NFL Week 14 Best Bets

We’re onto Week 14 of the NFL season, and I’m back with my weekly article covering my favorite bets on the board. This week features a ton of divisional action, which is always interesting as we get teams highly familiar with each other. We have you covered with content across our website and YouTube channel including player props and spread picks for every NFL game. You can also follow me on Twitter at @wayne_sports_ to see the latest plays I’m making. Let’s get to work.

NFL YTD: 113-91.5-2 (55.3%)

*Betting trends from Action Labs

Minnesota Vikings at Detroit Lions

At first glance, a 5-7 team being favored over a 10-2 team would raise some eyebrows. However, a team’s win-loss record never tells the full story, and the Lions’ current 5-0 ATS streak has forced the sportsbooks to make significant adjustments to their power rating.

The Lions have an elite offense. They rank top ten in DVOA, EPA, and success rate, despite Amon-Ra St. Brown, D’Andre Swift, and D.J. Chark all dealing with injuries throughout the year. All three are healthy now, and rookie Jameson Williams is ready to make a big impact to finish the season.

Detroit’s defense was historically bad to start the season. However, it’s come a long way. Since Week 8, when the team fired defensive backs coach Aubrey Pleasant, they rank tenth in passing EPA allowed. They’ve been significantly better than the Vikings over that span, as Minnesota ranks 21st in passing EPA allowed.

Over the last five games, Detroit ranks third in pass defense DVOA despite facing a solid set of opposing passers in Aaron Rodgers, Josh Allen, Justin Fields, Trevor Lawrence, and Daniel Jones. They’ve held opponents to a 57.4% completion rate, the lowest in the league over that span.

The Lions also profile as a difficult opponent for Kirk Cousins as they run man coverage at the fifth-highest rate per PFF. Cousins experiences a significant drop-off against man coverage, most notably as his completion percentage drops from the sixth-best in the league against zone to the second-worst per PFF.

Cousins also struggles against the blitz, and the Lions blitz at the sixth-highest rate. Cousins ranks 34th in both PFF passing grade and passer rating against the blitz, which is in the same realm as Baker Mayfield and Matt Ryan. Both left tackle Christian Darrisaw and center Garrett Bradbury are dealing with injuries, making matters worse against the blitz.

Of course, single man coverage against Justin Jefferson is rarely a recipe for success as he’s perhaps the best wide receiver in the NFL. However, the Lions were able to hold him to just three catches for 14 yards in their first matchup this year, and that was before their defense started to turn a corner. They’ll force Cousins to look for other options with constant pressure and double teams on Jefferson.

Meanwhile, Jared Goff has been an excellent quarterback at home this season. His stats across the board are better at home, but it’s most punctuated by his 6.8% touchdown rate at home that falls to 1.3% on the road. The Vikings rank 24th in pass defense DVOA and are allowing the most yards per pass, so Goff should have a ton of success in this matchup.

Over the past five weeks, Goff has completed 66.7% of his passes and is averaging 7.2 yards per attempt while throwing seven touchdowns to one pick. It’s not coincidental that’s the same span that Amon-Ra St. Brown has returned to health, and the Sun God has made the Lions the second-best passing offense by EPA per attempt when he’s on the field.

After T.J. Hockenson was traded from the Lions to the Vikings, he expressed his excitement saying, “it’s the first time I can go somewhere and win games.” Since that trade, both of these teams are 4-1 straight up. Over that span, the Vikings have a -19 point differential while the Lions are at +43.

Frankly, even without considering all of the stats above, the line in this game paints a picture. Vegas doesn’t make mistakes. There’s a reason the Lions are favored here, and it’s not just their homefield advantage – they’ve been a better team than the Vikings over the past month plus. I expect that to continue this week.

Key Betting Trends

  • Kirk Cousins is 3-9-1 ATS in road games with a spread between -3 and +3 since 2018 – he’s the second-least profitable QB over that span
  • The Vikings haven’t lost as a favorite since December 5, 2021 against the Lions
  • The Lions are 4-0 ATS in their last four games against the Vikings
  • Jared Goff is 25-13 ATS in the 1 PM EST window or earlier and 5-0 ATS this season

Best Bet: Lions -2 (play to -2.5)

Jacksonville Jaguars at Tennessee Titans

I have to start this with a massive caveat – I’m not making a play on this game if Trevor Lawrence is out. The Jaguars quarterback took a scary looking hit last week against the Lions, but he returned to the game. It’s being described as a toe injury, and he’s listed as questionable after logging a limited practice on Friday.

