Your Ultimate NFL Week 14 Betting Guide: Tips, Picks, Strategies for Every Game

Your Ultimate NFL Week 14 Betting Guide: Tips, Picks, Strategies for Every Game article feature image
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USA Today Sports. Pictured: Travis Kelce, Deshaun Watson, Christian McCaffrey

  • If you're looking for comprehensive betting and fantasy football previews for every Week 14 game, you've come to the right place.
  • Our experts cover trends, sharp action, fantasy football sleepers and make the case for a few bets.

All odds as of Friday morning. Download The Action Network App to get real-time NFL odds and track your bets.


Betting odds: Indianapolis Colts at Houston Texans 

  • Spread: Texans -4.5
  • Over/Under: 50
  • Time: 1 p.m. ET
  • TV channel: CBS

Betting market: Following the Colts’ dud of a game, nearly 60% of the public is siding with Houston. The line movement hasn’t been very riveting, though, with sportsbooks around the market set at the inconsequential numbers of 4.5 and 5 at the time of writing (check our live data here). — Mark Gallant

Trends to know: The Colts did not score in their loss to the Jaguars last Sunday. According to our Bet Labs data, teams that were shut out in their previous game have gone 53-44-3 (55%) against the spread since 2003.

If the team is an underdog in their next game, like the Colts, the ATS record improves to 35-22-3 (61%). — John Ewing

Biggest mismatch: Deshaun Watson/DeAndre Hopkins vs. the Colts secondary

One of the primary reasons I think the Texans have a puncher’s chance in the AFC is their quarterback is on par with the top contenders in the conference.

Houston’s improved defensive play and an increased effort to preserve Watson’s health means he’s not putting up video-game numbers every time out, so it’s gone overlooked that the QB is maximizing Hopkins’ immense talents like no other.

Despite being force-fed his usual 9.5 targets per game (31% of Houston’s targets and 44% of its air yards), Hopkins is having his most efficient season by far.

His catch rate stands at 70.2% after failing to crack 60% for his first five pro seasons, and his 9.8 yards per target would also be a career-high, and the first time he’s cracked even 8.0 since 2014.

The Colts have exceeded expectations on defense, ranking 11th in overall DVOA, but most of that has been due to their play against the run (fourth in DVOA).

Against the pass, the Colts rank 21st overall and 23rd vs. No. 1 wide receivers. — Chris Raybon

Sneaky storyline: Andrew Luck’s 32 touchdown passes are second in the league, and he’s also taken the second-fewest sacks (14), so it’s easy to conclude the Colts have fielded one of the best passing offenses in the league.

But despite the low sack total, the Colts rank just 15th with 6.4 net yards per attempt and are also just 15th in passing DVOA (which, remember, is adjusted for opponent and situation).

Luck has done all he can, attempting the second-most passes in the league and leading the offense to a third-down conversion rate (48.2) that trails only the Buccaneers for best in the NFL.

However, of the 10 players he’s targeted at least 15 times this season, only two (T.Y. Hilton, Eric Ebron) average at least 10.0 yards per reception.

With that being said, the mismatch between perception and reality may continue, as Houston ranks a mediocre 15th in third-down defense and 23rd in short-pass DVOA.

In the first meeting between these two teams, the Texans won 37-34 in overtime, but fittingly gave up 34 points while allowing a 59% third-down conversion rate and 462 yards on 62 pass attempts. — Raybon

Which team is healthier? Texans

The Texans aren’t all that healthy in their own right, but the Colts are making a mockery of the injury report process at this point. Neither Ebron (back, illness) nor Hilton (shoulder) managed to practice Wednesday or Thursday, but they aren’t thought to be dealing with serious injuries.

There’s also plenty of uncertainty around center Ryan Kelly (knee), tight ends Mo Alie-Cox (calf) and Erik Swoope (knee), safety Malik Hooker (hip), along with wide receivers Chest Rogers (groin) and Dontrelle Inman (shoulder).

The Texans are expected to have Hopkins (foot), Watson (right shoulder) and J.J. Watt (knee) despite their placement on the injury report. Second-year running back D’Onta Foreman (Achilles) could make his season debut, but the offense probably won’t have Keke Coutee (hamstring) for another week.

Note: Info as of 6 p.m. ET Thursday. See our Injury Report for daily practice participation and game statuses up until kickoff. — Ian Hartitz

DFS edge: The Texans are playing winning football and should be thrilled with their season after starting 0-3. With that said, Hopkins hasn’t exhibited the same level of dominance with Will Fuller sidelined over the past two seasons.

Hopkins has scored 17 touchdowns in 16 games with Fuller, compared to just four touchdowns in 11 games without since the beginning of 2017. Nuk has surpassed 100 yards in just two of those 11 games.

Of course, none of this could matter considering how well off Hopkins is against the Colts’ porous pass defense. He hung a 10-169-1 line on the Colts in Week 4, and they rank just 23rd in DVOA vs. No. 1 receivers.

Hopkins’ $7,800 price tag comes with a strong +3.72 Projected Plus/Minus in our FantasyLabs Models. — Hartitz

Bet to watch: Colts +4.5

The first matchup between these two teams (which feels like forever ago) was the start of this crazy Texans winning streak that has now extended into December.

Despite all the wins, the level of competition has been low, and I still think don’t think the Texans are anything particularly special.

After being shut out last week by Jacksonville, the Colts should show a much better effort in a game that both teams desperately need for playoff positioning.

I have these teams rated closer to even, so after factoring in home-field advantage, there’s a small amount of value on the Colts. — Ken Barkley


Betting odds: Baltimore Ravens at Kansas City Chiefs

  • Spread: Chiefs -6.5
  • Over/Under: 51.5
  • Time: 1 p.m. ET
  • TV channel: CBS


Betting market: Over the first day of betting, early cash on the Ravens moved the line from +7.5 to +6.

On Tuesday, the money began flowing in on the Chiefs, given their availability below the key number of seven. The line has since moved back up to -6.5 as a result, but we haven’t seen enough sharp action to bump it back to -7.

Surprisingly enough, the public believes Baltimore’s defense will give the Chiefs some trouble, as 60% of bets are on the under at the time of writing (check live betting data here). — Mark Gallant

Weather report: It’s going to be cold at Arrowhead Stadium. Temperatures will be right around freezing, but the wind should be relatively calm and the sun will be out. — Mark Gallant

Trends to know: Kansas City has the highest scoring offense in the NFL (37.0 points per game), while Baltimore has the best defense (17.8 ppg).

In the past 10 seasons including the playoffs, when a team scoring 30 or more points per game faces an opponent allowing 20 or fewer points per game the offensive team has gone 61-88-6 (41%) against the spread, according to our Bet Labs data. — John Ewing

Did you know? In Ravens franchise history, they have never played a game with an over/under higher than 51. This week, the over/under opened at 53. — Evan Abrams

Biggest mismatch: Ravens rush offense vs. Chiefs rush defense

The Ravens are on a roll. They have won three straight thanks to their elite defense and special teams and a new-found rushing attack with Lamar Jackson under center.

For the season, the Ravens have only averaged 4.1 yards per carry, which ranks 26th in the league, but this is a completely different offense now. Just take a look at the output over their past three games:

  • 53 carries for 267 yards vs. Cincinnati
  • 43 carries for 242 yards vs. Oakland
  • 49 carries for 207 yards vs. Atlanta

That’s 145 rushes in just three games for 716 yards — an average of 4.9 yards per rush, which is what the Chiefs average on offense and they rank in the top five.

Pretty amazing when you consider Baltimore is doing it primarily with a rookie QB and an undrafted rookie RB.

Even more amazing, they are averaging 22 more plays per game than their opponent with Lamar under center. In other words, the Ravens are basically the Army of the NFL right now.

Now, I still don’t necessarily believe in the basic offense long term, but against bad rushing defenses, it can thrive. And for the fourth time in four games, the Ravens will face a poor rushing defense.

The Chiefs allow 5.1 yards per carry, which is tied with the Seahawks and Rams for the worst average in the NFL.

Football Outsiders’ DVOA metric paints the same picture, as it has Kansas City as the NFL’s worst ranked rush defense.

In the three games prior, the Ravens defeated the Bengals, Raiders and Falcons, who each rank 24th or worse in that same category. — Stuckey

Which team is healthier? Chiefs

The Ravens are expected to once again start Jackson, but Joe Flacco (hip) was able to practice in a limited fashion all week.

