It took 13 weeks, but we finally have our first team eliminated from playoff contention this year and to no one's surprise, that team is the Houston Texans (the Bears were also eliminated on Sunday, but the Texans won the honor of officially being the first team).
Houston, you have a problem and your problem is that the Texans are the worst team in football this year and their loss on Sunday pretty much sums up everything that's wrong with them. The Texans didn't give up a single offensive touchdown to the Browns in Week 13, and yet, they still somehow managed to lose by 13 points, which is so bad that it's actually impressive.
One thing I know for sure is that I won't be picking the Texans to win any of their remaining games, and crap, now that I've told you that, that means I've now spoiled one of my picks for Week 14, because now you know that I'm picking the Texans to lose to the Cowboys. I don't want to spoil any more of my picks, so let's hurry up and get to the Week 14 picks.
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 9.3 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 the early picks podcast that I recorded with Will Brinson this week. You can find out our four favorite early picks for Week 14 by listening 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
Minnesota (10-2) at Detroit (5-7)
1 p.m. ET (Fox)
When two division rivals play each other for the second time in a season, I usually throw the results of the first game out the window, but I'm writing this pick from a windowless closet, so I can't do that, which is probably for the best, because I think that first game gives us a small hint of what's going to happen this time around.
In that first game, the Lions jumped out to a 14-0 lead before doing what you would expect the Lions to do in that situation: Fully imploding and losing. The Lions shot themselves in the foot so many times in that game that you'd think they would've have run out of bullets or even feet, but nope, they just kept doing it.
They missed two field goals in the first game, they had two failed fourth downs and Jared Goff threw an interception in the final minute that iced the game. No one is better at giving away games than the Lions and it really felt like they gave away the first game. However, that was the old Lions. Now, the Vikings will be dealing with the new Lions, who are suddenly one of the hottest teams in the NFL.
The new Lions don't blow games, unless you count the Buffalo loss on Thanksgiving. OK, the new Lions do blow games, but not as often as the old Lions.
The last four games between these two teams have been decided by an average 2.5 points per game, so I fully expect things to get crazy once again on Sunday and crazy would be the Lions actually holding on to beat a good team at home. So yes, I'm picking the Lions here, but that's arguably a good thing for the Vikings since I've whiffed on four straight games involving Minnesota. I need this streak to end. Don't let me down Lions.
I think we might see a shootout here and that's because we have the the team that's given up the most points in the NFL this year (Lions) going up against the team that's surrendering the most passing yards per game (Vikings).
The pick: Lions 34-31 over Vikings
Baltimore (8-4) at Pittsburgh (5-7)
1 p.m. ET (CBS)
If you would have asked me five weeks ago who I thought was going to win this game, I probably would've picked the Ravens by seven touchdowns. I'm not sure why you would have asked me about this game back then, but I'm a nice person, so I would have answered your question even if I thought it was weird.
After nine weeks of play, the Steelers were 2-6 and it looked like they were going toe-to-toe with the Texans for the unofficial title of worst team in the AFC. As for the Ravens, they were 6-3 after 10 weeks and they easily could have been 9-0 with all three losses coming by four points or less. However, things have slightly changed over the past few weeks. On the Steelers' end, they got T.J. Watt back in Week 10 and they've been nearly unbeatable ever since. Watt is one of the most dominant players in the NFL and since his return, the Steelers have gone 3-1, which makes them 4-1 on the season in any game where Watt plays. If the NFL was fair, it would only count the games this season that Watt has played and the Steelers would be in the thick of the playoff hunt, but the NFL isn't fair and no one knows that more than the Ravens, who will likely be playing without Lamar Jackson on Sunday.
Normally, when a starting QB goes down, that's when a team will hit the panic button, but I don't think that will be the case for Baltimore. The Ravens have Tyler Huntley to take his place and Huntley is like the store-brand Lamar Jackson, and let me just say, that's not necessarily an insult. If you've ever had store-brand Froot Loops, then you know that sometimes the store-brand is better than the national brand and Huntley has the talent to be store-brand Froot Loops.
Huntley is basically a mini-me version of Lamar Jackson and based on what he did in four starts last year, he might actually be able to provide a spark for a Ravens offense that's been in a rut over the past few weeks.
I think we'll see a minor drop-off from the Ravens offense without Jackson, but I also think that Huntley plays well enough to lead Baltimore to a win.
