NFL Week 14 Picks Against the Spread: Browns and Bears look like outright, underdog winners

Hard to believe but there are only four weeks left in the regular season. This is a good time to take advantage of some obvious situations -- as Pete Prisco and R.J. White pointed out on Friday's edition of the Pick Six Podcast (our daily NFL pod, we make picks for every game against the spread on Friday, subscribe right here or listen in the player below) it's obvious season and you don't need to overthink things too much.

We have months worth of data and film to look at when it comes to NFL teams, and there's a point where some teams will start to quit. That doesn't make picking games easy. It's incredibly hard; I'm on an ice cold streak right now just in terms of not being able to break past the .500 barrier on either my regular season picks or my SuperContest picks. 

But it's time to go streaking. There's a pile of home 'dogs out there who will be giving max effort, even late in the season. Let's take advantage of it. 

Bears (+3) vs. Rams

This is an overreaction to the Bears losing on the road to the Giants last week, but it shouldn't be: that was with Chase Daniel under center and now the Bears get Mitchell Trubisky back. The Bears are averaging 29.4 points per game with Trubisky and fell to 25 with Daniel under center -- even factoring in defensive scores for both guys, there's been an obvious and immediate struggle for skill-position players. Were it not for the versatility of Tarik Cohen, we're probably not looking at a Bears team above 20 points per game. The Rams have Aqib Talib back and Aaron Donald is playing MVP/DPOY caliber football, but the Rams offense hasn't seen a defense this good in 2018. Chicago will be angry and they present value as a home 'dog going 8-2-1 against the spread since the start of 2016. Their only loss was to the Patriots, a game they could have won and should have covered. Betting against the Rams seems scary but under Sean McVay they're just 14-14-1 against the spread, and 5-6-1 this year. The Rams are still overvalued and this is a great spot to take Chicago. 

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Browns (+2.5) vs. Panthers

I wrote at length earlier this week how Cam Newton clearly appears to be injured and can't throw the ball downfield at all. That's the primary basis for this pick; Newton threw four interceptions to the Buccaneers and even looked erratic on his touchdown throws. The Browns are significantly better on defense (ninth in DVOA versus 30th) and interceptions (third in the league compared to 24th after adding four to the Bucs' total). Baker Mayfield is a little bit of a concern here after he laid an egg against the Texans, but Houston's substantially better on defense than Carolina this year. Even with Ron Rivera calling plays, I think the Browns can move the ball against the Panthers defense. Two things are concerning about this game: Cleveland is 25th in DVOA against pass-catching running backs so Christian McCaffrey could have a field day, and the Panthers are playing for their season and maybe their coach's job. Lose this game and they're toast after a 6-2 start. That spells doom for everyone. Ultimately I just don't think Cam is healthy enough to overcome being on a team that isn't good on the road -- Carolina is 1-5 both against the spread and straight up in road games this year. 

What NFL picks can you make with confidence in Week 14? And which playoff contender goes down hard? Check out the latest NFL odds below and then visit SportsLine to see which NFL teams are winning more than 50 percent of simulations, all from the model that has beaten 98 percent of experts over the past two years.

Seahawks (-3.5) vs. Vikings

Pretty simple math here for me. The Seahawks and Russell Wilson are 9-2-1 against the spread in home night games (i.e. primetime spots) since Russell was drafted back in 2012. Meanwhile, Kirk Cousins has been the opposite of clutch in these big spots -- Cousins moved to 5-12 straight up in primetime games with a win over the Packers last week. His showing in a big spot against the Patriots was less than impressive, and even if it doesn't count for the primetime record, it adds to a concerning statistic about Cousins against winning teams. Coming into the year, Cousins was a paltry 4-19 against teams with a winning record (final record at the end of the season). Quarterback wins aren't the end-all/be-all, but that stat matters. This year he has wins over the 49ers, Eagles, Cardinals, Jets, Lions and Packers. Those teams are currently a combined 22-49-1. His losses are to the Bills, Rams, Saints, Bears and Patriots. Those teams are currently a combined 42-18. Yikes. Gimme the streaking home team with the underrated defense in a huge spot for Seattle, as the Seahawks can ostensibly clinch a playoff berth with a win here.

