Week 14 NFL game picks: Cardinals sweep Rams; Buccaneers stay hot with win over Bills

Gregg Rosenthal went 9-5 straight up and against the spread on his Week 13 NFL picks, bringing his season totals to 107-86-1 and 101-91-1, respectively. How will he fare in Week 14? His picks are below.

The lines below provided by Caesars are current as of 2 p.m. ET on Thursday, Dec. 9 unless otherwise noted below.

SUNDAY, DEC. 12

Dallas Cowboys
ML: -200 · 8-4
Washington Football Team
ML: +170 · 6-6
  • WHERE: FedExField (Landover, Md.)
  • WHEN: 1 p.m. ET | FOX
  • SPREAD: Cowboys -4.5 | O/U: 48


The juggernaut Jerry Jones sees when he closes his eyes hasn't existed since the back-to-back wins over the Eagles and Panthers early in the season. Perhaps these Cowboys just need reps together, because the group is as healthy as it's been all season, with Randy Gregory and Neville Gallimore returning to the defensive line. This Washington squad's feisty, but it has cleaned up against offenses far less talented than Dallas' over the past three weeks.

Tennessee Titans
ML: -450 · 8-4
Jacksonville Jaguars
ML: +350 · 2-10
  • WHERE: Nissan Stadium (Nashville, Tenn.)
  • WHEN: 1 p.m. ET | CBS
  • SPREAD: Titans -8.5 | O/U: 43.5


Jacksonville is the rare 2-10 team that looks worse than its record indicates. The Jaguars haven't been competitive in most games, often on either side of the ball. That includes a Week 5 tilt vs. Tennessee, back in the Titans' brightest moments, when Derrick Henry and A.J. Brown were available. Those two will be absent Sunday -- and yet, I believe the late bye will serve the Titans well. The schedule makers delivered them the right team at the right time, a Jags squad that is tough to pick, even when it's getting 8.5 points.

Seattle Seahawks
ML: -420 · 4-8
Houston Texans
ML: +320 · 2-10
  • WHERE: NRG Stadium (Houston)
  • WHEN: 1 p.m. ET | FOX
  • SPREAD: Seahawks -8.5 | O/U: 41


The Texans are keeping it vague as to whether Tyrod Taylor or Davis Mills will start Sunday's game, one of the more pointless examples of being vague for vagueness' sake. The Seahawks' offense hardly looked in full flow against the 49ers last week, while the Texans' defense has quietly improved this season. And it's difficult for this Seattle team to give away 8.5 points against anyone. But Houston's current home-field disadvantage makes it tough to back this moribund Texans squad. Since beating the Jaguars at home in Week 1, the Texans have lost by an average of 14.4 points in five games at NRG Stadium. It is one of the worst home atmospheres to watch on television I've seen in a long time, a weekly bummer to observe a great fan base that was taken for granted.


UPDATE: Texans coach David Culley announced Friday that Davis Mills would be the team's starting quarterback for the rest of the season.

Kansas City Chiefs
ML: -450 · 8-4
Las Vegas Raiders
ML: +350 · 6-6
  • WHERE: GEHA Field at Arrowhead Stadium (Kansas City, Mo.)
  • WHEN: 1 p.m. ET | CBS
  • SPREAD: Chiefs -9.5 | O/U: 48


I may add a field goal to the Raiders' total if Darren Waller suits up; he is that important to their offense. Without the mismatch tight end, there's little reason to believe Las Vegas' attack will have enough juice to score on this improved Kansas City defense. Jon Gruden built a team designed to run, but the Raiders can't pull it off. The one great Chiefs offensive performance since Week 7 came against this Raiders team, and I'm simple-minded enough to think it can happen again.

New Orleans Saints
ML: -240 · 5-7
New York Jets
ML: +200 · 3-9
  • WHERE: MetLife Stadium (East Rutherford, N.J.)
  • WHEN: 1 p.m. ET | CBS
  • SPREAD: Saints -5.5 | O/U: 43


Every Saints preview is a personnel review of who is available. Offensive engine Alvin Kamara, left tackle Terron Armstead and top pass rusher Marcus Davenport are all trending toward a return. Taysom Hill is on track to start despite his injured finger. No. 1 receiver (!) Deonte Harris is suspended, and Cameron Jordan's decade-long consecutive games streak is in jeopardy on the COVID list. The Jets are also banged up, as they try to build off one of Zach Wilson's best games. I can't see Gang Green having success on the ground, and this is not a New Orleans defense that a rookie quarterback will enjoy going against.

