NFL Picks, Predictions: Week 14 Late-Slate Best Bets for Bucs vs 49ers, More
Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images. Pictured: Christian McCaffrey.
NFL Predictions for Week 14
Stuckey: This is simply too many points here for me to pass up for a home divisional ‘dog.
The Broncos defense is still battling every week, which is keeping their games close. For as bad as the offense has been (on pace to be first team to average under 14 points per game for first time since 2012 chiefs), it’s still a few plays away from being in playoff contention. This is a team that has lost three games in overtimes and blown a few other fourth-quarter leads, including one last week in a situation where teams had been 206-0 since 1995.
Denver has only lost one game all season by double digits. All of its games seem to be the same movie replayed each week. There’s no reason to think that changes this week.
I expect another close loss in which the offense comes up short, although I do like the some of the new three-tight-end sets and power rushing attack new play caller Klint Kubiak is using for this particular matchup.
If you’re ever going to fade Mahomes, do it when he’s favored by more than a touchdown.
Simon Hunter: A gross, ugly home ‘dog. Yes, please. Even better, this one is a divisional matchup.
I know what you’re thinking: “Hell no, I don’t want to put my money on Russell Wilson against Patrick Mahomes.” Don’t look at it like that, though. We’re backing a top-three defense at home, and it’s catching more than a touchdown. That’s too many points.
This line is inflated to its peak. It’ll keep coming down before kickoff, even though everyone will keep betting on the Chiefs. Sportsbooks won’t have a choice. They need to hang such a high number to get the pros to bite. With all the straight bets, teasers and moneylines tied to this game, Denver will no doubt be one of the biggest needs for the books to win in Week 14.
This number should be closer to Chiefs -6. You have to hold your nose and take the free points.
If you hate Wilson that much, remind yourself that this is a bet on the defense and not him.
Also, you always fade Mahomes as a big favorite on the road. As a favorite of seven or more points, Mahomes is 7-0 straight-up but just 1-6 against the spread.
I’d bet this down to Broncos +8.
John LanFranca: If you bet the under in every Buccaneers road game this season, you would be undefeated. In fact, you wouldn’t have had to sweat any of those positions. Only Tampa Bay’s Week 12 game in Cleveland came within a touchdown of the posted total.
The Buccaneers offense is inept and now finds itself traveling across the country to take on the top defense in the league (per DVOA) since Week 8.
Tampa Bay has no semblance of a running game and no chance of getting it going against the top defense in adjusted line yards against the run. It will be all on Tom Brady to make things happen against the excellent 49ers pass rush.
The Bucs have one the lowest team totals of the week for a reason: They have only had five touchdown scoring drives on the road in 2022.
Don’t be so sure Brock Purdy will be able to light up the scoreboard in this game either. Tampa Bay’s defense has only allowed points on 29.6% of its opponents’ drives this season, which is second in the league. I love the under here above the key number of 37.
I’d play this total down to 37.
Brandon Anderson: Rookie QB Brock Purdy, the last pick of the 2022 NFL Draft, will make his debut as a NFL starter against the GOAT, and he is more than a field goal favorite. How did we get here?
All the focus this week has been on the big Jimmy Garoppolo injury, and fair enough. Garoppolo was genuinely good in conjunction with Kyle Shanahan. He was a stabilizer that kept all the gears moving and whirring, and his loss will be felt — eventually. My top futures play this week is fading the 49ers in the postseason without Garoppolo.
But the rest of the 49ers roster is actually getting pretty healthy. Star pass rusher Nick Bosa will be limited with a hamstring injury, but guys like Trent Williams, Deebo Samuel, Christian McCaffrey and Arik Armstead are off the injury report entirely.
The 49ers lead the league in DVOA over the last six weeks. The defense is first and the offense fourth — that includes second in passing so there will be a drop there. Still, this is a formula that can still work — in the regular season, against average or bad teams.
We saw it work just last week against a banged-up Dolphins squad. Now, San Francisco faces another injury-plagued Florida team — only the Bucs haven’t been good to start with and they’re even more buried on the injury front.
