Cleveland (+14) at Pittsburgh, Thursday 8:20 p.m.
Comments: The Browns are just 1-5 over their past six games, and they have surpassed 20 points in just one contest this season. Colt McCoy will play through a knee injury, but he's got just 5.9 YPA while fumbling 10 times so far this year. Greg Little leads the NFL with 14 drops this season, and Peyton Hillis is questionable with a hip injury. It's been a real struggle for him to stay healthy in 2011. Traveling during a short week to play its first of three straight road games, Cleveland is rightfully big underdogs Thursday night... The Steelers enter 7-1 over their past eight games and fighting for the No. 1 seed in the AFC. With an upcoming Monday night game in San Francisco, Pittsburgh can ill afford to overlook a Browns team as big favorites if they want to keep pace in their division, as the Ravens are even bigger favorites in Week 14. Ben Roethlisberger has been held to under 200 passing yards in each of the past two games, his only such outings all season long. He gets a Browns defense that has allowed the fewest fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks this season and will likely be protecting a lead during the second half, so another modest game may be in store. Cleveland has given up just four touchdowns to wide receivers this year, which also needs to be noted, although the schedule and game situations have contributed heavily to that. Rashard Mendenhall has topped 70 rushing yards just once this season, although he does have five touchdowns over the past four games and should see a heavy workload in a plus matchup Thursday night.
Predictions: Colt McCoy throws for just 160 yards and finds Joshua Cribbs for a score, while Peyton Hillis plays through his injuries but is held in check. Rashard Mendenhall answers with 110 rushing yards and a TD run, while Ben Roethlisberger adds 230 passing yards with a scoring strike to Antonio Brown, as Pittsburgh wins handily. Steelers 26-13.
Tampa Bay (-1) at Jacksonville, Sunday 1 p.m.
Comments: Tampa Bay comes in with a six-game losing streak, including a 19-point home loss at home as favorites last week. Josh Freeman again looks iffy to play with a shoulder injury, so Josh Johnson should get his second start in a row. He'll get a Jaguars defense that has regressed badly recently while dealing with multiple injuries. Mike Williams has averaged 6.0 catches for 86.7 yards with two touchdowns over the past three games, so he's finally living up to his preseason expectations. LeGarrette Blount ran for just 19 yards on 11 carries in a favorable matchup last week, so he'll be looking to bounce back from one of the biggest fantasy disappointments of the season…Jacksonville has lost three straight and hasn't topped 20 points in a game this year, although they do face a Bucs defense this week that has allowed the third most points per game in the NFL this season. Blaine Gabbert has had a pretty miserable rookie campaign, but Maurice Jones-Drew deserves a ton of credit, as he's on pace to finish the season with 1,912 yards from scrimmage while playing on a team that has averaged just 12.7 points per game - the second fewest in the NFL. Not bad for someone who entered the year with a big question mark regarding the condition of his knee.
Predictions: Josh Johnson throws for 180 yards with a TD toss to Kellen Winslow, while LeGarrette Blount runs for 70 yards and a score. Maurice Jones-Drew counters with 130 total yards with a touchdown run, while Blaine Gabbert adds 175 passing yards with a TD strike to Marcedes Lewis, as Jacksonville gets back into the win column. Jaguars 23-17.
New England (-8.5) at Washington, Sunday 1 p.m.
Comments: Washington is just 1-7 over its past eight games, with just one of the losses coming by fewer than seven points. Rex Grossman is better than John Beck and faces a New England secondary that has allowed the most fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks this season, but he's committed 18 turnovers over nine games and will be missing Fred Davis (suspension) on Sunday. Roy Helu should be considered a top-12 fantasy back right now…The Patriots have won four straight, averaging 35.0 points over that span. Tom Brady has got 8.8 YPA with a 10:0 TD:INT ratio over that same stretch, as the offense is really clicking. Rob Gronkowski has scored 14 touchdowns - a single-season record by a tight end. He's unlikely to make it past the second round in fantasy drafts next year. BenJarvus Green-Ellis has three touchdowns over the past two games, but there's no way he can be trusted in your fantasy playoffs. His usage is way too unpredictable, highlighted by getting just six carries at home against the Colts as 21-point favorites (and he didn't see a single snap in the second half). He's a risky fantasy start as a result.
