So my new strategy of picking only games I feel rather confident in is working out quite well thus far. If you include Thursday’s spot-on pick of the Chiefs, that’s 5-1 since the start of last week, with only one major flameout coming from the pitiful Jets on Monday night. But with one victory in tow this week, I will go for another effective slate with four more selections here in Week 14: (Also, I may have said this before, but let me make this disclaimer just in case: if you are inclined to bet a game, a cardinal rule is to never give either 3.5 or 7.5 points; always buy the spread down to 3/7 or 2.5/6.5. Of course on here, I’m just going off of what I see from the books, but for monetary purposes, the aforementioned 3.5 and 7.5 favorite spreads can be lethal.)
Season record: 19-12-2
Cincinnati (-5.5) at Cleveland
Really, for me, the question for the Browns is this: if not now, then when? The beat-up Bengals are coming to town and at 0-12, the Browns don’t have many real options left to win a football game in 2016. They are at Buffalo next week before hosting San Diego in Week 16, then will be administered their yearly beatdown at Heinz Field in Week 17. With RGIII back in the saddle, the Browns should put up just enough of a fight to at least cover the spread. A loss for the Bengals could (finally) spell the end for Marvin Lewis, even though his team bounced back nicely by trouncing the Eagles last week. Pick: Browns.
Minnesota (-3.5) at Jacksonville
The Vikings are 1-6 after a 5-0 start, but nothing cures the winter blues like a quick vacation to Jacksonville. The Jaguars, at 2-10, are a lost cause, and the Vikings’ strong defense should be able to shut down Jacksonville’s offense the way Denver did a week ago. It may be a bit of a slugfest, but expect the Vikings to start to regain some of their early-season form after a midseason swoon. Pick: Vikings.
Pittsburgh (-3) at Buffalo
The Bills may possess the league’s best rushing offense, but the fact that they have football’s worst passing offense makes me wonder how in the world they will be able to come back should they fall behind? Pittsburgh is doing its annual routine, surging in the second half after dangling the dream in front of us that maybe they’ve fallen off. Big Ben and the offense are in a real groove, and the Bills are really reeling after surrendering 29 unanswered points in Oakland last week. It’s also going to be a major advantage for the Steelers if it’s snowing in Orchard Park, as that actually tends to favor passing teams. Pick: Steelers.
Baltimore at New England (-7)
Picking against the Patriots, at home, in prime time, against a team they are trying to exact revenge on, is a very dangerous proposition. This team is unflappable at home in December and beyond, but the Ravens aren’t scared of New England, its aura and mystique, or poor weather conditions. These are the two best scoring defenses in the AFC, but Baltimore has posted their numbers against a slightly tougher slate of opponents. Baltimore put together its most complete game of the season against the Dolphins last week, and is finally starting to get healthy. Joe Flacco may have needed half a year to get back to his old self after tearing his ACL last year, the same way Tom Brady did in 2009. The Ravens may not be able to pull out the victory, but they figure to keep it close. Pick: Ravens.