Bleacher Report's Expert Consensus Week 14 NFL Picks
The 2018 NFL regular season is officially entering its fourth quarter this week, and the first three quarters were...weird.
Imagine if we told you prior to the season that the Green Bay Packers would have four wins in the second week of December even though Aaron Rodgers hasn't missed a single start.
Imagine if we told you only four teams would have worse records than the Jacksonville Jaguars entering Week 14, and that one of those teams would be the strongly hyped San Francisco 49ers.
Imagine if we told you a Denver Broncos rookie would be leading the AFC in rushing, and that said rookie would be undrafted free agent Phillip Lindsay and not promising third-round pick Royce Freeman.
The Indianapolis Colts and Seattle Seahawks are good, despite all of the pre-2018 shaming. The Jaguars, 49ers, New York Giants and Atlanta Falcons are bad, despite all of the pre-2018 hoopla.
A guy who had one career start prior to this season is on pace to make a run at Peyton Manning's single-season record for touchdown passes, while an undrafted Vikings receiver is on pace to become only the fourth player in NFL history with 130 catches in a season.
Khalil Mack plays for the first-place Chicago Bears, while Golden Tate plays for the currently-out-of-a-playoff-spot defending champion Philadelphia Eagles. Demaryius Thomas plays for the suddenly unbeatable Houston Texans, and reigning rushing champion Kareem Hunt doesn't play for anybody.
It's been a wildly unpredictable season, and Bleacher Report's NFL experts have felt that. Gary Davenport, Brad Gagnon and Brent Sobleski are a combined 277-281-18 picking every game against the spread this season.
Individually and as a crew, here's where our predictors stand through 13 weeks (last week's records in parentheses):
1. Gary Davenport: 101-85-6 (9-7)
2. Brent Sobleski: 89-97-6 (8-8)
3. Brad Gagnon: 87-99-6 (9-7)
Consensus picks: 91-95-6 (8-8)
Here are 16 fresh kicks at the can.
Lines based on consensuses at OddsShark as of Wednesday.
Jacksonville Jaguars (4-8) at Tennessee Titans (6-6)
Based on the Wednesday lines utilized in this weekly exercise, home teams are 12-3 straight up and against the spread in Thursday games this season. The Dallas Cowboys put an exclamation mark on that statistic with an impressive Thursday Night Football upset over the New Orleans Saints a week ago.
But the Saints were only the second favorite to fail to cover in 15 Thursday games, which is why the Tennessee Titans are too tempting to pass up while laying 4.5 points at home against the division rival Jacksonville Jaguars to kick off Week 14.
All three of our analysts are willing to lay down those points, despite the fact they erred in doing so when these same Jags were getting a similar number of points (four on the dot) against the Indianapolis Colts in Week 13.
"The Colts let a lot of folks down by losing to the slumping Jaguars as a four-point favorite last week, but this feels different," Gagnon said. "While the Jags clearly haven't abandoned ship on defense following a shutout victory, a half-week turnaround for a road game against a strong home team is much less ideal."
Tennessee hasn't been consistent this season, but it is 4-1 at home with victories over the Houston Texans, Philadelphia Eagles and New England Patriots. The Titans beat the Jags on the road earlier this season, and they've won four consecutive home games against a Jacksonville team that hasn't won on the road since Week 1.
You might prefer a three-point spread, but the Titans still look like the pick here.
Davenport: Tennessee (-4)
Gagnon: Tennessee (-4)
Sobleski: Tennessee (-4)
Consensus: Tennessee (-4)
Score Prediction: Tennessee 23, Jacksonville 16
Baltimore Ravens (7-5) at Kansas City Chiefs (10-2)
Without veteran quarterback Joe Flacco, the Baltimore Ravens have won three consecutive games, with the latter two victories coming by double-digit margins and the latest coming on the road.
But their opponents in those games are a combined 11-25 this season, which is why the majority of our experts fear the clock will strike midnight on Lamar Jackson against the 10-2 Kansas City Chiefs at intimidating Arrowhead Stadium on Sunday.
The key there might be that an opening line of 8.5 has dropped below the all-important plateau of seven to 6.5.
"I wanted to take the Ravens here," Davenport said. "I initially did. The Baltimore defense is no joke—the Ravens are more than capable of taking away Kansas City's ground game after the Chiefs lost Kareem Hunt. And I think Lamar Jackson will give a leaky Chiefs defense fits—to a point. But the Chiefs are playing at home, and while that defense is leaky, it's also opportunistic—it's tied for ninth in the NFL with 20 takeaways. As dynamic as Jackson has been, he's made mistakes with the ball—mistakes the Ravens can't afford here. Once the line dropped below a touchdown, I had to flip."
