NFL predictions



Jets (6-7) at Panthers (9-4)

4 p.m. Ch. 10. Panthers by 11, 401/2

Yes, the Jets are just a game out of the last AFC wild-card berth. But they have been outscored by 111 points this season, a worse margin than 2-11 Houston, 3-10 Atlanta and 3-9-1 Minnesota. Carolina is coming off an 18-point loss at the Saints on Monday. So today could resemble the Jets' last trip to Charlotte, N.C., a 30-3 loss in 2005. With 23 tackles over the next three games, Panthers LB Luke Kuechly (above) will have 300 over his first two seasons.

The pick: Panthers 27, Jets 10

Chiefs (10-3) at Raiders (4-9)

4 p.m. Chiefs by 4½, 41½

Kansas City is setting up as that wild-card team that could be tempting on the road on the opening weekend of the playoffs — perhaps at Cincinnati. But it hasn't beaten a team with a winning record since September, so a road win here means only so much. Kansas City won 24-7 in October on two touchdowns from RB Jamaal Charles (above). Oakland continues to rotate running backs. Last week, Marcel Reece went for 123 in a loss to the Jets.

The pick: Chiefs 21, Raiders 14

Packers (6-6-1) at Cowboys (7-6)

4:25 p.m. Ch. 13. Cowboys by 6½, 49

Dallas has to win to stay within a game of NFC East-leading Philadelphia, knowing it ends the season at home against Philadelphia and would have the tiebreaker with a sweep. The Packers go another week without QB Aaron Rodgers, but they're 2½ games out of the NFC wild card with three to play. Underappreciated is Dallas' DeMarco Murray (above), whose 5.3 yards per carry is the league's best among its top 30 rushers.

The pick: Cowboys 31, Packers 27

Saints (10-3) at Rams (5-8)

4:25 p.m. Saints by 6, 47½

Just another year for New Orleans QB Drew Brees (above), who has topped 4,000 yards for the eighth straight year and 30 touchdowns for the sixth. Rams fill-in QB Kellen Clemens? Five touchdowns and five interceptions over six games. Rams rookie RB Zac Stacy has been a surprise with 721 yards and five touchdowns. Obscure fantasy waiver pick? WR Lance Moore, who has touchdowns in his past two games against St. Louis.

The pick: Saints 31, Rams 17

Cardinals (8-5) at Titans (5-8)

4:25 p.m. Cardinals by 2½, 42

Arizona persists just a game out of the last NFC wild-card berth, winning with defense and just enough offense led by QB Carson Palmer (above). Its road wins have been in Florida — Bucs and Jaguars — but Tennessee hasn't won a home game since Sept. 29. Arizona DT Darnell Dockett had three sacks in his last game against the Titans. Arizona rookie S Tyrann Mathieu is out, but Titans QB Ryan Fitzpatrick has just nine touchdowns among 242 passes this season.

The pick: Cardinals 24, Titans 20

Bengals (9-4) at Steelers (5-8)

8:30 p.m., Ch. 8. Bengals by 2, 41½

Cincinnati won the first meeting 20-10, getting two touchdowns from rookie RB Giovani Bernard (above) and holding Pittsburgh to 44 rushing yards. The Steelers now have rookie Le'Veon Bell (589 yards, five touchdowns) to help Ben Roethlisberger, who broke Terry Bradshaw's team record for touchdown passes last week. Bengals QB Andy Dalton is two touchdowns shy of his career high of 27 set last season.

The pick: Bengals 31, Steelers 30

Ravens (7-6) at Lions (7-6)

8:40 Monday. ESPN. Lions by 5½, 48

Both are in the thick of playoff hunts with Detroit clinging to an NFC North lead and Baltimore ahead of a logjam for the final AFC wild-card spot. Is the Ravens' wild finish last week — a combined five touchdowns in 2:01 in beating the Vikings — a spark? Is Detroit's collapse from a 14-0 lead in the snow at Philly the beginning of the end? Watch for Lions WR Calvin Johnson (above) trade jabs with Ravens rookie and former Gator S Matt Elam.

The pick: Ravens 31, Lions 27

Packers (6-6-1) at Cowboys (7-6)

4:25 p.m. Ch. 13. Cowboys by 6½, 49

Dallas has to win to stay within a game of NFC East-leading Philadelphia, knowing it ends the season at home against Philadelphia and would have the tiebreaker with a sweep. The Packers go another week without QB Aaron Rodgers, but they're 2½ games out of the NFC wild card with three to play. Underappreciated is Dallas' DeMarco Murray (above), whose 5.3 yards per carry is the league's best among its top 30 rushers.

