Nostrathomas Predicts: NFL Week 14 and the 2021 NFL Season Enters the Home Stretch

Point spreads are from VegasInsider.com and are accurate as of this writing.

This strange but exciting 2021 NFL season has finally come spinning out of the final turn to hit the home stretch. The one certainty all year has been how unpredictable many NFL teams have been, whether fighting for a playoff spot or not.

Nostrathomas hit a milestone after the Week 13 action wrapped up last Monday night. I finished with a 9-4 record straight-up and 8-5 against the spread. That put me over the .500 mark against the spread for the first time this season, and that’s with picking all games on each week’s schedule.

For the season I’m 118-68-1 straight-up and 93-92-2 against the spread. Now it’s time to break out the crystal beer mugs for Week 14.

Game of the Week

Buffalo Bills +3.5 vs Tampa Bay Buccaneers (4:25PM ET; Raymond James Stadium, Tampa, FL)

The Buffalo Bills started the season so strong that this game looked like it could be a Super Bowl LVI preview. Now the Bills are 7-5 on the season and holding down the final Wild Card playoff spot in the AFC.

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have been strong throughout 2021, except for a brief hiccup in Weeks 8 and 10. The Bucs are now on a three-game winning streak.

The Atlanta Falcons managed to run the ball successfully against a Tampa Bay defense that is supposed to be strong against the run. Unfortunately for the Bills, running backs Devin Singletary and Zack Moss aren’t effective at igniting Buffalo’s rushing attack.

The Bills are strong on defense against the rush which could keep Leonard Fournette and Ronald Jones III under wraps.

This is a game that is going to be won by either team through the air. Tom Brady will be pitting his trio of Chris Godwin, Mike Evans and Rob Gronkowski against Josh Allen’s squad of Stefon Diggs, Cole Beasley and Emmanuel Sanders.

One problem for Tampa Bay is that their secondary is back to dealing with injury problems. Safety Jordan Whitehead is out with a calf injury. Also, cornerback Jamel Dean (concussion) and defensive end William Gholston (wrist, knee) are questionable.

The Buffalo Bills are one of the few teams in the NFL who have the ability to take advantage of Tampa Bay’s secondary problems. They also bring a strong and capable defense to Florida with them.

I’m making an unconventional pick here and taking the road dogs to win this game.

Buffalo Bills 28 Tampa Bay Buccaneers 25

Best Bets

Las Vegas Raiders vs Kansas City Chiefs -9.5 (1PM ET; GEHA Field at Arrowhead Stadium, Kansas City, MO)

In Week 10, he Las Vegas Raiders ran into a Kansas City Chiefs team that was on its way to putting itself back together on both offense and defense. Las Vegas got plowed into their home turf 41-19.

The Raiders are falling apart at the seams on offense and defense and Derek Carr isn’t a talented enough quarterback to carry the load and get his squad through the rough patches.

The Chiefs won’t be letting up in this game because their long-time rivals are having problems. They’ve been riding a rejuvenated defense and talented offense back to the top of the division.

Kansas City also still has dreams of catching and passing the New England Patriots for top seed in the AFC.

Kansas City Chiefs 26 Las Vegas Raiders 13

Seattle Seahawks -7.5 vs Houston Texans (1PM ET; NRG Stadium, Houston, TX)

The Seattle Seahawks finally found themselves last week with a 30-23 victory at home against the San Francisco 49ers. Unfortunately for them, it’s too little too late. Seattle is out of the NFC playoff hunt.

The Houston Texans are going back to Davis Mills as their starting quarterback which means they’re moving on to preparing for the offseason. There isn’t much that the Texans can point to as a reason for them to stay competitive in this game.

Take Seattle to continue getting better as the season settles into the home stretch.

Seattle Seahawks 24 Houston Texans 13

New York Giants vs Los Angeles Chargers -10 (4:05PM ET; SoFi Stadium, Los Angeles, CA)

Yes, the Los Angeles Chargers are going to be without running back Austin Ekeler (ankle) and wide receiver Keenan Allen (Covid) for this game. The team still has quality backups to carry the offense.

