back to the college ranks to coach a team like Florida. And while this game surely won’t sway him one way or another, fans will definitely get a good luck at what a Kelly-led offense does against one of the staunchest defenses in the league. The Eagles are favored by 1 at home, and this should be one of the better matchups on the day.
NFL Week 14 Preview with Odds / Spreads
The playoff race is heating up and this will be a big weekend in the NFL. Here is a look at the match-ups in Week 14.