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NFL picks 2016, Week 14: Experts leaning Titans over Broncos, Cowboys over Giants

Home-field advantage will play a big role this week. Except in Jersey.

Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

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
Last week 9-6 10-5 10-5 10-5 8-7 11-4 11-4 11-4 11-4
Overall record 115-75-2 122-68-2 119-71-2 118-72-2 116-74-2 112-78-2 123-67-2 107-83-2 123-67-2