If Lawrence plays, he is in line for a ton of success against this Tennessee defense. Mike Vrabel is an excellent defensive coach, but there’s only so much he can accomplish with the skeleton crew this team is trotting out in the secondary. Injuries to Elijah Molden, Caleb Farley, and Kristian Fulton have destroyed the depth chart at cornerback.

https://twitter.com/FTBeard7/status/1599467544137850880

Previously, Tennessee would have been able to overcome that with consistent pressure upfront. However, Harold Landry is on Injured Reserve, Denico Autry has been ruled out, and Jeffery Simmons has been limited by an ankle injury for weeks. After a whopping 40 pressures against the Broncos, the Titans have generated a combined 37 pressures over their last three games.

As a result, the Titans rank 28th in pass defense EPA over their last three games. They’ve allowed 7.4 yards per pass attempt over that span, which would rank third-worst in the NFL over the course of the full season. Trevor Lawrence has seen his share of ups and downs this year, but he ranks 14th in EPA+CPOE composite and should have success in this game.

The Jaguars’ pass defense hasn’t been a whole lot better. They rank 31st in DVOA, 26th in success rate, and 29th in EPA against the pass this season. However, unlike Lawrence who has Christian Kirk and Zay Jones consistently making plays, this Titans’ receiving corps is severely lacking.

Treylon Burks would have been in a great position to take advantage of this matchup, he’ll miss this game with a concussion. With Robert Woods and Nick Westbrook-Ikhine as his top wideouts, it’s tough to trust Ryan Tannehill to have a big game, despite how efficient he’s been all season.

The bigger concern for Tennessee, however, is the lack of productivity from Derrick Henry. Behind an offensive line that has helped him generate just 0.63 yards before contact per attempt, Henry has averaged just 2.7 YPC over the last month. Defenses are stacking the box consistently without facing significant repercussions.

The Jaguars’ defense has been significantly better against the run than the pass. They’ve above-average in DVOA, success rate, and EPA against the run while ranking seventh in YPC allowed. Derrick Henry will likely slog to another inefficient game on the ground, particularly since the Jaguars won’t shy away from stacking the box.

Along with all of the strong trends that back divisional underdogs and underdogs of over a field goal with a low total, the Jaguars are in a great position here. I’ll also be looking to make plays on Trevor Lawrence’s passing props, assuming he’s able to play, as he should have his way with this Tennessee pass defense.

Key Betting Trends

  • Trevor Lawrence is 1-12 SU and 3-10 ATS on the road in his NFL career
  • The Jaguars are 5-15 ATS in their last 20 games
  • Mike Vrabel is 5-1 SU and 4-2 ATS against the Jaguars
  • The Titans are 11-2 SU and 9-3-1 ATS in their last 13 games coming off a loss by double digits under Mike Vrabel

Best Bet: Jaguars +4 (play to +3.5)

Kansas City Chiefs at Denver Broncos

A few weeks ago, I never thought I’d feel comfortable recommending a play on these Broncos for the remainder of the season. However, we’ve arrived at a point where I believe they’re a value in the market. Despite the offense being completely anemic, the Broncos have only lost by more than nine points once all season.

There’s also some reason for optimism in regards to the offense. The injuries to Courtland Sutton and K.J. Hamler aren’t ideal, but Jerry Jeudy will return to the lineup this week and Greg Dulcich is emerging as a reliable target for Russell Wilson with huge potential moving forward.

Wilson’s play overall has been trending up lately. Klint Kubiak took over play-calling duties from Nathaniel Hackett, and in the three weeks since, Wilson ranks 17th in EPA and 3rd in completion percentage over expected among 39 qualified passers. That’s a significant improvement from where he was earlier in the season.

