This article is part of our Beating the Book series.
Week 14 is officially upon us which means we're entering the stretch run of the 2022 NFL season.
After going 7-8 ATS in Week 13, we're currently sitting six games under .500 on the year. While that's not where we want to be, we still have five weeks remaining to make up ground. The way I see it, we're like a team that's in the thick of the Wild Card race – we don't necessarily have to be perfect the rest of the way, but we can't afford to suffer any major letdowns.
On a more positive note, we did the unthinkable and won our best bet last week (Pittsburgh -1.0). Big thank you to Marcus Mariota for that. Readers of this column know the situation with best bets, but it really feels like we're finally generating some momentum. And I'll tell you right now: I love this week's best bet.
Coming off of a week packed with juicy matchups, the Week 14 slate does feel like a bit of a letdown. Part of the reason for that is we have six teams (ATL, CHI, GB, IND, NOR, WAS) on bye, leaving us with our smallest overall slate since Week 9. I'll be honest: It feels like it's too late in the season to have six teams on bye. I don't love it, but it is what it is. Anyway, Only one of those teams – the Commanders – currently has a winning record, so while all of the league's elite clubs will be in action, we'll be missing a few of our recent punching bags.
Week 14 doesn't bring us any matchups on the level of last week's Chiefs-Bengals or Dolphins-49ers showdowns, but we'll be treated to a handful of divisional matchups with major implications. Jets-Bills, Browns-Bengals, Vikings-Lions and Ravens-Steelers should all be varying degrees of fun. In each of those games, the home team is currently favored by at least 2.5 points.
Coming off of a beatdown of the Colts on Sunday Night Football, the Cowboys are 16.5-point home favorites against the Texans – the biggest spread of the year and the largest since Week 17 of last season, when the Patriots were 17.0-point favorites over Dare Ogunbowale and the Jacksonville Jaguars (the Jags only lost that game by 40, for those asking).
We'll dive more into that game, and the rest of the Week 14 slate, below. But first, let's take our customary look back at the best and worst calls from my Week 13 picks.
Last week: 7-8 ATS; 12-2-1 straight up; best bet won (Steelers -1.0 at Falcons)
On the season: 91-97-7 ATS; 126-67-2 straight up; 4-9 best bets (yikes)
Best calls of Week 13:
- Given my lingering reservations about Mike White versus a non-Bears defense, and with the Vikings playing at home for the fifth time in six weeks, I'll side with Minnesota to win and cover.
- I'm rolling with the home team. In many ways, my entire life has been one long lesson on not trusting the Jacksonville Jaguars.
- With both offenses likely struggling, I think we get an ugly, low-scoring game. With that being the script, I'll take New Orleans to cover, but I'll side with the Bucs to move to 6-6 and take full command of the NFC South (this is a real sentence).
Worst calls of Week 13:
- As usual, I trust the Titans to keep this game close, and Derrick Henry should be able to get back on track against an Eagles run defense that's down to 29th in EPA.
- With Josh Jacobs potentially limited, I'm going to walk directly into the belly of the beast and pick against the Raiders for the third straight week.
- In what's felt like a statement season for Patrick Mahomes, this is the ultimate statement game. It's his version of Josh Allen and the Bills winning at Arrowhead back in Week 6. I'm rolling with the Chiefs to win and cover.
NFL Week 14 Picks: Predictions, Props and Best Bets for Every Game
As will be the case every week throughout the regular season, we'll start with Thursday Night Football and go game-by-game, picking each contest against the spread. My best bet will always be highlighted in gold.
Thursday Night Football
Las Vegas Raiders (-6.0) at Los Angeles Rams
Here we go again with the Raiders. Three weeks ago, they were left for dead and looking like one of the most dysfunctional franchises in the league. The latter may still be true, but Vegas has won three straight and will have a great chance to extend that streak on Thursday Night.
