Submitted by Jim Hurley on Saturday, December 9, 2017 at 10:21 PM
In case you're wondering, there are only three NFL Week 14 games that are putting together a pair of losing teams up against one another - and so that means there are a slew of important tilts on the menu with some sort of playoff implications and we'll chit-chat about them shortly but first this key reminder:
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NFL WEEK 14
On Sunday, it's ...
OAKLAND (6-6) at KANSAS CITY (6-6) - 1 p.m. ET, CBS
The KC Chiefs were, indeed, 5-and-oh SU (straight-up) to start this season but the defense has caved in (allowed 28-or-more points in three of its last six games) but can a Raiders' club with a banged-up pass-catching corps - probably no WR Amari Cooper -- pull off the season series sweep? Hey, doesn't Oakland QB Derek Carr look very ordinary these days with or without the aforementioned Cooper and WR Michael Crabtree?
Spread Note - The Chiefs have covered six of their last nine showdowns against the rival Raiders.
DALLAS (6-6) at NEW YORK GIANTS (2-10) - 1 p.m. ET, Fox
The Eli Manning Lovefest should be going strong for a quarter-or-so here at MetLife Stadium but the visiting Cowboys are the real news as Jason Garrett's club attempts to keep the 'Boys alive with some long-shot playoff hopes but remember Dallas has scored only 7, 9 and 6 points in three of its last four RB Ezekiel Elliott-less outings. Could be some wintry conditions in New Jersey (snow was coming down Saturday morning!) and let's see how Cowboys' QB Dak Prescott handles the chilly temps.
Spread Note - Dallas is 19-11 versus the vig away since the start of the 2015 season.
MINNESOTA (10-2) at CAROLINA (8-4) - 1 p.m. ET, CBS
Let's put things in perspective here: The Vikings have covered their last seven consecutive games overall - and they've won eight in a row in SU fashion - and here they're a 2.5-point betting favorite against a team that could wind up winning the best division in the league. Hey, the Panthers' defense must figure out a way to stifle QB Case Keenum (15 TDs / 5 INTs) who should be garnering MVP votes these days - remember when it was Carolina QB Cam Newton (16 TDs / 11 INTs) who won that award a couple of years back? These days Newton is terribly inconsistent and a little gun-shy when tucking and running it.
Spread Stat - Believe it or not, the Vikes are an electric 42-19 ATS (that's a .689 winning percentage) under fourth-year head coach Mike Zimmer.
PHILADELPHIA (10-2) at LOS ANGELES RAMS (9-3) - 4:25 p.m. ET. Fox
It's the marquee matchup on a pro football weekend with a few "marquee matchups" but this one will either cement the visiting and now 1-point underdog Eagles as the proverbial "team-to-beat" in the NFC or else have folks hopping off the Philly bandwagon. We know, we know that everyone's making a big fuss over the fact this game pits 2016 top draftee QB Jared Goff (3,184 yards passing with 20 TDs and 6 INTs) and number two '16 draftee QB Carson Wentz (3,005 yards passing with 29 TDs and 6 INTs) but odds are the winner of this gigantic showdown could well be the one that makes more field-switching plays from their defenses/special teams - will a PK Greg Zuerlein make-or-miss from 50-plus yards out be the final play of this game? The Pro Bowl-bound kicker has bagged an amazing 36-of-38 FG tries so far in this '17 season. Wow!
Spread Note - Philadelphia is 9-3 against the odds overall this season; the LA Rams are 8-4 ATS and that includes a nifty 6-3 spread mark when in the favorite's role.
SEATTLE (8-4) at JACKSONVILLE (8-4) - 4:25 p.m. ET, Fox
The "marquee matchups" roll on - and here's another one: The host Jaguars sport the league's stingiest defense - they allow only 14.8 points per game - but here the Jags must wrap up elusive QB Russell Wilson who has astoundingly accounted for 29 of his team's 30 offensive touchdowns. No doubt the Wilson-to-TE Jimmy Graham connection has heated up (five TDs in last four games) and so red-zone defense by DL Calais Campbell and mates could be the key to this interconference tilt. An X-factor? Perhaps it's Jacksonville QB Blake Bortles (309 passing yards and two TDs in 30-10 win against Indianapolis last week) and whether he can connect on a few deep balls against a tattered Seahawks' secondary.
Spread Stat - Seattle is a sluggish 14-18-1 ATS away the past three-plus seasons.
On Sunday Night, it's ...BALTIMORE (7-5) at PITTSBURGH (10-2) - 8:30 p.m. ET, NBC
No doubt the Steelers are still counting their bruises following Monday night's violent 23-20 come-from-behind non-cover win at Cincinnati - will the so-called "short week" be a true disadvantage to Mike Tomlin's team here? The visiting Ravens have their own injury woes - star CH Jimmy Smith (Achilles) is out for the year and so who's gonna slow down record-breaking Steelers' WR Antonio Brown (see 88 catches for 1,296 yards already this year)? Keep in mind that Pittsburgh copped a 26-9 win in Baltimore back in Week 4 play when RB Le'Veon Bell registered a pair of touchdowns.
Spread Stat - The Ravens are 5-4-3 spreadwise at Pittsburgh the past 10 years and that includes a pair of post-season games at Heinz Field.
NOTE: Catch our Monday Night Football game preview - that's New England at Miami - in our next edition of Jim Sez.