If it's December, you don't want to face the Patriots. Since 2001, Bill Belichick's squad is 63-11 straight up in games played in this month. Against the spread, the Patriots are still an impressive 44-29-1, and that's with being December 'dogs just seven times during that stretch. They win games they're supposed to win, most often by at least as many points as you'd expect.

And this isn't a trend that's a vestige of a long-past peak Patriots team. Over the last two-plus seasons, the Patriots are 9-1 straight up and against the spread in the month of December. Their only loss? Losing outright in Miami to the Dolphins last season, a 27-20 defeat as 10.5-point favorites that wasn't even as close as the score indicates (the Patriots outscored the Dolphins 10-0 in the fourth quarter).

Everyone slips up every now and then, so we can't hit the Patriots too hard for a rare December loss in Miami, right? Well, actually ...

The trip to Miami seems to be Kryptonite for Bill Belichick in recent years. The Patriots are just 1-4 straight up and against the spread in Miami since the start of 2013, winning in Week 17 during the 2016 season but losing all four of the other games during that span, including three by at least seven points. 

And this isn't a new development. The Patriots are just 8-10 straight up in Miami over Belichick's tenure, covering only seven times during that stretch. This isn't a Dolphins team that should be taken lightly at home, either. They're 5-1 straight up and against the spread at home this season, and even in the lost Jay Cutler season in 2017 they managed a 4-4 record straight up and a 3-3-2 ATS record in home games. The Dolphins simply have not been an easy out at home under Adam Gase.

Which brings us to this week's matchup. The Dolphins as 7-3 ATS all-time when getting at least a touchdown at home, winning five of those games outright. Will they add another notch to their record against Bill Belichick's Patriots on Sunday? Or will New England's December magic hold up yet again? The answer is going to have big implications for the AFC playoff picture.

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Each week in this space, I'm going to go behind the lines and picks to bring you a bit of a deeper dive into what you should know before locking in your plays. Let's get to it.

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My picks

Over at SportsLine, I have a pick up for Thursday's game, and I'll have more coming by Friday evening. Join now and use promo code WHITE for $1 on your first month and you can get mine and every SportsLine expert's picks throughout the year, as well as my SuperContest picks each Saturday.

However, you can get one free pick with my teaser of the week at the end of this article. Enjoy!

Jaguars at Titans (-4.5)

Home-field advantage: 3.5 points
Power rating line: Titans -7
Lookahead line: Titans -6

Record vs. spread 4-6-2 6-6
Yards per play differential 0.0-0.3
Points per drive offense rank 3025
Points per drive defense rank 47
Weighted DVOA -4.0 -11.6
Pass offense DVOA rank 29 23
Pass defense DVOA rank 6 23
Run offense DVOA rank 2221
Run defense DVOA rank 713

My power ratings say the Titans are severely undervalued here, but DVOA thinks the Jaguars are clearly the better team. Who to believe? Well, the Jacksonville stats are mostly with Blake Bortles at QB, and the Jacksonville offense didn't blow the doors off with Cody Kessler at the helm despite getting the win (just 211 yards gained).

Home teams are 10-4-1 ATS this year on Thursday, while favorites are 11-3-1 ATS in Thursday games. Even if the advanced stats say the Jaguars are the better team, are you willing to buck that trend?

What NFL picks can you make with confidence in Week 14? And which Super Bowl contender gets a huge scare? Visit SportsLine now 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.    

Ravens at Chiefs (-6.5)

Home-field advantage: 3 points
Power rating line: Chiefs -8.5
Lookahead line: Chiefs -9.5

Record vs. spread 6-68-3-1
Yards per play differential 0.61.0
Points per drive offense rank 142
Points per drive defense rank 128
Weighted DVOA 10.938.6
Pass offense DVOA rank 161
Pass defense DVOA rank 5 13
Run offense DVOA rank 145
Run defense DVOA rank 5 32

The Ravens seemingly now have the right kind of offense that can dominate a Chiefs defense that ranks 32nd in rush DVOA and 31st in yards per carry allowed. The Ravens have rolled up more than 200 rushing yards in three straight games since Lamar Jackson took over starting duties.

