What do Antonio Brown, bye weeks, and the Bengals’ playoff hopes have in common?
AB is gone, bye weeks are done for 2019, and the Bengals’ playoff hopes are non-existent.
It’s getting down to crunch time in the NFL. A 16-game schedule makes crowded standings inevitable. 26 teams are still eligible for postseason football. 15 have a shot at a first-round bye.
Just to turn gears and spark the imagination, I’m going to list a few possible Super Bowl 54 matchups. I’ll reiterate, these are possible!
Redskins-Jaguars. Jets-Buccaneers. Chargers-Panthers. Browns-Eagles.
If your mind works like mine, you initially laughed at the thought of these matchups. You then remembered why you began reading this in the first place – NFL betting tips. Want to know how much a Redskins NFC Champs-Jaguars AFC Champs parlay would pay out on Bovada?
2.5 million to 1.
Now that we got all the silliness out of our systems (maybe it was just me that needed it), we can talk Week 14 NFL picks.
I want to analyze the TNF Cowboys-Bears matchup first, but I’m also going to give my perspective on 2 other matchups for a total of 3 picks you can take to the bank. Let’s go!
Cowboys @ Bears
TNF – Thursday, December 5 – 8:20 ET
Quick! Name any NFL owner … there’s a 73% chance you picked Jerry Jones (not really, I made that number up).
You get my point, though? Other than Robert Kraft, Jerry Jones is the only NFL owner a casual fan would know.
Jones has been all over the sporting news since his team’s ugly loss on Thanksgiving to Josh Allen and the “sneaky good Bills,” as Pat McAfee calls them.
While good owners sit back and allow their front office employees, coaches, and players to do their jobs, Jerry Jones takes a more hands-on approach. Jones grabbed the mic after the Thanksgiving game and talked for like 3 hours – or so it seemed – about things no one cared about.
Nothing motivates a group of freakishly athletic millionaires more than an old, stubborn, senile, rich guy pouting and ranting while his employees are still at work on a holiday.
I’ve listened to and watched a lot of talk football content in the past week. I have not heard one positive take on the Cowboys’ situation. Everyone is writing this team off because of the 2-consecutive losses and the whole Jerry Jones debacle. This triggers alarms in my head.
When nobody gives a team a chance is precisely when you want to bet them.
Do these people not realize that Dallas is standing alone in first place in the NFC East? They lost to an 8-3 Bills team. Is that so bad?
Chicago is in a must-win situation. Dallas has some room for error. Plus, the Cowboys are probably dying to get away from Dallas and play football somewhere other than Jerryworld.
Here is the reason given repeatedly by the media for why the ‘Boys are struggling: The Cowboys aren’t using Zeke enough. He is not getting enough volume. He has become a boom-or-bust guy.
Chicago is 7th in the league in rush yards allowed. But guess what … they have holes, and these holes happen to fit the Cowboys’ game plan.
43.5% of touchdowns the Bears allow are on the ground. This is the 7th-highest rate in the NFL. Chicago does not let you run the entire length of the field on them, but they will let you punch it in once you get close.
This is perfect for a Cowboys team that does not seem bent on getting Zeke 20 or 25 touches. Maybe 10 or 12 touches is the way to go against Chicago. Keep Zeke fresh for the red zone and the 4th quarter.
I think playing this game on a Thursday benefits Dallas. Each of these teams played last Thursday. The teams are getting their standard amount of rest but their schedules are all disjointed.
This really hurts Chicago who was getting into a nice rhythm with 2-straight wins. Dallas could use a chaotic week and a nice road trip to Soldier Field to take their minds off Jerry Jones and the recent losses.
Getting far away from Jones’ press box seats and playing in a new environment is a welcome change for most of the Cowboys, I’m sure.
Dallas is -3 (-115) on the road in Chicago. All the pressure is on the Bears.
The Cowboys match up well with Chicago. I fully expect Dallas to win the game and cover the 3-point spread.
49’ers @ Saints
Sunday, December 8 – 1:00 ET
Poor poor Niners. They played the Packers in Week 12, the Ravens last week, and now have the Saints. That’s a 9-3 team and two 10-2 teams all in a row.
San Fran is 10-2 themselves, though. If anyone can handle this gauntlet and win 2 of 3 – it’s them.
