Week 14 NFL Picks: Wins Are Critical as the Playoffs Draw Closer

The Bills have an easy schedule the rest of the way and could shock teams with a wildcard berth. - Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports

For the second week in a row, I went 8-8 with my predictions. As hard as I try to get my picks correct, things just aren't working out for me. My record on the season is 110-81. Let's get to the Week 14 picks, where I will try to pick a couple of upsets.

Week 14 Games Explanation Pick
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Blowout of the Week: While the Raiders finally kept a game close in the box score last week against the Browns, they were a team full of bad coaching decisions, dropped passes, and untimely mistakes by the quarterback. They also boast the league's worst defense. If the Raiders dare to bring the type of blitzes they brought against the Browns against Peyton Manning this week, he'll shred them every time. Broncos 42, Raiders 17

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Surprising Ground Game of the Week: When you think of these two teams, you really don't think about their running games. I think that aspect will play a key factor in the outcome of this week's matchup, though. BenJarvus Green-Ellis has stunningly put together three straight 100+ yard rushing games after not having one all year prior to that. The Cowboys' offense was uplifted by the return of DeMarco Murray last week. Whereas the Bengals were able to come on late against the Chargers a week ago, Tony Romo will lead a comeback this week. Cowboys 24, Bengals 20

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Not the Bills' Kryptonite: While the Rams might have some weird edge on the San Francisco 49ers, they only have one win on the road this season and Buffalo is in the midst of a soft schedule. The Bills should be considered legitimate contenders for the final wildcard spot in the AFC, thanks to their new-found commitment to C.J. Spiller. They beat the Jaguars definitely a week ago, and they'll do the same to St. Louis this week. Bills 28, Rams 14

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How Quickly They Have Fallen: Bryce Brown is quite an exciting player to watch, isn't he? He's also been a godsend to quite a few fantasy football teams out there. This week, he faces a more stout run defense in the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The Buccaneers have lost two games in a row against tough opponents, but they haven't lost their confidence. They'll get it done against an Eagles team that looks more lost than I've ever seen a team on defense. Buccaneers 31, Eagles 17

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Turning Point for Atlanta? How can there be a turning point for an 11-1 team in the NFL? Because the Falcons' defense came on big time against a Saints team that he previously beaten them in last week's matchup. The Panthers have had a knack for hanging tough in these types of games, only to finish poorly. Based on how things went for Atlanta last week, I'll give them some confidence and project that they'll put this game away early. Falcons 24, Panthers 13

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Pondering a Change? The Minnesota Vikings really don't have anyone else to turn to at the quarterback position, but it was painful to watch Christian Ponder's performance against a think Packers defense last week. Adrian Peterson was an absolute machine, but as soon as the ball was in the hands of Ponder, things went south in the worst ways possible. The Bears' defense took a bit hit by losing Brian Urlacher at the end of last week's game, but they are more than just Urlacher. They'll get it done by stopping Peterson, and then forcing Ponder to try to beat them. Bears 20, Vikings 17

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Let the Tebow Speculation Continue: Even the Browns' quarterback situation (from the past) hasn't been as bad as the Jets' current situation, right? Greg McElroy led a comeback last week in relief of Mark Sanchez. Would Tim Tebow have been inserted into that game had he been active and healthy? This week, Sanchez is back as the starter. Will he get the quick hook? If so, will Tebow replace him, or will it be McElroy? Tebow is returning to the place he calls home, but I don't think we'll see much of him. The Jaguars play this week, too, but the Jets' defense will do enough to thwart Chad Henne's recent good play. Jets 17, Jaguars 13

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Eying the Division: The Colts have been incredible this season. To think that they could go from being an expansion-like team a year ago to where they are at now -- on the verge of being 9-4 if they beat Tennessee -- is basically unheard of in the NFL, right? As crazy as it sounds, the Colts can still win their division, too. They face the Texans twice, and Houston has a tough game against New England this week. If things go their way, Indianapolis could be two games behind the Texans. Colts 26, Titans 21

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Back in Action: I would love nothing more than to see Ben Roethlisberger's return spoiled by rust, poor play, and pain. Unfortunately, I need to improve my picks record, and the Chargers aren't the team that is going to get it done against them. San Diego is such a mess...they are going to get the clean sweep from the AFC North division. I've said before that I don't support some midseason coaching changes, but this is a change San Diego could have made weeks ago to try to salvage the season. They didn't, and now the Steelers will steamroll them. Steelers 34, Chargers 13

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What If? I'm starting to wonder the following question: "What if no one can stop Robert Griffin III?" The guy has gotten so good, so fast. Even the Redskins' defense seems to be playing better as of late. I was stunned that the Ravens were a 9-2 team at one point, and after their loss to the Steelers, they are headed for another one this week due to their vulnerabilities against the run. Redskins 27, Ravens 24

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49ers Respond Too Well to Losses: I didn't agree with the decision to go away from Alex Smith so quickly, but the 49ers are going to roll this week whether he plays or not. San Francisco responds very well after weeks in which they don't log a win: they did it when they beat the Jets 34-0, the Seahawks 13-6, and the Bears 32-7. The Dolphins are next, although San Francisco does need to get David Akers back on track. 49ers 26, Dolphins 13

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Lock of the Week: Let's take a look at two statistics. No. 1, the Seahawks are 5-0 at home. No. 2, the Cardinals have lost 8 consecutive games. The Seahawks should have this one in the bag, right? The Cardinals did actually beat Seattle way back in Week 1, but that was on the road and at a time when Kevin Kolb was magical-like. Seahawks 28, Cardinals 10

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Hanging on by a Thread: Could it be possible that neither of these teams makes the postseason? The Saints' chances diminished significantly with a loss last week to the Falcons, a game in which Drew Brees' record-breaking touchdown streak came to an end. The Giants seem to be in good shape in their division, but the Cowboys and the Redskins are on the rise. I think the Giants suffer an upset to a furious Brees this week. Saints 34, Giants 28

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Break Out the Championship: I picked the Lions to beat the Colts last week in an upset. That's not happening again. While I was impressed with the Lions' offense, their inability to close out a game is the mark of a team that just doesn't have it in 2012. They are 4-8 and virtually eliminated from postseason contention. The Packers, meanwhile, are going to get a big game from Greg Jennings this week, a valuable asset who Aaron Rodgers will end up relying upon down the stretch. Packers 37, Lions 27

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Defensive Game of the Week? The last time the Texans were featured in prime time, they beat the Chicago Bears in what ended up being a defensive game all the way. The Patriots' gameplan will be set up knowing they can't move up-and-down the field on the Texans, and Houston like-wise will want to sustain drives to take the ball out of Tom Brady's hands. I think we'll see sustained drives with the defense coming up with stops in the red zone. After trading field goals, the Patriots being at home will pay off. Patriots 19, Texans 13

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Former Browns Players & Coaches Return: Despite their emotional win last week, the Chiefs are still the worst team in the NFL. There is no secret who I'm picking to win this week, but my full prediction and game preview will be posted on Saturday. Tune in Friday for my scouting report on the Chiefs, too.




Survivor Pick:
I am 9-4 in survivor, riding a six-game winning streak after the Jets beat the Cardinals last week. The teams I've used are GB, HOU, PIT, NO, DEN, and NYJ. This week, I'll go with the Seahawks over the Cardinals.

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