Predictions: Rex Grossman throws for 275 yards with a touchdown to Santana Moss, while Roy Helu totals 100 yards and hits pay dirt. The Pats' RBBC produces 90 yards from scrimmage, while Tom Brady adds 300 passing yards and three touchdowns, with Rob Gronkowski, Aaron Hernandez and Wes Welker the recipients, as New England wins it. Patriots 30-20.
Houston (+2) at Cincinnati, Sunday 1 p.m.
Comments: The Bengals remain in the playoff race, but they are 1-3 over their past four games, so Sunday's matchup is important. Andy Dalton (hip) is a bit banged up, but he's expected to play Sunday, although he gets a Texans' defense that has allowed an NFL-low 60.7 QB rating to opposing passers this season. In fact, they are allowing a league-low 49.8 completion percentage as well. Cedric Benson has gained fewer than 80 yards from scrimmage in seven of his past eight games, but he should get a heavy workload Sunday…Houston enters riding a six-game winning streak, although the offense has taken a hit now down to its third string QB and with Andre Johnson out once again with a hamstring injury. T.J. Yates looks like a competent replacement at quarterback, and he gets a Cincy secondary this week that has picked off just six passes this season. Expect a heavy dose of Arian Foster and Ben Tate in a defensive battle Sunday.
Predictions: Andy Dalton throws for 170 yards with a touchdown to A.J. Green, while Cedric Benson is held to just 60 rushing yards but reaches the end zone. Arian Foster responds with 100 yards from scrimmage and a TD run, while T.J. Yates adds 180 passing yards with a touchdown toss to Joel Dreessen, as the road team pulls off the mild upset. Texans 20-17.
Kansas City (+9.5) at New York Jets, Sunday 1 p.m.
Comments: The Chiefs ended a four-game losing streak with an upset victory in Chicago last week, although it came courtesy of a Hail Mary pass at the end of the first half, as the offense continues to struggle mightily. If you remove the Hail Mary, Kansas City has scored just one offensive touchdown over the past 21 quarters, and with Kyle Orton suffering a broken finger during his first play with his new team last week, Tyler Palko might have to get yet another start Sunday. Things could get ugly against a New York defense that has held opposing passers to a lowly 69.0 QB rating this season…The Jets have been considered something of a disappointment, but four of their five losses have come on the road (@Oak, @Bal, @N.E., @Den) with their lone home loss against the Patriots, so their schedule has been difficult. Mark Sanchez has already set a career-high with 19 passing touchdowns, but his completion percentage (56.5) and YPA (6.6) remain entirely mediocre. The Jets' offense should once again rely heavily on their rushing attack in Week 14.
Predictions: Tyler Palko gets another start and struggles badly, committing numerous turnovers without producing a single touchdown drive, as Kansas City's ground game is also held in check. Shonn Greene answers with 80 rushing yards and a TD run, while Mark Sanchez adds 230 passing yards with scoring strikes to Plaxico Burress and Dustin Keller, as New York wins handily. Jets 27-9.
Minnesota (+7) at Detroit, Sunday 1 p.m.