The pick: Ravens 20-17 over Steelers.
Tampa Bay (6-6) at San Francisco (8-4)
4:25 p.m. ET (Fox)
This game was supposed to be giving us Tom Brady against Jimmy Garoppolo for the FIRST TIME ever, but apparently, that's too much handsomeness on the field at one time, so the Football Gods decided not to let it happen. With Garoppolo now out for the season, we'll instead be getting Brady against Brock Purdy. We're getting a QB who made his first career start 21 years ago against a QB who will be making his first career start on Sunday.
We're getting a QB who has seven Super Bowl rings against a QB who was literally selected with the final pick in the 2022 NFL Draft. The final player taken in the draft is known as "Mr. Irrelevant" and I'm guessing that's because they almost always end up having an irrelevant NFL career.
If you're a seventh-round pick trying to play quarterback in the NFL, the deck is pretty stacked against you. Over the past 15 years, there have been exactly 26 quarterbacks taken in the seventh-round and of those 26 quarterbacks, only six of them ended up starting a game and those six quarterbacks have combined to go 17-35. Trevor Siemian is carrying a lot of the load there with a career record of 13-17 and if you don't include him, then the record for seventh-round draft picks drops to 4-18 over the past 15 years.
Purdy actually looked purdy good (HA HA) against the Dolphins, going 25 of 37 for 210 yards and two touchdowns, but that was against a defense that wasn't prepared to face him. The Buccaneers will be prepared to face him and he will not be catching them by surprise.
The only upside for Purdy is that he's in an offensive system where nearly any QB can thrive. Thanks to Kyle Shanahan, the 49ers offense is essentially a self-driving car that can function with anyone behind the wheel. The only way it doesn't work is if the driver somehow crashes it and that's what I'm afraid might happen with a seventh-round pick behind the wheel.
Also, I should probably point out that Tom Brady has never lost in a game where the opposing QB was making his first career start.
Since Purdy is a Mr. Irrelevant, I think it only makes sense here to predict that the game is going to be won by another Mr. Irrelevant: Ryan Succop. The Buccaneers kicker was the final pick of the 2009 NFL Draft and as the most successful Mr. Irrelevant in history, I'm going to say he continues that success by kicking the Bucs to an upset win on Sunday.
The pick: Buccaneers 23-20 over 49ers
Miami (8-4) at L.A. Chargers (6-6)
8:20 p.m. ET (NBC)
If I've learned one thing about Chargers fans over the past 48 hours, it's that I think they've all given up on Brandon Staley. As a matter of fact, I'm pretty sure that "fire Brandon Staley" was trending on Twitter after the Chargers lost to the Raiders.
Chargers need to fire Brandon Staley asap and get him someone at least competent— Garrett S. (@54to1) December 5, 2022
Don’t even let Brandon Staley back in the locker room fire this man on the spot 🤮— Urameshi Marcus (@OGMarcusWalker) December 5, 2022
I'm not sure the Chargers should be making large organizational decisions based on what they read on Twitter, but I have to say, these fans are pretty persuasive. Not only do they want to see Staley canned, but they also know who they want to replace him: Sean Payton.
One reason fans are so upset with Staley is because the Chargers haven't quite lived up to expectations this year. The Chargers were supposed to be contending for an AFC West title, but instead, they're sitting at 6-6, a full three games behind the Chiefs.
One reason they've struggled is because their defense can't stop the run. And when I say their defense can't stop the run, I mean that they are literally the worst team at stopping the run in more than 60 years. They are giving up more than 5.4 yards per carry which is more than any other team since 1960.
The problem for Staley is that he's supposed to be a defensive mastermind, but I'm not sure you're allowed to have that title if you're on a list like this. I mean, the 1933 Cincinnati Reds were so bad that they folded after two seasons, which is kind of a weird coincidence, because at the rate things are going, Staley might only last two seasons with the Chargers.
Fortunately for Staley, if there's one team that might not be able to run the ball on the Chargers, it's Miami. The Dolphins are averaging just 89.7 yards per game on the ground, which makes them one of just five teams averaging under 100 yards per game for the season. They also have the fifth-worst yards per carry rate in the NFL. If the Chargers defense can't slow down the Dolphins' rushing attack, then Staley might just want to go ahead and call it quits.
