Sport Week 14 NFL picks straight up: Saints run over Falcons; Cowboys bully Giants

16:15  06 december  2017
16:15  06 december  2017 Source:   Sporting News

Week 13 NFL picks straight up: Panthers overcome Saints; Cowboys survive Redskins

  Week 13 NFL picks straight up: Panthers overcome Saints; Cowboys survive Redskins In our Week 13 NFL picks and predictions, the schedule gives us a post-Thanksgiving feast. The main dish will be the Panthers-Saints rematch in the NFC South.Week 13 features matchups involving teams that have been on hot streaks, aren't languishing around .500 and are getting superior performances out of excellent players. Turn your attention, for example, to the doubleheader game on Fox between the Panthers and Saints at the Superdome. Drew Brees, Cam Newton, Alvin Kamara, Luke Kuechly, Mark Ingram, Christian McCaffrey ... lots of stars playing for the undisputed division lead on the first Sunday in December.

MORE: Week 14 NFL picks against the spread. New Orleans Saints (9-3) at Atlanta Falcons (7-5). Thursday, 8:25 p.m., NBC/NFLN/Amazon Prime. Prediction: Cowboys , 27-13. MORE: Giants ' best coaching candidates.

MORE: Week 14 NFL picks against the spread. New Orleans Saints (9-3) at Atlanta Falcons (7-5). Thursday, 8:25 p.m., NBC/NFLN/Amazon Prime. Prediction: Cowboys , 27-13. MORE: Giants ' best coaching candidates.

It's another week of crucial matchups with playoff implications, many of which are overshadowed by increasingly typical NFL messiness. Hey, it’s only the final month of the season, why not have it be dominated by nonsense?

Monday was something ... special. The Giants hosed out the stables with the firings of their head coach and general manager and the reinstatement of their franchise quarterback. Rob Gronkowski got served his medicine for his blatantly cheap shot on the Bills' Tre’davious White. The Steelers and Bengals got into a free-for-all, most of which took place after Ryan Shazier had to be taken off the field on a backboard.

How Cowboys can stay in playoff picture, make postseason with Ezekiel Elliott

  How Cowboys can stay in playoff picture, make postseason with Ezekiel Elliott As unlikely as it is, Dallas still can make the playoffs. Here is what needs to happen in front of the Cowboys to keep their postseason hopes alive.Last season going into Week 13, Dallas was 10-1, cruising to an NFC East title and a No. 1 playoff seed. Now rival Philadelphia has become that "it" team with the same record at the same point of the season.

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So, put asterisks on the five games those teams play in Week 14, particularly the Steelers’ showdown with another fierce division rivals, the Ravens. And try to enjoy the normal, on-field drama elsewhere.

MORE: Week 14 NFL picks against the spread

Week 14 NFL picks, predictions

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(All times ET)

New Orleans Saints (9-3) at Atlanta Falcons (7-5)

Thursday, 8:25 p.m., NBC/NFLN/Amazon Prime

a football player wearing a helmet: Alvin Kamara © (Getty Images) Alvin Kamara

This is one of the best and most critical Thursday night matchups we’ve seen all season, yet the game and the teams would be better off not playing it on short rest. The Falcons risk falling out of sight in the division and wild-card race if they lose. Despite the result against the Vikings, they’re better off with Devonta Freeman back from his concussion. Absolutely nobody has been able to stop Alvin Kamara and Mark Ingram lately, including the Panthers’ defense last week, so unless the Falcons defense can play over their heads, they’re in trouble.

NFL schedule: Week 14 game times, TV coverage

  NFL schedule: Week 14 game times, TV coverage Vikings-Panthers and Seahawks-Jaguars highlight the NFL Week 14 slate. Both games involve big playoff implications.A "Sunday Night Football" showdown between the AFC North-leading Steelers and surging division rival Ravens should be great television. Saints-Falcons on Thursday night and Patriots-Dolphins on Monday night complete this weekend's prime-time slate.

