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NFL Week 14 picks: Bears-Rams play a close one; Cowboys top Eagles; Browns lock of week; Giants win, Jets don't

Underdogs went 9-6-1 ATS last week and are 96-83-8 for the season. A whopping seven won outright in Week 13. 

CHICAGO, IL - NOVEMBER 18: Khalil Mack #52

CHICAGO, IL - NOVEMBER 18: Khalil Mack #52 of the Chicago Bears rushes against Riley Reiff #71 of the Minnesota Vikings at Soldier Field on November 18, 2018 in Chicago, Illinois. The Bears defeated the Vikings 25-20. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images) Photo Credit: Getty Images/Jonathan Daniel

NFL pickin' ain't easy. Just look at my record against the spread (on second thought, please don't). But just like the games themselves, every week is a new week. I feel I have a strong read on most of these games and spreads, and only a couple are tricky.

Underdogs went 9-6-1 ATS last week and are 96-83-8 for the season. A whopping seven won outright in Week 13.

My most confident picks ATS are the Browns, Broncos, Chargers, Cowboys and Bucs. Avoid Steelers-Raiders and Lions-Cardinals.

Remember, I pick every game but you don't have to.

GAME OF THE WEEK

SUNDAY NIGHT

RAMS (11-1) AT BEARS (8-4)

TV: Ch. 4, 8:20 p.m.

Rams by 3; O/U: 51.5

This is an intriguing matchup, one we might see again in the playoffs. While the Rams are the better all-around team, this should be a close one in cold Chicago. As great as L.A. has been (its only loss was at the 10-2 Saints), it hasn't fared well against the spread, going 5-6-1. Against playoff-caliber teams, they're just 1-4-1, failing to cover against the Saints, Chiefs and Seahawks (twice). Chicago is 8-4 ATS, including a 5-1 mark at home. Its lone loss was to the Patriots, a 38-31 game in which it gave up two special-teams touchdowns. This will be a surprisingly low-scoring game that features two of the game's best defensive players in Aaron Donald and Khalil Mack. Mitchell Trubisky looks as if he will return, and his ability to scramble will help Chicago extend drives. One more reason to back the home underdog: Teams getting points at home went 4-3 ATS last week, with four of them winning outright, and are now 27-23-2 on the season with 19 wins. Don't be surprised if Chicago's opportunistic 'D' delivers a win.

The pick: Bears

THE LOCALS

GIANTS (4-8) AT REDSKINS (6-6)

TV: Ch. 5, 1 p.m.

Giants by 3.5; O/U: 41

If not for a 19-3 blown lead at Philly, Odell Beckham Jr.'s playoff proclamation would have some legs. Still, the surprising win over the Bears is proof the Giants are motivated to finish a lost season with some wins. They'll keep it going against the NFL's most banged-up team. Saquon Barkley and Beckham have big days and the defense feasts on another backup QB.

The pick: Giants

JETS (3-9) AT BILLS (4-8)

TV: Ch. 2, 1 p.m.

Bills by 3.5; O/U: 38.5

Josh Allen-Sam Darnold should be more fun than Matt Barkley-Josh McCown was in Week 10, a 41-10 Bills win. Buffalo (2-0-1 ATS in last three weeks) is favored for the first time all season. It has won five of the last six meetings in Buffalo. The Bills' second-ranked defense will be the difference against the Jets (4-8 ATS), who have lost six in a row and are winless on the road since Week 1.

The pick: Bills

1 p.m. GAMES

RAVENS (7-5) AT CHIEFS (10-2)

Chiefs by 6.5; O/U: 51.5

Kansas City started 6-0-1 ATS but is just 2-3 since. The Chiefs’ defense (122 rushing yards per game allowed) will have its hands full with Lamar Jackson (3-0 as starter). The Ravens’ run-heavy approach should keep Patrick Mahomes on the sidelines. KC is 5-0 at home, but the Ravens are a live ‘dog in this game.

The pick: Ravens

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

Texans by 4.5; O/U: 49.5

Houston’s nine-game winning streak began at Indy in Week 3, a 37-34 OT decision in which Colts coach Frank Reich decided not to play for the tie. Houston is 5-2-2 ATS during its streak, the last two wins at home by 17 and 16 points. Indy, off a 6-0 loss, is outclassed here by a Texans team that is a must-bet right now (take it from the guy who picked against them the last two weeks).

The pick: Texans

PATRIOTS (9-3) AT DOLPHINS (6-6)

Patriots by 7.5; O/U: 47

For Tom Brady, there’s something about Miami. He is 7-9 there, including losses in four of the last five games. Remember last year’s MNF defeat? New England is 6-0 at home, including a 38-7 win over Miami. But the Pats are just 3-3 on the road. Miami is still in the wild-card hunt and will keep this close.

The pick: Dolphins

SAINTS (10-2) AT BUCS (5-7)

Saints by 8; O/U: 55.5

New Orleans surely will bounce back from a stunning 10-point effort at Dallas that snapped its 10-game win streak. Covering is another story. In a similar spot last year in Week 17, underdog Tampa Bay beat New Orleans when it had nothing to play for and the Saints did. The Bucs, who won, 48-40, at New Orleans in Week 1 with Ryan Fitzpatrick, are feeling good after home wins the last two weeks with Jameis Winston. Tampa Bay will treat this game like its Super Bowl, so expect a closer-than-you-think division battle.