But the crew lacks unanimity here. Gagnon is perturbed that the Chiefs are now laying less than a touchdown, but he has concerns about the makeup of the Chiefs following Hunt's release. He believes in a Baltimore defense that has "allowed 17 or fewer points in an NFL-best seven of their 12 games, with two of those coming in each of the last two weeks."
For what it's worth, those among this group who pick against the majority as lone wolves are 51-47-1 this season. Gagnon was 4-1 in those situations last week.
Davenport: Kansas City (-6.5)
Gagnon: Baltimore (+6.5)
Sobleski: Kansas City (-6.5)
Consensus: Kansas City (-6.5)
Score Prediction: Kansas City 31, Baltimore 23
Indianapolis Colts (6-6) at Houston Texans (9-3)
Gary Davenport believes the Houston Texans are the Rodney Dangerfield of the AFC.
"What exactly do the Texans have to do to get some respect?" asked Bleacher Report's picks leader while defending his decision to veer from his peers and lay 4.5 points with the Texans hosting the Indianapolis Colts. "They have peeled off nine straight wins and are legitimately in the mix for a first-round playoff bye given a favorable schedule down the stretch.
"The Texans are 6-2-1 ATS over their winning streak and have outscored opponents by an average of 16.5 points over the first two weeks of this three-game homestand. I get that the Colts aren't as bad as last week's shutout would suggest, but here's a news flash—this Houston team is playing really well."
Gagnon has a direct response to Davenport's question.
"Beat a quality opponent in convincing fashion," he said. "That's something I haven't seen yet from the Texans. And while I won't hold them responsible for their league-assigned schedule, they've cut it extremely close during this streak against the injury-ravaged Washington Redskins as well as the Denver Broncos, Buffalo Bills, Dallas Cowboys and the Colts.
"This streak started with an overtime victory in Indianapolis that only happened because Frank Reich basically handed it to them in overtime, and that was before the Colts really took off. Indy's high-powered offense should bounce back from a Week 13 anomaly in Jacksonville, and the Colts should at least keep this within a field goal in a must-win situation."
Sobleski agrees, which is why the consensus is taking the points in a game that should be close. Still, you might want to limit yourself to friendly bets on this one.
Davenport: Houston (-4.5)
Gagnon: Indianapolis (+4.5)
Sobleski: Indianapolis (+4.5)
Consensus: Indianapolis (+4.5)
Score Prediction: Houston 26, Indianapolis 24
Atlanta Falcons (4-8) at Green Bay Packers (4-7-1)
Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers is a fiery player who clearly wasn't satisfied with the state of his offense in the latter stages of Mike McCarthy's reign. Wanna bet Rodgers will be fired up and ready to make a statement sans McCarthy on Sunday against a bad Atlanta Falcons defense at Lambeau Field?
That's the way the majority of our experts are leaning, with Gagnon and Sobleski willing to lay five points with a Green Bay team that is coming off a home loss to the Arizona freakin' Cardinals.
"One of two things usually happens upon a head coach's midseason firing," Sobleski said. "Either the team receives a short-term boost by playing hard for the interim coach, or it begins to fall apart. It looks like the B/R team believes the former will occur. McCarthy proved to be a hindrance in regards to play-calling this season, while Joe Philbin has the experience to maximize Rodgers through the final four games."
Once again, Davenport is the voice of dissent. But he isn't happy about it.
"I hate this pick with every fiber of my being," he said. "The Falcons are not good. They have crapped the bed every bit as badly as the Packers. Maybe worse. Atlanta hasn't scored 20 points since they blew out the Redskins in Week 9. Falcons offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian should be a dead man walking. But I can't do it. I can't lay five points—even in the cold—for a team that just lost at Lambeau Field to a Cardinals team whose last win in that building came when Harry Truman was president."
Rodgers hasn't lost home games in back-to-back weeks since 2008, and the Falcons offense has been abysmal in four of their five road games. With that in mind, it's not hard to imagine Green Bay clearing that five-point hurdle.
Davenport: Atlanta (+5)
Gagnon: Green Bay (-5)
Sobleski: Green Bay (-5)
Consensus: Green Bay (-5)
Score Prediction: Green Bay 30, Atlanta 21
New York Jets (3-9) at Buffalo Bills (4-8)
It's been nearly a calendar year since the Buffalo Bills last won a home game by more than a field goal, but our analysts are so down on Buffalo's Week 14 opponent, the New York Jets, that they're willing to give up a field goal along with a hook while siding with Buffalo unanimously.
