Ultimate Week 14 NFL Betting Guide: Picks & Predictions For Every Game

Ultimate Week 14 NFL Betting Guide: Picks & Predictions For Every Game article feature image

USA Today Sports. Pictured: Mark Ingram, Tom Brady, Nick Bosa

  • Our experts preview every Week 14 NFL game from a betting perspective.
  • Find their comprehensive guides below, featuring picks for Ravens-Bills and more.

Which double-digit favorite should you lay the points with? How should you bet Sunday afternoon’s Chiefs-Patriots showdown? What about the NFC clash between the 49ers and Saints?

Our experts are here to help you find the best betting angles for Week 14. Here are all the games they’ll hit on:

  • Colts at Buccaneers: 1 p.m. ET
  • Ravens at Bills: 1 p.m. ET
  • Lions at Vikings: 1 p.m. ET
  • Redskins at Packers: 1 p.m. ET
  • Broncos at Texans: 1 p.m. ET
  • 49ers at Saints: 1 p.m. ET
  • Bengals at Browns: 1 p.m. ET
  • Panthers at Falcons: 1 p.m. ET
  • Dolphins at Jets: 1 p.m. ET
  • Chargers at Jaguars: 4:05 p.m. ET
  • Chiefs at Patriots: 4:25 p.m. ET
  • Titans at Raiders: 4:25 p.m. ET
  • Steelers at Cardinals: 4:25 p.m. ET

See how they’re betting all 13, complete with analysis of the biggest matchups and much more. (Including picks for every game.)

Odds as of Wednesday morning and via DraftKings, where Action Network users get a risk-free bet up to $500.


Colts at Buccaneers Picks, Predictions & Betting Odds

  • Odds: Buccaneers -3
  • Over/Under: 47
  • Kickoff: 1 p.m. ET
  • TV Channel: CBS

Jameis Winston and the Buccaneers have been one of the surprise teams of the second half of the season, even if they’ll likely miss the playoffs. The Colts, meanwhile, are still in contention for the AFC South despite a tough loss to the Titans last week.

Our experts preview this matchup, featuring analysis of the biggest mismatch and a staff pick.

Colts-Buccaneers Injury Report

Which team is healthier? Bucs

The most noteworthy injuries on the Bucs’ report involve defensive lineman Jason Pierre-Paul (knee) and linebacker Anthony Nelson (hamstring). JPP is second on the team in sacks while Nelson grades out as their best run defender, per Pro Football Focus.

The Colts are expected to be without T.Y. Hilton (calf) yet again. They also placed Chester Rogers (knee) on injured reserve earlier in the week, making their receiver group even thinner. Marlon Mack (hand) returned to full practice on Thursday, so he has a real chance to play on Sunday it appears.

Although it’s a difficult matchup against this run defense, it may be a slight boost if Nelson is ruled out. Also of note, safety Malik Hooker (foot) was downgraded from limited practice on Wednesday to no practice on Thursday. Justin Bailey

Note: All injury info as of Thursday. See our Injury Report for daily practice participation and game statuses up until kickoff.

Biggest Mismatch

Buccaneers Run Defense vs. Colts’ Backfield

The Buccaneers’ run defense has been one of the most consistent units all season. Per Football Outsiders, they’ve been 31.2% better on every single play when compared to league average based on situation and opponent.

They’ve continually stifled opposing running backs, regardless of ability. There’s no greater example than holding Christian McCaffrey to 68 rushing yards (1.79 yards per carry) over two meetings. And last week, they limited Leonard Fournette to 38 yards (2.7 YPC) in a 28-11 road win.

While the Colts’ rushing offense ranks sixth-most efficient, the Indianapolis backfield has been decimated by injuries.

Last week, the lead running back combination of Jordan Wilkins and Jonathan Williams managed only 61 rushing yards on 19 carries at home against the Titans. Tampa Bay’s run defense is even better than Tennessee’s, and this matchup is on the road.

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Marlon Mack, Zach Pascal

The return of Mack should help the Colts running game slightly, but they’re facing their most difficult test all season. Tampa Bay has not only allowed the fewest rushing yards, but also the sixth-fewest receiving yards to opposing backfields.

If the Colts are going to earn a vitally important win for their playoff hopes, they will need to attack Tampa Bay’s defense through the air. Mike Randle

Sean Koerner’s Projected Odds

  • Projected Spread: Bucs -1.5
  • Projected Total: 49

This total opened at 49.5 and has dropped all the way down to 47. I can’t really explain the drastic line move given 61% of the money has come in on the over (see live public betting data here) and there doesn’t appear to be any weather concerns this week.

The Bucs defense is arguably the most extreme pass funnel in the league, and the Colts play a soft zone defense that can be attacked by the Bucs — especially with Chris Godwin and Mike Evans. So I actually think this matchup plays to the over. In fact this total has dropped two points below my projection.

Still, only two out of my three criteria have been met, so this is only a lean as of now. — Sean Koerner

Expert Pick

Sean Zerillo: Buccaneers -3

I have always found it fitting that Winston gets to wear red and black for the Buccaneers, because whether I bet on or against him I always feel like I’m spinning a roulette wheel.

Even still, I’m buying high on Tampa Bay this week after two consecutive wins, because its defense has really come to hand under Todd Bowles, who is probably more of an overqualified defensive coordinator than he was an under-qualified head coach of the Jets.

Reunited with Bruce Arians, Bowles has a defense that ranks No. 9 overall in Football Outsiders’ DVOA, thanks to a No. 1 ranking in run defense (19th against the pass), which spells trouble for the Colts power run game behind Mack.

The Colts offense has struggled when Hilton has missed time (1-7 record in his career) and a season-ending injury to Chester Rogers leaves Zach Pascal and Parris Campbell (coming off injury) as the starting receivers, with Ashton Dulin, Chad Williams and Marcus Johnson as the depth.

Campbell and Mack are being thrust back into the lineup for this fading Colts team out of necessity; but this is a nightmare matchup for Mack, and the Colts don’t have the firepower to keep up with the Bucs offense if they fall behind.

If Winston can avoid multiple turnovers, the Bucs should roll.

Go ahead and spin the wheel.

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Sean Zerillo is 195-131-4 (59.8%) overall betting on the NFL. You can follow him in our free app.

Ravens at Bills Picks, Predictions & Betting Odds

  • Odds: Ravens -5.5
  • Over/Under: 43.5
  • Kickoff: 1 p.m. ET
  • TV Channel: CBS

Lamar Jackson and the red-hot Ravens head to Buffalo to take on the Bills in a showdown between two of the AFC’s best teams. Is it time to fade Jackson against a strong Bills defense?

Our experts anticipate a trench battle between the AFC’s best rushing attack and one of its top defenses.

Ravens-Bills Injury Report

The Bills continue to be incredibly healthy. Offensive lineman Ty Nsekhe is battling an ankle injury and offensive lineman Quinton Spain was added to the injury report on Thursday after he missed practice due to an illness. Nsekhe is trending towards missing another game. Spain will be a name to monitor once reports come in on Friday.

Marquise Brown was added to Thursday’s injury report with an ankle injury, but he did get in a limited practice. Two defensive players also popped up on the Ravens’ injury report in cornerback Marlon Humphrey (thigh) and linebacker Patrick Onwuasor (ankle), but since they’ve still got in limited practice sessions, they’re likely trending towards playing. Justin Bailey

Biggest Mismatch

Ravens Rush Offense vs. Bills Rush Defense

Despite scoring a mediocre 21.4 points per game, the Bills are 9-3 for two main reasons: They haven’t played many winning teams and they have a great defense that has held those opponents to just 15.7 points per game, the third-lowest average in the league.

They face perhaps the NFL’s best team this week, meaning their defense will be tested.

Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Mark Ingram

The Bills are No. 3 in Pro Football Focus coverage grade and present a tough matchup through the air.

No. 1 wide receiver Marquise Goodwin is likely to be shadowed by emerging shutdown cornerback Tre’Davious White. Since entering the league in 2017, White has allowed a catch rate of just 52.7%.

But the Bills can be exploited on the ground: They rank No. 22 again the run in Football Outsiders’ DVOA metric.

