Things haven’t exactly been going the way we, or at least I, expected they would go this year. There have been some surprise teams, both in good ways and bad ways, that nobody saw coming (hence the whole surprise thing). It has made the games this year hard to predict, although I certainly have tried. I’ve had my good weeks and I’ve also had my bad weeks (unfortunately, I’ve had more of the latter). Last week was one of those bad weeks. I got just six games correct but with things like Lamar Jackson’s injury and a tie between the Giants and the Commanders, how could I expect to get everything right? But this week will be different. I’ve looked into my crystal ball (no, not the college football national championship trophy) and have seen the outcome of all 13 games this week, so here are my totally accurate spread picks for this week.
Las Vegas Raiders over Los Angeles Rams (+6.5)
This isn’t the most exciting way to kick off week 14 of the season but that doesn’t mean it won’t end up being fun. There are a couple of things to look forward to, namely the potential debut of Baker Mayfield and the likely continued dominance of Josh Jacobs and Davante Adams. But something is working for the Rams right now. It’s not enough to get them wins, but it’s enough to get them covers. They’ve covered in their past two games, which is the same number of times they covered in the 10 games before that. So, while I have very little doubt that a Raiders team that has been playing well lately will win, I do doubt that they will win by more than six points.
Minnesota Vikings (+2.5) over Detroit Lions
Some things in life don’t make sense. Things like taxes, calculus, what nougat is, and the Lions being favored over the Vikings. The Vikings are one of the top teams in the NFC and have a loaded offense with Kirk Cousins, Dalvin Cook, and Justin Jefferson. And although the Lions have been fun recently, they still have an abysmal defense that should not be trusted in this matchup. Maybe the oddsmakers are onto something by making the Lions the favorite (they usually are when they do something perplexing), but until I see it on the field, I won’t believe it. I’m taking the better team in this game, and that team is certainly the Vikings.
Buffalo Bills over New York Jets (+9.5)
If you’re sensing a theme, it’s because there is one. I’m liking the underdogs this week, at least so far. But there is a reason to expect the Jets may cover this one. They actually beat the Bills the last time these two teams played, and that was with Zach Wilson at quarterback. Now, the Jets have Mike White throwing passes, who seems to be playing much better than Wilson, to complement a very good defense. But the Bills are still the Bills and they don’t lose to the Jets twice in one season. They’re one of the most dominant teams in the league and when Josh Allen, Stefon Diggs, and the rest of the offense are clicking, the Jets won’t stand a chance at slowing them down enough to pull off another upset.
Baltimore Ravens (+2.5) over Pittsburgh Steelers
Another game, another underdog. But at least this line makes sense. There is a ton of uncertainty with the Ravens and the possibility of Tyler Huntley being the starter over the injured Jackson. And if that’s the case, then I would understand people being hesitant about him against a solid Pittsburgh defense. But let’s not forget the other side of the game, the one where Kenny Pickett has to take on the Baltimore defense. the Ravens can make plays on that side of the ball, and Huntley is good enough to keep his team in it offensively. And if Jackson somehow does play and is his normal self, then this will be an easy cover for Baltimore.
Philadelphia Eagles (-6.5) over New York Giants
I’m finally getting around to picking a favorite, and what a favorite to pick. The Eagles have the best record in the league and are soaring high with Jalen Hurts, A.J. Brown, and a fantastic defense. The Giants are also having a great year, but it doesn’t compare to what the Eagles have been doing. Last week, the Eagles played a near-perfect game against the Titans and beat them by much more than the six-and-a-half points they are favored by against a less formidable opponent. Maybe the Giants have something up their sleeve for this divisional matchup, but I’m not sure this team can keep up offensively. Yes, Saquon Barkley is very good but he is not good enough to make up for the gap in talent between these teams, nobody is that good. This could end up being a tight game, but it sure seems like a seven-point victory is in the cards for Philly.
Cincinnati Bengals (-6.5) over Cleveland Browns
Cleveland got a shocking victory over the Bengals when these two teams played earlier this year, so I highly doubt they will be able to make it two-for-two against their in-state rival. The Bengals are also coming off a huge win over the Chiefs, while the Browns are coming off a win over the Texans, although it was one where the offense was horrendous. At this point in the season, teams like the Bengals don’t lose to teams like the Browns, or at least they don’t if they want to be a serious Super Bowl contender. It’s clear that the arrival of Deshaun Watson, who had not played football for quite a while before last week, is not going to fix this Browns team. They are not good this year, despite a great season for Nick Chubb. I feel comfortable picking the Bengals in this one, even with the nearly one-touchdown spread they are getting.