Stud T Tristan Wirfs is doubtful, and two other OL starters are out for the year. Safeties Antoine Winfield and Mike Edwards are doubtful. Stud pass rusher Shaq Barrett is out, while Sean Murphy-Bunting and Akiem Hicks are question marks. That’s over half of an otherwise terrific defense, and that’s why this defense has fallen off to league average over the past six weeks and 23rd against the pass by DVOA.
Tampa Bay is mostly just an average team right now. The offensive line woes are a big problem against this ferocious defense. The Bucs have surpassed 22 points only once this season, and this team only seems to score in the final minutes when everything is on the line.
The 49ers defense has allowed more than 17 points only twice, and those were back-to-back games when they were dealing with a ton of defensive injuries. Throw out those two games, and the Niners have allowed 11.8 PPG, a remarkable number.
When the new lines posted Sunday night, the first thing I looked for was the under on this game. It’s hard to see Tampa Bay putting up many points in this one, and even with all those defensive injuries, this is Mr. Irrelevant making his debut against a very talented defense.
I would’ve smashed an under in the 40s but was thrown off by 38, and we’re down to 37.5 now.
Bucs unders are 10-2 and Todd Bowles road unders are 26-13 (67%), the second-most profitable such coach in our system. Tampa’s offense has been much worse on the road, and San Francisco’s offense will surely take its lumps with Purdy.
I’ll bet under 37.5. Either one of these offenses could lay an egg, or we could just get a 20-17 or 16-13 type outcome. I see many avenues to the under.
As for a side, I’ll probably stay away, but would lean 49ers just because this feels like such a trappy line, stuck right past the key number all week long without budging.
My initial thought seeing this line was the same as yours — “Tom Brady against Mr. Irrelevant, making his debut, getting more than a field goal? Say it ain’t so!” And that, I think, is the trap. We all know Brady. We know all the Shanahan numbers with and without Garoppolo and as a favorite. This line is just begging us to take the Bucs to keep it within a field goal in a low-scoring game.
My gut says it’s a trap, so I’ll go the other direction — but pass either way and just stick with the under instead.
John LanFranca: This is an excellent matchup for a Panthers team that’s covered in three straight games and is coming off its bye week.
The Seahawks defense is last in Football Outsiders’ Rush DVOA since Week 9. While giving up 273 yards on the ground to Josh Jacobs grabbed the headlines, actually allowing the rushing attacks of the Bucs and Rams to get going is even more concerning.
I expect a heavy dose of D’Onta Foreman for the Panthers since he has run for more than 100 yards four times since taking over as the bellcow when Christian McCaffrey was traded. In those four games, the Panthers were able to implement their game plan. Carolina covered the spread in all four and won three of them outright as underdogs.
In contrast, the entirety of the Seahawks offense now rests on Geno Smith’s shoulders. While he has been incredibly consistent this season, the Panthers represent one of his tougher matchups of the season. Carolina’s defense ranked in the top 10 of Pass DVOA in November, even factoring in a blowout loss to Cincinnati.
I expect the Panthers to shorten this game by dominating time of possession. They’ll keep the game close and don’t be surprised if they steal a victory on the road.
I’d play Carolina down to +3.5, which is where the line moved at some books on Sunday morning.
Nick Bretwisch: There isn’t a whole lot of great things to say about this Buccaneers’ offense, but they are the AETY Model’s anticipated leader in terms of pass attempts so we will have volume on our side while Julio Jones lines up against the 49ers worst cover-corner in Deommodore Lenoir.
Jones has a damn-near six-inch height advantage and is still is showing his playmaking prowess over the past couple weeks. Kyle Shanahan will likely try to scheme away Mike Evans’ home run-hitting ability, which would leave Jones 1-on-1 with Lenoir.
Outside of the limited man coverage we’ll see from the 49ers, Jones gets a nice boost to his baseline target share against the San Francisco’s Cover-3 zone.
I always like taking a prop play that can be covered in just one play. Let’s go, Julio!