That’s a problem for them. The Ravens love to run more than other teams and are No. 1 in the league with 445 running plays and a 55.1% rush rate. They’re also No. 1 with 5.6 yards per carry and a 55% rush success rate (per Sharp Football Stats).

In a league that has shifted toward the passing game over the past decade, the Ravens have turned back the clock with an old-school focus on running the ball.

With the two-headed backfield of MVP quarterback Jackson and wingman running back Mark Ingram, the Ravens have the league’s best rushing duo. And supplemental backs Gus Edwards and Justice Hill are more than satisfactory.

Baltimore’s specific strength aligns with the Bills’ weakness. The Ravens offense is No. 5 in second-level yards gained per carry, while the Bills defense is No. 29 in second-level yards allowed.

Since the Week 8 bye, the Ravens have averaged 213 rushing yards per game. Given their rushing frequency and efficiency and their matchup, the Ravens could exceed that mark against the Bills. Matthew Freedman

Sean Koerner’s Projected Odds

  • Projected Spread: Ravens -5.5
  • Projected Total: 43.5

Books will have to inflate Ravens lines for the foreseeable future due to the public backing they get week in and week out — they’re receiving 76% of the tickets and 83% of the money as of writing (see live public betting data here).

The Ravens are currently No. 1 in my power ratings and I would set them as 1.5-point favorites against the Patriots on a neutral field. Having said that, if sports betting were as simple as betting on the better team each week, we would all be millionaires.

I can’t emphasize how important it is to treat sports betting like a market and know when to buy low and sell high on teams. And right now would be the time to sell high on the Ravens. Sharps know this and have been keeping the line parked on 6 while some of the sharper books have moved toward 5.5.

When considering making a play on a side, I typically want it to line up with my projected odds, market behavior and specific matchup strength/weaknesses. But the reason I can’t pull the trigger on the Bills here is due to their heavy zone defense that invites chunk plays on the ground at the expense of shutting down big plays in the passing game. That can be demonstrated by their third-best rate in limiting explosive pass plays while allowing the second-most explosive run plays (per Sharp Football Stats). And to no surprise, the Ravens rank first in explosive run plays and can easily exploit this matchup.

I’m going to hold off on fading the Ravens, instead looking ahead to next week against the Jets, who are ranked first in fewest explosive run plays allowed — an ideal time to sell high on the Ravens. Sean Koerner

Expert Pick

Freedman: Ravens -5.5

I have a lot of respect for the Bills, who have a good home-field advantage, but the Ravens are just too good for me not to back at anything under -6.

The Ravens haven’t lost since the first month of the season, and seemingly every other week they defeat one of the league’s top teams. The Bills, meanwhile, have beaten only one team that currently has a winning record, and that was the Titans — when they were quarterbacked by Marcus Mariota.

The Ravens are No. 1 in the league with a 55% rush success rate (per Sharp Football Stats), and I expect they will run with relative ease against the Bills, who rank 24th overall in Pro Football Focus’ run defense grade.

On offense, the Ravens can sustain and finish drives. On defense, they have averaged just 12.6 points allowed since creating the cornerback trio of Jimmy Smith, Marcus Peters and Humphrey. I don’t think the Bills on defense will be able to stop quarterback Lamar Jackson or keep up with him on offense.

I’d bet this to -6.

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Freedman is 499-373-21 (57.2%) overall betting on the NFL. You can follow him in our free app.

Lions at Vikings Picks, Predictions & Betting Odds

  • Odds: Vikings -13
  • Over/Under: 43
  • Kickoff: 1 p.m. ET
  • TV Channel: FOX

David Blough was effective in his first career start, but his second comes on the road against one of the NFC’s best defenses.

The Vikings are double-digit favorites against the struggling Lions, and our experts think that an inconsistent Detroit defense may struggle with Minnesota’s diverse offensive attack. Let’s dig into their full preview (complete with a staff pick) below.

Lions-Vikings Injury Report

Editor’s note: Dalvin Cook is no longer listed on the Vikings’ injury report.

Which team is healthier? Lions

Matthew Stafford (back) still isn’t practicing and Jeff Driskel was placed on injured reserve with a hamstring injury. That means Blough will start the second game of his NFL career.

Adam Thielen (hamstring) hasn’t practiced Wednesday or Thursday, meaning he may be out again. He’s the type of player that can play without practicing. As 13-point home favorites, however, the Vikings may not risk it.

Dalvin Cook has been getting in limited practice sessions after he injured his shoulder last week. He said he sat out the remainder of last week’s game due to precautionary reasons, and Cook didn’t waste any time telling people that he’ll be playing in Week 14. The fact he’s at least getting in limited practices is an encouraging sign. Justin Bailey

Biggest Mismatch

Vikings Running Backs vs. Lions Linebackers

Cook exited Week 13 early with an aggravated injury, but he’s tentatively expected to play this week. Even if Cook is limited, the Vikings should still be able to move the ball with third-round rookie backup Alexander Mattison, who is a bully of a player. For the season, Mattison has averaged 4.8 yards per carry and an 80% catch rate, and as Cook’s in-game replacement last week, he put up 73 yards on nine opportunities.

If Cook is healthy and active, that’s great. Against the Lions in Week 7, he compiled 149 yards and two touchdowns. Cook has a touchdown in 10 of 12 games. In his two scoreless starts, he has 167 scrimmage yards per game. He’s a straight baller.

Credit: Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Dalvin Cook

But even without him, the Vikings should still be able to produce against the Lions thanks to Mattison.

And the Lions are just monumentally bad at defending opposing running backs. They rank No. 29 in run defense (per Pro Football Focus) and No. 30 in pass defense against backs (per Football Outsiders’ DVOA metric).

With 154.4 yards and 1.5 touchdowns allowed to opposing backfields, the Lions have been the league’s third-most exploitable team for the position this year.

Much of the blame belongs to linebackers Christian Jones and Jarrad Davis, who are remarkably substandard at almost everything they do (based on their PFF grades).

  • Jarrad Davis: 42.5 overall, 58.5 run defense, 32.4 coverage
  • Christian Jones: 43.2 overall, 45.2 run defense, 38.2 coverage

There are some remarkably poor linebacking duos currently in the league, but the Davis and Jones tag team might be the worst one.

On the ground and through the air, Davis and Jones match up extremely poorly with Cook and Mattison. Either one should be able to turn dust these linebackers.

The Vikings are No. 3 in the league with a 48.5 rush rate, so they tend to rely on the running game anyway, and as big home favorite, the Vikings could lean on their backs heavily throughout the contest.

Given their talent, matchup and likely game script, Cook and Mattison could combine for 200 yards and two touchdowns. Matthew Freedman

Sean Koerner’s Projected Odds

  • Projected Spread: Vikings -12.5
  • Projected Total: 44

This total opened at 44 and has already been bet down to 43 with 60% of the tickets coming in on the under (see live public betting data here). But I think there’s sneaky value on this being a matchup that favors the over.

Blough is likely to draw the start again after proving he can at least get the ball to Kenny Golladay and Marvin Jones. Xavier Rhodes, meanwhile, once again demonstrated that he’s prone to get burned a few times a game, so this isn’t too imposing of a matchup for the Lions, who will likely be in a pass-heavy trailing game script.

On the other side of the ball, the Vikings will be able to drop points on a Lions defense that ranks 27th in explosive pass plays allowed. Cook seems likely to play, but even if he’s ruled out, Mattison is more than capable of filling in and maintaining the Vikings strong ground game. Sean Koerner

Expert Pick

Mike Randle: Vikings -13

The Vikings return home to host a Lions team that they trounced 42-30 in Week 7. In that game, Stafford threw for 364 yards and four touchdowns. Needless to say, expectations are greatly reduced for the undrafted rookie free-agent Blough.

Blough played well in his first career start on Thanksgiving, throwing for 280 yards and two touchdowns with one interception. However, this game is on the road against a division rival with a strong defense. Minnesota ranks 11th best overall in defensive efficiency and top-10 against the run.