Last week, Wilson completed 77.3% of his passes, averaged 8.6 yards per attempt, and had three big-time throws to no turnover-worthy plays against a stout Ravens’ defense. It didn’t translate on the scoreboard, but if he keeps playing like that, we might see the Broncos crack 20 points in a game for the third time all season in the near future.

The Kansas City defense simply hasn’t been great this season. Despite facing the seventh-easiest schedule by DVOA, they rank 25th in overall defensive DVOA and 26th against the pass. They are below-average in several metrics across the board, and this is actually the easiest matchup the Broncos offense has had in weeks.

Meanwhile, Denver’s defense remains excellent. Despite the offense doing it no favors in terms of field position or time of possession, the Broncos rank second in scoring defense, second in success rate, fourth in EPA, and second in overall yards per play allowed. It’s difficult to envision Patrick Mahomes having a monstrous performance given the matchup.

https://twitter.com/BroncoCountryCP/status/1599494210171772928

Mahomes has been excellent this season, but he’s doing it under less than ideal circumstances. Travis Kelce has been a monster all year, but the Broncos have held him under 35 receiving yards in three of their last four meetings, and Kansas City doesn’t have consistently great skill position talent outside of him.

The Broncos are much more vulnerable against the run than the pass – they rank fourth in pass defense DVOA and 17th in rush defense DVOA. However, the Chiefs employing more of a run-heavy approach would be a boost to Denver’s ability to cover as it’s difficult to envision Isiah Pacheco and Jerick McKinnon leading a massive offensive performance.

The Chiefs are also heading to the altitude in Denver on the second leg of a three-game road trip. Kansas City is a heavy public side, taking about 80% of the tickets at DraftKings at the moment, making this even more appealing. Let’s plug our noses and back the home divisional underdog in a game with a low total.

Key Betting Trends

  • Patrick Mahomes is 24-3 SU and 14-12-1 ATS against the AFC West
  • Patrick Mahomes is just 1-6 ATS as a 7+ point favorite on the road
  • Russell Wilson is 5-0 ATS in his career as a 7+ point underdog
  • Underdogs of 7+ points in December or later hit at a 55.6% rate, good for a 6.6% ROI

Best Bet: Broncos +9.5 (play to +7.5)

Carolina Panthers at Seattle Seahawks

Don’t look now, but the Panthers are playing really good football. Since Steve Wilks became the interim head coach, they rank 11th in defensive EPA. Carolina’s season-long advanced metrics aren’t elite on defense, but that doesn’t tell the whole story as they’ve held their last three opponents to an average of 12.6 points.

Cornerback Jaycee Horn’s return to full health has been pivotal for the defense. On 361 coverage snaps, he’s allowed just 17 catches for 138 yards on a 53.1% completion rate. He’s also allowed just a 38.3 passer rating, which is the lowest in the league among all corners who have played 300+ coverage snaps.

https://twitter.com/PFF/status/1590891784682479616

Horn will likely be matched up with D.K. Metcalf quite often in this game, and that will present problems for Seattle. Metcalf is pivotal to what the Seahawks do on offense with 70+ receiving yards in each of his last three games, but this is among the tougher matchups he’s faced all season. He’s working through a hip injury, as well, and this likely won’t be one of his best games of the year.

The Seahawks have been one of the most explosive offenses in the NFL this season, and Geno Smith has been particularly excellent with downfield passing. He leads the league in PFF grade on throws 20+ yards downfield with an absurd 47.1% big-time throw rate on such throws. Only one other passer has over a 35% rate this year.

While Smith deserves credit for that downfield passing, the Seahawks have often been overly reliant on the big play to generate consistent offense. Smith is likely due for some regression in that regard as that level of play is generally unsustainable. The Panthers are allowing just 7.6 yards per completion over their past three games, the lowest rate in the NFL over that span.

It won’t help matters that Seattle is likely to have a limited run game this week. Rashaad Penny is on IR while Kenneth Walker, Deejay Dallas, and Travis Homer are all dealing with injuries. Seattle has averaged just 64.7 rushing yards per game over the past three weeks, and it’s no coincidence that they’ve gone 0-3 ATS over that span.

