December 6, 2013

NFL Betting: NFL Matchups for Week 14

Here at Bang the Book, we have all of the top matchups of the 2013 NFL betting campaign covered! Today, we’re taking a look at the best matchups for Week 14!

Houston Texans (2-10 SU, 3-9 ATS) @ Jacksonville Jaguars (3-9 SU, 4-8 ATS)
Spread: Houston –2.5, Total: 43

EverBank Field, Jacksonville, FL – Thursday, December 5th, 8:25 ET

Handicapping Match-up Details Pick & Preview

Technically, the Texans haven’t been eliminated from the playoffs yet, which makes us wonder how in the heck it’s even remotely possible for a 6-10 team to get into the second season with just four games left to play. More accurately, this game is all about QB Teddy Bridgewater, as the loser of this one, especially if it is Houston, is well on its way to getting the top pick in the draft. Last week was a wonderful one for Texans fans. Not only did Houston lose, but Jacksonville, Minnesota, and Atlanta all managed to win. That leaves the Texans as the only 10-loss team in the game, and they’ve managed to lose all 10 successively. When Houston lost at home to the Jags two weeks ago, it was the biggest disappointment of the season. This week might successfully top it, especially knowing that Jacksonville has quietly won three out of four games. The Jags have now covered two games in a row in this series as 10.5 and 15 point underdogs.

Indianapolis Colts (8-4 SU, 7-5 ATS) @ Cincinnati Bengals (8-4 SU, 7-4-1 ATS)
Spread: Cincinnati -6, Total: 43.5

Paul Brown Stadium, Cincinnati, OH – Sunday, December 8th, 1:00 ET

Handicapping Match-up Details Pick & Preview

Both the Colts and the Bengals are 8-4 teams, but they really don’t feel like they are the third and fourth best teams in the AFC right now. They are per the playoff rankings, and whichever team loses this game will almost certainly be the fourth seed in the AFC playoffs this year and have a date with the Chiefs in the first round of the playoffs. The winner will still at least have a chance at a first round bye, as the Patriots aren’t out of range at this point. The Bengals still have a division title to go and win, something that is only a formality right now for Indy. Cincinnati still feels like the much better of these two teams, and any game Indianapolis wins right now almost feels like luck. These two teams haven’t met since 2011, and the Colts haven’t covered a game in this series since 2008.

Buffalo Bills (4-8 SU, 6-6 ATS) @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers (3-9 SU, 5-7 ATS)
Spread: Tampa Bay -3, Total: 43

Raymond James Stadium, Tampa Bay, FL – Sunday, December 8th, 1:00 ET

Handicapping Match-up Details Pick & Preview

It wasn’t all that many weeks ago that the Bucs were a winless and totally hopeless team. There’s a shot to claim this game to get to 4-9 and at least make it so Head Coach Greg Schiano has a leg to stand on when he gets evaluated for how this season went. Odds have it, Schiano is out one way or the other, but at least his team is fighting hard. Buffalo meanwhile, looked like it was tanking games last week when it fumbled not just once, but twice in the crucial moments of the game against the Falcons in its annual game in Toronto. The Bills are now back on the road in this one in the Sunshine State, where they haven’t won a game since 1991. Buffalo is one of the many fringe playoff contending teams, but there is realistically no chance to get into the postseason, especially with the way it played last week against Atlanta.

Oakland Raiders (4-8 SU, 7-4-1 ATS) @ New York Jets (5-7 SU, 6-6 ATS)
Spread: New York -2.5, Total: 40.5

MetLife Stadium, East Rutherford, NJ – Sunday, December 8th, 1:00 ET

Handicapping Match-up Details Pick & Preview

If it feels like the Raiders are playing all of their games on the road against teams from either the Eastern or the Central Time Zones, that’s because they are. This is their fourth road game in their last five weeks, and this road trek both started and ended with trips to MetLife Stadium. The first was what has turned into a typical Raiders game. Oakland lost 24-20, but it managed to cover the spread. Of course, QB Terrelle Pryor was the quarterback at that point, and immediately thereafter, QB Matt McGloin took over and hasn’t looked back. The Jets can’t score anything right now, as they have just two field goals to show for their last 129 minutes of game time. The last time QB Geno Smith threw a touchdown pass feels like it was back in his junior year at West Virginia, but in actuality, it has been over a month and a half. These two teams stink, but both are still right in the thick of the fight for the last playoff bid in the AFC. The last time these two teams played against each other, there were 58 points that hit the board in a 34-24 Oakland win. These teams could play three games against each other and not reach 58 total points.