With Detroit ranking fifth-worst in run offense DVOA, this game sets up to put a ton of pressure on Blough, which certainly is concerning against a Vikings team that is undefeated (5-0) at home this season.

Since 2014, the Vikings have been particularly dominant at home with a 34-18-1 record against the spread as a favorite and a 30-14-1 record ATS at home.

I like the Vikings in a bounceback spot after a tough loss at Seattle against an inferior Lions team. Even if Cook is out, backup Mattison should be able to gash a poor Detroit run defense.

I would bet this line up to -13.5.

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Mike Randle is 212-205-5 (50.8%) overall betting on the NFL. You can follow him in our free app.

Redskins at Packers Picks, Predictions & Betting Odds

  • Odds: Packers -12.5
  • Over/Under: 41.5
  • Kickoff: 1 p.m. ET
  • TV Channel: FOX

A majority of bettors are laying the 12.5 points with the Green Bay Packers against the Washington Redskins, but is that the smart play?

Our experts preview this Week 14 game, with analysis of key matchups and a pick on the double-digit spread.

Redskins-Packers Injury Report

Which team is healthier? Packers

Jamaal Williams (knee) was a new addition to the Packers’ injury report, but given he was at least limited, I’d expect him to play unless the Packers state otherwise. Everyone on their report was at least practicing in some fashion, indicating they’ll likely suit up on Sunday.

The Redskins could be shorthanded at receiver with Trey Quinn (concussion) and Paul Richardson (hamstring) missing practice on Wednesday and Thursday. Terry McLaurin, Steven Sims and Kelvin Harmon would take over on 3-WR sets if Quinn and Richardson are ruled. Justin Bailey

Biggest Mismatch

Redskins Offensive Line vs. Packers Defensive Line

The most obvious mismatch is at quarterback, but I want to focus on another mismatch that I think will allow the Redskins — the hottest team in the NFC East with a two-game winning streak — to stay within this number.

First of all, I am required by contract to mention how much I loved this Packers team coming into the season, which is the reason they were my only futures bet. I loved what they did on the defensive side of the ball by addressing their needs at safety and drastically improving their edge rush with the additions of the two Smiths (Preston and Za’Darius).

Green Bay’s defense is aggressive and the offense is dynamic with a future Hall of Fame quarterback at the helm. If they get into the dance (as they should), the Packers will have a puncher’s chance.

That said, some underlying metrics indicate they’re pretty fortunate to be sitting at 9-3. I mean what if I told you that, from a net yards per play perspective, the Redskins sit ahead of the Packers? It’s true — Green Bay ranks 27th in the league at -0.6 while Washington is two spots ahead at -0.4.

Now, that obviously doesn’t tell the whole story as the Packers are excellent on third downs with Aaron Rodgers, who also doesn’t turn the ball over. But it does show you that this team hasn’t been as dominant as their record indicates.

Their defense has holes, particularly when it comes to stopping the run. The Pack ranks 28th in Football Outsiders’ rush defense DVOA and are allowing 4.7 yards per rush, which also ranks 28th in the NFL. It really starts with the defensive line, which ranks 32nd in adjusted line yards and 31st in stuff rate (per Football Outsiders).

The Packers simply aren’t getting a push up front and can be pushed around by opposing offensive lines to create lanes for their backs. And they aren’t great at the second level up the middle with usually only Blake Martinez and extra safety Ibraheim Campbell in their preferred dime scheme.

Meanwhile, I’m a big fan of the interior of this Washington offensive line. Chase Roullier has been a revelation at center between Ereck Flowers and big Brandon Scherff. Roullier and Scherff have been two of the best in the league at their respective positions while Flowers has graded out fairly well in run blocking — he’s top-20 among 64 guards with at least 400 snaps this season, per PFF.

Derrius Guice
Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Ereck Flowers, Derrius Guice

Derrius Guice has recently returned and looked fully up to game speed in an explosive showing against the Panthers. Guice adds the dynamic piece the Redskins have been lacking in the backfield to complement Adrian Peterson grinding out yards. Of the 76 running backs with at least 25 carries this year, Guice ranks No. 1 overall in yards after contact on all touches and second in Elusive Rating, trailing on Kareem Hunt (per PFF).

With a rookie QB on the road in Lambeau, you can expect Bill Callahan to go even more run-heavy than he already has been going, and I think the Skins can get a lot of push up the middle for Guice, Peterson and Co. to keep the sticks moving against a very vulnerable Packers run defense. Stuckey

Sean Koerner’s Projected Odds

  • Projected Spread: Packers -14
  • Projected Total: 42

The Redskins are coming off an upset road win over the Panthers, which ultimately led to the firing of Ron Rivera.

I had previously mentioned the Redskins would be a team to back in games that were expected to be close as their strengths are their run game and defense. This week against the Packers, however, it’ll be tougher to keep it close, which will force Dwayne Haskins to drop back to pass more — a recipe for disaster. Therefore I’m staying away from this line as I don’t see much value either way.

I have this marked as the slowest-projected paced game for Week 14 and am also in line with the total. However, there could be two different game flows for each half.

I anticipate the Packers will get out to an early lead against the Redskins’ pass funnel defense while the Redskins offense should be able to run the ball on the Packers’ run funnel defense. Therefore I’m leaning on the first-half over and will switch to the second-half under (depending on the score) as these offenses will then be playing into the strengths of the opposing defense.Sean Koerner

Expert Pick

Stuckey: Redskins +12.5

In what should be a lower-scoring game with a total drifting toward 41 — Washington is dead last in seconds per play in neutral situations while Green Bay also doesn’t play fast — catching 13 with a team that should be able to run the ball against a team that’s a little overvalued in the market is too good to pass up.

Anything over 10.5 is worth a stab in my opinion.

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Stuckey is 296-234-7 (55.8%) overall betting on the NFL. You can follow him in our free app.

Broncos at Texans Picks, Predictions & Betting Odds

  • Odds: Texans -9
  • Over/Under: 42
  • Kickoff: 1 p.m. ET
  • TV Channel: CBS

Coming off of their Sunday Night Football victory over the Patriots, Deshaun Watson and the Texans welcome the struggling Broncos to Houston on Sunday afternoon.

Our experts preview the game, complete with analysis of a key matchup and a staff pick.

Broncos-Texans Injury Report

Which team is healthier? Texans

The Texans are in good shape as no player of note on their injury report has missed practice — everyone was either limited or a full go. Will Fuller’s limited practice is typical this time of year, so he should be fine for this matchup.

The Broncos’ injury report is looking better on Thursday than their initial one on Wednesday. Offensive lineman Ron Leary (concussion) is the only player on Thursday who has yet to practice. Their biggest injury to monitor is Von Miller (knee), who didn’t play last week with an MCL injury. Miller has been limited in back-to-back days and there appears to be some doubt around his status. Justin Bailey

Biggest Mismatch

Phillip Lindsay vs. Texans Run Defense

The Broncos have made a conscious decision to feature to Lindsay as their lead running back, much to the delight of fantasy owners. He tallied 17 of the Broncos’ 25 rushing attempts in their 23-20 win over the Chargers in Week 13.

Since losing defensive end J.J. Watt to a pectoral tear in Week 8, the Texans have been gashed by opposing running backs. Houston had allowed huge rushing performances to Baltimore’s Gus Edwards (8/112), Indianapolis’ Jonathan Williams (26/104) and New England’s James White (14/79).

Denver’s offensive line ranks fourth-best in stuffed rate, meaning Lindsay is rarely tackled at or behind the line of scrimmage. He is ninth-best among all running backs in breakaway runs meaning Houston needs to address his explosive play ability (PlayerProfiler).

The Texans are the league’s worst team in limiting running back receptions, allowing per game average of 7.2 receptions and 62 receiving yards. Houston has also allowed the second-most receiving touchdowns to opposing running backs.

The versatility of Lindsay against a soft Houston run defense is the biggest mismatch. Mike Randle

Sean Koerner’s Projected Odds

  • Projected Spread: Texans -8.5
  • Projected Total: 42.5

I’m close to the market, so this is a pass from me. Sean Koerner

Expert Pick

Our staff doesn’t see value on this game right now, but that could change as lines move, so download our app to follow specific experts and action around this game.

