NFL Odds, Picks & Predictions: 5 Must-Bet Spreads & Totals For This Sunday
Gregory Shamus/Getty Images. Pictured: Aaron Rodgers, Matthew Stafford
- No more bye weeks means an even fuller Sunday of NFL games. To help you identify the best bets on the board, our staff has outlined their favorite picks.
- Find their five top angles below, including two analysts on the same side of the Packer-Lions spread and an over on the highest total of Week 14.
NFL Odds & Picks
Vikings at Buccaneers
Raheem Palmer: After opening at 51 before sharp money moved it through the key number of 51, this line has admittedly gotten away from us a bit — but while the last thing I (or anyone) wants to do is chase steam in this business, I still like the over at 52.5 points.
My model projects this at 54, which is another key number for NFL totals, so there’s still an edge — albeit a bit smaller one.
Tom Brady and Bruce Arians have yet to get on the same page offensively. We’ve essentially seen a tug of war between Arians’ “risk it, no biscuit” philosophy of long-developing pass plays to Mike Evans vs. the quick passing game to Chris Godwin and Scotty Miller that’s more suited for Brady’s skillset.
You add Antonio Brown into the mix after nine weeks, and there’s no coincidence that this offense has lacked an identity. The Bucs have the fifth-highest pass vs. run ratio (64% vs. 36%), and despite ranking 19th in offensive success rate (44.7%), this offense is still sixth in points per game (28.7).
Coming off a bye to face a Vikings defense that saw much of its secondary leave in free agency and lacks a consistent pass rush should act as the perfect elixir for this Buccaneers unit: The Vikings are seventh in points allowed (27.4 per game) and rank in the top 10 of total yards per game (382.7). They’re allowing 50.9% of pass plays to grade out as successful (25th in the NFL). They’re also allowing the fourth-highest explosive plays with 52% going for 20 or more yards.
The Vikings also rank just 26th in pressure rate (19.5%) — have you seen what Brady does to defenses that can’t generate pressure?
This unit has given up 24 points and nearly 400 yards of offense to Mike Glennon and the Jaguars as well as 31 points and 376 yards to Andy Dalton and the Cowboys returning from a concussion. The only time this unit has given up fewer than 23 points was against divisional opponents. They’ll also be missing the services of inside linebacker Eric Kendricks, who leads them in tackles (69).
On the other side of the ball, the Vikings likely won’t be able to run against a Buccaneers defense that ranks first in defensive rushing efficiency and is holding teams to a league-low 3.3 yards per carry. This means less Dalvin Cook and more Adam Thielen and Justin Jefferson, who is in the midst of one of the greatest rookie wide receiver seasons in NFL history with 61 catches for 1,039 yards and seven touchdowns.
And should the Vikings get behind, there’s an opportunity to see garbage-time Kirk Cousins, who has done nothing but push games over the total. Don’t believe me, check out the 26-point fourth quarter against the Falcons. Or the 38-point fourth quarter against the Packers in Week 1. Or the Vikings’ 11-point fourth-quarter comeback against the Panthers in which there were 24 total fourth-quarter points scored.
This game appears to be a shootout. I’m taking the over 52.5 and would bet it up to 53.5 points.
Chiefs at Dolphins
Sean Koerner: The betting market is expecting a shootout between these teams — 69% of the tickets and 90% of the money has poured in on the over (go to our public betting data), pushing the total from its 48.5 open to 51.5 as of Saturday afternoon. My projection, however, is right in line with that opener.
This is a matchup of run funnel defenses: Kansas City ranks 13th vs. the pass compared to 30th vs. the run in Football Outsiders’ DVOA while Miami ranks sixth vs. the pass and 24th vs. the run. The Dolphins will try to keep Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs offense off the field with a run-heavy, ball-control play style — Tua Tagovailoa’s presence under center almost assures this approach, whereas my projected total would be closer to 50.5 if Ryan Fitzpatrick were expected to start.
Especially at the key numbers of 51 and 51.5 available at various books as of writing, this under is worth a bet, though I would take it down to 50.
Cardinals at Giants
Michael Arinze: While the NFC East has been derided as the NFL’s worst league, the Giants have quietly strung together four consecutive wins. No one wants to miss out on a win streak and it’s no surprise that Daniel Jones has worked tirelessly to get himself back on the field after his hamstring injury.
