In his second year as a pro, Marcus Mariota has developed into one of the NFL’s most dangerous quarterbacks.
But dangerous enough to beat the 8-4 Denver Broncos and their all-universe defense? SB Nation’s experts say yes.
Most of the network’s NFL writers think Mariota can lead his team past a suddenly shaky Denver team to hang on to at least a share of the AFC South’s top spot. The Broncos have gone 2-2 in their last four games and struggled to beat good teams this fall. The combined winning percentage of the opponents they’ve beaten comes out to a mere .411.
But that’s still significantly better than the Titans, who have beaten only two teams with winning records this fall. Tennessee beat Detroit and Miami early in the season before those two franchises ripped off lengthy winning streaks, lending some doubt to the Titans’ legitimacy this fall. Our experts think they’ll answer that question with a validating win on Sunday.
Elsewhere in the AFC West, the Raiders are sitting in the driver's seat at 10-2, but a majority of our panel doesn't think they'll stay there for long. The 9-3 Chiefs are a favorite to beat their rivals at Arrowhead Stadium and retake the top spot in the division.
Kansas City and Tennessee aren't the only teams poised to make a statement at home in Week 14. Green Bay earned some confidence after dispatching the Houston Texans in a snowy 21-13 victory last Sunday. While Aaron Rodgers and the Packers offense failed to finish drives through the first three quarters of that matchup, a strong finish — and the sudden re-emergence of wideout Jordy Nelson — nearly made them a favorite over a Seattle team that just rocked the Panthers’ faces in a 40-7 Sunday night victory.
A motivating factor in the pick, besides the cold and snowy forecast in eastern Wisconsin, was the playoff picture. Green Bay, currently staring up at a postseason berth, is inching ever-closer to must-win territory in order to keep a seven-year playoff streak alive. Seattle, currently leading the NFC West by three games with only four weeks to play, doesn’t have the same kind of flame being held to its feet.
The Giants need a win to keep any hope of winning the NFC East alive, but aren’t getting the same kind of love from the experts the Titans and Packers are. Joel Thorman is our only expert taking the Giants at home. The rest of our panel thinks the 11-1 Cowboys will avenge their opening day loss to New York and escape MetLife Stadium with a division title-clinching win. Buffalo, Philadelphia and Miami round out the players on the postseason periphery who have instilled precious little confidence in our prognosticators this week for their home games.
You know who is getting some love? Two of the worst teams in the league. SB Nation’s experts think this might be the week Cleveland breaks into the win column. A combination of Week 13’s bye and a home game against an underwhelming Bengals team (and maybe RG3 under center?) was enough to convince three writers to back the Browns.
The 49ers, coming off a loss to a then 2-9 Bears team starting Matt Barkley, also earned some new fans. San Francisco was an overwhelming choice to snap its 11-game skid and dispatch a spiraling New York Jets team on the West Coast this Sunday.
Our panelists are allowed to make two changes to their picks by the end of the week. The asterisk denotes a change.
|Game||RVB||Stephen White||Thomas George||Jeanna Thomas||Adam Stites||Louis Bien||Joel Thorman||Fooch||OddsShark computer|
|OAK vs KC||OAK||KC||KC||KC||KC||OAK||KC||KC||OAK|
|PIT vs BUF||BUF||PIT||BUF||PIT||BUF||PIT||PIT||BUF||PIT|
|DEN vs TEN||TEN||DEN||TEN||TEN||TEN||TEN||DEN||TEN||TEN|
|WAS vs PHI||WAS||PHI||WAS||WAS||WAS||WAS||WAS||PHI||WAS|
|AZ vs MIA||MIA||AZ||MIA||AZ||MIA||AZ||MIA||MIA||MIA|
|SD vs CAR||SD||CAR||SD||SD||CAR||SD||SD||CAR||CAR|
|CIN vs CLE||CLE||CIN||CIN||CLE||CIN||CIN||CLE||CLE||CIN|
|CHI vs DET||DET||DET||DET||DET||DET||DET||DET||DET||DET|
|HOU vs IND||IND||IND||HOU||IND||IND||IND||IND||IND||IND|
|MIN vs JAX||MIN||MIN*||MIN||MIN||JAX||MIN||MIN||MIN||JAX|
|NYJ vs SF||SF||SF||NYJ||SF||SF||SF||NYJ||SF||NYJ|
|NO vs TB||TB||TB||TB||NO||TB||TB||TB||TB||TB|
|ATL vs LA||LA||ATL||ATL||ATL||LA||ATL||ATL||LA||ATL|
|SEA vs GB||GB||GB||SEA||SEA||SEA||SEA||SEA||GB||GB|
|DAL vs NYG||DAL||DAL||DAL||DAL||DAL||DAL||NYG||DAL||DAL|
|BAL vs NE||NE||NE||NE||NE||NE||NE||NE||NE||NE|