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Sports Illustrated
Sports Illustrated
Kyle Wood

NFL Week 14 Preview: Best Games, Best Bets, Predictions

Once again, the Eagles will be involved in the most intriguing game of the week.

Philadelphia outlasted Kansas City and Buffalo before being crushed at home by San Francisco last week. Now the Eagles have to travel to Dallas for a pivotal game that might decide the NFC East and possibly even the No. 1 seed in the postseason.

The Eagles (10–2) got the best of the Cowboys (9–3) in Week 9, but the Cowboys are a much better team at home, evident by their 14-game winning streak at AT&T Stadium. Also, Dallas nearly left Philadelphia with a victory, but in Cowboys fashion, they self-destructed on the final drive with a slew of mistakes.

The clash between NFC East rivals isn’t the only showdown on the NFL Week 14 slate. The Chiefs (8–4) host the Bills (6–6) in a matchup with plenty of playoff implications in the AFC. The Chiefs, who lost to the Packers last week, are battling with the Dolphins, Ravens and Jaguars for the No. 1 seed. The Bills, who are coming off a bye week, are one game behind the Steelers, Browns and Colts for a wild-card spot.

Also, don’t overlook the matchup between the Ravens (9–3) and Rams (6–6), who are in contention for an NFC wild-card spot because of a three-game winning streak.

Those are three of five intriguing games we’re keeping an eye on for best bets this week.

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1. Philadelphia Eagles vs. Dallas Cowboys

Dak Prescott and the Cowboys have won four straight since losing to Jalen Hurts and the Eagles in Week 9.

Eric Hartline/USA TODAY Sports

Game info: Sunday, Dec. 10 | 8:20 p.m. ET | FOX
Location: AT&T Stadium | Arlington, TX
Spread: Eagles +3.5 (-125) | Cowboys -3.5 (+100)
Moneyline: PHI (+150) | DAL (-188)
Total: 51.5 Over (-118) | Under (-110)

Dallas is in position to draw even with Philadelphia in the standings with a win Sunday night. Since their 28–23 Week 9 loss to the Eagles, the Cowboys are 4–0 with an average margin of victory of 21.5 points. Philly is 2–1 since that meeting after last week’s blowout loss to San Francisco, and its wins over Buffalo and Kansas City were both close calls.

The Eagles’ defense had its worst showing of the season against the 49ers, who rolled them 42–19 on the road. The Super Bowl favorites got whatever they wanted through the air and on the ground and Jalen Hurts and Co. had no answer. Philadelphia’s offense was held under 20 points for just the second time this season and the running game never got going. Tight end Dallas Goedert (arm) could return for the first time in four weeks, a potential shot in the arm for this unit against the NFL’s highest-scoring team.

Seattle nearly upset Dallas on Thursday Night Football last week, at AT&T Stadium no less. Trailing by eight in the fourth quarter, the Cowboys scored 14 unanswered points to win 41–35 and improve to 6–0 at home. Dak Prescott stayed hot with almost 300 passing yards and three more touchdowns as CeeDee Lamb racked up 12 more catches for 116 yards and a score. Lamb set a new career high with 191 receiving yards in the Week 9 loss and he figures to be a focal point again versus the Eagles’ porous secondary.

The winner of this division may very well earn the NFC’s No. 1 seed, which adds even more intrigue to this prime-time rivalry showdown. Philadelphia has a bit more leeway down the stretch with two games left against the Giants and one versus the Cardinals compared to Dallas, which gets the Bills, Dolphins and Lions in the next three weeks. For now, the Eagles are still the favorite to become the division’s first repeat winner since 2004, but that could change after this week.

Verderame’s pick: Eagles +3.5, Over 51.5 (Dallas 30, Philadelphia 27)
Manzano’s pick: Eagles +3.5, Over 51.5 (Dallas 34, Philadelphia 31)
Wood’s pick: Cowboys -3.5, Over 51.5 (Dallas 31, Philadelphia 27)

2. Buffalo Bills vs. Kansas City Chiefs

Josh Allen and the Bills had a week off after their tough Week 12 loss to the Eagles.

Jamie Germano/Rochester Democrat and Chronicle / USA TODAY NETWORK

Game info: Sunday, Dec. 10 | 4:25 p.m. ET | CBS
Location: Arrowhead Stadium | Kansas City, MO
Spread: Bills +1.5 (-110) | Chiefs -1.5 (-110)
Moneyline: BUF (+105) | KC (-125)
Total: 48.5 Over (-118) | Under (-110)

What’s the over/under on “13 seconds” mentions in Sunday’s broadcast? 13.5? Buffalo already avenged its heartbreaking 2021 playoff loss to Kansas City a season ago at Arrowhead, but now the Bills are on the brink and in need of a rare road win to stay afloat in a tight AFC wild-card race.