The pick: Bucs

FALCONS (4-8) AT PACKERS (4-7-1)

Packers by 5; O/U: 50

Backing a team right after they fire their coach is always a good idea. This is a lot of points, but I’ll take my chances that Aaron Rodgers has a big day in one of those, “See, it’s not my fault we were losing” type of games.

The pick: Packers

LOCK OF THE WEEK

PANTHERS (6-6) AT BROWNS (4-7-1)

Panthers by 1.5; O/U: 47

From 6-2 to 6-6, Carolina is in complete free-fall mode and can’t be trusted. Especially not on the road (1-5 overall and ATS). Ron Rivera took over play-calling duties on defense but that won’t help as the Browns regroup at home after a bad loss at Houston. Baker Mayfield (three INTs last week, one a pick-6) had been brilliant under the interim regime, and he will be motivated for a makeup game. He and Nick Chubb should give the Panthers’ ‘D’ trouble early and often. Cleveland makes it back-to-back wins at home over NFC South teams (28-16 vs. Atlanta in Week 10) as the Dawg Pound erupts.

The pick: Browns

4 p.m. GAMES

EAGLES (6-6) AT COWBOYS (7-5)

Cowboys by 3.5; O/U: 44

These teams have split the last five seasons, so it's tempting to take the points in a rivalry game. Dallas is the more complete team and will be in control of NFC East with a win. Dallas is on extra rest after beating the Saints, whereas Philadelphia is on a short week after its MNF win. The Cowboys have won four in a row (all covers), and it started with a 27-20 win at Philly. The defending champs have been an enigma all season and while some want to think this is finally their time, I'll back the hotter team and lay the points with a defense playing out of its mind. Leighton Vander Esch makes another big play like he did in the first meeting as Dallas grinds out a fun, tense win. Call it 23-17.

The pick: Cowboys

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

Chargers by 14; O/U: 48

Betting logic says this is a letdown/trap spot for the Chargers after a riveting comeback at Pittsburgh and a TNF matchup at Kansas City looming. But with KC playing at 1 p.m., the Chargers will be motivated to either stay a game back or possibly even tie for the division lead. Also, the reeling Bengals are starting their backup QB, don’t have A.J. Green and can’t stop anyone. This could be Week 14’s most lopsided score, and maybe even Marvin Lewis' final game with Cincinnati if it really gets out of hand.

The pick: Chargers

BRONCOS (6-6) AT 49ERS (2-10)

Broncos by 4; O/U: 45.5

Denver has won three in a row (all covers) and has a real shot at a wild card after a 3-6 start. Expect the Broncos to take care of business against a 49ers team that won’t be able to stop Phillip Lindsay or Von Miller.

The pick: Broncos

STEELERS (7-4-1) AT RAIDERS (2-10)

Steelers by 10.5; O/U: 51.5

If not for a late defensive TD at Baltimore, the Raiders would be 3-0 ATS the last three weeks. They fought back from 33-16 down to cover against the Chiefs. Pittsburgh is 3-3 ATS on the road with its biggest win being by seven points.

The pick: Raiders

LIONS (4-8) AT CARDINALS (3-9)

Lions by 3; O/U: 40.5

Don’t let last week’s shocking win at Lambeau trick you into taking the Cards. They lost to the Raiders at home in Week 11, after all, and their other two wins were against the two-win 49ers. As bad as Detroit has looked during a 1-5 stretch, Matthew Stafford can earn a cover here.

The pick: Lions

MONDAY NIGHT

VIKINGS (6-5-1) AT SEAHAWKS (7-5)

TV: ESPN, 8:15 p.m.

Seahawks by 3; O/U: 45

Russell Wilson and Seattle in prime time is as close to a sure thing as there is in the NFL. Wilson is 20-5-1 under the bright lights, and 41-12 at home overall. He will lead another win in what figures to be a competitive matchup between the NFC’s current 5 and 6 seeds. The Vikings are 0-4 vs. top contenders in the Rams, Saints, Bears and Patriots.

The pick: Seahawks

Staff Standings and Picks

(Best bets in bold)

JOE MANNIELLO

81-103-8 overall, 7-6 best bets

Last week: 4-11-1

Bills Giants Ravens Texans

Dolphins Bucs Packers Browns

Cowboys Chargers Broncos Raiders

Lions Bears Seahawks

BOB GLAUBER

85-99-8, 4-9

Last week: 6-9-1

Bills Giants Chiefs Texans

Patriots Saints Packers Browns

Eagles Chargers Broncos Steelers

Cardinals Rams Seahawks

TOM ROCK

94-90-8, 4-9

Last week: 9-6-1

Bills Giants Ravens Colts 

Patriots Saints Falcons Panthers

Cowboys Chargers Broncos Raiders

Lions Rams Seahawks

AL IANNAZZONE

93-91-8, 7-6

Last week: 7-8-1

Jets Redskins Chiefs Texans

Dolphins Saints Packers Panthers

Eagles Bengals 49ers Raiders

Lions Rams Seahawks

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