NFL Week 14 Lookahead Picks: Bets for Titans vs Jaguars, Steelers vs Ravens

NFL Week 14 Lookahead Picks: Bets for Titans vs Jaguars, Steelers vs Ravens article feature image

Patrick McDermott/Getty Images. Pictured: Derrick Henry.

Welcome back to The Lookahead.

While everyone else is busy betting on this weekend's games, we continue to get out ahead of things with a pair of picks for next Sunday. It's all about locking in that sweet closing line value (CLV) and gobbling up easy line value before this week's results move next week's lines.

We continue to lock in important CLV ahead of the games every week, often crossing key numbers. This week we're grabbing one favorite and one underdog in two classic division rivalry games.

We've already got your Week 13 picks covered, so let's look ahead and get some more CLV for Week 14.

Jaguars vs.

Titans (-3.5)

The Jaguars are still catching some post-Ravens upset buzz, so let's take advantage of it before Jacksonville falls back to earth.

Yes, Trevor Lawrence was terrific down the stretch against Baltimore in Week 12, hitting a handful of elite throws and finally looking like the No. 1-pick prince that was promised. Lawrence has flashed that franchise QB potential at times this season.

But don't forget about the other times. Lawrence remains inconsistent, and it matters that Jacksonville was down nine with 6 minutes left, then seven with under 1 minute. It matters that Lawrence keeps getting killer turnovers in the red zone, and that Jacksonville's defense has cratered after a hot start, now 30th in DVOA since the start of October.

Jacksonville had a nice moment, but the Titans have been the class of this division for years now and it might be time we all accepted it. What was once a great division rivalry hasn't been any rivalry at all in recent years. The Titans have won five straight over the Jaguars and nine of the last 10, six of the nine by double digits and an average win of 14.9 points per game the last five seasons. These games aren't even competitive, and Derrick Henry has treated Jacksonville's defense like a scrimmage walk through.

There is a massive gulf of quality between these teams' defenses. The Titans D has been terrific, especially against the run. Tennessee continues to win this AFC South every year specifically because they take care of these division games. They've won 11 of the last 12 in the division, going 9-2 (82%) against the spread (ATS) in those wins. Tennessee has won five straight against Jacksonville by 18.2 points per game, and Doug Pederson is 3-7 ATS (30%) as a division underdog.

My top two bets this week are backing the Titans in a great underdog spot in Philadelphia and playing the home Lions to easily take care of the overvalued Jaguars. If those bets hit as expected, perceptions of these two teams should quickly realign and send this line closer to where it should be, near a TD.

The Titans are a quality playoff team with a great defense at home against a middling division foe with occasional good moments amidst a sea of youthful mistakes. Grab Titans -3.5 before the line rises.

THE PICK: Bet Titans -3.5

Always bet the underdog in this rivalry when the spread is more than three points.

It's a simple rule but a shockingly effective one in a division rivalry that's lived up to billing for the better part of two decades. Pittsburgh and Baltimore almost always seem to play close, tight, defensive games. Since the start of the 2015 season, 11 of the 14 Steelers-Ravens games finished as one-score affairs. Eight finished at four points or closer, and three even went to overtime.

But it's not just recently. Since 2005, when either team in this rivalry is more than a field goal favorite, the underdog is an incredible 18-2 ATS, covering 90% of the time. Pittsburgh is 6-0 in those spots including four wins straight up, two of them last year by one and three. The underdog is always live in this rivalry, and it always ends up close.

Besides, you already know this is a great Rah Rah Mike Tomlin spot. Tomlin is 40-17-1 ATS (70%) as an underdog from Week 5 forward. That includes 14-3-1 ATS (78%) at home, covering nine in a row and winning seven in a row outright before losing to the Bengals a few weeks ago. It also includes 19-4-1 ATS (83%) in division games.

The numbers alone are enough to play Pittsburgh blind. But there are football reasons too.

These Steelers are still underrated since the return of T.J. Watt. Watt is the most important player on this team and changes everything for Pittsburgh. The Steelers rank top 10 in both offensive and defensive DVOA since Watt's return. They've been especially strong defending the run, and that's the one part of Baltimore's offense that remains stable as the passing attack struggles. The matchup sets up for yet another low scoring, defensive battle, one Pittsburgh should be competitive in all the way.

You might be tempted to wait. The Ravens are big favorites against the Broncos, while Pittsburgh is in a coin flip game against the Falcons. If Atlanta wins and Baltimore coasts, this line probably rises a point or two. But if you expect the Steelers to win and the Ravens offense to look bad against a great Denver defense, this line could shrink, maybe past the key number. And don't forget all the Ravens injury question marks too, including Lamar Jackson.

I'm not waiting around. I grabbed Pittsburgh +4.5 earlier in the week and the line is already moving. Grab the Steelers +4 now while it's there.

THE PICK: Bet Steelers +4

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