NFL picks, predictions against spread Week 14: Rams finish off Patriots; Steelers stop Bills; Giants stay hot

With Week 14 arriving, we’re officially into the final month of the 2020 NFL season. 75 percent of the results are in, with “only” 64 of 256 games left to play. There are still plenty of opportunities to finish strong with our picks and predictions against the spread. But with more chances to get games right, unfortunately, comes with an equal percentage of being wrong.

After a better fearless forecast for Week 13, here’s to building on needed positive momentum as we go deeper into prognostications. As we say goodbye to byes, here’s breaking down the first of four closing full slates of games:

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NFL picks against the spread for Week 14

Game of Midweek: Patriots at Rams (-6, 44.5 o/u) 

Thursday, 8:20 p.m. ET, Fox, NFL Network, Amazon Prime Video

The Patriots are at their best when they can win games with the running of Cam Newton and their deep backfield, buoyed by complementary defense. The Rams can throw off that formula by winning up front and forcing Newton to pass. The Patriots are still weakest in their run defense and the Rams have gotten into a groove with their young committee to take pressure off Jared Goff. 

Pick: Rams win 20-13 and cover the spread.

Game of the Week: Steelers (-1.5, 47.5 o/u) at Bills 

Sunday, 8:20 p.m. ET, NBC

The Steelers get their toughest test yet in trying to stay undefeated in the conference through the regular season. The Bills will be pumped for a rare Sunday night home game to show just how good they are as a new, consistent AFC East power. But they also are coming off a short week with a little less offensive explosiveness than usual and a limited running game. The Steelers can have success running to facilitate Ben Roethlisberger’s intermediate passing. Josh Allen will make the key mistakes while under pressure late.

Pick: Steelers win 27-20 and cover the spread.

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Lock of the Week: Packers (-7.5, 55 o/u) over Lions

Sunday, 4:25 p.m. ET, Fox

The Packers aren’t getting enough respect with this number. They are rolling offensively with Aaron Jones back joining the party with Aaron Rodgers and Davante Adams. The Lions have zero answers for any of them as Green Bay can pass and run at will here with no mistakes. Detroit doesn’t run well enough to stay in the game and eventually Matthew Stafford succumbs to sacks and giveaways.

Pick: Packers win 34-21 and cover the spread. 

Upset of the Week: Bears over Texans (-2.5, 46 o/u)

Sunday 1 p.m. ET, CBS

The Bears were able to get their running game going with David Montgomery and were about to win until Mitchell Trubisky fumbled away the Lions game late. Deshaun Watson still is the much better first-round quarterback from the 2017 draft, but Trubisky is the one who can lean on the rushing attack against a bad Houston run defense and know his pass defense will be eager to rebound from a rough home game against the Lions.

Pick: Bears win 24-20.

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Vikings at Buccaneers (-6.5, 52.5 o/u)

Sunday, 1 p.m. ET, Fox

The Vikings will see their run-heavy approach stymied by the rested and mighty Bucs’ run defense. Dalvin Cook will be contained in that capacity, putting plenty of heat on Kirk Cousins and his elite wide receivers to keep up with Tom Brady and his bevy of weapons working on a weak secondary and a Vikings zone defense. Minnesota’s recent sluggish starts haunt it against Tampa Bay, which will be better organized coming off a bye.

Pick: Buccaneers win 30-20 and cover the spread.

Cardinals at Giants (-2.5, 45 o/u)

Sunday, 1 p.m. ET, Fox

The Cardinals step into another tough defensive matchup with a team getting revved up with the inside-outside pass rush and backing it up with good coverage. Kyler Murray will have some rushing success but the passing game will continue to remain limited on the road. The Giants will be able to run the ball traditionally better with red-hot Wayne Gallman and their intermediate receivers.

Pick: Giants win 23-20 and cover the spread.

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Chiefs (-7.5, 49 o/u) at Dolphins 

Sunday, 1 p.m. ET, CBS

The Chiefs know they missed some big-play chances to make the game tougher against the Broncos than it needed to be. Patrick Mahomes will make amends back on the field where he won Super Bowl MVP in February. Tua Tagovailoa can keep playing well and the Dolphins’ defense will present some challenges, but the Dolphns have gotten away with a favorable schedule and will have a let down against the refocused champs.

Pick: Chiefs win 27-14 and cover the spread.