As for the New York Giants, I only have two words, Mike Glennon. Yes, Glennon has cleared concussion protocol and will start for New York. He won’t have anybody to throw to with Kenny Golladay and Sterling Shepard questionable and Kadarius Toney out, but Glennon will play.

Take Los Angeles to win and cover the double-digit spread.

Los Angeles Chargers 30 New York Giants 17

BEST OF THE REST

Dallas Cowboys -4.5 vs Washington Football Team; Over/Under 48 (1PM ET; FedEx Field, Washington, D.C.)

The Dallas Cowboys against the Washington, well, Football Team is one of the greatest NFL rivalries and this season, this first of two games they’ll play will have a major impact on the NFC East as well as on the playoff race for the entire conference.

Dallas opened the season 6-1 and looked like they were determined to lock down the division by Thanksgiving. A 1-4 November brought them back to the pack though.

The Football Team opened the season 2-6 and appeared to be sinking hopelessly to the bottom of the NFL but a four-game winning streak behind quarterback Taylor Heinicke has them heading into this game holding down the second Wild Card spot in the conference.

Both teams are as close to full strength as they’ve been all season which means the Cowboys hold a decided advantage in this game. Dallas is third in the league in points allowed and their defense has been tightening up behind the leadership of rookie linebacker Micah Parsons, who’s making a strong case to win defensive rookie of the year.

A lot of fans have been excited by the emergence of Washington over the past month but they’re still a team that lags behind the rest of the league in a majority of statistical categories on both sides of the ball.

There are a couple of trends to keep in mind when looking at this game. Dallas is 5-1 against the spread on the road this season. Also, Washington is on a seven-game losing streak against division opponents in the month of December.

Another trend to keep in mind is that the Cowboys have gone under the total in five of their last six games and Washington has been under in six of their last seven.

Take Dallas to win and cover and end with a final score below the 48 total points.

Dallas Cowboys 26 Washington Football Team 20

Atlanta Falcons +2.5 vs Carolina Panthers -2.5 (1PM ET; Bank of America Stadium, Charlotte, NC)

Fortunately for the Atlanta Falcons and Carolina Panthers, 2021 is a seventeen-game season. With 5-7 records, the winner of this game still has the possibility of making a postseason run. That would be a slight possibility, but even that is better than starting early planning for the offseason.

Atlanta has been hit or miss in the pass game but their run game came to play last week against the Buccaneers. Carolina should be able to bring pressure successfully against Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan, nearly everybody has this season, but they don’t have the offense to take advantage of Atlanta’s middling defense.

The Panthers will also be without guards Michael Jordan and John Miller, further complicating their problems on offense.

Take the Atlanta Falcons to keep their season alive for at least one more week.

Atlanta Falcons 21 Carolina Panthers 19

Baltimore Ravens +2.5 vs Cleveland Browns (1PM ET; FirstEnergy Stadium, Cleveland, OH)

The Baltimore Ravens held down the top seed in the AFC for all of one week. Seventeen fourth-quarter points surrendered to the Pittsburgh Steelers later and they’re now third in the conference. For Week 14, they face a Cleveland Browns team that they beat 16-10 two weeks ago.

The problem with both these teams is you never know when they’ll show up ready to play football or to get their butts kicked.

At this point in the season, it’s easier to trust the Ravens to come up with a big game than it is to trust Cleveland.

Baltimore Ravens 21 Cleveland Browns 17

New Orleans Saints vs New York Jets +5.5 (1PM ET; MetLife Stadium, East Rutherford, NJ)

The New Orleans Saints are going back to Taysom Hill as their starting quarterback despite the injured finger he suffered last week. The good news for New Orleans is that they’ll be getting Alvin Kamara back in the lineup for this game.

Considering how bad the Jets are on defense, this should be a game that the Saints should win, even with the human gimmick at quarterback. It’s a bigger stretch to believe that New Orleans can cover with him.