Much of the Giants recent success can be credited to their defense. Per TeamRankings, New York is ranked ninth in allowing 22.9 points per game and 11th in allowing 5.4 yards per carry. But perhaps the Giants’ biggest strength has come in the red zone, where they’re ranked sixth in allowing their opponents touchdowns on 53.85% of their red-zone trips.
Next up for the Giants are the Cardinals, who appear to be heading in the other direction with a three-loss. The Cardinals haven’t been the same since Seahawks defensive end Carlos Dunlap landed on Kyler Murray’s shoulder while making a tackle in Week 11. Although Murray has stated that his shoulder is fine, the numbers tell a different story as his game has been noticeably different since he took the hit.
For one, Murray is running the ball much less than he did in previous weeks. He’s averaged five rushing attempts over the last three weeks — a massive drop-off from his average of 11.5 rushing attempts over the previous four. Murray’s yards per pass attempt has also dropped dramatically: In the three games prior to the Dunlap hit, Murray was averaging 8.7 yards per pass attempt but now he’s down to just 5.26 yards per pass attempt. In fact, his yards per pass attempt has dropped each week since Week 11.
Arizona’s last two opponents have found something on tape while watching Murray because both teams each hurried him 10 times during their game. One of those opponents was the Patriots, and my guess is that Giants coach Joe Judge will have no problem following New England’s defensive game plan.
This is a fade on Murray.
Falcons at Chargers
Chris Raybon: The Falcons have been a different team since firing head coach Dan Quinn:
- With Quinn: 32.2 points allowed, -7.8 point differential
- Without Quinn: 20.1 points allowed, +6.9 point differential
Interim coach Raheem Morris has done an excellent job with Atlanta’s defense, and he has ample film to draw from in terms of how to slow down Justin Herbert, who has struggled in losses to the Dolphins, Bills and Patriots over the past month.
And while we can no longer bet against an organizational hazard like Quinn, we can still bet against Anthony Lynn, who I like to call D’Anthony Quinn. Per our Action Labs data, Lynn is just 5-14 ATS at home since the start of 2018.
I loved the Falcons two weeks ago coming off a loss to the Saints, and here we are again. Despite a loss to New Orleans being far from something to be ashamed of throughout the Sean Payton area, recency bias has tended to lead to value on the Falcons in this situation:
I like the Falcons up to -2.5.
Packers at Lions
Matthew Freedman: I’m a pretty simple person: I like to bet on quarterbacks who win, and that’s what Aaron Rodgers is. A discount double-check winner.
For his career, he’s 117-82-5 against the spread (ATS) for a 15% Return on Investment (ROI). And he’s been especially dominant against the NFC North. When facing divisional opponents, Rodgers is 45-26 ATS (24.1% ROI).
Although he was fired just a couple of weeks ago, former Lions head coach Matt Patricia’s ghost will haunt the organization for some time. I doubt the Lions we see this week will differ much from the team we’ve seen since Patricia replaced Jim Caldwell in 2018.
In the post-Caldwell era, the NFC North is 9-6-1 ATS (17.3% ROI) against the Lions.
I would bet this to -9.5 (-110).
Brandon Anderson: The Packers are very good on offense. The Lions are very bad on defense.
Sometimes it really is that simple.
Green Bay slaughtered Detroit in September, doubling the Lions up and winning by 21. That was one of three games this season in which the Lions gave up 41 or more points, and one of five Lions losses by 14 or more points. They’re 4-2 in one-score games this season, and if they were a little (or a lot) unluckier, they might be fighting the Jaguars and Jets for the rights to Trevor Lawrence.
Matt Patricia is gone, and the Lions did get a win last week but did so against the Bears, who are currently on a six-loss streak — and Detroit’s defense is so bad that it gave up 30 points to that rudderless team. The Lions now rank dead-last in defensive DVOA, ranking in the bottom-four of rushing and passing.
In summation, the Lions are bad at everything on defense and have allowed almost 30 points per game this season.
Haaave you met Aaron Rodgers? Rodgers is a legit MVP candidate and has had the Packers offense rolling all season. They have the league’s best offense outside of Kansas City and have rolled through bad teams. They’ve beat all seven teams they’ve played currently under .500, with six of those wins coming by at least 14 points and the Packers scoring at least 30 points.
This is Blowout City, population Detroit.
The Packers offense is simply too good for the Lions defense to have any chance at slowing them down. Bank on Green Bay to win with ease and grab this line before it keeps rising by kickoff and pushes double digits — I would take it up to -9.5.