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NFL picks 2018, Week 14: Experts expect Chiefs, Rams to keep rolling in big games

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Can’t miss picks for every game this week.

Kansas City Chiefs v Los Angeles Rams Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

There are four more weeks left to play, one quarter of the season. Three teams can wrap up playoff bids this week, the Chiefs, Patriots and Saints. All those three teams need to do is win, or even just tie in some cases. According to our expert panelist picks, all three of those teams should cruise to victory on Sunday.

For other teams, well, they just kind of have to play out the string. That doesn’t always make for the best regular-season game, and nothing exemplifies that better than this week’s Jets vs. Bills slugfest of sadness.

Our panel convened again this week, like it always does, and picked every single blasted one of these games, even Jets-Bills. We have to. But before we get to the magic table, let’s parse a few highlights on the schedule.

Panthers vs. Browns

When is the last time a Browns game was one of the best offerings in the 1 p.m. slot on on a Sunday? This week, they’ll host the Panthers, a team incapable of being the sum of its parts this year.

These two teams have only played each other five times in their histories. The Panthers have won four of those games, but that was before the Browns had actual swagger. And, oh my, do they have lots of that. Baker Mayfield deserves our thanks for his bold stance against insincere public huggings. That kind of hero is more than capable of shaking off a three-interception performance against Houston last week. He still managed to throw for a career-high 397 yards.

Ron Rivera did a partial house cleaning of his defensive assistants, taking over playcalling himself. We’ll see if that works. He may be on the bread line with Hue Jackson in a month if it doesn’t.

Our panel is leaning for the Browns to win, just three picks (one of which is the coin) for the Panthers.

Ravens vs. Chiefs

Last week wasn’t a great one for the high-flying offenses we’ve spent the entire season talking about. We saw that last Thursday when a physical Dallas defense held Drew Brees and the Saints to just 10 points.

The Ravens did something similar against the Saints back in Week 7. They eventually lost by one point, thanks to a missed kick, but the recipe was established.

If any team has the defense to cool the Chiefs’ heels, it’s the Ravens. And they’ll no doubt have spent some time watching the tape from Baltimore’s loss to the Saints to try and figure out a way around it.

This might be the most important game of the week for the AFC playoff picture. A Chiefs’ loss coupled with an easy Chargers’ win over the Bengals would put those two teams even at 10-3, putting them into a heated battle for the division title down the stretch. The Ravens have won three straight, but they’re narrowly hanging onto the last wild card spot. A loss this week opens that race wide open.

Rams vs. Bears

The Bears have the NFC North pretty much sewn up, and they’re trailing the Rams and Saints by a wide enough margin that it’s mathematically going to be pretty difficult to usurp either one for the top two seeds, barring catastrophe. Chicago’s loss last week to the Giants didn’t do them any favors.

Still. This game is a preview of what could be a long-running battle, spanning the next few seasons at least, between two NFC powerhouses.

The tricky thing here is that we still don’t know if Mitchell Trubisky is going to play. Most reports lead us to think he will, but until the Bears confirm that, you’ve got to take those picks with a grain of salt.

Our panel is almost unanimous for the Rams here. But it’s worth noting that the computer is taking the Bears. That damn machine has a pretty good track record. Don’t forget that Bears’ defense either. Khalil Mack has been a big equalizer to offenses with a deadly combination of getting sacks and forcing turnovers. Could that be the difference?

The rules

OK, let’s get to the picks. Our guest this week is Lester A. Wiltfong Jr., the managing editor over at Windy City Gridiron, SB Nation’s home for all things Chicago Bears.

The computer picks come to us via OddsShark. The coin is a quarter from 2007 that gets flipped every Tuesday morning, heads for the home team. Panelists are allowed to make changes for up to two of their picks by Friday to account for injuries, etc.

NFL picks Week 14

Games RVB Stephen White Geoff Schwartz Charles McDonald Adam Stites Christian D'Andrea Lester A. Wiltfong Jr. Coin flip OddsShark computer
Games RVB Stephen White Geoff Schwartz Charles McDonald Adam Stites Christian D'Andrea Lester A. Wiltfong Jr. Coin flip OddsShark computer
JAX vs TEN TEN JAX TEN TEN JAX TEN TEN JAX TEN
NYJ vs BUF BUF BUF BUF BUF NYJ BUF BUF BUF BUF
CAR vs CLE CLE CLE CLE CLE CAR CAR CLE CAR CLE
ATL vs GB GB GB GB GB GB GB GB GB GB
BAL vs KC KC KC KC KC KC KC KC BAL KC
NE vs MIA NE NE NE NE NE MIA NE MIA NE
NO vs TB NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO
NYG vs WAS NYG WAS NYG WAS NYG NYG NYG NYG WAS
IND vs HOU HOU HOU IND HOU HOU HOU HOU IND HOU
CIN vs LAC LAC LAC LAC LAC LAC LAC LAC LAC LAC
DEN vs SF DEN DEN DEN DEN DEN DEN DEN SF DEN
PHI vs DAL DAL DAL DAL DAL DAL PHI PHI PHI DAL
PIT vs OAK PIT PIT PIT PIT PIT PIT PIT PIT PIT
DET vs AZ DET DET AZ DET DET AZ AZ DET AZ
LAR vs CHI LAR LAR LAR LAR LAR LAR LAR CHI CHI
MIN vs SEA SEA SEA SEA SEA MIN SEA SEA MIN SEA
Last week 8-8 9-7 10-6 11-5 10-6 9-7 10-6 3-13 11-5
smart picks