NFL Predictions Week 14: Upset Picks and Projections

Chris Roling@@Chris_RolingFeatured ColumnistDecember 5, 2018

Cleveland Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield (6) throws against the Houston Texans during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Dec. 2, 2018, in Houston. (AP Photo/Eric Christian Smith)
Eric Christian Smith/Associated Press

Welcome to the land of the upsets. 

Entering NFL Week 14, the days before it started featured some of the biggest upsets fans will see all year. In fact, one was so bad, the Green Bay Packers ended up firing head coach Mike McCarthy after a home loss to the lowly Arizona Cardinals.  

The marquee upset of Week 13 helped to overshadow other notables like the New York Giants taking down the Chicago Bears and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers knocking off the reeling Carolina Panthers.  

In other words, would-be bettors should feel comfortable rolling with underdogs for bigger payouts if the lines permit. They do, especially in the middle of the week. 

        

Week 14 NFL Odds

Jacksonville at Tennessee (-4.5) | O/U 37.5

Atlanta at Green Bay (-6) | O/U 48.5

Baltimore at Kansas City (-7) | O/U 53

Carolina (-1.5) at Cleveland | O/U n/a

Indianapolis at Houston (-5) | O/U 48.5

New England (-8) at Miami | O/U 47

New Orleans (-8) at Tampa Bay | O/U 56

N.Y. Giants at Washington (-1) | O/U n/a

N.Y. Jets at Buffalo (-3.5) | O/U n/a

Cincinnati at L.A. Chargers (-14) | O/U 48.5

Denver (-6) at San Francisco | O/U 43.5

Pittsburgh (-11.5) at Oakland | O/U 51.5

Detroit (-2.5) at Arizona | O/U 40.5

Philadelphia at Dallas (-3.5) | O/U n/a

L.A. Rams (-3) at Chicago | O/U 52.5

Minnesota at Seattle (-3.5) | O/U 45

          

Carolina (-1.5) at Cleveland

Eric Christian Smith/Associated Press

The Panthers were described as "reeling" above for good reason. 

Losers of four in a row, there isn't any way to feel confident the Panthers can go to Cleveland and steal a win over the Browns. Playing five-win Tampa Bay in Week 13 seemed simple enough as well until Cam Newton tossed four interceptions and his defense let up 444 total yards. 

Newton has hit a cold stretch now, throwing an interception in four consecutive games before the four-pick affair. Ditto for his defense, which had looked borderline elite before a 52-point allowance against Pittsburgh started this recent downward trend four weeks ago. 

The Browns have at least been competitive over their last three, winning two before going to Houston and understandably getting smacked around by a superb Texans squad. The biggest reason is rookie quarterback Baker Mayfield, who has thrown multiple touchdowns in five of his last six games. 

Thanks to Mayfield's skill set, the Browns have taken a leap in a critical area: 

Mayfield has the sheer talent to exploit a struggling Panthers defense, and he's backed by a coaching staff actually using the strong rushing attack present on the roster, which makes things even more dynamic. 

With the Panthers facing a free fall and likely looking ahead to three consecutive NFC South games to close the season, they look like a team about to get upset again, this time as they head to a cold, hostile environment against an opponent that will hit them in the mouth as soon as possible. 

Prediction: Browns 24, Panthers 17

       

Detroit (-2.5) at Arizona

Jeffrey Phelps/Associated Press

Can the Arizona Cardinals make it two in a row?  

The best answer might be "why not?" given the teams involved. 

Nobody expected the Cardinals to go to Green Bay in the cold and take down the Packers, especially not after being on the road the week prior and getting whipped 45-10 by the Los Angeles Chargers. 

Rookie Josh Rosen didn't light it up at Lambeau Field, but he leaned into a Cardinals rushing game that tallied 182 yards and two touchdowns on a 6.3-per carry average. 

The Lions cough up 119.8 rushing yards per game and 26.3 points. Detroit's defense allowing 23 or more points in five of their last six games would explain why the team has lost in those five contests to fall to 4-8. 

Matthew Stafford simply hasn't able to compensate this year with 18 touchdowns and 11 interceptions, and his front office didn't help him by trading away a talent like Golden Tate.

As such, Stafford has even lost his ability to pull off his usual late-game heroics: 

While the Lions feel like a team simply throwing in the towel on a season, the Cardinals are starting to feel like a team rallying around a young core (and ruining superb draft position). 

This should show in Week 14, as the Cardinals shouldn't have any problems controlling the game on the ground at home and likewise controlling a timid Stafford, who isn't uplifting the typically average talent around him. 

Prediction: Cardinals 27, Lions 17

       

Philadelphia at Dallas (-3.5)

Michael Perez/Associated Press

The top of the NFC East is starting to hit its stride. 

The Dallas Cowboys have won four in a row, including wins over two division rivals and a shocking 13-10 win over the 10-win New Orleans Saints. But the Philadelphia Eagles seem to be catching fire at the right time as well, having won two in a row over divisional rivals. 

It all comes down to Week 14, where the Eagles will visit the Cowboys—and the locale happens to play a big role in how things figure to go: 

The Cowboys keep rolling offensively for the most part after the addition of Amari Cooper, who has 75 or more yards in three of his last four outings. But the 13-10 win over the Saints was actually a little concerning considering it came at home and New Orleans ranks 30th against the pass this year.

Thursday games tend to favor the home team as well, so it's something to keep in mind when putting so much of an emphasis on the win there. 

One of the key facets of Philadelphia's season is starting to heat up as well. Carson Wentz has looked solid almost without exception since returning and now has a weapon like Tate finally starting to fit and produce. Last time out, Wentz and Tate connected for 85 yards and a score in a win over Washington. 

With Wentz adding another weapon through the air and the Eagles defense only allowing 22.2 points per game on top of knowing the Cowboys all too well, an upset here isn't hard to see coming. Wentz should have a huge day as the Cowboys offense comes back down to Earth in a way most will notice this time. 

Prediction: Eagles 24, Cowboys 21

      

Odds via OddsShark    

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