Week 14 NFL Picks Against the Spread (Woodhull)
Here are my Week 14 NFL picks against the spread:
Detroit Lions +3 (over Philadelphia Eagles)
As winners of four straight games, Philly’s defense has looked better over the past month, however, their defense has been the epitome of the “bend, don’t break” motto. Despite the victories, the Eagles defense has given up more yards and first downs in each of those games than their offense has produced. I realize many folks will look at those points scored/against and wins/losses as more important than the yards and first downs, but I tend think those underlying stats say a lot about how productive the teams are.
Despite the enigmatic nature of this Lions team, I think they can be deceptively good on both sides of the ball. They are destructive up front stopping the running with their D-Line, notably with Ndamukong Suh and Nick Fairley up the middle, but Ziggy Ansah is the best pass-rushing rookie defensive end in football. Offensively, the Lions can always throw because of Calvin Johnson and have added balance with Reggie Bush.
The last time the Eagles played an elite offense, they got lit up for 52 points by the Broncos. Ultimately, the Lions will outscore the Eagles no matter how good Nick Foles looks this weekend.
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Pittsburgh Steelers -3.5 (over Miami Dolphins)
One of my fundamental tenets of football has always been don’t trust teams that can’t run the ball and can’t stop the run. The Dolphins are 25th in rushing offense and 25th in rushing defense. Therefore, I can’t believe in Miami this year.
For this game, the problem lies in Pittsburgh. As bad as the Dolphins are running, Pittsburgh is atrocious. The Steelers inability to rush the ball this year means they won’t be able to exploit Miami’s weakness. Even in Pittsburgh recent success (winners of three of four), their lead rookie running back, Le'Veon Bell, has averaged less than 60 yards per game.
When it comes down to it though, it’s the Dolphins lack of offense that will be the problem here. Pittsburgh defense is quietly still pretty good, especially against the pass so I think Miami gets shutout here.
And despite nearly talking myself out of the Steelers, I’m going to stick with my gut and take them giving roughly a field a goal at home.
Cincinnati Bengals -6.5 (over Indianapolis Colts)
The Colts are a team I can’t figure out. They have wins over three of the top five teams in the NFL (49ers, Seahawks and Broncos). Yet three of their four losses are to sub-.500 teams (Dolphins, Chargers and Rams).
So traveling to Cincinnati to tangle with another top-tier team this weekend, the Colts are sure to win right? Not in my eyes.
The Bengals defense has figured out how to play without Geno Atkins, as they are only allowing 12 points per game over the past two weeks. Linebacker Vontaze Burfict is a tackling machine and should be in consideration for defensive player of the year. Both ends, Carlos Dunlap and Michael Johnson, have picked up their game and Brandon Thompson has been a serviceable fill-in for Atkins as the Bengals are one of the deepest and most well-rounded defenses in football.
On the opposing side of the ball, aside from Robert Mathis, the Colts defense has been suspect all year. And it is especially weak against the run. With nearly a touchdown spread, it's like Vegas is begging you to take the Colts on the road. I’m not buying, as I think the Bengals are the superior team.
Five of our contributors make three weekly picks ATS every week and they will be posted here.