Buffalo had a bye week to reload for a potential run to the postseason but the three-time defending AFC East champs have dropped three of four after a 37–34 Week 12 overtime loss to Philadelphia. Josh Allen did just about all he could in that game as he finished with over 400 total yards and three touchdowns but the Bills still lost their sixth one-score game of the season. The onus is on their defense to step up on the road against the reigning MVP a week after allowing a season-high point total.

The Chiefs have alternated wins and losses for the better part of two months and they’ve failed to crack 20 points in each defeat, most recently a 29–17 loss to Green Bay. Isaiah Pacheco recorded his second game of the year with 100-plus rushing yards but Patrick Mahomes was held under 300 passing yards for the fifth straight game. Kansas City is just 3–2 at Arrowhead this season but its offense has performed much better at home than on the road thus far.

The Bills and Chiefs have played five times in the last three years and each time the over/under has been in the 50s — that’s not the case this time around with Kansas City’s offense underperforming expectations as its defense has excelled.

Verderame’s pick: Chiefs -1.5, Under 48.5 (Kansas City 23, Buffalo 21)
Manzano’s pick: Bills +1.5, Under 48.5 (Kansas City 24, Buffalo 23)
Wood’s pick: Bills +1.5, Over 48.5 (Buffalo 27, Kansas City 24)

3. Jacksonville Jaguars vs. Cleveland Browns

Myles Garrett has been the heart of a dominant Cleveland defense this season, but they’ve shown signs of susceptibility the last two weeks. 

Sam Greene/USA TODAY Network

Game info: Sunday, Dec. 10 | 1 p.m. ET | CBS
Location: Cleveland Browns Stadium | Clebeland, OH
Spread: Jaguars +3.5 (-125) | Browns -3.5 (+100)
Moneyline: JAX (+140) | CLE (-175)
Total: 30.5 Over (-110) | Under (-110)

A month ago, this game was shaping up to be the first head-to-head matchup between two former Clemson quarterbacks: Trevor Lawrence and Deshaun Watson. The latter was lost for the season to shoulder surgery and the former is now questionable due to a high-ankle sprain, so it might be C.J. Beathard squaring off against Dorian Thompson-Robinson or Joe Flacco, who looked good last week in his first NFL action in a year.

Jacksonville lost to the Jake Browning-led Bengals 34–31 at home on Monday. It was a poor defensive showing for the Jaguars, who not only lost Lawrence but also their leading receiver Christian Kirk (groin). There was an opportunity for Jacksonville to take sole possession of the No. 1 seed in the AFC with a win and now even the division title is in doubt with Houston and Indianapolis looming. If Beathard does end up making his first start since 2020, it will be against a stout Cleveland defense. One thing working in his favor, though, is the Jaguars’ 6–0 record away from EverBank Stadium this season.

Two of the Browns’ worst defensive outings of the year have happened in the last two weeks. The Broncos beat them 29–12 in Week 12 and then the Rams rolled them 36–19. Both losses were on the road but now Cleveland returns to friendly territory, where the team is 5–1 and hasn’t lost since Week 4. It’s unclear whether coach Kevin Stefanski is going to go with the rookie, who was in concussion protocol, or the veteran, but Flacco did throw more passing touchdowns last week (two) than DTR has in four games (one).

Jacksonville originally opened as a road favorite but this line flipped in the Browns’ favor after Lawrence went down on Monday. Incredibly, the 30.5-point total in this potential backup matchup is not even the lowest of the week — Thursday’s Patriots-Steelers game takes the cake at 29.5.

Verderame’s pick: Browns -3.5, Over 30.5 (Cleveland 22, Jacksonville 17)
Manzano’s pick: Jaguars +3.5, Over 30.5 (Cleveland 20, Jacksonville 17)
Wood’s pick: Browns -3.5, Over 30.5 (Cleveland 23, Jacksonville 16)

4. Los Angeles Rams vs. Baltimore Ravens

Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson has 13 TD passes on the season plus another five scores on the ground.

Tommy Gilligan/USA TODAY Sports

Game info: Sunday, Dec. 10 | 1 p.m. ET | FOX
Location: M&T Bank Stadium | Baltimore, MD
Spread: Rams +7.5 (-125) | Ravens -7.5 (+100)
Moneyline: LAR (+265) | BAL (-333)
Total: 40.5 Over (-110) | Under (-118)

After three straight wins, Los Angeles is in the thick of the NFC playoff race. The return of rookie running back Kyren Williams has been instrumental as the offense has found its footing with him back on the field. But Baltimore, the No. 1 scoring defense in the NFL, is coming off a bye week and stands in the way of L.A. making it four in a row.