Comments: The Vikings have dropped four straight games, including a tough 35-32 loss to the Broncos last week. Christian Ponder got 8.1 YPA with three touchdowns during the defeat, but his late game interception was a back breaker. He's questionable Sunday with a hip injury. Ponder and Percy Harvin have developed a nice rapport, although the team might once again be missing Adrian Peterson (ankle). It's unfortunate, as Detroit is typically strong against the pass, with its weakness coming against the run…The Lions are just 2-5 over their past seven games after starting the seasons 5-0, and while they have at times shot themselves in the foot with penalties, the difference in schedules has also been a big reason for the discrepancy in records. Matthew Stafford has thrown 10 interceptions over the past four games, but he gets a Minnesota secondary that has ceded an NFL-high 24 passing TDs on the year and has been hit with injuries. He should be able to move the ball with ease Sunday. Kevin Smith is doubtful to play with his lingering ankle injury.
Predictions: Christian Ponder throws for 175 yards with a TD toss to Percy Harvin, while Toby Gerhart gains a modest 60 rushing yards yet scores from the goal line. The Lions implement a committee in their backfield, with Kevin Smith getting a score from in close. Matthew Stafford adds 300 passing yards with scoring strikes to Calvin Johnson, Tony Scheffler and Brandon Pettigrew, as the home team prevails. Lions 28-20.
New Orleans (-3.5) at Tennessee, Sunday 1 p.m.
Comments: The Titans are 3-1 over their past four contests, despite playing just one home game over that span. They somehow remain in the playoff race, although they are home dogs Sunday. Matt Hasselbeck has got just 5.8 YPA with a 2:4 TD:INT ratio over the aforementioned four games, but Chris Johnson has really come to life. He's got 7.5 YPC over the past two games and has eclipsed 150 yards from scrimmage in three of his past four contests (admittedly he gained just 28 yards total in the other). An easier schedule has helped, but Johnson's play has really picked up as well, as his explosion appears to have returned, and he's broke a ridiculous 10 tackles over the past two games…The Saints enter winners of four straight with hopes of gaining the No. 2 seed (and a bye) in the NFC, and they will be favorites in each of their final four games over the rest of the season, including Sunday. Drew Brees has got 8.4 YPA with an 11:1 TD:INT ratio while taking just two sacks (for a loss of only four yards) over his past four games, three of which coming against potential playoff teams (ALT, NYG, DET). He has a remarkable 20 touchdown passes over six homes games this year, which is a season's pace of 53 scores. However, he and the rest of the team typically plays worse on the road, especially outdoors, so don't be shocked if an upset occurs Sunday against a legit opponent. Mark Ingram has been ruled out with a turf toe injury.
Predictions: Matt Hasselbeck throws for 210 yards with a touchdown to Damian Williams, while Chris Johnson totals 125 yards with a score. New Orleans' RBBC totals 100 yards with a TD run, while Drew Brees adds 275 passing yards and two TD passes, with Marques Colston and Jimmy Graham the recipients, as the road team comes out on top. Saints 21-20.
Philadelphia (+3) at Miami, Sunday 1 p.m.
Comments: The Eagles enter 1-4 over their past five games, and none of their losses were more embarrassing than last week in Seattle, when their tackling and effort appeared to show they have given up on the season. The good news is that Michael Vick (ribs) and Jeremy Maclin (hamstring) appear ready to return, but the bad news is it's too late. Moreover, they get a Miami defense that has allowed an average of 10.8 points over the past five games (including two garbage scores to Oakland with the game out of hand last week). LeSean McCoy has scored 15 touchdowns over 12 games and remains an obvious must-start…It wouldn't be a stretch to call Miami a top five team in the AFC right now, as they are clearly far better than their overall record indicates. Not only is Matt Moore quietly a Pro Bowl candidate (and looks like a possible franchise QB), but Reggie Bush has also suddenly become a viable franchise running back to go along with a greatly improved defense. There is no need to make an offseason coaching change, as Miami clearly is headed in the right direction.
Predictions: Michael Vick throws for 230 yards with a touchdown to Brent Celek, while LeSean McCoy adds 110 total yards with another TD run. Reggie Bush counters with 90 yards from scrimmage and a touchdown of his own, while Matt Moore adds 250 passing yards with scoring strikes to Brandon Marshall and Anthony Fasano, as Miami continues to impress. Dolphins 24-20.