While the Raiders' defense remains a liability week-to-week, the offense has come alive behind an improbable breakout season from Josh Jacobs – the NFL's leading rusher by nearly 200 yards. In the three wins over Denver, Seattle and Los Angeles, Jacobs is averaging 204.4 yards from scrimmage. Davante Adams has also been on fire, and the Raiders have gone for over 400 yards of total offense in all three of those games.
The Rams are on the complete opposite end of the spectrum, having lost six straight games since beating Carolina back in Week 6. Despite a slew of key injuries, the Rams put up a fight against Seattle last week, but that may say more about the state of the Seahawks' defense than anything else. With Matthew Stafford on IR, it could be the John Wolford/Bryce Perkins show again this week, though Wolford is currently dealing with a neck injury. Either way, the Rams will once again be down their starting quarterback, top two receivers and best defensive player in Aaron Donald.
Hold that thought:
We'll see how quickly the Rams can get Mayfield up to speed, but Schefter notes that Mayfield "could play" against the Raiders. On one hand, that seems like a very bad idea on a short week. On the other, the Rams have absolutely nothing to lose at this point.
Despite their recent mini-surge, the Raiders are still one of only a handful of teams capable of getting tripped up by a team starting Baker Mayfield. I don't think it happens, but I won't be surprised if the Rams are able to hang around against a bad defense for the second week in a row.
The pick: Raiders 27 – Rams 20
Sunday Early Games
New York Jets (+9.0) at Buffalo Bills
Last Thursday's 24-10 win over the Patriots may not look like an overly lopsided result, the final score isn't indicative of just how much the Bills' defense suffocated the New England offense. Better yet for Buffalo, Josh Allen looked like an MVP candidate again, firing darts all over the field and finishing the week No. 1 in EPA among quarterbacks.
I'm still waiting on one of those we're the best team in the league reminder games from Buffalo, but it's hard to argue with three straight victories after back-to-back letdowns in Weeks 9 and 10. One of those letdowns came against this very Jets team. In that Nov. 6 loss, Buffalo managed only 17 points, while Josh Allen was sacked five times, threw two picks and emerged from the game with an elbow injury.
The Jets' defense is legit, especially at home. No one is questioning that. But Josh Allen losing to Zach Wilson feels like a once-in-a-lifetime event. Of course, it won't be Wilson under center for the Jets this time around. We know Mike White gives New York an unquestionably higher floor. However, last week's Joe Flacco-esque, 57-attempt, two-pick performance against Minnesota was a stern reminder that White is much closer to an average backup than the next great underdog-turned-hero story. Again, I like White significantly more than Wilson – and the team seems to be buying in – but just because he's upgrade over Wilson doesn't mean he's an overall plus at the position.
As was the case in Week 9, I'll trust the Jets' defense to keep them in the game and make this interesting. But I like the Bills to create havoc of their own on defense and take care of business at home.
The pick: Bills 27 – Jets 17
Cleveland Browns (+6.0) at Cincinnati Bengals
If you weren't completely locked in on Browns-Texans last week, you're forgiven. But you probably know by now that, despite the Browns winning comfortably, Deshaun Watson looked very much like a man who hadn't played football in 700 days. He showed few, if any, signs of comfortability en route to completing just 12-of-22 passes for 131 yards and a bad pick in the endzone.
Ultimately, Cleveland is lucky it was facing the Texans. Had it been virtually any other opponent – I'll hear arguments for the Broncos – the Browns could very well have been in danger of losing the game straight up. For better or for worse, Watson will be The Guy moving forward as the Browns attempt to salvage their season. Per FiveThirtyEight, the Browns currently have a 9% chance to make the postseason, but a loss here would essentially seal their fate.
We should note that Cleveland was the last team to beat the Bengals, though that game was at home and Cincy had just lost Ja'Marr Chase the previous week. Since then, the Bengals have ripped off four consecutive wins – including one of the most impressive victories of the year last week against Kansas City – and absolutely look the part of a Super Bowl contender once again.
With the Bengals rolling and Watson still getting his sea legs, I'll take Cincy with the points at home.
