This NFL handicapper's surprised that through 14 weeks of the 2014 NFL regular season not a single team has clinched its division title -- or even a playoff spot -- yet. Will that change this week?
No odds on the board for the East as New England is in total control. Really the only chance the Miami Dolphins and Buffalo Bills had was for one or both to win in Week 14 and New England to fall in what was a losable game at San Diego. However, the Patriots won 23-14, while the Dolphins were easily handled at home by Baltimore and Buffalo lost 24-17 in Denver. So now New England (10-3) has a three-game lead over both. The Pats host the Dolphins on Sunday and opened as 8-point favorites at sportsbooks. A win or tie clinches the East for New England.
NFL Free Pick: New England beats Miami to clinch.
Last week I expected Cincinnati to win the North. Things potentially changed a bit on Sunday when the Bengals (8-4-1) were slapped around at home by Pittsburgh (8-5), 42-21, thanks to a 25-point fourth quarter from the Steelers. Meanwhile, the Ravens (8-5) pulled a small upset in Miami. Cleveland (7-6) has lost two straight and you can probably count the Browns out. The Ravens, Bengals and Steelers are all +175 to win the North on NFL odds. The Steelers and Ravens split, while Cincinnati swept Baltimore. The Bengals are in Cleveland this week as 1-point favorites while Pittsburgh is in Atlanta (TBA with Falcons playing Monday night) and Baltimore hosts Jacksonville as a 13.5-point favorite. The Bengals still have to play Denver in Week 16 and visit Pittsburgh in Week 17. After Atlanta, Pittsburgh hosts K.C.
NFL Free Pick: I still like Cincinnati because I expect the Steelers to lose in Atlanta this Sunday.
No odds here because the Colts (9-4) have a two-game lead over Houston (7-6) and host the Texans on Sunday with Indianapolis a 6.5-point favorite at sportsbooks. A win or tie gives the division to Indy. It already beat Houston once this season, 33-28 in Week 6, nearly blowing a 24-0 lead. If Houston can pull an upset Sunday, things could get interesting because the Colts' final two games are on the road (Dallas and Tennessee) while Houston's are at home (Baltimore and Jacksonville).
NFL Free Pick: Indy finishes it off on Sunday.
No odds on this division because Denver (10-3) can clinch the West with a win or tie this week in San Diego (8-5). The Broncos are 4-point favorites at sportsbooks. The Chargers would have made this interesting with a win Sunday night vs. New England but couldn't hold on. San Diego is currently the final wild-card team in the AFC, while the Broncos would be the No. 2 overall seed as things stand. Denver beat San Diego 35-21 in Week 8 as Peyton Manning threw three touchdown passes to Emmanuel Sanders.
NFL Free Pick: Broncos finish things off this week.
This is the only division that's deadlocked as of right now with Philadelphia and Dallas each at 9-4. They play on Sunday night in Week 15 with the Eagles opening as 3.5-point home favorites at sportsbooks. Should Philly win that, it's going to take every tiebreaker vs. Dallas. For one, the Eagles already beat the Cowboys, 33-10, in Dallas on Thanksgiving. Also, Philly is 3-0 in the division with Dallas at 2-2. Thus Philly could all but wrap things up with a win Sunday. The Eagles are -200 division favorites with the Cowboys at +150.
NFL Free Pick: Philadelphia holds serve at home in Week 15 and wins the division.
Green Bay should be 10-3 after presumably beating Atlanta on Monday Night Football, which would keep the Packers a game ahead of the Lions (9-4) in the North. The Pack have a potentially tough Week 15 at Buffalo and then finish at Tampa Bay and home to Detroit. The Lions are 7.5-point favorites at sportsbooks this week vs. Minnesota and visit nothing-to-play-for Chicago in Week 16 before a trip to Lambeau. So, keep in mind before placing your NFL picks that this Week 17 game could be winner-take-all. The Packers are -700 division favorites with the Falcons at +400.
NFL Free Pick: Green Bay wins out to take the division.
This division also should be deadlocked after the Monday night game to conclude Week 14 as Atlanta is a huge underdog at Green Bay. Presuming a loss, the Falcons and Saints would be tied at 5-8 with Carolina still very much alive at 4-8-1. The Panthers slaughtered New Orleans 41-10 in the Superdome on Sunday, the Saints' fourth straight home loss. The Saints are in Chicago on Monday night in Week 15 as 3-point favorites. Carolina is -5 at home against Tampa Bay, while there is no opening line yet with Atlanta hosting Pittsburgh. The Saints are -120 division favorites with the Falcons at +150 and Panthers at +450. New Orleans hosts Atlanta in Week 16 but is done with Carolina (split season series).
NFL Free Pick: Saints win division thanks to a Week 16 home victory vs. Atlanta.
Arizona (10-3) leads Seattle (9-4) by a game in the NFC West, but the Seahawks are the-250 favorites with Arizona at +170. The Cards ended a two-game skid on Sunday with a 17-14 home win over Kansas City, but that offense still didn't look good under Drew Stanton. Arizona visits surging St. Louis this Thursday -- which I will preview here at SBR -- before hosting Seattle in Week 16. The Seahawks host a desperate 49ers team this Sunday as 10-point NFL odds favorites.
NFL Free Pick: Seahawks win division courtesy a season sweep over Arizona.