Guys, I’ll be honest, instead of a picks column this week, I was going to write a 3,000-word ode to the Dolphins‘ trick play from Sunday, but then I realized that 3,000 words wouldn’t even do the play justice, so I decided to axe the idea. Some day, someone will write an entire book on what happened down in Miami.
If you somehow missed it, the Dolphins called a play where they snapped the ball to their punter, who then proceeded to throw a touchdown pass to their kicker. The punter had no offensive line in front of him and should have absolutely been destroyed on the play, but this is the Eagles, and if the Eagles have done one thing well this season, it’s play bad defense.
Here’s the entire play, which came a fourth-and-goal for the Dolphins.
I have no idea what that play was called, so I’ve decided to call it the “Flea Flipper.” You know, like a flea flicker, except with a Dolphins twist. Sorry, I know it’s lame, but I ate a lot of pumpkin pie over the weekend and that’s the best I could come up with, so it’s going to have to work.
So that wasn’t quite 3,000 words on the Dolphins play, but it will have to do, because we need to get to the 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 click over, you’ll notice that I’m still in the season lead for straight-up picks, which is bad news for Will Brinson, because if I end up winning, that’s all I’m going to talk about each time I join Brinson for an offseason episode of the Pick Six Podcast, which is our daily NFL podcast here at CBSSports.com that’s hosted by Brinson.
During the regular season, I join Brinson three days each week (Monday, Tuesday and Friday) on the podcast to talk football and anything else we can think of. On Tuesday’s episode, which you can listen to below, we spent 20 solid minutes trying to figure out if any team is going to be able to stop the Ravens. We also spent another 10 minutes arguing about whether or not Brussels sprouts are a Thanksgiving food. For the record, they are not a Thanksgiving food.
Even though I’m only on three days per week, there’s a new Pick Six episode every single day from Monday thru Friday and you should try to listen as often as possible. (You can click here to check out the podcast and subscribe).
Alright, let’s get to the picks for real this time.
NFL Week 14 Picks
Baltimore (10-2) at Buffalo (9-3)
1 p.m. ET (CBS)
Point spread: Ravens, -5.5
Before the Bills played the Cowboys last week, all I heard about for five straight days was how the Cowboys had yet to beat a team with a winning record, so I wasn’t too surprised when they lost to the Bills, who have a winning record. As fate would have it, while I was eating some pumpkin pie over the weekend, I decided to make a list of all the teams the Bills have beaten this season that currently have a winning record, and let’s just say that it’s an extremely short list.
Here’s the list: Tennessee.
That’s it. That’s the entire list. And just for the record, that wasn’t the only list I worked on over the weekend. I also made a list of my favorite types of pies, but you’ll have to read my book, Why Pumpkin Pie is the Best Pie, if you want to know which kind of pie I like best. Also, that’s not an actual book yet, but it might be soon.
Anyway, through 12 games this season, the Bills have played five games against teams that are currently 5-7 or better and seven games against teams that are 4-8 or worse. If you want to make the playoffs in the NFL, you have to be able to beat bad teams and the Bills have mastered that. In those seven games against bad teams, they’ve gone 7-0. However, to advance in the playoffs, you’re eventually going to have beat a good team, which the Bills haven’t really been able to do. In their five games against teams that are 5-7 or better, the Bills have gone 2-3.
Now, that’s not to take anything away from Buffalo’s nine wins, because it’s not like they make their own schedule, but I think what I’m saying that I can’t in good faith pick the Bills to win over a good team. The Bills biggest problem going into this game is that stopping the run is probably their biggest weakness on defense (My biggest weakness is saying no to pumpkin pie). The Bills are giving up 4.5 yards per carry this season, which isn’t ideal when you’re about to play the team that leads the NFL in rushing. The Ravens are averaging 207.8 yards per game on the ground this season, which is an absurd number when you consider that no other NFL team is even averaging above 150 yards. I think what I’m trying to say here is that the Ravens might be able to win this game without throwing a forward pass.
