NFL Best Bets: Experts Pick Week 14 Games Including Rams-Ravens, Bills-Chiefs and Eagles-Cowboys

A trio of sharps look at five of the week's most intriguing games

December 8, 2023 9:36 am
Patrick Mahomes scrambles against the Buffalo Bills.
Patrick Mahomes will try to right the ship against the Buffalo Bills.
Cooper Neill/Getty

This is NFL Best Bets, a recurring series in which football experts and handicappers lend us their insights and picks for the most intriguing matchups for each week of the professional football season.

In our Week 14 edition of Best Bets, 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 Mike Golic Jr. of DraftKings share their opinions on four games that will be played over the weekend and one that will be played on Monday night, including the Eagles heading to Dallas to take on a Cowboys team that is riding a 14-game winning streak at home in Big D.

You’ve got places to go, people to see and possibly some wagers to make, so let’s get to it.

Jaguars (+3.5, O/U 30.5) at Browns

Appelbaum’s Assessment: The public is split down the middle 50/50 in terms of betting percentages. However, we’ve seen a big “dog to favorite” line move on the Browns, with Cleveland flipping from +3 to -3 or -3.5. This move is largely due to Trevor Lawrence’s injury status, hinting that he might miss this game with a high ankle sprain. The forecast calls for low temperatures in the 40s with 10-12 MPH winds. If it’s Beathard vs Flacco, I’ll bank on a lower-scoring game. Give me the under.

Gable’s Guess: We had the Jags as a 3-point favorite and then took it off the board after the Trevor Lawrence injury. The total also dropped pretty far. It was 38.5 when we opened it. if Lawrence doesn’t go, it will be C.J. Beathard who gets the start. He came in for Lawrence and went 9-of-10 for 63 yards. The Jaguars are going to have to hang on here. They’re only one game up on both Indy and Houston in their division. The Browns were very much in their game against the Rams on Sunday until late in the fourth quarter and will possibly get Dorian Thompson-Robinson back. There’s a lot of uncertainty in this game around the quarterback position, but I think the total dropping so significantly is a slight overreaction. Give me the over.

Golic’s Gamble: Joe Flacco and a potentially injured or absent Trevor Lawrence do not sound like a recipe for points. A Browns’ defense that struggled to get to the quarterback against the Rams should find an easier road against the 29th-ranked offensive line when graded out with ESPN’s Pass Block Win Rate metric. I’ll take the under.

IH Best Bet: We think Lawrence might play, and Jacksonville’s defense is suspect. Going to take the over.

Rams (+7.5, O/U 39.5) at Ravens

Appelbaum’s Assessment: Currently, 65% of bettors are laying the points with Baltimore. However, despite this lopsided betting, the line hasn’t budged off Ravens -7.5. Some books are even juicing up the Rams +7.5 to -115, signaling a possible dip down to -7. Lamar Jackson popped up on the injury report with an illness. I’ll grab the hook with the contrarian Rams and take Los Angeles +7.5.

Gable’s Guess: Coming off their bye, the Ravens are probably looking at the carnage that has ensued in the last two weeks and feeling pretty good about where they stand in the AFC. Just having their starting quarterback gives them a huge leg up in the conference at this point. The Rams are coming to town fresh off a win against the Browns and are looking like they could sneak into the playoffs. Rookie wide receiver Puka Nacua was injured in the Browns game but he is expected to play here. Unfortunately for the Rams, Cooper Kupp’s production has fallen off significantly in the last six games. They need him to return to form fast if they’re really going to be serious contenders for a playoff spot. With the week off here, I see the Ravens dominating. I’ll lay the points with Baltimore.

Golic’s Gamble: When healthy, this Rams’ offense is fast and effective. Kyren Williams’ return to the lineup along with a healthy Matthew Stafford gives the Rams a chance at the kind of balanced attack needed to gain ground against the NFL’s second-best defense in terms of EPA/play. The Ravens will win, but the Rams have a chance to keep it close while Baltimore figures out life without Mark Andrews. I’ll take the points with LA.

IH Best Bet: If the Rams keep it close, they’ll have to score. The Ravens will get theirs too, so going over.

Not Even Taylor Swift Could Save the Patriots
Chiefs-Patriots has been removed from “Monday Night Football”

Broncos (+2.5, O/U 44) at Chargers

Appelbaum’s Assessment: This line opened with the Chargers listed as a 3-point home favorite. We’ve seen the Chargers fall from -3 to -2.5, signaling some respected money grabbing the Broncos at the key number of +3. Denver also has value as a buy-low divisional dog off a loss against a sell-high favorite off a win. Russell Wilson is 34-18 ATS (65%) in his career as a dog. Since I missed the key number of +3, I’ll instead back the Broncos in a teaser (+2.5 to +8.5) and pair them with the Packers (-6.5 to -0.5 against the Giants).