The Carolina offense isn’t breaking any records, but their performance prior to the bye week against the Broncos is nothing to sneeze at. Sam Darnold finished with an 82 PFF passing grade and has two big-time throws to no turnover-worthy plays against one of the best pass defenses in the NFL. He also finished with a passer rating of 103.8.

Of course, the primary focus of the Panthers’ offense is getting the ground game going, and they’ll be able to do that this week. Seattle allows the fifth-most yards per carry and they rank below-average in DVOA and EPA against the run. D’Onta Foreman has 100+ rushing yards in five of his last seven games, and he should be in for a big game.

Seattle’s start to the season was awe-inspiring, and their coaching staff deserves a ton of credit for turning this team nobody believed in into a clear playoff roster. However, they’ve become overinflated in the market due to some unsustainable results, and they’re a team to continue fading down the stretch. The Panthers have key matchup advantages, and coming off their bye week, they’re a great ATS bet.

Key Betting Trends

  • Sam Darnold is just 19-30-1 ATS since 2018 and 2-7 ATS in his last 8 starts
  • The Panthers are the third-worst road team since October 2019 with a 6-21 SU record
  • Geno Smith is on a three-game ATS losing streak, his first since 2014
  • Geno Smith is 11-6 ATS in his 17 starts since 2016

Best Bet: Panthers +4.5 (play to +3.5)

Six-Point Teaser of the Week

Ravens +8:

When we recorded our Sunday Slate video for this week, I joked that the Ravens vs. Steelers game was a redux of the service academy matchup between Army and Navy. There’s some truth to that statement, though, as this game has one of the lowest over-under totals on the entire week.

Baltimore’s defense has been on an obvious upward trajectory, particularly since trading for Roquan Smith. The former Bears linebacker is coming off his highest-graded game by PFF of the season, and he’s especially been a force in the run game. The Ravens now rank sixth in run defense DVOA.

Against the Ravens’ elite run defense, the Steelers will be forced to throw more, and there are still concerns about Kenny Pickett against an elite defense. Pickett is ranked 33rd in PFF’s passing grades from a clean pocket, and he has a hard time picking apart defenses when they are sitting back and not bringing extra pressure. Baltimore ranks just 26th in pressure rate but 11th in pass defense DVOA.

The Ravens’ offense was underwhelming before the Lamar Jackson injury, and they’ll be highly limited with Tyler Huntley throwing to this mash unit of receivers. However, Huntley was 41st among 42 qualified passers in rate of passes thrown 10+ yards downfield last season, and he won’t be asked to put the ball in harm’s way here.

The combination of one of the lowest over-under totals of the season and a heated divisional rivalry make this game ripe for a teaser. The last four games between these teams have been decided by an average of just 3.2 points per game, and just one of their last seven matchups have been decided by over a touchdown in either direction.

Key Betting Trends – Ravens vs. Steelers

  • Non-Lamar Jackson quarterbacks are 6-10 SU/ATS since Jackson made his first start in 2018
  • Mike Tomlin is 2-5-1 ATS in his last eight home games against the Ravens
  • Steelers have beaten the Ravens four times in a row straight up

Buccaneers +9.5:

The second leg of our two-team teaser will be the Buccaneers teased up to 9.5 points. It’s hard to believe we’ve reached a point where Tom Brady is a 3.5-point underdog against Brock Purdy, particularly if you are familiar with Purdy’s body of work from Iowa State. Let’s just say there’s a reason he was Mr. Irrelevant, the last pick in the draft.

While Kyle Shanahan will likely be able to figure it out over the next several weeks with Purdy, this isn’t an easy matchup. The Dolphins’ injured secondary provided some opportunities for Purdy to find success, but Tampa Bay ranks 8th in pass defense DVOA and fifth in yards per pass allowed.

The Buccaneers’ offense has been dreadful, particularly on the ground. They rank just 30th in rushing offense DVOA, and as a result of their one-dimensional approach, they rank sixth-worst in scoring offense with 18.1 points per game. However, we can rely on Tom Brady to take care of the football and not give the 49ers opportunities for defensive scores. He’s also still capable of moments of brilliance.