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Prediction: Saints, 33-21

Minnesota Vikings (10-2) at Carolina Panthers (8-4)

Sunday, 1 p.m., CBS

The Vikings are trying to pull off a sweep of the Rams, Falcons and Panthers in a four-week span, the last two on the road. If they do, they’ll have the kind of resume Ohio State and Alabama would envy. While the drumbeat for Case Keenum is not undeserved, it's past time the defense (which held the Rams and Falcons to single digits) got its due credit for this run. Cam Newton could use Greg Olsen this week, because his absence last week against the Saints was glaring.

Prediction: Vikings, 26-17

MORE: NFL playoff picture for Week 14

Oakland Raiders (6-6) at Kansas City Chiefs (6-6)

Sunday, 1 p.m., CBS

That wild, 31-30, final-play win by the Raiders over the Chiefs at Oakland in October seemed important in the moment, and seven weeks later, it’s looking like everything. A Raiders win in KC now might be the nail in the Chiefs’ coffin, and it could reduce the AFC West to a two-team race (depending on what the Chargers do). Getting Michael Crabtree back helps the Raiders; believing Darrelle Revis would help an increasingly-porous defense doesn't help the Chiefs.

NFL playoff picture: Scenarios for Eagles, Steelers, others to clinch in Week 14

  NFL playoff picture: Scenarios for Eagles, Steelers, others to clinch in Week 14 Week 14 of the NFL season presents multiple scenarios in which teams can clinch permanent spots in the playoff picture. Last week, only the Eagles could do so, as they needed just a win or a Cowboys loss to take the NFC East title and earn a trip to the 2017 postseason. Neither Dallas nor Seattle obliged.This week, Philadelphia is joined by six more teams that can clinch playoff berths, three of which can win their respective divisions.As the NFL enters the final four weeks of the 2017 regular season, 10 teams currently out of the playoff picture are within two games of a spot in the postseason.

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MORE: Week 10 NFL picks straight up . PICK : Saints win 24-20 and cover the spread. NFC Game of the Week . Dallas Cowboys at Atlanta Falcons (-3). Sunday, 4:25 p.m., FOX.

Prediction: Raiders, 30-26

Indianapolis Colts (3-9) at Buffalo Bills (6-6)

Sunday, 1 p.m., CBS

Once again, an example of why you can't just throw games away. Maybe the Bills would have beaten the Chargers with Tyrod Taylor, maybe they wouldn’t have. But in hindsight, with Taylor day-to-day with a knee injury from the Patriots game, they’re stuck with two bad decisions: playing him hurt or playing a still-raw Nathan Peterman in a game they can’t afford to lose. In their defense, the Colts get worse every week, so it may be moot.

Prediction: Bills, 18-10

Dallas Cowboys (6-6) at New York Giants (2-10)

Sunday, 1 p.m., Fox

The circus sets up its tents at MetLife Stadium, and for once, the Cowboys are not the main act. Not only that, but the Cowboys are the more stable of the teams facing off. The Sunday night opener seems like a million years ago: Remember when the big problem was whether the Giants could string together a few scores while Odell Beckham Jr. rehabbed from his preseason injury? Eli Manning returns from one of the all-time most pointless benchings, amazing considering the recent competition includes Peterman-for-Tyrod.

Saints vs. Falcons: How to watch, live stream 'Thursday Night Football'

  Saints vs. Falcons: How to watch, live stream 'Thursday Night Football' Saints vs. Falcons on "Thursday Night Football" is available to live stream through Amazon. Here is all the info you need to watch the game.Thursday night's Saints-Falcons game, set to kick off at 8:25 p.m. ET and air on NBC and NFL Network, also will be available via live stream through Amazon Prime Video. With four games to go in the regular season, New Orleans (9-3) leads the NFC South by one game over Carolina (8-4) and two games over Atlanta (7-5). However, the Falcons finish with four consecutive division games — including two against the Saints — and both New Orleans and Atlanta are in control for the division title.

