NFL Odds, Picks, Predictions: How Our Experts Are Betting 49ers-Bengals and Bills-Bucs Spreads For Week 14
Steph Chambers/Getty Images. Pictured: 49ers TE George Kittle and QB Jimmy Garoppolo celebrate
NFL Odds, Picks, Predictions
Bills at Buccaneers
Sean Koerner: I like buying low on the Bills after their 10-14 loss to the Patriots on Monday Night where extreme winds allowed the Pats to win despite only attempting three passes.
The Bucs defense is stout against the run, but the Bills lead the league in early-down pass frequency in neutral game situations. They are more than willing to lean on Josh Allen and attack Tampa’s defense through the air. My “Expected Wins” model has the Bills graded closer to a 9-3 team, meaning they are playing much better than their 7-5 record would indicate.
A big part of that would be due to their 0-4 record in one-score games this season. As always, we should typically expect teams to be around .500 in that stat, so significantly above/below teams are often over/underrated.
I am aware of how good Tom Brady and the Bucs are, but this matchup is much closer than the market is treating it. I have this projected as Bucs -2.5, so the fact we are getting +3.5 here is too good to pass up. The most likely outcome of this game is Bucs winning by three, and we would win with that result getting +3.5.
Bills at Buccaneers
Raheem Palmer: My model makes this game closer to a pick’em than the +3.5 currently available in the market. The Bills have struggled against superior competition, going 3-5 when facing teams other than the Dolphins, Jets and Texans, but this is an ideal matchup in many ways.
The Bills are still first in Football Outsiders’ DVOA and fifth in ESPN’s pass rush win rate, so I’m expecting this team to find a way to pressure Tom Brady given the potential absence of center Ryan Jensen, who missed practice multiple times this week. That could be key considering Brady’s passer rating drops from 110.6 to 73.4 when under pressure.
Even with Buffalo down its star corner in Tre’Davious White, I’m expecting this Bills defense to be able to hold down the Bucs.
The key will be Josh Allen, who is 15-8 (65%) against the spread (ATS) as an underdog in his career. Allen and this Bills offense should find some success with Stefon Diggs and Emmanuel Sanders facing a Buccaneers defense that can be passed on and is banged-up with the absence of safety Jordan Whitehead. While Jamel Dean was cleared to play, this unit has proven it can be passed on even when healthy, so I’m not expecting the Buccaneers to slow the Bills down.
At 3.5, we have a positive expected value wager, so I’ll be backing the Bills.
49ers at Bengals
Chris Raybon: I jumped on the 49ers early at +2 and now like them to -2 with the Bengals’ cluster injuries at linebacker, as well as Joe Mixon and Tee Higgins likely operating at less than 100%.
Entering last Sunday, the 49ers were seventh in overall DVOA while the Bengals were 18th. The 49ers played the sixth-hardest schedule by DVOA, while the Bengals played the second-easiest.
Both teams lost, but the Bengals were blown out, 41-22, while the 49ers lost a close game in which they fell victim to a fluky 73-yard fake punt touchdown and still had a chance to tie on a fourth-and-goal in the final moments.
Cincinnati will likely be the healthier team here, but San Francisco is still the better team, making this a coin-flip game.
The 49ers’ biggest edge comes in the trenches. Entering Sunday, San Francisco ranked third-best in run-blocking grade (85.2) and seventh-best in pass-blocking grade (72.0) at PFF, while Cincinnati ranked 16th in run blocking (70.3) and 22nd in pass blocking (59.0).
There is also no telling how much Joe Burrow’s injured finger will truly affect him after it’s had time to swell up, and we’ve seen Russell Wilson struggle after a finger injury with more time than a week to heal.
49ers at Bengals
Brandon Anderson: This is my favorite play of the week by far.
San Francisco mostly dominated that game in Seattle. Jimmy Garoppolo averaged 10 yards per throw and 15 per completion, but the Seahawks caught a litany of breaks and got the division-rivalry win. It happens.
Cincinnati was much worse, blown out both early and late, only in the game briefly in the middle when L.A. tried to “Chargers” the game up like usual.
The 49ers are just the better team right now, and I don’t think it’s close. The Niners are the best offense in the NFL by EPA over the past six weeks, 50% higher than all but two teams. Garoppolo leads the NFL in EPA and completion percentage over expectation (CPOE) in that span, per RBSDM, while the Bengals pass defense ranks second to last in EPA during that same stretch. That seems problematic.
By overall Weighted DVOA, Cincinnati is the 20th best team in the NFL, while the Niners are fifth.
San Francisco has been a different team since getting left tackle Trent Williams and tight end George Kittle healthy and back in the lineup. Deebo Samuel and Elijah Mitchell are question marks, but this offense is about scheme and winning in the trenches more than the weapons themselves. Williams and Kittle are among the most valuable non-QBs in the entire league, and it shows.
Meanwhile, Joe Burrow has that pinky issue on his throwing hand and Joe Mixon is banged up. The Bengals ranked 27th in EPA per run over the last six weeks but remain overcommitted to the run. By DVOA, the Bengals rank 24th passing and 20th running; the 49ers are fourth and sixth. These offenses aren’t in the same universe. Williams and Kittle change everything.
Don’t worry about that Seattle loss. Some teams are just the wrong matchup.
I was able to grab this at 49ers +1.5, but I’d play it to -2.5.