The Niners’ big advantage is their pass rush, which ranks ninth in pressure rate, against the Buccaneers’ banged up offensive line. However, Tom Brady has been under fire all season, and he gets rid of the ball in 2.29 seconds, the fastest rate among qualified passers. It isn’t always pretty, but it won’t be anything new for Brady here.

Similar to the Ravens teaser leg, the low total in this game presents great value for the Bucs on a teaser. With only 37 points projected here, it’s unlikely the 49ers win by 10+ points. This game is probably closer to a coin flip, so getting the extra cushion with Tom Brady against the inexperienced Purdy makes for strong value.

Key Betting Trends – Buccaneers vs. 49ers

  • Tom Brady is 7-2 SU/ATS in Pacific Standard Time over the last 20 years
  • Kyle Shanahan is 16-22 ATS in non-Jimmy Garoppolo starts
  • Kyle Shanahan is 22-28-1 ATS as a favorite since 2017 (ninth-worst)

*Betting trends from Action Labs

Totals

Let’s talk about some trends this season. Unders have hit at a 107-86-2 clip, good for a 55% rate. If you blindly put one unit on every under this season, you’d be up about 19 units. Unders have hit this season at the second-highest rate in a year since 1986.

Let’s take it one step further. Divisional unders have gone 36-22-1 this season, good for a 62% rate. Unders are especially profitable in divisional games due to the increased level of familiarity. As we get later into the year and weather becomes more of a factor, that becomes even more true. Let’s find some unders to bet on.

Jets vs. Bills Under 43.5:

When these teams met earlier this season, the Jets secured a surprising upset win over the Bills with a final score of 20-17. Whether or not they can pull off the same result, this time on the road without the element of surprise, remains to be seen. However, the under looks like a strong bet here nonetheless.

The weather looks delightful in Orchard Park this weekend – for a low-scoring football game, that is. With a forecasted high of 39 degrees, 80% chance of rain, and 11 mph winds, the weather should support more of a run-heavy approach from both teams.

The Bills’ defense went through a rough stretch due to a number of injuries, but Tre’Davious White is back in the lineup alongside Jordan Poyer, helping their secondary return to its previously elite state. While Von Miller is out for the year, Gregory Rousseau and Shaq Lawson combined for seven pressures against the Patriots last week.

Meanwhile, the Jets might have the best defense in the NFL. They allow just 26.6 yards per drive, the fewest in the NFL, and they get pressure at the sixth-highest rate while blitzing at the second-lowest rate. That’s especially problematic for the Bills with multiple injuries along the offensive line.

What’s more? The under is 8-2 in the Bills’ last ten games. While their defense has gone through that slew of injuries, sportsbooks have overinflated the total line in their games. I wouldn’t argue that the total is overinflated here, but you’re still looking at two top-end defenses in an outdoor divisional game with poor weather expected.

Eagles vs. Giants Under 45:

Many of the same reasons to like the under in the Jets Bills game apply here. For starters, the same weather that is hitting Buffalo is expected to hit New Jersey. The East Rutherford forecast calls for an 80% chance of rain and 8 mph winds. While that’s not a torrential downpour, it’s something to take into consideration.

The Eagles’ defense is likely a tad overrated. While they rank sixth in overall DVOA and second in pass defense DVOA, they have faced the second-easiest schedule of opposing offenses. However, this is another easy game on their schedule. The Giants’ lack of consistent skill position players has begun to catch up with them.

The cornerback tandem of Darius Slay and James Bradberry will be too much for Daniel Jones with that lack of skill position talent. You also have to imagine Bradberry will be fired up for this particular game after he was released by the Giants.

New York was already at a talent disadvantage in terms of playmakers, but injuries to Sterling Shepard, Wan’Dale Robinson, and Collin Johnson, along with the trade of Kadarius Toney, have left their wide receiver room barren. Additionally, Saquon Barkley is listed as questionable with a neck injury.

The Barkley injury would be especially problematic due to the structure of the Eagles defense. They’re a run funnel unit that ranks second in DVOA against the pass and 23rd against the run. However, if Barkley is limited or out, the Giants won’t be able to take advantage of that weakness, particularly behind their overmatched offensive line.

