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Billsfans Bets: NFL Week 14 Picks

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© Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

 

Week 13 of the NFL season heavily impacted the NFL playoff picture. The Bengals' win against the Chiefs meant that the Buffalo Bills overtook Kansas City, now the number one seed, having beaten Mahomes and the Chiefs earlier this season.

 

Buffalo beat the New England Patriots on Thursday to go 9-3, and Miami fell short against the 49ers in San Francisco on Sunday afternoon. This means Buffalo now has sole possession of the top spot in the AFC East. The Niners' win means they stay one game clear of the Seattle Seahawks, who move to 7-5 following a win over the LA Rams.

 

The Ravens scrapped their way to a win against the Denver Broncos, holding onto their top spot despite a poor performance, but the Cincinnati Bengals are now breathing down their necks as Week 14 approaches.

 

Things are heating up week after week, and with plenty still to play for, here are some of the biggest matchups this weekend.

 

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© Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports

New York Jets @ Buffalo Bills

Betting Lines:

  • Spread: Jets +9, Bills -9
  • Total: Over/Under 44
  • Money line: Jets +350, Bills -450

 

The New York Jets have recently been a hot topic in the media due to benching their starting quarterback. Former second-overall pick Zach Wilson has struggled since returning to the lineup, and things finally bubbled over after a shockingly bad performance against the New England Patriots.

 

The franchise hastily benched Wilson, and head coach Robert Saleh and his staff turned to Mike White as his replacement. White had a glistening performance against the Chicago Bears, throwing for 315 yards and three touchdowns in a 31-10 win. The team appears to be behind the new starting quarterback, with players turning up to this weekend's game against Minnesota in shirts with his face on them.

 

While that isn't good news for Zach Wilson and his hopes of getting his job back anytime soon, it does serve the offense far better. The Jets are moving the ball again offensively despite the loss of rookie running back Breece Hall. Garrett Wilson had 162 receiving yards in the game, and the Jets were one Braxton Berrios catch away from winning two in a row with Mike White at quarterback. He threw a hefty 57 passes on the day with two interceptions, but the general view is that the offense is in far better shape through the two games with White at the helm.

 

Buffalo will be extremely cautious of visiting New York, having already lost to them once this season. The Bills started the season 0-2 in their division matchups, with losses to the Dolphins and Jets. However, they got one back against the Patriots and have the chance to bring that record to 2-2 with a win this coming Sunday. 

 

Taking down the New York Jets is crucial for the Buffalo Bills, who are now in control of their destiny as the sole leaders of the AFC East division. Things are far more competitive than they have been in years past, with Miami just one game back and the Jets only two behind. A loss at home this weekend would put the Jets one game behind Buffalo and allow Miami to catch them once again. A win will be an important one at Highmark Stadium this weekend. 

 

The Bills have to be pleased with their all-around performance against the Patriots last Thursday. In what was a breakout game for rookie running back James Cook, the former Georgia Bulldog had 14 carries for 64 rushing yards and another 42 yards on six receptions. 

 

Stefon Diggs was unplayable once again and found a nice groove on the night. His challenger, once again, this weekend will be defensive rookie of the year candidate Sauce Gardner, who has done a phenomenal job in taking on some of the league's best wide receivers this season. 

 

The matchup between the Bills' offense and a confident Jets' defense will be the key factor in the game. Robert Saleh is building a defense just like the one he built in San Francisco that helped land him the head coaching role in New York. They've already proven that they can hold Josh Allen and the Bills. The 20-17 loss earlier this season marked Buffalo's lowest scoring total so far this season, so this isn't going to be an easy divisional matchup. 

 

I like the Bills to win the game, but I think the nine-point spread is a little strong. The Jets have an up-and-coming defense, and they've not lost a game by more than seven points since week three. Robert Saleh hasn't allowed his team to get into those positions, so I'll take the +9.

 

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© Thomas Shea-USA TODAY Sports

Cleveland Browns @ Cincinnati Bengals

Betting Lines:

  • Spread: Browns +6, Bengals -6
  • Total: Over/Under 47
  • Money line: Browns +220, Bengals -270

 

It was all eyes on the Cleveland Browns this past weekend as quarterback Deshaun Watson returned to the home of his former team in Houston to make his first appearance on a football field in two seasons. Watson's 700-day ban was lifted, and his first performance back under center was everything you'd expect from somebody who hasn't played competitively in two years.

 

Browns fans didn't see the magician that Deshaun Watson had been in Houston. He was a little slow out of the gate, and the Browns' offense struggled early in the game. Watson did show the elusiveness he has always had in the pocket, proving difficult to bring down and stepping up in the pocket on multiple occasions.

