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NFL against-the-spread picks: Bills' disappointing season continues at Buccaneers

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There have been a lot of excuses made for the Buffalo Bills this week. Many are valid.

They lost Monday night in a windstorm. It was miserable. Neither team could really function on offense. The Bills still had their shots to win. You can cite a half-dozen or more plays that could have flipped a loss into a big win over the New England Patriots. If any of those plays came through, we'd be talking about how the Bills are AFC East favorites. All that is true.

Yet, the Bills didn't make those plays. They have rarely made those plays this season when it mattered, at least against good teams. They're a 7-5 team that isn't even a lock to make the playoffs. That's the reality. For some reason, everyone wants to excuse the Bills for what is, to this moment, a disappointing season. The Bills have rarely looked like the Super Bowl contenders we thought they would be. Blowing out the Houston Texans or New York Jets shouldn't impress anyone too much.

That's why the line for Sunday's game is a little odd. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers were 3-point favorites most of the week, and that has gone to 3.5 at BetMGM. That seems low. The Buccaneers have been at least 6-point favorites in 9-of-12 games this season. As Super Bowl champs, they've been overvalued a bit. But the disappointing Bills come to town and the spread is barely a field goal.

The Buccaneers have been very good this season. When they're reasonably healthy, they look like a team that can repeat. Tampa Bay is still chasing the No. 1 seed in the NFC, so this is a big game for them too. I can't come up with a good reason to take the Bills, so the Bucs are the pick. Until we see the Bills start to play at their peak, there's no reason to keep giving them a pass. And by this point in the season, it's unlikely we see that Bills team emerge.

Josh Allen and the Bills aren't a playoff lock at 7-5. (Photo by Bryan M. Bennett/Getty Images)
Josh Allen and the Bills aren't a playoff lock at 7-5. (Photo by Bryan M. Bennett/Getty Images)

Here are the picks for Week 14, with point spreads from BetMGM:

Steelers (+3.5) over Vikings

It'll be close, and I'm happy to get a tick more than a field goal with a scrappy Pittsburgh team. (VIKINGS WON 36-28 THURSDAY)

Ravens (+2.5) over Browns

I'm not saying the Browns can't win, but I don't really get why they're favored. Sure, the Ravens have their issues. Here's who else has some issues: Cleveland.

Jaguars (+9) over Titans

I don't like taking the Jaguars, who rarely play competitive football. But the Titans offense just isn't going to score a ton, even if Julio Jones is back.

Chiefs (-8.5) over Raiders

The one time the Chiefs offense has looked great this season was against the Raiders. It's just a bad matchup for Las Vegas, and I'm not sure their adjustments for the rematch will change the outcome all that much.

Saints (-5.5) over Jets

The Saints don't have a lot on offense. But they do have a good defense and Taysom Hill can move the chains running it. Over the last few weeks of this season you'll see a lot of awful performances by the worst teams in the NFL, and the Jets are in that group.

Cowboys (-4) over Washington

I'd like to back the underdog here but I can't bring myself to do it. Washington's defense has played better, but I don't really understand how that happened without Chase Young. Now Montez Sweat, their other pass-rushing end, is out due to COVID-19. I assume Dallas wins here.

Falcons (+2.5) over Panthers

I don't think the Panthers firing offensive coordinator Joe Brady randomly on a Sunday morning of the bye week will fix anything. What is going on in Carolina, anyway?

Seahawks (-7.5) over Texans

I'll be picking more favorites than I'd like over the rest of the regular season, because the NFL's truly bad teams aren't going to cover many spreads. We saw that last week when many of the NFL's worst teams (other than the Lions) got blown out and didn't come close to covering. It's not like I think this is the week we'll see an inspired effort from Houston.

Broncos (-8) over Lions

The Lions have played hard most of the season and I don't like laying a big number against them. It's not like the Broncos are great. But there has to be an emotional letdown. The Lions finally got their win last week, and that was their Super Bowl. What's the motivation now?

Chargers (-10) over Giants

I worry about this one, because the Chargers find ways to screw things up. But this is a Giants team that will be quarterbacked by Mike Glennon off a concussion or Jake Fromm, who was signed off Buffalo's practice squad last week. How is anyone supposed to take New York?

Bengals (+1) over 49ers

Good game and a tough line to figure out. Joe Burrow's effectiveness after injuring his right pinkie last week is a concern. So is the 49ers' offense if it's without Eli Mitchell and Deebo Samuel. I'll take the Bengals for now, assuming the 49ers won't be at full strength.

Bears (+12.5) over Packers

Why is this game still on Sunday night? Ugh. I don't feel great taking the underdog here, but it's a lot of points in a prime-time rivalry game.

Cardinals (-2.5) over Rams

The Cardinals are legit. We have to wrap our heads around that. Also, I want to see the Rams play their best against a good opponent, because it has been a while.

Last week: 7-7
Season to date: 102-91-1