And if someone is going to slow down the Chiefs offense, it might be a team with a top-five DVOA against both the pass and run, one that also ranks first in net yards per attempt, first downs allowed and points allowed per drive. The Chiefs opened the year 7-0 ATS but have since gone 1-3-1 ATS in their last five games. It's possible they're still a little overvalued on the market, even if my power ratings line tells a different story.

Colts at Texans (-5)

Home-field advantage: 3.5 points
Power rating line: Texans -5
Lookahead line: Texans -3

Record vs. spread 5-6-16-6
Yards per play differential 0.2 0.3
Points per drive offense rank 7 16
Points per drive defense rank 16 3
Weighted DVOA 9.87.9
Pass offense DVOA rank 15 11
Pass defense DVOA rank 2115
Run offense DVOA rank 19 26
Run defense DVOA rank 4 2

Here are two teams that are pretty identical statistically that started out in similar fashion, with Indy posting a 1-5 record through six games and the Texans 0-3 after three weeks. Since those respective starts, the two teams are a combined 14-1 straight up, with the only loss being the Colts' dud against the Jaguars last week.

Now that the Colts got that out of their system, this figures to be a great game. The list of quarterbacks that the Texans defense has faced since their first meeting with Andrew Luck is Week 4 are a far cry from the talent of the Colts' QB; the three best among them who played a full 60 minutes are probably Dak Prescott, Case Keenum and Baker Mayfield, in some order.

Panthers (-2.5) at Browns

Home-field advantage: 2 points
Power rating line: Browns -2
Lookahead line: Browns -1

Record vs. spread 5-77-5
Yards per play differential 0.4 -0.3
Points per drive offense rank 826
Points per drive defense rank 2710
Weighted DVOA 1.5 -8.6
Pass offense DVOA rank 1426
Pass defense DVOA rank 284
Run offense DVOA rank 323
Run defense DVOA rank 826

The stats insist the Panthers are a good team, and they've outgained their opponents by a wide margin in each of the last three teams. But they've lost four straight and now play their fourth road game in a five-week stretch here. Luckily, they'll be up against a Cleveland defense that's an ugly 26th against the run per DVOA, a team that allows just over 136 rushing yards per game.

The Panthers have lost three straight as favorites, two of those as road favorites, and it's pretty remarkable the market is willing to just wipe that stretch from its memory and make them road favorites again here. The stats say Carolina is the better team, but that hasn't been translating into wins lately.

Falcons at Packers (-5.5)

Home-field advantage: 4 points
Power rating line: Packers -4.5
Lookahead line: Packers -7.5

Record vs. spread 3-94-7-1
Yards per play differential -0.2 0.5
Points per drive offense rank 5 15
Points per drive defense rank 3018
Weighted DVOA -6.37.2
Pass offense DVOA rank 8 10
Pass defense DVOA rank 3120
Run offense DVOA rank 294
Run defense DVOA rank 29 27

This is a potential get-right spot for the Packers offense against a defense that's in the bottom four against both the pass and the run, per DVOA. Shed of Mike McCarthy's conservative play-calling, there's no telling what the Falcons should expect on defense. The Falcons offense hasn't scored 20 points in any of their last four games, albeit against some pretty tough defenses. Still, two of those were at home, and the competition shouldn't matter all that much if this team is clicking.

The weather is also something to consider, as it's projected to be somewhere around 25 degrees. The Falcons are 1-8 straight up all time when the game temperature is 25 degrees or less, and considering this is a lost season for them, you have to wonder what the motivation will be to play a full 60-minute game once the cold sets into their bones.

Saints (-8) at Buccaneers

Home-field advantage: 2 points
Power rating line: Saints -9
Lookahead line: Saints -10.5

Record vs. spread 9-35-6-1
Yards per play differential 0.30.1
Points per drive offense rank 111
Points per drive defense rank 22 29
Weighted DVOA 27.3 -16.0
Pass offense DVOA rank 39
Pass defense DVOA rank 22 29
Run offense DVOA rank 825
Run defense DVOA rank 330

The new and improved Bucs have turned the ball over just once in their last two games, both wins at home. But this is a whole 'nother ball game, with the Saints coming in off a loss figuring to be 100 percent focused. They'll also be looking for revenge after losing to Tampa Bay at home in Week 1.