Atlanta Falcons
ML: +120 · 5-7
Carolina Panthers
ML: -140 · 5-7
  • WHERE: Bank of America Stadium (Charlotte, N.C.)
  • WHEN: 1 p.m. ET | FOX
  • SPREAD: Falcons +2.5 | O/U: 42


You would not expect a matchup of two teams ranked Nos. 27 and 32 in DVOA to also be a matchup of two playoff contenders. But Atlanta and Carolina are only one game out of the seventh wild-card spot, so the winner here gets at least another week of life in this strange season. My one-part test for picking Falcons games remains the same: Can their opponent rush the passer? If the answer is yes, I don't pick them to win. For the second time this season in this matchup, the answer is yes. I could not be less confident in this pick.


UPDATE: I had so little confidence in my pick that I flipped it on Friday. The Panthers' injured interior offensive line didn't get any better during the bye week and I'm not buying that a run-run-run approach without Christian McCaffrey is going to work for Matt Rhule. 

Baltimore Ravens
ML: +125 · 8-4
Cleveland Browns
ML: -145 · 6-6
  • WHERE: FirstEnergy Stadium (Cleveland)
  • WHEN: 1 p.m. ET | CBS
  • SPREAD: Ravens +2.5 | O/U: 43


The Ravens are reeling after losing star cornerback Marlon Humphrey for the season and surprise standout right tackle Patrick Mekari for a few weeks. There's reason to believe they have reached the point of no return on the injury front, and Lamar Jackson hasn't played his best in two months, struggling badly against the blitz lately. The Browns, coming off a bye week following their last loss to the Ravens, are as healthy as they've been all season outside of their tight ends. All those factors will make it tougher for Cleveland to swallow when Lamar makes some crazy play late to win this game.

Los Angeles Chargers
ML: -430 · 7-5
New York Giants
ML: +330 · 4-8
  • WHERE: SoFi Stadium (Inglewood, Calif.)
  • WHEN: 4:05 p.m. ET | FOX
  • SPREAD: Giants +9 | O/U: 43.5


I'm curious to see if Justin Herbert's bombs-away approach in Cincinnati carries over into this week, especially with Keenan Allen and Mike Williams on the COVID-19 list. Patrick Graham's competitive Giants defense is built around preventing big plays, so this could be a slow burn. The Chargers can afford to be patient. With Daniel Jones likely out and Mike Glennon in concussion protocol, Jake Fromm State Farm is in line to start at quarterback. Even without the Bolts receivers, this line doesn't look big enough.


UPDATE: Mike Glennon has been cleared from the NFL's concussion protocol and will start Sunday for the Giants, NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reported Friday.


UPDATE No. 2: With Derwin James and Keenan Allen out for L.A., and a trio of key Giants (Sterling Shepard, Mike Glennon and Kenny Golladay) healthy enough to play, I no longer trust the Chargers to cover a two-score spread (Original pick: Chargers 24, Giants 13). All betting lines are current as of 3:15 p.m. ET on Sunday.

Denver Broncos
ML: -475 · 6-6
Detroit Lions
ML: +360 · 1-10-1
  • WHERE: Empower Field at Mile High (Denver)
  • WHEN: 4:05 p.m. ET | FOX
  • SPREAD: Broncos -10 | O/U: 42


I thought more about who to pick against the spread in this game than any other, an admission so pathetic it should probably remain unvoiced. This qualifies as a potential letdown game for Detroit, if that is possible for a 1-10-1 team. But going back to the Lions' bye week, Dan Campbell's squad has had a chance to win in the closing minutes of four straight games, including one started by Tim Boyle. It takes an above-average team to beat Detroit by two scores these days, and I've seen too much evidence to the contrary to believe Denver's anything but middle-of-the-pack.


UPDATE: I updated my projected score for Detroit on Friday based on some injury and health news. TE T.J. Hockenson was listed as doubtful on the injury report. RB Jamaal Williams and starting safety Tracy Walker were placed on the reserve/COVID-19 list. The Lions are just missing too many of their best players. 