Sunday, 1 p.m. ET, CBS

The Titans’ defense has plenty of holes and when their offense is helping out by running for big chunks and passing for big plays to build a big lead, it’s set up to get exposed by a balanced, explosive attack. Derrick Henry will get back to rushing at a high level, setting up Ryan Tannehill for another big afternoon on the road. Mike Glennon has sparked the Jaguars’ offense, with good help from James Robinson, and they will hang around again to make it close.

Pick: Titans win 31-24 but fail to cover the spread.

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Sunday, 1 p.m. ET, Fox

Andy Dalton gets a revenge game against his former team, except he won’t get to duel his successor, Joe Burrow. That’s a big break for the Cowboys’ defense, as is a weak Bengals’ offensive line and no running game without Joe Mixon. The Cowboys can get their running game rolling again with Ezekiel Elliott and Dalton’s receivers have good matchups across the board. This isn’t in prime time in Cincinnati, which means Dalton plays well and wins a game.

Pick: Cowboys win 24-20 and cover the spread.

Broncos at Panthers (-3.5, 47 o/u)

Sunday, 1 p.m. ET, CBS

The Broncos have to pick up the pieces from a tough loss to the Chiefs while the Panthers are home-standing after a bye. They should have Christian McCaffrey back to exploit a bad Denver run defense. The Broncos won’t run quite as effectively with Melvin Gordon and Phillip Lindsay and Drew Lock will be in more discomfort than Teddy Bridgewater with another rough road outing.

Pick: Panthers win 23-20 but fail to cover the spread.

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Jets at Seahawks (-13.5, 47 o/u)

Sunday, 4:05 p.m. ET, CBS

The Seahawks had a bad game against the other New York team at home. But the red-hot Giants are a different story than the ice-cold Jets. Russell Wilson will be eager to light up an opponent with Tyler Lockett and DK Metcalf, allowing Chris Carson to play closer. Pete Carroll’s improving defense won’t care that Sam Darnold went to USC and will continue to smack around the Jets’ lame-duck QB.

Pick: Seahawks win 33-15 and cover the spread.

Colts (-2.5, 50.5 o/u) at Raiders

Sunday, 4:05 p.m. ET, CBS

The Colts are always in good shape offensively when they can rely on churning out major yardage in the running game. The Raiders have become a sieve and will wilt against Indianapolis’ versatile committee. It’s gotten easier to trust Philip Rivers and harder to trust Derek Carr, who also faces the tougher all-around defense in this home game.

Pick: Colts win 27-21 and cover the spread.

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Sunday, 4:25 p.m. ET, Fox

Alex Smith and WFT will have good momentum going to Arizona to take on his first NFL team. The 49ers are recovering from playing on Monday night and at least will have some experience in their new digs. Look for both teams to grind away offensively with San Francisco having more success in the running game to help Nick Mullens. 

Pick: 49ers win 23-20 but fail to cover the spread.

Sunday, 4:25 p.m. ET, Fox

The Saints keep looking great offensively with Taysom Hill. The Eagles might be looking for a similar kind of dual threat spark from Jalen Hurts in a must-win game after tough losses to the Seahawks and Packers. Philadelphia’s defense can cause a few problems for New Orleans’ offense because it can contain the run. The Eagles can help Hurts with a strong short-to-intermediate game and designed runs, but it won’t be enough.

Pick: Saints win 26-20 but fail to cover the spread.

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Sunday, 4:25 p.m. ET, Fox

The Falcons will look to keep running the ball to take pressure off Matt Ryan, this time with productive results against a shaky Chargers front. They also can keep Julio Jones and Calvin Ridley red-hot together all over the field. Justin Herbert is hitting a bit of a rookie wall with his aggressive downfield passing while it takes more patience with underneath passing to beat Atlanta, which typically handles the run well.

Pick: Falcons win 31-27 and cover the spread.

Monday, 8:15 p.m. ET, ESPN

The Ravens will be headed into another short week on the road facing a tough Browns run defense which can better contain Lamar Jackson. The Browns can be roasted on the back end but Jackson isn’t getting consistent receiving help. The Ravens’ run defense hasn’t been as good of late and their pass rush has been limited, which will allow Baker Mayfield to stay hot and comfortable enough at home.

Pick: Browns win 20-17.

Stats of the Week

Week 13 straight up: 8-6

Week 13 against the spread: 6-8

Season straight up: 122-69

Season against the spread: 102-84

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