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Ty Nowell/Los Angeles Chargers

2022 NFL Game Picks: Week 14

Last week: 11-3-1

Season: 119-74-2


LV (5-7) @ LAR (3-9)

Thursday, December 8 | 8:15 PM ET | Prime Video


The schedule this season has not been great for primetime matchups, but Raiders-Rams at least has one squad (Las Vegas) back in the playoff race, and I get the feeling that Los Angeles potentially playing former No. 1 overall pick Baker Mayfield might be somewhat of a ratings move with Sean McVay doing a favor for the company he almost stepped away from coaching to call games for. That’s not to say Mayfield wouldn’t give the Rams the best chance to win—a simplified game plan with him at the controls could lead to an efficient offense—but it’s rare territory for a quarterback to play after just two days with a new team, so we’ll see what happens. Josh McDaniels and the Raiders deserve credit for getting the season back on the rails after a crushing three-game losing streak before the current three-game winning streak, and playing through Josh Jacobs has been a big reason for it. Will that continue on a short week, or will the calf injury impact his workload?


Winner: Las Vegas Raiders


NYJ (7-5) @ BUF (9-3)

Sunday, December 11 | 1:00 PM ET | CBS


New York was able to win a somewhat strange game versus the Bills back in Week 9, as Josh Allen rushed nine times for 86 yards and two touchdowns—but the Jets limited him to 205 passing yards and two interceptions in their 20-17 victory. Other than being in Buffalo, I believe the difference in the rematch will be the Bills having more balance on offense with Devin Singletary and James Cook seeing more than 12 combined carries, and Allen might need to be more willing to take his checkdowns to move the ball. Also, right tackle Spencer Brown wasn’t in the lineup for the first meeting, and left tackle Dion Dawkins (ankle) getting in a limited practice to begin the week is a good sign. On the other side of the ball, Sean McDermott has really given the Jets problems offensively, and Mike White tossed four interceptions against them last season. With superstar cornerback Tre’Davious White working back to full form to help overcome the loss of Von Miller (knee), the young pass rushers need to step up this week, down the stretch, and into the postseason for the Bills to win their first Lombardi Trophy.


Winner: Buffalo Bills


CLE (5-7) @ CIN (8-4)

Sunday, December 11 | 1:00 PM ET | CBS


It’s crazy that Joe Burrow is now 3-0 against the Chiefs and 0-4 against the Browns in his career, but Cleveland has had Cincinnati’s number for whatever reason—including with a 32-13 victory on Halloween earlier this season. Of course, Ja’Marr Chase didn’t play in Week 8, and this is another matchup where there is some bad blood between the Bengals and their opponent, as Chase wants revenge for how last season played out, and the Browns secondary previously voiced their confidence about again containing him. Cleveland needs to feed Nick Chubb in order to keep their division and playoff hopes alive, though, and Cincinnati might sell out to stop him like they did Derrick Henry a couple of weeks ago; if so, the Browns must get the ball to Chubb in space, use Deshaun Watson’s legs on designed runs, and play through David Njoku with short-to-intermediate throws to get their quarterback comfortable. Because the Bengals are coming off a couple of draining victories versus two top teams in the AFC, I’m not sure this will be the spot where Burrow finally gets a win over his division rival.


Winner: Cleveland Browns


HOU (1-10-1) @ DAL (9-3)

Sunday, December 11 | 1:00 PM ET | FOX


The Cowboys have shown an ability to completely dominate opponents this season, and Sunday could get ugly if they come in focused on taking care of business versus a Houston team that has lost each of their past three games by 13+ points. If there is a positive for the Texans in terms of improvement over the past few weeks, it’s that the run defense has been significantly better than it was over the first nine games—but the offense has trended in the complete opposite direction, and I doubt that going back to Davis Mills at quarterback will make much of a difference. CeeDee Lamb on offense and Micah Parsons on defense will likely be too much to handle as the Cowboys improve to 10-3 to keep pressure on the Eagles leading up to their Christmas Eve showdown.