"This pick has less to do with the Bills and more to do with the struggling Jets," Sobleski said. "New York is riding a league-worst six-game losing streak, and it's only a matter of time before major organizational changes are underway. Buffalo, meanwhile, finally showed some life on offense the last few weeks, with Josh Allen leading the way. Plus, it's hard to forget the Bills' 41-10 drubbing of their rival just a month ago."
That drubbing came in New Jersey and without Allen, who has rushed for 234 yards in two games since he returned from an elbow injury. The once-impotent Buffalo offense produced a total of 742 yards in those outings, and life should be even easier Sunday against a Jets defense that has only one takeaway since Week 6.
"Gang Green looked like a team that had given up on its coach far before that Week 13 collapse against Tennessee," Gagnon said. "But that meltdown is probably the cherry on top. Josh McCown has been unbelievably bad, but I'm not sure a less-than-100-percent Sam Darnold would be any better against a Buffalo pass D that ranks third in the NFL in terms of DVOA (Defense-adjusted Value Over Average) at Football Outsiders."
The Bills often either get blown out (they have six double-digit losses) or they blow you out (they have two cake-walk road victories). There's a good chance we wind up with the latter Sunday in Orchard Park.
Davenport: Buffalo (-3.5)
Gagnon: Buffalo (-3.5)
Sobleski: Buffalo (-3.5)
Consensus: Buffalo (-3.5)
Score Prediction: Buffalo 27, New York 14
New York Giants (4-8) at Washington Redskins (6-6)
All three of our panelists are siding with New York's other New Jersey-based team, despite another hook in play with the New York Giants laying 3.5 points on the road against the Washington Redskins.
"This is once again an indictment on the underdog more so than a show of support for the favorite," Gagnon said. "Washington is an absolute mess, and that 28-13 Monday night loss to the Philadelphia Eagles would have been a lot worse had Philly not come away with zero points on two separate possessions inside the Washington five-yard line. Now one of the most injury-riddled teams in football is down to a third-string quarterback and traveling on short rest, hoping to end a three-game losing streak against a sneaky-talented Giants squad that has nothing to lose. It's a recipe for disaster."
Whether or not this unanimous pick is about the Giants, it's also fair to consider that Big Blue has won three of four games coming out of their Week 9 bye, and they arguably outplayed the Eagles on the road in their only loss. They have a plus-seven turnover differential during that run, and that Saquon Barkley-Odell Beckham Jr. offensive duo is finding a groove.
It's too little, too late, but the Giants aren't as bad as their record suggests. You'd prefer to give up a field goal or less in a divisional game like this, but New York should be the pick regardless.
Davenport: New York (-3.5)
Gagnon: New York (-3.5)
Sobleski: New York (-3.5)
Consensus: New York (-3.5)
Score Prediction: New York 24, Washington 16
New Orleans Saints (10-2) at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (5-7)
Both the New Orleans Saints and Tampa Bay Buccaneers are coming off somewhat out-of-character experiences, with the Saints scoring a season-low 10 points in a shocking loss to the Cowboys and the Bucs recording more interceptions (four) than they had in their first 11 games combined (three) in a smooth victory over the talented Carolina Panthers.
But as Nate Silver of FiveThirtyEight says, "you should usually bet on mean-reversion." That's exactly what our analysts are doing by backing the Saints despite an eight-point line in their favor.
"We have a much larger sample showing the Bucs are a mistake-plagued train wreck with defensive liabilities than the one that looked respectable against slumping Carolina and forgotten San Francisco," Gagnon said. "And we have a way bigger sample showing the Saints are a Super Bowl-caliber bulldozer than the one that struggled offensively in an aberrational short-rest road loss to the surging Cowboys."
The Buccaneers did beat the Saints in the Bayou in September, but that was a far different time. New Orleans has been known to stumble out of the gate, and Fitzmagic is no longer a thing. Plus, the New Orleans defense has gotten progressively better since that Week 1 mess, having surrendered a league-low (by a wide margin) 12.7 points per game since Week 10.
This is a correction game. And while giving up more than a touchdown with a road team in a divisional game is scary, it's the right strategy if you're jumping in one way or the other.