Jacksonville Jaguars (+3.5) over Tennessee Titans
I don’t know how many times I need to pick the Jaguars and be wrong before I finally stop doing it, but whatever that number is, I haven’t reached it yet. I’m banking on a few factors here in order for me to get this pick right. One being that the Titans will be a little discouraged after getting blown out by the Eagles last week. The other being that the Jaguars are a six-to-seven-win team, meaning they’ll need to pick up a few more victories before the end of the season. And this is a divisional game, and weird things happen all over the sport in divisional games. This is by far the pick I feel the least sure of this week but as a believer of the Jaguars since the preseason, I feel like I have to pick them here.
Dallas Cowboys (-16.5) over Houston Texans
Normally, picking the Cowboys with a spread this big would be a bad idea. Picking anybody with a spread this big is risky. But I have the Cowboys’ defense in my fantasy league, so I need them to really go off this week. Also, on the more serious side, these Cowboys are good. They’re a legitimate Super Bowl contender and are playing well on both sides of the ball. The Texans, who are clearly the worst team in the league, shouldn’t stand much of a chance against them.
Kansas City Chiefs (-9.5) over Denver Broncos
I’ve said it plenty of times lately and I’ll say it again, I’m not taking the Broncos for the rest of the season. And this matchup against the Chiefs makes it very easy to not pick Denver. It will be interesting to see how the Broncos’ very good defense holds up against an elite offense like the one led by Patrick Mahomes. But unless they hold the Chiefs to negative points, there doesn’t seem to be a path to victory for the Broncos. Denver is putrid on offense and the Kansas City defense is not bad enough to give up points to it. As soon as the Chiefs get to 20 points, they’ll have the game in the bag, and that could be very early given how good this team is.
Seattle Seahawks (-4) over Carolina Panthers
The Seahawks haven’t exactly been great lately, with a close win over the Rams and losses to the Buccaneers and Raiders, but I draw the line at the Panthers. The Panthers are not good, it doesn’t matter who they play quarterback. They’re on Sam Darnold now, which gives the struggling Seahawks’ defense a great opportunity to get back on track. They still have playmakers on that side of the ball, mainly star rookie cornerback Tariq Woolen, and should be able to take on the Panthers’ defense. And on offense, Geno Smith continues to be the best thing that happened to Seattle since Starbucks. He’s absolutely killing it this year and there is no reason to expect that to stop this week against the Panthers.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (+3.5) over San Francisco 49ers
Sometimes picking a game is as simple as looking at one position and taking the team with the advantage. And when that position is quarterback and one team has the GOAT, it gets even more simple. I think the 49ers are the better team for sure, but I’m not sure how they’re going to fare with Brock Purdy under center. The Buccaneers have also had a knack for playing close games lately, so they should be able to cover the three-and-a-half points even if they lose. But I don’t think they will lose. This is Tom Brady that we’re talking about. And in a game where the winner may just need to get to 17 points, who better to bet on than the guy who has proven he can get the job done, even against the best defenses, which will be the case on Sunday.
Los Angeles Chargers (+3) over Miami Dolphins
I just can’t quit the Chargers. I should pick the Dolphins to win this game. They have been the better team this season and are also playing better at the moment despite their loss last week to the 49ers. But I can’t convince myself to not pick the Chargers. These teams are pretty even defensively, so it will come down to the offenses to truly make the difference. The Dolphins should have the advantage. They have one of the best offenses in the league and two absolutely game-wreckers on the outside in Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle. But as I’ve said before, unpredictable things happen. Maybe the fact that I’m predicting the Chargers to win makes them winning predictable and not unpredictable, but let’s put all that confusing, existential stuff aside. Upsets happen every week and I think the Chargers will be one of the teams pulling off an upset this week.
Arizona Cardinals (+1.5) over New England Patriots
If there was ever a time for the Cardinals to be prepared for a game it would be following the bye week when they’ve had two weeks to get ready for the matchup (assuming that’s how they actually used that time off and not playing Call of Duty instead). Despite the fact that the Patriots will surely have the upper hand in the coaching and preparedness part of the game, that isn’t dissuading me from picking the Cardinals. At the end of the day, the players make the plays, not the coaches. And there isn’t a player more capable of making plays than Kyler Murray. He doesn’t always play like it on the field, but he can be a superstar. And with DeAndre Hopkins, Marquise Brown, and James Conner surrounding him on offense, Arizona has all the potential to win this game on Monday.