The numbers say that the Bucs passing offense could give them a shot in this game, but the Saints defense has outstanding the last four weeks, giving up an average of 12.75 points per game to the Bengals, Falcons, Eagles and Cowboys. This is a large line for a divisional opponent on the road, but going by the quality of the teams, my power ratings say it should be slightly bigger.

Jets at Bills (-3)

Home-field advantage: 2 points
Power rating line: Bills -3.5
Lookahead line: Bills -3.5

Record vs. spread 4-8 5-7
Yards per play differential -0.8 -0.4
Points per drive offense rank 2931
Points per drive defense rank 1314
Weighted DVOA -26.6 -18.0
Pass offense DVOA rank 3032
Pass defense DVOA rank 123
Run offense DVOA rank 2827
Run defense DVOA rank 2212

The Bills still have a pretty terrible offense and a great defense, but that's enough to make them more than a field goal favorites against a Jets team that lost six straight, going 1-5 ATS in that stretch. The Jets offense has topped 280 yards just once during that stretch, and the defense has given up 400 yards in three straight, including one against a Matt Barkley-led Bills team. Yuck.

The Bills are starting to find an identity offensively, keying off Josh Allen's rushing ability. They've had 167 yards rushing or more in three straight (one of those without Allen), and they really deserved to get a third straight win last week when they outgained the Dolphins 415-175.

Patriots (-7.5) at Dolphins

Home-field advantage: 3.5 points
Power rating line: Patriots -4.5
Lookahead line: Patriots -9.5

Record vs. spread 8-47-5
Yards per play differential 0.2 -0.9
Points per drive offense rank 1027
Points per drive defense rank 921
Weighted DVOA 15.4 -11.4
Pass offense DVOA rank 622
Pass defense DVOA rank 18 24
Run offense DVOA rank 717
Run defense DVOA rank 1419

Miami should have more success after an ugly showing against the Bills, because the Patriots are more forgiving on the defensive side. The Patriots also have struggled historically in Miami, as we said in the lead. But there's no question the Patriots are the better team statistically, so anyone taking the Dolphins is hoping for some weirdness to keep this one close.

Tom Brady has been more turnover prone this season, with his 1.8 interception rate his worst mark since 2013. But that all came early on; the Patriots have turned the ball over only once in their last five games. If Dolphins corner Xavien Howard misses the game as expected, it'll be hard for Miami to get the turnovers they need to pull off the upset. 

Giants (-3.5) at Redskins

Home-field advantage: 2.5 points
Power rating line: Giants -4
Lookahead line: Redskins -3

Record vs. spread 6-5-1 7-5
Yards per play differential 0.0-0.6
Points per drive offense rank 1824
Points per drive defense rank 2415
Weighted DVOA 0.1-29.4
Pass offense DVOA rank 1728
Pass defense DVOA rank 2514
Run offense DVOA rank 1612
Run defense DVOA rank 17 24

Washington is 6-6 and just a game back in the NFC East race, but functionally, their season is over. The team is on its third-string quarterback, its third option at both guard positions, and has 16 players on injured reserve. They could only manage 131 passing yards on Monday against an Eagles secondary that had been getting smoked, because Sanchez only racked up 100 yards on 21 pass attempts.

When the Giants scored 87 points on the 49ers, Bucs and Eagles combined, one could be forgiven with taking that with a grain of salt against some suspect defenses. Thirty points against the Bears, the best defense in the league, is a whole different level. That Giants offense can hang with anyone, and a Mark Sanchez-led depleted unit should figure to be child's play.