Davenport: New Orleans (-8)
Gagnon: New Orleans (-8)
Sobleski: New Orleans (-8)
Consensus: New Orleans (-8)
Score Prediction: New Orleans 34, Tampa Bay 21
New England Patriots (9-3) at Miami Dolphins (6-6)
The New England Patriots have lost four of their last five road games against the Miami Dolphins, with three of those losses coming by at least seven points and the other coming by more than a field goal. But that isn't stopping the majority of our analysts from predicting that the Pats will beat Miami by at least eight points Sunday in South Florida.
"That the Dolphins have six wins somehow is a mystery on par with what's in a McRib sandwich and why people watch The Big Bang Theory," Davenport said. "But Miami's smoke-and-mirrors bizarro-world shtick didn't affect the Pats the last time these teams met—New England destroyed Miami 38-7 in Week 4. That was a 1-2 Patriots team trying to right the ship. This is a 9-3 team that's gotten healthy and wants to take the wild-card round off. The Dolphins had 175 yards of total offense last week against the Bills. They're laying only eight points against the Pats? I might lay 18 here."
But Gagnon isn't on board, possibly because the Dolphins outplayed the Patriots without quarterback Ryan Tannehill in their most recent meeting in the Sunshine State, but also because the Pats haven't been trouncing opponents. Recently, they held a mere seven-point lead over the Jets until midway through the fourth quarter, they were tied with both the Vikings and Packers at home until deep into the second half, and the Titans blew them out on the road.
They haven't crushed a team wire-to-wire since October, and the backdoor could be wide open with that hook on top of a touchdown spread. But the alternative argument is that the Pats are due for a big win as they gain their typical December steam, while the Dolphins appear to be out of gas on offense.
That's the side our consensus is on.
Davenport: New England (-7.5)
Gagnon: Miami (+7.5)
Sobleski: New England (-7.5)
Consensus: New England (-7.5)
Score Prediction: New England 28, Miami 17
Carolina Panthers (6-6) at Cleveland Browns (4-7-1)
Are the Carolina Panthers toast?
It's starting to look that way for a team that has lost four consecutive games as well as its star tight end and two assistant coaches/scapegoats. That's why all three of our panelists are behind the Cleveland Browns as 1.5-point underdogs.
"A clean sweep in the Browns favor is intriguing," Sobleski said. "It certainly isn't a result of the spread since Cleveland has only a 1.5-point advantage for a home game. However, these teams are heading in opposite directions. The Panthers have lost four in a row, which caused head coach Ron Rivera to shake up the staff this week. The Browns are coming off a loss as well, but they performed well in the second half against the Texans, and quarterback Baker Mayfield appeared to have learned a lesson after throwing three first-half interceptions."
Mayfield was on a roll before running into Mt. Texan early in Week 13. But after tossing three first-half picks, the rookie No. 1 overall selection completed all but six of his 31 second-half passes for 351 yards along with a 124.6 passer rating.
He's now back at home against a team that is 1-5 on the road and a defense that has surrendered 30.8 points per game since the start of November.
Neither team is trustworthy, but you'd think the Browns would at least be giving up points in this spot.
Davenport: Cleveland (+1.5)
Gagnon: Cleveland (+1.5)
Sobleski: Cleveland (+1.5)
Consensus: Cleveland (+1.5)
Score Prediction: Cleveland 27, Carolina 21
Denver Broncos (6-6) at San Francisco 49ers (2-10)
The Denver Broncos won't have top cornerback Chris Harris Jr. or No. 1 wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders for Sunday's matchup with the San Francisco 49ers, but that isn't enough to convince our guys that struggling San Francisco can hang around while getting four points.
"In almost any other situation, I'd be terrified of the fact the Broncos are riding a high while dealing with new injuries to key players," Gagnon said. "That's the kind of thing that can kill your momentum, and Harris and Sanders are two of the most important cogs on that roster. And while I do think they'll miss both, I don't think their absences will matter much in San Francisco. The 49ers were just outscored 70-25 on a two-game road trip through Tampa and Seattle. They have nothing left. No takeaways since October, multiple turnovers in each of their last three games and too many injuries to keep track of."
Sure, it'll be easier to defend a Denver offense missing Sanders, but Seattle running backs Chris Carson and Rashaad Penny gashed San Francisco's run defense in Week 13. This week, the Niners have to deal with one of the league's hottest backs in Phillip Lindsay. And 49ers third-string quarterback Nick Mullens might not have the ability to take advantage of Harris' absence while dealing with a strong Broncos front seven.
The good news for Broncos bettors who remain confident is that the Sanders injury caused the line to drop by more than a point at most sportsbooks Wednesday.
