Giants quarterback Eli Manning participates in practice in East Rutherford,...

Giants quarterback Eli Manning participates in practice in East Rutherford, N.J., Wednesday, Dec. 6, 2017. Credit: AP / Seth Wenig

Week 14 is going to be one for the ’dogs. We’re predicting such a big week for underdogs that even the biggest of them all, the winless Browns, will celebrate their first win of the season in the Dawg Pound.

Underdogs won Week 13, going 9-7 against the spread (ATS) after favorites had been on a 50-25-7 tear. Favorites still lead, 90-89-9 for the season, and there will be several who cover this week as a number of the games have small spreads. Still, a handful of underdogs will win outright.

My most confident picks ATS this week: Vikings, Raiders, Colts, Cardinals and Browns. Two tricky games to avoid: Seahawks-Jaguars and Lions-Bucs.

COWBOYS (6-6) AT GIANTS (2-10), 1 p.m.

TV: Ch. 5; Radio: WFAN (660, 101.9)

Cowboys by 3.5; O/U: 41.5

A week ago, this was easy: Lay the points and take the team fighting for a playoff spot against a two-win team in turmoil. Ah, but now that Eli Manning is back under center after the Big Blue Blunder, you have to reconsider. Manning isn’t the quarterback he once was, and no one is suggesting he’s going to throw for 300 yards and three TDs. But Manning, as well as his teammates, figure to play with some purpose at home after everything that’s gone down the last two weeks. Dallas isn’t the same team without Ezekiel Elliott, and the Giants can slow Dak Prescott enough to keep this to a field-goal margin. The last time the Giants returned home after a tough trip to California, they responded with a surprising overtime win over the Chiefs. This is a similar spot, so let’s go with a gut feeling here and say Manning and the Giants pull off the upset and win outright.

The pick: Giants

JETS (5-7) AT BRONCOS (3-9), 4:05 p.m.

Jets by 1; O/U: 42

Denver hasn’t been kind to the Jets (see: 1998 AFC Championship Game), but don’t let past failures stop you from accepting this gift in the present. The Jets are the better team — by a Mile High — and with such a small spread, go with Gang Green. Look at how many points the Denver offense has scored during an eight-game losing streak: 10, 0, 19, 23, 16, 17, 14 and 9. The Jets are one of the NFL’s best bets (7-4-1 ATS) while Denver is the worst (2-9-1). Josh McCown continues to be a steady arm, something the Broncos haven’t had, and the Jets’ defense contains a limited offense to make it back-to-back wins over AFC West teams.

The pick: Jets

1 p.m. GAMES



Vikings by 2.5; O/U: 40.5

Maybe people are finally starting to take the Vikings seriously. Case (Keenum) in point: Type in the words, “Has a team ever” into a Google search and before you can even finish writing “played a Super Bowl at home,” it’s the top result. If the Vikings continue their all-around superb play, the answer to that question could be “Yes, Vikings in SB LII.” Minnesota is an NFL-best 9-2-1 ATS. It has won eight in a row and covered the last seven. Its second-ranked defense in points (17) and yards (289.1) just held Atlanta to nine points two weeks after allowing only a touchdown to the Rams. Cam Newton has struggled against top defenses this year, with three of the Panthers’ four losses against the Eagles and Saints (twice). With a shot at the No. 1 seed, look for Keenum to continue his storybook season and the defense to deliver another road win.

The pick: Vikings

LIONS (6-6) AT BUCS (4-8)

Line, O/U: OFF (QB)

If Matthew Stafford didn’t have an injury to his throwing hand, the Lions would be the pick. They’ll probably be favored by a field goal or so if he starts, and likely an underdog by a similar number if he can’t play. The Bucs have played OK at home, going 3-2, and are worth a shot here in their first game back after three straight road games.

The pick: Bucs


Chiefs by 4; O/U: 48.5

This is a rematch of one of the wildest games of the season, a 31-30 last-second win for Oakland in Week 7. The way the Chiefs are playing, dropping four straight and six of seven after a 5-0 start, it’s almost impossible to pick them. A defense that just allowed 38 points to the Jets will be without suspended cornerback Marcus Peters. Derek Carr threw for 417 yards and three TDs in the first meeting, and will drive Oakland to another close win as KC continues to go in reverse.

The pick: Raiders

COLTS (3-9) AT BILLS (6-6)

Line, O/U: OFF (QB)

With Tyrod Taylor’s status uncertain, there hasn’t been a line for this game all week. If Taylor plays, Buffalo will be favored by about a touchdown. If he doesn’t go, it will be closer to a field goal. Buffalo should be worried about its defense, which hasn’t been able to stop the run all season — 120.4 yards per game and an NFL-high 18 TDs. Indy will keep this close with heavy doses of Frank Gore, the fifth-leading rusher in NFL history, and rookie speedster Marlon Mack.

The pick: Colts

BEARS (3-9) AT BENGALS (5-7)

Bengals by 6.5; O/U: 38.5

This is the perfect spot to take the Bears. One, they’re back in their underdog role after failing as a favorite for the second time. They’ve shown some fight on the road, beating Baltimore in overtime and making New Orleans sweat. The Bengals are coming off a demoralizing loss Monday night in which they bungled away a 17-0 lead to the Steelers. Expect Cincy to be flat and don’t be surprised if Chicago wins outright.

