The dash to the end of the NFL season continues with a full Week 14 slate that features no shortage of playoff-important matchups.
NESN.com’s Mike Cole, Ricky Doyle and Andre Khatchaturian have made their against-the-spread picks for this week, which you can see below.
But first, here’s how they fared a week ago.
Mike Cole: 9-6 (91-96-4 overall)
Ricky Doyle: 6-9 (90-97-4)
Andre Khatchaturian: 6-9 (87-100-4)
Now, here are their Week 14 picks, with all lines via consensus data.
THURSDAY, DEC. 10
New England Patriots at (-5) Los Angeles Rams, 8:20 p.m.
Mike: Rams. Based on EPA, the only defense the Patriots have faced this season better than LA’s is San Francisco’s. New England scored 10 points and turned it over four times in that one. Just hard to see how they score enough to hang here.
Ricky: Rams. The Patriots’ offensive shortcomings haven’t magically disappeared. Los Angeles’ defense is too good, and New England’s coaching advantage isn’t as sizable as it is most weeks. Sean McVay gets his revenge for Super Bowl LIII.
Andre: Rams. New England’s biggest strength is its running attack. The Patriots lead the NFL in rush attempts and have established an identity running the ball. Too bad the Rams allow just 3.9 yards per carry and the third-fewest rushing yards per game. The Pats likely will have a tough time throwing the ball, too. The Rams allow a league-low 6.0 yards per pass attempt.
SUNDAY, DEC. 13
(-2.5) Arizona Cardinals at New York Giants, 1 p.m.
Mike: Giants. New York hasn’t allowed more than 20 points in a game since Week 8. Unsurprisingly, the Giants are 4-0 in that stretch, while Arizona has looked out of sync on offense with Kyler Murray supposedly dealing with a shoulder injury.
Ricky: Cardinals. Two teams trending in opposite directions. New York’s quarterback uncertainty still scares me, though, whereas Arizona’s three-game losing streak has involved defeats to the Seahawks, Patriots and Rams, all formidable opponents. Time for the Cards to get right.
Andre: Cardinals. This is a great time to take the Cardinals since the Giants are hot and Arizona is not. The Giants’ success is not sustainable. They are 29th in yards per play this season and have a negative yards per play differential during their winning streak.
(-3.5) Dallas Cowboys at Cincinnati Bengals, 1 p.m.
Mike: Bengals. The Cowboys shouldn’t really be favorites against anyone, especially on the road … even if it is the Bengals.
Ricky: Cowboys. I’m probably putting way too much stock into the Andy Dalton revenge factor. But what the heck? YOLO.
Andre: Cowboys. Dallas can’t stop the run, but Cincinnati’s running attack essentially is nonexistent. The Bengals haven’t cracked the 100-yard mark as a team over the last three games. You have to think that Dalton will be extra fired up, as well, playing in a revenge game at his old home stadium.
Denver Broncos at (-3.5) Carolina Panthers, 1 p.m.
Mike: Broncos. Folks, I’ll be honest with you. This is a reverse jinx. I’ve got Christian McCaffrey in my fantasy playoffs, and I feel like if I pick against his team here, he’ll not only play but be fantastic because I picked against him. It’s been that kind of year.
Ricky: Broncos. Denver was so hell-bent on building a dynamic offense that it evidently forgot the importance of taking care of the football. The Broncos rank dead-last in giveaways and turnover differential. That said, there’s too much COVID-19-related uncertainty surrounding the Panthers right now. Take the points.
Andre: Broncos. Neither team is particularly great at anything, but the Broncos have a solid defense. They rank fourth in overall defense, fifth in rush defense and fifth in coverage on Pro Football Focus. With McCaffrey banged up and possibly missing another game, the Panthers will have to rely on Teddy Bridgewater, and that hasn’t proven to be a winning formula for them all season.
(-1.5) Houston Texans at Chicago Bears, 1 p.m.
Mike: Texans. Yuck. I think Chicago has quit on Matt Nagy. And since this season is going so poorly for the Bears, it’s only fitting Deshaun Watson — another reminder of the 2017 draft whiff — is the one who ends the Nagy/Ryan Pace tenure in Chicago.
Ricky: Bears. The easiest way to negate Houston’s colossal quarterback advantage? Tote the rock. David Montgomery has shown a little extra burst the past couple of weeks, and the Texans remain vulnerable against the run.
Andre: Texans. I love Houston against sub-.500 teams. Seven of the Texans’ eight losses have come against the Colts, Browns, Packers, Titans, Ravens, Steelers and Chiefs. Most of those squads are playoff teams and have a decent shot to win the Super Bowl. Despite its record, Houston ranks third in yards per play and has a positive yards per play differential. The Bears rank 27th in YPP differential.
(-7.5) Kansas City Chiefs at Miami Dolphins, 1 p.m.