Indianapolis (+16.5) at Baltimore, Sunday 1 p.m.
Comments: The Colts come in winless at 0-12, but Dan Orlovsky appeared to be a definite upgrade over Curtis Painter last week, even if a great amount of his production came in garbage time against a poor secondary. Orlovsky threw for 353 yards and two touchdowns Sunday, getting 9.5 YPA while completing 81.1 percent of his passes. With a poor rushing attack and terrible defense, Orlovsky should be able to rack up meaningless stats in a similar way down the stretch, although he's not an advisable fantasy start in Week 14 against a Baltimore defense that has allowed an NFL-low eight passing touchdowns this season…The Ravens are 5-1 over their past six games, and while they have been somewhat vulnerable on the road for a team that could finish as the No. 1 seed in the AFC, they have also been 6-0 at home with a plus 80 point differential, so it's not exactly surprising to see Week 14's huge point spread. Joe Flacco has been unreliable, but he faces a Colts defense that has allowed an NFL-high 109.2 QB rating to opposing passers this season. Ray Rice should also be in store for a big game, as Indy has yielded the third most fantasy points to running backs in 2011.
Predictions: Dan Orlovsky throws for 180 yards with a TD to Reggie Wayne, while the Colts' ground game is shut down. Ray Rice counters with another big game, totaling 150 yards with a touchdown run. Joe Flacco adds 250 passing yards with scoring strikes to Anquan Boldin and Torrey Smith, as Baltimore wins easily. Ravens 27-10.
Atlanta (-3) at Carolina, Sunday 1 p.m.
Comments: The Panthers have won back-to-back games and return home for the first time in a month Sunday. Cam Newton threw for a score and ran for another three touchdowns last week, and he nearly caught a TD as well. He's been a monster for his fantasy owners this season. Atlanta's secondary is middling, and they struggle to pressure the passer, so he should be in store for another nice game Sunday. Steve Smith has slowed down greatly, but he benefits from Brent Grimes (knee) being out in Week 14. The Falcons have defended the run well, so neither Jonathan Stewart nor DeAngelo Williams are great fantasy starts…The Falcons come in 7-5 and fighting for a playoff spot. Matt Ryan had been playing extremely well until last week, although he should bounce back against a Carolina squad that has allowed an NFL-high 8.4 YPA this season. Both Roddy White and Julio Jones need to be in fantasy lineups. The same goes for Tony Gonzalez, who has quietly been the third most productive fantasy tight end this year. Michael Turner has got just 3.2 YPC over the past two games, but the Panthers have allowed the most fantasy points to opposing running backs in 2011. The Falcons enter as favorites, but they play worse when on the road and especially outdoors, so don't be surprised if there's an upset.
Predictions: Cam Newton throws for 270 yards with a TD strike to Steve Smith, while the QB also adds a rushing score. Carolina's rushing duo combines for 90 yards sans a score, while Michael Turner answers with 100 rushing yards and hits pay dirt. Matt Ryan adds 275 passing yards with scoring strikes to Tony Gonzalez and Julio Jones, as the road team prevails. Falcons 24-23.
Chicago (+3.5) at Denver, Sunday 4:05 p.m.
Comments: The Bears have followed a five-game winning streak by losing their last two games, which has coincided with the Jay Cutler injury. Chicago also lost Matt Forte (knee) early in last week's game, and the team produced just three points at home against KC as a result. Caleb Hanie has thrown six picks and taken 11 sacks over those two contests, and he gets an improved Denver defense that should get Von Miller (thumb) back. Marion Barber is the favorite for carries and will get goal-line work, but Kahlil Bell will take over on passing downs…Denver has won five straight and is 6-1 since Tim Tebow took over QB duties, including five road victories. He's thrown just one interception on the year and got 13.5 YPA last week in a shootout win in Minnesota. Tebow gets a tough test against a strong Chicago defense that typically plays running quarterbacks well, but the Broncos expect Willis McGahee to play through his knee injury. Chicago is desperate and should be focused, but Denver is playing well right now, and the injuries could be too much for the road team to overcome.