The offensive line hopes to have right tackle James Hurst (back) and left guard Alex Lewis (shoulder), while the defense is dealing with injuries to outside linebacker Tim Williams (ankle), safety Tony Jefferson (ankle), along with starting cornerbacks Marlon Humphrey (groin) and Tavon Young (groin).

The only Chiefs at risk of missing Sunday’s game are safety Eric Berry (heel) and wide receiver Sammy Watkins (foot).

Note: Info as of 6 p.m. ET Thursday. See our Injury Report for daily practice participation and game statuses up until kickoff. — Ian Hartitz

DFS edge: The Ravens have utilized No. 1 cornerback Jimmy Smith twice this season for shadow matchups vs. Julio Jones (2-18-0) and Michael Thomas (7-69-1).

It seems unlikely Tyreek Hill gets this treatment considering he’s spent 44% of his snaps in the slot or the backfield. Smith hasn’t played more than seven snaps in the slot during a game this season, so TyFreak should see plenty of Young, who’s an average nickel back.

Don’t fret about matchups with the Chiefs’ historically prolific offense. Hill costs $8,000 on DraftKings and boasts a GPP-friendly 78% Leverage Rating. — Ian Hartitz

Bets to Watch: Ravens +7 and Under 51.5

Before we dive in, I should note that while the consensus line is +6.5 at the time of writing, there are still some +7s out there, so shop around before you lock something in.

This matchup reminds me a lot of Baltimore’s game with Atlanta last week. An elite passing offense that the Ravens’ secondary can match up with, and a Jackson-led rushing attack that can expose a bad rushing defense.

Baltimore’s defense has been nothing but spectacular, joining the Bears as the only teams to rank in the top five in both rushing and passing defense DVOA.

How good has the Ravens defense been? Well, here are just a handful of the categories it leads the league in heading into Week 14:

  • Points per game (17.8)
  • Completion percentage (57.9%)
  • Yards per play (4.9)
  • Yards per game (281.7)
  • Passing yards per attempt (5.6)

That’s huge against the Chiefs’ record-setting offense, which leads the league with 7.2 yards per play and 8.9 yards per pass attempt.

I also like the under 51.5, as the Ravens will play keep-away, which will do three things:

  • Keep Mahomes off the field
  • Take advantage of the horrid run defense of the Chiefs’ defensive front
  • Neutralize the Chiefs primary strengths on a bad defense

Lastly, both of these teams have elite special team units — so no advantage there — although you still would trust Justin Tucker to make a big kick over any other kicker in the league (unless it’s an extra point to tie the game vs. the Saints). — Stuckey

Bet to watch: Ravens +7

Completely agree, Stuckey. After starting the season 7-0 against the spread, the Chiefs have gone just 1-3-1 since. The Chiefs are still a great team, but they have been overvalued by the betting market recently.

I think that continues this week, as seven points is too many against a good Ravens defense. With Jackson expected to start against a porous run defense, Baltimore should be able to run a lot of clock and limit the number of scoring opportunities for Patrick Mahomes & Co.

The Chiefs win, but the Ravens keep it close. — Travis Reed


Betting odds: New Orleans Saints at Tampa Bay Buccaneers 

  • Spread: Saints -9.5
  • Over/Under: 55.5
  • Time: 1 p.m. ET
  • TV channel: FOX

Betting market: The Saints’ ugly loss to Dallas has not phased bettors, as more than 80% of the spread bets are backing New Orleans (check out live data here).

Despite these two teams both having high scoring offenses, 66% of the bets are on the under and the total has fallen from 57.5 to 55.5.

Historically, late-season divisional unders have been profitable and it’s possible the general public is catching on to that trend (more on that below). — Mark Gallant

Weather report: Forecasts are calling for average wind speeds around 11-12 mph (per Sports Insights‘ weather bug), which is a bit less than it was last weekend in Tampa. There’s also a chance of rain, but it doesn’t appear as if it’ll impact much of the game if any. — Gallant

Trends to know: The Saints lost 13-10 to the Cowboys in Week 13. According to our Bet Labs data, Drew Brees is 54-36-2 (60%) against the spread following a loss since 2003. But if the next game is against opponent with a losing record, like the Bucs, he is just 24-20-1 ATS. — John Ewing

The Buccaneers are allowing 29.6 PPG this season, the third-most in the NFL. Since 2010, Drew Brees has faced a 16 defenses allowing at least 28 points per game, and he is just 6-10 ATS, losing bettors 4.3 units.

Brees is the third-least profitable quarterback over that span, just ahead of Derek Carr and Michael Vick.

When Brees faced a divisional opponent in this spot, the Saints are 0-4 ATS, failing to cover the spread by 10.1 PPG. — Evan Abrams

Biggest mismatch: Saints Pass Offense vs. Buccaneers Secondary

The Saints should have No. 1 wide receiver Michael Thomas (ankle) in this game, but even if he were to unexpectedly sit out, they would still be able to pass at will against the Bucs

Tampa Bay ranks 29th in pass-defense DVOA and has seen its secondary decimated by injuries.

There’s a chance of precipitation, and Brees outside of the Mercedes-Benz Superdome is always uncertain, but he passed for 439 yards and three touchdowns when these teams met in Week 1.

There’s little the MVP frontrunner has done this season to suggest he won’t be able to exploit one of the league’s weakest pass defenses. — Matthew Freedman

Which team is healthier? Saints

Thomas (ankle) is expected to play Sunday after practicing in full on Thursday, but it remains to be seen if left tackle Terron Armstead (shoulder) will be able to return to the field. The offense could also potentially be without right tackle Ryan Ramczyk (shoulder).

The Buccaneers aren’t so well off, as defensive tackle Gerald McCoy (ankle, shoulder), defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul (knee), safety Justin Evans (toe) and cornerback Carlton Davis (knee) aren’t guaranteed to suit up Sunday.

Wide receiver Chris Godwin could be in for another start if DeSean Jackson (thumb) is unable to suit up, but the Buccaneers’ defense should get back cornerbacks Brent Grimes (knee) and M.J. Stewart (leg).

Note: Info as of 6 p.m. ET Thursday. See our Injury Report for daily practice participation and game statuses up until kickoff. — Ian Hartitz

Chris-Godwin
Photo credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Chris Godwin

DFS edge: The Saints-Bucs game would make an exceptional game stack, given both teams have solid offenses and poor defenses. The Bucs’ offense is especially appealing.

They lead the league in deep-ball attempts (passes of 15-plus yards), completing 52.3% of them (sixth-highest rate) for a league-high 150.4 yards per game.

Meanwhile, the Saints have allowed the fifth-highest completion rate and a league-high 117.08 passing yards per game on passes thrown 15 or more yards downfield.

Jameis Winston is a strong play on FanDuel. He is the 10th-most expensive quarterback, but has the third-highest median projection. You could stack him with Mike Evans or Chris Godwin (if DeSean Jackson out).

Evans boasts an 18.94 average depth of target (aDOT), while Godwin has an aDOT of 11.41. — Justin Bailey

Bet to watch: Under 55.5

Both these teams’ totals have been too high lately, either failing to adjust for recent trends or weighing outliers too heavily.

After the Buccaneers’ 48-40 win over the Saints in Week 1, they went on a nine-game stretch where they committed a ridiculous 29 turnovers, which is a screaming outlier.

Turnovers tend to drive up scoring because they can lead to short fields and quick scores. As for the Saints, they’ve averaged 33.5 rushes and 28.5 passes per game in the eight games since Mark Ingram returned.

This is not the same team that passed 40.8 times and rushed 23.8 times through the first four weeks of the season.

You also have the second meeting between two divisional opponents meeting late in the season in play, which is a situation where the under tends to prevail.

Since 2005, when two divisional opponents meet in Week 11 or later and the total is above 44, the under is 169-104-3 (61.9%), per Bet Labs.

Any additional impact the weather has would be gravy. — Chris Raybon


Betting odds: New England Patriots at Miami Dolphins

  • Spread: Patriots -7.5
  • Over/Under: 47
  • Time: 1 p.m. ET
  • TV channel: CBS

Betting market: There’s been some textbook pros vs. joes activity in this game. At the time of writing, this is what the betting market looks like (see live data here):

  • 71% of bets on the Pats
  • 56% of the money on Miami
  • Three bet signals on Miami

We’ve also seen some reverse line movement, as New England has moved from -9 to -7.5 and even -7 at some books.

