The Seahawks don’t know how to quit. With playoff elimination drawing ever nearer, Seattle pulled out an impressive 30-23 win at home over heated rival San Francisco in Week 13. The victory snapped a three-game losing streak for the Hawks – it also snapped the 49ers’ three-game win streak.
Though currently sitting in 15th place out of 16 NFC teams at 4-8, the playoffs remain a mathematical possibility for Seattle, so why stop now? The Seahawks take on one of the league’s worst teams in Week 14 as they travel to Houston to face the 2-10 Texans, a team that was shut out 31-0 against Indianapolis in Week 13. Oddly enough, that’s not even Seattle’s weakest opponent (record-wise) remaining on its schedule as the Hawks will host the 1-10-1 Lions in Week 17. And with a matchup against Chicago (also 4-8) looming in Week 16, three of Seattle’s final five opponents sport losing records, making a push for the playoffs well within the realm of possibilities.
One reason for optimism in the Rainy City is Russell Wilson. The dude simply doesn’t know how to accept losing. He’s never finished worse than 9-7 in his first nine seasons. And that lone 9-7 season (2017) is the only year in which Wilson and Co. missed the playoffs.
Wilson’s finger seems to be improving as he completed 30 of his 37 pass attempts against San Francisco – his fourth start since sustaining a mallet finger on his throwing hand. While his 231 yards and two touchdowns with one interception doesn’t necessarily jump off the page, Seahawks fans should be encouraged as his completions–to-attempts numbers over the previous three games (all losses) looked like this: 20-40 vs. Green Bay, 14-26 vs. Arizona, and 20-31 vs. Washington.
The margin of error is extremely thin for Seattle regarding a playoff run, but the next step in completing the unlikely feat is avoiding a potential trap game in Houston. It’s never easy for a team to go from playing arguably its most significant rival to taking on a bottom feeder in an inter-conference matchup. But that’s exactly what the Seahawks have to do in order to remain alive in the postseason picture. Just look at what happened to Tennessee in Week 11. The Titans were atop the AFC at 8-2, riding a six-game win streak, and had just downed the then 5-3 Saints in Week 10. Tennessee lost 22-13 to the Texans, who were 1-8 entering that game.
Perhaps Seattle’s biggest advantage in this week’s matchup is desperation – as mentioned above, there’s no margin for error now.
Now onto my Week 14 picks.
My season picks record: 11-3 last week, 104-61 overall
Seattle (4-8) at Houston (2-10)
Don’t let the somewhat small gap in records lead you astray; this is a trap game for the Seahawks. However, the group is led by a veteran coaching staff and veteran players. Plus, the defense is playing well. Seattle should come out on top.
Pick: Seahawks 26, Texans 16
Pittsburgh (6-5-1) at Minnesota (5-7) – Thursday
The Steelers won ugly against Baltimore while the Vikings became the first team to lose to Detroit this season. Ahead of last week, I would have picked Minnesota, but after losing Adam Thielen and featuring a defense that seems lost, I’ll take Pittsburgh in another messy one.
Pick: Steelers 20, Vikings 19
Baltimore (8-4) at Cleveland (6-6)
Neither team is passing the ball well right now, but both rely heavily on the run. Lamar Jackson’s versatility outweighs Baker Mayfield’s here.
Pick: Ravens 23, Browns 20
Jacksonville (2-10) at Tennessee (8-4)
The Titans are coming off a much-needed bye week as it seems they lose a different key playmaker each game. There is some optimism in the post-Derrick Henry run game as both Dontrell Hilliard (131) and D’Onta Foreman (109) finished with over 100 yards rushing in a Week 12 loss to New England. However, Ryan Tannehill needs to find chemistry with a receiving corps missing both A.J. Brown and Julio Jones. No better team to do that against than Jacksonville.