49ers at Saints Picks, Predictions & Betting Odds

  • Odds: Saints -2.5
  • Over/Under: 44.5
  • Kickoff: 1 p.m. ET
  • TV Channel: FOX

The Seattle Seahawks unseated the San Francisco 49ers from atop the NFC West. Now Jimmy Garoppolo and Co. are looking to regain the division lead, but that quest starts with a pivotal matchup against another conference contender: The New Orleans Saints.

So where’s the betting value in this key NFC showdown?

Our experts preview the matchup, complete with a pick.

49ers-Saints Injury Report

Which team is healthier? 49ers

The health of the 49ers offense is trending upward. The only receiver on the injury report is Dante Pettis (knee). George Kittle (knee/ankle) has been limited in practice, but that appears to be his new normal. And Matt Breida (ankle) has returned to full practice.

That said, the defensive side does have injuries. Safety Jaquiski Tartt (ankle) has yet to practice, which isn’t a great sign. Dee Ford (quad/hamstring) didn’t play last week, but he has returned to limited to practice. They’d love to have him back considering he’s one of their best pass-rushers.

The Saints, meanwhile, would love to have offensive lineman Terron Armstead (ankle) back against this 49ers’ pass-rush — especially since offensive lineman Andrus Peat (arm) is expected to be out another couple weeks after suffering a broken arm in mid-November. Justin Bailey

Biggest Mismatch

49ers Pass Defense vs. Saints Secondary Receiving Options

It’s no surprise that the quarterbacks who have had the most success against the 49ers — Russell Wilson, Kyler Murray and Lamar Jackson — are all capable of making plays with their legs. The 49ers play suffocating coverage, allowing the lowest completion percentage (60.5%) this side of New England (55.3%). It forces quarterbacks to hold the ball until the 49ers pass rush — which owns a league-leading 31.4% pressure rate — gets home.

To put in perspective just how well the 49ers are covering, consider that four of their cornerbacks have top-20 Pro Football Focus grades: Richard Sherman (third), Emmanuel Moseley (11th), Akhello Witherspoon (13th) and K’Waun Williams (20th). They also have a top-three safety in Jimmy Ward, while linebackers Fred Warner (15th) and Dre Greenlaw (17th) rank top-20 in coverage.

Richard Sherman
Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Richard Sherman

Drew Brees gets the ball out in 2.37 seconds — the second-fastest in the NFL, per PFF — but his lack of reliable options behind Michael Thomas and Alvin Kamara could hurt in this game. The 49ers are more capable than most of slowing down Thomas and Kamara; San Francisco ranks sixth in Football Outsiders’ DVOA vs. No. 1 wide receivers and first vs. running backs. And if the 49ers can cause Brees to hesitate and come off of his first read, the Saints could be in trouble.

Jared Cook has come on of late, but he’s caught more than three passes in a game only three times all season, and the 49ers are ranked first in DVOA vs. tight ends.

Robert Saleh’s defense also rates seventh-best vs. No. 2 wide receivers and 10th-best vs. other wide receivers. Ted Ginn’s catch rate is down to a five-year low of 52.2% and he’s failed to catch even one pass on three separate occasions, including twice over the past four games with Brees. Ginn hasn’t topped three catches or 48 yards since Week 1.Tre’Quan Smith, meanwhile, has managed to draw only 13 targets on 184 routes run for a minuscule 7.0% target per route run rate — a telltale sign that he’s struggling to get open.

Per our Bet Labs data, the 49ers are 4-0 against the spread as road underdogs this season. If they’re able to pull off the upset and maintain that perfect mark, the Saints’ lack of pass-catching depth behind their superstars will likely be at the forefront among reasons why. Chris Raybon

Sean Koerner’s Projected Odds

  • Projected Spread: Saints -2
  • Projected Total: 45

The Saints opened as 3.5-point favorites, which I felt was way too high, but anticipated a line like that would divide action evenly considering the 49ers have the second-highest Pythagorean win differential of the week (+2.6) over the Saints.

All that to say it’s a bit odd to see the public all over the 49ers here with 65% of the action coming in on San Francisco (see live public betting data here), causing the line to crash all the way down to -2.5. That sort of drastic line move through the key number of -3 involved sharp action as well.

Any value that was on the 49ers has evaporated, so this is a no bet for me.Sean Koerner

Expert Pick

Stuckey: Under 44.5

This game has massive NFC playoff implications, so these teams should play a little closer to the vest. I also think the matchups will dictate a heavy rushing attack from both.

The Saints’ offensive line is a huge asset, but they’re just not healthy up front on the left side, which spells trouble against Nick Bosa and a 49ers defensive front that can generate pressure without blitzing as well as any team. That’s partly why their secondary has performed so well — not only do they have talent and communicate extremely well, they can all sit in coverage while the defensive line generates pressure.

Saleh, who comes from the Pete Carroll tree, has morphed this defense into its own identity with many more unique and disguised looks than just a Cover 3 shell. They’re running a lot more Cover 4 and just don’t allow anything deep … at all. San Fran has allowed only 19 passes of 20 or more yards on the season, the fewest in the NFL.

Don’t expect this very slow-moving Saints offense to get much down the field.

New Orleans is very efficient on offense, but I don’t expect anything explosive against this San Fran defense. And as a result of the mismatches up front, Sean Payton may have to go with heavier sets and attack San Fran with a heavier run script. That should keep the clock moving for an offense that doesn’t play fast (25th in pace in neutral situations).

On the other side of the ball, the Saints secondary can match up with the 49ers receivers on the outside. New Orleans can also generate pressure to fluster Jimmy Garoppolo and is good enough against the run (sixth in rush defense DVOA) to slow San Fran down on the ground.

In a matchup that favors both defenses, expect heavy rushing attacks and lots of short, quick passes from two quarterbacks who get rid of the ball quickly.

This line looks about right given some of the injury news.

We do talk a lot about the good fortune of the Seahawks this season, but the Saints have had some similar luck (albeit with a backup QB for a good portion of the season). They’ve recovered 68.42% of fumbles, highest in NFL, and you can’t expect that to continue forever.

The San Fran defense can shut down this New Orleans offense and do enough on offense to stay in this game to the very end. The 49ers are the best teaser piece on the board. Call it 20-17 someone.

In a matchup of top-10 defenses that can generate a lot of pressure and match up on the outside, the under is the play here. I’ll be playing the game under (anything over 43) and sprinkling some on the first-half under as well (anything over 21.5).

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Stuckey is 296-234-7 (55.8%) overall betting on the NFL. You can follow him in our free app.

Bengals at Browns Picks, Predictions & Betting Odds

  • Odds: Browns -7
  • Over/Under: 41.5
  • Kickoff: 1 p.m. ET
  • TV Channel: CBS

The Browns were double-digit favorites when this spread opened, but have since fallen to -7 as of Thursday. The total has also seen a drop over the past few days, but nearly 70% of bettors like the over in this matchup. So where’s the best value?

Our experts preview this AFC North divisional matchup, with analysis of the odds, mismatches and more.

Bengals-Browns Injury Report

Which team is healthier? Browns

The Browns have a lengthy injury report, but everyone has been upgraded to either limited or full practice. So, it’s not as bad as it looks.

Baker Mayfield (hand/ribs) was upgraded to full practice on Thursday, so he should be close to 100% this weekend. Odell Beckham (groin) and Jarvis Landry (hip) continue to practice in a limited fashion, suggesting they’re trending towards playing.

Unsurprisingly, the Bengals will be without A.J. Green (ankle), but they will get John Ross (clavicle) back from injured reserve. Defensive end Sam Hubbard (knee) is also trending towards missing this game since he hasn’t practiced yet this week with a knee injury. He grades out as one of their best run defenders, per Pro Football Focus. Justin Bailey

fantasy football-standard-rankings-rb-week 5-2019
Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Nick Chubb

Biggest Mismatch

Browns Running Backs vs. Bengals Linebackers

I get a morbid delight almost every week writing about how bad the Bengals linebackers have been. Almost regardless of opponent, they’re outmatched, and it just so happens that the Browns have maybe the league’s best duo of running backs in Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt.

