Week 14 NFL Picks: Playoff Push

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Week 14 NFL Picks: Playoff Push

NFL Picks
Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

The NFL is a league of parity and at no time has that been more evident than during last week’s slate of action. There was plenty of drama and the majority of games throughout the league weren’t decided until deep into the final quarter of action. In fact, 10 of the 16 games in week 13 were decided by a mere seven points or less.

Expect that trend to continue as the month of December continues on because even though some teams have no hopes of making it to the postseason, each game for them is the opportunity to bring another team in the league down to their level. Misery loves company and nowhere is that more the case than in the NFL.

Teams will be looking to impose their will on one another as the weather turns colder and the running game becomes an even more important element to a successful offense. The old adage is that if you can run the ball on offense and stop the run on defense, chances are you will be a contender in January. Many clubs are looking to take that mantra and run with it (pun intended) as we move closer to the postseason.

Several divisions have been clinched already, but playoff seeding is something that coaches always strive for to keep their team motivated. For those already assured of a spot in the tournament, that will be their driving force as the season progresses. For the teams taking on those squads, this will be their chance to prove that they too belong in the conversation with the elites.

Identities will be forged during the season’s final month and the final dozen who will eventually make the playoffs hope that their characteristics will prime them for an eventual Super Bowl run. There’s still a month to go, so here is how each game looks as the weather begins to get frightful in week 14.

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Denver Broncos at Oakland Raiders

Broncos at Raiders
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On a short week, this game won’t be pretty for the Raiders. Peyton Manning looks like a legitimate MVP contender and the Raiders look a legit contender for the number one overall pick. The Broncos win this one easily and painlessly.

Broncos 34 – Raiders 16

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St. Louis Rams at Buffalo Bills

Rams at Bills
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A dome team on the road in a cold weather environment seems like an easy pick to make, but the Bills haven’t exactly shown anything worthy of confidence lately. The Rams on the other hand are upbeat and feeling quite good about themselves. A run-first offense like theirs can travel quite well so expect the Rams to ride Steven Jackson to victory.

Rams 24 – Bills 20

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Dallas Cowboys at Cincinnati Bengals

Cowboys at Bengals
Rob Leifheit-USA TODAY Sports

DeMarco Murray’s return to the field makes Dallas a valid threat once again and that certainly amplifies the importance of this game. The Bengals are currently even with the Steelers for the final playoff spot in the AFC and need to continue winning to keep pace. Although home-field doesn’t usually count for much that really is the only thing that separates these two teams this week.

Bengals 24 – Cowboys 23

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Kansas City Chiefs at Cleveland Browns

Chiefs at Browns
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Here’s a guarantee for you: one of these two teams will be on a two-game winning streak for the first time in 2012 after this game! The Chiefs rode an emotional rollercoaster to a win last week while the Browns just took advantage of a hapless opponent. In this game, the Browns actually have a promising young nucleus and Trent Richardson figures to be a big factor.

Browns 24 – Chiefs 13

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Tennessee Titans at Indianapolis Colts

Titans at Colts
Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports

There’s no doubt that the lore of Andrew Luck’s rookie season continues to grow by the week and that trend shouldn’t end here. The Colts have gone 5-1 in the friendly confines of Lucas Oil Stadium with that lone loss coming way back in week 2. This team already handled the Titans once this season on the road so this Sunday should be no big deal.

Colts 27 – Titans 17

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Chicago Bears at Minnesota Vikings

Bears at Vikes
Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

Injuries continue to pile up for the reeling Bears and even though the Vikes have been in a bit of tail slide of their own, Adrian Peterson has been absolutely ridiculous. The fact that he even got himself back in shape to play this year was a feat unto itself, but the way he is running is almost better than pre-injury. With Brian Urlacher out and the Bears defense wearing thin, this could be a big surprise game.

Vikings 24 – Bears 21

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Philadelphia Eagles at Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Eagles at Bucs
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You have to admire Andy Reid’s courage to stand right in the line of fire and still make the right decisions for the franchise. His Eagles are going nowhere fast and Nick Foles has been hit a lot during his three starts. That won’t change against a feisty Bucs defense as Greg Schiano’s group still has plenty to play for in the wild card hunt of the NFC.