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SAINTS (-7.5) over Redskins– Saints have really shocked me this year especially after their start. Chiefs 27 Giants 14 . Rams (+2.5) over VIKINGS– This should be a pretty good game between two of the better NFC teams this year. Eagles 24 Cowboys 20. SEAHAWKS (-2.5) over Falcons

Prediction: Cowboys, 27-13

MORE: Giants' best coaching candidates

Detroit Lions (6-6) at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (4-8)

Sunday, 1 p.m., Fox

Matthew Stafford had a brilliant second half going in Baltimore last week before he hurt his throwing hand. If this goes the way of his injured thumb in the final week of last season, the Lions can count on watching the playoffs this time instead of slipping in at the end. Having said that, the Bucs looked barely better with a healed Jameis Winston last week than they had without him, and that has bad short- and long-term implications for him, the franchise and coach Dirk Koetter.

Prediction: Lions, 31-17

San Francisco 49ers (2-10) at Houston Texans (4-8)

Sunday, 1 p.m., Fox

There couldn't have been a better stretch for the 49ers to start the Jimmy Garoppolo era — the Bears and, now, the Texans. Garoppolo engineered a win without a touchdown in Chicago last week, and that’s possible in Houston, too. Of all quarterbacks who have started at least half their teams’ games, the only ones with lower passer ratings than Tom Savage (71.8) are Brett Hundley and DeShone Kizer. This is for Garoppolo-watchers only.

Prediction: Texans, 17-13

Green Bay Packers (6-6) at Cleveland Browns (0-12)

Sunday, 1 p.m., Fox

This is expected to be the Packers’ last game without Aaron Rodgers, and besides getting through his absence on a high note and staying in playoff contention, avoiding being “the one” against the Browns gives the Packers all the incentive they need. They actually turned in a more impressive performance in losing to the Steelers a week earlier than in beating the Bucs last week. This is a defense against which Josh Gordon could do even more damage than he did in his comeback game, but he’d need a better quarterback to make it happen.

Week 14 NFL Kickoff: Several teams can clinch playoff berths

  Week 14 NFL Kickoff: Several teams can clinch playoff berths The Saints are one of seven NFL teams that can clinch playoff berths in Week 14. In order for the Saints (9-3) to claim a postseason date, they must first beat the Falcons (7-5) on Thursday (8:25 p.m. ET, NBC, NFL Network, Amazon Prime).A Saints victory, coupled with losses by the Panthers (vs. Vikings) and Cowboys (vs. Giants) would have New Orleans in the playoffs for the first time since 2013. Thanks to the NFL’s third-ranked rush offense and an improved defense, the Saints are in a position to win the NFC South for the first time since 2011.

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MORE: Week 7 NFL picks against the spread. For the Panthers to be taken seriously and for them to hold off the Falcons and the surging Saints , they need to go into Chicago and handle their business. Prediction: Titans, 30- 14 . Dallas Cowboys (2-3) at San Francisco 49ers (0-6).

Prediction: Packers, 28-16

MORE: Playoff scenarios for Packers

Chicago Bears (3-9) at Cincinnati Bengals (5-7)

Sunday, 1 p.m., Fox

It was hard to believe the Bears were 3-4 at one point, and even harder to believe now, with five straight losses since. Speaking of hard to believe: how Marvin Lewis has kept his job this long while fielding year-in and year-out the most undisciplined team in the league. The underwhelming, underachieving play by both teams is a bad enough omen for this game, but the Bengals continuing to act out makes this unworthy of watching.

Prediction: Bengals, 23-19

Washington Redskins (5-7) at Los Angeles Chargers (6-6)

Sunday, 4:05 p.m., CBS

The Chargers have won all three of their home games (with their nonexistent home-field advantage) in their run of six wins in eight games. Their offense has only had to not ruin things for their defense ... but that could change against Washington, which somehow allowed depleted Dallas’ offense to get better last Thursday. Washington also is scraping the bottom of its roster barrel on its offensive line, and this is one of the last teams they need to see in that situation.

Prediction: Chargers, 30-16

New York Jets (5-7) at Denver Broncos (3-9)

Sunday, 4:05 p.m., CBS

The Jets can smirk at all the predictions about tanking and going winless, but they’ll also have to live with the chances they let get away, and the bad breaks they got, that might have them in playoff contention. This is a good break, though; the Broncos are hopeless at quarterback, and as long as that continues, they have almost no chance of beating anybody.