Winner: Dallas Cowboys


MIN (10-2) @ DET (5-7)

Sunday, December 11 | 1:00 PM ET | FOX


You might have heard that the Lions are favored this week versus the Vikings—who have the second-best record in the NFL—which shows just how far the team has come under Dan Campbell, but don’t overlook the impact or play of Jared Goff. At home, the former No. 1 overall pick has a 17:3 touchdown-interception ratio this season, and he’s a pinpoint distributor that has only gotten better with more time in the system. I’m hopeful that we’ll see more of rookie Jameson Williams on Sunday after he wasn’t targeted with eight snaps in his career debut, but his mere presence on the field gives opponents something to think about; and I think he can beat Minnesota’s cornerbacks on a vertical shot this weekend. For the Vikings, they’ll likely have some better ideas on how to scheme open Justin Jefferson after he was held to three receptions for 14 scoreless yards against Detroit in Week 3, but Kirk Cousins needs to be sharper than he was in the win over the Jets. If the Lions can get another victory this week, their confidence will soar even higher with a legitimate chance to run the table and make the playoffs.


Winner: Detroit Lions


PHI (11-1) @ NYG (7-4-1)

Sunday, December 11 | 1:00 PM ET | FOX


The progression of Jalen Hurts has been remarkable with his accuracy and decision-making putting him among the top passers in the league to pair with his unique ability as a runner, and being a quick learner is something that’s probably gone overlooked about his game. Just last season, the should-be NFL MVP frontrunner followed up a three-interception performance against the Giants by taking care of the ball with 199 yards and two touchdowns in the rematch, and New York’s defense appears to be a more favorable matchup at this point—especially with cornerback Adoree’ Jackson (knee) possibly still out for them. To win, the Giants must again feature Saquon Barkley as a receiver (at least five targets in each of the past three games), but creating explosive plays for him hasn’t happened since October, which has coincided with the team’s struggles. Philadelphia could win handily if that remains the case.


Winner: Philadelphia Eagles


BAL (8-4) @ PIT (5-7)

Sunday, December 11 | 1:00 PM ET | CBS


Lamar Jackson (knee) is almost certainly out this week, but Tyler Huntley is the perfect backup quarterback that can come in and make plays both with his arm and legs. Last season, Mark Andrews was putting up huge numbers with Huntley in the lineup, and I’ll be very interested to see how Pittsburgh defends him after he was targeted a whopping 15 times last year when Huntley started against them (resulting in eight receptions for 85 yards). Overall, the Steelers were able to contain Baltimore’s offense by holding Huntley to 141 passing yards and two interceptions (plus a lost fumble on a T.J. Watt strip sack) in the 16-13 win, and Sunday could be another low-scoring game where the turnover battle is the deciding factor. I would just hope that Kenny Pickett doesn’t force the ball to a grumpy George Pickens, but as stated when Pittsburgh was 2-6 and then 3-7, don’t count out Mike Tomlin getting them to at least .500—which he’s done every season since being hired in 2007.


Winner: Pittsburgh Steelers


JAX (4-8) @ TEN (7-5)

Sunday, December 11 | 1:00 PM ET | CBS


The firing of general manager Jon Robinson was a major surprise because of the timing for a first-place team, but Mike Vrabel is an elite coach that arguably adds multiple wins to the roster every year—and Titans owner Amy Adams Strunk watching A.J. Brown go off against them seemed to be the straw that broke the camel’s back. Looking ahead to the offseason, the big storyline in Tennessee will be what they do at quarterback, as Ryan Tannehill is a very tough player that might have a ceiling, while Malik Willis is still an unknown (I like him, but maybe Vrabel doesn’t), and there will be a ton of options available again—including possibly Tom Brady. Jacksonville is fortunate to be the only team in the division to undoubtedly have their franchise signal-caller with Trevor Lawrence, and him not having a serious injury after going down last week might be the best “win” of the year for them. This week, I think Tennessee will get back to bullying opponents with Derrick Henry (28 carries for 68 scoreless yards over the past two weeks) gearing back up ahead of the postseason.


Winner: Tennessee Titans


KC (9-3) @ DEN (3-9)

Sunday, December 11 | 4:05 PM ET | CBS


The NFL and NBC mercifully took this AFC West matchup out of primetime, as Patrick Mahomes is 9-0 against the Broncos in his career, and this will be the worst Denver team that he’s faced with a 3-9 record and a league-low 13.8 points per game scored (to compare, the Texans are the second-worst scoring offense with 15.7 points per game). That said, the Broncos do have an outstanding defense with 17.0 points per game allowed (second in the NFL), and Mahomes hasn’t played his best against them in recent matchups despite the team success—throwing for 243.0 yards per game with a 4:1 touchdown-interception ratio over the past four meetings. Kansas City needs to hope that Buffalo slips up over the final five weeks to get homefield advantage back in the AFC, but more important is getting the playmakers back with Mecole Hardman (abdomen) and Kadarius Toney (hamstring) being missing pieces to provide explosiveness alongside Travis Kelce.


