Greg Cote

Greg Cote’s Week 14 NFL picks

Dolphins legends Bob Griese, coach Don Shula and Dan Marino will be honored as part of the franchise’s 50th anniversary celebrations during a game against the Giants on Monday, Dec. 14, 2015.
Dolphins legends Bob Griese, coach Don Shula and Dan Marino will be honored as part of the franchise’s 50th anniversary celebrations during a game against the Giants on Monday, Dec. 14, 2015. adiaz@miamiherald.com

We came up with matching 9-7s last week, which is only so-so straight-up but a bit better against the spread. Misfired badly on our Upset of the Week call with Chargers over Broncos, but rebounded with a trio of ’dogs-with-points as Ravens, Saints and Cowboys all beat the betting line. Now we begin the home stretch. With four weeks left our focus is to finish above .500 ATS — our version of making the playoffs. (Note: Results below do not include Thursday night game. Pick was Cardinals (minus-7) over Vikings, 30-20.)

Cote’s record

Overall

Pct.

Vs. spread

Pct.

Last week

9-7

.563

9-7

.563

Season

118-74

.615

89-95-8

.484

Final 2014

167-88-1

.655

129-125-2

.508

Dolphins this week

GIANTS (5-7) at DOLPHINS (5-7)

Line: NYG by 1 1/2.

Cote’s pick: MIA 27-23.

TV: 8:30 p.m. Monday, ESPN (airing in South Florida).

Monday night should see an emotional, big-event atmosphere worthy of the prime-time stage in Miami despite both teams’ mediocrity — the Dolphins with a negligible playoff shot, the Giants more so only because they’re lucky to be in the stinky NFC East. The Fins will culminate the franchise’s 50th anniversary celebration by introducing its 50 all-time greatest players at halftime. (That’s a lot of ceremony in a short period of time. Some of those old-timers are gonna be moving faster than they have in years.) Adding to the “event” feel: Giants haven’t played here since 1996. The anniversary festivities should make for an electric crowd and accentuated home-field edge, even as the occasion reminds forlorn Dolfans that the good ol’ days are getting older all the time as the modern-day Fins slog to a seventh consecutive season out of the playoffs. I see the current Dolphins rising to the occasion, especially Ryan Tannehill against what might be the NFL’s worst pass defense. Odell Beckham is more celebrated than his former college teammate Jarvis Landry, but Landry could put up Beckham-esque numbers as Tom Coughlin’s grip on his Biggies future continues to loosen. Upset! Sort of.

Game of the week and Upset of the week

STEELERS (7-5) at BENGALS (10-2)

Line: CIN by 3.

Cote’s pick: PIT 31-27.

TV: 1 p.m., CBS (airing in South Florida).

“AAWWK!” carols the Upset Bird, tipsy from an early beak-dip into the spiked eggnog. “Pittsbaaawwwk!” A delicious division grudge match between rivals who genuinely dislike each other. Also tasty for the duel of Cincy’s big-time defense vs. a Pitt offense as potent as any in the league when Big Ben Roethlisberger has it popping on all cylinders. Steelers’ four consecutive games with 450-plus yards of offense ties an NFL mark. Bengals clinch division title with a win, but the game is more important to playoff-chasing Steelers. Cincy last swept Pitt in 2009 but has since lost eight of 11. Also, ’Gals astonishingly have won only five of past 25 home games vs. this rival. “Home is where the hurt is,” notes U-Bird. “Pass me more eggnog, please. Eggnaawwk!”

Dog of the week

49ERS (4-8) at BROWNS (2-10)

Line: CLE by 1 1/2.

Cote’s pick: CLE 20-17.

TV: 1 p.m., Fox.

It’s Johnny Manziel vs. Blaine Gabbert in a clash of QBs fighting to stay relevant and not flame out of football entirely. Easy choice for the Dog panel, with Browns already eliminated from the playoff hunt and angling for the No. 1 overall draft pick, and Niners’ playoff shot all but flat-lining. Frans are better, especially lately, but I’m rolling dice on a bit of Manziel magic.

BILLS (6-6) at EAGLES (5-7)

Line: BUF by 1 1/2.

Cote’s pick: BUF 24-20.

TV: 1 p.m., CBS.

LeSean McCoy makes first return to Philly since his trade to Buffalo, making clear his continuing animus toward coach Chip Kelly. Birds’ DeMarco Murray can relate; he doesn’t much like Kelly, either. This is a a very big game in playoff chase, with both on the periphery. Watch Rex Ryan run McCoy down the throat of a 27th-ranked Philly run D.

LIONS (4-8) at RAMS (4-8)

Line: Even.

Cote’s pick: DET 19-17.

TV: 1 p.m., Fox.

It’s the Sad Bowl as two teams play out the string and a pair of beleaguered coaches fight for their jobs. St. Lose has dropped five in a row but gets a boost with Case Keenum back in at QB for awful Nick Foles. Mistake-prone Lions have habit of giving away games but Matthew Stafford has been pretty good lately.

SAINTS (4-8) at BUCCANEERS (6-6)

Line: TB by 4.