San Francisco 49ers
ML: -125 · 6-6
Cincinnati Bengals
ML: +105 · 7-5
  • WHERE: Paul Brown Stadium (Cincinnati)
  • WHEN: 4:25 p.m. ET | CBS
  • SPREAD: 49ers -1.5 | O/U: 48.5


It hurts to keep picking against these likable Bengals, whose quarterback and team as a whole pass the eye test better than some of their underlying numbers would tell you. I worry about Joe Burrow if his offensive line isn't healthier this week. Cincinnati's depleted OL group made the 2021 Chargers look like the 1989 49ers last week. Meanwhile, the Bengals' defense still has weaknesses that smart coaches like Kyle Shanahan can exploit. Burrow is the better quarterback and has the weapons to explode in any game, but in an average week, this San Francisco team is deeper and tougher.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers
ML: -175 · 9-3
Buffalo Bills
ML: +150 · 7-5
  • WHERE: Raymond James Stadium (Tampa, Fla.)
  • WHEN: 4:25 p.m. ET | CBS
  • SPREAD: Buccaneers -3.5 | O/U: 53.5


In the aftermath of Monday night's wind-whipped loss to New England, Bills coach Sean McDermott was annoyed with the media, with the Patriots and seemingly with his own offensive coordinator. McDermott wants a team that can play physically up front, but this is not the week for that strategy. This is the week to see if the Bills can still thrive with an aerial assault. Buffalo should be able to attack a Tampa secondary that thought it was finally complete ... before losing Mike Edwards to a suspension, Jordan Whitehead to injury and Jamel Dean to a concussion. In theory, a team built to pass and stop the pass is a perfect one to upset the Bucs. But the Bucs may be the best passing team in the NFL, while the Bills are quietly no longer among the top 10. Their struggles aren't about toughness; it's about their biggest strength eroding.

Green Bay Packers
ML: -700 · 9-3
Chicago Bears
ML: +475 · 4-8
  • WHERE: Lambeau Field (Green Bay, Wis.)
  • WHEN: 8:20 p.m. ET | NBC
  • SPREAD: Packers -12.5 | O/U: 43


The Packers are greater than the sum of their parts -- and their parts are getting healthier. This Bears roster is about to be sold off for spare parts. I'm annoyed that NBC left this game in Sunday Night Football, but I'm much less annoyed now that Justin Fields is back. Also helps that Allen Robinson and Akiem Hicks have returned to practice. Aaron Rodgers is seemingly getting better every week he doesn't practice, so I just can't see this Chicago secondary slowing him down for four quarters.

MONDAY, DEC. 13

Arizona Cardinals
ML: -135 · 10-2
Los Angeles Rams
ML: +115 · 8-4
  • WHERE: State Farm Stadium (Glendale, Ariz.)
  • WHEN: 8:15 p.m. ET | ESPN
  • SPREAD: Cardinals -2.5 | O/U: 51.5


In general, I'm wary of the 2.5-point home favorite, the type of team that Vegas is almost begging the public to take. That's where this line is at publishing, despite Arizona's superior résumé and complete profile, including improved health. There is a certain logic to the Rams, a mostly veteran team, rounding into form this week. It's hard to sweep a division rival, and Los Angeles has the talent to put it all together down the stretch. Still, winning this game would take the best effort from Sean McVay's crew since the Week 3 win over Tampa. For the Cardinals, their average game should be good enough.

THURSDAY'S GAME

Minnesota Vikings
ML: -175 · 5-7
Pittsburgh Steelers
ML: +150 · 6-5-1


The Vikings are capable of losing any game -- especially when the defense is missing its spine, as was the case this past Sunday in Detroit. Eric Kendricks, Anthony Barr and Patrick Peterson are all expected to return for this contest against a Steelers attack that found some answers against the Ravens by letting Ben Roethlisberger take command. While I worry about a Christian Darrisaw-free offensive line going up against T.J. Watt and friends, the Vikings are too exhausting a 2021 storyline to go away quietly by falling to 5-8. They will torture their fans until the end!

Follow Gregg Rosenthal on Twitter.

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