The Green Bay Packers will keep their season alive by beating the Browns. Predictions for every NFL game in Week 14.
Is “Run the Table 2.0” a thing? Win this week and it just might be. The Packers could get Aaron Rodgers back in Week 15, making Sunday’s game with Cleveland so important.
Who will win this week in the NFL? Here’s my predictions for each game.
Green Bay (6-6) at Cleveland (0-12)
By now you know the narrative. Aaron Rodgers is potentially just one win away, and the Packers get the Christmas gift of taking on the winless Browns. Right? Not so fast. The Chargers will be the first to tell you, these Browns are no pushovers. Cleveland is No. 19 in run defense. That’s nothing to write home about, but the unit has allowed just two 100-yard rushers all season.
Cleveland held Le’Veon Bell and DeMarco Murray to 91 rushing yards combined. But here’s the good news. The two players to rush for 100 yards on the Browns — Leonard Fournette and Joe Mixon — both did so within the past three weeks.
The trouble for Cleveland is it doesn’t know how to turn good situations into victories. The team has just one win to its name since the start of 2016. Even without Rodgers, this is a game the Packers should win.
Pick: Green Bay
New Orleans (9-3) at Atlanta (7-5)
The big NFC games keep on coming. There’s no stronger division than the NFC South right now. I tend to lean in favor of home teams on Thursday nights due to the short week, but it’s almost impossible to pick against the red-hot Saints. Powered by rookie sensation Alvin Kamara and Mark Ingram, New Orleans is averaging 142.6 rushing yards per game, and now finally has a defense to become a legitimate Super Bowl contender. The Saints might not lose again all season.
(Just watch them lose on Thursday night now)
Pick: New Orleans
Dallas (6-6) at NY Giants (2-10)
All is well again for the Cowboys, who dominated the Redskins on the back of a fine performance by Alfred Morris against his old team. Whether it’s Eli Manning or Geno Smith at quarterback for the Giants, it really doesn’t matter. The outcome remains the same.
Detroit (6-6) at Tampa Bay (4-8)
The Lions have been underwhelming this season, and now Matthew Stafford is dealing with another injury. Thankfully for Jim Caldwell, his team takes on the struggling Bucs. Like Green Bay, Detroit has to win out to have a shot at the playoffs. The Lions will be a quarter of the way there by Monday morning.
Oakland (6-6) at Kansas City (6-6)
Alex Smith looked a whole lot better last week, but it didn’t matter in the end. Kansas City is in free fall and all of sudden faces the danger of missing the playoffs completely. A loss here could drop the Chiefs to third in the division. They have to get back on track this week, right?
Pick: Kansas City
San Francisco (2-10) at Houston (4-8)
Just imagine how good this Texans team could have been had it not lost so many defensive starters. And let’s not forget Deshaun Watson, who looked like a superstar in his first handful of starts as the new face of the franchise. Better days are ahead for the Texans. For now, they’ll have to settle for a victory over the two-win 49ers.
Chicago (3-9) at Cincinnati (5-7)
The Bengals’ playoff hopes are all but over, but to have a shot they must defeat the Bears. Chicago couldn’t beat San Francisco at home. I like Cincinnati here.
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Minnesota (10-2) at Carolina (8-4)
Oh what a game this one could be. Minnesota doesn’t care how tough its schedule is, and just continues to beat NFC heavyweights week after week after week. Here comes another tall order against a tough Carolina defense on the road. Case Keenum has been on fire, but he can continue this high level of play against the Panthers? I say no, but Minnesota’s defense wins the day.
Washington (5-7) at LA Chargers (6-6)
At 0-4 the Chargers were done. But they’ve gone 6-2 since and have pulled themselves right back into the AFC West race. Somebody needs to stop Keenan Allen. The red-hot receiver has more yards in the past three weeks (436) than Jordy Nelson has all season (410). Allen has also scored four touchdowns in that span. He’s the X-factor. I’m picking the Chargers.
Pick: LA Chargers
NY Jets (5-7) at Denver (3-9)
Todd Bowles deserves some praise. Many, myself included, had the Jets as a leading candidate for the first overall pick back in August. They’ve silenced their critics after posting five wins so far this year. Denver, on the other hand, has disappointed in a big way. Averaging just 17.2 points per game, this Broncos offense can’t be trusted to win games. Even against Denver’s talented defense, the Jets win on the road.
Pick: NY Jets
Tennessee (8-4) at Arizona (5-7)
Despite its record, Tennessee has been largely disappointing this season. That said, the Titans get a good matchup against the fourth-worst scoring defense. Arizona’s offensive struggles is to blame, and I don’t see that changing any time soon.
Philadelphia (10-2) at LA Rams (9-3)
Can Todd Gurley and Co. find success on the ground against the league’s top run defense? What’s interesting here is the battle of two powerful units. Incredibly, these teams are tied for the NFL lead in points scored per game (30.1). It’s a difficult call, but I’m picking the Rams. The Eagles got a reality check in Seattle last week, and I expect another tough afternoon for them here.
Pick: LA Rams
Seattle (8-4) at Jacksonville (8-4)
This will be a real test for Seattle’s offense. It’s also a great opportunity for Jacksonville to show it can hang with one of the league’s top teams. No club has allowed fewer yards through the air than the Jaguars, and they’ve also recorded a league-high 45 sacks. Can they prevent Russell Wilson escaping pressure and rolling out of the pocket? For a Seahawks offense that can’t run the ball, I’m edging the Jags.
Baltimore (7-5) at Pittsburgh (10-2)
The Steelers’ best hope of reaching the Super Bowl is by forcing the AFC to run through Heinz Field. They can’t afford many slip-ups from here on out to secure the No. 1 seed, however, with the Patriots’ schedule easing up. Pittsburgh is still No. 4 in total defense, and I don’t trust Baltimore’s struggling offense to find any kind of consistency on the road. The Ravens just lost cornerback Jimmy Smith for the year, too. Expect the Antonio Brown-Le’Veon Bell partnership to get it done.
New England (10-2) at Miami (5-7)
Even without Rob Gronkowski, the Patriots should have no trouble easing past their division rivals. New England is closing in on a first-round bye.
Pick: New England
Indianapolis (3-9) at Buffalo (6-6)
This game will be fun. Oh wait, no it won’t.
Last week: 12-4