If I know one thing about the Chargers, it's that they love to tease their fans and a big tease would be beating the Dolphins this week only to lose all that momentum by losing next week, so that's exactly what I'm going to say happens.
The pick: Chargers 30-27 over Dolphins
New England (6-6) at Arizona (4-8)
Monday, 8:15 p.m. ET (ESPN)
If I've learned one thing about the Patriots this season, it's that the key to beating them is to have a mobile quarterback. Bill Belichick is arguably the best defensive mind in NFL history, but when you throw a mobile quarterback at him, it's like he forgets how to coach. In three games this season against mobile quarterbacks, New England has gone 0-3 and you know what, let's go ahead and quickly recount how the Patriots' defense fared in each of those games:
- Week 3: Ravens 37-26 over Patriots. Lamar Jackson throws for 218 yards and four touchdowns while adding another 107 yards on the ground with a rushing touchdown.
- Week 6: Bears 33-14 over Patriots. Justin Fields throws for 179 yards and a touchdown while adding another 82 yards on the ground with a rushing touchdown.
- Week 13: Bills 24-10 over Patriots. Josh Allen throws for 222 yards and two touchdowns while adding another 20 yards rushing on the ground.
In each game, the quarterback's ability to run the ball opened things up on the ground and the Patriots ended up surrendering an average of 187.7 rush yards per game in these three losses. What this means is that Kyler Murray could give New England fits, but that's only if he's not throwing his own fits.
One thing that makes this game hard to pick is that I'm not sure which quarterback is more frustrated right now. On one hand, you have Murray, who will yell at anyone and everyone when he gets frustrated.
Murray yelling at Kliff Kingsbury? We've seen plenty of that this year.
However, it's not just Kingsbury who's been yelled at by Murray. He's also expressed frustrations with DeAndre Hopkins.
Of course, the only person more frustrated than Murray with his offense right now might be Mac Jones.
So we have two frustrated quarterbacks going at it on Monday night in a game where the guy who gets more frustrated is probably going to lose. Due to the fact that the Patriots can't seem to stop mobile quarterbacks, I'm going to say Belichick ends up getting frustrated, but in the end, I'm going to say that Kliff Kingsbury ends up as the most frustrated guy on the field because his team is going to find a way to lose another close game.
The pick: Patriots 19-16 over Cardinals
NFL Week 14 picks: All the rest
Best pick: Last week, Ithe Chiefs by exactly three points and guess what happened? The Bengals beat the Chiefs by exactly three points. When it comes to picking Chiefs games, there are only two rules: If they're not playing the Bengals, you pick them to win. If they ARE playing the Bengals, you pick them to lose. It's that simple. Since the start of the 2019 season, Mahomes has a record of 33-4 in the months of November, December and January: He's 0-3 against the Bengals and 33-1 against everyone else.
Worst pick: I only missed three picks in Week 13, but I won't be taking a victory lap and that's because if I try to take one, I'll trip over my own feet and fall flat on my face, kind of like I did with all my upset picks. Last week, I predicted that we'd see three big upsets in Week 13 -- Titans over Eagles, Jets over Vikings and Dolphins over 49ers -- and every single one of those predictions backfired on me. The worst part isn't that I got the picks wrong, it's how I got them wrong. The Titans forgot that A.J. Brown existed, the Dolphins couldn't beat a rookie seventh-round QB who was playing the first game of his career and the Jets had THREE chances to score from the one-yard line with under two minutes left to play and they couldn't do it. And since you're now probably wondering, yes, I did cry myself to sleep on Sunday night.
Finally, if you guys have ever wondered which teams I'm actually good at picking, here's a quick look at my best and worst teams when it comes to picks this year.
Teams I'm 11-1 picking this year (Straight up): Chiefs.
Longest winning streak: Chiefs (Nine straight games picked correctly)
Team I've been the worst at picking this year (Straight up): Raiders (4-8).
Longest losing streak: Vikings (Four straight games picked incorrectly)
Every other team is somewhere in the middle.
Straight up in Week 13: 11-3-1
SU overall: 117-76-1
Against the spread in Week 13: 9-6
ATS overall: 92-95-8
You can find John Breech on Facebook or Twitter and if he's not doing one of those things, he's probably eating store-brand froot loops by himself while searching online for any merchandise he can find that features the 1933 Cincinnati Reds.