The over/under has seen similar activity, with an overwhelming amount of money coming in on the under (88%). It’s no surprise the total has dropped from 48 to 47 since opening. —Mark Gallant

Weather report: Warm and windy. All those Pats fans heading down to Miami to watch the game will be in for a treat, as temps will be in the low-to-mid 80s. Winds will be blowing in the 14 mph range across the field, which could obviously impact passes downfield and field goals. —Mark Gallant

Trends to know: Since 2003, home underdogs getting seven or more points are 142-118-5 (55%) against the spread, per our Bet Labs data.

Late in the season, December to January, these teams are 62-45-4 (58%) ATS. Teams facing the Patriots in this situation are 10-6-1 ATS. — John Ewing

Since 2003, Tom Brady has played in 53 games with average winds of 10 mph or higher. In those games TB12 is 34-16-3 ATS (68%), which is 8% higher than his career ATS win percentage.

Brady is the most profitable QB in that spot, a whopping seven units ahead of Aaron Rodgers. — Evan Abrams

Metrics that matter: The Dolphins are averaging 20.3 points per game this season, which is 25th in the NFL. They’ll have a tough time scoring against the Patriots, who rank ninth in the NFL in points allowed (21.6 PPG).

Over the past two games the New England defense has been especially stingy — allowing just 23 total points.

Obviously having a good defense and Brady is going to yield impressive results. Since 2003, when Brady faces a team scoring fewer than 21 PPG, with his defense posting back-to-back impressive performances, the numbers are out of this world, even for the GOAT:

  • NE defense allowing fewer than 21 points in consecutive games: 27-11 ATS (71.1%, +15.2 units)
  • NE defense allowing fewer than 17 points in consecutive games: 16-4 ATS (80%, +11.7 units) — Evan Abrams

What happens to the Pats in Miami? Whether it’s the Miami night life or humidity, the Patriots have significantly underperformed on the road against the Dolphins relative to the rest of their road results.

Per Bet Labs, Brady is a career 71-43-3 (62.3%) ATS away from home for a 22.7% ROI since 2003. But he’s just 6-7-1 (46.2%) -8.8% ROI in Miami.

The Fish have won seven of those 14 meetings and four of the past five in Miami. — Stuckey

Biggest mismatch: Pats secondary vs. Dolphins receivers

One of the main reasons why the Patriots’ defense has been so successful this season is a result of their extremely strong corner play.

Per Pro Football Focus, the Patriots have two of the top-9 corners in regards to cover grade in the entire NFL in Devin McCourty and Stephon Gilmore.

Those two should lock up DeVante Parker and Kenny Stills, while J.C. Jackson is more than capable of sticking with Leonte Carroo in the slot.

If the Pats can blanket the underwhelming Dolphins receiving corps as expected, that should allow Trey Flowers and Kyle Van Noy to generate pressure against a decimated offensive line.

Remember that two of the three Pats losses came when Flowers left with a concussion early and didn’t play in the other. He’s playing at an elite level. — Stuckey

Which team is healthier? Patriots

The Patriots removed Tom Brady (knee) and Rob Gronkowski (ankle, back) from the injury report Thursday, so they’re both good to go for Sunday. The only other players at risk of missing the game are safety Patrick Chung (shoulder) and tight end Dwayne Allen (knee).

The Dolphins have a few more question marks to deal with, as center Travis Swanson (ankle), left guard Jake Brendel (calf) and Danny Amendola (knee) are looking questionable for Sunday.

The good news is Kenyan Drake (shoulder) and DeVante Parker (shoulder) are expected to suit up, but the defense will probably be without No. 1 cornerback Xavien Howard (knee).

Note: Info as of 6 p.m. ET Thursday. See our Injury Report for daily practice participation and game statuses up until kickoff. — Ian Hartitz

Rob-Gronkowski-Week-2-Fantasy-TE-Rankings
David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Rob Gronkowski

DFS Edge: Howard receives plenty of blame after allowing big plays, but he deserves credit for nabbing a league-high 11 interceptions since entering the league in 2016.

The Dolphins’ No. 1 cornerback has created a formidable one-two-punch with No. 1 draft pick Minkah Fitzpatrick in recent weeks, with Howard sticking to the left side and Fitzpatrick the right.

Still, Howard is considered week-to-week with a knee injury and not expected to suit up Sunday. Josh Gordon already had a decent floor considering he’s scored a touchdown or gained at least 70 yards six of his past eight games, but Julian Edelman is still set up the best inside vs. Bobby McCain — PFF’s No. 97 cornerback.

Gordon and Edelman cost $6,000 and $7,100 on DraftKings, respectively. — Ian Hartitz

Bet to watch: Under 47

This is mostly a situational play based on late-season trends and the early forecast, aided by sharp money indicators.

According to Bet Labs, divisional games with totals of at least 45 played after Week 10 have gone under 61.9% of the time since 2005.

In addition, the forecast is calling for steady 14 mph winds throughout the game, with even stronger gusts. Since 2005, unders are 454-358-10 (55.9%) in games played with double-digit winds.

At the time of writing, nearly half of the tickets are on the over, but 88% of the dollars wagered have come in on the under, indicating that the larger wagers are also banking on a lower-scoring game. — PJ Walsh


Betting odds: Carolina Panthers at Cleveland Browns

  • Spread: Panthers -1.5
  • Over/Under: 47
  • Time: 1 p.m. ET
  • TV channel: FOX

Betting market: Both of these teams are coming off of ugly losses and with neither playing convincing ball last weekend, the public is opting to bet on the non-Browns team (shocker).

The Panthers are getting 63% of bets at the time of writing and has even seen some sharp action at a PK and -1.5 (see live data here).

However, some sites that have moved the line up to the -2 range for the Panthers have seen buyback on the other side, with pros hitting the Browns. — Mark Gallant

Trends to know: The Panthers have lost and failed to cover in four consecutive games. Teams in this situation have gone 92-78-3 (54%) against in their next game since 2003, per our Bet Labs data.

If the team plays its next game on the road, like the Panthers, they have gone 49-32-1 (61%) ATS — and if that team is favored: 8-1 ATS. — John Ewing

One counter to John’s trend: Carolina has the lost the turnover battle in its past four games and enters this game with a 6-6 record.

Teams that are .500 or better and have lost the turnover battle in four consecutive games, are 1-9 straight up and 2-7-1 ATS since 2012, failing to cover the spread by 7.5 point per game according to our Bet Labs data. — Evan Abrams

Biggest mismatch: Panthers Rush Offense vs. Browns Rush Defense

Carolina leads the NFL with an impressive 5.5 yards per carry. That should play against a Browns defense that really struggles to contain opposing rushing attacks.

Cleveland ranks 23rd in the league in yards per rush allowed (4.8) and Football Outsiders ranks them similarly at 26th overall.

If you want to get even more technical, the Browns’ defense ranks 31st on second-level runs (carries between 5-10 yards) and 25th in open-field yards (10+-yard carries). The Panthers rank sixth and second in those two respective categories.

That might be surprising if you recall that the Browns had one of the best run-stopping defenses in the NFL last season, as they struggled against the pass.

Well, a few offseason moves have changed that, starting with the defensive line, as Cleveland really misses Carl Nassib and Danny Shelton, who helped the Browns lead the league in yards before contact last year.

Expect plenty of broken runs from Cam Newton and Christian McCaffrey on Sunday. — Stuckey

Which team is healthier? Browns

The Panthers won’t have tight end Greg Olsen (foot) for the remainder of the season. They haven’t ruled out offseason shoulder surgery for Newton yet, but he is at least expected to finish out the season while playing through the soreness.

The Panthers are otherwise healthy with the exception of kicker Graham Gano (knee).

The only Browns players thought to be in jeopardy of missing Sunday’s game are center JC Tretter (ankle), corner back Denzel Ward (concussion) and corner Phillip Gaines (knee).

Note: Info as of 6 p.m. ET Thursday. See our Injury Report for daily practice participation and game statuses up until kickoff. — Ian Hartitz

DFS edge: McCaffrey is easily the best DFS play in this game. He’s averaging 20.8 touches and 32.5 DraftKings points per game over the past six weeks. Additionally, CMC could see a slight target boost with Olsen out.

He has averaged 1.2 more targets per game in the 12 games Olsen has missed over the past two seasons. McCaffrey leads all main-slate running backs with his median projection on both DraftKings and FanDuel. — Justin Bailey

Bet to watch: Panthers -1.5

Not only do the Browns struggle to defend the run (which I mentioned above), they have struggled to cover running backs in the passing game.