Bucs 31 – Eagles 23

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Baltimore Ravens at Washington Redskins

Ravens at Skins
Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

Suddenly the Ravens could be caught in the AFC North while their fellow D.C. metro area team in the Redskins are just one game out in the NFC East. This game reeks of a mismatch with the young Robert Griffin III going up against an aging defense. Look for the Skins to utilize their speed to overcome the Ravens veteran knowledge and keep streaking.

Redskins 30 – Ravens 27

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Atlanta Falcons at Carolina Panthers

Falcons at Panthers
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Cam Newton has woken up a bit in recent weeks, but the Panthers are a team in transition. The Falcons don’t always win pretty, but when 60 minutes is over, they have been on top on the scoreboard 11 out of 12 times this season. Whether they need to win the game through the air with Matt Ryan or on the ground with Michael Turner, expect the Falcons to take care of business again in this one.

Falcons 28 – Panthers 17

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New York Jets at Jacksonville Jaguars

Jets at Jags
Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports

Mark Sanchez will start for some reason in this game even though all confidence in him is gone at this point. Rex Ryan is in a similar situation with his Jets and this team embodies the idea of misery loving company. For the Jags, Chad Henne has been interesting to watch and could easily be the team’s starter next season over Blaine Gabbert. Look for the Jaguars to keep playing hard and get a victory at home over the inept Jets.

Jaguars 20 – Jets 16

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San Diego Chargers at Pittsburgh Steelers

Bolts at Steelers
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A surging Steelers team welcomes a soft, warm weather club to Heinz Field. The outcome of this game appears already decided with the Chargers in freefall and Pittsburgh on a run. Don’t expect much resistance from San Diego in this game even if it’s still Charlie Batch under center for the Steelers.

Steelers 27 – Chargers 17

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Miami Dolphins at San Francisco 49ers

Phins at Niners
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Many are beginning to question the move to go to Colin Kaepernick now for the Niners and the Dolphins have been playing hard recently. Ryan Tannehill has begun to limit his mistakes and Reggie Bush continues to run strong. This game will likely come down to which quarterback makes the least mistakes and even though it’s rookie versus second-year man, lean toward the younger of the two.

Dolphins 24 – 49ers 21

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Arizona Cardinals at Seattle Seahawks

Cards at Hawks
Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

Most have focused on RG3, Luck, or even Tannehill as rookie signal callers having success this season, but Russell Wilson has been just as impressive. He has the Seahawks on the cusp of a playoff berth and with the Cardinals messy quarterback situation, Seattle should have no trouble in this game.

Seahawks 26 – Cardinals 13

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New Orleans Saints at New York Giants

Saints at G-Men
Daniel Shirey-USA TODAY Sports

It’s hard to know what to expect from either of these teams as they could look like potential Super Bowl champions or divisional cellar dwellers on any given week. This week, something tells me that Drew Brees will have a bounce back effort against a depleted Giants’ secondary. Look for plenty of points in this one with New Orleans winning an old-fashioned shootout.

Saints 38 – Giants 34

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Detroit Lions at Green Bay Packers

Lions at Pack
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The Lions gave away a double-digit fourth quarter lead to a rookie last week while the Packers got a big home win to gain control of the division lead. There’s no looking back for this loaded Packers club now as they hit the home stretch and push toward the playoffs. Aaron Rodgers has this team poised to go and the fact that they had two rushers over 50 yards and double-digit carries last week bodes well for their balance looking forward.

Packers 34 – Lions 24

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Houston Texans at New England Patriots

Texans at Pats
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This promises to be quite a marquee matchup on Monday night with the two top dogs in the AFC squaring off for conference supremacy. The Texans should be able to run all over the Pats while New England should have anything they want through the air against Houston. There will be some fireworks in this one with Matt Schaub and Tom Brady piling up monster numbers. Even though their defense hasn’t always been their strong suit, something tells me that the Pats’ pass rush is going to start making some noise.

Patriots 31 – Texans 30