I jumped on the Bills bandwagon last week and picked them to beat the Cowboys, but this week, I think I’ll be jumping off the next time the bandwagon stops for gas.
The good news for the Bills is that even though they’re losing me from their bandwagon, they’re still going to have this guy.
As a note to everyone who’s thinking about jumping on the Bills bandwagon, just remember that you have to let someone smash you through a folding table before they’ll officially let you on.
The pick: Ravens 31-24 over Bills
San Francisco (10-2) at New Orleans (10-2)
1 p.m. ET (Fox)
Point spread: Saints, -3
If I’ve learned one thing about the 49ers this season, it’s that the key to beating them is to have a mobile quarterback, which the Saints definitely don’t have. In four games this season against mobile quarterbacks, the 49ers have gone 2-2 and those quarterbacks have combined for a QB rating of 100.26. On the other hand, in eight games against pocket quarterbacks, the 49ers have gone 8-0 and those quarterbacks have combined for an abysmal QB rating of 51.9. To put that in perspective, Daniel Jones threw three interceptions in Week 13 and his QB rating was barely two points below that (49.4).
If I was feeling lazy this week, I’d end with that stat about QB ratings and pick the 49ers to win. However, I’m so hopped up on pumpkin pie right now that I’m not feeling lazy, which means we’re going to dive slightly deeper into this. When you look at the list of quarterbacks the 49ers have dominated, it’s not exactly a list of future Hall of Famers. Seven of the eight pocket quarterbacks they’ve beaten are: Jameis Winston, Andy Dalton, Mason Rudolph, Baker Mayfield, Jared Goff, Case Keenum and Kyle Allen.
The other QB the 49ers have beaten is Aaron Rodgers, which wasn’t all that shocking. I picked the 49ers to win that game by double-digits because the Packers roster is filled with average receivers (besides Davante Adams) who just couldn’t get open against the 49ers secondary. With no one getting open, that allowed the Niners front-seven to feast on Rodgers, who was sacked five times (The 49ers have 45 sacks on the season, which is the second most in the NFL).
Getting to Drew Brees like that isn’t going to be so easy, and that’s for two reasons: For one, Brees has the second-fastest release time in the NFL this year. His ability to get off passes quickly is a big reason he’s only been sacked nine times on the season. Brees also has a collection of pass-catchers — in guys like Michael Thomas, Alvin Kamara and Jared Cook — who can all create mismatches on the field.
And to be honest, the quarterback I’m more worried about in this game is actually Jimmy Garoppolo. Not only does he have to deal with the insane crowd noise at the Superdome — I’m pretty sure I nearly went deaf there covering the NFC title game last year — but he’s going to be chased around by a Saints defense that ranks fifth in the NFL with 40 sacks. Garoppolo is going to get so beat up after this game that he’s going to feel like he just did a three-night bender on Bourbon Street. And let’s be honest, that’s the feeling most people have when they leave New Orleans.
The pick: Saints 23-20 over 49ers
Kansas City (8-4) at New England (10-2)
4:25 p.m. ET (CBS)
Point spread: Patriots, -3
If I’ve noticed one thing about the Patriots over the past 16 years, it’s that they never lose to AFC teams at home late in the season. It’s almost as if Bill Belichick loses on purpose in September and October so that he can use the losses to motivate his team for wins in December, because he definitely DOES NOT lose December games at Gillette Stadium. Just to make sure I wasn’t making all of this up in my head, I went back and looked up the Patriots December home record against AFC teams over the past 16 years, and, um, THEY’RE 25-1. Also, that one loss game in a game where the Patriots were resting their starters so I’m not even sure that technically counts, which means they’re basically undefeated.
So the question here becomes: Do I pick the Patriots to win because they never lose at home in December or do I pick them to lose because I’m not even sure their offense is going to be able to score 10 points in this game?