Broncos (-4.5) at 49ers

Home-field advantage: 2 points
Power rating line: Broncos -6
Lookahead line: Broncos -4.5

Record vs. spread 6-5-1 3-9
Yards per play differential 0.0 0.1
Points per drive offense rank 21 22
Points per drive defense rank 1125
Weighted DVOA 23.9 -28.3
Pass offense DVOA rank 2024
Pass defense DVOA rank 226
Run offense DVOA rank 231
Run defense DVOA rank 1116

The chasm between these two teams is so large that the Broncos could be as high as six-point favorites and it would make sense. But that was before they lost Emmanuel Sanders in practice to a torn Achilles. That's a huge loss for the passing game, which now must rely on Courtland Sutton, DaeSean Hamilton, Tim Patrick and Matt LaCosse. I swear I didn't make any of those names up.

Denver has the defense to pull this one out even if the offense stalls. Before an easy win against the Bengals, the Broncos had allowed 19, 22 and 17 points to the Texans, Chargers and Steelers, respectively. The 49ers offense under Nick Mullens should be better at home than it's shown in the last two weeks. Looking at their advanced stats, it's pretty shocking the team has managed a positive yards per play differential with Jimmy Garoppolo out the majority of the year.

Bengals at Chargers (-14)

Home-field advantage: 3 points
Power rating line: Chargers -14
Lookahead line: Chargers -15.5

Record vs. spread 5-7 7-5
Yards per play differential -0.6 1.3
Points per drive offense rank 134
Points per drive defense rank 328
Weighted DVOA -26.731.2
Pass offense DVOA rank 18 2
Pass defense DVOA rank 277
Run offense DVOA rank 136
Run defense DVOA rank 28 18

The Chargers are making a case for being included in the top four of the league, winning eight of their last nine with the only loss coming on a last-second kick by the Broncos. They've blown out bad teams like the Cardinals, Raiders and Browns, and they've won tough road games in Pittsburgh and Seattle.

This version of the Bengals fits into the former category, with a defense that ranks bottom six against the pass and the run per DVOA and an offense quarterbacked by Jeff Driskel without A.J. Green catching the ball. The Bengals were beat 96-24 by the Saints and Chiefs combined earlier this season, and that was with Andy Dalton. Good luck to them in this matchup.

Lions (-2.5) at Cardinals

Home-field advantage: 2.5 points
Power rating line: Lions -1.5
Lookahead line: Lions -3

Record vs. spread 6-66-5-1
Yards per play differential -0.8-0.9
Points per drive offense rank 2032
Points per drive defense rank 2620
Weighted DVOA -15.9-34.9
Pass offense DVOA rank 2531
Pass defense DVOA rank 309
Run offense DVOA rank 2030
Run defense DVOA rank 2321

This is the opposite of must-see TV. The Cardinals have the worst offense in the league, and their 4.8 net yards per attempt mark puts them No. 32, behind even the Bills. If your passing game is worse that the one in Buffalo, that's saying something. The Cardinals have had more than 171 passing yards just twice this season, and even then, they topped out at a whopping 233 yards (or what Patrick Mahomes calls a slow half).

But the Lions aren't wowing anyone on offense at this point either. Their skill position players are banged up, and the offense hasn't topped 229 passing yards since Week 8, and Week 4 before that. While the Cardinals defense has also been dealing with injuries, they have enough talent to slow down an offense that wasn't going all that fast in the first place. I know the Cardinals are bad, but should the Lions be road favorites against anyone right now?

Eagles at Cowboys (-3.5)

Home-field advantage: 2.5 points
Power rating line: Cowboys -5
Lookahead line: Cowboys -3.5

Record vs. spread 4-8 7-5
Yards per play differential -0.60.0
Points per drive offense rank 1817
Points per drive defense rank 195
Weighted DVOA -7.30.8
Pass offense DVOA rank 1927
Pass defense DVOA rank 19 10
Run offense DVOA rank 18 11
Run defense DVOA rank 206

The stats say the only place the Cowboys don't have the advantage here is with their passing offense, but they'll be going up against an Eagles secondary that's still pretty banged up, so they should have some success through the air. The Cowboys managed 410 yards of offense in a win over the Eagles in Philadelphia in Week 10, with the run game piling up 179 of those yards.

If the Cowboys do break through on offense again, it'll be on the Eagles offense to keep up, but that's a tall task against a Cowboys defense that's now top 10 against the run and pass, per DVOA, coming off a huge performance against an elite Saints offense. If the Cowboys win this one, consider the NFC East wrapped up.

