After a couple weeks away on Thanksgiving vacation, I’m back with my JB Locks. After going 2-3 in Week 11, that leaves me at 28-27 on the season. Hanging by a thread over .500, this is a make or break week. Falling below .500 is just not an option at this point. It’s the final quarter of the season. We’ll learn a lot about teams and their playoff hopes this week. Here are my NFL Week 14 JB Locks against the spread.
1. Cowboys (8-4) @ Bears (5-7) (+4.5)
Usually, December means nightmares for the Dallas Cowboys. This should be the year that all changes. This game is on the road, and this team is 5-0 on the road this season. It helps that they get a Bears team that is trying to throw the ball like a team possessed, forgetting that they have one of the NFL’s best running backs in Matt Forte in the backfield. Jay Cutler may be on his last leg in Chicago. He’s been a turnover machine, and he’s got the Bears out of the playoffs once again. The Cowboys should take care of business after a 33-10 Thanksgiving loss and beat “da Bears” in Chi-town by at least a touchdown in a Thursday night showdown.
2. Panthers (3-8-1) @ Saints (5-7) (-10.5)
The Panthers’ nightmare season continues. They are regretting the truly awful offseason they had. Their offensive line can’t block for Cam Newton. “Superman” has nobody to throw the football too. Their mediocre running backs can’t find any open holes. The defense has been abominable. They run into a Saints offense that went off against the Steelers last week. Drew Brees threw it anywhere he wanted in a 35-32 win, and Jimmy Graham didn’t even have a catch. New Orleans crushed Carolina at their place a month ago, and they will do the same in the SuperDome on Sunday.
3. Texans (6-6) @ Jaguars (2-10) (+4.5)
Ryan Fitzpatrick was not a happy camper when he was benched in favor of Ryan Mallett. He showed his anger on Sunday as he took over for Mallett, who is out for the remainder of the season. Fitzpatrick was named the AFC Offensive Player of the Week, throwing for 358 yards and six touchdowns in a 45-21 victory over the Titans. Don’t be fooled by the Jaguars comeback win over a Giants team that is absolutely lost right now. They were down 21-0 and the Giants collapsed. The Jags are not a good team, and they won’t beat a Texans team that still has a slim chance at getting to the playoffs. Fitzpatrick cools down a bit, but they win by at least a touchdown in Jacksonville.
4. Patriots (9-3) @ Chargers (8-4) (+3.5)
Don’t make Bill Belichick and the Patriots angry. Also, don’t be the team to have to play them after they lose a game. Unfortunately for the Chargers (and their fans), they are the victims. The Patriots played the Packers close in Green Bay, but their defense couldn’t keep up with the great Aaron Rodgers. The Chargers took a miraculous rally in the final minutes to squeak by the Ravens, 34-33. At 8-4, they are a threat in the AFC, but who knows what Chargers team will show up this week? Philip Rivers got off to a terrific start, but has been playing a bit banged up the last couple of weeks. The Patriots aren’t losing two in a row, even on the road. They get by the Chargers by a touchdown.
5. 49ers (7-5) @ Raiders (1-11) (+8.5)
The Raiders lost 52-0 to the Rams. Matt “Pick Six” Schaub will start at QB Sunday. That’s pretty much all you need to know about their matchup with the 49ers. Oakland is in for a beatdown at home in a game the 49ers can not lose.
Check out my JB Locks, NFL Week 13 analysis and a Week 14 preview, and our interview with Cowboys defensive end Jeremy Mincey on my new CBS Local Sports NFL podcast 4th & Goal with JB & BT featuring former Tennessee Titans tight end Ben Troupe. You can follow the show on Twitter @4thandGoalJBBT.