Week 14 NFL Picks: Arizona hosts Rams looking to stay atop NFC

Game of the week

L.A. Rams at Arizona

Another marquee Monday night game, the Cardinals are a three-point home favorite and lead the NFC West by two games over the Rams. Arizona (10-2) leads the conference by one game over Green Bay, but the Packers hold the head-to-head. The Cardinals take no-doubt control over the division.

Cardinals 31, Rams 27

 

Lock of the week

Jacksonville at Tennessee

Let’s face it, the Jaguars struggle everywhere, but Nashville is a particular house of horrors. Jacksonville has lost seven straight, nine out of 10 and 11 out of 13 at the Titans, who return from their bye as an 8 1/2-point favorite. Even minus Derrick Henry, the Titans roll to remain in contention for the No. 1 seed.

Titans 34, Jaguars 9

 

Upset of the week

San Francisco at Cincinnati

Quarterback Joe Burrow’s pinkie injury, which forced him to miss practice Wednesday, may be the reason why the 49ers are a one-point road favorite. A huge game for San Francisco, whose road to 10 wins is more-than-doable (home games vs. Atlanta/Houston) if it can win Sunday. But …

Bengals 20, 49ers 16

Around the AFC: Reeling Bills head to Tampa Bay trying to stay in playoff position

Lawrence voice of reason. How bad, disjointed and confusing is Jacksonville coach Urban Meyer’s leadership and public messaging? Quarterback Trevor Lawrence is the leader. The issue is tailback James Robinson’s usage. He had only eight carries for 24 yards in last week’s loss to the Los Angeles Rams and was benched after a fumble. Meyer talked around the issue Monday, instructing reporters to ask running backs coach Bernie Parmalee about it. Pitiful, Urb. On Wednesday, Lawrence said: “I voiced my opinion: James is one of our best players and he’s got to be in the game.” Bravo, kid.

Bills reeling. It would have been hard to believe a few weeks ago, but the Broncos and Buffalo could have matching 7-6 records Sunday night if the Broncos beat Detroit and the Bills lose at Tampa Bay. New England rolled into Orchard Park, N.Y., last Monday night knowing it could impose its physical will on the Bills … and did just that by throwing only three times. In Buffalo’s favor: The schedule. Of its five remaining games, three are against Carolina, Atlanta and the New York Jets. The Bills should get to 10 wins, but are no longer the AFC favorite.

Bengals bounce-back. Before traveling to Denver next week, Cincinnati (7-5) hosts San Francisco looking to rebound from a bad home loss to the Los Angeles Chargers in which it trailed 24-0 early in the second quarter, rallied to within eight points and then allowed the final 17 points in a 41-22 loss. Priority A for the 49ers (Sunday) and Broncos (next Sunday) will be defensive end Trey Hendrickson. A free-agent addition from New Orleans, he has 11 1/2. A sack against the 49ers will make him the second player since 1982 with at least one sack in nine consecutive games (Kansas City’s Chris Jones 11 games in 2018).

Around the NFC: Tom Brady nears hat trick of quarterback passing records

Brady nears hat trick. Tampa Bay quarterback Tom Brady is the NFL’s all-time record holder in passing yards (82,795) and touchdown passes (615) and he will complete the trifecta Sunday against Buffalo when his 18th completion will pass Drew Brees for tops on the list (Brady is currently at 7,125). Brady and Brees are the only two players with more than 6,300 completions. One more TB12 statistic: He needs two touchdown passes for 700 in the regular season/playoffs, more than John Elway (327) and Joe Montana (318) combined.

Washington defense improved. The Washington Football Team exited Denver on Oct. 31 with a 2-6 record and having scored 22, 13, 10 and 10 points during a four-game losing streak. Improbably, WFT hasn’t lost since, beating Tampa Bay, Carolina, Seattle and Las Vegas. It still isn’t scoring much (29, 27, 17 and 17), but has been improved defensively, having allowed fewer than 22 points in each game. All this without Chase Young, the reigning NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year who was struggling when he tore his ACL. Sunday’s game against Dallas starts a string of five division games. In the awful NFC, 8-9 may be good enough; at 6-6, Washington holds the sixth seed.

Carolina makes change. Two years ago, Joe Brady was the architect of LSU’s national championship-winning offense starring quarterback Joe Burrow. Last Sunday, during the Panthers’ bye week, Brady was bounced as offensive coordinator. Sure looks like a scapegoat to us. His quarterbacks in Carolina: Teddy Bridgewater, P.J. Walker, Sam Darnold and Cam Newton. The Panthers, who don’t seem to have a plan for the future at quarterback, are 31st in yards and 24th in scoring. Brady interviewed for three head-coaching jobs last year (Atlanta, Philadelphia and the Jets). Now, he’s at home. Brady should still be in demand for college or NFL teams.

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