Cleveland ranks 25th in pass defense against running backs, according to Football Outsiders. McCaffrey should have a huge game against the Panthers’ vulnerable outside linebackers — much like he did against Seahawks (237 total yards).

Baker Mayfield has put up some gaudy numbers recently, but he has done so against a stretch of bad defenses. Don’t get fooled by his 397-yard passing performance at Houston last week. He became the first quarterback in more than two years to throw for 350-plus yards in the second half.

They were down 23-0 against a bad Texans pass defense and I wasn’t impressed with his first-half line: 5-of-13 passing, 47 yards and 2 INTs.

The No. 1 overall pick has shown flashes, but his numbers over the past few weeks are inflated.

Mayfield has seen success throwing to his backs, but that is not how you beat this Carolina team, which is very strong against the run and at covering running backs in the passing game.

I think the Panthers get right here on the ground with a favorable matchup on both sides of the ball and on special teams. — Stuckey


Betting odds: Atlanta Falcons at Green Bay Packers

  • Spread: Packers -5
  • Over/Under: 50.5
  • Time: 1 p.m. ET
  • TV channel: FOX

Betting market: Within the first 12 hours of this line opening, the Packers had moved from -4 to -6 behind about three quarters of the cash.

Since then, the money has gone back down to the 50/50 area and the books have split the difference on the line, dropping Green Bay back to -5 (check out live data here).

The over has received a ton of support, with about three-quarters of bet tickets and more than 95% of dollars, and has moved from 48 to 50.5 since opening. — Mark Gallant

Weather report: This will be one of the colder games of the season so far, with temperatures in the 20s according to our Sports Insights weather bug.

Wind speeds will be approaching 10 mph, but there is no precipitation in the forecast unlike last weekend. — Gallant

Trends to know: The Packers lost in Week 13 at home as 13.5-point favorites with nearly 70% of spread tickets backing them. After burning gamblers, a majority of tickets are on the Falcons at Lambeau Field on Sunday.

However, teams that lose outright as double-digit favorites have historically bounced backed the following week.

Since 2003, teams in this situation have gone 37-23-2 (62%) against the spread, according to our Bet Labs data.

Aaron Rodgers had lost two previous games as a double-digit favorite and covered the next game both times — John Ewing

Not only did Rodgers cover in his next two games after losses as a double-digit favorite, he beat his rivals, the Vikings (by 14) and Bears (by 17), throwing a combined seven touchdowns with zero interceptions.

Rodgers has also returned home after a loss as a 7-point favorite or higher just twice in his career. The Packers are 2-0 straight up and ATS, winning both games by double-digits. — Evan Abrams

Did you know? Matt Ryan has only played in one game in his NFL career with the temperature below 30 degrees: Week 14 of the 2013 season at Lambeau Field.

Ryan’s stats:  20-of-35 | 206 yds | 2 TDs | 1 INT | 5.9 YPA. — Abrams

Biggest mismatch: Aaron Jones vs. Falcons defense

Falcons head coach Dan Quinn described his run defense as “terrible” after a Week 13 loss. Getting linebacker Deion Jones back helps some, but it won’t solve a bad defensive front taking on a solid run-blocking Packers offensive line.

As a team, the Packers are one of only three teams that average at least 5.0 yards per carry (Broncos and Panthers). Jones has been even better, ranking second in the NFL with a superb 5.7 yards per carry (trailing only Phillip Lindsay).

The former UTEP Miner should have a field day on the ground against a Falcons team that gives up 5.0 yards per carry on the ground (25th in the NFL). Jones should also enjoy a big day catching the ball out of the backfield against a unit that struggles mightily to defend running backs in the passing game. — Stuckey

Sneaky storyline: The Packers should have an advantage on the other side of the ball, as the Falcons likely won’t be able to get any semblance of a running game going.

As a result of some injuries and subpar offensive line play, the Falcons have run the ball 31 times for 60 yards total over their past two games.

That will hurt their play action passing game and allow the Packers’ top-five pass rush in adjusted sack rate to tee off against Ryan. — Stuckey

Which team is healthier? Falcons

Wide receiver Julio Jones (foot) and linebacker Deion Jones (foot) are expected to play Sunday despite failing to start off the week with a full practice. Defensive tackle Grady Jarrett (shoulder) and receiver Calvin Ridley (hand, elbow) are also tentatively expected to suit up.

The Packers have a bit more uncertainty to deal with, as left guard Lane Taylor (foot), outside linebacker Clay Matthews (ankle) and right tackle Bryan Bulaga (knee) should be considered questionable for Sunday.

The statuses of cornerback Bashaud Breeland (groin) and safeties Kentrell Brice (concussion) and Raven Green (ankle) are more important with starting cornerback Kevin King (hamstring, IR) done for the season.

Both Randall Cobb (hamstring) and Jimmy Graham (knee, thumb) are expected to play Sunday.

Note: Info as of 6 p.m. ET Thursday. See our Injury Report for daily practice participation and game statuses up until kickoff. — Ian Hartitz

Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Julio Jones (11) warms up before the NFC Divisional playoff game against the Philadelphia Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field.
Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Julio Jones.

DFS edge: Yes, Julio Jones only gained 18 yards last week at home against the Ravens. However, he’s already posted similar numbers this season (86-1,323-3) compared to his stats in 2017 (88-1,444-3).

Get ready for a Mount Saint-Julio eruption.

Jones’ 18 yards were his fewest since Sept. 26, 2016. What did Jones do after that game? Oh, just caught 12-of-15 targets for 300 (!!!) yards and a touchdown vs. the Panthers.

Helping matters for a potential blow-up spot in Week 14 is Jones’ history of success against the Packers.

2011 Week 5: 1 reception-16 yards-0 TD
2014 Week 14: 11-259-1
2016 Week 8: 3-29-0
2016 NFC Championship: 9-180-2
2017 Week 2: 5-108-0

Jones costs $8,400 on FanDuel and boasts a strong 94% Bargain Rating in our FantasyLabs Models. — Hartitz

Bet to watch: Over 50.5

I liked this bet more at 48.5 earlier in the week, as 50 is a very key number in over/under betting, but still think it has some value at the current line.

As Stuckey mentioned above, the Packers should be able to rip off some explosive plays in the run game. According to Sharp Football, Green Bay has the eight-most explosive run game, compared to Atlanta’s 22nd-ranked unit in the same metric.

And yes, as Ian laid out in his DFS blurb, Julio seems ripe to rip off a big game against the Packers’ banged-up secondary.

If this game was played four weeks ago — before the Falcons’ skid against some of the NFL’s hottest defense and before the Packers laid an egg against the lowly Cardinals — the number would’ve been in the mid 50s.

I like buying low on two explosive offenses/quarterbacks that have very clear matchups in their favor. Getting an extra-motivated Rodgers off the heels of the team firing Mike McCarthy doesn’t hurt, either. — Scott Miller


Betting odds: New York Giants at Washington Redskins

  • Spread: Giants -3.5
  • Over/Under: 41
  • Time: 1 p.m. ET
  • TV channel: FOX

Betting market: Mark Sanchez at quarterback? Fewer than 25% of bettors are on Washington, but the Redskins have received some sharp action, as bet signals have been triggered on +4.5 and +4.

Most books are now at 3.5, so it will be interesting to see if there’s another wave of action that pushes the Redskins to the key number of +3 (check out the most updated click here for the most updated odds). — Mark Gallant

Trend to know: Since 2003, the under is 22-15-2 (59.5%) in December or later at FedEx Field, making it one of six stadiums where bettors have profited at least 6.0 units on the under in this spot.

When the Redskins face a divisional opponent in this spot, the under is 13-6-2 (68.4%), going under the total by 3.3 points per game. — Abrams

Did you know? If the current spread holds, this will be just the third time that Eli Manning will be listed as a road favorite since the beginning of the 2016 regular season, according to our Bet Labs data.

Here is a list of quarterbacks to be listed as a road favorite in more games than Manning over that span: Sam Bradford, Trevor Siemian, Derek Carr, Tyrod Taylor. — Evan Abrams

Which team is healthier? Giants

The Giants are expected to welcome back starting tight end Evan Engram (hamstring) this Sunday, but linebackers Tae Davis (ankle), Lorenzo Carter (hip) and B.J. Goodson (neck) are all banged up.

The defense will also be without safety Landon Collins (shoulder, IR) for the rest of the season. Wide receiver Sterling Shepard (ribs) is tentatively expected to suit up.