Take the Saints to win and New York to cover.]

New Orleans Saints 22 New York Jets 19

Jacksonville Jaguars vs Tennessee Titans -8.5 (1PM ET; Nissan Stadium, Nashville, TN)

The Tennessee Titans will still be without Derrick Henry and receiver A.J. Brown but Julio Jones should be back in the lineup this week.

Still, the Titans should be healthy enough by far to grind Jacksonville into the Nissan Stadium turf.

The locker room situation with the Jaguars has progressed beyond dysfunctional to completely unworkable. Meyer has berated his entire coaching staff, asking them what they have ever won. He also benched hiss best player, running back James Robinson, last week for no apparent reason.

Meyer is just the latest college coach who failed to realize that you’re not the ruler of all you survey when you helm an NFL team.

The Tennessee Titans return from their bye week by winning the equivalent of another bye week.

Tennessee Titans 26 Jacksonville Jaguars 13

San Francisco 49ers vs Cincinnati Bengals +1 (4:25PM ET; Paul Brown Stadium, Cincinnati, OH)

The spread for this game changed from the Cincinnati Bengals being favored by two points to the current spread with San Francisco favored.

Rookie running back Elijah Mitchell has been declared out for this game and wide receiver Deebo Samuel is questionable with a groin injury. Even with those two offensive keys, Cincinnati has outscored the 49ers by 30 points this season. Without them, San Francisco is going to have problems scoring enough to keep this game close.

Take Cincinnati to win as the home dogs.

Cincinnati Bengals 27 San Francisco 49ers 21

Detroit Lions vs Denver Broncos -8.5 (4:05PM ET; Empower Field at Mile High Stadium, Denver, CO)

The Detroit Lions finally dented the win column last week. Jared Goff’s touchdown pass to Amon-Ra St. Brown with four seconds left lifted them to a 29-27 victory over the Minnesota Vikings. For their next trick they get to try and accomplish a two-game winning streak since Week’s 6 and 7 of last season.

Normally, there would be no way that Denver should be favored by 8.5 points against anybody but the Lions are so beaten up that head coach Dan Campbell and the rest of his coaching staff may need to come out of retirement and suit-up for this game.

For that reason I see no reason for the Broncos not to win and cover at home against the worst team in the NFL, even when they’re healthy.

Denver Broncos 23 Detroit Lions 13

Chicago Bears vs Green Bay Packers +12.5 (Sunday Night Football, Lambeau Field, Green Bay, WI)

There’s nothing I would rather see than someone on the Bears wipe the smug from Aaron Rodgers’ face. Unfortunately, Chicago’s pass rush has struggled since Khalil Mack underwent foot surgery.

Justin Fields will be returning as the Bears starting quarterback and will have Allen Robinson back at wide receiver. Chicago should be able to run the ball with David Montgomery and Khalil Bell but all of that offense put together has only averaged 17 points per game for the season.

Green Bay is one of the best teams in the NFC and the Bears would have to play a perfect game to even have a chance to win. That is something that Chicago has been incapable of doing all season.

Green Bay Packers 30 Chicago Bears 16

Los Angeles Rams vs Arizona Cardinals -2.5 (Monday Night Football; State Farm Stadium, Glendale, AZ)

The Los Angeles Rams broke a three-game losing streak last week with a 37-7 win over the Jacksonville Jaguars. Now they have to step up in weight and take on not only what has been the top team in the NFC West but one of the best teams in the NFL this season.

The Cardinals could have fallen backwards when quarterback Kyler Murray and wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins missed three games Arizona still won two of them with Colt McCoy at the controls of the offense.

Through the Rams losing streak, quarterback Matthew Stafford threw for five touchdowns and five interceptions. He’s been playing more like the quarterback that he was during his career with the Detroit Lions instead of the one who is supposed to deliver Los Angeles to Super Bowl LVI.

I’ve been saying all season that the Cardinals are the best team in the NFC. They take another step towards proving that this week.

Arizona Cardinals 28 Los Angeles Rams 21

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