 

As he settles in, the Browns' playbook will begin to open more on offense, and his presence should help the run game with read-option plays and the threat that he might run himself. However, Cleveland will need to show more fire offensively if they want to compete with Joe Burrow and the Cincinnati Bengals on Sunday. Deshaun Watson made some good plays last week but didn't throw any touchdowns and was picked off in the endzone by rookie Jalen Pitre.

 

The Browns were given a boost with a punt-return touchdown by Donovan Peoples-Jones late in the first half. His impressive 76-yard return gave the Browns their first points of the game and the lead before the half. Watson then started to find Amari Cooper early in the third quarter, and that's a pairing that will be interesting to watch develop as the rest of the season unfolds. While there were flashes from the offense, the Browns' three touchdowns came from a special team play and two defensive scores.

 

The Bengals hope to keep the momentum gained from the previous weekend's impressive win against the Kansas City Chiefs and are sure to be encouraged by having the same record as the Baltimore Ravens. While the two teams vie for the AFC North lead, the Cincinnati Bengals are hitting their stride as the season heads toward the playoffs.

 

Ja'Marr Chase returned to the lineup with seven receptions for 97 yards, while Joe Burrow was efficient all day long. The Bengals superstar threw 25 completions on 31 passing attempts, totaling 286 passing yards and two touchdowns. He outgunned Patrick Mahomes on the day and was effective on the ground too. Burrow took off 11 times for 46 rushing yards and a touchdown.

 

Cleveland has their work cut out if they want to keep their playoff hopes alive. They're currently 5-7 and can't afford to drop any games in the next few weeks if they want to compete in a very crowded AFC playoff race. The Browns are currently on the bubble, with three teams ahead of them also trying to fight their way into playoff position.

 

I have my concerns about this Cleveland team, and I'm still far from impressed with their offensive play calling. The offensive line looked shaky against Houston, and it could take a while for things to click with Deshaun Watson. The playoffs are a long shot for a team with a lot to figure out, and I have a feeling Cincinnati might dash those hopes this weekend.

 

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© Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports

Miami Dolphins @ LA Chargers

Betting Lines:

  • Spread: Dolphins -3, Chargers +3
  • Total: Over/Under 52
  • Money line: Dolphins -160, Chargers +140

 

The two quarterbacks that each other's success has been so heavily compared will meet again on Sunday Night Football in Week 14. The Dolphins venture to SoFi Stadium to take on the LA Chargers was flexed to the primetime game on Sunday night as Tua Tagovailoa and Justin Herbert go head-to-head amidst a crowded AFC playoff race.

 

The Miami Dolphins are currently the 6th ranked team in the AFC after losing on the road to the San Francisco 49ers in what turned out to be one of the team's more disappointing appearances this season. Tua was off his game on the day, and the Niners' defense proved too much for Miami as they faded during the game. Tagovailoa had thrown just three interceptions so far this season before facing the Niners but threw two on the day during what was a tough day for the young Dolphins quarterback.

 

The Dolphins were without veteran offensive tackle Terron Armstead, who will miss some time with a pectoral injury. His absence was certainly felt as Niners star Nick Bosa tore through the makeshift line to get to Tua on multiple occasions. Jaylen Waddle was also in and out of the game with a lower leg injury, leaving Tyreek Hill and Trent Sherfield as Tua's main passing options.

 

Tyreek Hill was again unstoppable despite the loss, with 146 yards receiving and a touchdown on what was Tua's best throw of the day deep down the middle of the field. Had the offense been firing effectively throughout the game, Hill could have easily surpassed 200 yards.

 

The Chargers have now lost three of their last four and are surely disappointed with the loss to the Raiders this past weekend. Giving up the win brings Derek Carr and the Raiders within one game of Justin Herbert's Chargers. Both teams are now on the outside of the playoff picture with a large uphill climb to find their way in.

 

For the Chargers, that will start on Sunday against Miami. The Dolphins are one of the teams currently holding one of those playoff positions in which the LA outfit is hoping to find themselves in. A win would help their chances considerably.

 

LA's offensive line allowed Chandler Jones and co. to run riot on Sunday, with Jones having three sacks on the day and Herbert being taken down five times. Despite the pressure, Herbert still threw for over 300 passing yards. The Chargers were disappointed they couldn't find the end zone more.

 

Defensively the Chargers allowed Davante Adams to go for 177 receiving yards and two touchdowns, which highlighted the absence of an elite-tier cornerback to reduce the threat of a great receiver. That could be a problem with Miami coming to town, possessing two of the league's most threatening wideouts.

 

I like Miami in this one, but it should be quite the spectacle for the neutrals as two of the league's growing quarterback talents face off under the Sunday Night lights. The key will be whether or not the other Bosa (and co.) can affect Tua in the pocket.

 

 

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