The Redskins’ main question marks come down to defensive tackle Matt Ioannidis (shin), linebacker Ryan Anderson (hamstring), safety Montae Nicholson (illness) and center Chase Roullier (knee).

Note: Info as of 6 p.m. ET Thursday. See our Injury Report for daily practice participation and game statuses up until kickoff. — Ian Hartitz

New York Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. (13) dances before a game against New Orleans Saints at MetLife Stadium.
Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: New York Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. (13).

Biggest Mismatch/DFS Edge: Odell Beckham Jr. vs. Josh Norman

Update: Beckham (quad) has been ruled out. Read about the impact of Beckham’s injury here.

The Redskins have utilized Josh Norman in shadow coverage whenever No. 2 cornerback Quinton Dunbar (leg, IR) has been unable to suit up this season. This hasn’t exactly worked out so far, although Norman deserves some slack considering the Redskins utilize a ton of zone defense and don’t make a habit of moving him into the slot.

Still, Julio Jones (7-121-1), Mike Evans (3-51-0), DeAndre Hopkins (5-56-1), Alshon Jeffery (3-31-0) and Beckham (8-136-0) have largely been able to produce in Norman’s shadow this season.

There’s certainly been plenty of bad blood between Beckham and Norman over the years, but it’s tough to deny that OBJ would be scored the winner if this battle went to the judge’s scorecards.

Overall, Beckham has posted 6-76-1, 7-121-0, 5-44-0 and 8-136-0 lines in four career matchups with Norman.

The Redskins have allowed a league-high 88.5 yards per game to opposing No. 1 receivers this season.

OBJ currently has the third-highest projected ceiling among all wide receivers in our FantasyLabs Pro Models. — Hartitz

Bet to watch: Redskins +3.5

The Redskins’ season took a turn for the worst when Alex Smith suffered a broken leg, ending his season. The market adjusted their team rating down roughly 3.5 points as they went from Smith to Colt McCoy under center, which seems about right.

Now that McCoy has suffered a broken leg — what is it with Washington quarterbacks breaking their legs?! — they will need to turn to their third-stringer.

The market has decided to lower the Redskins’ power rating another 3-3.5 points with Sanchez starting, but that’s way too much of an overreaction.

I’ll gladly take the home team here, since they still have a shot at the playoffs.

In what should be a low-scoring game, it’s critical to make sure you get the half-point hook here. — Sean Koerner


Betting odds: New York Jets at Buffalo Bills

  • Spread: Bills -3
  • Over/Under: 38
  • Time: 1 p.m. ET
  • TV channel: CBS

Betting market: Surprisingly enough, the Jets-Bills game boasts some of the most interesting betting activity on this weekend’s slate. At the time of writing the Bills — yes the Bills! — are getting more than 70% of spread bets as the favorite (see live betting data here).

Pro bettors aren’t buying into the hype, though, as the Jets are getting about 51% of the cash.

Since opening, Buffalo has fallen from -4 to -3 thanks to that money discrepancy and a bet signal on the Jets. — Mark Gallant

Weather report: This is one of several games on the week that will have temperatures right around freezing. No high winds or precipitation is expected, though. —Mark Gallant

Trends to know: Jets-Bills is the coldest game in Week 14. The forecast calls for average temperatures during the game of 26 degrees.

Many bettors think cold temperatures lead to low-scoring games but that’s not true. Since 2003, in games played in cold temperatures (32 degrees or cooler) the over has gone 139-119-5 (54%), per our Bet Labs data.

If the over/under is 45 points or fewer, the over has been even more profitable. — John Ewing

The Jets are coming off their worst passing game in terms of yardage in 2018, and they now hit the road to face the Bills, who are allowing just 187.2 passing yards per game, which is the best mark in the NFL.

Teams that throw for fewer than 200 yards in their previous game and then face a team allowing fewer than 200 yards passing for the season are, surprisingly, 149-122-9 against the spread (+19.6 units).

When the offense throws for fewer than 150 yards in its previous game, like the Jets, they are 67-44-3 ATS (60.4%) in this spot, including 26-13-2 ATS (66.7%) in December or later.

Go figure. — Evan Abrams

Biggest mismatch: Bills Pass Defense vs. Jets Pass Offense

The Bills have faced the third-fewest pass attempts in the league this season (381), which is due in part to not holding many leads amid a -115 point differential but also a result of not being a particularly inviting defense to throw against in the first place.

Sean McDermott’s unit is allowing 5.5 net yards per attempt, No. 2 in the NFL, and its -14.8% DVOA rating against the pass is the league’s third-best mark.

The return of Sam Darnold (foot) is a major positive, especially after Josh McCown managed only 4.34 net yards per pass attempt.

But Darnold is coming off a four-week layoff, and his 5.82 net yards per attempt still ranks 31st of 34 qualifiers (counterpart Josh Allen is dead last at 4.87, though he may start to benefit from some recent addition by subtraction). — Chris Raybon

Which team is healthier? Bills

The Bills are almost 100% healthy with the exception of wide receiver Isaiah McKenzie (toe) and right guard John Miller (oblique).

The Jets aren’t quite so lucky, as Robby Anderson (ankle), tight end Jordan Leggett (knee) and running back Isaiah Crowell (toe) should be considered questionable for Sunday’s matchup.

The good news is Darnold (foot) is expected to once again be under center.

Note: Info as of 6 p.m. ET Thursday. See our Injury Report for daily practice participation and game statuses up until kickoff. — Ian Hartitz

DFS edge: Since returning from injury two weeks ago, Josh Allen’s 0.80 fantasy points per dropback trails only Russell Wilson (0.84).

Allen isn’t doing much damage through the air, but he’s rushed 22 times for 234 yards and one touchdown in his past two outings.

In fact, Allen’s 389 rushing yards this season rank second among all quarterbacks, and he’s only played in eight games this year.

Allen can’t be trusted for cash games, but he’s an excellent tournament option on DraftKings and FanDuel where he owns a 94% Leverage Rating in our FantasyLabs Models. — Justin Bailey

Bet to watch: Jets + 3

I will admit this number doesn’t have a ton of wiggle room.

The Jets lost to the Bills, 41-10, at home just a month ago, which helps explains why the public is all over Buffalo.

In a game that features two teams scoring fewer than 21 points per game with defenses ranked in the top-half of the league in pass defense DVOA, taking the the full three points is the higher percentage play. — Evan Abrams


Betting odds: Philadelphia Eagles at Dallas Cowboys

  • Spread: Cowboys -3.5
  • Over/Under: 44
  • Time: 4:25 p.m. ET
  • TV channel: FOX

Betting market: The market is fairly split on this game, with the Cowboys understandably receiving the majority of bets with 62% at the time of writing (see live data here) following their upset of the Saints.

But the money split is closer to 50/50, and the line has dropped from Dallas -4 to -3/-3.5 since opening. Mark Gallant

Trends to know: Under Jason Garrett, the Cowboys are 31-45-2 (41%) against the spread as favorites, according to our Bet Labs data.

If the game is played at home, the ATS record drops to 16-32 (33%). Finally, as home favorites late in the season (December and January), the Cowboys are 2-10 ATS under Garrett. John Ewing

Here’s the flip side of that: Cowboys are coming off an upset win over the Saints as 7.5-point underdogs at home last week.

Under Garrett, the Cowboys are 14-7 (66.7%) ATS the week after a straight-up win as an underdog, profiting bettors 6.6 units to make Garrett the third-most profitable NFL coach in this spot since 2010, his first season in Dallas.

Since 2016, the Cowboys are 7-1 SU and ATS in this spot, covering by an average of 6.2 points. Evan Abrams

Biggest mismatch: Cowboys’ Boundary Corners vs. Alshon Jeffery and Nelson Agholor

The Cowboys have played outside receivers very well this season with the help of Byron Jones, Pro Football Focus’ No. 3 cornerback. Overall, they’ve allowed 64.8 receiving yards per game and just two total touchdowns to perimeter receivers this season, per Sports Info Solutions. Justin Bailey

alshon jeffery
Credit: James Lang-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Alshon Jeffery, Chidobe Awuzie

Which team is healthier? Cowboys

Neither team should be described as anything close to 100%.

The Cowboys are at least expected to welcome back stud left tackle Tyron Smith (stinger). Wide receiver Cole Beasley (foot) and cornerback Chidobe Awuzie (illness) should also be good to go, but the jury remains out on linebacker Sean Lee (hamstring), defensive tackle David Irving (ankle), wide receiver Tavon Austin (groin) and tight end Geoff Swaim (wrist).