The pick: Cowboys 31, Packers 27

Saints (10-3) at Rams (5-8)

4:25 p.m. Saints by 6, 47½

Just another year for New Orleans QB Drew Brees (above), who has topped 4,000 yards for the eighth straight year and 30 touchdowns for the sixth. Rams fill-in QB Kellen Clemens? Five touchdowns and five interceptions over six games. Rams rookie RB Zac Stacy has been a surprise with 721 yards and five touchdowns. Obscure fantasy waiver pick? WR Lance Moore, who has touchdowns in his past two games against St. Louis.

The pick: Saints 31, Rams 17

Cardinals (8-5) at Titans (5-8)

4:25 p.m. Cardinals by 2½, 42

Arizona persists just a game out of the last NFC wild-card berth, winning with defense and just enough offense led by QB Carson Palmer (above). Its road wins have been in Florida — Bucs and Jaguars — but Tennessee hasn't won a home game since Sept. 29. Arizona DT Darnell Dockett had three sacks in his last game against the Titans. Arizona rookie S Tyrann Mathieu is out, but Titans QB Ryan Fitzpatrick has just nine touchdowns among 242 passes this season.

The pick: Cardinals 24, Titans 20

Ravens (7-6) at Lions (7-6)

8:40 Monday. ESPN. Lions by 5½, 48

Both are in the thick of playoff hunts with Detroit clinging to an NFC North lead and Baltimore ahead of a logjam for the final AFC wild-card spot. Is the Ravens' wild finish last week — a combined five touchdowns in 2:01 in beating the Vikings — a spark? Is Detroit's collapse from a 14-0 lead in the snow at Philly the beginning of the end? Watch for Lions WR Calvin Johnson (above) trade jabs with Ravens rookie and former Gator S Matt Elam.

The pick: Ravens 31, Lions 27

Bengals (9-4) at Steelers (5-8)

8:30 p.m., Ch. 8. Bengals by 2, 41½

Cincinnati won the first meeting 20-10, getting two touchdowns from rookie RB Giovani Bernard (above) and holding Pittsburgh to 44 rushing yards. The Steelers now have rookie Le'Veon Bell (589 yards, five touchdowns) to help Ben Roethlisberger, who broke Terry Bradshaw's team record for touchdown passes last week. Bengals QB Andy Dalton is two touchdowns shy of his career high of 27 set last season.

The pick: Bengals 31, Steelers 30

Redskins (3-10) at Falcons (3-10)

1 p.m. Falcons by 6, 50

Ah, Washington. Kirk Cousins (above) gets the start at quarterback with Robert Griffin III relegated to No. 3 and coach Mike Shanahan getting plenty of sideline shots on TV. Who wants the Redskins to lose most? The Rams, who have their first-round pick (one of three) from the Griffin trade. Cousins threw for 329 yards and two touchdowns a year ago Monday in leading Washington to a 38-21 win at Cleveland. Atlanta is 0-10 when scoring 30 points or fewer this season.

The pick: Falcons 31, Redskins 20



Bears (7-6) at Browns (4-9)

1 p.m. Bears by 1, 431/2

Chicago is one of nine road favorites today. The Bears are tied with the Lions for the NFC North lead but were swept by Detroit, so Chicago needs the win. The Bears haven't been to Cleveland since Oct. 9, 2005, when Trent Dilfer threw two fourth-quarter touchdowns to lift the Browns to a 20-10 win. Jay Cutler (above) is back at QB for Chicago, which has two QBs with 13 touchdowns passes. By comparison, the Jaguars have 11 for the entire season and the Jets 10.

The pick: Bears 28, Browns 24

Texans (2-11) at Colts (8-5)

1 p.m. Colts by 5½, 45½

The Colts have alternated wins and losses for six weeks, giving up 40 points a game in the losses. They're wobbly but have clinched the AFC South and, after today, have home games against the Texans and Jaguars left. Colts QB Andrew Luck (above) threw three second-half touchdowns in the first meeting, a 27-24 Indianapolis win. The Colts are 11-0 at home against Houston, which has Wade Phillips in his first game as interim coach.

The pick: Colts 31, Texans 24

Bills (4-9) at Jaguars (4-9)

1 p.m. Bills by 2, 42½

Yes, Bucs fans, this game means Tampa Bay slides up at least one spot in the draft order with a Bucs loss to San Francisco today. Jacksonville has won four of five. Buffalo is coming off a 27-6 loss at the Bucs. Rookie QB EJ Manuel (above) has completed less than 57 percent of his throws in six of the past seven, and the Bills are 2-5 in them. Two rookie coaches battle, but expect to hear more about ex-Bucs assistant Gus Bradley if Jacksonville wins again.

The pick: Jaguars 17, Bills 14

Patriots (10-3) at Dolphins (7-6)

1 p.m. Patriots by 1, 45½

Miami remains in the playoff hunt, but New England has won 17 of 18 in December. QB Tom Brady (above) has led Patriot comebacks from deficits of at least 10 points in three straight games, the first team to do so since the 2000 Chiefs. The Pats have won seven straight in this series, including 27-17 on Oct. 27, when they came back from 14 down at halftime. With New England TE Rob Gronkowski done, learn this name: Michael Hoomana­wanui.