The Eagles have an outstanding offense, but they’ve averaged five fewer points per game on the road this year. When they traveled to face the Giants last season, they lost 13-7 as Jalen Hurts completed under 50% of his passes and threw three interceptions. He’s a far more evolved passer at this point, but it’s still a tough environment for the Eagles passer.

The Giants have also been the most profitable under team in the NFL over the last three years. Since 2020, the under is 32-12-1 in Giants games, making them the most profitable team to the under with a 73% hit rate.

Browns vs. Bengals Under 46.5:

Joe Burrow’s struggles against the Browns are peculiar. It’s not as though the Browns have an elite lockdown defense. In fact, it’s quite the contrary – they rank sixth-worst in scoring defense, allowing 25 points per game. However, Burrow has never beaten the Browns in his career.

Much of that is due to the presence of Myles Garrett. While the Bengals have experienced outstanding continuity on the offensive line this season, they still rank 21st in adjusted sack rate. As a result, we might see the Bengals employ more of a run-heavy approach, particularly with Joe Mixon returning this week.

The Browns rank 31st in run defense DVOA, so a run-heavy approach from Cincinnati would likely work very well. However, that’s great for the under as the clock would keep moving and there would be fewer explosive plays through the air.

The Browns’ offense, meanwhile, was putrid last week. It’s impossible to overstate just how bad Deshaun Watson was last week, and he’ll have to shake off the rust quickly here. Lou Anarumo is perhaps the best defensive coordinator in the NFL, and he will present Watson with a wide variety of looks to confuse him. It will be more difficult if Amari Cooper, who was a late add to the injury report, is unable to play.

Cleveland won’t be able to lean on its ground game, either, now that D.J. Reader is back in the lineup. Reader missed their matchup earlier this season, and the Browns ran for 172 yards in that matchup. The Bengals’ run defense is night and day with Reader in the lineup, and his presence is massive in this game.

The weather appears to be fairly temperate for this game, but it’s still an outdoor setting which lends further credence to the under here. Between Deshaun Watson’s rust, Amari Cooper’s potential absence, the return of D.J. Reader, and the Bengals’ likely run-heavy approach, there are plenty of reasons to like the under here.

Chiefs vs. Broncos Under 44:

I locked this in at 42 points early in the week, and I’m obviously fine playing it at the current number of 44. The Broncos’ offense is quietly trending up under their new play-caller, but they’ve still only surpassed 20 points twice all season. They’re on pace to be the first team since the 1946 Steelers to finish with the fewest points scored and allowed.

That combination of inept offense and elite defense has resulted in Broncos games averaging just 30.8 points per game this season – no, that’s not a typo. In fact, they’ve only played in one game this season that would have hit this over, and that was only due to a 68-yard touchdown return by the Raiders after a Melvin Gordon fumble.

The Chiefs have the highest-scoring offense in the NFL at 29.2 points per game, and their ability to maintain an elite scoring pace without Tyreek Hill is nothing short of mesmerizing. Nevertheless, the Broncos present a difficult matchup due to their elite defense that ranks top five in pass defense DVOA, success rate, EPA, and yards per pass allowed.

The Broncos’ defense has ranked just 29th in pass defense DVOA since the bye week, which was surprising to me when I saw it. However, the expected return of K’Waun Williams will be crucial as he is the glue that holds the secondary outside of Justin Simmons and Patrick Surtain.

https://twitter.com/espn/status/1586757104685268992

The under is 11-1 in Broncos game this season, and that’s a historic pace. Only one other team in the last 20 years has had an 11-1 run to the over or under to start a season, and the Broncos are 23-6 to the under since the beginning of last season, making them the most profitable team to the under with a 79.3% hit rate.

For what it’s worth, the Broncos-Ravens total drifted up throughout the week last week before there were only 19 points scored in that game. I’m not overly concerned by the line movement as the over tends to take a ton of public money in any given game, and the Broncos’ trend of unders should continue this week.

I've been a huge sports fan for as long as I can remember and I've always loved writing. In 2020, I joined the Lineups team, and I've been producing written and video content on football and basketball ever since. In May 2021, I graduated from the University of Michigan with a degree in sport management. My goal is to tell enthralling stories and provide meaningful insight on the sports I write about while helping you cash some bets along the way.

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