The Eagles aren’t guaranteed to have defensive tackle Timmy Jernigan (back), left tackle Jason Peters (ankle), defensive end Michael Bennett (foot), linebacker Jordan Hicks (calf), along with cornerbacks Avonte Maddox (leg) and Jalen Mills (foot).

The good news for Philly is that running back Josh Adams (shoulder) should be good to go.

Note: Info as of 6 p.m. ET Thursday. See our Injury Report for daily practice participation and game statuses up until kickoff. — Ian Hartitz

DFS edge: Since the Cowboys are so good on the boundary, targeting Zach Ertz would make the most sense.

Over the past six weeks, Ertz is seeing 25% of the Eagles’ target share. In fact, he’s the one pass-catcher who hasn’t been affected by the Golden Tate acquisition.

The last time he faced the Cowboys, Ertz put together an absurd 14-145-2 line on 16 targets. He’s $600 cheaper than Travis Kelce on FanDuel but is projected for only 1.9 fewer points. Bailey

Bet to watch: Under 44

These two teams combined for 47 points in their first matchup this season thanks to four (!!!) consecutive touchdown drives between the end of the third quarter through the middle of the fourth.

This perhaps overshadowed both of their struggles to protect their quarterback during the earlier stages of the game.

Overall, Dak Prescott and Carson Wentz were sacked four and two times, respectively. Prescott has the week’s worst combined-pressure rate among all quarterbacks, while Wentz could potentially be without his stud left tackle Peters (ankle).

Here’s to the season’s second matchup between these divisional rivals turning into your token NFC East slugfest.

Gimme the under. Hartitz


Betting odds: Denver Broncos at San Francisco 49ers

  • Spread: Broncos -3.5
  • Over/Under: 45.5
  • Time: 4:05 p.m. ET
  • TV channel: CBS

Betting market: Nearly 70% of bets are on the Broncos at the time of writing. The line had initially moved in their favor in a big way, going from -4.5 to -6. But with news that Broncos wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders (torn Achilles) will miss the rest of the season, they’ve since dropped all the way to -4 (see live data here).

Three Sports Insights’ Bet Signals came in on the 49ers on Wednesday afternoon, but if you think Sanders (or any wide receiver) is worth two points, you’re wrong.

The total has gone from 44 to 45.5 since opening behind about 70% of bets the over. Mark Gallant

Trends to know: The Broncos beat the Bengals last week, 24-10, while the 49ers lost, 43-16, to the Seahawks.

A majority of spread tickets are on Denver following each team’s recent performance.

But since 2003, teams that won their previous game by 14 or more points and are getting a majority of bets in their next game against an opponent that lost its previous game by 14 or more points have gone 82-102-3 (45%) against the spread. John Ewing

Did you know? The 49ers have scored fewer than 17 points in back-to-back losses on the road.

Since 2003, teams that have scored fewer than 17 points in consecutive road games and are on at least a two-game losing streak are 43-53-4 (44.8%) ATS, per our Bet Labs data.

When they’ve won 25% or fewer of their games — like the 2-10 49ers — these teams are 17-31-2 (35.4%) ATS, losing bettors 14.4 units. Evan Abrams

Biggest mismatch: Broncos’ Run Defense vs. 49ers’ Run Offense

The 49ers offense ranks 30th with a 61.6 rushing grade from Pro Football Focus. They’re now on their fifth-string running back, Jeff Wilson, after losing Jerick McKinnon (knee, IR), Raheem Mostert (arm, IR) and Matt Breida (ankle, out) and demoting Alfred Morris.

Jeff-Wilson
Credit: James Snook-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Jeff Wilson

With third-string quarterback Nick Mullens, the 49ers aren’t giving opponents much incentive not to stack the box.

The Broncos defense ranks third with a 90.7 PFF rush grade. With outside linebackers Von Miller and Nick Chubb supporting the interior play of nose tackle Domata Peko and 3-4 defensive ends Derek Wolfe, Adam Gotsis and Shelby Harris, the Broncos are not an easy team to run against.

As an underdog with little in the way of an established passing attack, the 49ers will likely struggle to move the ball on the ground. Matthew Freedman

Which team is healthier? 49ers

The Broncos lost Sanders just days after losing stud slot corner Chris Harris Jr. (leg) for at least the rest of the regular season.

Linebackers Josey Jewell (ankle) and Brandon Marshall (knee) are trending toward returns, but Wolfe (ribs), outside linebacker Shaquil Barrett and cornerback Tramaine Brock (ribs) aren’t at 100%.

The 49ers have already ruled out Breida, but they’ll welcome back field-stretcher Marquise Goodwin (personal). The status of Pierre Garcon (knee), center Weston Richburg (knee), linebacker Malcolm Smith (Achilles), left guard Laken Tomlinson (hip) and safety Jaquiski Tartt (shoulder) is less clear.

The good news for San Francisco is that right guard Joshua Garnett (thumb) should be good to go.

Note: Info as of 6 p.m. ET Thursday. See our Injury Report for daily practice participation and game statuses up until kickoff. — Ian Hartitz

DFS edge: Unfortunately, Sanders tore his Achilles in Wednesday’s practice. His absence will open up 25% of the Broncos’ overall target share and 22.5% of their red-zone target share.

Courtland Sutton will step in as the Broncos’ No. 1 receiver. He owns a top-two projected plus/minus on DraftKings and FanDuel in our FantasyLabs Models. Justin Bailey

Bet to watch: 49ers +3.5

I’m heading back to the Niners well again this week, and hopefully San Fran can more red-zone catastrophes on Sunday.

Last week, the Seahawks beat the Niners despite having 121 fewer total yards. The backdoor cover was lurking in the fourth quarter before Mullens was picked off at the 2-yard line for a 98-yard touchdown pick six by Bobby Wagner.

San Francisco is still positive in the adjusted net yards per play category at +0.2 while Denver is not too far off at +0.3.

Despite the overall rushing defense metrics Freedman laid out above, I do think the 49ers have some sneaky advantages that they can exploit.

Denver’s defensive line ranks 29th in power and 27th in stuffed categories. That indicates the Broncos will have a tough time tackling rushers at the line of scrimmage or in the backfield while giving up plenty of short yardage in third- and fourth-down situations. Collin Wilson


Betting odds: Pittsburgh Steelers at Oakland Raiders

  • Spread: Steelers -10
  • Over/Under: 51
  • Time: 4:25 p.m. ET
  • TV channel: FOX

Betting market: The Steelers are not a popular pick, as bettors aren’t willing to lay all those points following Pittsburgh’s loss to the Chargers. I’m sure James Conner’s injury hasn’t helped their case, either.

The Raiders have gotten 55% of bets and 80% of the cash as of writing (see live data here), moving from +11.5 to +10 since opening. Mark Gallant

Trends to know: Home underdogs of 10 or more points have gone 46-33 (58%) against the spread since 2003. Late in the season (December and January), these teams have gone 25-8 (76%) ATS, according to our Bet Labs data.

The Raiders covered as 14-point home dogs to the Chiefs last week. John Ewing

Ben Roethlisberger is 0-3 ATS in Oakland, making it one of two places that he has no career ATS wins and three ATS losses. The other is Tennessee.

What differentiates Oakland? He’s 1-2 straight-up in Tennessee, but 0-3 SU in Oakland. Evan Abrams

Did you know? This is the first time since October 2013 that the Steelers have lost the turnover battle in three consecutive games. They’re 3-5 SU and 2-6 ATS after losing the turnover battle in three consecutive games under Mike Tomlin, failing to cover by 4.7 points per game. Abrams

This has been a nightmare spot for Tomlin: On the road against a team under .500:

  • Tomlin on the road vs. teams below .500: 15-29-1 (34.1%) ATS
  • Tomlin on the road vs. teams .500 or better: 28-13 (68.2%) ATS

The moneyline stats tell an even clearer picture: Tomlin is only 24-21 SU (-24.5% ROI) on the road vs. teams below .500, compared to 28-13 SU (+49.5% ROI) vs. teams .500 or better. You would expect those splits to be reversed!

That means Tomlin is twice as good on the road against elite opponents than he is on the road against weak opponents, which speaks to his “ra ra” style.

Tomlin’s teams constantly come out flat in these situations because he doesn’t have a way to fire them up against a team like the Raiders. Stuckey

Biggest mismatch: Steelers’ Passing Offense vs. Raiders’ Passing Defense

Even if the Steelers don’t put up lots of points, they should still be able to move the ball against the Raiders through the air.