The pick: Bengals 30 – Browns 21
Houston Texans (+16.5) at Dallas Cowboys
Well then. As noted above, this is our largest spread of the year and the 10th time in the last three seasons that a team is favored by at least 16.5 points. You're never going to believe this, but three of the last four instances have involved the Texans.
By now, we know the inherent danger that comes with backing double-digit dogs this season, but this Texans team has reached a special level of dysfunction reserved for only a handful of teams in NFL history. A week ago, the Browns failed to score an offensive touchdown and still led 27-8 before Houston tacked on a late score in garbage time. That's extremely difficult to do.
I'll listen to the argument that this is an obvious letdown spot for a Cowboys team coming off of a 33-point fourth quarter against Indianapolis. But after what we saw from the Texans last week – in Houston, no less – it certainly feels like Dallas could sleepwalk its way to a 20-point victory punctuated by a pick-six (or two).
For what it's worth, the last 10 home teams favored by at least 16.5 points went 7-3 ATS and 9-1 straight up.
The pick: Cowboys 37 – Texans 14
Minnesota Vikings (+2.5) at Detroit Lions
The Vikings may quite literally be the worst 10-2 team of all time, but they continue to do nothing but win close games. Last week's near miss at home against the Jets was just the latest example of Minnesota finding ways to escape. The oddsmakers clearly aren't buying it, however, as the Vikings are now road dogs in a matchup that opened at Minnesota -3.0.
Since starting 1-6, the Lions have quietly put together a really strong month-and-a-half, with the only blemish coming on Thanksgiving Day in a narrow loss to the Bills. D'Andre Swift is coming off of his best game in months, Amon-Ra St. Brown is back to looking like a future superstar and top-10 pick Jameson Williams is now available for what's suddenly one of the most fun skill-position rosters in the league.
This line implies that these are essentially equal teams on a neutral field, and while Minnesota has the much better record, I'm not sure I disagree with that. Keep in mind that back in Week 3, these teams played a close game – one that Detroit led 14-0 and 24-21 before a fourth quarter meltdown marred by poor coaching decisions.
While it does worry me that seemingly everyone is on Detroit this week, I'll take the Lions to win outright in a one-point game, but Minnesota covers.
The pick: Lions 28 – Vikings 27
Philadelphia Eagles (-7.0) at New York Giants
The Giants have been alarmingly plucky for most of the season, but it does seem like the luck is starting to run out after their 6-1 start. While the Giants probably should've beat the Commanders in regulation last week, they were lucky to escape with a tie in overtime to hang on to a 7-4-1 record.
Facing the Eagles for the first time this season, the Giants are clearly overmatched in terms of quarterback play and skill position talent. Early in the year, New York was able to find ways to compensate for those deficiencies, but as injuries have begun to pile up, the Giants' sum of the parts mantra isn't generating the same results.
Even so, the Giants are a team that's difficult to blow out, so I expect them to hang around for at least a half. The counterpoint to that, of course, is I also expected Tennessee – an eerily similar team to the Giants in many ways – to keep it close against Philly last week. Suffice it to say that did not happen.
The red-hot Eagles offense keeps it rolling and covers a touchdown on the road.
The pick: Eagles 27 – Giants 17
Baltimore Ravens (+2.5) at Pittsburgh Steelers
The Ravens have quickly become one of the most confusing teams in the league, and with Lamar Jackson expected to miss at least a week, Baltimore's sluggish offense will remain in a holding pattern. In Tyler Huntley, the Ravens do have a trustworthy backup, but he's obviously a step down from Jackson.
On the other side, the Steelers are borderline rolling right now with three wins in their last four games. It goes without saying that this is a completely different defense with T.J. Watt healthy, though he is still nursing the rib injury he picked up against the Colts two weeks ago.
I'll admit I don't have a great read on this game (shocking, I know), so I'll side with the home team and what may be the better offense at this moment.
The pick: Steelers 20 – Ravens 17
Jacksonville Jaguars (+4.0) at Tennessee Titans
As any seasoned Jaguars fan knows, last week was the ultimate letdown spot. It's a tale as old as time. Just when the Jags seem to be moving in the right direction, a 40-14 blowout is right around the corner.