Mike: Dolphins. Miami got Myles Gaskin back last week, and the running back looked good, rushing for 90 yards. He should be a focal point of the Dolphins’ offense, given KC’s penchant for allowing rushing yards. Defensively, I just like Miami’s ability to play different ways, and Brian Flores’ time with the Patriots could help him build a plan that slows the Chiefs.
Ricky: Chiefs. Patrick Mahomes carves up opponents who send extra pass rushers, and Miami has the second-highest blitz rate in the NFL. The Dolphins also have benefitted from opponent miscues, a fortune that won’t work in their favor this week. No team has fewer giveaways than the Chiefs, who are tied for first in turnover differential.
Andre: Chiefs. Kansas City’s biggest weakness is its rush defense, but the Dolphins won’t be able to exploit it. They average the fewest yards per carry in the NFL. On the other side of the ball, the Chiefs’ explosive offense will take advantage of the Dolphins’ defense, which allows the fifth-highest explosive run rate. The Chiefs have the second-best yards per play differential, while the Dolphins are 24th, suggesting Miami may very well be fakes, frauds and phonies.
Minnesota Vikings at (-6.5) Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 1 p.m.
Mike: Bucs. Tampa Bay’s offense is perplexing. The Bucs love throwing deep when they’d probably be better suited with a shorter passing game given Tom Brady’s past success. That said, this is a week the insistence on the deep ball should play against a Minnesota defense ranked 28th in explosive passing plays allowed.
Ricky: Bucs. The Vikings have called a run play 51.3 percent of the time on first and second down combined, per ESPN Stats & Info, the fourth-highest mark in the NFL. Makes sense when you have Dalvin Cook. But this will play right into the hands of a Bucs defense ranked fourth in run success rate against on first and second down, per Sharp Football Stats.
Andre: Bucs. The Vikings are at their best when they can get Cook going. He might struggle against the Bucs, who allow the fewest yards per carry and just 74 rushing yards per game. The Bucs have allowed 100-plus rushing yards just twice this season.
(-7.5) Tennessee Titans at Jacksonville Jaguars, 1 p.m.
Mike: Jaguars. Unsurprisingly, this is the biggest total of the week (53.5), as it features two wretched defenses. The Titans should, and probably will, score a bunch of points, especially through the air against Jacksonville’s depleted secondary. But I can’t ignore Tennessee’s horrendous third-down defense (last in the NFL), nor the fact the Titans have allowed 6.5 yards per play over the last three weeks. Too many points to lay wit that defense.
Ricky: Jaguars. Maybe Jacksonville sneaks in the back door. Or maybe it’s a scenario where Tennessee just flat-out plays down to an inferior opponent. Either way, it feels like the Titans are on shaky ground thanks to their defensive deficiencies.
Andre: Titans. Teams love to run against Jacksonville, and for good reason. The Jaguars allow the third-most rushing yards per game. Expect a huge game for Derrick Henry. The Jags also allow the most yards per pass attempt. This could be a big game for the Titans’ wide receivers, and it’s a good spot to right the ship after a tough loss against the Browns.
(-2.5) Indianapolis Colts at Las Vegas Raiders, 4:05 p.m.
Mike: Raiders. It sounds like Trent Brown is finally going to play this week, as is Josh Jacobs. That’s a big shot in the arm for Vegas. Indy, meanwhile, is down to its third-string left tackle, which feels like an issue when your quarterback is a statue like Phil Rivers.
Ricky: Raiders. The second leg of back-to-back road games for the Colts, who are coming off two divisional showdowns. Won’t be easy, especially when you bake in the Raiders’ familiarity with Philip Rivers from his extensive run in the AFC West.
Andre: Colts. The Colts’ buttoned-up defense will be able to stifle Las Vegas’ inconsistent offense. They rank third in yards allowed per carry, meaning Derek Carr might be having a large workload. I also trust Indy in the turnover battle. The Colts rank fourth in turnover differential.
New York Jets at (-13.5) Seattle Seahawks, 4:05 p.m.
Mike: Jets. Call me crazy, but I think the Jets’ defense can cause some problems up front this week, much like the Giants did a week ago. Laying 13.5 with the Seahawks against anyone right now is just something I don’t want to do until proven otherwise.
Ricky: Jets. There’s often value in backing a road underdog coming off a loss, as public perception can skew the market. The Jets admittedly are a different kind of bad, but the Seahawks aren’t without their warts.
Andre: Jets. The Seahawks are one of the best rushing teams in the league, averaging 4.7 yards per carry, but the Jets’ run defense allows fewer than four yards per carry. Sam Darnold will be able to throw against a porous Seattle pass defense. The only team to allow more passing yards than the Jets this season are the Seahawks.
(-2.5) Atlanta Falcons at Los Angeles Chargers, 4:25 p.m.
