Scott Shapiro's Week 14 NFL 4-Pack
After a one-sided Thursday night game dominated by Derrick Henry and the Titans to start off a week full of divisional battles, a plethora of meaningful games are on tap this weekend in the National Football League.
Here is my Week 14 4-Pack:
Dallas Cowboys (-3.5) vs Philadelphia Eagles
The defending champions may have won two in a row, but do not be fooled by them outscoring their last two opponents and getting back into a position to potentially win the NFC East. The Eagles meet a Cowboys team that comes in on extra rest after putting forth one of the best defensive efforts in the NFL last Thursday night against the high-powered Saints.
On Monday night, the Eagles earned a must win on primetime, but it was against a Redskins team that not only was without 3 starters on their offensive line, but a group that had to turn to newly acquired Mark Sanchez early on after backup Colt McCoy was the second Skins signal caller in recent weeks to break his leg. Sanchez not only had little chance to learn the playbook, but he had not played in a live game since 2016. Prior to that the Eagles needed good fortune and a second half comeback to beat a subpar Giants team.
The Cowboys on the other hand have played really good football of late. After losing 28-14 to Tennessee on November 5th, they have rattled off four straight wins including a 27-20 victory in Philadelphia on November 11th. They have done a much better job of feeding their best offensive player in Ezekiel Elliott, but it is their defense that has been most impressive. I expect them to dominate an Eagles offense that lacks a big playmaker on the outside and has struggled to run the ball with consistency in 2018.
I will take the better team at home only laying 3.5. Dallas essentially locks up the NFC East on Sunday.
Week 14 NFL Pick- Dallas Cowboys (2 units)
Carolina Panthers at Cleveland Browns (O/U 47.5)
Two teams coming off losses matchup in an inter-conference battle on Sunday in Cleveland. Both the Browns and Panthers played in games that went UNDER the total in Week 13, but there are reasons to believe they will both score OVER the target in Week 14.
Before their game on the road versus the Texans last Sunday, Cleveland’s offense had made a strong move forward since promoting Freddie Kitchens to offensive coordinator in late October. First overall pick in the 2018 draft Baker Mayfield had shown significant improvement and fellow rookie Nick Chubb has run the ball well since the team traded veteran Carlos Hyde to Jacksonville
The Browns only put up 13 points in Houston last week, but much of that was due to turnovers and key penalties, not an inability to move the football. Mayfield threw three interceptions in the second quarter and then Cleveland shot themselves in the foot twice in a row on the second drive in the second half with a touchdown called back on an offensive holding call before a fumble deep in Houston territory by wide receiver Antonio Callaway. Slot receiver Jarvis Landry and tight end David Njoku have extremely favorable matchups this week, which should lead to the Browns scoring in the high twenties or low thirties against Carolina.
The Panthers were also better on offense than the final score illustrated in Week 13. Quarterback Cam Newton threw four interceptions, including three in Buccaneers territory nullifying the 300 yards he accounted for in the air. With the weaponry Newton has at his disposal he should have no problem moving his team down the field regularly against a Browns defense that ranks 30th in the league in yards allowed per game and 24th in points per contest.
All 3 games that the Panthers have played against AFC North opponents have gone OVER the total in 2018. It should be a perfect 4-for-4 after Sunday. This number just seems too low. My play of the week.
Week 14 NFL Pick- OVER (2 units)
Indianapolis Colts (+5) at Houston Texans
If you have followed my work all year you are well aware that the Texans have been my kryptonite. When I endorse them, they have failed to get the job done and when I have faded them during this win streak, they have found ways to prove me wrong. Maybe I am stubborn, but I am willing to take them on again this Sunday against division rival Indianapolis.
Sure, the Texans defense has been impressive over the past two months allowing less than 16 points per game, but a deeper dive shows that this success has come against many of the NFL’s weakest offenses. The Cowboys, Bills, Jaguars, Dolphins, Broncos, Redskins, Titans and Browns are certainly not a murderer’s row of offensive attacks, so there is reason to believe that Andrew Luck and crew will bounce back after getting shut out in Jacksonville last week. With both Eric Ebron and T.Y. Hilton in favorable matchups on Sunday one should expect Indy to be able to score enough to hang in there with the first-place Texans, even on the road.
The last time the Texans beat the Colts by more than 5 points was December 20th, 2015. They fail to do it once again. This game comes down to the final play.
Week 14 NFL Pick- Indianapolis Colts (1 unit)
Seattle Seahawks (-3) vs Minnesota Vikings
The Week 14 action concludes on Monday night with a big game in the Pacific Northwest. The Seahawks and Vikings both need this one if they hope to earn one of the conference’s two wild card spots with just 4 games left.
As discussed previously, the Vikings have been a disappointment in 2018 after making it to the NFC Championship game a year ago. The acquisition of Kirk Cousins has not worked out as planned, but it is hard to put all the blame on the former Redskins quarterback because Minnesota ground attack has been abysmal. They currently rank 30th in the NFL in rushing offense. Not a recipe for success, especially heading on the road to a hostile environment.
In addition to their lack of execution on offense, this is a really tough spot for the Vikings. They are forced to travel cross-country for back-to-back road games, both against quality competition. They will need to play better than they did last week in New England if they plan to beat a Seattle team playing their best ball of the year.
The Seahawks bring the league’s best running game into this contest along with the hot hand of quarterback Russell Wilson. Wilson will not get MVP in 2018, but it is hard to argue that he is not one of the most valuable players to his team once again this year. He may have to throw the ball more than usual on Monday since the Vikings are tough to run on, but I am not willing to bet against Wilson the way he is playing at the moment.
Seattle wins and covers again.
Week 14 NFL Pick- Seattle Seahawks (1 unit)
Scott Shapiro’s 2018 NFL Record 34-29-5 (+3 units)