NFL weekly contest picks: Who's bold enough to fade Tom Brady and Bill Belichick?

I’m in a NFL contest submitting five ATS picks each week. Through 13 weeks, those picks are officially a stinker at 31-34. Picking a single winner can be tough, much less picking five but it has been a good challenge. The lines are set spreads released each Wednesday and selections are submitted Friday night.

In an effort to bounce back, I’m going with the “keep it simple” approach. A good friend often says, “Think long, think wrong.” So I’m doing very little thinking and looking for teams with momentum, and either a strong defense or strong offense. Here are the five ATS contest picks for Week 14 in the NFL.

Detroit Lions -2.5 vs. Minnesota Vikings

The Lions offense is humming! Head coach Dan Campbell has been at the center of Detroit’s evolution. You can see my full reasoning for backing the Lions this week here:

New York Giants +7 vs. Philadelphia Eagles

When I fade the Eagles, bad things happen. However, I’m not backing down. This is still a divisional game with the home underdog catching a full touchdown. The Giants may not have the same talent and skill sets as Philly, but they do have loads of fight and coach Brian Daboll continues to exceed expectations. You can look at the Eagles against the Titans and see that Philly’s defense stopped RB Derrick Henry, holding him to 30 rushing yards. What I see is that perhaps Henry is not 100%, or perhaps he is wearing down. It was Henry’s fourth straight game rushing for under 100 yards, and his third game in his last four under 53 yards. Giants RB Saquon Barkley and QB Daniel Jones are healthy and will test the Eagles' rush defense that allowed Colts RB Jonathan Taylor 84 rushing yards and Texans RB Dameon Pierce 139 in its last two road games.

Dallas Cowboys -16.5 vs. Houston Texans

The Cowboys lead in defense DVOA. Dallas has LB Micah Parsons, third in the league in sacks, and CBs Trevon Diggs and DaRon Bland, who are top 10 in the league in interceptions. Dallas has held four opponents to 10 points or less. How does Houston keep up against a Cowboys offense that is third in the league in offensive plays of 20-plus yards, leads the league in points per drive and has converted 20 of 23 red-zone trips. The Texans have only Pierce as an offensive weapon, but you can’t bring a knife to gunfight when the Cowboys' defense is packing heat.

San Francisco 49ers -3.5 vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

I really like the under in this game, which could also lend to the 49ers finding a cover. San Francisco is the No. 1 defense in the NFL. Between Fred Warner, Nick Bosa and Jimmie Ward, there’s a solid chance that old man Tom Brady will get eaten alive, having been sacked four times in his last two games.

Brady also has thrown two interceptions in his last three, while averaging 5.7 yards per attempt or fewer in three of his last four. With the Bucs ranked dead last in rushing yards, the offense is one-dimensional and can be predictable.

Cardinals +1.5 vs. New England Patriots

Arizona is coming off a bye and could see a couple of playmakers back in the lineup. The Cardinals have not played a single game this season with WRs DeAndre Hopkins, Marquise Brown and Rondale Moore on the field at the same time. If all three are in action (Hopkins and Moore are questionable), then we could finally see what a healthy Cardinals offense looks like. The Patriots are typically known for having a solid defense but in recent weeks they allowed 355 total yards to the Bills and another 358 to the Vikings, while giving up an average of 28.5 points per game in those contests. New England is susceptible and the Cardinals could be getting healthy.