Dating back to last season, Chubb has averaged 108.7 yards and 0.68 touchdowns from scrimmage in his 22 games as the team’s lead back. Even with the return of Hunt, Chubb has averaged 114 yards on 21 carries and 2.5 targets per game over the past four weeks. For a lead back who plays on a 4-7 team and isn’t used heavily in the passing game, that’s pretty good.

And Hunt is probably the best No. 2 back in the NFL. In his 32 career games (including playoffs), he’s averaged 102.3 yards and 0.88 touchdowns.

Blessed with elite pass-catching skills, Hunt has especially contributed to the Browns as a receiver since making his season debut four weeks ago: The sample is small, but he’s averaged 6.3 targets and five receptions to go along with 6.3 carries per game. With that kind of usage, he’s more than just an ordinary change-of-pace back.

Over the past two weeks, Chubb has had a 67% snap rate and Hunt a 58% rate. They’re both seeing regular action, and they’re even playing a portion of their snaps together in two-running back sets, which is a great development. With two talented backs on the field at once, it’s hard for defenders to key in on either one of them.

And I expect that Bengals defenders will be particularly challenged against Chubb and Hunt, especially linebackers Nick Vigil and Germaine Pratt, whose Pro Football Focus grades notably subpar.

  • Nick Vigil: 56.0 overall grade | 52.5 run defense | 61.8 coverage
  • Germaine Pratt: 40.0 overall grade | 54.6 run defense | 35.6 coverage

The Bengals are No. 27 in rush defense and No. 28 in pass defense against running backs (per Football Outsiders’ DVOA metric). They’ve yielded 157.9 yards and one touchdown per game to the position. Basically, they’ve made opposing backfields look like Christian McCaffrey.

Against such Vigil, Pratt and the rest of the Bengals defense, Chubb and Hunt could combine for 200 yards and multiple touchdowns. Matthew Freedman

Sean Koerner’s Projected Odds

  • Projected Spread: Browns -8.5
  • Projected Total: 42

The Bengals decided to bench rookie Ryan Finley for Andy Dalton last week, inspiring my largest bet of the year: Bengals +4. I had projected the switch back to Dalton should impact the line by 2.5-3 points, yet the line slowly moved down to the key number of +3 and parked there. I spotted a market inefficiency when the total ended up rising 2.5-3 points, but not the spread.

Either way, the Bengals ended up beating the Jets outright and it appears that the market has correctly adjusted for Dalton this week, so I’m not seeing any value on this spread. The total could have some hidden value, though.

Dalton certainly improves the Bengals offense, which should force the Browns to keep their foot on the gas for all four quarters. With Baker Mayfield dealing with a finger injury, I’m guessing we’ll see a heavy run game with Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt, which plays right into the Bengals’ weakness on defense: The Browns have the fourth-highest explosive run rate while the Bengals have allowed the third-highest explosive run rate.

Let’s wait for Mayfield’s status to be confirmed, but over 41 is a lean here. Sean Koerner

Expert Pick

Sean Zerillo: Under 41.5

The weather forecast calls for average wind speeds of greater than 16 mph in this matchup, which has caused the total to drop from an opening number of 43 down to 41.5.

If the forecast holds, this game will trigger the following system for betting unders in windy divisional games:

That system is 5-0 this season, and has only finished with one losing year since 2003-04 (3-4-1 in 2011-12).

Combined, the Bengals and Browns are 16-8 to the under this season, but the majority of tickets (70%) have bet the over in this matchup.

However, the total has moved opposite those tickets with sharp money (44%) triggering multiple steam and reverse line signals on the under.

I would bet this number down to 41.5, as 41 is one of the primary key numbers for betting totals.

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Sean Zerillo is 195-131-4 (59.8%) overall betting on the NFL. You can follow him in our free app.

Panthers at Falcons Picks, Predictions & Betting Odds

  • Odds: Falcons -3
  • Over/Under: 47
  • Kickoff: 1 p.m. ET
  • TV Channel: CBS

In a matchup of two teams going nowhere, the Falcons have emerged as the more popular team in this matchup, attracting more than 65% of the betting tickets. But are they the better bet?

Our experts preview this NFC South divisional matchup, with analysis of the odds, mismatches and more.

Panthers-Falcons Injury Report

Which team is healthier? Falcons

I think the Falcons are the healthier team if Austin Hooper (knee) and Julio Jones (shoulder) suit up. Both players have been getting in limited practices this week, which are encouraging signs. Otherwise, the Panthers would get the nod as the healthier team.

Greg Olsen (concussion) is expected to be out, and the Panthers are expected to trot out a trio of tight end in Chris Manhertz, Ian Thomas and Alex Armah. Thomas is probably the most likely to lead that trio in routes run and targets, but the Panthers saying they want to do a committee adds some risk. Justin Bailey

Biggest Mismatch

Devonta Freeman vs. Panthers Run Defense

The Panthers’ run defense has been far and away the league’s worst. Carolina has performed 17.8% worse on every single run play when compared to league average based on situation and opponent.

Last week, the Panthers allowed both Derrius Guice (129 yards, 12.9 YPC) and veteran Adrian Peterson (99 rushing yards, 7.6 YPC) to have massive ground performances.

While the Falcons have struggled to run the ball effectively, their ground game should be bolstered by Devonta Freeman in his second game back from injury. Last week, Freeman carried 17 times for a modest 51 rushing yards, but his volume was encouraging.

The Falcons will face a substantially easier defense this week at home against the Panthers.

Devonta Freeman-Fantasy Football
Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Devonta Freeman

The potential return of All-Pro wide receiver Julio Jones and tight end Austin Hooper should give Freeman less resistance up front. Since 2016, when Freeman has faced a bottom-four run defense at home, he’s produced per-game averages of 76.5 rushing yards, 21.3 receiving yards, 1.5 rushing touchdowns and 21.3 fantasy points.

Carolina’s secondary, while among the league’s best, will certainly struggle against a potential fully loaded Atlanta receiving corps. However, the Panthers will also need to address their biggest defensive efficiency against one of the NFL’s most versatile running backs. Mike Randle

Sean Koerner’s Projected Odds

  • Projected Spread: Falcons-3
  • Projected Total: 47

I’m right in line with the market, so I see no value here. — Sean Koerner

PRO System Match

Since 2003, the under is 831-738-29 (53.0%) in division games. Unders have been a smart play in division games as increased familiarity between teams creates a lower-scoring environment.

It may seem obvious to some bettors, but it’s been more profitable to take the under in division games with high totals (more than 44 points). It’s just easier for unders to cash when more points are expected to be scored.

Following this Pro System, bettors have gone 186-112-3 (62.4%) since 2003. A $100 bettor would have returned a profit of $6,481 following this strategy.

A majority of tickets are on the under and the total has decreased from 48 to 47. Bet the under now before the line decreases further. John Ewing

PRO Systems are data-driven betting strategies that turn winning long-term trends into easy-to-follow picks, all handpicked and monitored by our team of analysts. Try Action PRO now and instantly access real-time game matches for every PRO System.

Expert Pick

Sean Zerillo: Falcons -3; Under 47

The market appears to agree with John Ewing’s assessment thus far — with 56% of the tickets and 68% of the cash on the total driving the number down from 48.5 to 47.

Both teams work quickly, as the Panthers rank second (25.48 seconds) and the Falcons rank sixth (26.61 seconds) in time between plays — while Atlanta is third in plays per game and Carolina is sixth. Still, I’ll side with history getting the under ticket to the window.

As for the side, these two teams met on Nov. 17, with the Falcons winning 29-3 in Carolina thanks to four interceptions by Kyle Allen.

Both teams are essentially in free fall — the Panthers have lost four games in a row, just fired Ron Rivera and may move on from Cam Newton; while the Falcons are 3-9 and have all but given Dan Quinn the pink slip.

Typically, teams are undervalued after their coach is fired because guys come out extra hungry and ready to protect their own job — but this doesn’t feel like one of those spots.