Despite the lopsided loss, Week 13 somehow feels like a net positive for Jacksonville, and that's solely because Trevor Lawrence did not suffer a serious knee injury. Watching live, there was zero doubt in my mind that Lawrence was done for the year – and perhaps part of next season – but miraculously he returned to the game and did not appear overly hampered.
Lawrence is still dealing with soreness, as well as a toe injury, so it's possible he ends up missing this game. If that's the case, you can go ahead and lock up the Titans to take care of business against *checks depth chart* ah, yes, C.J. Beathard.
Tennessee isn't exactly killing it right now either, having just fired its GM earlier in the week. Coincidentally, the move came just day after A.J. Brown – he used to play for the Titans, you see – went for 119 yards and two touchdowns in a runaway Eagles victory. We're 13 weeks in and Tennessee still doesn't have a truly "good" win on its resume. But this is the AFC South, your favorite division's favorite division, so they're in literally zero danger of not hosting a home playoff game.
With Lawrence potentially compromised, and the Jags' defense getting worse by the week, I'll roll with the Titans to get back on track at home after consecutive losses.
The pick: Titans 27 – Jaguars 21
Sunday Late Games
Kansas City Chiefs (-9.5) at Denver Broncos
I bet big on the Chiefs last week in Cincinnati, counting on a combination of the postseason revenge narrative and the notion that it's really difficult to beat a great team three times in a row. While Kansas City came up short, I didn't come away from that game feeling any worse about the Chiefs.
The leaky secondary and lack of pressure on Joe Burrow are mildly concerning, but to me it more about Burrow playing a near-perfect game on an afternoon when one turnover – in this case, a killer Travis Kelce fumble – was enough to swing the result. Bottom line: the Chiefs will be just fine.
They'll be especially fine this week against the worst scoring offense in more than two decades. Each week, the Broncos find new ways to challenge the boundaries of offensive game-planning. At this point, the Broncos scoring even 20 points would feel like the equivalent of most teams putting up 50.
It's a minor miracle that a team scoring 13.8 points per game in the year of our lord 2022 can be 4-8 ATS, but that speaks to just how steady Denver's defense has been. The Broncos have allowed more than 23 points only once – in a Week 4 loss to the Raiders that included a fumble return for a touchdown, as well as four Daniel Carlson field goals.
This is all to say that, while it feels like Kansas City can't lose this game outright, it shouldn't be surprising if Denver is able to at least slow down Patrick Mahomes. However, the Chiefs enter the week No. 1 in the NFL in points per game, points per drive, time per drive and yards per drive, so something has to give.
In what's basically a weekly simulation at this point, Denver will be stuck in the mud on offense while Kansas City autopilots its way to a victory.
The pick: Chiefs 27 – Broncos 13
Carolina Panthers (+3.5) at Seattle Seahawks
I'm not at all ashamed to say this is one of the top three games I'm looking forward to watching this weekend. Over the last few weeks, Seattle has made it explicitly clear that it's one of the worst defenses in the league and capable of being tripped up by any team not called the Houston Texans.
Both the offensive line and the defense have taken massive steps back of late, and Seattle enters this game with significant injury concerns at running back. Kenneth Walker, Travis Homer and DeeJay Dallas are all banged up to the point that the Seahawks signed Wayne Gallman – the Wayne Gallman – to their practice squad on Tuesday. The hope is that Walker will be able to go, but even if that's the case, it's quite possible he won't be 100 percent.
With that in mind, it's completely justifiable for the Sam Darnold Panthers to be only 3.5-point dogs. Less than a week ago, the number sat at 6.0 points. Seattle is still the better team and should win this game at home, but I love Carolina's chances to wreak havoc on defense and force Seattle into an uncomfortable spot – much like the Rams did in Week 13. That status of D'Onta Foreman will be something to monitor closely, however.
I'll take Seattle to win but Carolina gets the cover to move to 7-6 ATS on the year.