Predictions: Caleb Hanie throws for 170 yards without a TD, while Marion Barber punches in a goal-line score. Willis McGahee totals 75 yards, while Tim Tebow throws for 150 yards with a touchdown to Eric Decker. The signal caller also adds a TD run, as Denver comes out on top. Broncos 20-10.
San Francisco (-3.5) at Arizona, Sunday 4:05 p.m.
Comments: The Cardinals are 4-1 over their past five games, including an overtime win as underdogs against the Cowboys last week. Kevin Kolb has committed more turnovers than touchdowns this season, and his sack percentage is way too high, but at least he's got 7.8 YPA. He may have to have a good game Sunday for Arizona to win, as Beanie Wells has a tough matchup, as the 49ers remain the only team yet to allow a rushing touchdown in 2011…San Francisco is coming off a shutout victory, and although they have already locked up its division, the team still has plenty to play for, including a first round bye. Three of their final four games come on the road, with the lone home tilt against the Steelers, so earning that two seed won't be easy. Alex Smith is coming off possibly his best game as a pro, but Arizona's defense has played better of late. Braylon Edwards (knee) is unlikely to play Sunday, but that hardly moves the needle in fantasy leagues. Frank Gore hasn't scored since October, but he gets an Arizona front seven this week that has allowed 12 rushing scores on the year.
Predictions: Kevin Kolb throws for 210 yards with a touchdown toss to Larry Fitzgerald, while Beanie Wells is held relatively in check. Frank Gore counters with 80 rushing yards and a TD run, while Alex Smith adds 230 passing yards with a scoring strike to Michael Crabtree, as San Francisco wins it. 49ers 23-13.
Buffalo (+7) at San Diego, Sunday 4:15 p.m.
Comments: The Bills enter riding a five-game losing streak and as touchdown underdogs, and it's hard to believe this team was once 4-1 this year. Ryan Fitzpatrick has a 6:7 TD:INT ratio over the past five games, but at least C.J. Spiller has shown glimpses of possibly not being a total bust since taking over running back duties with Fred Jackson sidelined. Both teams struggle to pressure the passer, so a shootout could be in store…The Chargers ended their six-game losing streak in impressive fashion last week, beating the Jaguars in Jacksonville 38-14 on Monday night. Philip Rivers has played better of late, and he faces a Bills secondary this week that has given up 21 passing touchdowns this year. Vincent Jackson has been inconsistent this season, but he's on pace to finish with 11 touchdowns. Ryan Mathews has got 5.9 YPC since returning from injury four games ago, and he has a favorable matchup this week against a Buffalo front seven that has yielded 4.7 YPC and 14 rushing scores this season.
Predictions: Ryan Fitzpatrick throws for 240 yards with scoring strikes to Stevie Johnson and Brad Smith, while C.J. Spiller adds 80 yards from scrimmage and reaches the end zone. Ryan Mathews responds with 100 combined yards and a TD run of his own, while Philip Rivers adds 300 passing yards with touchdown tosses to Malcom Floyd and Antonio Gates, as the home team prevails. Chargers 31-21.
Oakland (+11.5) at Green Bay, Sunday 4:15 p.m.
Comments: Oakland was badly outplayed during a loss in Miami last week, but that Dolphins team is greatly improved, although the Raiders face a tough task Sunday traveling to Green Bay. Oakland is currently tied with Denver (and losing the tie breaker) for first place in the AFC West, so every game is important down the stretch. Carson Palmer has dealt with a WR corps that has been ravaged by injuries, but he gets a Packers' secondary that has allowed the second most fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks this year. Michael Bush is coming off a terrible performance, but he needs to remain in all fantasy lineups as the team's workhorse…Although they had a major scare last week, Green Bay comes in still undefeated, with Aaron Rodgers having all but locked up the MVP award. He should shred a shaky Raiders defense Sunday. James Starks has been ruled out with an ankle injury, but no Packers running back can be trusted in fantasy leagues despite the plus matchup.
