NFL 2021 Week 14 Preview and Bettor’s Guide: Big Dogs are sleeping
DELRAY BEACH, Florida — Normally Week 14 of the NFL season is when the big dogs come out. Yet that was in the era of 17 week seasons with 16 games. 2021 is the first season with 18 weeks of football where each team plays 17 games. The big dogs will come out next week.
For most of America, this is a very quiet week. Hanukkah is over and Christmas is not for a couple more weeks. Most Americans have shut down for the year. Vacation days are being cashed in. People are planning holiday parties with friends and celebrations for New Year’s Eve. Stores are seeing fewer customers due to people shopping online and a general isolation attitude brought on by Covid, crime and other factors. For many Americans, boredom can lead to depression.
This is just another reason why football matters so much.
While most of America closes down for the year, football season is just heating up. For leatherheads, there is no time to be bored. Every game takes on exponential importance. There is no time to go to the shopping mall. We are busy trying to figure out playoff scenarios and home field advantage.
We can spend time with relatives on the holidays. On Sundays, we spend time with Andrew Siciliano and the NFL Red Zone Channel. While technology has increased over the decades, the basic philosophy has not. Vince Lombardi told his players to be on time for Church on Sunday morning and be on time and play hard on the football field on Sunday afternoon.
The legendary Packers coach made sure his players understood the value of giving their lives to “God, America, and the Green Bay Packers.”
While the main action is on the field, this is the season for NFL players, coaches, and executives to turn on the fundraising machine. Players, in particular, have a variety of foundations that raise money for everything from childhood cancer to mental illness. Lives are on the line. Cold weather often finishes off homeless people. The money raised by the league helps keep people alive.
So do not mourn the lull of quiet calm.
America is not completely closed. Football is open for business. So let us get ready for the stretch run. Let’s play football.
With that, here is the NFL 2021 Week 14 Preview and Bettor’s Guide, with point spreads provided by SportingNews.com and all times Eastern.
Thursday, December 9, 2021, 8:00 p.m.
Pittsburgh Steelers at Minnesota Vikings (-3) —
With everything on the line, the Steelers gutted out a win over Baltimore while the Vikings lost to winless Detroit. Expect the Vikings to be angry and the Steelers to suffer a letdown after their big emotional win. Go with the home field and the emotion. Vikings cover.
Sunday, December 12, 1:00 p.m.
Dallas Cowboys (-4.5) at Washington Refugees —
Ron Rivera’s team may not have a name, but they have won four straight games. The Cowboys lead the division, but the No-Names have come together with defense and smart quarterback play from Taylor Heinicke. The Cowboys have the glamorous superstars but go with the hot team. Upset special, Refugees win outright.
Jacksonville Jaguars at Tennessee Titans (-9.5) —
The Titans are atop the conference while the Jaguars are at the bottom. The Jaguars looked lifeless in a 30 point loss to the Rams. The Titans will be well-rested after their bye week. This one could be over by halftime. Titans cover.
Seattle Seahawks (-7.5) at Houston Texans —
The Seahawks finally looked like their old selves in defeating San Francisco. The Texans continue to spiral. Yet the spread is too high for a road team that has been awful most of the year and a Texans team that is sometimes competitive. Russell Wilson will not lose this game, but Tyrod Taylor is not as bad as he was last week. A garbage touchdown is plausible. Seahawks win but fail to cover.
Las Vegas Raiders at Kansas City Chiefs (-9.5) —
The Chiefs started 3-4 but have won 5 straight since. The Raiders started 5-2 but have lost four of five since. The emotional toll of this season has finally taken the Raiders down. The offense is inconsistent and the defense has breakdowns at key moments. The Chiefs won by 27 points in Las Vegas. This one also could be over by halftime. Patrick Mahomes will shred the Raiders with ease. Chiefs cover.
New Orleans Saints (-6) at New York Jets —
The Saints were once 5-2 but have since lost five straight. As bad as the Jets are overall, the spread is too high for a road team that keeps losing. Zach Wilson has shown promise. Upset special, Jets win outright.
Atlanta Falcons at Carolina Panthers (-3) —
A pair of below-average teams will play an insignificant game. Matt Ryan and Cam Newton once played exciting games. Now they are both trying to prove they are not washed up. Home field means very little in this battle of warm weather teams. This could go down to the last play. The Panthers have the edge on defense. Panthers cover.
Baltimore Ravens at Cleveland Browns (-2.5) —
Two weeks ago the Ravens survived four interceptions of Lamar Jackson in a 16-10 slugfest win over the Browns. The Dawg Pound will be thirsting for payback. Baltimore has to be exhausted after their brutal loss at Pittsburgh. The Ravens are 8-4 while the Browns are fighting for their playoff lives. Expect another tough defensive battle. Browns cover.
New York Giants at Los Angeles Chargers (-10.5) —
Justin Herbert looked unstoppable in a road win over Cincinnati. The Giants’ defense gets virtually zero help from their offense. The Chargers tend to play down to their competition. Chargers win but fail to cover.
Detroit Lions at Denver Broncos (-8) —
The Broncos lost a tough game at Kansas City that has them at 6-6 and fighting for survival. The Lions got their win for the year and will not just be a bad team. However, the Lions used up all their emotion beating Minnesota. Denver has a very good defense. Broncos.
San Francisco 49ers (-1) at Cincinnati Bengals —
The 49ers lost at Seattle while the Bengals were humiliated at home by the Chargers. Both teams are in the playoff race. Barring appearances from the 1981 and 1988 Super Bowl teams, this game will be less than glamorous. Joe Mixon running the ball should be the difference provided the Bengals can stop George Kittle. Go with the home field and for Joe Burrow to rebound. Upset special, Bengals win outright.
Buffalo Bills at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (-3) —
The Bills lost a brutal home game against New England. The Buccaneers have shaken off some early rust and are now clicking on both sides of the ball. Tom Brady has enough weapons to take advantage of a Bills defense that is still good but less great than last year. At home, go with the hot team and its leader. Buccaneers cover.
Chicago Bears at Green Bay Packers (-12.5) —
For some reason, this game was not flexed out of prime time. The Packers are very good and the Bears are quite bad. Forget the talk about throwing out the records with division rivals. A rivalry requires both teams to show up. Aaron Rodgers takes joy in humiliating the Bears, and he will again. The Bears’ defense has regressed. Forget the high spread. This is a mismatch that could get very ugly. Packers cover.
Friday, December 13, 8:00 p.m.
Los Angeles Rams at Arizona Cardinals (-2.5) —
The Rams snapped a three-game losing streak by beating up lowly Jacksonville to get to 8-4. The 10-2 Cardinals went into Los Angeles and smacked the Rams around. Home field should not be an issue but this Cardinals team is for real. Kyler Murray against the Rams defense is an interesting chess match. As good as Matthew Stafford is, he is not mobile. Buddha Baker and the Arizona defense could tee off. In this major NFC West showdown, go with the streaking team and not the struggling one. Cardinals cover.