Rivera was a father figure to his players, and the all-time winningest coach in franchise history. When you read about how his players feel about him and how they took the news, you realize that this is not your typical coach firing. Their players seem completely deflated.

The Falcons’ run game was sparked last week by the return of Freeman, who missed the first matchup against the Panthers’ league-worst run defense, and Atlanta might also get both Jones and Hooper back this week putting extra pressure on Carolina’s secondary.

Whether the Panthers are motivated are not, this Falcons team is healthier now than when they beat up Carolina on the road just a few weeks ago.

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Sean Zerillo is 195-131-4 (59.8%) overall betting on the NFL. You can follow him in our free app.

Dolphins at Jets Picks, Predictions & Betting Odds

  • Odds: Jets -5.5
  • Over/Under: 45.5
  • Kickoff: 1 p.m. ET
  • TV Channel: CBS

Remember when the Dolphins couldn’t get a win? They’ve managed to string together three over the past five week, including one against the Jets in Week 9.

The offense has come around since then as well, as the Dolphins have scored the sixth-most points in the NFL over that span. Bettors have certainly picked up on that trend as more than 70% of betting tickets are on the over.

Should you follow the public’s lead on this total?

Our experts preview this AFC East showdown, with analysis of the betting odds, a pick and more.

Dolphins-Jets Injury Report

Which team is healthier? Dolphins

Everyone of note on the Dolphins’ injury report was able to practice in a limited fashion, indicating they’ll like be ready for Sunday. Cornerback Ken Crawley (shoulder) returned to full practice after being ruled out of last week’s game.

The Jets have dwindled their report from 15-plus players to 14 after they placed linebacker C.J. Mosley (groin) on injured reserve. Le’Veon Bell (illness) didn’t practice on Thursday, but it doesn’t sound like he’ll miss this game (yet). Jamal Adams — Pro Football Focus’ No. 4 safety–  is in jeopardy of missing this game after he sprained his ankle in Week 13.

Ryan Griffin’s status is worth monitoring after he came down with an illness. Slot corner Brian Poole will also need to clear the concussion protocol to suit up on Sunday. He’s PFF’s No. 8 overall corner. Justin Bailey

Biggest Mismatch

Jets Run Defense vs. Dolphins Run Game

The Dolphins don’t actually have a run game.

Miami ranks last in the NFL with 62.8 rushing yards per game and a 3.1 yards per carry average. The Jets defense, meanwhile, just so happens to rank first in both categories, limiting opponents to 75.3 yards per game and 2.9 yards per carry.

Per our public betting data, the percentage of dollars wagered against the spread on Miami at the time of this writing is around 30, a figure that could double as a fairly optimistic projection of Miami’s rushing yardage in this game (the true decimal form of 30% — 0.30 — would probably be even more accurate).

Want to have some fun this weekend? Get some friends together and play “Drink if you’ve never heard of him” with each member of the Dolphins running back depth chart. Here are the names: Patrick Laird, Myles Gaskin, De’Lance Turner, Zach Zenner. Cheers (x4)! — Chris Raybon

Sean Koerner’s Projected Odds

  • Projected Spread: Jets -7
  • Projected Total: 45.5

I’ve been a bit hypocritical with the Jets as I made the case they were a buy-low team a few weeks ago then bet against them two of the past three weeks. However, I may pull the trigger on them here.

I also may break my rule of not betting on Dolphins spreads. Ryan Fitzpatrick is a high-variance quarterback on the worst roster in the NFL, making is nearly impossible to identify the value on their lines, but this week could be different.

The public seems to be backing the Dolphins after upsetting the Eagles and running what is arguably the play call of the year with a fourth-and-goal play in which the punter threw a 1-yard touchdown to the kicker. It just goes to show that Miami’s coaching staff has done a tremendous job getting this team to three wins.

I’m willing to back the Jets here at -5 just to catch the Dolphins, who are due for a letdown game.

Sam Darnold is one of the worst quarterbacks in the league when facing pressure with a QB rating of 56.1 while under duress (per Pro Football Focus), which ranks 31st. But the Dolphins create the least amount of pressure at only 17.7%, so Darnold will be comfortable in the pocket and should be able to pick this defense apart as a result.

There’s been some odd betting behavior with 64% of the tickets coming in on the Dolphins but 72% of the cash coming in on the Jets. I was able to find only one game with such extreme percentages both ways in our Bet Labs database (since 2005). In an effort to increase the sample size, I looked at games in which less than 42% of the tickets and more than 58% of the money was on a side, and found those teams have gone 11-8 against the spread.

I’m the last person to read too much into a 19-game sample size, but if anything, it just goes to show how rare this split is. Though I’m not letting it impact my view of this matchup as a result. Still, I’ll want stud safety Jamal Adams to be declared active before making it an actual play. — Sean Koerner

PRO System Match

Since 2003, the under is 831-738-29 (53.0%) in division games. Unders have been a smart play in division games as increased familiarity between teams creates a lower-scoring environment.

It may seem obvious to some bettors, but it’s been more profitable to take the under in division games with high totals (more than 44 points). It’s just easier for unders to cash when more points are expected to be scored.

Following this Pro System, bettors have gone 186-112-3 (62.4%) since 2003. A $100 bettor would have returned a profit of $6,481 following this strategy.

More than 70% of tickets are on the over, but history suggests bettors will be disappointed by the results. John Ewing

Expert Pick

Sean Zerillo: Under 45

I like the under in this game for the reasons enumerated by my colleague John Ewing, above — late season divisional unders with high totals are consistently profitable investments.

Jets head coach Adam Gase is also notorious for conducting slow-moving offenses. This season, New York ranks 31st in plays per game (58.8) and 26th in time between snaps (28.71 seconds).

In 2018 with the Dolphins, Gase’s offense averaged 30.08 seconds between plays, the second-slowest moving offense in the NFL.

This season, Gase has a top-10 defense (No. 2 against the run), which should theoretically allow the Jets to try to hold the ball and grind the Dolphins down over the course of the game.

The Dolphins took a 21-12 lead into halftime in their victory against the Jets on Nov. 3, but if Gang Green can get out to a lead here it will prevent Sam Darnold and Ryan Fitzpatrick from surpassing their 75 combined passing attempts from that matchup.

With 73% of the tickets and 78% of the cash behind the over, the total has increased for this game from 44 to 45.5.

History suggests that the upward move makes betting the under profitable:

Combined with the Pro system for Divisional Unders, this game sets up as an extremely compelling trend play for under bettors.

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Sean Zerillo is 195-131-4 (59.8%) overall betting on the NFL. You can follow him in our free app.

Chargers at Jaguars Picks, Predictions & Betting Odds

  • Odds: Chargers -3
  • Over/Under: 43
  • Kickoff: 1 p.m. ET
  • TV Channel: CBS

The Chargers and Jaguars enter Sunday’s game out of the AFC playoff picture, but Gardner Minshew returns to start for Jacksonville against a reeling Los Angeles side.

Our experts preview this matchup, complete with analysis of the biggest mismatch and a pick.

Chargers-Jaguars Injury Report

Which team is healthier? Chargers

The Chargers only noteworthy injury is Mike Williams (knee), who was limited in practice on Wednesday and Thursday. That said, I wouldn’t expect him to be out this game since the Chargers have typically managed his workload early in the week this season.

The Jags placed linebacker Myles Jack (knee) on injured reserve, so they’ll be down one defender, and possibly another one since safety Ronnie Harrison (concussion) hasn’t cleared the concussion protocol. DJ Chark (back) and Chris Conley (ankle) have been limited in practice, but there haven’t been any reports of them potentially missing this game. Justin Bailey

Biggest Mismatch

Melvin Gordon vs. Jaguars Run Defense

This is a meeting of two disappointing teams from very different paths. Los Angeles has continued to fight despite their 4-8 record. The Chargers have lost their last four games by a combined 13 points, while the Jaguars’ last four losses have come with a combined total of 82 points.

Jacksonville’s respected defense has crumbled, especially against the run. The last four running backs to face the Jaguars have produced the following PPR fantasy performances: RB20 (Carlos Hyde), RB13 (Jonathan Williams), RB3 (Derrick Henry), and RB18 (Peyton Barber).