Gable’s Guess: It was a big loss for the Broncos on Sunday against Houston. They couldn’t overcome three Russell Wilson turnovers. His third interception of the day sealed their fate. It was also concerning the Broncos could not convert on third down even once in that game. Denver’s just trying to keep pace in the AFC and sneak into the playoffs. A loss will pretty much seal the fate of the Chargers and more than likely cost Brandon Staley his job as well. The Chargers had one of the uglier wins in recent memory against the Patriots, only averaging 1.2 yards per carry on the ground. The Chargers will have to throw against Denver but it’s also puzzling why they aren’t using running back Austin Ekeler more in the passing game. I’ll take the points with Denver.

Golic’s Gamble: The Chargers’ defense is fresh off of a shutout (against the Patriots, we know). The Bronco defense is much improved after its 70-point debacle. Sean Payton has reinvented Denver as masters of the rock fight, content to drag other teams down to their level. No one is happier to follow the lead of their opponent than the Los Angeles Chargers. I am taking the under.

IH Best Bet: The Chargers are looking for an excuse to fold. Denver give them one. Taking the points.

Bills (+1.5, O/U 48.5) at Chiefs

Appelbaum’s Assessment: This line opened with the Chiefs listed as a 3-point home favorite. We’ve seen the Chiefs fall from -3 to -1.5, indicating wiseguy money on the Bills plus the points. However, now that the line has moved so much, I’ll look to buy low on the Chiefs at a reduced price. Patrick Mahomes is 3-0 straight up off a loss this season and 16-3 straight up (84%) off a loss in his career. I’ll look for the Chiefs to bounce back and play Kansas City on the moneyline at -125.

Gable’s Guess: The Bills are returning from their bye week on the road, essentially with their season on the line. Buffalo has a tough road ahead with this game and then Dallas and Miami looming. At this point, Buffalo’s offense looks stronger than Kansas City’s, which is odd to say about any offense with Patrick Mahomes at quarterback. He just doesn’t have legitimate options to throw to other than Travis Kelce. If the Bills can contain Mahomes in the pocket and not allow him to beat them with his legs, they should be in good shape. Kansas City’s defense has been very good this year, but they have been susceptible to the run and it seems like Buffalo has decided to use Josh Allen more in the running attack. He’s a QB, but he’s essentially been their best back for the last few seasons. I think Buffalo will be a little desperate here so I’m going to take the points.

Golic’s Gamble: Josh Allen played like a man possessed in the Bills’ loss to the Eagles two weeks ago. Every week is a playoff game from here on out for Buffalo, so I expect more performances like that from one of the league’s best QBs as he throws caution to the wind. My focus is on a Buffalo defense that has been thwarted by some key injuries and dipped in performance all season long. I think the Chief offense has a get-right game after a curious step back last week. I will lay the points with Kansas City.

IH Best Bet: Believe in the Chiefs at home more than Buffalo on the road. Laying the points.

Eagles (+3.5, O/U 51.5) at Cowboys

Appelbaum’s Assessment: This line opened with the Cowboys listed as a 2.5-point home favorite. The public sees two evenly matched teams and they’re rushing to the window to take the points with the Eagles. However, despite 65% of bettors taking Philly, we’ve seen the Cowboys move from -2.5 to -3.5. This is a classic “fade the trendy dog” spot in favor of Dallas. It’s very similar to last week when the public was all over Philly but the line moved to the 49ers, who ended up easily covering. Give me Dallas on the moneyline at -175.

Gable’s Guess: This game could help decide the No. 1 seed in the NFC. It gets easier for the Eagles after this game and it gets very difficult for the Cowboys from here on out. In this particular game, I think the Cowboys are probably licking their chops and thinking Philly is vulnerable. Dallas has been a monster at home, but they still need to prove they can beat teams with winning records. The Eagles have looked tired and you can’t really blame them. The defense has been on the field a lot in the last three games. The defense could get exposed with the way the Cowboy offense has been playing. But Philly should be able to put up some points of their own. I’m going to take the over.

Golic’s Gamble: The Cowboys have been on an absolute tear since their loss to the Eagles in Philly. They are averaging a scorching 42 points per game against the NFC East bottom-dwellers, the Panthers and the Seahawks. It’s put up or shut up time for Dallas to show they belong among the upper crust of the NFC with Philly and the Niners. The Eagle linebackers and nickelbacks have struggled all season (in large part due to injury). They are facing a Dallas offense that has plenty of capable pass catchers to exploit the middle of the field led by CeeDee Lamb, who demolished the Birds in the slot last time out to the tune of 191 receiving yards. I’ll lay the points with the home team.

IH Best Bet: Am expecting the points to come in bunches in primetime. Going with the over.

Last Week: 3-2; This Season: 32-30-2

Editor’s note: Betting lines fluctuate based on injuries, the weather and other factors. Double-check the odds before betting.

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