The regular NFL season is winding down and teams in the hunt for a playoff spot certainly do not need a dose of the unexpected. Meaning, how lousy would it be for the Jacksonville Jaguars (2-10) to turn the tables on the Minnesota Vikings this Sunday, upsetting the Vikes status in the process?
Perhaps the Sunday Night Football clash between the Dallas Cowboys and New York Giants produces an interesting turn of events. Lastly, Baltimore Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco might just keep on his hot streak and put the heat on a certain AFC rival quarterback.
With playoffs at stake and a winless team still attempting to save a little dignity, here are our 10 bold predictions for the Week 14 NFL games.
1. Broncos sink on the Tennessee Titanic
We all know the reason the Broncos have eight wins is primarily due to the efforts of their top-five defense. But it is noteworthy this this team has lost to some of the league’s best offenses, including both the Oakland Raiders and Atlanta Falcons.
In Week 14, Denver will be on the road with the quarterback status a bit unknown at the moment. The team will also be playing against a well-rested Marcus Mariota, DeMarco Murray and Co. Overall, the Titans’ offense has continued to perform at a high level, and now ranks seventh overall.
Whereas, the Broncos’ offense has not been much to write home about. On defense, it did manage three takeaways of Blake Bortles last week. But, Mariota’s football talents are far superior. There is also Murray to deal with. The Broncos aren’t nearly as strong against the run, having allowed 11 rushing scores in 12 games.
This week, the Broncos are going to make things just a bit easier for their AFC West counterparts by falling to the Titans in one of this week’s biggest upsets.
2. Robert Griffin III finally snaps Browns’ losing streak
It is pretty much anyone’s guess as to who will start for the Browns on any given Sunday.
But, lo and behold, it looks like Robert Griffin III is going to shake off the rust and start against the Bengals in Week 14. What does the team have to lose, except four more games? Griffin has been on IR since injuring his shoulder way back in Week 1. Ever since, a myriad of quarterbacks have been trying scour up the Browns’ first win.
This Sunday, the Browns host the Bengals who are having an unusually poor four-win season. They have also given up more points than they have scored on the season.
It is quite bold, but Griffin could edge the Browns into their first win, something the Browns have not accomplished since all the way back in Week 14 of last season.
3. Jaguars defense outshines Vikings defense
Most think of the Jacksonville Jaguars as a horrible football team. They might very well be due to a horrendous 2-10 record, but the Minnesota Vikings aren’t doing much better having lost six of their past seven games.
Despite Jacksonville’s two lowly wins, its defense ranks No. 4 overall. It will also have an enticing matchup in that of Sam Bradford and the gang. Bradford mans a 31st-ranked offense that averages only 296.8 total yards and 19.4 points per game.
Jacksonville’s offense is better, though it would be absurd to assume Blake Bortles won’t get picked off at least once by Minnesota’s secondary.
But we are going to say that Jacksonville’s defense makes it nearly impossible for the Vikings to score. Bortles will put more points on the board, despite a couple of turnovers. In the end, the Jags’ defense makes the biggest impact in a Jacksonville victory.
4. Rams pull of one of those weird and unexpected upset wins
It’s interesting to note that the Los Angeles Rams have a knack for winning the unexpected games. Just as the Seattle Seahawks the past three times these two division rivals have met.
In Week 14, Matt Ryan and his Atlanta Falcons are favored to win by nearly a touchdown on the road in Los Angeles. But, the Falcons have a couple of gimpy wide receivers in that of Julio Jones and Mohammed Sanu. And Ryan is coming from a two-pick performance.
On defense, Atlanta gives up a bunch of total yards (381.7) and points (27.6) on average per game. Even rookie quarterback Jared Goff should find some success under these conditions.
The Rams’ defense could once again put the brakes on one of the NFL’s better offenses. Much like what it did against the Seahawks, Buccaneers and Cardinals earlier in the season.
5. Drew Brees redeems himself with 400 yards and four scores at Tampa Bay
Brees looked like a combination of Case Keenum and Blake Bortles last week in a performance that is still haunting fans. Never mind his disgruntled fantasy football owners whose playoff dreams burned up in smoke.
In Week 14, Brees will redeem himself with a very Brees-like performance against Tampa Bay. Despite three ugly interceptions and zero touchdowns, he still passed for 326 yards which is exactly what his average is per game this year.