Gordon is clearly back to full strength with over 100 total yards in three of his past four games. He has failed to reach the end zone in two games, a trend that will likely change against the Jaguars, who allow the sixth-most fantasy points to opposing running backs.

Quarterback Philip Rivers has struggled all season failing to produce a QB1 performance since Week 7. His eight interceptions over the Chargers past three games has coincided with a greater touch count for Gordon. Jacksonville will need to scheme out Gordon, who is in line for his most productive performance of the season. Mike Randle

Sean Koerner‘s Projected Odds

  • Projected Spread: Chargers -2.5
  • Projected Total: 43

The Jaguars benched Nick Foles for Gardner Minshew mid-game last week. and considering they spent $88-million on the free-agent QB, that was likely not an easy decision to make, but it’s likely the correct one as the sixth- round rookie has outplayed Foles.

On the other side of the ball, it’s been reported that Phillip Rivers is also in danger of being benched. He’s been a turnover machine of late due to poor decisions and poor throws. It doesn’t help his cause that Tyrod Taylor is one of the better backups in the league.

Either way, this is a spot in which the Jaguars are showing some value at home getting a key number of +3. Let’s wait to see if this can hit +3.5, then the Jaguars will become a play for me. Sean Koerner

PRO System Match

The Jaguars offense is struggling so badly that Nick Foles has been benched for the remainder of the season. Over their past three games, the team has been held to 20 or fewer points.

As a result, more than 60% of spread tickets are on the Chargers as road favorites as of writing. While this may seem like a good time to fade the Jags inconsistent offense, history suggests otherwise.

Teams that haven’t been able to put up a lot of points recently can be undervalued as teams to regress to the mean throughout the season. This is especially true against opponents that may not know their tendencies or personnel as well as their divisional rivals.

This creates an excellent first-half betting opportunity. Gamblers following this Pro System have gone 166-116-59 (59%) against the spread since 2005. A $100 bettor would have returned a profit of $3,612 following this strategy. John Ewing

Expert Pick

Randle: Over 43

As John Ewing points out, the public feeling will be to fade the struggling Jaguars offense. However, the return of Minshew brings a possible jump start in a home game against a non-divisional opponent.

Over his first eight games this season, Minshew produced 13 touchdowns with only two interceptions. With speedy wide receivers D.J. Chark, Dede Westbrook, and Chris Conley, Jacksonville has the resources to hit big pass plays against Los Angeles.

The Jaguars’ defense has been a sieve against the run, bringing Melvin Gordon and Austin Ekeler in play for big fantasy performances. Wide receiver Mike Williams is No. 1 in yards per reception and No. 5 in yards per target, yet has not caught a touchdown pass all season. Positive regression is certainly in his favor.

I like the over 43 in a game that could be one of the underrated high scoring games on the slate.

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Mike Randle is 212-205-5 (50.8%) overall betting on the NFL. You can follow him in our free app.

Chiefs at Patriots Picks, Predictions & Betting Odds

  • Odds: Patriots -3
  • Over/Under: 48.5
  • Kickoff: 4:25 p.m. ET
  • TV Channel: CBS

Sunday’s late afternoon slate features a rematch of last season’s AFC title game between the Kansas City Chiefs and New England Patriots. The 3-point spread implies this matchup would be close to a pick’em at a neutral site, so where’s the value on this matchup?

Our experts preview the game, featuring a staff pick as well as a comparison to Sean Koerner’s projected odds.

Chiefs-Patriots Injury Report

Which team is healthier? Patriots

The Patriots downgraded Tom Brady (toe/elbow) to limited practice on Thursday, but there’s nothing suggesting he would actually miss this game — this is likely just the Patriots being the Patriots.

They also have their usual players limited in practice with Julian Edelman (shoulder) and Mohamed Sanu (ankle). Given Sanu played last week, I would expect both receivers to suit up against the Chiefs. Offensive lineman Ted Karras (knee) missed practice on Wednesday and Thursday, suggesting he could be out on Sunday. He’ll need to get in a practice on Friday to have a shot.

The Chiefs, meanwhile, placed running back Darrel Williams (hamstring) on injured reserve and Damien Williams (ribs) still hasn’t returned to practice after an early exit in Week 13. The only healthy running backs on their current roster are LeSean McCoy, Darwin Thompson and the newly-signed Spencer Ware. Justin Bailey

Biggest Mismatch

Patriots RBs vs. Chiefs Defense

This AFC Championship Game rematch between heavyweights means the edges both teams typically enjoy are mostly negated. In terms of overall DVOA — Football Outsiders’ schedule-adjusted efficiency metric — the Patriots are No. 2 and the Chiefs are No. 4.

Neither team has a below-average mark in offense, defense or special teams.

Even from a betting trends perspective, this sets up as an unstoppable force vs. an immovable object. Per our Bet Labs data, the Chiefs are 34-18-1 (65%) against the spread on the road under Andy Reid … but the Patriots are 91-54-5 (63%) ATS since 2003 in Foxborough with a spread of -17 or less and 30-11 (73%) ATS coming off a straight up loss in games started by Tom Brady.

If we drill down more deeply, though, the one area that stands out as a problem spot is Kansas City’s defense of opposing backfields. The Chiefs are ranked 30th in defensive rushing DVOA, and though some of it is by design in a much-improved pass defense under Steve Spagnuolo, they’re also allowing the second-most schedule adjusted receiving yards per game to opposing running backs at 61.5 (per Football Outsiders) while allowing the second-most yards per target to the position (7.6).

Despite recent Brady helmet-slamming induced narratives, the Patriots have been an above-average offense even after adjusting for strength of schedule: They’re 10th in overall offensive DVOA, 14th in passing and 16th in rushing. The Chiefs set up as a running back funnel, ranking 30th in DVOA against the run and sixth against the pass, but just 17th on passes to running backs.

The Patriots have been hurt by injuries at fullback and tight end, leading to a revolving door at two of their key run-blocking positions, but they’ve seemingly found some new wrinkles as of late, which were fully on display last week against Houston. One is employing Elandon Roberts as a fullback, and the other is running more from the shotgun, where they average 0.4 more yards per carry than under center.

fantasy-start sit-strategy-giants-patriots-thursday night football-koerner
David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Sony Michel, James White

Despite falling, 28-22, Patriots backs turned in a strong effort on the ground with James White (14-79), Sony Michel (10-45) and Rex Burkhead (3-15) combining for 139 yards on 27 carries — a 5.2 average. White also went 8-92-2 through the air last game, which may be needed again with Brady’s receivers struggling to separate downfield. Chris Raybon

Sean Koerner’s Projected Odds

  • Projected Spread: Patriots -3
  • Projected Total: 49

I’m right in line with the market here, so this is a pass for me. Sean Koerner

Expert Pick

John Ewing: Patriots -3

The Patriots are 10-2 and have outscored their opponents by 177 points — the best point differential in football. It’s weird to say it, but despite their success this season, Bill Belichick and Co. have actually underperformed based on Pythagorean expectations.

According to Pythagorean expectations, the Pats should have 10.4 wins. That 0.4-win difference between expected and actual wins isn’t much, but it does point to value on Brady and Belichick.

Historically, winning teams that have underperformed their points expectations have been good bets late in the season.

A $100 bettor following this strategy would have returned a profit of $2,952 since 2003.

This is not the only historical data on the side of the Patriots this week. After a dismal performance on Sunday Night Football, gamblers should expect New England to bounce back. Since 2003, Brady has gone 35-13 (73%) ATS after a loss.

Our Bet Labs simulations also like New England in this matchup making the Patriots 3.5-point favorites. All signs point to value on the Pats at the key number of 3.

I like the Patriots at anything -3 or better.

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Ewing is 313-285-16 (52.3%) overall betting on the NFL. You can follow him in our free app.

Titans at Raiders Picks, Predictions & Betting Odds

  • Odds: Titans -3
  • Over/Under: 47.5
  • Kickoff: 4:25 p.m. ET
  • TV Channel: CBS

The Tennessee Titans head to Oakland as 3-point road favorites against the Raiders. But are recent performances by both teams incorrectly impacting this line?

