Friday, February 23, 2024

Week 14 Opening Line Report and Picks

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Week 13 is now behind us, as there are just 5 weeks to go in the NFL season. Our picks went 1-2 last week, bringing our season record to 20-17-2. The Broncos were picked off in the endzone while driving for the last second victory, while the Eagles suffered their biggest loss of the season at the hands of San Francisco. The lone victory was for the Rams, who made it look easy against the DeShaun Watson-less Browns. The favorites went 10-3 straight up, and 8-5 ATS in a pivotal Week 13. Before delving into Week 14, here are the biggest storylines from Week 13.

Doc’s Sports offers NFL expert picks for every game on our NFL predictions page.

  • Cowboys outlast Seattle: Dak Prescott has emerged as the MVP favorite, after throwing for 299 yards, with 3 touchdowns and no interceptions in the Cowboys 41-35 victory over the Seahawks. They are back within striking distance in the NFC East, with a pivotal matchup against the Eagles on the horizon. 
  • Broncos falter on the goalline: The Broncos and Texans went back and forth before a late interception sealed the victory for Houston. Russell Wilson and the Broncos still control their own destiny but cannot afford to drop many more games if they expect to make the postseason after their 1-5 start. 
  • Caleb Williams to New England? The Patriots have lost 5 straight games, including a 6-0 stinker against the Chargers in Week 13. New England has scored just 13 points across their last 3 games, and they could certainly use an injection at signal caller, if only there was a young gunslinger available in the upcoming draft… 
  • Cardinals make it look easy: Arizona swatted aside the Steelers in a 5-hour game featuring 2 separate weather delays. Kenny Pickett suffered an ankle injury, and Mitchell Trubisky couldn’t get the Steelers out of a hole in the second half. 
  • 49ers aren’t dead yet: The Eagles were humbled in Week 13, losing 42-19 against San Francisco at home. While the Eagles still control their own destiny, another loss could see them relinquish the number 1 seed in the NFC. 
  • No Love for Taylor Swift: Jordan Love and the Packers spoiled the Taylor Swift party at Lambeau, winning 27-19 on Sunday Night Football. Jordan Love played one of the best games of his career, as the Packers are clearly in safe hands with their young gunslinger. 
  • Down goes Lawrence: Jake Browning and the Bengals took advantage of a Trevor Lawrence injury to prevail in overtime, on Monday Night. A promising season for Jacksonville may have been derailed if their star quarterback is forced to miss extended time. 

The clock is ticking on the NFL season. And with 5 weeks to go, there are still several teams searching for the consistency needed for a late playoff push. In Week 14, ensure to lock in these opening lines as soon as possible, as there is a very real chance they will no longer be available when kickoff rolls around Sunday afternoon.

Game 1: Indianapolis Colts at Cincinnati Bengals 

Opening Line: Indianapolis Colts (-1)

The Colts and Bengals are both in the thick of the AFC Wild Card race, sitting at 7-5 and 6-6, respectively. Both teams have lost their starting quarterbacks to injury, and a battle between Gardner Minshew and Jake Browning awaits in Week 14. However, while there is a minimal spread between these two sides, the gap in quality couldn’t be more apparent. There is no taking away the impressive performance Jake Browning put together against the Jaguars, but on a short week, against a legitimate Colts team, it’s hard to imagine Browning putting together back-to-back victories. The Colts have a solid passing defense, which will force the last ranked Bengals rushing offense to try to get something going on the ground. They will certainly give up points. However, when they need it most, the Colts defense has consistently stepped up this season. On offense, Gardner Minshew and the Colts have scored 20+ points in all but one game this season, including 27+ in 5 of the last 6 contests. Their offense consistently moves the ball down the field, something that cannot be said for Browning and the Bengals. I don’t think the season is quite over for Cincinnati. However, when a streaking Colts team comes to town, they will be unable to keep up. The Monday Night win over the Jaguars is fresh in the public’s mind. However, once the world comes back to reality and remembers the Bengals aren’t the same without Burrow, this line will be rapidly inflated. At only -1, grab the Colts as soon as possible.

Pick: Indianapolis Colts (-1)

Game 2: Denver Broncos at LA Chargers 

Opening Line: LA Chargers (-3)

The Chargers mustered just 6 points against the Patriots in Week 13, and an offensive performance like that will not be enough against a solid Denver defense. Justin Herbert continues to play solid football, but the growing list of offensive injuries has thrown a wrench in the Chargers game plan and forced them to adapt. The Broncos are coming to town after having their 5-game win streak snapped in Houston last week, and they will be desperate to keep pace in the AFC Wild Card race. Russell Wilson has turned back the clock in Denver and is looking like a young man in the Broncos pocket. After an abysmal start to the season, the offense has been humming, scoring 17+ in the last 6 games. Between a solid offense and a suddenly elite defense, the Broncos will do enough to keep this one within a field goal. The Chargers may have been able to shut down the Patriots, but their leaky defense will be tested against the Broncos well-rounded offense. Even after shutting the Patriots out, the Chargers are still giving up the most all-purpose yards in the league and will need to rely on their red zone defense to remain firm to pull away on the scoreboard. The Chargers have done nothing to deserve this kind of spread against a competent, playoff pushing team, and I guarantee the full field goal will not be available when these two teams meet on Sunday.

Pick: Denver Broncos (+3)

Game 3: Buffalo Bills at Kansas City Chiefs 

Opening Line: Kansas City Chiefs (-2.5)

The Chiefs and Bills are both coming off losses and will be desperate for their own reasons to win this matchup. The Bills are quickly slipping out of the AFC Wild Card race, and a win against the defending champions would go a long way to fueling their postseason hopes. Meanwhile, the Chiefs will be jockeying for position in the AFC, as their 3 losses has them potentially going on the road for the divisional, and conference championships. Patrick Mahomes and co. fell to the Packers on national television in Week 13, and the Chiefs star quarterback has consistently bounced back after suffering the occasional defeat. The Chiefs have the more consistent offense and defense. And while Josh Allen is more than capable of making game-changing plays, that gusto frequently leads to catastrophic turnovers. The Chiefs secondary will be eager to get their hands on 50/50 balls Allen tosses into the air. And in what should be a bounce-back game for the Chiefs, I’ll happily eat the short spread with the home team. Kansas City hasn’t lost back-to-back games since Week 2 and 3 in 2021, and expecting them to do so this week is a bold choice. Mahomes has handled adversity before, and he will play solid football en route to a close, but spread-covering victory.

Pick: Kansas City Chiefs (-2.5)

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