A total of 400-plus yards and four touchdowns is also attainable here since Brees has already accomplished that combination twice on the season. Tampa Bay’s defense has surrendered 22 scores through the air. Only five other teams have given up more.
Brees will get back on course in this must-win NFC South divisional showdown, which could keep his Saints in the hunt.
6. Detroit Lions pick off Matt Barkley five times
Speaking of interceptions, the team that just forced four turnovers from Brees should have itself a field day against this career backup.
Barkley may have put up a stellar outing last week, but that came against a lowly San Francisco 49ers defense. In Week 14, the Lions host the Bears. We are guessing Barkley could be susceptible to nearly twice the amount of interceptions that were managed against a quarterback of Brees’ pedigree.
Five interceptions in one game will definitely be a challenge, especially considering the Lions managed seven all season prior to last week’s performance. Overall this year, Detroit ranks 20th against the pass. Then again, we’re talking about a clipboard holder starting against a playoff-caliber team. You do the math.
7. Colin Kaepernick and Vance McDonald connect for two scores
Who? Yes, Kaepernick and McDonald are are going to combine for two touchdowns against the New York Jets in Week 14.
Bury last week’s miserable performance by San Francisco in the blustery snow in Chicago deeply in the dumpster. Kap has had some quite nice performances, especially at home in recent weeks. Now, the 49ers get to make amends for last week’s disaster when they host the pitiful New York Jets.
It is a toss up as which team was more of a train wreck last week. But one takeaway here is the Jets allowed Indianapolis Colts tight end Dwayne Allen to score three times. Allen practically skipped into the end zone because of how poorly the Jets were covering him.
Kaepernick has targeted McDonald 36 times in their last six games and the tight end has scored twice. Look for him to post his first two-touchdown performance of the season.
8. Legion of Boom becomes Legion of Gloom at Lambeau Field
Every now and then, the Seahawks produce a real stinker of a performance. Three times this season, Seattle has managed six points or less in a game. The Seahawks lost two of those contests and tied the other.
Now in Week 14, Seattle’s Legion of Boom travels to face the Green Bay Packers in less than 30-degree temperatures. Last week, Aaron Rodgers and Co. owned a tough Houston Texans defense in the snow and made it look easy. Seattle’s defense should be challenged as well considering Rodgers has thrown seven touchdowns and zero picks in his last three contests. Furthermore, Green Bay’s defense has stepped up some too.
The Seahawks had no problem containing the Carolina Panthers last week. Granted, that team has been a mess. Unfortunately, the Seahawks losing safety Earl Thomas for the season will just make the Packers’ dominance all the more attainable.
9. Dak Prescott gives up his first pick six to Landon Collins
This Sunday Night Football matchup takes the 11-1 Dallas Cowboys to New Jersey to square off with the Giants, the only team that had the pleasure of defeating Dallas this season.
Not much trips up Dak Prescott as the ‘Boys continue to steamroll their opponents on a weekly basis. To date, Prescott has only thrown two interceptions compared to 24 touchdowns.
We’re here to say this will come to a conclusion Sunday night with Giants safety Landon Collins picking off Prescott and taking it to the house for touchdown. The second-year safety from Alabama has been dominating this season, recording five interceptions en route to being considered a Defensive Player of the Year candidate.
This prediction in no ways suggests the Cowboys fall to the Giants. But a turnover returned for points is going to make for a nail-biter in the NFC East.
10. Joe Flacco outscores Tom Brady by two touchdowns
There was no questioning Flacco’s “elite” status last week when romped the Miami Dolphins with a 381-yard, four-touchdown performance.
It was a better output than Brady’s 269-yard, one touchdown tilt against the Los Angeles Rams last week. Now, the two quarterbacks will square off with Flacco having to sling the rock to keep up with Brady’s offense.
The Patriots passing defense has given up a middling 17 scores through the air this year. So, there is definitely room for Flacco to pile up a few more. Also going for Flacco, is his receivers, including tight end Dennis Pitta, just look like the better receiving unit in this showdown.
Brady is missing Rob Gronkowski and his guys are a bit banged up. As a result, Brady has thrown for only three scores in his last two games. He will now face a Baltimore pass defense that ranks seventh in the league.
We are calling for four passing scores from Flacco compared to two from Brady. Heck, the Ravens might actually take the win here if this is the case.