CHIEFS (11-1) at DOLPHINS (8-4)
Line: KC by 7½.
Cote’s pick: KC 24-20.
Coming off a big week for Miami. The Dolphins won again to make it a 7-1 run, the playoffs within reach. The 1972 Dolphins won again, too, with Pittsburgh’s loss making it a 48th consecutive season no other team has equaled Miami’s Perfection. (If there’s a heaven, they were raising a toast to Don Shula up there. Down here, too). Now, in the all-good-things-must-end category, come Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs. I do give Miami a legit upset shot.
STEELERS (11-1) at BILLS (9-3)
Line: BUF by 2½.
Cote’s pick: BUF 28-24.
As with my picking Browns to beat Ravens this week (spoiler alert; see below), this pick just feels, well, weird. I am unaccustomed to doubting the Steelers, let alone a Pitt team this good. And I definitely am not used to having much faith in Buffalo. In any case, it’s a matchup fit for its prime-time stage. A Steelers win would not surprise, or even feel like an upset. Big Ben getting points is as tempting to me as a cognac with dessert after a filet mignon. Josh Allen shredded the San Fran D Monday night, but will find it much tougher to navigate the Steelers secondary.
UPSET OF THE WEEK
BRONCOS (4-8) at PANTHERS (4-8)
Line: CAR by 4.
Cote’s pick: DEN 23-20.
“AAAWWWK!” carols the Upset Bird. “Denver Braaawwwk!” Denver is coming off its best performance of the year in that 22-16 loss to K.C. Proves that somewhere within the erratic Broncos is a stout defense, oft-dormant but capable of arising.
THE REST OF WEEK 14:
Texans (4-8, even) over @Bears (5-7), 24-17: Tempting to like Chitown at home to end a six-loss skid in a rare pick-’em game. But I’d hesitate. Texans playing much better lately, and Deshaun Watson will be stoked to whup on the team that picked Mitchell Trubisky over him in ’17 draft.
Cowboys (3-9, -3½) over @Bengals (2-9-1), 27-21: Andy Dalton back in Cincy to face his longtime former team, although that storyline lost sizzle with the injury to the man who replaced him, Joe Burrow. Both teams in a lost-year freefall.
@Giants (5-7, +1½) over Cardinals (6-6), 23-20: Upset! Two teams headed in opposite directions. ’Zona, on 1-4 skid, hasn’t been the same since Kyler Murray’s shoulder injury all but eliminated his running threat.
@Buccaneers (7-5, -6½) over Vikings (6-6), 31-27: Two straight L’s and three in past four games have loosened Tom Brady’s grip on a Buccaneers’ playoff ticket, while surging Vikes are on a 5-1 roll.
Titans (8-4, -9) over @Jaguars (1-11), 30-23: Mike Glennon set for his third straight start as a healthy Gardner Minshew stews. Hey, like it matters? Both have their fingerprints on this 10-game Jax losing streak.
@Raiders (7-5, +2½) over Colts (8-4), 27-24: Upset! Two teams clawing for playoff spots in a really big AFC game. I get why Nags are road faves after Vegas needed a late miracle to beat winless Jets — but still feel good about this gamble, even with RB Josh Jacobs iffy to play.
@Seahawks (8-4, -13½) over Jets (0-12), 27-16: Seattle just lost to Giants. Jets had Las Vegas beaten until the bonehead blitz that got defensive chief Gregg Williams immediately fired. Now forget all that. Russell Wilson will not lose two straight to a New York team.
Packers (9-3, -9) over @Lions (5-7), 41-23: Gee Bees clinch NFC North title with win if Vikings lose at Tampa. Pack is on a 9-1 run in division games and handled Motown by a three-touchdown margin in first meeting.
Saints (10-2, -7) over @Eagles (3-8-1), 28-16: Philly rookie QB Jalen Hurts makes first career start over benched Carson Wentz, a move popular with fans, less so in Birds locker room.
Falcons (4-8, -2½) over @Chargers (3-9), 27-23: It would surprise only slightly if the team that just lost 45-0 (Chargers, to New England) won here. Such is my lack of trust in the inconsistent Falcons.
Washington (5-7, +3) over @49ers (5-7), 19-17: Upset! The Washington No-Names are on a 3-0 run behind Alex Smith, who is picking up Comeback POY votes by the bushel and now faces his former team.
@Browns (9-3, +1) over Ravens (7-5), 24-23: Upset! (Well, technically). Monday night stage gets a good one with Game of the Week heft. Ravens have owned the Browns. BAL won 38-6 in season opener, has won eight of past 10 in series — and 10 of past 12 at Cleveland. That’s a big mental edge for Crows as Earthtones angle for first playoff berth since 2002 in franchise’s biggest game in years.