Davenport: Denver (-4)
Gagnon: Denver (-4)
Sobleski: Denver (-4)
Consensus: Denver (-4)
Score Prediction: Denver 27, San Francisco 20
Cincinnati Bengals (5-7) at Los Angeles Chargers (9-3)
If the depleted Cincinnati Bengals can't keep up with the Browns or Broncos at home, how in the world are they going to hang around with the loaded Los Angeles Chargers on the road?
They aren't, at least according to our trio of analysts.
"The Bengals have lost each of their last two contests by two touchdowns or more," Sobleski said. "When Cincinnati faced two of the league's elite teams, New Orleans and Kansas City, it lost by an average of 36 points. The Chargers are among the league's best, and the Bengals don't have the firepower to compete with a top-five offense."
How could they? They're without quarterback Andy Dalton and top receiver A.J. Green, while left tackle Cordy Glenn has also been sidelined by a back injury. As a result, they had only 30 points and five turnovers during that two-game homestand, while their 32nd-ranked defense continued to get sliced apart.
They're also running into a buzzsaw Chargers team that features one of the league's hottest quarterbacks and a defense that has surrendered only 16.1 points per game since the start of October.
Add it all up and this looks like an obvious blowout, which is probably why the Bengals will win the damn game straight up.
Davenport: Los Angeles (-14)
Gagnon: Los Angeles (-14)
Sobleski: Los Angeles (-14)
Consensus: Los Angeles (-14)
Score Prediction: Los Angeles 34, Cincinnati 14
Detroit Lions (4-8) at Arizona Cardinals (3-9)
The Arizona Cardinals have lost an NFC-high six games by double-digit margins this season, but the Detroit Lions merely need to defeat 3-9 Arizona by a field goal to cover the point spread Sunday in Glendale.
Our experts don't understand why that line remains at 2.5, which is right where it opened.
"I've spent days waiting for this line to rise," Gagnon said, "but bettors have seemingly lost faith in the Lions and/or have gained faith in the Cardinals. The former is fair, but the latter is silly. Arizona may have defeated a listless Packers team on the road last week, but a team like that isn't likely to provide a sequel to a surprising victory. That was an anomaly for a squad that lost its last home game to the Raiders and was crushed by 35 points at home against the Broncos in October.
"Josh Rosen is due to make some mistakes against a more opportunistic defense, and Matthew Stafford and Co. should take advantage of Arizona's lack of opportunism on that side of the ball. I'd take Detroit with a nine-point spread, but I won't complain about 2.5."
The Cardinals have only one takeaway since Week 7, while Rosen has completed fewer than 50 percent of his passes in the last three weeks. The Cards might be capable of pounding the Lions on the ground, but that isn't enough to compensate for bad matchups elsewhere.
Davenport: Detroit (-2.5)
Gagnon: Detroit (-2.5)
Sobleski: Detroit (-2.5)
Consensus: Detroit (-2.5)
Score Prediction: Detroit 23, Arizona 16
Philadelphia Eagles (6-6) at Dallas Cowboys (7-5)
Can the Dallas Cowboys sweep their season series with the Philadelphia Eagles for first time since 2012?
The majority of our analysts believe that Dallas will not only accomplish that feat, but also beat the Eagles by at least four points in Sunday's pivotal matchup between the NFC East rivals.
"The NFC East will basically be decided with Sunday's meeting between Dallas and Philadelphia," Sobleski said. "The Cowboys can build a two-game lead in the division with a victory, and they're positioned to do so at home while playing their best football of the season. Amari Cooper has been a huge boost overall and has worked to open up the offense, which can only help since the Eagles are missing their best cornerback and starting free safety as the team tries to hold its secondary together with bubble gum."
It won't be easy for Philly to contain Cooper and Ezekiel Elliott under those circumstances, which is partly why Sobleski and Davenport are willing to sacrifice three points and the hook. And it helps that Dallas is now 5-1 at home this season with impressive victories over the Saints and Jaguars.
But it's also fair to wonder if the defending Super Bowl champions are turning a corner following a big offensive performance against the Redskins. The Cowboys haven't been reliable the last few seasons, and wouldn't it be soooo NFC East for the Eagles to win this thing straight up?
Gagnon's at least willing to bet that they'll lose by a field goal or less, so we lack unanimity on this one.