Our experts preview this matchup, featuring a spread pick and a comparison to Sean Koerner’s projected odds.

Titans-Raiders Injury Report

Which team is healthier? Both are banged up

A.J. Brown (calf) was a new addition to the injury report and was listed as a limited participant on Thursday. I wouldn’t worry at all about Derrick Henry (hamstring) — it’s the same routine he followed last week, resting on Wednesday and getting in a limited session on Thursday.

Cornerbacks LeShaun Sims (ankle) and Adoree Jackson (foot) haven’t practiced this week, and the same goes for Adam Humphries (ankle).

Meanwhile, the Raiders’ biggest injury of note is Josh Jacobs. A report came out that he’s been playing with a fractured shoulder, and he’s now missed back-to-back practices. Looking back at my old practice notes, this is the first time since Week 8 in which he’s missed consecutive practices due to his shoulder. He sounds legitimately questionable for Week 14. Justin Bailey

Biggest Mismatch

Titans Red-Zone Offense vs. Raiders Red-Zone Defense

Believe it or not, the Titans actually lead the NFL with a 71.88% red-zone touchdown scoring percentage. And that number is nothing compared to what they’ve done inside their opponent’s 20-yard line since Ryan Tannehill took over.

Since Tannehill took over as the starter, the Titans have scored touchdowns on 15-of-17 trips inside the red zone over six games and have averaged 29.67 points per game — almost two full touchdowns more than their average over the first six games. Even that early-season average drops to 11 points per game if you remove the 43-point outburst in Week 1 against the Browns.

The Raiders have to find a way to slow down the Titans in the red zone — it’s been a major area of weakness for an Oakland team that struggles to generate pressure and cover on the outside. The Raiders are allowing touchdowns on 66.67% of red-zone trips, the worst in the NFL. Stuckey

Sean Koerner’s Projected Odds

  • Projected Spread: Titans -3
  • Projected Total: 45

I have this pegged as the third-slowest game of Week 14, yet it has one of the four highest totals.

Both teams will attempt to control the clock with a run-heavy game plan, making this very much Henry vs. Jacobs (if both play). And while both secondaries are vulnerable right now, I wouldn’t expect either team to take too many shots downfield unless they get behind. Considering I project this to be a close one, I’m viewing that as all the more reason to like the under here. Sean Koerner

Expert Pick

Mike Randle: Raiders +3

Always take advantage of knee-jerk overreactions when betting on the NFL.

The Raiders have looked terrible in consecutive losses at the Jets and Chiefs, losing by a combined score of 74-9, while the Titans have won three in a row including last week’s 31-17 upset at Indianapolis.

This is the perfect spot to grab the home underdog at the key number of +3.

Oakland is 5-1 at home, including 4-1 against the spread as a home underdog. The Raiders have been decent against the run, allowing the 13th-fewest rushing yards to opposing running backs. Their defense is significantly better at home, allowing only 20.5 points per game and more than 13 fewer points than on the road.

Jacobs has also been significantly better at home and should receive ample opportunity as the center of the Raiders’ offensive attack if he plays.

Oakland needs this one desperately to stay in the playoff race, and the Raiders have much tougher at home on both sides of the ball. Jon Gruden’s squad averages more points per drive (2.07) and sacks (1.67) per game at home.

The Titans have played well, but this is a prime letdown spot after a huge divisional road win at Indianapolis. I’ll gladly take the three points in game Oakland could very well win outright.

I’d bet this down to Oakland +2.

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Randle is 212-205-5 (50.8%) overall betting on the NFL. You can follow him in our free app.

Steelers at Cardinals Predictions & Betting Odds

  • Odds: Steelers -2.5
  • Over/Under: 43.5
  • Kickoff: 4:25 p.m. ET
  • TV Channel: CBS

The Pittsburgh Steelers sit on the edge of the AFC playoff picture after regaining the sixth spot with a win over Cleveland last week. The Arizona Cardinals, meanwhile, have officially been eliminated from playoff contention.

But is Steelers -2.5 really a safe (and valuable) bet?

Our experts preview this matchup, complete with a comparison to Sean Koerner’s projected odds.

Steelers-Cardinals Injury Report

Which team is healthier? Cardinals

The most noteworthy player on the Cardinals’ injury report is offensive lineman J.R Sweezy, who is dealing with an illness. But if he returns to practice on Thursday or Friday, I’d expect him to play. He grades out as their second-best pass-blocking lineman per Pro Football Focus.

The Steelers, meanwhile, are a disaster right now.

James Conner (shoulder) already ruled himself out and JuJu Smith-Schuster (knee) is reportedly unlikely to play, leaving their offense without two of its best pieces. Justin Bailey

Biggest Mismatch

Steelers vs. Cardinals In the Trenches

The Steelers defensive line should really dominate the line of scrimmage all game long.

The Cardinals offensive line has been an area of weakness, ranking 26th in adjusted sack rate and 28th in the NFL with 3.5 sacks allowed per game — not ideal against a Steelers defense that averages 3.6 sacks per game (third in league) and ranks second overall in adjusted sack rate.

And as you might expect with a rookie quarterback, Kyler Murray hasn’t been great when under pressure. First of all, he’s been sacked at a 28.2% rate while under pressure, the highest percentage among the 30 quarterbacks with at least 225 drop backs this season. He’s also completing only 43% of his passes (25th) with three touchdowns and three picks when under pressure. Sack numbers are not all on the offensive line as the quarterback also has a major say.

Expect the Steelers (one of the NFL’s best when it comes to converting pressure into sacks) to put the Cardinals (one of the worst offenses in that same category) behind the sticks to kill a few key drives. Keep in mind that from the perspective of Football Outsiders’ DOVA, the Steelers are now the only team in the NFL to rank in the top five in both rush and pass defense.

And on the other side of the ball, Steelers offensive tackles are playing at a high enough level to contain the pass rush of Chandler Jones and Terrell Suggs off the edge. Overall, the Pitt offensive line ranks third in adjusted sack rate.

Devlin Hodges should have much more time to work in the pocket on Sunday. Now, the question is can Mike Tomlin actually get his team motivated for a road game against a sub .500 team — something he’s failed to do consistently throughout his career? That remains to be seen, but history suggests the Cardinals may be a live dog after the Steelers’ emotional win last week when they exacted revenge against Cleveland to take over the sixth spot in the AFC playoff picture.

Just take a look at these splits:

  • Tomlin as a road favorite against a sub .500 team: 14-27-1 (34.7%) against the spread for a 29.7% ROI — He’s failing to cover by more than a field goal per game in this spot, making him the least profitable coach among 99 active or former coaches in this situation since 2003.
  • Tomlin as an underdog: 34-18-2 (65.3%) ATS with a 26.7% ROI, covering by almost a field goal per game on average. The only active coach more profitable as an underdog than Tomlin is Sean Payton. Tomlin is also 9-3-2 ATS as a home underdog.

That’s 34.7% vs. 65.3% — exact percentage opposites based on the two described situations. With a date with Buffalo on deck, it wouldn’t shock me to see Pitt come out flat, but the advantage in the trenches could make up for an uninspired and unprepared effort. Stuckey

Sean Koerner’s Projected Odds

  • Projected Spread: Steelers -1.5
  • Projected Total: 44

These two teams have been going in opposite directions with the Steelers winning six of their last seven and the Cardinals losing five straight. I’m actually surprised we aren’t seeing more action — 58% of tickets and 71% of money — on the Steelers here (see live public betting data here), especially with how badly the Cardinals lost to the Rams last week.

Pittsburgh should be a slight favorite here, but reaching the key number of -3 on the road may be a bit too high. In fact, it appears sharper books have been meeting resistance anytime the line gets up to -3, effectively having to bring it back down to -2.5. While softer books seem much more comfortable offering Steelers -3 to attract at least some Arizona action, Cardinals +3 is only a lean until we get more clarity on Smith-Schuster’s and Conner’s availability.  — Sean Koerner

Expert Pick

Our staff doesn’t see value on this game right now, but that could change as lines move, so download our app to follow specific experts and action around this game.

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