NFL Week 14 Picks: Emerging Contenders That Will Notch Key Victories

Matt Fitzgerald@@MattFitz_geraldCorrespondent IIIDecember 3, 2013

PHILADELPHIA, PA - DECEMBER 1: Head coach Chip Kelly of the Philadelphia Eagles looks on in the fourth quarter during a game at Lincoln Financial Field on December 1, 2013 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The Eagles defeated the Cardinals 24-21. (Photo by Rich Schultz /Getty Images)
Rich Schultz/Getty Images

Several of the NFL's playoff contenders managed to maintain their recent momentum and are entering Week 14 with a big boost, seeking to continue forging their paths to the postseason with victories.

The wild-card standings in both conferences are log-jammed with talented teams, causing an inevitable increase in the stakes of every game for the remainder of the 2013 campaign.

However, a few in particular will find a way to triumph on Sunday, whether it be fending against a letdown or fighting off a formidable foe.

Before an overview of picks for every contest, here is a look at some of the emerging clubs that will be even more dangerous when they each notch critical wins in Week 14.

Philadelphia Eagles (7-5) over Detroit Lions (7-5)

Dec 1, 2013; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Nick Foles (9) looks to pass during the fourth quarter against the Arizona Cardinals at Lincoln Financial Field. The Eagles defeated the Cardinals 24-21. Mandatory Credit: Howard Smith-US
Howard Smith-USA TODAY Sports

Well, it's almost impossible to call what Nick Foles is doing a fluke—even if he just hit the 16 career starts mark, which amounts to one full NFL season.

In nine games in 2013, last year's third-round pick is averaging a whopping 9.14 yards per attempt and has thrown 19 touchdowns with zero interceptions. So Foles isn't checking it down every play. Quite the opposite.

That's why this matchup is so tantalizing. The Eagles are tied atop the NFC East with the Dallas Cowboys, who hold the head-to-head tiebreaker before Foles really came into his own.

Detroit is coming off a Thanksgiving trouncing of the Green Bay Packers to ascend to the top of the NFC North, but this road trip will be a massive test.

Matthew Stafford has arguably the most raw arm talent in the NFL, and his top receiver Calvin Johnson is one of the most freakish athletes in the history of the game. Considering both these secondaries are suspect, this could very well turn into a shootout.

In this situation, the edge has to go to the home team. Foles has been flawless, while Stafford has thrown six picks in the past two games. Plus, the Eagles have the edge in the backfield with LeSean McCoy.

Even against the league's third-ranked rush defense, McCoy and Foles should complement each other well, resulting in solid, winning production.

Prediction: Eagles 41, Lions 34

Baltimore Ravens (6-6) over Minnesota Vikings (3-8-1)

BALTIMORE, MD - NOVEMBER 24: Outside linebacker Terrell Suggs #55 of the Baltimore Ravens takes the field before the start of the Ravens and New York Jets game at M&T Bank Stadium on November 24, 2013 in Baltimore, Maryland.  (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Imag
Rob Carr/Getty Images

Beating the Pittsburgh Steelers in the AFC North last Thursday had to feel good for the defending Super Bowl champions, who have won three of their last four and not lost by more than six points since Week 1.

That's especially impressive considering the running game has been stagnant, the defense is filled with new faces and Joe Flacco isn't playing like a $120.6 million quarterback.

Flacco has already logged a career-high 14 interceptions, but was efficient against the vaunted Steelers and made enough plays for the Ravens to win.'s Jamison Hensley points out a silver lining for Flacco's outlook entering Week 14, too:

Now Baltimore has to focus on stopping Vikings superstar running back Adrian Peterson. What will help is that Minnesota doesn't have a viable QB and won't until 2014.

The Ravens are also tied for fifth in the league with 37 sacks this season, which means they will be able to generate pressure with Terrell Suggs (nine sacks) and Co.

No one gives up more points than the Vikings, so this should be a rather easy victory for the Ravens in M&T Bank Stadium, even with a stellar performance from Peterson.

Prediction: Ravens 26, Vikings 14

Carolina Panthers (9-3) over New Orleans Saints (9-3)

CHARLOTTE, NC - DECEMBER 01:  Cam Newton #1 of the Carolina Panthers celebrates after running for a touchdown against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers during their game at Bank of America Stadium on December 1, 2013 in Charlotte, North Carolina.  (Photo by Street
Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

As amazing as Carolina's defense has been playing, a lot of credit needs to go to 2011 No. 1 overall pick Cam Newton.

The third-year signal-caller has been stupendous, morphing himself to another level in 2013 and becoming arguably the truest dual-threat quarterback the NFL has ever seen based on his touchdown production:

It's going to be tough for Drew Brees and the Saints to bounce back from a demoralizing 34-7 loss at Seattle on Monday night—even at home in the Superdome. New Orleans couldn't establish the run on the Seahawks and shouldn't find much success in doing so against the league's No. 2 rush defense.

This is a battle for supremacy and a head-to-head tiebreaker in the NFC South division.

Brees should rally his offense and put on a far better performance than the meager 147 yards he threw for in Week 13, but it won't be enough.

With the physicality Carolina can bring to the ground in Newton, and the human wrecking ball Mike Tolbert, New Orleans is going to be outfought in the trenches and be beaten decisively for the second straight game.

Prediction: Panthers 31, Saints 20

Complete Week 14 NFL Picks
Away TeamHome TeamWinner
Houston TexansJacksonville JaguarsJaguars
Indianapolis ColtsCincinnati BengalsBengals
Atlanta FalconsGreen Bay PackersPackers
Cleveland BrownsNew England PatriotsPatriots
Oakland RaidersNew York JetsRaiders
Detroit LionsPhiladelphia EaglesEagles
Miami DolphinsPittsburgh SteelersSteelers
Buffalo BillsTampa Bay BuccaneersBills
Kansas City ChiefsWashington RedskinsChiefs
Minnesota VikingsBaltimore RavensRavens
Tennessee TitansDenver BroncosBroncos
St. Louis RamsArizona CardinalsCardinals
New York GiantsSan Diego ChargersGiants
Seattle SeahawksSan Francisco 49ersSeahawks
Carolina PanthersNew Orleans SaintsPanthers
Dallas CowboysChicago BearsBears
Picks are strictly opinion


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