December 9, 2021

Week 14 NFL Game Picks: Will Aaron Rodgers 'Own' The Bears Again?

Week 14 in the NFL season has arrived.

After several straight weeks with monstrous marquee matchups, this week offers a little less in terms of headliners. Nevertheless, there's a huge opportunity to make money on these games.

The storylines go well beyond the obvious, though. And we're going to break down the key question within each matchup in Week 14.

This storyline will determine the matchup's outcome. I'll also provide a pick for each game, with odds courtesy of DraftKings.

Pittsburgh Steelers at Minnesota Vikings

Storyline: Can the Vikings' defense keep them alive?

Both the Steelers and Vikings suffer from wildly inconsistent performances on a weekly basis. The 6-5-1 Steelers are in the playoff hunt but must win virtually every week in order to stay alive. Outside of T.J. Watt, though, the team has disappointed despite their record, and their formula to win is specific.

The Vikings, who have everything needed to be more successful every season, are also victims of their own mistakes. Their 5-7 record has left no room for error in the wildcard chase, and therefore their 25th-ranked defense must step up against Pittsburgh's vanilla offense. If the Vikings' defense can't shut down the Steelers' nonexistent run game and benign passing game, expect the Vikings to clean house sooner than later. 

As much as I like Vikings coach Mike Zimmer and general manager Rick Spielman, this Vikings team is ready to implode. I like the Steelers to cover as road dogs.

Pick: Steelers +3 (-105)

Jacksonville Jaguars at Tennessee Titans 

Storyline: Will Ryan Tannehill step up?

The Titans have suffered two terrible losses in back-to-back weeks in part due to injuries. The excuses only go so far, though, and getting Julio Jones, Kevin Byard, Jackrabbit Jenkins, and Jeremy McNichols back this week will be tremendously helpful even against an awful Jaguars team. The Jags can be feisty when slept on, but if Ryan Tannehill plays like a veteran, the Titans will win with ease.

With five interceptions over his last two games, Tannehill has been the victim of his own limitations when asked to do too much. Having Jones back is massive for his comfort. I don't think the sinking Jaguars can muster enough on offense to get more than two scores, so the bar for Tennessee is absolutely attainable. 

Pick: Titans -8.5 (-110)

Las Vegas at Kansas City Chiefs 

Storyline: Can the Raiders slow down Patrick Mahomes?

The last time these teams played, the Chiefs boat-raced the Raiders. I expect the same to happen this week. Las Vegas is still prone to hemorrhaging yards and the Chiefs, outside of last week's ugly win against Denver, are as efficient as ever. 

The Raiders have failed to cover the spread in four of their last five games, and have especially struggled against the Chiefs in their last six games. Simply put, the wheels are coming off. Meanwhile, the Chiefs are still a poor spread team. I like the under as the Chiefs run away in a blowout.

Pick: Under 48 (-110)

Seattle Seahawks at Houston Texans

Storyline: Does Houston offense find any success?

Seattle showed signs of life in their surprising beatdown of San Francisco last week, and that's bad news for the Texans. The Texans are terrible, offering next to nothing positive most weeks they play. With Seattle playing better and Russell Wilson able to cook again, this will be a big win for the Seahawks.

But the best play is the under. Seattle has gone under in five of their last six games, whereas Houston has accomplished this in six of seven. Neither offense is terribly explosive, and the Texans in particular will struggle to run the ball.  

Pick: Under 41 (-110)

Dallas Cowboys at Washington Football Team 

Storyline: Can Washington win their fifth straight?

The Washington Football Team has been on a tear after losing four straight games against playoff contenders. With four consecutive wins, they're still fighting for a playoff spot. Beating Dallas again would shock the division leader and put WFT squarely into the NFC Wild Card race.

Unfortunately, injuries have quickly become an issue for Washington and it'll cost them this game and cover. Dallas can't afford to drop this game after getting back on track last week against New Orleans. Look for the Cowboys' defense to sharply attack Washington's banged-up offense and take advantage.

Pick: Cowboys -4.5 (-110)

New Orleans Saints at New York Jets 

Storyline: Will either passing game have success?

There isn’t a more unwatchable game this week than this one.

The quarterback play between Zach Wilson and Taysom Hill is atrocious. Fortunately, the total is still intriguing enough for us to play it. 

It’s unlikely the Jets are able to get anything going offensively with Corey Davis out for the season. As hot as Elijah Moore has been, expecting him to carry the unit is unfair. The Saints will win comfortably in an ugly battle. 

Pick: Under 42.5 (-105)

Atlanta Falcons at Carolina Panthers 

Storyline: How do the Panthers manufacture an offense?

