NFL Week 14 picks: Bills shock Buccaneers in Tampa Bay, Cardinals roll past Rams in NFC
In an 2021 NFL season full of twists and turns, we finally got our biggest twist of the year in Week 13: THE DETROIT LIONS WEREN’T THE FIRST TEAM ELIMINATED FROM PLAYOFF CONTENTION.
If you would have asked me at any point over the past six weeks who the first team to get knocked out of the playoff race would be, I would’ve bet my first born on the the Lions, and I have to say, it’s a good thing I didn’t bet that, because I’m pretty sure my wife would have killed me for losing our kid in a bet.
As things stand, the Lions are officially still alive in the playoff race after beating the Vikings on Sunday, but one team is no longer alive and that team is the Houston Texans. Houston, you have a problem and your problem is that your football team is horrible.
I think I can say with 100% confidence that I will not be picking the Texans to win a game for the rest of the season, which means I’ve already spoiled one of my picks for Week 14, because now you know that I’m picking the Texans to lose to the Seahawks. I don’t want to spoil anymore of my picks, so let’s get the Week 14 picks started right now.
Actually, before we get to the picks, here’s a quick reminder that you can check out the weekly picks from every CBSSports.com NFL expert by clicking here. If you don’t click over, I won’t be offended. However, I will be offended if you don’t sign up for CBSSports.com’s NFL newsletter, which I pump out four days per week. I also have a newsletter about what it’s like to write newsletters, but I won’t ask you to subscribe to that one.
As for the football newsletter, if you want to subscribe, all you have to do is click here and enter your email address. It takes 8.6 seconds to sign up and if you’re wondering how I know that, it’s because I got bored and timed it once. One thing that’s not boring is the podcast that I recorded on Monday night with my crazy partners Will Brinson and Ryan Wilson. We spent 45 highly entertaining minutes debating who’s going win the AFC East following New England’s win over Buffalo. We also talked about the fact that the Patriots won a game DESPITE THROWING JUST THREE PASSES. If you want to listen, and you definitely should, you can do that below.
Alright, I think that’s all the self-promotion I have for the week. Let’s get to the picks.
NFL Week 14 Picks
Pittsburgh (6-5-1) at Minnesota (5-7)
Thursday, 8:20 p.m. ET (Fox/NFL Network/Amazon)
I’ll be honest, if you plan on watching this game on Thursday, you probably don’t even need to start watching it until the fourth quarter and that’s because we all know how the first three quarters are going to play out. As I wrote earlier this season, every Vikings game goes the same way every week: They jump out to an early lead only to blow the lead, but then they usually get the lead back before blowing it again. Half the time, this ends with them losing, but the other half of the time it ends with them winning, which makes their games always entertaining, but nearly impossible to predict.
And right now, it’s especially impossible to predict what Minnesota’s going to do because the Vikings are the laughing stock of the entire NFL after losing to the Lions on Sunday. I have no idea if the team is going to give up on Mike Zimmer and lose by 40 or if he’s going to be able to talk them off the ledge.
If Zimmer’s smart, he’ll give one short speech this week and it will go something like this, “Guys, we get to play the only other team in the NFL this year that played the Lions and couldn’t beat them, so we actually might have a chance to win this game.”
Although the Vikings loss to Detroit was embarrassing, the Steelers probably aren’t laughing at them and that’s because THEY ALSO almost lost to the Lions. If the Lions hadn’t missed an overtime field goal back in Week 10, they would have beaten the Steelers, but they did miss, so they ended up with a tie.
I feel like the NFL should really embrace the fact that this game features the only two teams to play the Lions this year and not win. For one, they should let an actual lion handle the coin toss. I have no idea if that’s safe or not, but it would definitely be entertaining.
Anyway, both the Steelers and Vikings defenses have actually been surprisingly bad this year. There are only six teams in the NFL giving up more than 130 yards per game on the ground and the Vikings and Steelers are two of those teams, so I feel like this game is going to come down to which offense can take advantage of the other team’s defense
The fact that the Vikings have a bad rush defense is good news for Big Ben, because it means the Steelers should be running the ball a lot and I have to think that’s what he wants, because there’s a good chance he’s barely going to be functional playing on three days rest. The fact that the Steelers have a bad rush defense is good news for the Vikings, because it means they should be running a lot in this game, which means it won’t be in the hands of Kirk Cousins. Look, I’m not a Kirk Cousins hater, but I will say that he’s definitely the last guy you want to rely on in a prime-time game. Remember how bad Andy Dalton used to be in prime time? Well, Cousins is worse. In his past five prime-time starts alone, Cousins is 1-4 and one of those losses came against a Cowboys team led by Cooper Rush earlier this year.
This game feels like a coin flip, but there is one thing that has me leaning Minnesota: The Steelers are 0-3 against the spread in games versus NFC North teams this year and they haven’t been much better straight-up (1-1-1). I haven’t missed a Steelers pick since Week 3 and I’ll be putting that streak on the line by not taking them to win on Thursday night.
The pick: Vikings 23-20 over Steelers
Baltimore (8-4) at Cleveland (6-6)
1 p.m. ET (CBS)
If it feels like you just saw these two teams play, that’s because you did. Someone in the NFL scheduling department clearly got a little lazy because this game will mark the second time in three weeks that these two teams have met (Week 12 and Week 14). I mean, I’m pretty sure I still have some leftover Thanksgiving turkey in my refrigerator that was in there the last time they played, which reminds me, I should probably go check on that because there is a rather unpleasant odor coming from my fridge.
Speaking of the NFL scheduling department, I feel like someone there must really hate the Ravens because they are definitely getting the short end of the stick here. The Browns have basically had three weeks to prepare for Baltimore while the Ravens will just get a few days.
How are the Browns getting three weeks you ask? Well, this is their second game in a row against Baltimore. They played the Ravens in Week 12, then had a bye in Week 13 and will now be playing them again in Week 14, which means the Browns have basically been prepping for Baltimore since the day after their Week 11 game ended, which was on Nov. 22.
This is the first time in 30 years that a team has gotten to play two straight games against the same team. The last time it happened, the Ravens didn’t even exist, and for that matter, neither did Baker Mayfield and that’s because he wasn’t even born yet.
I’m not sure what the Browns did during their bye week, but I’m guessing they threw Mayfield in an ice bath and let him sit there for 12 straight days. There’s no one in the NFL who needed a week off more than Mayfield, who is dealing with so many injuries that if I didn’t know any better, I would have though he got in a car crash with a tractor.
The one thing about this game is that it’s a dream matchup for anyone who hates the forward pass. In the modern NFL, conventional wisdom says that you need to be able…