There are only four weeks remaining in the regular season, which means each game matters more. There are a lot of teams in the hunt for the playoffs. In the NFC, the Cowboys seem to be a lock for the number one seed and have a three game lead on the Giants for the division. The Seahawks also have a three game lead in NFC West, and look positioned for the number two seed. As for the NFC North, the Lions look like the favorite to win it, but the Vikings and Packers are both only two games back. The NFC South is still pretty open as all four teams are separated by just three games. The two NFC Wild Card slots are owned by the Buccaneers and the Giants, but the Redskins, Vikings, Packers, Cardinals, Saints, and Eagles all have a shot.
The AFC race is just as exciting as the playoff race in the NFC. The number one seed is still very much up for grabs between the Raiders, Patriots, Chiefs, and even the Broncos. The two wildcard spots in the AFC are held by the Chiefs and Broncos, but the Dolphins, Steelers, Colts, Bills, and Titans all have legitimate chances at getting a wild card spot.
This is the most fun part of the NFL season as teams battle it out for these playoff spots. Last week was the final week for bye weeks so every team will be in action this week. Hopefully the season ends strong. Here are Hagan’s Haus week 14 NFL picks.
Last Week: 9-6
Oakland (10-2) 27 @ Kansas City (9-3) 24: This could be the best game of the week and there are a lot of great games. If the Raiders are able to go into Kansas City, of all places, and win, then Derek Carr should be a lock for the MVP. The Chiefs got the best of the Raiders in Oakland, winning 26 to 10. The hot Raiders offense is averaging 32 points per game over their last five. The Raiders win because Derek Carr leads a late fourth quarter touchdown drive.
Minnesota (6-6) 34 @ Jacksonville (2-10) 16: This is the beginning of the playoffs for the Minnesota Vikings. If this team wants to get in the playoffs, they must run the table and finish 10-6. The schedule is favorable with none of the teams they face currently above .500. The Jaguars are just preparing for another top five draft pick. Minnesota gets the win on the road to keep their playoff hopes alive.
Pittsburgh (7-5) 37 @ Buffalo (6-6) 24: Pittsburgh’s defense looked great against the Giants last week. If the Steelers defense plays like this for the remainder of the season, they could be the most dangerous team in the playoffs. Buffalo seems to be stuck in mediocrity. Tyrod Taylor has regressed a bit and that will be the Bills downfall.
Denver (8-4) 23 @ Tennessee (6-6) 24: Before the season, I had the Broncos in third place in the AFC West and missing the playoffs and a lot of people laughed. Their defense is good but their offense is holding them back. They need better quarterback play to make the playoffs and that just won’t happen. The Titans have surprised many this year and are in the race to win their division. Because this game is in Tennessee, I see them stealing it. Titans win in an upset most won’t dare to pick.
Washington (6-5-1) 24 @ Philadelphia (5-7) 27: This should be an interesting game. A division rivalry in which both teams are fighting to keep their playoff hopes alive. The Redskins won the first matchup 27 to 20 in a back and forth game. This game will be as close as the first and the home team will win.
Arizona (5-6-1) 27 @ Miami (7-5) 21: The Dolphins were taken to the woodshed last week against the Ravens and it ended their six-game winning streak. They are still in the playoff race, but each game is going to be important. The Cardinals are also in the playoff race, but their chances are much more slim. Miami is a good team, but a year away. The Cardinals are going to get the upset win and keep their chances alive.
San Diego (5-7) 31 @ Carolina (4-8) 34: It is still astonishing the Panthers are having this bad of a season after going 15-1 and going to the Super Bowl. The fact is their defense is pretty bad this year. The Chargers are a bit better than expected, but have no shot at the playoffs; at this point they are playing for pride. The Panthers still have a shot at their division title and are at home. Cam outplays Rivers in a shootout.
Cincinnati (4-7-1) 30 @ Cleveland (0-12) 19: Last week was the first week of the season the Browns didn’t lose and it was because they were on a bye week. Cincinnati looked like last year’s Bengals team against the Eagles last week. Nobody deserves to go winless, but the Browns are going to do it. Bengals win easily to send the Browns three games away from a winless season.
Chicago (3-9) 31 @ Detroit (8-4) 30: Snow games are always exciting and the Bears looked good in it against the 49ers. Granted it was the 49ers, but Matt Barkley has looked good in his two starts. If his receivers stop dropping the football, his stats may start showing how well he has been playing. The Lions are more lucky than good and there is a chance for an upset here. The Bears have nothing to lose and would love to hurt a division opponent.
Houston (6-6) 24 @ Indianapolis (6-6) 28: Two of the three teams tied for first in the AFC South are facing off for a chance at first place. The Texans are 1-5 on the road and their offense is incapable of scaring anyone, even a Colts defense giving up 25.9 points per game. The Colts offensive line played great against the Jets. With that momentum, the Colts take the lead in the AFC North.
New York (J) (3-8) 19 @ San Fransisco (1-11) 17: The 49ers versus the Bears was predicted to be a snooze fest, but this game may be even worse. The Jets flat out quit against the Colts and the 49ers have lost 11 straight with no end in sight. It is really hard to pick who is going to win this game. After the Jets got embarrassed on national television, they will bounce back and get a win.
New Orleans (5-7) 27 @ Tampa Bay (7-5) 28: There seems to be plenty of divisional matchups this week, which means important football games. This is a huge game for the Bucs and their playoff hopes. The Saints had a chance to take a step towards the divisional race, but dropped the ball against the Lions. The Bucs are at home and Jameis Winston will shine at home and push the Bucs closer to a division title.
Atlanta (7-5) 36 @ Los Angeles (4-8) 22: For weeks I have been saying the Falcons would falter at some point in the season and miss the playoffs. That time is coming, but it won’t come this week. The Rams offense is incapable of keeping up with the high-powered Falcons air attack. Matt Ryan has a big game to keep the hope alive for another week.
Seattle (8-3-1) 34 @ Green Bay (6-6) 27: Aaron Rodgers said he thinks the Packers could run the table and since then they have a two-game win streak. It is definitely possible when you have a quarterback like Aaron Rodgers. The problem is the Seahawks are on their mission and destroying anyone in their path. Seahawks will continue the push towards the Super Bowl and send Aaron Rodgers and the Packers a loss closer to the offseason.
Dallas (11-1) 24 @ New York (G) (8-4) 27: New York got caught looking forward to this game and dropped one to the Steelers. The Cowboys only have one loss on the season and it is to these Giants. The Giants matchup well against the Cowboys. The Giants receiving corp will give the Cowboys defensive backs fits and it will be the difference in the game. Also, the Giants defense will rise to the occasion and slow down a tough Cowboys offense.
Baltimore (7-5) 31 @ New England (10-2) 34: Monday Night Football was a snoozer last week, but this week it gets a major upgrade. The Ravens are fighting with the Steelers for the AFC North crown. Baltimore has been impressive this season, and by most accounts, have overachieved. Bill Belichick has the Patriots doing the usual and fighting for home-field advantage. Baltimore also has a great defense, but it won’t be enough to slow down the great Tom Brady.