Saints vs. Falcons: Score, live updates from Thursday night game in Atlanta

  Saints vs. Falcons: Score, live updates from Thursday night game in Atlanta For live Saints-Falcons scoring updates, stats and highlights, follow along here. Saints vs. Falcons: Score, live updates from Thursday night game in AtlantaSaints: 0Falcons: 0Q1LIVE: Saints-Falcons Game Center(All times ET)7:35 p.m.: The all-white Color Rush uniforms for the Saints are a great look."Start FAST and turn it LOOSE all day long!" -@DrewBrees#GoSaintspic.twitter.com/L4xEE6IKNS— New Orleans Saints (@Saints) December 8, 2017Showtime! #ColorRush#GoSaintspic.twitter.com/qP2SIRkH7t— New Orleans Saints (@Saints) December 8, 20177:27 p.m.

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Prediction: Jets, 28-10

Tennessee Titans (8-4) at Arizona Cardinals (5-7)

Sunday, 4:05 p.m., CBS

The Titans quietly have won six of seven to thrust themselves into the AFC South title race, feasting on inferior teams with largely feeble offenses ... and masking a bad stretch by Marcus Mariota (six interceptions in two games before avoiding one last week against the Texans). The Cardinals are just trying to make the end of the season satisfying for Larry Fitzgerald, the last player they have who opponents should fear this season.

Prediction: Titans, 24-17

Philadelphia Eagles (10-2) at Los Angeles Rams (9-3)

Sunday, 4:25 p.m., Fox

Part II of the Eagles’ reputation-testing West Coast trip, this time against a Rams team with an offense harder to stop than Seattle’s and a defense that’s healthier. That defense is what Carson Wentz and the Eagles have to worry about, especially after being held without a touchdown for more than a half in Seattle on Sunday night. The Rams, meanwhile, are the only team that has defeated the Saints over the last two months. Winner gains a vital edge of its home field should they play each other again.

Prediction: Rams, 33-23

Seattle Seahawks (8-4) at Jacksonville Jaguars (8-4)

Sunday, 4:25 p.m., Fox

The Seahawks might want to consider hiring armed guards to protect Russell Wilson from the Jaguars’ pass rush ... except, Wilson has a knack for survival that’s unrivaled this season. Logic dictates that Pete Carroll and defensive coordinator Kris Richard should be able to dial up something to keep Blaine Gabbert in check, but keeping Leonard Fournette in check is another story. This is a supreme test for both teams.

Prediction: Jaguars, 24-23

Baltimore Ravens (7-5) at Pittsburgh Steelers (10-2)

Sunday, 8:30 p.m., NBC

It’s hard to imagine there won’t still be a cloud of gloom hanging over this game by Sunday night, after Ryan Shazier’s injury Monday night. The Steelers have a short week to recover physically and emotionally. They might also have to compensate for JuJu Smith-Schuster in case the league makes him pay for his hit and taunt on Vontaze Burfict. The Ravens go in without Jimmy Smith at corner, which, Smith-Schuster or not, is never good when Antonio Brown is on the other side.

Prediction: Steelers, 23-20

New England Patriots (10-2) at Miami Dolphins (5-7)

Monday, 8:30 p.m., ESPN

There will be no Gronk for the Patriots as he rests his injury-prone body for the showdown with the Steelers … that is, sits out his one-game suspension. Depending on what the Bills do Sunday, the Patriots could be playing to put the AFC East out of its misery for the ninth straight year, extending their NFL record streak. Don’t expect the Dolphins to put up much of a fight.

Prediction: Patriots, 30-17

MORE: Gronk suspension works out for Pats

How Falcons' win over Saints impacts NFC South, wild-card races .
Atlanta's home victory to begin NFL Week 14 means a lot of things to a lot of teams that were either helped or hurt by it.With the Falcons coming back to steal a much-needed 20-17 home victory over their archrival division leaders, Atlanta (8-5) got within one game of New Orleans (9-4) with the teams headed for a bigger rematch in two weeks.

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