Panthers head coach Matt Rhule has impressively already fired two coordinators in less than two seasons in his position. By firing offensive coordinator Joe Brady, who had head coach interviews last offseason, Rhule put himself into a terrible position. The Panthers are desperate to find offensive production without a realistic solution to their limited personnel. 

Atlanta will take advantage of the Panthers’ disarray. At least the Falcons know who they are and how to operate with their issues, and that’s enough for me to fake the road underdogs to win outright. 

Pick: Falcons ML (+115)

Baltimore Ravens at Cleveland Browns 

Storyline: How can Ravens survive injury list?

I'm far from a believer in the Browns, but coming off a bye week, and another massive injury for the Ravens, the time is now for Cleveland to strike. Baker Mayfield and the Browns' offense should be the healthiest they've been in some time. Losing this game would be an absolute nail in their divisional aspirations.

Baltimore will need to show considerable offensive growth since their last 16-10 win just two weeks ago. They rely too much on Lamar Jackson's creativity, and his response has to be reckless with the ball. All the Browns must do is execute on the most basic level on offense in order to win. 

Pick: Browns -2.5 (-115)

New York Giants at Los Angeles Chargers 

Storyline: The Chargers' defense must dominate

With Jake Fromm set to start his first career game for the Giants, there are no excuses on the table for the Chargers. The expectation is to dominate even if several of their stars are banged up. The Chargers showed last week against Cincinnati they have the upside to beat any foe when they're focused.

The Giants will struggle with every aspect of this matchup. Their offense couldn't score even with Daniel Jones at the helm, let alone the noodle-armed Fromm. And their defense is poorly matched against the Chargers' pass-happy attack.

Pick: Chargers -10 (-105)

Detroit Lions at Denver Broncos 

Storyline: Does Detroit's secondary step up?

Even in their lone win, the Lions' defense has been carved up for a ton of yards. They simply cannot help but bend to an extreme degree. The Broncos' passing game has been stuck in the mud for the better part of two months, so this is the perfect time for Detroit's secondary to step up and limit an opponent to an inefficient day.

It's hard to believe Denver will play their best despite great showings against Dallas and the Chargers within the last month. They're so up-and-down and fatally flawed in the wrong positions to believe they'll fail to cover at home.

Pick: Lions +8.5 (-110)

San Francisco 49ers at Cincinnati Bengals 

Storyline: Which injured stars play for the Bengals?

The Bengals truly seem to be a cursed franchise. They're still positioned to make a playoff push but their margin for error is nil. Hosting San Francisco would be winnable, but stars Joe Burrow, Joe Mixon, and Tee Higgins are all questionable to play.

Grab the 49ers as fast as you can to ensure you don't miss this line. It's already moved four points from Bengals -2.5 to 49ers -1.5 since the injury report came out. There's no way the Bengals can win if even Burrow is severely limited with his gruesome finger injury.

Pick: 49ers -1.5 (-110)

Buffalo Bills at Tampa Bay Buccaneers 

Storyline: Can the Bucs replicate Pats' ground success?

The Bills were embarrassed by the more physical and disciplined Patriots this past Monday night. Now Buffalo must stop their skid before the Dolphins threaten to overtake them in the AFC East. But they're doing it against a terrific Buccaneers' team who can largely replicate the Patriots' attack.

The key difference is Tampa Bay's secondary is far less reliable due to injuries, and their passing game is far better than the Patriots'. I expect Buffalo to be competitive but to fall short as the Bucs ram Leonard Fournette down their throats for four quarters. This is the game of the day.

Pick: Buccaneers -3.5 (+100)

Chicago Bears at Green Bay Packers 

Storyline: Is there anything Bears can do to compete?

The best thing I can say about the Bears at this point is they'll benefit from Justin Fields returning to the lineup this week. Their unfortunate season wasted some talented players, but they're a non-functional team with this coaching staff and limitations on both sides of the ball. They're merely biding their time until the staff is cleaned out.

Giving Green Bay 12.5 is a lot of points, and I'd rather play the total. I don't see the Bears being able to score multiple times, meaning this should end in a 28-6 type of game. 

Pick: Under 43 (-105)

Los Angeles Rams at Arizona Cardinals 

Storyline: Which Rams' defense shows?

Arizona appears fully healthy finally, and the Rams are desperately hoping the Cardinals aren't prepared to smack them down once again. The Rams have seen uneven play on both sides of the ball despite their immense stardom, and it's hard to know which version of the Rams will show. Anything less than a sharp, impactful defense will give Kyler Murray too many windows to make big plays.

I think Arizona, with three wins in four games despite constant change in availability of stars, can piece together a huge home win. The Rams' lack of quality linebacker depth and consistent safety play will really show against Murray, just like it did their last matchup. Arizona will win and cover.

Pick: Cardinals -2 (-110)

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