This is NFL Best Bets, a recurring series in which professional sports handicappers lend us their insights and picks for the most intriguing matchups for each week of the professional football season. Here are our Week 14 NFL picks.
You’ve got places to go, people to see and possibly some wagers to make, so let’s get right to it with some help from Thomas Gable, the director of race and sportsbook at the Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa in Atlantic City, sports betting reporter Josh Appelbaum of VSiN and Odds Assist CEO Dave Rathmanner.
New York Jets (+10, O/U 43.5) at Buffalo Bills
Appelbaum’s Assessment: This line opened with the Bills listed as a 10-point home favorite. Early in the week, it looked like some Jets money showed up, dropping the line down to 9. Ever since then, it’s been all Buffalo buyback, driving the line back up to 10. I’ll look toward the total instead. It opened at 44.5 and has fallen to 43.5. Divisional unders are 36-22 (62%) this season. If the total falls in a division game, the under improves to 22-9 (71%). The forecast calls for temps in the mid-30s with 10 MPH winds and possibly some rain. I’ll take under 43.5.
Gable’s Guess: The Bills have some extra days of rest coming into what is a big game for both of these teams. Buffalo’s defense looked great against New England as they held the Patriots to only 242 total yards of offense. The Jets just lost a tough one to the Vikings. They got down and managed to battle back and have an opportunity to win it late. Mike White threw two interceptions to go with 369 passing yards and his teammates certainly believe in him. It’s a little odd to me that they officially announce White as the starter each week to assure the media Zach Wilson isn’t coming back. This is a big number for the Bills to cover, so I’m going to take the points with the Jets.
Rathmanner’s Reckoning: Mike White has thrown for 684 yards in his two games as a starter, but that was against two of the weaker defenses in the NFL. White should be in for a reality check this week against a much tougher Buffaloe defense on the road. The Bills allow only 17.4 points per game and 320.2 yards per game, making them one of the top defenses in the league. The Jets also have a very strong defense and they allow only 307 yards and 18.6 points per game. Despite the Bills’ reputation as an offensive football team, nine of their 12 games this year have gone under the total. The Jets have also played to the under in seven of their 12 games. Look for those trends to continue for these teams Sunday and play the under.
Our Pick: Two good defenses and bad weather seem like a recipe for a low score. Going under.
Minnesota Vikings (+1.5, O/U 51.5) at Detroit Lions
Appelbaum’s Assessment: This line opened with the Vikings listed as a 3-point road favorite. The public is all over Minnesota, yet we’ve seen this line flip to Lions -2 at home. This signals sharp “dog to favorite” reverse line movement on Detroit. Also, why is a 5-7 team favored over a 10-2 team? If it looks fishy, there’s often a reason for it. Dan Campbell is 19-10 ATS (67%) as head coach of the Lions. Give me the fishy line that doesn’t make sense. I’ll sweat Detroit on the moneyline at -130.
Gable’s Guess: This is the second matchup of the year between these two divisional opponents. In that first one, the Lions did what they typically were doing in the early part of the season and blew a lead and made costly mistakes at the end. Things are looking much brighter for them and you have to question if they’ve turned the corner. The Vikings continue to win close games and the worm is going to turn for them at some point. The line may not appear to make sense when you look at the records of the two teams, but this game opened as a pick’em and the betting market pushed the Lions into favorites. The Vikings give up a lot of passing yards and that’s one of the strengths for Detroit with the receiving corps they have. I expect this to be a high-scoring affair so I’m taking the over.
Rathmanner’s Reckoning: This is a matchup between two of the worst defenses in the league. The Vikings allow 398.7 yards per game, second-worst in the league only to the Lions who allow 402.2 yards per game. The Lions and their opponents are averaging nearly 60 points per game in games played in Detroit this year. The Lions have gone over in eight of 12 and the Vikings have gone over in seven of 12 this season. In addition to both teams being bad defensively, they both have strong offenses. The Vikings average 24.1 points per game, while the Lions average 26.3 points per game. These teams have failed to reach 52 points only once in their last five meetings. Two strong offenses and two bad defenses make the over the play on Sunday.
Our Pick: The Vikings easily could have lost to the Jets last night and the Lions are rolling. Laying the points.
Philadelphia Eagles (-7, O/U 44.5) at New York Giants
Appelbaum’s Assessment: This line opened with the Eagles listed as a 6-point road favorite. The public is happy to lay the points with powerhouse Philadelphia, which has the best record in the NFL. This lopsided betting drove the Eagles up to the key number of -7 and the line might even reach -7.5 based on the juiced-up Eagles spread (-7 at -115). Big dogs +7 or mroe are 26-17 ATS (60%) this season. Divisional dogs are 36-23 ATS (61%). Daniel Jones is 7-1 ATS as a dog this season and 24-14 ATS (63%) in his career. It’s gross, but I have to back the inflated contrarian home divisional dog. Give me the Giants plus the points.