Jimmy Garoppalo is an interesting guy. I noticed 2 things while researching him. 1) His pick-up game is ‘aight.
2) His teams are dangerous on the road. Combine his lone road New England start with his 49’ers starts and Jimmy G is 9-3 SU and 8-4 ATS in road games.
Does Garoppolo cut it loose, air the ball out on opposing defenses, and post 400-yard games on the home team’s secondaries? No. He wins games because he plays excellent ball-control football and manages the game very well on the road.
Garoppolo has not thrown more than 1 pick in a road game this season and has thrown 0 picks in his last 2 road games.
The under is 8-4 in Jimmy G road starts. I really like the under in this matchup.
I believe Garoppolo will take care of the football and lead long, time-consuming drives. It appears to be his M.O. on the road.
Also, the Niners are tired. Granted, every NFL team is tired by Week 14, but the Niners are extra tired. SF had a Week 4 bye which means they are about to play their 10th game in 10 weeks.
Garoppolo knows his defense will never last in a shootout with Drew Brees. Ball control is the Niners only hope to win the game.
I am expecting a lot of field goals in this matchup. San Fran has the 2nd-best defensive red zone touchdown percentage in the NFL and the Saints are ranked 14th in red zone TDs allowed per game.
Bovada has the Under at 44.5 (-115). Factoring in the long possessions and the lack of touchdowns, I could see the final score being somewhere in the 21-16 or 23-13 range. It doesn’t matter who wins. I’ve got the under.
Also, if you own either team’s kicker in fantasy … start them!
Ravens @ Bills
Sunday, December 8 – 1:00 ET
Answer a couple of questions for me. Do you think the Ravens will beat the Bills? Your answer is most likely “yes”. Most people have Lamar and Baltimore in this one.
What about this question? Do you think the Ravens will win out and finish 14-2? Far fewer people would answer yes to this question.
I am one of the few people who answered “no” to both. I do not think the Ravens will finish 14-2. This would require them to win 12-in-a-row.
I believe the Ravens will lose another game, so why not this week?
Sure, winning 12 NFL games in a row is not unheard of. The 2015 Panthers won 14-in-a-row. The 2011 Packers won 13-in-a-row. It happens from time to time, but I like the Bills’ chances in this one.
Baltimore is coming off a huge statement win at home against the top-tier 49’ers. They now travel to one of the harshest, most unforgiving stadiums in which to play an NFL game – both weather and fan-wise.
A perfect set-up for the classic letdown game narrative.
Josh Allen has been salivating waiting for this matchup with Lamar Jackson. Each of these budding stars were selected in the 2018 NFL Draft. Allen went 7th overall, Jackson 32nd.
Obviously, Lamar has made more noise. Everyone knows who Lamar is at this point. While the media is hyping Jackson relentlessly, Josh Allen is doing wonderful things over in Buffalo.
The Bills … the Bills! … are 9-3. Enough said. This Allen kid is special, too. On Sunday, he gets a chance to prove the Bills were right to draft him at #7.
Here is how I see this one playing out in my head. Decide for yourself if I’m crazy. The Ravens make an early mistake – maybe a pick, a fumble, a blown coverage, a bad penalty – allowing Buffalo to get an early score.
This is not outside the realm of possibility considering the Ravens are coming down off a season-defining win and are now thrown in front of the Bills Mafia – who are craving their own season-defining win..
The Ravens score a couple times and the game goes to halftime 10-10 or even 14-10 Ravens. Not a bad spot to be if you are Buffalo.
Josh Allen is balling out in the 2nd half and the Bills hang around. Maybe Baltimore is up 21-13. Maybe it’s 24-17. Allen is extending drives and keeping Lamar on the bench, where he cannot hurt Buffalo.
The crowd gets a second wind in the 4th quarter. The Ravens make one more mistake, allowing Buffalo to score, cover the spread, and maybe even win the game.
Two mistakes. That’s all I think it will take for Buffalo to cover the +6 (-105) spread.
Maybe I’m falling for the spread storyline with my imagined game flow, but I really like Buffalo’s chances in this one.
I use superlatives like this all the time, but Week 14 is going to be an awesome week of NFL football!
Merry Christmas! See you on top!