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NFL Pro Football 2011 Week 14 Picks

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Fearless Rick's NFL Week 14 Picks - Early Games

Rick Gagliano | December 8-11

All times Eastern - Click here for late games.

Thursday, December 8

Cleveland Browns at Pittsburgh Steelers (-14, 39) 8:20 pm - Over the past five-plus years, the Browns have beaten the Steelers just once, a 13-6 win in Cleveland in December of 2009. The last two times they've met, both games from last season, the Steelers won at home by 18 and in Cleveland by an audacious 41-9 score.

With Pittsburgh still battling Baltimore for the lead in the AFC North, the Steelers will be relentless on both sides of the ball here. Home field is a definite advantage for Pittsburgh, where they are 5-1 on the year. Cleveland is a sub-par, 1-4, on the road.

Riding a three-game winning streak, the Steelers should do what they usually do to the Browns, keeping them at the bottom of the division.

Prediction: Steelers 31 Browns 10

Sunday, December 11

Atlanta Falcons (-3, 48) at Carolina Panthers 1:00 pm - This is kind of a tight spot for Atlanta, especially after losing a tough game on the road at Houston last week, 17-10, falling another game behind the Saints in the NFC South and now looking at a wild card spot.

The Falcons have topped the Panthers five of the last six times they've played, including the last three straight, including a 31-17 win at home this season.

Just 3-3 on the road, the Falcons come to Carolina facing a team that's just won their last two games, the latest a 38-19 win at Tampa Bay, pushing the Bucs into a tie for last place with the Panthers, but Carolina just keeps getting better and they're coming off three consecutive road games, making their homecoming a real positive here.

Even if Atlanta loses here, they'll still be in pretty good shape for the playoffs, as the wild card contenders - Dallas, the Giants, Bears and Lions - aren't looking particularly strong. The Panthers may win a close call.

Prediction: Panthers 30 Falcons 27

Minnesota Vikings at Detroit Lions (-10, 46 1/2) 1:00 pm - This is a must-win situation for the Lions if they hope to keep their playoff chances alive with just four games left. At 7-5, the Lions have a host of other teams in the wild card running. The Packers have already locked up the NFC North, while the 2-10 Vikes are looking ahead to next season.

Despite their frequent failures, the Lions maintain a positive ATS record, at 6-5-1, and have already scored a win over Minnesota this season, though the 26-23 score was a lot closer than most expected.

Two of the Vikings' key offensive players - QB Christian Ponder and RB Adrian Peterson - are still listed as questionable for this contest and could be game time decisions.

Look for Detroit to dominate on defense and have their way on offense in the latter stages of the game as Minnesota's overworked defense tires. The final score could be degrees of magnitude worse should Ponder and/or Peterson be force to sit.

Prediction: Lions 34 Vikings 13

Oakland Raiders at Green Bay Packers (-11 1/2, 52) 1:00 pm - Green Bay had its closest call of the season last week against the Giants, pulling out the 38-35 win on Mason Crosby's field goal as time expired.

The Packer defense has been an issue all season, but they more than compensate with the highest-scoring offense in the league, 35 points per game.

Scoring just 22.8 points per outing, the Raiders will need to step it up on offense or rely on their defense, which would be a tall order, as the Raiders are 27th in scoring defense, allowing 25.7 points per game. Even though the Packers have clinched their division and the Raiders need this game, now tied with Denver in the AFC West at 7-5, don't expect the Pack to hold anything back as they seek a perfect season.

Prediction: Packers 45 Raiders 24

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (-3, 41) at Jacksonville Jaguars 1:00 pm - The Bucs have lost all chances of reaching the playoffs, having lost six in a row, thanks in large part to their defense, which has allowed an average of 30.7 ppg during their losing skein.

While the Jaguars aren't much of an offensive threat, their defense is one of the better ones in the league, allowing an average of 19.8 ppg, though they were torched last week by the Chargers in a 38-17 loss, their third straight. In their three previous games, though, they allowed 20 to Houston, 14 to the Bronws and just 3 to Indy, their last winning effort, when they beat the Colts, 17-3.

While the Bucs are just 4-8 and the Jaguars 3-9, this game may have some significance for Florida bragging rights. The Jaguars hold a 3-1 edge head-to-head, but the two haven't met since 2007.

While Jacksonville is 1-4 ATS in its last 5 games at home, the Buccaneers are just 1-5 ATS over their last six, all losses.