Atlanta Falcons (3-9 SU, 4-8 ATS) @ Green Bay Packers (5-6 SU, 5-7 ATS)
Spread: Off, Total: Off

Lambeau Field, Green Bay, WI – Sunday, December 8th, 1:00 ET

Handicapping Match-up Details Pick & Preview

QB Aaron Rodgers almost certainly realizes the gravity of the situation he and his team are currently in. The Packers stand no chance of beating just about anyone in the NFL right now, and that probably includes the 3-9 Falcons, if he isn’t on the field. No one wants to rush him back to the lineup, knowing that a broken collarbone is a tricky injury, especially for a quarterback who often gets hit and has to land on his shoulder. However, the Packers probably have to win out if they have any chance of winning the NFC North, which is their only ticket into the playoffs. Lose this game, and the season is certainly over with. That’s the quandary that the team is in right now, and until we see whether Rodgers or QB Matt Flynn is going to start, this game is off the board. Atlanta is coming off of its first win of the season, and it was the best game of the year for RB Steven Jackson and WR Roddy White. The Falcons are finally hitting their stride, and they are very capable of winning this game on the road, especially if Rodgers isn’t out there.

Minnesota Vikings (3-8-1 SU, 6-6 ATS) @ Baltimore Ravens (6-6 SU, 6-6 ATS)
Spread: Baltimore -7, Total: 42.5

M&T Bank Stadium, Baltimore, MD – Sunday, December 8th, 1:00 ET

Handicapping Match-up Details Pick & Preview

The AFC Wild Card chase seems to have gotten some clarity at this point, as the Ravens control their own destiny over the course of the last four weeks of the season. Of course, all of these lousy teams that are vying for the final playoff spot have been murdered in games like these that really should be victories, and it should surprise no one if Minnesota pulls the upset in this game. The Vikings, for their part, have played well the last two weeks, and though they nearly had back to back ties to show for their work, they have deserved a win and a split of the spoils. QB Matt Cassel is likely to get the start in this game for the Vikes after he led the team to victory last week, especially knowing that QB Christian Ponder is out injured after getting knocked out by the Bears. The home team has won all but one meeting that these two teams have played against each other since 1986.

Miami Dolphins (6-6 SU, 7-5 ATS) @ Pittsburgh Steelers (5-7 SU, 6-6 ATS)
Spread: Pittsburgh -3, Total: 41

Heinz Field, Pittsburgh, PA – Sunday, December 8th, 1:00 ET

Handicapping Match-up Details Pick & Preview

Just as we were talking about clarity in the AFC Wild Card race, we get to this game, where the Steelers can muck things up quite a bit if they can hold serve at home against the Dolphins. All of these 5-7 teams are rooting like heck for Pittsburgh this week, as it would be pretty clear that a Miami win would eliminate most of those clubs, especially Pittsburgh. This is a must win for the Steelers for sure. The Fins are only behind the Ravens via tiebreaker right now, but it’s really starting to look like the Ravens are going to get to at least eight wins this year, meaning Miami had better get to nine if it wants to have a shot at the postseason. These two have played three straight games decided by six points or fewer, and the last time these clubs played in Pittsburgh was in the horrid driving rainstorm where the ball was sticking in the ground on punts instead of bouncing in 2007. The final score was 3-0, and it was a wonder if either team was going to score on that day. The Steelers have won all three of these close games SU, but Miami has covers in two of those three.

Cleveland Browns (4-8 SU, 5-7 ATS) @ New England Patriots (9-3 SU, 6-6 ATS)
Spread: New England -10, Total: 45.5

Gillette Stadium, Foxboro, MA – Sunday, December 8th, 1:00 ET

Handicapping Match-up Details Pick & Preview

We’re still not all that sure whether it will be QB Jason Campbell, QB Brandon Weeden, QB Alex Tanney, or what for the Browns under center this week, but if those are the options we’re talking about, they’re in a lot of trouble. Campbell and Weeden suffered concussions in consecutive weeks, and both are extremely up in the air for this one. New England has to be licking its chops about playing against a team with no quarterback whatsoever, and it is going to want to get off to a better start in this game than it has been doing of late against teams like Houston and Denver. QB Tom Brady has been doing the job and hooking up with TE Rob Gronkowski a ton. This is, of course, a very personal game for Head Coach Bill Belichick, who was a disaster in his very first coaching job, which came in Cleveland. The Browns have only beaten Belichick once, but that one time was the last time in 2010, a 34-14 win at the Dawg Pound.