Antonio-Brown-Ben-Roethlisberger
Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Antonio Brown, Ben Roethlisberger

Roethlisberger ranks first in the league with 517 attempts and 3,945 yards passing. Under former quarterbacks coach and first-year offensive coordinator Randy Fichtner, Roethlisberger leads all quarterbacks with 546 dropbacks. The Steelers are also second with a 67.2% pass rate.

Roethlisberger is on pace to smash his career-high mark of 608 attempts that he set in 2014, when he led the league with 4,952 yards passing.

The Raiders rank dead last in Football Outsiders’ pass defense DVOA, but they’re amazingly first in pass DVOA against No. 1 wide receivers, so this might not be the week to stack Roethlisberger with Antonio Brown, especially since 2018 has been the least efficient season of Brown’s career.

The Raiders have been repeatedly exploited by slot receivers and tight ends, though, which means they could struggle to stop the Steelers — particularly JuJu Smith-Schuster, Vance McDonald and Jesse James. Matthew Freedman

Which team is healthier? Raiders

The Steelers will turn to Jaylen Samuels and Stevan Ridley with Conner (ankle) sidelined. They could also be without right tackle Marcus Gilbert (knee) and linebacker Anthony Chickillo (ankle), though slot receiver Ryan Switzer (concussion) and safety Morgan Burnett (back) are at least expected to play.

The Raiders are expected to have their entire lineup with the potential exception of linebacker Kyle Wilber (hamstring). Wide receiver Martavis Bryant (knee, IR) and free safety Reggie Nelson (shoulder, IR) will miss the remainder of the season.

Note: Info as of 6 p.m. ET Thursday. See our Injury Report for daily practice participation and game statuses up until kickoff. — Ian Hartitz

DFS edge: I agree with Freedman: Brown isn’t the same monster we’ve grown accustomed to seeing in recent seasons.

Still, AB’s absurd workload and status as the No. 1 receiver in the offense with the slate’s second-highest implied total sets him up exceptionally well against the Raiders’ league-worst secondary in pass DVOA.

Also helping matters is his historical dominance and enhanced workload with the Steelers’ No. 1 running back (Le’Veon Bell) sidelined. AB had at least 10 targets in all 13 games that Bell was sidelined from 2015-17.

You should add Samuels in the wake of Conner’s injury, but there’s a chance that we see the Steelers increase their pass-game volume even more without an established running back.

All that stands in their path is a Raiders’ secondary that doesn’t boast a single player graded among Pro Football Focus’ top 30 defensive backs this season.

AB might just be worth his position-high $9,000 price tag on DraftKings this week. Hartitz

Bet to watch: Under 51.5

A few trends point toward the Steelers scoring fewer points in this game than we might expect.

For one, Roethlisberger is the NFL’s worst quarterback as a double-digit favorite over the past 15 years. And as I mentioned above, this has been the least efficient season of Brown’s career — even after his triumphant 10-154-1 performance last week.

And despite their poor pass defense marks highlighted earlier, the Raiders haven’t allowed a 100-yard receiver all season, and most wide receivers who have had success against them have been non-alpha/slot-based players.

This doesn’t mean that Roethlisberger and Brown won’t be able to have success against the Raiders; it just means that to this point, the Raiders defense has been schemed to die by the paper cuts of halfback runs and quarterback check-downs rather than by the fell swoop of a No. 1 wide receiver.

If Roethlisberger and Brown aren’t connecting for big plays, the Steelers could put up points at a slower rate than expected, especially with the absence of Conner.

In the All-Pro Antonio era, Steelers road games have a 10-28 over/under record, which is good for a 44.9% return on investment for under bettors (per Bet Labs).

In fact, the Steelers have been the most profitable road team for under bettors in that time frame. Freedman


Betting odds: Cincinnati Bengals at Los Angeles Chargers

  • Spread: Chargers -14
  • Over/Under: 47.5
  • Time: 4:05 p.m. ET
  • TV channel: CBS

Betting market: Even though they have to lay 14 or 14.5 points, more than 70% of the public is backing the Chargers and fading quarterback Jeff Driskel and the Bengals.

There was enough sharp action on Cincy at +14.5 to move the line down to a consensus of +14 at the time of writing (see live betting data here). — Mark Gallant

Trends to know: Cincinnati lost 24-10 to Denver in Week 13. Double-digit underdogs following a double-digit loss have gone 51-24-2 (68%) ATS since 2003. However, in the past five season these teams are only 11-13-1 ATS. – John Ewing

Philip Rivers and the Chargers are 14-point favorites at home against the Bengals, who are without Andy Dalton and A.J. Green for the rest of the season.

Rivers is 6-12 against the spread (-6 units) when he’s giving 10 or more points, making him the second-least profitable QB (Ben Roethlisberger) in this spot since 2006.

When the game is played in December or later, Rivers is 1-5 ATS, failing to cover the spread by 9.5 PPG. — Evan Abrams

Biggest mismatch: Chargers passing game vs. Bengals secondary

Rivers is the only quarterback to throw multiple touchdown passes in every game this season. The entire pass offense has been incredibly efficient all year, and the Chargers are tied with the Saints and Buccaneers for the highest combined net yards per pass attempt rate this week.

Slot receiver Keenan Allen should specifically have no trouble eating all afternoon, as nickel back Darqueze Dennard is just PFF’s No. 76 overall cornerback this season. — Ian Hartitz

Keenan-Allen
Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Keenan Allen

Which team is healthier? Chargers

Week 15 is looking like a more probable return for running back Melvin Gordon (knee). He could be joined on the sideline by cornerback Trevor Williams (knee) this Sunday, while defensive tackle Brandon Mebane (personal) is expected to suit up.

The Bengals won’t have the services of Green (foot, IR) for the remainder of the season, and they also face question marks with linebacker Vontaze Burfict (concussion), cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick (ankle), left tackle Cordy Glenn (back) and cornerback Tony McRae.

Running back Joe Mixon (foot) and wide receiver Josh Malone (hamstring) are also not exactly 100%.

Note: Info as of 6 p.m. ET Thursday. See our Injury Report for daily practice participation and game statuses up until kickoff. — Ian Hartitz

DFS edge: Allen is the clear focal point of the Chargers’ offense, soaking up an absurd 33% of their market share of targets over their past six games. Per Pro Football Focus, Allen has run 53.4% of his routes from the slot this season and 28.4% of his targets have come from that position.

This means he’ll see a lot of Darqueze Dennard, PFF’s No. 85 corner in coverage among 113 qualifiers. Allen should be a cash-game building block for $7,900 on FanDuel with a 94% Bargain Rating in our FantasyLabs Models. — Justin Bailey

Bets to watch: Under 47.5 and Bengals +14

First off, the Chargers find themselves in a horrific situational spot. Not only do they come back home from the East Coast after a Sunday night road upset win at Pittsburgh, LA has an enormous divisional showdown with Kansas City on Thursday night.

I expect the Chargers to approach this game with caution on the injury front. They should have no interest in blowing this open if it does indeed get out of hand.

On the other side of the ball, the Bengals will have to rely almost entirely on the legs of their QB and backs. As a result of a plethora of skill position injuries, there is just no way they can expect to throw the ball against an extremely solid Chargers secondary — especially when you consider the Chargers’ edge rushers should abuse a very weak Bengals offensive line.

Expect a heavy rushing attack to try to exploit the Chargers’ most vulnerable part of their defense. The clock should be moving swiftly when the Bengals have the ball and especially when the Chargers have the ball, as they are the slowest team in the NFL, averaging a league-high 30.55 seconds per play.

Chargers get the win, but the Bengals keep this within 14 in a low-scoring game against a flat Chargers team. Give me both the road dog and the under in a classic buy-low/sell-high spot, as both the total and spread are just too high for a potentially very flat favorite without a great home-field and a terrible special teams unit. — Stuckey


Betting odds: Detroit Lions at Arizona Cardinals

  • Spread: Lions -3
  • Over/Under: 40.5
  • Time: 4:25 p.m. ET
  • TV channel: FOX

Betting market: Even though the Cardinals’ win over the Packers just bounced Mike McCarthy out of Green Bay, the public isn’t backing Arizona as home dogs to the lowly Lions.

Just 41% of bets and a measly 22% of money is on the Cardinals as of writing (see live data here), which has moved them from +1.5 to +3 since opening. Mark Gallant

Trends to know: Games with low over/unders of 44 or fewer points are more likely to go over their totals.

