SOUTH FLORIDA, December 3, 2014 — In September, all 32 NFL teams are like little puppies with dreams in their eyes. Welcome to December, and the words of John Randle, “This is when the big dogs come out.”
You can yap and yelp in September. You better be snarling mad dog mean come December to win in the National Football League.
This is when the big dogs come out.
In September there is room for finesse. In December the weather is colder and the bodies are bruised, beaten, bloodied, and battered. Some of these men will refuse to stay down. Super Bowls are not won by talking. The Lombardi Trophy is not hoisted by engaging in words. December is when the teams with the battering rams get the job done. December is smash-mouth offense, bone-crushing defense and blustery blizzard football weather.
This is when the big dogs come out.
Welcome to the NFL 2014 Week 14 Preview and Bettor’s Guide, with point spreads provided by FootballLocks.com and all times Eastern.
Thursday, December 4, 2014, 8:30 p.m.
Dallas Cowboys (-3.5) at Chicago Bears — Despite playing like turkeys on Thanksgiving, the Cowboys now face a Bears team that is a mess. Tony Romo and Jay Cutler may both throw touchdowns to both teams, but if only one does it will be Cutler. Cowboys win, but fail to cover.
Sunday, December 7, 1:00 p.m.
Baltimore Ravens at Miami Dolphins (-3) — Baltimore collapsed at home against San Diego while Miami struggled against a Jets team that refused to throw the ball. Baltimore has the experience, which matters with everything on the line. Upset special, Ravens win outright.
Pittsburgh Steelers at Cincinnati Bengals (-3) — Despite three straight playoff appearances, nobody will give the Bengals respect until they regularly win games like this. Cincinnati barely survived Tampa Bay. Pittsburgh will run the ball and then run it some more. Upset special, Steelers win outright.
Indianapolis Colts (-4) at Cleveland Browns — Bryan Hoyer has struggled in recent weeks but he is still the best hope they have of making the playoffs. Andrew Luck has started very slow the last couple weeks before going bombs away. At the Dawg Pound, the Cleveland defense deserves one more chance to show they are a playoff team. Upset special, Browns win outright.
Houston Texans (-5) at Jacksonville Jaguars — Jacksonville overcame a 21-0 deficit last week for an inspiring win while Ryan Fitzpatrick carpet-bombed Tennessee for six touchdown passes. Houston is fighting for a playoff spot. Texans win, but fail to cover.
New York Giants at Tennessee Titans (Pick ‘em) — Both of these teams are awful but the Giants are losing close games while the Titans are getting blown out. Tom Coughlin still has his players fighting hard. Giants win.
Carolina Panthers at New Orleans Saints (-9.5) — The Panthers are rotten while the Saints started to get their offensive groove back last week. New Orleans should steamroll in this one. Saints cover.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Detroit Lions (-9.5) — The Buccaneers have no offense and the Lions have a solid defense. With Calvin Johnson back in the saddle, Detroit should win big despite the spread being on the high side. Lions cover.
St. Louis Rams (-2.5) at Washington — Colt McCoy played well last week but the Washington still lost. The Rams blasted Oakland 52-0 last week and may be in love with themselves after such a big win. St. Louis could be ripe for a letdown, especially with unspectacular quarterback play. Upset special, Washington wins outright.
New York Jets at Minnesota Vikings (-6) — Nobody knows what to expect with the Jets. One week they lose by 35, next week they blow a fourth quarter lead. They are on the road and have no quarterback play. Minnesota is not that special. Vikings win, but fail to cover.
Buffalo Bills at Denver Broncos (-10) — The Bills got a big win last week against Cleveland, but they are overmatched against Denver. The Broncos have far too many weapons with Peyton Manning spreading the ball around. Broncos cover.
Kansas City Chiefs at Arizona Cardinals (-1) — Both teams in red were red hot before going ice cold the last two weeks. The home field is the only tie-breaker as the Cardinals right their ship. Cardinals cover.
San Francisco (-8) at Oakland Raiders — The Raiders got blasted 52-0, but two weeks ago beat a good Kansas City team at home. the 49ers have internal dissension. It may seem crazy to go with the Raiders, especially if fans sell their tickets to 49ers fans. However, the desire to rebound after such a miserable outing gives the Raiders one chance against a struggling Colin Kaepernick. Upset special, Raiders win outright.
Seattle Seahawks at Philadelphia Eagles (-1.5) — Both of these teams played solid football on Thanksgiving, and Philadelphia did it on the road. Chip Kelly’s offense makes for a great chess match against Richard Sherman and the Legion of Boom defense. Even though Seattle has looked well the last couple weeks, give the Eagles the benefit of the doubt at home. Eagles cover.
New England Patriots (-3.5) at San Diego Chargers — The Patriots lost a tough game at Green Bay but are still an elite team. San Diego got a big character win at Baltimore, but their defense is not great enough to slow down the Tom Brady Express. Patriots win, but fail to cover.
Monday, December 8, 8:30 p.m.
Atlanta Falcons at Green bay Packers (-12) — Green Bay hung on to beat New England, and Atlanta is nowhere near New England. This game has all the making of a blowout. Aaron Rodgers could put this game away by halftime. Packers cover.