Pick: Titans 30, Jaguars 23
Las Vegas (6-6) at Kansas City (8-4)
Patrick Mahomes and Co. haven’t been putting up the eye-popping offensive numbers we’ve gotten accustomed to the last few seasons, but the Chiefs have won five straight and sit alone atop the AFC West. How? The much improved Kansas City defense. Conversely, Las Vegas is 1-4 in its last five games. Look for KC to complete the season sweep against LV.
Pick: Chiefs 38, Raiders 22
New Orleans (5-7) at New York Jets (3-9)
Oh, how quickly things change. The Saints were once 5-2 and coming off an impressive 36-27 upset win over Tampa Bay. Zach Wilson and the New York offense has been playing better of late, but I expect Taysom Hill to throw the ball better than he did against Dallas (19-of-41) while maintaining a prominent role in the run game. Plus, Alvin Kamara might be back.
Pick: Saints 27, Jets 17
Dallas (8-4) at Washington (6-6)
This is a dangerous game for the Cowboys, who have been up and down so far this season, to say the least. The Football Team has quietly won four straight, but I have trouble picking the limited Washington offense over the explosive one on the Dallas side.
Pick: Cowboys 29, WFT 21
Atlanta (5-7) at Carolina (5-7)
No Calvin Ridley. No Christian McCaffrey. So it comes down to Matt Ryan vs. Cam Newton. The latter completed just five of 21 attempts in a Week 12 loss to Miami. Atlanta should come out on top.
Pick: Falcons 24, Panthers 17
Detroit (1-10-1) at Denver (6-6)
The Lions finally broke into the win column on a game-winning touchdown as time expired in Week 13 against the Vikings. The Broncos’ offense let down the defense as the latter held Kansas City’s offense in check (267 total yards, 15 points allowed). If Denver can hold Patrick Mahomes to 184 yards and an interception on 15-of-29 passing, it shouldn’t have much of a problem with Jared Goff. Weirder things have happened, but I expect Detroit’s winning streak to end at one.
Pick: Broncos 23, Lions 10
New York Giants (4-8) at Los Angeles Chargers (7-5)
The Giants are simply a mess right now. It’s unsure whether Daniel Jones can play, and Saquon Barkley was limited in practice with an ankle injury. Regardless, Los Angeles looks like a true playoff contender and should win easily at home.
Pick: Chargers 37, Giants 20
San Francisco (6-6) at Cincinnati (7-5)
Both teams have been inconsistent and are coming off losses that could impact playoff seeding. The Niners have only one win over teams with a winning record (the Rams), while the Bengals have three. This game should feature creative play-calling on both sides, with the home team prevailing.
Pick: Bengals 34, 49ers 31
Buffalo (7-5) at Tampa Bay (9-3)
Oof, that’s gotta hurt. The Bills lost to a Patriots team that threw the ball only three times all game in Week 13. Sure, the wind was a factor, but that’s unheard of in today’s NFL. It’s been an underwhelming year for a Buffalo team with high expectations. On the other hand, the Bucs have been solid aside from a couple of hiccups. Tampa should improve to 6-0 behind its playmakers and versatile defense.
Pick: Buccaneers 31, Bills 25
Chicago (4-8) at Green Bay (9-3)
Ummmm… The Packers are going to win. As Aaron Rodgers so (un)gracefully stated in Green Bay’s 24-14 win over the Bears in Week 6, he owns them. Rodgers is 22-5 against Chicago over his career. That will improve to 23-5 on Sunday night.
Pick: Packers 33, Bears 17
Los Angeles Rams (8-4) at Arizona (10-2) – Monday
The Rams snapped a three-game losing streak with a 37-7 drubbing of Jacksonville in Week 13. Their only loss before that? To the Cardinals in Week 4. With Odell Beckham Jr. and Von Miller, LA is a different team. However, a healthy Arizona squad is just too good to pick against right now, especially at home.
Pick: Cardinals 27, Rams 23
Teams on bye: Indianapolis Colts (7-6), Miami Dolphins (6-7), New England Patriots (9-4), Philadelphia Eagles (6-7)