Prediction: Jaguars 17 Buccaneers 10

Philadelphia Eagles at Miami Dolphins (-3, 44) 1:00 pm - Just a month ago, nobody would have imagined that the Dolphins would be favored here, but the Eagles have proven once again that talent alone does not win games. Philly has shown a unique lack of passion and urgency all season and now they must be considered a mark for any team needing a win.

As unbelievable as it may seem, the two teams have identical 4-8 records, but these two are going in opposite directions. The Eagles have lost four of their last five, while all of Miami's wins this season have come within their last five games, their only loss during that time a 20-19 defeat at Dallas.

Miami QB Matt Moore has proven himself a sound leader and the Dolphin defense is ranked #5 in scoring, allowing just 18.3 ppg. Philly's season was a complete flop and the pain will continue here, possibly causing the firing of Andy Reid.

Prediction: Dolphins 27 Eagles 19

New England Patriots (-9, 47 1/2) at Washington Redskins 1:00 pm - Washington is reeling, having lost seven of their last eight, while the Patriots are steamrolling toward another AFC East title, despite only beating the Colts last week by one score, 31-24.

New England is on their longest winning streak of the season, with four straight Ws in the book and just Denver, Miami and Buffalo to close out the season. They've scored at least 30 points in all but two games this season, and lost both of those, so the Patriots still need to work on defense but Rex Grossman and the undermanned Washington offense should make them look good.

Prediction: Patriots 38 Redksins 20

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New Orleans Saints (-4, 48 1/2) at Tennessee Titans 1:00 pm - The history books show that the Titans actually own the Saints, having beaten them five out of six times they've played, but the last time there two met was back in 2007, and much has changed since then.

Tennessee is coming off back-to-back 23-17 wins, over Tampa Bay and, last week, at Buffalo, but, at 7-5, they're two games behind the Texans in their division and facing a tough crowd for the two AFC wild card spots.

While the Tennessee defense is pretty good, rated sixth best in scoring, allowing just 19.1 ppg, they are facing one of the best offensive units in the league. New Orleans is just 3-3 on the road and their only road win by more than three points was against Jacksonville.

All of that adds up to a tough time in Tennessee for the Saints and if there are weather issues, even tougher.

Prediction: Titans 24 Saints 21

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Indianapolis Colts at Baltimore Ravens (-16 1/2, 41) 1:00 pm - The Ravens only need to keep winning to stay even with Pittsburgh atop the AFC North at 9-3 and beating the Colts is almost a foregone conclusion, but Baltimore hasn't beaten anybody by more than 15 points since trampling the Jets, 34-17, back on October 2nd.

They've since won six of eight, three straight, but might suffer a bit of a letdown here. The Colts, who generally are given fat cover lines, easily beat the oddsmakers last week when they were three TD underdogs to the Patriots, losing 31-24. Since their bye week, they've had two of their better games, so maybe this downtrodden bunch is just playing looser and trying to get a win or respect, or both.

Prediction: Ravens 30 Colts 20

Kansas City Chiefs at NY Jets (-9, 36 1/2) 1:00 pm - This is one of the most horrible lines of the season. The Jets are 7-5 and probably not going to catch the Patriots in the AFC East, so a wild card is likely the best they can expect, but the 5-7 Chiefs are still alive after topping Chicago, 10-3 last week and sport a 3-3 road record.

The Jets have won two straight, but they were over Buffalo and Washington, teams they were expected to beat. While the Jets are 5-1 at home, they are 1-4 ATS in their last 5 games when playing Kansas City and this line is just a sucker bet designed to skim plenty of dumb New York money.

Prediction: Chiefs 17 Jets 13

Houston Texans at Cincinnati Bengals (-3, 37 1/2) 1:00 pm - After a 6-2 start, the Bengals have hit a rough patch, winning just once in their last four games, that victory coming against the Browns and only by a 23-20 score.

Meanwhile, the Texans, despite considerable adversity, have reeled off six straight wins and can clinch at least a tie for the division title with a win and a Tennessee loss. Last week's 17-10 win over Atlanta was a real boost for Houston, and they should capitalize on that, even with T.J Yates behind center because the defense has been playing some awesome football, allowing just 65 points over their recent six-game win streak.

Cincinnati's offense is predictable and the Texans will probably be in rookie QB Andy Dalton's face all game long

Prediction: Texans 24 Bengals 14

All times Eastern - Click here for late games

Copyright 2011, 2012, Rick Gagliano, Downtown Magazine. All rights reserved. Downtown Magazine is located in the Uinted States of America and is not affiliated with the National Football League or the NCAA. For more information, contact us here. Use of this site is for entertainment purposes only.


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