Is the pendulum ever going to swing back towards defense in the 2018 NFL season?
Based on what has taken place during the first 13 weeks of the year, the answer could be a resounding no. However, history shows that in the final month of the season, the attack mentality of certain coaches and quarterbacks could change when division titles and playoff spots are on the line.
As we look at the top total plays in Week 14, we have to think about the turnover battle and how just about every coach will make it a point of emphasis that his team needs to hold on to the football to win.
We understand that quarterbacks like Patrick Mahomes, Philip Rivers, Drew Brees and Tom Brady excel at lighting up the scoreboard, but late-season circumstances and weather conditions can also influence the game plan in a more conservative fashion.
Here's our take on the point spread and the proper total play in each game. We also go into more detail on two of those games.
Week 14 NFL Odds
Jacksonville at Tennessee (-4) | O/U 37.5
Atlanta at Green Bay (-5.5) | O/U 49.5
Baltimore at Kansas City (-6.5) | O/U 53
Carolina (-1.5) at Cleveland | O/U 47
Indianapolis at Houston (-4.5) | O/U 49.5
New England (-7.5) at Miami | O/U 47
New Orleans (-8) at Tampa Bay | O/U 55.5
N.Y. Giants (3.5) at Washington | O/U 41
N.Y. Jets at Buffalo (-3.5) | O/U 38.5
Cincinnati at L.A. Chargers (-14) | O/U 47.5
Denver (-5.5) at San Francisco | O/U 44.5
Pittsburgh (-10.5) at Oakland | O/U 51.5
Detroit (-2.5) at Arizona | O/U 40.5
Philadelphia at Dallas (-3.5) | O/U 43
L.A. Rams (-3) at Chicago | O/U 52
Minnesota at Seattle (-3) | O/U 45
New Orleans Saints at Tampa Bay Buccaneers
This game typifies what the NFL has been about to this point in the season—explosive offense.
The Saints and the Bucs met in the season opener in New Orleans, and the Saints did not look anything like the juggernaut they would become after that game.
The Saints dropped that game to the Bucs by a 48-40 margin, and the game was a major surprise because the Bucs had been able to put on such a strong offensive show.
The New Orleans defensive performance was abominable in the opener, and it looked like the Saints would have a difficult season.
But the first game of the season is not always a precursor for what will occur. Both the Saints and the Bucs have learned this, and it has clearly been a much better ride for New Orleans than Tampa Bay.
Quarterback Drew Brees is having a magical year for the Saints, completing 75.5 percent of his passes for an average of 271.8 yards per game with 30 touchdowns and three interceptions.
He has a slew of excellent weapons, including running back Alvin Kamara and wideout Michael Thomas, and it's difficult to see the Bucs slowing down either one of those stars.
The Saints are coming off a loss to the Dallas Cowboys, and that was their first defeat since that season-opening loss. They should be prepared to play one of their best games against the Bucs.
Tampa Bay may have started the season in impressive fashion, but the Bucs lost seven of eight games before winning their last two.
Ryan Fitzpatrick was the quarterback at the start of the season, but he has given way to Jameis Winston.
The Bucs have started to play at a respectable level, and the Saints have been at the top most of the years. This is a game that has the promise of being high scoring, and while the 55.5-point total is formidable, we believe this will be a college-style over, with both teams reaching at least 28 points.
Los Angeles Rams at Chicago Bears
The Rams became one of the top teams in the NFL a year ago with head coach Sean McVay at the helm, and the Bears have shown dramatic improvement this year under rookie head coach Matt Nagy.
The Rams have one of the best offenses in the league, as evidenced by their 54-51 victory over the Kansas City Chiefs in their Week 11 Monday night classic.
While the Bears are more accomplished on the defensive side of the ball, Nagy is in the process of creating a modern offense that combines skill with daring.
Chicago has gotten a lift from second-year quarterback Mitchell Trubisky. He has shown off his athleticism and big-play ability. However, he has missed the last two games with a shoulder problem. His status for this game has not been determined, but it's clear that the Bears would be in a much better position if he could play in this Sunday night game along Lake Michigan.
The location of this game could make it difficult for the visitors. Neither snow nor rain are expected, but the temperature is likely to be in the 28-34 degree range. That could be an issue for the team from Southern California.
The linemakers have given this game a total of 52 points, and while both teams are capable of having strong offensive performances, this game should be an under.
The Rams will not be in their element, and the Bears' strength comes from Khalil Mack, Akiem Hicks and Roquan Smith on defense.
If those players slow down the Rams offense, look for Aaron Donald to assert his strength against the Chicago offense.
Neither team will score more than 24 points, and the under will come in.