Since 2003, the over in these games is 1,200-1,116-45 (52%). It’s even more profitable to bet the over in such games if its a non-division matchup and wind won’t be a factor, like Lions-Cardinals. John Ewing

The Lions are coming off a three-game home stand in which they went 1-2 straight-up and against the spread, with a big loss to their NFC North rival Bears.

Matthew Stafford is 2-4 SU and 1-5 ATS in his first road game coming off at least a three-game home stand, failing to cover the spread by an average of 3.5 points. Evan Abrams

Did you know? The Lions offense has gone missing in their past two games, scoring 16 points each against the Rams and Bears. With Stafford at quarterback, many would assume that the Lions would score and cover.

When the Lions have scored fewer than 17 points in consecutive games, they’re 1-4 SU and 2-3 ATS with Stafford, losing his past three games SU in this spot since 2015. Abrams

Biggest mismatch and DFS edge: Cardinals’ Offensive Line vs. Lions’ Pass Rush

The Lions will take on a Cardinals team that has four of its five starters on injured reserve and released starting right tackle Andre Smith a few weeks ago. Overall, the Cardinals have struggled to protect their quarterback, ranking 23rd in Football Outsiders’ adjusted sack rate.

This spot sets up well for the Lions defense considering the Cardinals are implied for 19 points and Detroit’s defensive line ranks second in adjusted sack rate and is taking on an offensive line that doesn’t have a Week 1 starter.

Detroit’s defense carries a top-two median projection both DraftKings and FanDuel for this week’s main slate. Justin Bailey

Which team is healthier? Cardinals

The Cardinals’ offensive line remains a bit of a mess, and now left tackle Korey Cunningham (hip) is also banged up. The defense is dealing with injuries to linebacker Deone Bucannon (chest), safety Budda Baker (knee) and defensive end Markus Golden (knee), but the team is at least expected to welcome back wide receiver Chad Williams (ankle).

The Lions aren’t quite as healthy. The offense is dealing with injuries to Stafford (back), running back Kerryon Johnson (knee), tight end Michael Roberts (shoulder) along with receivers Kenny Golladay (quad), Bruce Ellington (back) and Brandon Powell (calf).

The defense isn’t exactly 100%, either, as No. 1 cornerback Darius Slay (ankle), defensive end Ezekiel Ansah (neck) and linebacker Devon Kennard (hip) should be considered questionable for Sunday.

Note: Info as of 6 p.m. ET Thursday. See our Injury Report for daily practice participation and game statuses up until kickoff. — Ian Hartitz

Bet to watch: Cardinals +3

The Cardinals are coming off a huge upset over the Packers at Lambeau, but if lack of preparation on Green Bay’s behalf is your angle for not taking Arizona off its win, I think you’re looking at it the wrong way. That game was more about the Packers, who “played down” to their opponent.

Bettors continue to fade the Cardinals, backing a favored Lions team on the road with an offense that looks broken with a laundry list of injuries.

The Lions’ pass defense ranks dead last in short passing game according to Football Outsiders’ DVOA. The Cardinals should have success with Josh Rosen, who has the luxury of flipping it to David Johnson, which is especially nice against a defense that’s 20th vs. running backs in the passing game (per DVOA).

Usually a team that wins as a big underdog will get the majority ticket count the next week, but with bettors fading the Cards at home, I think the value has flipped to Arizona after opening between a 1- and 2-point home dog. Abrams


Betting odds: Los Angeles Rams at Chicago Bears

  • Spread: Rams -3
  • Over/Under: 51.5
  • Time: 8:20 p.m. ET
  • TV channel: NBC

>> All odds as of Friday morning. Download The Action Network App to get real-time NFL odds and track your bets


Betting market: With bettors having to lay just a few points on the mighty Rams, Los Angeles is getting three-quarters of the spread bets at the time of writing (see live data here).

News broke on Wednesday that Mitchell Trubisky (shoulder) practiced in full and is expected to start, but not much changed. Books kept the line on the key number of three. Even public betting percentages didn’t sway much, but I imagine Chicago gets a bit more love by the end of the week.

The over/under has been hammered. Almost 75% of bets and more than 90% of the money is on the under, which has caused the line to drop to 51.5 since opening at 54.Mark Gallant

Weather report: Bundle up. Like much of the Midwest, Chicago will be chilly on Sunday night with temperatures in the mid-20s. The Windy City won’t be living up to its name, though, as wind speeds will only be about 6 mph. Gallant

Trends to know: Between college and the NFL, Jared Goff has one career start in freezing temperatures (32 degrees or colder): Earlier this season in Denver, where he went 14-of-28 for no touchdowns and one interception. He was sacked five times in a narrow 23-20 win for the Rams, who failed to cover the seven-point spread.

Goff had started two games prior to that with the temperature below 40 degrees. The Rams lost both straight-up and against the spread, scoring a combined 13 points. Evan Abrams

The Rams are the only 11-win team in the NFL. Casual bettors like wagering on the best teams, which leads to squads like Los Angeles being overvalued, especially late in the season.

Since 2003, betting against teams that have won more than 80% of their games has gone 134-101-2 (57%) ATS when the game is played from December through the playoffs.John Ewing

Did you know? Since 2003, when teams scoring at least 30 points per game face a defense that’s allowing fewer than 21 points per game in December or later, the high-scoring team is just 29-42-3 (40.8%) ATS, losing bettors 14.3 units.

And when the game is played in temperatures below 40 degrees, the high-scoring team falls to 8-18 (30.8%) ATS, losing bettors 10.4 units.

Advantage: Bears. Abrams

Biggest mismatch: Rams’ Defensive Line vs. Bears’ Offensive Line

Trubisky’s return should help the offensive line more than statue-esque passer Chase Daniel, but the Bears still face an uphill climb against the Rams’ fearsome front.

League MVP candidate Aaron Donald is easily Pro Football Focus’ No. 1 overall interior defender this season, while Ndamukong Suh isn’t far behind at No. 28. And the addition of Dante Fowler has provided a much-needed boost of athleticism off the edge.

Aaron-Donald
Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Aaron Donald

Overall, Trubisky and the Bears have the fifth-highest combined pressure rate in Week 14. Ian Hartitz

Which team is healthier? Rams

The Rams will turn to rookie John Kelly to work as Todd Gurley’s backup with Malcolm Brown (clavicle, IR) sidelined for the remainder of the season. They’re otherwise healthy.

The Bears are also in great shape, as they expect to welcome back Trubisky.

Note: Info as of 6 p.m. ET Thursday. See our Injury Report for daily practice participation and game statuses up until kickoff. — Hartitz

DFS edge: The Rams join the Chiefs as the league’s most matchup-proof offenses thanks to their top-tier scheme and consistently excellent quarterback play.

Unfortunately, it’s impossible to call Sunday night’s matchup against the Bears anything but tough: Kyle Fuller (No. 4), Bryce Callahan (No. 9) and Prince Amukamara (No. 15) rank among PFF’s top 15 corners this season.

Brandin Cooks, Robert Woods and Josh Reynolds are still certainly in play in season-long leagues of all formats.

Reynolds could carry enhanced value down the stretch if the Rams rest their starters since he’d likely work as the offense’s No. 1 receiver with the rest of the backups while Woods is popping the most in our FantasyLabs Models this week at $6,700 on DraftKings, where he boasts a +2.3 Projected Plus/Minus. Hartitz

Bet to watch: Bears +3

Fading one of the best teams in football is never fun, but when the numbers and the situation call for it, you do what ya gotta do.

Our very own Power Ratings — from the 🐐 Sean Koerner — suggest this line should be closer to 1.5.

The Rams’ elite coaching staff scares me a bit in this matchup, but Vic Fangio is the one defensive coordinator I’d choose to go head-to-head with Sean McVay right now.

Fangio has helped build a defense that’s far and away the league’s best, per Football Outsiders’ DVOA metric, ranking first against the run and pass.

In fact, the difference between Chicago and the No. 2 overall defense (Denver) is equal to the difference between Denver and the No. 9 unit (Cleveland).

The Bears force a league-leading 2.5 turnovers per game on average. They might not meet that number vs. LA, but I like their odds of flipping the field a few times in their offense’s favor, which would be huge for Trubisky & Co.

I’d grab the +3 while it lasts. The juice suggest this line will likely move to 2.5 in the near future. Scott Miller


Editor’s note: The opinions on these games are from the individual writers and are based on their research, analysis and perspective. They are independent of, and may not always match with, the algorithm-driven Best Bets from Sports Insights.

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