In their past four games, not only are Patriots just 2-2, but they’re only averaging 16.25 points per game. The biggest issue for the Patriots right now is that their entire offense is basically just Tom Brady dumping the ball off to Julian Edelman or James White. Patriots receivers just can’t get open, which is had led to Brady taking multiple big hits over the past few weeks. At this point, Brady would probably give up avocados for a year if it led to the Patriots to sign Antonio Brown for the stretch run.
You know your receivers are having a bad year when a guy you cut is sitting at home mocking your team by saying that he would be the perfect Christmas present for the Patriots offense, which is what I’m pretty sure Brown is saying in the tweet below.
Although the Patriots have been dominant in December home games, if there’s one coach who can out-Belichick Belichick, it’s Andy Reid. Since being hired by the Chiefs in 2013, Reid has a 2-1 regular season record against Belichick, and I think he’s going to add one more to that tally on Sunday.
The best thing about this game is that the Patriots play the Bengals next week, which means if the Chiefs win, there’s a 50 percent chance Belichick’s press conference will solely consist of him saying “We’re on to Cincinnati” for 10 straight minutes.
The pick: Chiefs 27-24 over Patriots
Seattle (10-2) at L.A. Rams (7-5)
8:20 p.m. ET (NBC)
Point spread: Seahawks, -2.5
Guys, I’m not going to lie, the Seahawks are probably my favorite team to watch in primetime, and that’s mostly because it’s pretty much guaranteed to be three straight hours of total chaos. Refs will forget the rules of the game (Fail Mary anyone), kickers will forget how to kick (Hello Greg Zuerlein), and if you’re lucky you might even see a tie, which happened in a Seahawks primetime game back in 2016. Also, the entire Vikings game on Monday was nuts.
Basically, putting the Seahawks in a primetime game is like putting Tom Hanks in any movie, I don’t need any other details to know that I’m 100% going to watch whatever’s put in front of me. And now, since you’re probably wondering, putting the Rams in primetime game is the equivalent of putting Matthew McConaughey in romantic comedy: You’ll put it on to hate-watch it, but then there’s a 50 percent chance you’ll end up enjoying it. I still can’t believe I liked “Ghost of Girlfriends Past.”
The Rams offense has been borderline unwatchable this year. From Week 10 thru Week 12, they averaged just 11.7 points per game, although they turned that around on Sunday, when they had their most impressive performance of the season against the Cardinals. However, I’m probably using the word “impressive” a little loosely here, because Arizona’s defense went into the game giving up more offensive yardage than any other team in the NFL.
Basically the Rams offense has struggled any time it’s faced a somewhat competent defense this year and the Seahawks have a somewhat competent defense, which means I have to pick Seattle. It also means that if I’m wrong on this pick and the Rams win, I’m going to punish myself by watching 14 straight hours of Matthew McConaughey romantic comedies. Does anyone have a copy of “The Wedding Planner” that I can borrow?
The pick: Seahawks 30-27 over Rams
Lock of the Week
Detroit (3-8-1) at Minnesota (8-4)
1 p.m. ET (Fox)
Point spread: Vikings, -14
My favorite part of writing a picks column every week during the NFL season is all the emails and tweets I get over the course of the year. Sure, 99.9 percent of all those emails generally say something along the lines of: “You’re stupid,” “Why do you hate my team,” “CBS should fire you,” or “I hope you die,” but then there’s the 0.1 percent that actually offer some constructive criticism.
For instance, last week, someone made a suggestion for the “Lock of the Week” pick.
“Breech, your lock of the week wins pretty much every week. Why don’t you change it to a survivor pool pick of the week so that no one cares about your horrible record against the spread and then you’ll look smart.”
I love looking smart, so I might actually steal that idea for next season. Although I’m 11-2 straight-up with my lock of the week, it’s just 4-9 against the spread, which means I should probably just rename this entire section, “Bet the opposite of what I’m about to pick.”