Kansas City Chiefs (9-3 SU, 6-6 ATS) @ Washington Redskins (3-9 SU, 3-9 ATS)
Spread: Kansas City -3, Total: 44.5

FedEx Field, Landover, MD – Sunday, December 8th, 1:00 ET

Handicapping Match-up Details Pick & Preview

If you’re looking for the sharpest game on the board, you’ve found it. The Redskins are insanely sharp at just +3 against the Chiefs, who still seem to be one of the best teams in the league on paper. However, it could all be set to come crashing down in Kansas City, as the Chiefs have dropped three straight games, albeit excusable in their own rights. A loss in this one will bring the idea of a total collapse into play, as no team has ever gone from 9-0 to coming anywhere near missing the playoffs. Washington stinks, but at least it is showing some spunk in games. There is a great desire to improve QB Robert Griffin III during a disaster of a season, and Head Coach Mike Shanahan is coaching to keep his job (though that ship may have already sailed). The Redskins haven’t covered a game in this series since the 1980s, nor have they won one, but this is a spot where the upset very well could be in the cards, especially with DE Justin Houston out of the lineup.

Detroit Lions (7-5 SU, 6-6 ATS) @ Philadelphia Eagles (7-5 SU, 6-6 ATS)
Spread: Philadelphia -2.5, Total: 54

Lincoln Financial Field, Philadelphia, PA – Sunday, December 8th, 1:00 ET

Handicapping Match-up Details Pick & Preview

These two teams are remarkably in the exact same boat right now. They have the same ATS records to go with the same SU records. They’re both leading their division. And they had both better win their division if they want to get into the playoffs. Philly at least would have a case to perhaps get a Wild Card if it doesn’t win the NFC East, but in all likelihood, the Wild Cards are going to be the 49ers and the loser of the Saints/Panthers series, as both of those teams are still likely to get to at least 11 wins, something which would win either of these teams their respective divisions for sure. This is a remarkable story of two teams which play a whole heck of a lot offense and just enough defense to get by. Last season, part of what buried the Eagles was an October loss to these Lions at home in overtime 26-23. It marked the second straight time Philly has failed to cover a game in this series.

Tennessee Titans (5-7 SU, 6-5-1 ATS) @ Denver Broncos (10-2 SU, 7-4-1 ATS)
Spread: Denver -12, Total: 49

Sports Authority Field at Mile High, Denver, CO – Sunday, December 8th, 4:05 ET

Handicapping Match-up Details Pick & Preview

This is a bad spot to be in for the Titans. They basically have to win this game if they want any chance to keep their postseason hopes alive, and they have to go on the road to take on what might be the best team in the league and is certainly the best team in the conference, and they have to do so in a week when the opponents are getting their head coach back for the first time in a month after a very frightening heart problem. Yuck. Denver is probably going to roll in this game, if for nothing else, the fact that QB Peyton Manning has worth his weight in gold at the moment. Manning is nine TDs short of the record for the most touchdown passes in a season, and he is there with four games left to play. Denver just took control of its own destiny for the #1 seed in the AFC, and winning this game would move it just two wins away from finishing the goal.

New York Giants (5-7 SU, 5-7 ATS) @ San Diego Chargers (5-7 SU, 6-5-1 ATS)
Spread: San Diego -3, Total: 47.5

Qualcomm Stadium, San Diego, CA – Sunday, December 8th, 4:25 ET

Handicapping Match-up Details Pick & Preview

Another de facto elimination game. The Giants have won five of their last six after starting at 0-6, but the fact of the matter is that they are probably done. Dallas and Philadelphia are both playing winnable games this week, and unless both start to lose in a hurry, there isn’t going to be a way to get into the postseason, even at 9-7. San Diego is a game back of the last Wild Card slot in the AFC, but it probably isn’t going to matter when push comes to shove. 9-7 certainly would be good enough for San Diego, but it is seeming less and less likely that anyone is going to get to nine in this conference, and tiebreakers aren’t going to end well for the Bolts. This is just the second time that QB Eli Manning has played a game in San Diego, the town he spurned to essentially force his way to New York. The first time he was here was in 2009, and he threw for nearly 400 yards en route to a Giants victory.

