We're three-quarters of the way through the 2010 NFL regular season, with just four games remaining before the playoffs commence in early January. Heading into Week 14, there has yet to be a team to qualify for the postseason. That can change this weekend in both the AFC and NFC, however, as four teams can punch their postseason ticket by Sunday. The Steelers are one of those teams, though with Baltimore trailing by just one game in the AFC North, the best Pittsburgh can do is clinch a Wild Card berth. You can check out the playoff scenarios here.
Let's take a look at the NFL lines for Week 14 and see if there are any picks out there worth considering amongst the crop of games with playoff implications in either conference. (Lines compliments of Odds Shark.)
Pittsburgh Steelers (-9) vs. Cincinnati Bengals
Jacksonville Jaguars (-4.5) vs. Oakland Raiders
San Francisco 49ers (-4) vs. Seattle Seahawks
Chicago Bears (+3) vs. New England Patriots (-120)
San Diego (-7) vs. Kansas City Chiefs (+115)
- Let's start with the Steelers and their home meeting with the Cincinnati Bengals. On the one hand, nine points seems high for a team that has rarely blown anybody out in recent years. On the other hand, it's the Bengals and they're on a nine-game losing streak. Will they still even fight hard and play for pride until the final whistle? Maybe, maybe not. I think that the Steelers will play a complete game, though, and retain their momentum from this past weekend's huge win over Baltimore and inch closer to securing one of the two top seeds in the AFC. Pick: Steelers to cover.
- Week 14 is the week where we find out just how real the Jacksonville Jaguars are. They've exceeded expectations already, and at 7-5, the Jaguars are in good shape in the tightly-contested but mediocre AFC South. The Raiders are heading to town following their impressive bounce-back win over the Chargers last week. Oakland has struggled away from home (2-4), but I think they match up fairly well with the Jaguars and will keep their playoff hopes alive with a big road win on Sunday. Pick: Raiders to win outright.
- Seattle is an atrocious road team. No two ways about it. The 49ers, meanwhile, are an enigma on a week-to-week basis, but they should be able to beat the Seahawks handily, regardless of who's playing quarterback. The 49ers' season essentially comes down to this weekend. I think they'll respond. Pick: 49ers to cover.
- Wow, what an impressive performance by Tom Brady and the New England Patriots this past Monday night. They put any questions about who's the best team in the AFC to rest with their 45-3 beatdown of the Jets. Now, the Patriots face an out-of-conference test against the Chicago Bears. I see Brady & Co. staying hot and covering the three points. But an even better play in my mind, even if you're not the type to ever bet the over/under, is the over. 44 total points between those two teams? I think they'll soar past that total by the third quarter at the latest. Pick: Patriots to cover; Over 44
- You tell me what you think will happen when the Chargers host the Chiefs? The Chargers are certainly desperate for a win after losing last week. The Chiefs are two games clear and a win in Week 14 all but buries the Chargers. Seven points does seem a touch high, but it's impossible to know which Chargers team will show up. When they're on, they're as good as anybody in football. If they're not in top form, though, they're a middle-of-the-pack squad that's risky to feel comfortable betting on. Pick: Stay away