Gable’s Guess: I believe the Eagles’ victory over Tennessee proved a couple of things. Most notably, just how complete this team is and how they’re able to play any style of football. Their offense can throw it and run and they’re just a very complete defense. Now they face Giants, who will be looking to run first. This is a tough, divisional matchup and we should expect a physical game. The Giants only have one win since Halloween and it was against the Texans. I expect the Eagles to try and pound the ball here, so I’m going to lay the points up to seven with the Eagles. If it goes past seven, it’s going to be a stay-away.
Rathmanner’s Reckoning: Saquon Barkley continues to slow down after a strong start to the season for the Giants. In his last three games, he has only 124 yards on 44 carries. The Giants have only one win in their last five games after winning six of seven to start the year. The Eagles’ biggest advantage will be their rush offense, which ranks fifth in the league. Ther are going against a Giant run defense which is seventh-worst in the league. The Eagles have been winning convincingly, for the most part, this season. Eight of their 11 victories have been by at least 7 points. Playing the Eagles at -6.5 or better against the Giants.
Our Pick: Consensus is rare. It feels a bit too good to be true, so will hope the Giants can score and go over.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (+3.5, O/U 37.5) at San Francisco 49ers
Appelbaum’s Assessment: This line opened with the 49ers listed as high as a 6.5-point home favorite. We’ve seen the line tumble all the way to -3.5. The Bucs +3.5 is juiced up to -115, signaling a possible further drop down to 3. Sweet spot dogs +3.5 or more are 69-45 ATS (61%) this season. Dogs who failed to cover the previous week are 43-33 ATS (57%). Kyle Shanahan is just 20-28 ATS (42%) as a favorite in his career. I’ll grab Brady and the Bucs +3.5, especially against a rookie quarterback making his first start in Brock Purdy.
Gable’s Guess: Rookie Brock Purdy will be the starter for the Niners with Josh Johnson as his backup. Tto me, Johnson is a good option for them. He has a history with the Niners from just a couple of years ago and I thought he looked very good this summer during the preseason. Purdy also looked good when he had to come in on Sunday. The bottom line is that there are enough weapons on this team and the defense is good enough for the Niners to have a path forward. Tampa got back to 500 on Monday which will probably be good enough to win their division and give them a home playoff game. But, their offense has struggled and will continue to struggle. The total is low, but I’m going to still take the under.
Rathmanner’s Reckoning: It will be a tough first start for Brock Purdy as the Bucs allow only 195.3 yards through the air. That will have the 49ers looking to run the ball and control the game on the ground. The Tampa defense allows only 18.3 points per game and the 49ers have the best defense in the league and are allowing only 283.9 yards and 15.8 points per game. In addition to that, the Tampa Bay offense continues to struggle this year and is scoring only 18.1 points per game, sixth-worst in the league. The total may be low, but I think the under is the play.
Our Pick: San Fran has some margin for error. Tampa does too, but not as much. Taking Brady in San Fran.
Miami Dolphins (-3, O/U 51.5) at Los Angeles Chargers
Appelbaum’s Assessment: This line opened with the Dolphins listed as a short 1.5-point road favorite. All money has poured in on Miami, steaming the Fins up to -3.5. Now that the hook is available, we’ve seen sharp buyback on the Chargers +3.5 at home, dropping several books back down to 3. Primetime dogs are 23-16 ATS (59%) this season. Los Angeles is contrarian in a heavily bet game, with some late buyback. I’ll sweat Justin Herbert and the point on Sunday night.
Gable’s Guess: Miami struggled last week against that very good San Francisco defense. The Charger defense will be much easier to move the ball on. Last week’s game exposed Miami a little bit and it will be interesting to see how the Dolphins react in the playoffs when they’re facing pressure. We’ll see how they adjust moving forward against better defenses, but the Chargers’ defense is not one of those. Los Angeles jumped out to a 10-0 lead against Vegas and let them come right back. Vegas took control of the rest of the game and the Chargers were never in control after that. The Chargers have dealt with injuries all season and it’s a reason why this talented team is only 6-6. This game has the potential to be a shootout and it’s a high total, so I’m going to lay the points with Miami.
Rathmanner’s Reckoning: The Dolphins saw their five-game win streak come crashing to a halt after losing 33-17 at the 49ers last week. The Dolphins stayed on the West Coast between games and now will face a Chargers team playing at home for just the second time since late October. Even though the Dolphins are 8-4 and the Chargers are 6-6, these are two very evenly matched teams. The Dolphins average 380 yards per game compared to the Chargers’ 350. Defensively, the Dolphins allow 344 yards per game and the Chargers give up 371. In a game where little separates these two, give me the Chargers +3.5.
Our Pick: Just don’t believe the Chargers or their coach have it this year. Laying the points with Miami.
Last Week: 2-3; This Season: 27-34-2
Editor’s note: Betting lines fluctuate throughout the week based on injuries, the weather and other factors. Make sure to double-check the odds before making your own Week 14 NFL picks.