The 2023 NFL season has been full of surprises, and Week 14 looks set to deliver even more. With several tight matchups on tap, our expert foresees some potential upsets that could shake up the standings.
As the playoff races gain momentum, teams on the bubble desperately need wins. That desperation could drive some underdogs to step up when it matters most. At the same time, favorites must avoid letdowns if they want to control their postseason fate.
It all makes for an exciting, unpredictable slate of games this weekend. Can the struggling Broncos defense rise up to shock Justin Herbert’s Chargers? Are Dan Campbell’s scrappy Lions poised to take down the Bears on the road? And could Bill Belichick’s unlucky Week 13 carry over with the stumbling Patriots heading to Pittsburgh?
Our football forecast has the answers, along with analysis on marquee showdowns like 49ers-Seahawks and Bills-Chiefs and a closer look at the surging Dolphins.
Steelers Favored in Patriots-Steelers Toe-to-Toe
In one of the week’s most competitive matchups, the 6-6 Steelers host the 6-6 Patriots on Sunday Night Football. Both AFC teams are firmly in the mix for a Wild Card spot, raising the stakes for this primetime contest.
The Steelers are 6-point favorites at home, where they’re 5-2 this season compared to just 1-4 on the road. Rookie QB Kenny Pickett has also played better in Pittsburgh, posting 7 TDs and just one interception in front of the home crowd.
Still, Bill Belichick typically has his Patriots ready for these type of hard-fought divisional battles. Despite owning the NFL’s lowest scoring offense (17.2 points per game), Belichick’s defense has kept them competitive.
The Patriots blanked the Lions 29-0 back in Week 5 and nearly upset the Vikings on Thanksgiving. Belichick will have them ready to ugly this game up.
In the end, the Steelers and the emerging Pickett find just enough offense on home turf.
Prediction: Steelers 20, Patriots 10
Battered Eagles Look to Upset Rival Cowboys
The NFC East lead is up for grabs on Sunday night when the 10-1 Eagles visit the 9-3 Cowboys. Earlier this season, Dallas suffered a tough 26-17 loss to Philadelphia in this bitter rivalry.
But much has changed over the past six weeks. The Cowboys are now on a 4-game win streak and have found their rhythm on offense. QB Dak Prescott has 9 TDs over that stretch, while RB Tony Pollard has emerged as a dynamic threat.
Meanwhile, the Eagles face question marks on defense after the 49ers torched them for 41 points in Week 2. Philly may need to win a shootout, but QB Jalen Hurts has proven he’s up to the task. He’s accounted for 35 total TDs in just 11 games this season.
Dallas and that pass rush does slow Hurts just enough in primetime to avenge the earlier loss. But Hurts keeps coming with his playmaking moxie, covering the 3.5-point spread in a tight rivalry loss.
Prediction: Cowboys 34, Eagles 31
Broncos Defense Steps Up Against Chargers
Don’t sleep on Denver this week against the 7-5 Chargers. It feels trappy with most of the action on Los Angeles, but home underdogs have become a profitable trend this season.
Denver’s defense ranks 5th overall this season. Yes, Russell Wilson and the offense remain disjointed at times. But that elite defense keeps the Broncos in most games.
Justin Herbert boasts the weapons to rip through the Broncos – assuming Keenan Allen’s hamstring holds up. But Herbert has struggled against Denver, averaging under 200 passing yards per game with 6 INTs in six career starts.
If star safety Justin Simmons bottles up Herbert and the Bolts’ downfield threat enough, Russell Wilson can make just enough happen with the support of his backs in a low-scoring divisional upset.
Prediction: Broncos 23, Chargers 20
Red-Hot Dolphins to Stomp Titans
No one is talking more about the 8-4 Dolphins than oddsmakers. Despite back-to-back losses entering Week 13, Mike McDaniel’s team smashed the oddsmakers’ Over against the 49ers. Miami’s explosive potential with Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle demands attention.
Tua Tagovailoa and the offense are rolling, hanging 40+ points twice over their five-game win streak leading into Week 13. With Hill and Waddle taking the top off defenses, Miami has emerged as a sneaky Super Bowl sleeper.
That puts Tennessee in the crosshairs this week. Tennessee fields a solid run defense, led by Jeffery Simmons up front. But their secondary is exploitable.
Expect another big day for Hill and perhaps an increased role for Waddle against the Titans’ depleted cornerback group. The Dolphins keep the good times rolling to the tune of a 13-point blowout as two-touchdown home favorites.
Prediction: Dolphins 38, Titans 14
Game of the Week: Allen vs. Mahomes Showdown
It’s hard for this matchup between MVP favorites Josh Allen and Patrick Mahomes to live up its lofty standards. Yet it remains a critical AFC showdown between two 10-2 Super Bowl hopefuls.
The last two meetings produced epic finishes. Mahomes needed overtime to outduel Allen in the 2021 AFC Championship game. Allen returned the favor with a game-winning touchdown drive to beat KC back in Week 6.
Oddly, neither passing attack has met expectations. Both rank outside the top ten in yards per attempt. But the talent remains on both sides to explode any given week.
In what could be another playoff preview, Mahomes and the Chiefs edge out the Bills at home. The KC pass rush frazzles Allen just enough while the backfield committee of Isiah Pacheco and Jerick McKinnon grinds out a hard-fought win.
Prediction: Chiefs 30, Bills 23
Sizzling Seahawks Face 49ers in Round 3
The red-hot Seahawks get their third crack at the 49ers, the team most responsible for Seattle sitting a game out of the NFC West lead.
In the first two meetings, the 49ers have dominated Geno Smith and Seattle to the tune of 48-20 and 31-13 beatdowns. Now the scene shifts to Levi Stadium, where the 49ers are even tougher.
Still, don’t expect another blowout this time around. Seattle enters Week 14 on a four-game tear. Geno Smith just dropped 40 points on the Cowboys, looking more and more like an MVP candidate. Rookie RB Ken Walker has ignited the ground game while the defense has held four straight opponents under 20 points.
The 49ers boast too much firepower for another miracle. But Pete Carroll helps the Seahawks put up a better fight in enemy territory as 6.5-point dogs, led by gamebreaker DK Metcalf.
Prediction: 49ers 34, Seahawks 17
The wild Week 14 slate should conjure more surprises that impact the 2023 playoff picture. Can the struggling Broncos and Patriots defy expectations? Will the banged-up Eagles stand a chance in Dallas?
This year, one thing’s become clear: In this league, nothing’s guaranteed when the pigskin’s in play.