Winner: Kansas City Chiefs


CAR (4-8) @ SEA (7-5)

Sunday, December 11 | 4:25 PM ET | FOX


The Seahawks had a great team win last week to knock off the Rams and stay within a game of the 49ers in the NFC West, and DeeJay Dallas should be highlighted for returning to action—with Ken Walker III (ankle) having already been ruled out—despite dealing with what sounds like a high-ankle sprain that might keep him out this week and beyond. No matter who is at running back, Seattle has the weapons to move the ball versus Carolina with DK Metcalf and Tyler Lockett both on pace for 1,000-yard campaigns catching passes from a confident Geno Smith, and Noah Fant also becoming a more consistent piece for the passing attack over the past month gives them another dangerous weapon between the two star wideouts. Chunk plays for D.J. Moore, Terrace Marshall Jr., and Laviska Shenault Jr. need to be prevented, but Sam Darnold was blown out in Seattle a couple of years ago, 40-3, and the cold, gloomy weather should play to the advantage of Pete Carroll’s squad.


Winner: Seattle Seahawks


TB (6-6) @ SF (8-4)

Sunday, December 11 | 4:25 PM ET | FOX


The Buccaneers getting the ball back down 16-10 on Monday night felt close to automatic for Tom Brady to march his team for a game-winning touchdown, and that’s exactly what happened as the Bucs created further separation in the NFC South and broke the hearts of the Saints. San Francisco will be another huge challenge for TB12 and a Tampa Bay offense that continues to struggle, but the same will be true for Brock Purdy in his first career start—though it helps that the rookie has endorsements from basically every key member of the offense. Sunday might come down to whether or not the Bucs are able to stop Christian McCaffrey like they did Alvin Kamara in Week 13, as making Purdy push the ball downfield can lead to mistakes versus a secondary that will hopefully get Sean Murphy-Bunting (quadriceps) back in the slot after rookie Zyon McCollum struggled some against New Orleans. I’m worried about Nick Bosa and the pass rush making it a long day for Brady, but it’s tough to not go with the GOAT facing “Mr. Irrelevant” in America’s Game of the Week.


Winner: Tampa Bay Buccaneers


MIA (8-4) @ LAC (6-6)

Sunday, December 11 | 8:20 PM ET | NBC


Los Angeles falling last week to the Raiders was a substantial blow to their playoff outlook in a tightening race, so it’s important that they find a way to get at least one victory versus Miami or Tennessee over the next two weeks before a very winnable schedule after Christmas (@ IND, v LAR, @ DEN). Fortunately, it looks like Mike Williams (ankle) might make his return on Sunday night, and he’ll elevate the entire offense by at least drawing the coverage of Xavien Howard—and in a best-case scenario, will be able to make plays if not facing shadow coverage from the Dolphins’ top cornerback. The concern, though, is the struggling defense for LA being unable to contain Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle, but it’s worth noting that Asante Samuel Jr. did about as well as someone can versus Hill in the lone matchup last season (five receptions for 56 yards). High-scoring games have often gone against the Chargers late, but I’ll say Justin Herbert is able to outduel Tua Tagovailoa at home with more on the line for his team.


Winner: Los Angeles Chargers


NE (6-6) @ ARI (4-8)

Monday, December 12 | 8:15 PM ET | ESPN/ESPN2


Bill Belichick and the New England defense was able to get the better of Kliff Kingsbury and Kyler Murray a couple of years ago in a 20-17 victory for the Patriots—so the rematch will be fun to see with Arizona having the bye week to prepare and Belichick getting a few extra days having played last Thursday night. DeAndre Hopkins, Marquise Brown, and Rondale Moore (groin) all potentially being on the field together for the first time should make the Cardinals very difficult to defend with James Conner also playing well at running back, but it’s up to Murray to deal with whatever Belichick throws at him—which I suspect will be a lot of dropping eight guys in coverage and trying to keep the five-foot-ten quarterback in the pocket. On the New England offense, don’t be surprised if Belichick has more influence on the game plan to get them going, as it’s rare for players to sway from “The Patriot Way” by publicly voicing displeasure, but that’s what’s happened based on all the built-up frustration this year. If Mac Jones can avoid a risky throw against an athletic defense, there should be holes for the Pats to attack in order to consistently move the offense this week.


Winner: New England Patriots