Davenport: Dallas (-3.5)
Gagnon: Philadelphia (+3.5)
Sobleski: Dallas (-3.5)
Consensus: Dallas (-3.5)
Score Prediction: Dallas 26, Philadelphia 21
Pittsburgh Steelers (7-4-1) at Oakland Raiders (2-10)
The Oakland Raiders showed signs of life in a hard-fought Week 13 loss to the Chiefs, while the Pittsburgh Steelers have lost back-to-back games for the first time in two calendar years.
That has the majority of our crew believing that Oakland can at least avoid a blowout loss and cover a 10.5-point spread at home Sunday against the Steelers.
The key for Gagnon? Derek Carr.
"You can never count out the Raiders because they have themselves a damn good quarterback," he said. "Carr hasn't been the same since he suffered a broken leg back in 2016, but he's quietly performed well in recent weeks after a shaky start to this season. He hasn't thrown an interception since Week 5, and that might not change against a Steelers defense that has only six picks this year."
The Raiders haven't been winning, but Carr does have a triple-digit passer rating in his last six games. The Raiders have also put up several fights at home this season, while the Steelers could be out of their element on their first West Coast road trip since 2015.
Those trips aren't easy. The Steelers were a mistake-prone wreck when they traveled two time zones to play Denver in Week 12, and they haven't won a game on the West Coast by more than four points this century (they're 2-8 straight up in those affairs).
That isn't convincing Davenport, who understandably lacks trust in an Oakland team that has a league-high seven double-digit losses in 2018.
Davenport: Pittsburgh (-10.5)
Gagnon: Oakland (+10.5)
Sobleski: Oakland (+10.5)
Consensus: Oakland (+10.5)
Score Prediction: Pittsburgh 30, Oakland 23
Los Angeles Rams (11-1) at Chicago Bears (8-4)
Expectations have been high this season for the Los Angeles Rams, who are just 5-5-2 against the spread despite their 11-1 record. And that's after they cut it close but wound up covering with a late insurance touchdown last week in Detroit.
Now a team that had previously failed to cover in Seattle, Denver and New Orleans is laying only three points in a road matchup with the Chicago Bears.
The majority of our analysts are satisfied that the oddsmakers have made a correction and are siding with L.A. minus a field goal, but Davenport still considered that to be a tricky call.
"I understand the logic behind taking the home underdog smarting off last week's overtime loss to the Giants, especially if Mitchell Trubisky can get back in there at quarterback for the Bears," he said. "But Trubisky's availability is by no means assured, and while the Bears are a great defensive team, they also just lost to the then-three-win G-Men. The weather in Chicago might be worse than what the Rams are used to, but it won't be enough to keep a Rams team with its eye on the No. 1 seed from covering here."
Trubisky was a full participant in Wednesday's practice, and he should be good to go for a team that would be 6-0 at home if not for a tough-luck October loss to the Patriots. Chicago has also performed well in prime time against the Packers, Seahawks and Vikings. That's enough for Gagnon to destroy a unanimous consensus.
Davenport: Los Angeles (-3)
Gagnon: Chicago (+3)
Sobleski: Los Angeles (-3)
Consensus: Los Angeles (-3)
Score Prediction: Los Angeles 30, Chicago 24
Minnesota Vikings (6-5-1) at Seattle Seahawks (7-5)
Teams quarterbacked by Kirk Cousins have won only five of 17 prime-time games. During his time in Washington, Cousins started 23 games against teams that finished with winning records, and this year, he's faced four teams that currently have winning records. He's won just four of those 27 games, and zero this season. And he has significantly worse numbers on the road, where he's won only 12 of his 36 career starts.
That makes it hard to trust Cousins at this point, especially on the road in prime time against the 7-5 Seattle Seahawks, who are an NFC-best 51-12 in Seattle during the Russell Wilson era and are riding a three-game winning streak.
Our experts agree the Seahawks can clear a three-point spread.
"This might not be a blowout, because the Vikings have enough talent on both sides of the ball to avoid that," Gagnon said. "But with the Seahawks laying only a field goal, this is a no-brainer pick. They're at home, they have the much better and hotter quarterback, and the Vikings haven't been right all year. They're unlikely to put it all together in a place like Seattle, especially in prime time."
Cousins has a mere 91.2 passer rating in his last four games, and the Vikings have won only twice in their past five games. Meanwhile, Wilson has a 130.1 rating in the same four-game span, and the Seahawks have gone 7-3 after an 0-2 start.
The push is a risk here if you stay on three points, but there's little doubt about which way to go.
Davenport: Seattle (-3)
Gagnon: Seattle (-3)
Sobleski: Seattle (-3)
Consensus: Seattle (-3)
Score Prediction: Seattle 27, Minnesota 21