St. Louis Rams (5-7 SU, 5-7 ATS) @ Arizona Cardinals (7-5 SU, 7-4-1 ATS)
Spread: Arizona -6, Total: 41.5

University of Phoenix Stadium, Glendale, AZ – Sunday, December 8th, 4:25 ET

Handicapping Match-up Details Pick & Preview

These two teams met back in Week 1 of the season, and St. Louis kicked a game-winning field goal with just a few seconds left in the game to get the victory. The Cardinals need to exact revenge in this game, and the door has swung open for them to perhaps tie the 49ers for the last Wild Card slot in the NFC this week. Remember too, that either New Orleans or Carolina has to lose this week, and then one of those clubs has to be beaten in three weeks when they meet again. Getting to 10 wins may be good enough to challenge, but we think that the Cardinals need to win out to have a real shot. The Rams are a much better team now than they were at the start of the season though, and they have some big road wins to prove it at this point. The underdog has covered four straight in this series, including when Arizona did so by a hook in Week 1.

Seattle Seahawks (11-1 SU, 8-4 ATS) @ San Francisco 49ers (8-4 SU, 9-3 ATS)
Spread: San Francisco -2.5, Total: 41

Candlestick Park, San Francisco, CA – Sunday, December 8th, 4:25 ET

Handicapping Match-up Details Pick & Preview

This might legitimately be the game of the week. The 49ers know that they absolutely have to have this one against a Seattle team which controls its own destiny to get the #1 seed in the NFC. The Seahawks can’t clinch it this week, but a win clinches the NFC West and a first round bye, while two more wins will officially lock up that top seed and ensure that someone has to come to CenturyLink Field to beat the Seahawks to keep them out of the Super Bowl. If San Francisco can’t win this game here at home, there is no shot of winning a prospective game in January in Seattle, especially after getting smacked there 29-3 back in September. A win would entrench the 49ers as a Wild Card team for sure and keep them a game up on the charging Cardinals. A loss though, and not only is Arizona back in the mix, but Dallas/Philadelphia runner up very well could be to boot. The Seahawks have covered three straight in this series.

Carolina Panthers (9-3 SU, 8-4 ATS) @ New Orleans Saints (9-3 SU, 6-5-1 ATS)
Spread: New Orleans -3.5, Total: 45.5

Mercedes-Benz Superdome, New Orleans, LA – Sunday, December 8th, 8:30 ET

Handicapping Match-up Details Pick & Preview

If either the Panthers or the Saints sweep this series these two will play with each other in Weeks 14 and 16, that team would win the NFC South and almost certainly the #2 seed in the NFC that will come with it. Few are giving Carolina a chance in this game, but we think that this is a situation where it can shine. Remember that the Panthers swept this series last year and hung 79 points and racked up 993 yards of offense on New Orleans in the process. The Panthers are on the longest winning streak in the league at eight games, and they can tie the season-best nine of the Chiefs from the start of the year with a triumph on Sunday in the Bayou. QB Drew Brees is coming off of one of the worst games of his career against the Seahawks in Seattle last Monday, and now, the Saints have a short week to prepare for a team which, on paper, looks very similar. This will be a barnburner for sure.

Dallas Cowboys (7-5 SU, 8-4 ATS) @ Chicago Bears (6-6 SU, 2-9-1 ATS)
Spread: Chicago -1, Total: 50

Soldier Field, Chicago, IL – Monday, December 9th, 8:40 ET

Handicapping Match-up Details Pick & Preview

There’s still no word as to whether QB Jay Cutler is going to be playing in this game or not, but if he does, we have such a wonderful matchup between the man who always plays poorly in primetime (Cutler) against the man who always plays poorly in big games (QB Tony Romo). In fairness to Romo and the Cowboys, they have had a good year, and they are deserving of holding the top spot in the NFC East at this point. There is work to be done for sure, and having this almost de facto bye week in the middle of the season thanks to the week and a half off after Thanksgiving will surely help. Chicago knows that it has to have this one after losing last week in Minnesota. A loss, and it’s probably all over but the crying in the first year for Head Coach Marc Trestman, as the Bears could be two back in the division with just three to play. The road team has covered and won three straight games in this series, and interestingly enough, the road team was also the fairly sizeable underdog in each of those games.

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Adam Markowitz

is a staff writer living in the Orlando area. He has covered NFL, MLB, college football, CFL, AFL, NBA, college basketball, NASCAR, golf, tennis, and the NHL for a number of various outlets in his career, and he has been published by a number of different media outlets, including the Orlando Sentinel and the Wall Street Journal.

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