Ravens (+6.5) at Chiefs

Another team that's scary to get in front of, Kansas City's been a coverhorse, going 8-3-1 against the spread this season. But the Chiefs are just 0-2-1 over their last three games against the number despite going 2-1 in those games. They are a popular public team because they covered early on; there's value here later in the season. The actual matchup is good value too. Lamar Jackson and Gus Edwards probably are not going to carry the Ravens to a Super Bowl victory. It's a bit of a fad and at some point, the read option/RPO stuff plus Jackson's lack of accuracy will catch up to Baltimore. It won't catch up this week, though. The Chiefs are the worst rush defense team by DVOA and are giving up a league-worst 5.1 yards per carry to opposing offenses. Over the last three years, the Ravens are averaging 238.7 rushing yards per game and 4.9 yards per carry. They've run the ball 53, 43 and 49 times the last three weeks. This is a good spot for Baltimore to pound the ball, sustain drives and keep Patrick Mahomes off the field. Force him into a weird spot and he might even make some mistakes that could lead to a stunning upset.

Colts (+5) at Texans

Another unpopular road dog I like, no one will back the Colts because they just got shut out by the Jaguars, who just got hammered by the Titans on Thursday night. The Texans have won nine straight games! Everyone forgets, of course, that streak was jumpstarted by an overtime victory over Indianapolis, one that easily could have/should have been a loss or a tie. I don't want to downplay what it means to win nine straight games, and you can certainly only play who is on your schedule, but the Texans beat nine teams who are a combined 44-53-1. Only the Cowboys and Titans have winning records in the stretch, and the Titans only have one because they won last night. The NFL is full of average teams year in and year out and the Texans are smashing some of them. Don't get me wrong: I think they're a legit contender because Deshaun Watson's playing at a very high level and J.J. Watt gives them superstar balance on defense. They have tons of high-end talent. But they shouldn't be a full five-point favorite over the Colts, who should keep this to a field goal against a conservative coach in Bill O'Brien. I reserve the right to change this if the injury report is a complete disaster (it doesn't look good early), but I think Indy keeps it close. 

Underdog Moneyline Parlay of the Week of the Year

You ready to make some money? Let's make some money. This is big-time moneyline parlay. You're probably, as Prisco said on the podcast, setting money on fire. But if it hits, it hits BIG. 

On the podcast I took several of the teams above as part of a moneyline parlay, and I love using the Browns, Bears and Cardinals in a pairing. It doesn't pay out crazy, but it's like 10-1, which is pretty good for three short home dogs. That doubles up on some of the bets above, though, so let's look at a bigger, badder option that would put some holiday cash in your pocket. 

Raiders (+460) - Ben Roethlisberger has never won in Oakland, ever! 
Cardinals (+130) - Detroit shouldn't be a favorite on the road, ever!
49ers (+160) - The Broncos just lost Chris Harris and Emmanuel Sanders in back-to-back weeks and need to throw to beat SF. 

Slap those teams in a parlay and you're getting 32:1 on the payout. It's a long shot, obviously. But the Steelers losing to a bad team on the road wouldn't be that big of a shock. And the Cardinals and 49ers are terrible, but they can beat the teams they're playing this week. If it lands it's $800 in your pocket. 

And if you want to go full Michael Keaton Batman and get nuts, throw the Buccaneers (+350) in there too. That moneyline parlay pays out 150-1. It would be four surprising upsets, but welcome to the NFL.

CBS Sports Senior Writer

Will Brinson joined CBS Sports in 2010 and enters his seventh season covering the NFL for CBS. He previously wrote for FanHouse along with myriad other Internet sites. A North Carolina native who lives... Full Bio

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