The pick: Bears

PACKERS (6-6) AT BROWNS (0-12)

Packers by 3; O/U: 40.5

Green Bay is thinking about 7-6 and possibly having Aaron Rodgers back next week. Think it’s looking ahead to Carolina instead of winless Cleveland? Yep. Let’s make the case why the Browns will win: 1) Cleveland has competed at home with three-point losses to the Steelers, Jets and Titans (OT). 2) The Josh Gordon factor. The receiver returned from his suspension last week and had four catches for 85 yards. Gordon had back-to-back 200-plus yard games in 2013, and can get behind a beatable Packers secondary. 3) Hue Jackson (1-27 as Browns coach) got a vote of confidence after the team fired its top executive Thursday. Knowing he will be back next season, Jackson should pull out all the stops on Sunday to stop the 0-16 talk. Air it out with Gordon and push the envelope. Closing argument: Gordon has one of his monster games and the Browns defense turns Brett Hundley over late for that elusive ‘W’.

The pick: Browns

49ERS (2-10) AT TEXANS (4-8)

Texans by 2.5; O/U: 44.5

San Francisco hasn’t won back-to-back games since November of the 2014 season. Jimmy Garoppolo had a solid 49ers debut in last week’s win at Chicago, but let’s pump the brakes a bit before we start comparing him to Joe Montana. Jadeveon Clowney and Houston’s defense will be a tougher opponent at home, and it’s hard to see the Niners putting together two road wins in a row.

The pick: Texans


EAGLES (10-2) AT RAMS (9-3)

TV: Ch. 5

Rams by 2; O/U: 48

When the Eagles were on a nine-game win streak and coasting at an NFL-best 10-1, Carson Wentz & Co. were treated like royalty — and not just because the quarterback’s doppelganger is Prince Harry. Now, after a frustrating loss at Seattle, many are pointing to how Philly hasn’t beaten quality opponents. We’re not ready to jump off the Wentz Wagon after one game. The Eagles have enough talent on both sides of the ball to regroup the same way the Rams did against the Saints after losing at Minnesota. With a first-round bye likely on the line, expect a fun one between two explosive teams. The Eagles stayed out West this week, and that should help as they rebound and win a close one.

The pick: Eagles


Jaguars by 2.5; O/U: 40

Don’t just circle Seattle here because you still can’t get over the fact that Jacksonville is favored. The Jaguars’ NFL-best defense allows the fewest points (14.8) and yards (282.5) per game. Russell Wilson is the human Pac-Man, but that Sacksonville front seven will chase him all day and gobble him up. This feels like a 17-13 type of game, so play the under. It wouldn’t be surprising if the final margin is as little as one or two points, but when the spread is this small, just take the team you think will win.

The pick: Jaguars


Chargers by 6; O/U: 46

The Redskins have nothing to play for while the Chargers have their sights set on the AFC West title after bolting up the standings with six wins in eight games. Philip Rivers and Keenan Allen have been on fire, and along with the Chargers’ pass rush, will be the difference.

The pick: Chargers


Titans by 3; O/U: 44

Arizona allows the ninth-fewest rushing yards per game (99.5), so it can take away Tennessee’s best strength. The Titans haven’t played as well as their 8-4 record suggests, and are on upset alert against a Cards team that just decked co-AFC South leader Jacksonville in the desert two weeks ago.

The pick: Cardinals



TV: Ch. 4, 8:30 p.m.

Steelers by 5; O/U: 43.5

This is the fourth straight prime-time game for Pittsburgh, which won the previous two on last-second field goals. Baltimore’s defense is playing out of its mind, and leads the NFL with 29 takeaways. Pittsburgh rolled to a 26-9 win at Baltimore in Week 4, but this final score should be closer to last season’s Christmas classic (31-27). With a lot on the line for both teams, and with it being such an intense rivalry, taking the points is the wise move.

The pick: Ravens



TV: ESPN, 8:30 p.m.

Patriots by 10.5; O/U: 47.5

In Miami’s previous three prime-time games, it lost 40-0, 27-24 and 45-21. The Pats just beat the Dolphins, 35-17, two weeks ago. They won’t have Rob Gronkowski, but as long as Tom Brady (15-6 on Monday Night Football and 21-9 against the Dolphins) is playing, expect the Pats to roll to their ninth straight win and seventh straight cover.

The pick: Patriots

Staff standings and picks

(best bets in bold)


88-95-9 overall, 3-10 best bets

Last week: 9-7

Giants Jets Vikings Bucs Raiders

Colts Bears Browns Texans Eagles

Jaguars Chargers Cardinals Ravens Patriots


86-97-9, 7-6

Last week: 11-5

Cowboys Jets Panthers Lions Chiefs

Colts Bengals Packers Texans Rams

Seahawks Chargers Titans Steelers Patriots


93-90-9, 5-7-1

Last week: 12-4

Cowboys Jets Vikings Lions Raiders

Colts Bears Packers 49ers Rams

Jaguars Redskins Titans Ravens Patriots


84-84-8, 5-7

Last week: 9-7

Cowboys Jets Vikings Lions Raiders

Bills Bears Packers 49ers Rams

Seahawks Chargers Titans Steelers Patriots