The Rams put together their best all-around performances of the season the last two weeks: A 36–19 victory over the Browns last time out and a 37–14 triumph over the Cardinals the week prior. Matthew Stafford has eight touchdowns during L.A.’s winning streak and he’s done that despite Cooper Kupp’s continued struggles in large part thanks to Puka Nacua, who suffered a shoulder injury last week but is still expected to play against the Ravens.

Baltimore beat the Chargers 20–10 on the road in Week 12 despite a pedestrian game from Lamar Jackson. The former MVP finished with just 177 passing yards and one touchdown but he contributed to an all-around effort on the ground as the Ravens ran for nearly 200 yards. Baltimore's defense hounded Justin Herbert throughout and added four turnovers to its season tally.

The last time these teams met was Week 17 of the 2021 season, just a few weeks before the Rams won the Super Bowl. L.A. took that matchup on the road, but the Ravens are heavy favorites this time around with their eyes on the No. 1 seed in the AFC.

Verderame’s pick: Ravens -7.5, Over 40.5 (Baltimore 30, Los Angeles 20)
Manzano’s pick: Rams +7.5, Over 40.5 (Baltimore 27, Los Angeles 23)
Wood’s pick: Ravens -7.5, Over 40.5 (Baltimore 26, Los Angeles 17)

5. Denver Broncos vs. Los Angeles Chargers

It’s been a while since Austin Ekeler had a big game, but he could put up solid numbers against the Denver defense,

Kevin R. Wexler/USA TODAY Sports

Game info: Sunday, Dec. 10 | 4:25 p.m. ET | CBS
Location: SoFi Stadium | Inglewood, CA
Spread: Broncos +2.5 (-110) | Chargers -2.5 (-118)
Moneyline: DEN (+125) | LAC (-152)
Total: 43.5 Over (-118) | Under (-110)

Denver saw its five-game winning streak finally come to an end last week against Houston while Los Angeles stopped its three-game skid, though it didn’t earn any style points in a 6–0 win over New England. The Broncos and Chargers have yet to play this season and their two meetings over the next four weeks will have an outsized impact on how the AFC wild card shakes out.

Turnover regression finally came for Denver last week when Russell Wilson threw a season-high three interceptions and the defense didn’t force any turnovers. That ended up being the difference in a 22–17 road loss to fall back to .500. Where the Broncos can surely beat L.A. is through the air, though Wilson’s pass attempts have been down over the last several weeks.

The Chargers’ offense was stifled once again last week by the Patriots and now has just 16 points in the last two weeks. Their defense, a weakness for much of the year, has actually been a bright spot for the last few games but shortcomings on the ground and an inefficient passing game have held Los Angeles back. Denver’s defense has also played its best football as of late, so this is by no means a get-right game for Justin Herbert but perhaps Austin Ekeler can find more success on the ground against the league’s worst run defense.

A win for the Chargers would go a long way toward mounting an improbable playoff run with a daunting schedule down the stretch while a Broncos win would be a major step toward ending the second-longest active playoff drought in the NFL.

Verderame’s pick: Chargers -2.5, Under 43.5 (Los Angeles 23, Denver 20)
Manzano’s pick: Broncos +2.5, Under 43.5 (Denver 21, Los Angeles 20)
Wood’s pick: Broncos +2.5, Over 43.5 (Denver 24, Los Angeles 23)

Final Thoughts

Verderame: The Bills-Chiefs game could go a million different directions. Both teams are towards the top of the leaderboard in turnovers. Both teams have great quarterbacks. Both teams will be desperate for a good outing. Their last two meetings have been defined by “13 Seconds” and a two-minute drill by Josh Allen. The difference this time? Harrison Butker at the gun.

Manzano: The surging Rams have a tough matchup in Baltimore, but expect them to keep it close because of their explosive offense. Matthew Stafford was sensational in last week’s win against the mighty Browns’ defense, which allowed nearly 400 yards to an offense that’s ascending behind second-year running back Kyren Williams and rookie wide receiver Puka Nacua. I’m also taking the points on a desperate Bills team that needs a win in Kansas City to keep pace for a playoff spot. I’m not saying Buffalo will win, but they do have the advantage of being well rested after a bye week.

Wood: The Eagles-Cowboys and Bills-Chiefs games this week are two of the most compelling imaginable matchups in either conference with very different stakes. Philadelphia and Dallas are fighting for first place in the division and thus the conference while Buffalo is fighting for its playoff life against Kansas City, a team that’s had its own struggles as of late. I like Josh Allen to respond with his back against the wall and Dak Prescott to keep rolling. Other than those marquee matchups, I like the Browns and Broncos to pull off upsets and the Ravens to cover a hefty spread at home.

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