Atlanta Falcons running back Devonta Freeman (24) scores a touchdown against the New Orleans Saints during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Jan. 3, 2016, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/David Goldman)

NFL Week 14: The Road (Teams) Less Traveled

With just four weeks left of the regular season, teams are mostly settled along a path of consistency. There are the great teams – like the Cowboys and Patriots, the awful teams – like the 49ers and Browns, and the teams fighting for a playoff slot – like the Colts and the Packers. With that in mind, week 14 should, in theory, be an easier week to predict. Not the end of the season, where teams can start resting their starters, but close enough to have a lot of data. Can we improve on our 27-33-5 record? Let’s hope so – by riding the road teams most of the way:

Cincinnati Bengals -5.5 over Cleveland Browns – Home or away, why are the Browns predicted to keep it to less than a touchdown with a single team in the NFL? Here, the Bengals don’t have to travel far for their road game, and while they continue facing difficult injuries all over the field, they shouldn’t have a problem with the lowly and winless Browns.

Washington Redskins -2 over Philadelphia Eagles – I’ve learned my lesson picking against the Redskins, who seem to consistently find a way to win. The Eagles are fading fast after a nice start, and the Redskins need to win to keep pace with the rest of the wild card hopefuls in the NFC. Yet another road team that barely has to travel, I like Kirk Cousins and the Redskins to throw all over the Eagles secondary, and win by 7+.

Chicago Bears +7 over Detroit Lions – An intra-division matchup requiring little travel means another road team to take to at the very least keep the game close. The Bears are banged up and missing key pieces, but Jordan Howard has been running well and Matt Barkley has been a serviceable 3rd QB option. The Lions will likely win, and win a close one as they have all year.

Atlanta Falcons -6 over Los Angeles Rams – The Rams are very bad, and playing at home barely helps them. The Falcons may be missing Julio Jones, but with Taylor Gabriel and other key pieces stepping up, they should still be able to win big on the road (after a fairly quiet game last week). The Falcons should make use of their solid pass-catching running backs and win by double digits.

New York Giants +3.5 over Dallas Cowboys – And after four road teams in a row, I’ve gone back and forth on Sunday night and picked against my plan and against one of the best, if not the best, teams in the NFL. I think the Cowboys win by 3 exactly, and with that extra half point, I like the Giants to cover at home. For Dak Prescott and Zeke Elliott, the elements will be at play, and should make for a challenging match-up on the road against the only team to defeat them all season. With the Giants complete a season sweep? Probably not, but they have a chance.

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Steve Krakauer

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