As for the actual game, I believe I was one of the 19 people in America who actually watched all three hours of the Lions game on Thanksgiving, and after watching that performance, I’m just not sure how Detroit can win on Sunday. The Lions are down to their third-string quarterback, and if I noticed one thing about him on Thanksgiving, it’s that he really only ran one play effectively, and that was throwing deep to Kenny Golladay. If the Vikings can take that away, they should roll to a win by double digits. Of course, I’m not completely sure why I’m picking a blowout considering the Lions are one of only three teams that have held the lead in every single game they’ve played in this year. Of course, the other two teams (49ers, Chiefs) have had slightly more success this year than the Lions.
The pick: Vikings 31-13 over Lions
Lock of the week record: 11-2 straight up, 4-9 against the spread
NFL Week 14 picks: All the rest
Cowboys 27-17 over Bears
Falcons 24-16 over Panthers
Packers 30-20 over Redskins
Texans 27-16 over Broncos
Jets 30-23 over Dolphins
Browns 20-17 over Bengals
Buccaneers 27-20 over Colts
Jaguars 19-16 over Chargers
Titans 22-19 over Raiders
Steelers 20-16 over Cardinals
Eagles 34-20 over Giants
Best pick: Last week, I Brett Maher was going to miss multiple field goals? Of course I did. I mean, if you’ve watched a single Cowboys game this year, you knew there was a 99 percent chance that one or the other was going to happen and a 95 percent chance that both were going to happen.into Dallas as a 6.5-point underdog and upset the Cowboys on Thanksgiving, and guess what happened? The Bills went into Dallas and upset the Cowboys. Now, did I know that Jason Garrett was going to make multiple bad coaching decisions and that
On a somewhat related note, if you’re like my sisters and you only read my picks once per year, you should probably plan on making it my Thanksgiving picks. Over the past two years, I’m 6-0 both straight-up and against the spread when picking games that are being played on Thanksgiving Day. The only plausible theory here is that pumpkin pie makes you better at predicting games.
Worst pick: Apparently, I focused way too much on my Thanksgiving picks last week, because my Sunday picks went sideways. For one, I picked the Chargers to win, which absolutely made no sense, considering they’re the one team in the NFL that somehow invents a new way to lose every week. I also picked the Browns to beat the Steelers, which was somewhat surprising on my part, because the Browns don’t win important games, and that was an important game. My “lock of the week” also blew up in my face for the just the second time this year with the Redskins beating the Panthers.
Is there an explanation for these horrible picks? Yes. I spent all my free time last week either eating pumpkin pie or researching Black Friday deals, which didn’t leave me a lot of time to research my NFL picks. Therefore, I blame capitalism. If we were a communist country, Black Friday wouldn’t exist and pumpkin pie probably wouldn’t exist and if I didn’t have those things, I would have researched my picks better, which would have probably led to me getting all my picks rights. However, if Black Friday didn’t exist, I wouldn’t have my new vacuum cleaner and we wouldn’t have the fight below dubbed over with narration by the guy from NFL films, and I need both of those things in my life.
Finally, if you guys have ever wondered if I actually know what I’m doing with these picks, here’s what the best and worst individual team picks look like heading into Week 14 (All records listed are straight-up).
Teams I’m 10-2 picking this year: Patriots, Dolphins, Ravens, Bills, Packers, Lions (9-2-1)
Teams I’m 9-3 picking this year: Redskins, Falcons, Vikings
Team I’m 5-7 picking this year, which is my worst record picking any team: 49ers, Chargers, Texans
Every other team is somewhere in-between.
Straight up in Week 13: 9-7
SU overall: 123-68-1 (Tied for 13th overall among all media members on Pickwatch)
Against the spread in Week 13: 9-7
ATS overall: 94-96-2 (Not tied for 13th overall)
You can find John Breech on Facebook or Twitter and if he’s not doing one of those things, he’s probably eating an entire pumpkin pie, unless he’s out of pumpkin pie, then he’s probably at the store buying more pumpkin pie.