Steve Believes: Week 14, 2018 NFL Season

  • Jacksonville Jaguars Vs. Tennessee Titans. The Jaguars finally got a win last week, but it was by an ugly final score of 6-0 against the Indianapolis Colts. As for the Titans, they went on a 26-6 run to turn a 16-0 deficit into a 26-22 victory. For the Jaguars, it’s all about finishing the season strong. For the Titans, it’s all about keeping their faint playoff hopes alive. Look for the Titans to do just enough offensively, while their defense makes life miserable for Cody Kessler. I like the Titans to make it four in a row against the Jaguars.
  • New York Jets Vs. Buffalo Bills. These two teams are going in mostly opposite directions, with the Jets having lost six in a row, while the Bills have won two of their past three, including a 41-10 drubbing of these same Jets back in Week 10. New Era Field has been a house of horrors for the Jets, as they are 1-2 in that stadium in the Todd Bowles era. Make it 1-3, because I like the way that the Bills have been playing of late.
  • Carolina Panthers Vs. Cleveland Browns. After storming out of the gates with a 6-2 record, the Panthers have lost four games in a row and now have a .500 record. A loss this week could put them at under .500 for the first time since the 2016 season, where they ended that season at 6-10. As for the Browns, turnovers and letting Lamar Miller run wild against them snapped their two-game winning streak. Now they return to FirstEnergy Stadium for the first time since Nick Chubb ran wild against the Atlanta Falcons back in Week 10. Given how the Panthers have trended downward the past four weeks, I’m tempted to call an upset in this one. However, these are the types of moments where teams with Super Bowl aspirations rise to the challenge and I expect the Panthers to do just that. 
  • Atlanta Falcons Vs. Green Bay Packers. Two years ago, these were the two teams that battled for the NFC title. However, that’s a far cry from this season, as they are both either mathematically eliminated from the playoffs or about to be mathematically eliminated from the playoffs. The latter of the scenarios applies to the Packers, who will need to run the table to have a chance. This game also marks the first one for the Packers in the post Mike McCarthy era, as their head coach of nearly 13 full seasons was fired, following last week’s 20-17 loss against the Arizona Cardinals. Given all the upheaval with the Packers, I’m tempted to call an “upset” in this game. However, I just can’t see these current Falcons winning in Lambeau Field. So with that being said, I like the Packers to rebound this week.
  • Baltimore Ravens Vs. Kansas City Chiefs. Three is a lucky number for the Ravens, as their 3-0 record since their bye week coincides with Lamar Jackson’s record as a starter in place of the injured Joe Flacco. Plus, they are 3-0 all-time in Arrowhead Stadium, thus making them the only opposing team that the Chiefs have never beaten in that venue. This game has the makings of an upset, as the Chiefs have struggled against the run on more than occasion this season. This week, however, they are in the friendly confines of Arrowhead Stadium, where they are a much different team defensively at home than on the road. Look for the Chiefs to rise to this latest challenge, by taking away the run to make the Ravens offense one-dimensional, as they don’t have enough fire power to win in a shootout against Patrick Mahomes & Company. I like the Chiefs to surpass their win total from all of last season, along with handing the Ravens their first ever loss in Arrowhead Stadium.
  • New England Patriots Vs. Miami Dolphins. South Beach hasn’t been kind to the Patriots in the Bill Belichick era, as they are 8-10 against the Dolphins away from Foxborough since 2000, The Hoodie’s first year as New England’s head man. Plus, all but two of those games were started by Tom Brady, as they lost in 2000 with Drew Bledsoe and won in 2008 with Matt Cassel. As for the Dolphins, they have revenge on their minds, as they lost against these same Patriots 38-7 at Gillette Stadium in Week 4. A win for the Dolphins puts them over .500 again, along with playing spoiler against their division rival and keeping their own playoff hopes alive. Look for the Patriots defense to be picked apart in South Beach and look for Cameron Wake to make life miserable for Brady. I like the Dolphins in an upset.
  • New Orleans Saints Vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Another revenge game in the state of Florida this week, as the Buccaneers dealt the Saints their other loss all the way back in Week 1 this season. That, along with missing golden opportunities last week against the Dallas Cowboys, should fire up the Saints that much more. The Buccaneers have won two in a row, but those two wins were against the hapless San Francisco 49ers and free-falling Panthers. They won’t have such luck against a well-rested and angry Saints bunch. Look for the team from The Big Easy to rebound big against the only other NFC South team to ever win a Super Bowl.
  • New York Giants Vs. Washington Redskins. The last time that these two teams met, the Giants offense allowed seven Washington sacks, along with allowing Adrian Peterson to have 156 total yards (149 rushing) and two total touchdowns. The Giants lost that game, 20-13. However, they are 3-1 since, with the one loss coming late against the Philadelphia Eagles back in Week 12. As for the Redskins, they are on their third different starting quarterback in four weeks, as Mark Sanchez takes over in place of Colt McCoy, the latter of whom could be out for the season with a broken right fibula. Sanchez mostly struggled against the Eagles this past Monday night, as he threw for a paltry 87 net passing yards and an interception. He’ll play better this week, but I don’t see the Redskins doing enough offensively to have me leaning in their direction. So with that being said, I like the Giants in an “upset”.
