Week 14 of the NFL season brings plenty of intriguing matchups. Some teams are fighting for position within a division, some for the chance of a playoff berth and others to play spoiler to a superior opponent. Whatever the motive may be for each NFL team, they all have something to play for.
Not all games go as planned as far as oddsmakers are concerned. Each week there are a number of teams that enter as underdogs and leave victorious.
This week will not be any different. There are several teams that are poised to defy the odds and come away with a win—even though they're not supposed to. Let's take a look at three teams that fall under this umbrella, followed by a full list of predictions.
Oakland Raiders (+2.5) at New York Jets
Don't look now, but the Raiders are starting to resemble a decent football team once again. Rookie quarterback Matt McGloin is playing better than expected, and the Raiders offense has begun to take shape.
McGloin showed that he has nice control over his deep ball and was able to hook up with little-known wide receiver Andre Holmes seven times for 136 yards on Thanksgiving Day against the Dallas Cowboys. McGloin has now thrown for 799 yards, four touchdowns and two interceptions for a passer rating of 84.6 in four games this season.
The Raiders face a lackluster Jets pass defense that is ranked 25th in the league, giving up 256.8 passing yards per game.
On the other hand, the Jets offense is reeling. Quarterback Geno Smith was benched in the second half of the Jets' Week 13 contest against the Miami Dolphins after completing four of 10 passes for 29 yards and an interception for an 8.3 passer rating.
The good news for the Raiders is that Smith is slated to start once again this week.
Oakland should be able to travel east and leave with a win.
Carolina Panthers (+3.5) at New Orleans Saints
The Saints are coming off of a terrible showing against the Seattle Seahawks on Monday Night Football after losing by a score of 34-7. Seattle is a difficult environment to play in, but it was the Seahawks defense that picked apart the high-powered offense of New Orleans.
The Seahawks may be the NFL's top defense, allowing only 284.5 yards per game, but the Panthers are right behind them, as they are ranked second while only letting up an average of 289.8 yards per game.
Not only do the Panthers allow very little yardage, but they are the NFL's top-ranked scoring defense, allowing just 13.1 points per game.
To make matters even worse for Drew Brees and Co., Carolina is second in the league with 39 sacks on the season. One of the reasons why the Saints offense struggled against Seattle was the pressure applied to Brees. It could be argued that the Panthers' pass rush is even better than Seattle's.
On offense, Cam Newton has been resurgent over the Panthers' eight-game winning streak. Over that span, Newton has tossed 13 touchdown passes against just six interceptions and has added five rushing touchdowns.
Like the Seahawks, the Panthers are one of the most balanced teams in the league, and the Saints could falter for the second straight week.
Buffalo Bills (+2.5) at Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Despite losing a shootout to the Atlanta Falcons in Week 13, the Bills found their offense once again.
Led by electrifying running back C.J. Spiller and reliable veteran Fred Jackson, the Bills were able to find balance in their offense and control the game against Atlanta.
Spiller finally looked healthy and rushed 149 yards and a touchdown on just 15 carries—that's good enough for an average of 9.9 yards per carry. Jackson was reliable as a rusher and a receiver, scoring a touchdown on the ground and another through the air.
The Bills accumulated a total of 195 yards on the ground. The resurgent running game allowed rookie quarterback E.J. Manuel to find rhythm as a passer. Manuel completed 18 of 32 passes for 210 yards, one touchdown and zero interceptions for a passer rating of 86.7.
Meanwhile, the Tampa Bay offense has come back down to earth. Quarterback Mike Glennon has a stretch of a couple nice games, but last week he showed once again that he is still just a rookie, throwing for just 180 yards, zero touchdowns and one interception for a passer rating of 73.5.
It certainly did not help Glennon that the Buccaneers could not get their running game going. Bobby Rainey averaged just 3.8 yards per carry after rushing 17 times for just 63 yards.
Tampa Bay only gained 206 yards of offense and scored six points. Its defense did not fare any better, giving up 426 yards of offense and allowing 27 points.
Things are looking up for Buffalo as it is getting this Buccaneers team at the perfect time.
Here's a look at the rest of the Week 14 action along with picks against the spread:
|Week 14 Picks Against the Spread|
|Houston Texans||Jacksonville Jaguars||Jaguars +3|
|Minnesota Vikings||Baltimore Ravens||Ravens -7|
|Cleveland Browns||New England Patriots||Patriots -11.5|
|Indianapolis Colts||Cincinnati Bengals||Bengals -5.5|
|Detroit Lions||Philadelphia Eagles||Eagles -2.5|
|Atlanta Falcons||Green Bay Packers||Falcons (PK)|
|Kansas City Chiefs||Washington Redskins||Chiefs -3.5|
|Miami Dolphins||Pittsburgh Steelers||Steelers -3|
|Tennessee Titans||Denver Broncos||Broncos -12|
|New York Giants||San Diego Chargers||Chargers -3|
|Seattle Seahawks||San Francisco 49ers||Seahawks +3|
|St. Louis Rams||Arizona Cardinals||Rams +6|
|Dallas Cowboys||Chicago Bears||Cowboys -1.5|
|Odds via VegasInsider.com|
All game lines courtesy of VegasInsider.com.