Cote’s pick: TB 27-24.

TV: 1 p.m., Fox.

Hard to fathom a Drew Brees-led team facing its first five-game losing streak since 2005. Also hard to fathom the lowly Bucs being in playoff contention. Well, old habits die hard, but sometimes die they must. Jameis Winston should stay hot against a N’Awlins pass D that has allowed 35 TD passes and should break the dubious season mark of 40 set by Denver in 1963.

TITANS (3-9) at JETS (7-5)

Line: NYJ by 7.

Cote’s pick: NYJ 23-13.

TV: 1 p.m., CBS.

Planes need a win to feather their playoff hopes and should get it at home, even if CB Darrelle Revis sits out again with a concussion. NYJ’s pass rush should dominate Tenners’ blocking front and present an afternoon of headaches for rookie QB Marcus Mariota.

COLTS (6-6) at JAGUARS (4-8)

Line: Off.

Cote’s pick: IND 24-21.

TV: 1 p.m., CBS.

Game was off our betting board because, with Indy’s Andrew Luck still sidelined, a rib injury also pout Matt Hasselbeck’s status in doubt. Now it appears the ancient one (4-1 subbing for Luck) will be ready. Colts can ill afford an upset loss. This game poses a major risk, but Nags have won six in row in this series including three in a row in Jax by a combined 108-30.

CHARGERS (3-9) at CHIEFS (7-5)

Line: KC by 10.

Cote’s pick: KC 24-20.

TV: 1 p.m., CBS.

Talk about opposite directions. KC has won six in a row to blast into strong playoff shape, while SD has dropped seven of past eight to waste a nice year by Philip Rivers. Chiefs spanked Bolts 33-3 in November and could dominate again with Rivers’ protection in shambles. But give me double-digit points in a division rivalry. Alex Smith’s no-interception streak of 305 passes ends.

REDSKINS (5-7) at BEARS (5-7)

Line: CHI by 3.

Cote’s pick: CHI 26-21.

TV: 1 p.m., Fox.

The Soldier has been no safe haven; Chicago is 1-5 at home. But Washington is worse on the road. Redskins have lost nine in a row away, including 0-5 this season, and are 1-12 traveling under coach Jay Gruden. Skins’ still-decent playoff chances take a big hit.

FALCONS (6-6) at PANTHERS (12-0)

Line: CAR by 7 1/2.

Cote’s pick: CAR 27-23.

TV: 1 p.m., Fox (airing in South Florida).

No pressure or anything, Cats, but of eight previous teams to start 12-0 in the Super Bowl era, six reached the SB and four won it. This game will show Carolina’s resolve (or lack of) to stay unbeaten. That’s because Panthers already have clinched playoffs, while Falcons are trying desperately to avoid historic ignominy. Since the 1970 merger, 66 of 72 teams that started 5-0 made the playoffs, but Atlanta is at risk of joining the dubious exceptions. Hunch Birds stay close.

SEAHAWKS (7-5) at RAVENS (4-8)

Line: SEA by 8 1/2.

Cote’s pick: SEA 30-17.

TV: 1 p.m., Fox.

Russell Wilson has been as good as any QB around the past three games with 11 TDs, zero picks and near-perfect 148.2 rating to haul the Hawks back into playoff likelihood. On the other sideline, it looked like the Ravens might be down to third-stringer Jimmy Clausen to face a still-really-good Seattle defense. That puts Clausen in a real pickle. Sorry.

RAIDERS (5-7) at BRONCOS (10-2)

Line: DEN by 7.

Cote’s pick: DEN 24-16.

TV: 4:05 p.m., CBS.

Denver can clinch a playoff berth here and should. One thing we have learned is that, whether it’s a struggling Peyton Manning or sub Brock Osweiler taking snaps, the Broncos’ defense is really good. Denver has won eight in a row in this series, including the past three at a home by a combined 121-41. This one’s closer.

COWBOYS (4-8) at PACKERS (8-4)

Line: GB by 7.

Cote’s pick: GB 31-16.

TV: 4:25 p.m., Fox (airing in South Florida).

Green Bay uncharacteristically has lost two in a row at Lambeau, but it’s hard to image a third — not with Tony Romo’s absence emasculating the Cowboys. Also uncharacteristically, Aaron Rodgers has gone six consecutive games without topping a 100 passer rating. That ends, too. Pack beat ’Boys in a playoff thriller last year 26-21. This won’t be as competitive.

PATRIOTS (10-2) at TEXANS (6-6)

Line: NE by 3.

Cote’s pick: NE 24-20.

TV: 8:30 p.m., NBC (airing in South Florida).

Patriots, who can clinch a playoff spot here, have lost two in a row. Do you imagine them losing three in a row for first time since 2002? Neither can I. A surprisingly interesting prime-time matchup, though, now that Houston has climbed into playoff contention, and with Texans coach Bill O’Brien a Bill Belichick protégé. Rob Gronkowski’s iffy status further casts the outcome in doubt. Again, though: Tom Brady losing three in a row? Nope.

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