NFL Picks: Expert’s 4 Best Bets for Week 14 on Lions vs Vikings, More
Gregory Shamus/Getty Images. Pictured: Jared Goff.
- Chris Raybon has four picks for the early slate of Week 14.
- He's betting two sides, one total and one player prop at 1 p.m. ET on Sunday.
- Check out Raybon's best bets for the early slate on Sunday below.
NFL Picks for Week 14
Chris Raybon: You wouldn’t know it from their records – the Vikings are 10-2 and the Lions are 5-7 – but the Lions have been the better team. Detroit is 13th in overall DVOA, while Minnesota is 20th. The Lions have the better offense (ninth vs. 19th) and special teams (ninth vs. 20th), and the defenses are just about equal (19th vs. 18th).
The Lions were a bottom-three pass defense when they fired defensive backs coach Aubrey Pleasant at the end of October, but they’ve flown up to 19th since. Detroit plays man coverage at the fifth-highest rate and blitz at the sixth-highest rate, which tends to give Kirk Cousins fits. Cousins’ passer rating drops from 91.2 when not blitzed to 79.6 when blitzed, and his 52.6 PFF grade against the blitz ranks 34th of 38 qualified quarterbacks. And against man coverage, Minnesota’s 6.8 yards per targeted pass attempt ranks 27th in the NFL.
On offense, the Lions should be able to put up points on a Vikings defense that ranks 23rd in pressure rate (19.5%), as Jared Goff’s pass rating from a clean pocket (108.9) is 48.1 points better than when under pressure (60.8). The Vikings also play the second-lowest rate of man coverage, the Lions’ 8.5 yards per targeted pass attempt against zone ranks seventh in the league. Goff will have a fully healthy stable of weapons with Amon-Ra St. Brown, D’Andre Swift, Jameson Williams, D.J. Chark and Josh Reynolds healthy at the same time for just the second time all season.
The Lions have played much better at home this season, averaging 31.9 points per game and a +4.0 point differential compared to 18.4 points per game and a -7.4 point differential on the road. It has been profitable late in the season to fade teams with high winning percentages as underdogs like Minnsota, as per our Action Labs data, dogs with a winning percentage of 80% or more have gone just 12-23-1 (33%) against the spread since 2003.
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Chris Raybon: This is a good spot to sell high on the Steelers, who are 3-1 straight-up and against the spread in their past four games. The Steelers have benefitted from massive turnover luck over that span, with eight takeaways and no giveaways.
Save for the last drive against the Jaguars, the Ravens defense has been lights out since acquiring Roquan Smith, allowing 13.3 points per game and 263 total yards per game over their last four. The Ravens are a well-rounded defense, ranking ninth in overall DVOA, sixth against the run, and 11th against the pass, Even if he doesn’t turn the ball over, Kenny Pickett will struggle to put up points against this defense, as his 77.3 passe rating from a clean pocket ranks last in the NFL among 37 qualified quarterbacks.
With Lamar Jackson struggling, his absence isn’t as big as it would have been earlier in the season. Tyler Huntley gets the ball out quickly and has only lost one start by more than one point and none by more than three points. And though he doesn’t have the same type of athletic ability as Jackson, he has shown he can run some of the same zone reads and keepers and be productive. Against one of the top defenses in the league last week in the Broncos, Huntley threw only five incompletions on 32 pass attempts while rushing 10 times for 41 yards.
We should get the Ravens’ best effort here, as they are surely looking for revenge after the Steelers beat them twice by a combined four points last season. This tends to be where the Steelers have letdown spots, as per our Action Labs data, they are just 80-92-2 (47%) against the spread as favorites under Mike Tomlin. Meanwhile, the Ravens are 32-22-3 (59%) ATS as a Divisional road dog under John Harbaugh.
Excluding the final week of the season, Baltimore is also 12–2-2 (86%) ATS in Divisional road games from Week 10-on under Harbaugh, covering by an average of 5.6 points per game.
I’d bet Baltimore down to +1.
Chris Raybon: This is a matchup of two defenses that rank in the top six in DVOA, with Buffalo clocking in at fourth and the Jets at sixth.
Both defenses also rank top-10 in pressure rate, with the Jets fifth at 24.6% and the Bills ninth at 23.8%. Even more impressively, neither defense needs to blitz to get pressure, as the Jets rank 31st in blitz rate (15.1%) and the Bills rank 23rd (19.4%). This has helped both teams also rank inside the top 10 in fewest passing plays of 20-plus yards allowed, with the Jets third (9.9%) and the Bills ninth (11.3%).
Josh Allen led his offense to only 17 points in the first meeting against the Jets and could struggle against Robert Saleh’s pass defense, which is ranked fifth in DVOA. In four games against defenses ranked top-12 against the pass, the Bills are averaging just 23.5 points per game compared to 29.9 against defenses outside the top 12.
The Bills are also running the ball more as of late, which could shorten the game. After calling designed runs on only 32.8% of their offensive plays (excluding kneel-downs) in their first eight games, they’ve called designed runs 40.4% of the time over their past four games.
On the other side of the ball, Mike White faces his most difficult matchup yet after facing two below-average defenses in the Bears (32nd in weighted DVOA) and the Vikings (20th). White struggled against the Bills last season, going 24-of-44 for 251 yards with no touchdowns and four interceptions.
The Bills’ defensive metrics are even more impressive when you consider all the players who missed games, including Tre’Davious White (10 missed games), Jordan Poyer (three), Tremaine Edmunds (three), Ed Oliver (three), Greg Rousseau (three), and Matt Milano (one). Having White available is big, as he is the best answer the Bills have for Garrett Wilson, who has posted 13 catches for 257 yards and two touchdowns in White’s two starts. With everyone healthy last week, the Bills allowed just 242 total yards on 51 plays to the Patriots.
With wind and potential light snow in the forecast for Sunday, this figures to be an ugly, late-season divisional clash. Per our Action Labs data, outdoor divisional unders are 62-38-1 (62%) since 2021, including a 26-11-1 (70%) mark this season.
Chris Raybon: Hooper started out the season slow, averaging just 1.2 catches for 11.0 yards in his first five games with the Titans. He has nearly tripled his production since Tennessee’s bye, however, averaging 3.0 catches for 32.0 yards over his past seven games.
Hooper’s usage is trending up even further over the past two games, with 24.0 routes per game and a 66% route participation rate compared to 16.3 routes per game and a 57% route participation rate over his first 10 games. That should continue this week against Jacksonville, as the Titans will have to rely on more two-tight end sets featuring Hooper and rookie Chigoziem Okonkwo with wide receiver Treylon Burks (concussion) sidelined.
Hooper’s matchup is strong, as the Jaguars rank 31st in DVOA against tight ends and have allowed three of the last four tight ends with a yardage prop posted against them to go over.
Hooper has posted at least 22 yards in his last five games and six of the last seven, with 30-plus in four of the past five and five of the past seven. I’m projecting him just over 30 yards and would bet the over at anything under 30.