The pick: Patriots 28, Dolphins 24

Eagles (8-5) at Vikings (3-9-1)

1 p.m. Eagles by 5½, 51

Philadelphia is the hottest team with five consecutive wins, though QB Nick Foles (above) now has a single interception on his record. He's the NFL's highest-rated passer with 20 touchdowns. Minnesota rookie WR Cordarrelle Patterson continues to emerge. He's the NFL's only player with touchdowns rushing, receiving and on kickoff returns. The Vikings' past three games are two overtime contests (a victory and a tie) and a three-point loss last week.

The pick: Eagles 35, Vikings 24

Seahawks (11-2) at Giants (5-8)

1 p.m. Seahawks by 7, 41½

Seattle has a one-game lead for homefield advantage in the NFC. One more win and Russell Wilson will have the most by any quarterback in his first two seasons in the Super Bowl era. The biggest difference here is turnover margin. Seattle is plus-12, while the Giants are minus-13. Ex-Bucs RB Peyton Hillis has two touchdowns (one last week) and 183 yards for New York. Speaking of former Bucs, DE Michael Bennett has 6½ sacks for the Seahawks.

The pick: Seahawks 35, Giants 21

Jets (6-7) at Panthers (9-4)

4 p.m. Ch. 10. Panthers by 11, 401/2

Yes, the Jets are just a game out of the last AFC wild-card berth. But they have been outscored by 111 points this season, a worse margin than 2-11 Houston, 3-10 Atlanta and 3-9-1 Minnesota. Carolina is coming off an 18-point loss at the Saints on Monday. So today could resemble the Jets' last trip to Charlotte, N.C., a 30-3 loss in 2005. With 23 tackles over the next three games, Panthers LB Luke Kuechly (above) will have 300 over his first two seasons.

The pick: Panthers 27, Jets 10



Texans (2-11) at Colts (8-5)

1 p.m. Colts by 5½, 45½

The Colts have alternated wins and losses for six weeks, giving up 40 points a game in the losses. They're wobbly but have clinched the AFC South and, after today, have home games against the Texans and Jaguars left. Colts QB Andrew Luck (above) threw three second-half touchdowns in the first meeting, a 27-24 Indianapolis win. The Colts are 11-0 at home against Houston, which has Wade Phillips in his first game as interim coach.

The pick: Colts 31, Texans 24

Bills (4-9) at Jaguars (4-9)

1 p.m. Bills by 2, 42½

Yes, Bucs fans, this game means Tampa Bay slides up at least one spot in the draft order with a Bucs loss to San Francisco today. Jacksonville has won four of five. Buffalo is coming off a 27-6 loss at the Bucs. Rookie QB EJ Manuel (above) has completed less than 57 percent of his throws in six of the past seven, and the Bills are 2-5 in them. Two rookie coaches battle, but expect to hear more about ex-Bucs assistant Gus Bradley if Jacksonville wins again.

The pick: Jaguars 17, Bills 14

Patriots (10-3) at Dolphins (7-6)

1 p.m. Patriots by 1, 45½

Miami remains in the playoff hunt, but New England has won 17 of 18 in December. QB Tom Brady (above) has led Patriot comebacks from deficits of at least 10 points in three straight games, the first team to do so since the 2000 Chiefs. The Pats have won seven straight in this series, including 27-17 on Oct. 27, when they came back from 14 down at halftime. With New England TE Rob Gronkowski done, learn this name: Michael Hoomana­wanui.

The pick: Patriots 28, Dolphins 24

Seahawks (11-2) at Giants (5-8)

1 p.m. Seahawks by 7, 41½

Seattle has a one-game lead for homefield advantage in the NFC. One more win and Russell Wilson will have the most by any quarterback in his first two seasons in the Super Bowl era. The biggest difference here is turnover margin. Seattle is plus-12, while the Giants are minus-13. Ex-Bucs RB Peyton Hillis has two touchdowns (one last week) and 183 yards for New York. Speaking of former Bucs, DE Michael Bennett has 6½ sacks for the Seahawks.

The pick: Seahawks 35, Giants 21

Eagles (8-5) at Vikings (3-9-1)

1 p.m. Eagles by 5½, 51

Philadelphia is the hottest team with five consecutive wins, though QB Nick Foles (above) now has a single interception on his record. He's the NFL's highest-rated passer with 20 touchdowns. Minnesota rookie WR Cordarrelle Patterson continues to emerge. He's the NFL's only player with touchdowns rushing, receiving and on kickoff returns. The Vikings' past three games are two overtime contests (a victory and a tie) and a three-point loss last week.

The pick: Eagles 35, Vikings 24

NFL predictions 12/14/13 [Last modified: Saturday, December 14, 2013 7:44pm]

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