Steelers (-10.5) at Raiders

Home-field advantage: 2.5 points
Power rating line: Steelers -9
Lookahead line: Steelers -12.5

Record vs. spread 6-5-14-8
Yards per play differential 1.0-1.1
Points per drive offense rank 928
Points per drive defense rank 1231
Weighted DVOA 16.9-24.9
Pass offense DVOA rank 712
Pass defense DVOA rank 1732
Run offense DVOA rank 924
Run defense DVOA rank 1031

The Steelers are still a strong all-around team according to the stats above despite losing each of their last two games, but they should get right against a terrible Oakland defense that ranks No. 32 in pass DVOA and No. 31 in rush DVOA. Without James Conner, the passing game figures to do the heavy lifting, but that's nothing new; the Steelers have the most pass attempts in the league while ranking 27th in rush attempts.

The Raiders have been surprisingly solid in the passing game, but it's hard to see them stringing two great performances together with their lack of talent. They followed up a 45-point game by scoring 10 and three the next two weeks, then followed up a 28-point performance by scoring three and six the next two weeks. The Steelers have won three games by at least 15 points this year, but all three were at home. Will they be able to blow out the Raiders on a cross-country road trip?

Rams (-3) at Bears

Home-field advantage: 3.5 points
Power rating line: Rams -1
Lookahead line: Rams -3.5

Record vs. spread 5-6-1 8-4
Yards per play differential 0.6 0.6
Points per drive offense rank 3 12
Points per drive defense rank 23 2
Weighted DVOA 27.813.4
Pass offense DVOA rank 4 21
Pass defense DVOA rank 81
Run offense DVOA rank 1 15
Run defense DVOA rank 251

Look at that matchup between the Rams offense and the Bears defense. The former ranks third in points per drive, fourth in pass DVOA and first in rush DVOA. The latter ranks third in points per drive allowed and No. 1 in both pass and rush DVOA.

Putting aside that strength vs. strength matchup, this game should come down to what happens when the Bears have the ball. And with them likely getting back Mitchell Trubisky from a two-week absence, they have a chance to have some success if they can commit to running the ball against the Rams' No. 25 rush DVOA defense. The Rams covered for just the second time since Week 3 when they managed a late touchdown against the Lions last week, but will they make it two in a row here? That defense will have something to say about it.

Vikings at Seahawks (-3.5)

Home-field advantage: 3.5 points
Power rating line: Seahawks -3.5
Lookahead line: Seahawks -3

Record vs. spread 6-5-17-3-2
Yards per play differential 0.3 -0.4
Points per drive offense rank 236
Points per drive defense rank 6 17
Weighted DVOA 2.312.9
Pass offense DVOA rank 135
Pass defense DVOA rank 11 16
Run offense DVOA rank 3210
Run defense DVOA rank 915

The Vikings are playing their fifth primetime game of the year, and they bring a 1-3 SU record in those games into this matchup, with the only win coming against what's turned out to be an overrated Green Bay team at home. This one's on the road, where they're 2-3-1 SU this year, with a close win over the Eagles and a win against the Jets to their credit.

The Seahawks represent a far stronger opponent for Minnesota, one that has churned out more than 150 rushing yards in eight of their last nine games. Since losing two close road games to open the season, the Seahawks are 7-3 in their last 10, with the only losses coming to the Rams (twice) and the Chargers. The Vikings aren't nearly as talented offensively, so while they might be able to score in the 24-27 point range, the Seahawks have only been held under 27 points once in their last eight games.

Teaser of the Week

Browns +8.5 vs. Panthers
Saints -2 at Buccaneers

The Panthers have been a trainwreck on the road this year, so I love that we can tease the Browns through 3 and 7 and just expect that they won't get blown out by a reeling Carolina team. While I don't love teasing road favorites in general, the Saints should be a safe play coming off a loss and playing the team that dealt them their other loss. They can't help but be 100 percent focused here and should win the game despite it being on the road.

The teaser of the week is 9-4 after the Patriots and Ravens easily took care of business last week.