The pick: Seahawks 26 – Panthers 23
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (+3.5) at San Francisco 49ers
Unsurprisingly, this line moved about three points in the wake of Jimmy Garoppolo's injury. It'll be the Brock Purdy show for the 49ers the rest of the way, but they have to be relatively encouraged by Purdy's play in a difficult situation against Miami. For the most part, Kyle Shanahan kept things simple for the rookie out of Iowa State, but he made some semi-impressive throws on the run and should have the makings of a decent game manager.
Against this Bucs team, a game-manager may be all the Niners need. While Tampa did storm back to steal a win against the Saints on Monday night, it was another ugly, ugly night for the Bucs' offense, which punted or turned the ball over on seven of its 10 drives. For the season, the Bucs are dead-last in rushing EPA and yards per attempt, 26th in yards per play, 27th in points per game and 28th in points per drive.
Every now and then, the Bucs' offense shows glimpses of big-play ability, but by now we have an overwhelming sample that suggests otherwise. Going up against one of the best defenses in the league, I expect Tampa to struggle. With Purdy under center, the Niners could be in a similar boat, so there's a reason this total is holding firm at 37.0.
I'll side with the 49ers to grind out a fairly unsightly victory at home and cover the 3.5.
The pick: 49ers 20 – Buccaneers 14
Sunday Night Football
Miami Dolphins (-3.0) at Los Angeles Chargers
The preseason look-ahead on this game was Chargers -5.5, which speaks not only to how much of a vintage Chargers season this has been but also to how much respect the Dolphins have picked up.
Last week's loss to San Francisco – one of Tua Tagovailoa's worst games as a pro – was at least semi-alarming, but the Dolphins should be in a good spot to bounce back against the league's 28th-ranked defense. Stopping the run has been the Chargers' biggest issue, by far – they're dead last in yards per attempt for the second straight season – so it will be interesting to see if Miami is able to exploit that weakness. Picking apart defenses through the air is how Miami has ascended to the No. 2 offense in yards per play (behind only Kansas City). Entering Week 14, the Dolphins rank 30th in rushing attempts and 28th in yards per attempt.
The Chargers have an advantage at quarterback, and the potential return of Mike Williams would literally be huge. If Williams plays and looks like himself, Miami could be in trouble. But this offense has been able to out-score teams for most of the season, and the Chargers are a vulnerable defense.
I'll ride with the Dolphins to win a high-scoring shootout that goes over the 52.0-point total – the second-highest of the week behind only Minnesota-Detroit (52.5).
The pick: Dolphins 33 – Chargers 28
Monday Night Football
New England Patriots (-1.5) at Arizona Cardinals
Is this the first time these teams have ever played each other? What a weird, cross-conference matchup. I'm uncomfortable.
I did go to the trouble of looking it up, and it appears they last met in 2020. That was a 20-17 win for Cam Newton and the Patriots, who walked it off with a Nick Folk 50-yard field goal as time expired. Overall, the Pats are 4-1 straight up against Arizona this millennium (I'm telling you, this is a rare matchup), and New England has won seven of the last eight meetings dating back to 1993.
Focusing on this specific season, the Pats are unquestionably the better defense and a vastly better-coached team. But in terms of talent, Arizona has a major advantage at quarterback, as well as receiver, especially as DeAndre Hopkins and Hollywood Brown will suit up together for the first time.
Even after a frustrating, humbling loss at home to the Bills last week, I know the Pats are the safer pick. They're road favorites for a reason. But Arizona is coming off of a bye, so there's no real advantage for the Pats, who have a longer week after playing on Thursday night. Maybe I'm a little more down on the New England offense than I should be, but if Arizona is able to move the ball, I'm not sure the Pats can go score-for-score. New England has also struggled against mobile quarterbacks this season, going 0-3 against Josh Allen, Lamar Jackson and Justin Fields. The Pats' defense allowed a combined 70 points to Baltimore and Chicago.
Alright, I've officially talked myself into it. In a mild upset, I'll go with the Cardinals to put their latest cycle of off-field drama behind them and win outright at home.
The pick: Cardinals 27 – Patriots 24