Predictions: Carson Palmer throws for 250 yards and two touchdowns, with Darrius Heyward-Bey and Chaz Schilens the recipients, while Michal Bush totals 100 yards and also adds a touchdown run. Green Bay's RBBC produces 70 yards with a goal-line score from John Kuhn, while Aaron Rodgers adds 300 passing yards with TD strikes to Greg Jennings, Jermichael Finley and Jordy Nelson, as Green Bay remains undefeated. Packers 31-24.
New York Giants (+3) at Dallas, Sunday 8:20 p.m.
Comments: The Giants have lost four straight games, but they nearly beat the Packers last week and were the first team in more than 30 regular season games to beat Tom Brady and the Patriots in New England earlier this year, so clearly New York is capable of doing damage if they were to sneak into the playoffs. They enter one game down to the Cowboys in the NFC East, and Sunday's matchup against Dallas is actually the first of two remaining contests with their division rivals over the season's final four games. Eli Manning has got 8.4 YPA this year, and he's going to have to continue to play well in what projects as a shootout Sunday night. Ahmad Bradshaw is expected to suit up and play through his lingering foot injury…The Cowboys' four-game winning streak came to an end last week in an overtime loss in Arizona. Jason Garrett's lack of aggressive play calling has cost his team at least one game this season and likely two or three. Tony Romo has got 8.0 YPA with an 11:2 TD:INT ratio over the past five games, and he faces a burnable Giants' secondary this week. Miles Austin (hamstring) is expected to return to action, whereas Laurent Robinson is dealing with a shoulder injury, making the latter a risky fantasy start. DeMarco Murray has struggled mightily over the past three games, but he gets fullback Tony Fiammetta back this week, which should help. Murray should remain in fantasy lineups.
Predictions: Eli Manning throws for 300 yards with scoring strikes to Hakeem Nicks and Victor Cruz, while New York's rushing attack produces 80 yards sans a score. DeMarco Murray responds with 90 total yards and a TD run, while Tony Romo adds 280 passing yards with scoring strikes to Miles Austin and Jason Witten, as Dallas wins a close game in primetime. Cowboys 24-23.
St. Louis (+5.5) at Seattle, Monday 8:30 p.m.
Comments: The Rams enter 2-10 and as one of the league's true doormats. If you remove their one outlier this season, when they beat the Saints 31-21, St. Louis has averaged just 9.9 points per game. With Sam Bradford (ankle) and A.J. Feeley (thumb) both questionable, there's a real chance third stringer Tom Brandstater may get the call Monday night. He's yet to attempt a pass during his NFL career, so this isn't exactly ESPN's dream matchup in primetime. Steven Jackson gets a tough task facing a Seattle defense that has allowed just 3.7 YPC this season and should be focusing on him…The Seahawks have won three of their past four games, and have had extra time to prepare coming off an impressive blowout victory over the Eagles last Thursday night. Tarvaris Jackson has a plus matchup, but it's Marshawn Lynch who's a must-start in fantasy leagues. Lynch has scored in eight straight games and he faces a Rams front seven that has allowed 5.0 YPC on the year, which is the second highest mark in the league. Seattle's team defense is a top start in fantasy leagues this week as well.
Predictions: Tom Brandstater gets the start, resulting in a few turnovers, numerous sacks and zero touchdown drives. Steven Jackson fights for 75 total yards, while Marshawn Lynch adds 125 yards from scrimmage and two touchdown runs in a big performance. Tarvaris Jackson adds 220 passing yards with a TD toss to Doug Baldwin, as Seattle wins handily. Seahawks 24-6.
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