  • Indianapolis Colts Vs. Houston Texans. Prior to last week’s loss against the Jaguars, the Colts were one of the hottest teams in the league, as they won five in a row. The Texans have been hotter, as they have nine in a row, following an 0-3 start. Their current winning streak started against these same Colts all the way back in Week 4. Will it end this week or will they get their second ever season sweep of the Colts in the 17-year history of this AFC South series? Well given how the Texans have been one of the healthiest teams all season, along with the fact that they haven’t lost at home since Week 3, I just can’t see the Colts winning this one. So with that being said, I like the Texans to make it 10 in a row.
  • Cincinnati Bengals Vs. Los Angeles Chargers. After a surprising 4-1 start, the Bengals have now lost six of their last seven games, and are minus both Andy Dalton and A.J. Green for the rest of this season. As for the Chargers, they are coming off one of the biggest wins in franchise history, as they erased a 16-point deficit to defeat the Pittsburgh Steelers in primetime. This is a unique game for Anthony Lynn’s bunch, as it has the makings of both a letdown loss and trap game, as they face the Chiefs to kick off Week 15. However, the Bengals don’t have enough offensively to match Philip Rivers and the Chargers offense nor scare Joey Bosa and the Chargers defense. So with all of that being said, I like the Chargers to surpass their win total from all of last season with a win this week.
  • Denver Broncos Vs. San Francisco 49ers. Ever since their Week 10 bye week, the Broncos have won three in a row, but suffered two big losses along they way, as they lost their best defensive back (Chris Harris Jr.) and their best wide receiver (Emmanuel Sanders) for the rest of the season. However, the 49ers are too hapless to exploit those absences. So with that being said, I like the Broncos to make it four in a row.
  • Philadelphia Eagles Vs. Dallas Cowboys. The Eagles’ mini slump started against these same Cowboys, as they lost against their divisional rival in Week 10. As for the aforementioned Cowboys, they are coming off a big win in primetime, as they held the high-powered Saints offense to only 10 points in the Week 13 upset. What will they do for an encore against the defending Super Bowl champions? Well, I see Ezekiel Elliott giving the Eagles run defense more problems, but I also see the champs withstanding that and the rest of the Dallas flurry. Plus, I see another Elliott deciding this game, as in Jake Elliott, who will kick the Eagles to a 24-21 victory at the buzzer.
  • Pittsburgh Steelers Vs. Oakland Raiders. The AFC West hasn’t been kind to the Steelers, as they have lost against the Chiefs, Chargers and Broncos this season. Plus, they are 2-4 against the Raiders with Ben Roethlisberger as their starting quarterback, and that includes an 0-3 record at Oakland Coliseum since 2006. As for the aforementioned Raiders, it’s been a lost season for them, as it started out on the wrong foot with the trade of Khalil Mack. They are 2-10, but could play spoiler here and on Christmas Eve against the Broncos, along with having a winnable game at Cincinnati next week. It’s been a struggle for the six-time Super Bowl champs, as they won a game that they should have lost against the Jaguars prior to their recent two-game skid. Plus, they have the Patriots next, thus making this a trap game. However, the Raiders don’t have enough offensively nor defensively to pull off the upset. So with that being said, I like the Steelers to rebound with a win.
  • Detroit Lions Vs. Arizona Cardinals. The state of Arizona has been a struggle for the Lions, as they have lost their past eight road games against the Cardinals. As for their tormentors, they authored one of the more stunning upsets this season, as they beat the Packers 20-17 in Lambeau Field. And now they can add to the misery of the Motor City Kitties, with a ninth consecutive win against them in the state of Arizona, along with dealing a third consecutive loss to them overall. It’s going to be a defensive battle, as the Cardinals are legit good on that side of the ball, while the Lions defense could feast on an Arizona offensive line with injury issues across the board. But since I have a professional obligation to predict a winner, well I’ll take the Lions. And not only do I predict a win for them, I also predict them to win 16-13 at the buzzer.
  • Los Angeles Rams Vs. Chicago Bears. Depending on seeding and how the Wild Card Round goes, these two teams could meet again in either the Divisional Round or NFC Championship Game. For the Rams, it’s about fending off the Saints, while the Bears look to rebound from last week’s overtime loss against the Giants. The Bears have been a force at Soldier Field, where they are 5-1 this season. As for how this game will go, well I see an old-fashioned game of “keep away”, with Jordan Howard carrying the load in the running game to keep Jared Goff & Company off the field. Plus, look for Khalil Mack and the Bears defense to make life rough for the Rams offense. I like the Bears in this one.
  • Minnesota Vikings Vs. Seattle Seahawks. Week 14 wraps up with a battle of the two Wild Card leaders in a game, which could have the Vikings at the five seed and the Seahawks at the six seed should the former of the two teams win. For the Vikings, this game most likely makes or breaks their season and because of that factor, I predict that they win this one.