N.F.L. Picks Week 14: N.F.C. Offers a Playoff Preview

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It should be a wild week in the N.F.L.’s National Football Conference: Six of the conference’s top seven teams will be facing one another in three games. Few playoff clinchings are on the table, but with a glut at the top of the standings, the week will serve as a preview of what the N.F.C. playoffs may look like. Here are our picks against the spread.

Last week’s record against the spread: 9-7

Overall record: 96-90-6

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Top-Tier Games

Vikings at Panthers, 1 p.m., CBS

Line: Vikings by 2.5

The Vikings (10-2) have a greater than 99 percent chance of making the playoffs, according to The Upshot’s playoff simulator, and faith in them is high: This weekend, they are road favorites against one of the league’s 10 best teams. The defense has continued to punish opponents, Case Keenum has continued to lead a surprisingly efficient offense and last season’s collapse is a distant memory.

Currently in the top spot in the N.F.C. playoff standings by way of a tiebreaker with Philadelphia (and on the verge of an N.F.C. North title, which they would clinch with a win or a tie), the Vikings could become the first team to have home-field advantage throughout the playoffs and then play at home in the Super Bowl.

Coach Mike Zimmer is not ready to make plans that far ahead.

“We’ve got four games left,” he told reporters. “My only thoughts are on the Carolina Panthers and trying to get a win this week. All that stuff is nice to talk about, but for us, we’ll go about our business.”

Source: The New York Times