Mike: Chargers. Assuming Bill Belichick didn’t permanently scar Justin Herbert, this feels like the perfect bounce-back spot against an Atlanta defense that ranks 23rd in EPA per passing play allowed and 28th in passer rating allowed.
Ricky: Chargers. Sure, I’ll buy low on the Chargers in the hopes they rebound against another whatever team. Their special teams stink, but the Falcons aren’t much better in that area.
Andre: Chargers. This could be a fun game for Herbert. He goes up against a defense that allows the second-most yards per pass attempt. I love getting points with the Chargers at home, as well. Seven of their nine losses have been by one possession.
(-7.5) Green Bay Packers at Detroit Lions, 4:25 p.m.
Mike: Packers. These two teams met in Week 2, and the Packers put up 42 points and 488 yards of offense — with Davante Adams playing half the game. The Lions’ secondary is in shambles, and Green Bay is rolling. Look out.
Ricky: Packers. It’s time to start warming up to the idea that Green Bay might be the best team in the NFC. Yet, for whatever reason, it seems like the Packers are being overlooked nationally.
Andre: Packers. Detroit allows nearly eight yards per pass attempt, the third-highest mark in the NFL. That’s good news for Aaron Rodgers. Green Bay’s biggest weakness is its rush defense, but Detroit averages fewer than four yards per carry and likely will not be able to exploit that weakness.
(-7) New Orleans Saints at Philadelphia Eagles, 4:25 p.m.
Mike: Saints. Tried to find a way to talk myself into the Eagles because this is a clear lookahead spot for New Orleans (Saints-Chiefs next week) and because I’ll probably never trust Taysom Hill. That said, the Eagles’ offense is horrific, and Jalen Hurts won’t fix that.
Ricky: Saints. Talk about throwing your rookie quarterback to the wolves in his first career start. While this sure seems like a square bet, the ceiling is so low for Philadelphia’s offense and so high for New Orleans’ defense that picking the Eagles qualifies as a Hail Mary.
Andre: Saints. The Eagles rank 29th in yards per play and go up against a defense that has allowed 8.8 points per game over the last five games. The Saints also are third in sacks and face an offensive line that has allowed the most sacks this season.
Washington Football Team at (-3.5) San Francisco 49ers, 4:25 p.m.
Mike: 49ers. Somehow, this feels like a tougher spot for Washington than last week in Pittsburgh. The Niners feel like they’re in a much better spot to slow this type of short-passing offense, and they won’t have to worry about Antonio Gibson, either.
Ricky: 49ers. Definitely smells like a letdown spot after Washington’s win in Pittsburgh. Not sure the Football Team will do enough offensively against a San Francisco defense that’ll be fired up to atone for last week’s flop against Buffalo.
Andre: Washington. The 49ers have multiple turnovers in each of their last six games. Washington’s defense allows the fourth-fewest yards per play. It’s also a revenge game for Alex Smith.
Pittsburgh Steelers at (-1.5) Buffalo Bills, 8:20 p.m.
Mike: Steelers. Getting James Conner back will be big for the Steelers, especially against an uninspiring Bills run defense. On the other side, Pittsburgh’s No. 1 pressure rate should make life a lot more difficult for Josh Allen.
Ricky: Bills. Buffalo might be catching Pittsburgh at a good time. The Steelers are navigating through a weird schedule (third game in 12 days) with numerous injuries, and Pittsburgh’s offense suddenly seems to be dealing with a mini identity crisis.
Andre: Steelers. Pittsburgh couldn’t run the ball against Washington. The Steelers averaged just 1.5 yards per carry. As a result, Ben Roethlisberger threw the ball 53 times. Maybe they succeed on the ground against the Bills, who rank dead-last in rush defense, according to PFF. Also, Josh Allen has the propensity to make some mistakes. Pittsburgh leads the league in takeaways and turnover differential.
MONDAY, DEC. 14
(-1) Baltimore Ravens at Cleveland Browns, 8:15 p.m.
Mike: Ravens. What a game this should be. Give me Baltimore, though, which is getting healthier on defense with the recent returns of Calaias Campbell and Brandon Williams. The Ravens are expected to get back Matthew Judon, too. Offensively, Mark Andrews is expected back, and this game is just one they need more than the Browns.
Ricky: Ravens. Wouldn’t it be fitting if one week after the Browns’ “statement win” over the Titans they stumble in primetime? Baltimore still has a strong defense, which travels well, and is less likely to be fazed by the game’s magnitude relative to the AFC playoff picture.
Andre: Browns. These are two evenly matched teams. The Ravens are eighth in yards per play differential, while the Browns are ninth. Running the football is in the DNA of both teams, as well. Both rank near the top in rush attempts, yards per carry and rushing yards per game. But the Browns have the hotter quarterback (Baker Mayfield hasn’t thrown an interception in five straight games), are at home and are trying to avenge an embarrassing Week 1 loss.