The Texans go on the road to play the Patriots in Week 14, which is easily the game of the week. The Texans are our No. 1 ranked team while New England is third. They have the two best offenses in the NFL and have combined for 21 wins in 24 games. They're both really, really good and it's a must-watch game as the NFL playoff picture becomes clearer. The winner may have a key tiebreaker (if needed) in the playoff chase.
Our NFL picks for Week 14:
The Broncos are 10 1/2-point favorites for a reason. The third-ranked offense will be facing the NFL's worst defense. The Raiders only gave up 20 points last week in a loss to Cleveland, but before that the last time their defense gave up less than 34 points came in October. The Broncos, meanwhile, have won seven straight, scoring over 30 points in six of those games.
The pick: 34-10, Broncos
The Redskins are actually favored in this game, which tells you a lot about the state of football in Washington. RGIII is dynamic enough to give the banged up Ravens defense some problems. Washington's defense has to put a muzzle on Torrey Smith and the deep ball. They can't make it easy for them. I can't pick against the Ravens here. They're the veteran team who has demonstrated over the last decade that they can win big games.
The pick: 20-16, Ravens
The Cowboys have new life in the playoff picture now that they stand tied with the Redskins in second place in the NFC East, and one game behind the Giants for first place. Unfortunately, they can't run the ball and they would need to do that to keep the Bengals defense from killing Tony Romo. Cincinnati is No. 1 in the league in sacks. They're rushing the ball well over their four-game winning streak and they're protecting Andy Dalton. This one goes to the Bengals.
The pick: 24-14, Bengals
Watch out now, but the Rams are in the NFC playoff picture at 5-6-1. St. Louis is battling a number of teams, including Tampa Bay and Seattle, their final two opponents on the schedule. Buffalo, meanwhile, would rather talk about better days.
The pick: 24-23, Rams
Eagles vs. Buccaneers
So Nick Foles is starting the rest of the way, which is the right move. Michael Vick may have played his last down as an Eagle, assuming whoever the new GM in Philly is doesn't want his $100 million contract on the books. The Eagles are losers of eight in a row, their coaches were making fun of each other and the fan base is wondering if any coach on the staff should return. So things are a little tough in Philly.
The pick: 30-13, Buccaneers
The 11-1 Falcons will beat the 3-9 Panthers but two lucky Carolina fans will receive a gift from the organization -- two cellphones that are at least 18 months old! That kinda says it all right there for the Panthers.
The pick: 26-13, Falcons
The Chiefs and Browns both had tragedy strike their franchises this weekend, so emotions will be running high. The Chiefs, despite playing well last week, have proven they're one of the worst teams in the NFL. The Browns are actually looking up, winners of three of their last five, which includes an overtime loss to Dallas.
The pick: 17-13, Browns
Remember when this looked like a great game? Before we realized the Chargers weren't any good? Ah, those were the days. San Diego has lost four straight and seven of its last eight. Makes you forget that 3-1 start. Pittsburgh should be helped this weekend by the likely return of Ben Roethlisberger. If the Steelers can beat the Ravens with Charlie Batch, they can beat the Chargers with Ben Roethlisberger.
The pick: 24-20, Steelers
Andrew Luck is becoming a boring story he's playing so well. Colts fans are back where they were in the Manning days, awaiting their playoff berth. The Titans, meanwhile, have one of the worst defenses in the league. Not a good sign when you're playing a guy pushing 4,000 yards. Luck won't need his sixth game-winning drive here.
The pick: 27-17, Colts
These teams have two of the three saddest quarterback situations (Matt Cassel and Brady Quinn agree). I would really advise against you watching this game, especially after the ugliness that was Cardinals-Jets last weekend. Mark Sanchez is still the starter, so Jets fans have that.
The pick: 10-6, Jaguars
If there were a database of NFL player injuries tracking the time it took each payer to come back from an ACL tear, you would take Adrian Peterson's recovery timetable and throw it out because it would screw everything up. He's a freak of nature and there's no reason he should be playing this well after tearing his ACL late last season. That said, the rest of his team isn't on his level. Christian Ponder is struggling, which is horrible timing with the Bears coming to town.
The pick: 14-10, Bears
The Rams have the 49ers' number, apparently. The Dolphins, unfortunately, do not. There's no way the 27th-ranked offense can put up enough points to beat the 49ers.
The pick: 24-6, 49ers
Cardinals vs. Seahawks
The Seahawks were popped by the Cardinals back in Week 1. But that was when Arizona was, you know, actually good. Now? They're terrible. They've lost eight in a row and Ryan Lindley has been playing quarterback for them. The Cards defense is solid, so I don't see a blowout, but their losing streak will hit nine.
The pick: 16-9, Seahawks
Saints vs. Giants
The Giants are in a bit of a tailspin here, losing three of their last four. Yeah, they beat the Packers, but they were also blown out by the Bengals and beat by the Redskins on Monday night. I don't know which team will show up. The Saints have two straight losses to two of the league's best teams. They, too, are a bit of an unknown, as they've been up and down this season. New Orleans' seven turnovers in the last two games are worrisome. New York can beat them if they do that.
The pick: 31-27, Giants
Lions vs. Packers
This could get ugly in Green Bay. The Packers need this game to stay in the playoff picture and they've been hot over the last two months. The Lions have lost four in a row and they're basically out of the postseason chase. I like Green Bay by a lot.
The pick: 35-21, Packers
The game of the week by a longshot. The NFL's No. 1 offense (Patriots) faces the NFL's No. 2 offense (Texans). Houston's defense is ranked fourth, while New England's is 14th. The stats say this should be a terrific game with neither team having an obvious edge. A big game on a big stage, I'm rolling with the Pats.
The pick: 34-33, Patriots