Week 14 NFL best bets: A play on every game

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Week 14 of the very unique 2020 NFL season is here.

With COVID-19 concerns in several games, be sure to check injury reports as we get closer to kickoff. Our experts Drew Dinsick, Dave Tuley and Matt Youmans combine to give their opinions on every game.

All odds as of Thursday evening, from VSiN's NFL odds page.

Tennessee Titans (-7.5, 52) at Jacksonville Jaguars

Tuley: The Jaguars have covered for me four of the last five weeks (and they covered in a 33-30 road loss at Tennessee all the way back in Week 2), but I’m not taking them in this spot. The Titans let their one-game lead in the AFC South slip away with their loss to the Browns, so I’m expecting them to get back on track here, though I’ll just use them teased down to -1.5. 

This is a good spot to list our advantage teasers where we have the key numbers of 3 and 7 working for us: Giants teased up to + 8.5 vs. the Cardinals, Bears teased up to + 7.5 vs. the Texans, Raiders teased up to + 8.5 or + 9, Chiefs teased down to -1.5 at the Dolphins, Chargers teased up to + 8.5 vs. the Falcons, Saints teased down to -1 at the Eagles, Packers teased down to -2 at the Lions (though I still like the Lions + 8 for a possible middle) and Steelers teased up to + 8.5 at the Bills. As I’ve written several times now, I prefer to stick to 6-point 2- or 3-team teasers, so mix and match depending on your own handicapping (and with seven early Sunday games and six in the later afternoon slot, there’s plenty of opportunities to group these by starting times).

Pick: Pass, except for Titans in teasers

Dallas Cowboys (-3.5, 42.5) at Cincinnati Bengals

Tuley: The advance line on this game was Cowboys -3.5 and it was that same earlier this week before the Cowboys were run over, 34-17, on Tuesday night. I expected that would cause the line to drop, yet it’s right back at Cowboys -3.5, so I’m glad to fade them and take the Bengals plus 3 and the hook. The Bengals let us down at + 11.5 in their 19-7 loss to the Dolphins, but we’re counting on them to be competitive again, and feel confident the offense can do more against Dallas’ defense than it did against Miami’s.

Pick: Bengals + 3.5 

Arizona Cardinals (-2.5, 45) at New York Giants

Youmans: The Cardinals are fading fast, losing four of their past five, and falling from the playoff race. Arizona’s only win since the beginning of November came on Kyler Murray’s Hail Mary that beat the Bills on Nov. 15. Amazingly, the Giants have won four in a row and can probably take the NFC East by splitting their final four games to finish 7-9. Giants coach Joe Judge is doing an outstanding job, especially on the defensive side. New York has allowed 20 points or fewer in each game during its win streak, and limiting Russell Wilson and the Seattle offense to 10 points last week was one of the most impressive performances by any NFL defense all season.

The Giants can win with veteran quarterback Colt McCoy, but it appears Daniel Jones is on track to return from a hamstring injury. Wayne Gallman, who rushed 16 times for 135 yards, was the offensive star against the Seahawks. The Giants are 16-2 ATS in their past 18 games as road ‘dogs, so it might actually be a negative that this is a home game, but I’ll play Judge’s hot hand and bet on the better defense.

Pick: Giants + 2.5

Dinsick: The promising start by the Cardinals has faded into obscurity; after racing out to a 5-2 record and first place in the NFC West it has been tough sledding for Arizona. The Cardinals went 1-4 through the toughest part of their schedule and now are on the outside of the playoff picture looking in. The Giants, on the other hand, were left for dead earlier this season on the back of a horrific start, but thanks to the historic ineptitude of the NFC East, they still control their destiny for a home playoff game despite their 5-7 record. With Jones’ mobility potentially limited and Murray another week removed from his shoulder injury, it is fair to question why this line is under the key number of 3 -- Arizona is substantially more talented and also the more desperate team. 

The Giants have not fared well this season against mobile QBs and have been playing above their true talent level for several weeks, leading to a market overreaction on their rating. The fair price in this matchup should be -3.5, so I will lay the points with the road favorite.

Pick: Cardinals -2.5

Houston Texans (-1.5, 45) at Chicago Bears

Youmans: In the two games since Mitchell Trubisky returned as the starting quarterback, the Bears have scored 25 and 30 points; Chicago’s defense allowed a total of 75 points in those games. The trend with Trubisky is more volatile games because he takes chances and has a turnover problem. But the Bears have several problems, including a declining defense. In the 34-30 loss to the Lions (who were without their No. 1 wide receiver), the Bears allowed Matthew Stafford to pass for 402 yards and three touchdowns. Houston quarterback Deshaun Watson has totaled 1,003 passing yards and six touchdowns in the past three games. In road games this season, Watson has 14 TD passes and two interceptions. 

I don’t hate the Bears as home underdogs in this spot, but I also don’t want to bet on a team riding a six-game losing streak. With two weak defenses and two QBs who can make plays, for better or worse, this could turn into a shootout.

Pick: Over 44.5

Denver Broncos at Carolina Panthers (-3, 45.5)

Tuley: This game was still off the betting boards at most books as of Thursday night, though Circa Sports in Las Vegas had the Panthers -3 and used that line in its Circa Sports Million contest (as did the Westgate for its SuperContest). The Broncos came through for us last week, covering as 13-point underdogs in their 22-16 loss to the Chiefs. They’ve been competitive all year (when they’ve had a quarterback), and Drew Lock should have success against the Carolina pass defense, as the Broncos are 7-5 ATS despite their 4-8 straight-up record. The Panthers have the same exact SU and ATS records, so I don’t see why they’re favored by a full field goal. In fact, in this season with home field being negligible with no or few fans in the stands, I have this as much closer to pick-’em, so give me the points.

Pick: Broncos + 3 or more

Minnesota Vikings at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (-6.5, 52.5)

Dinsick: One thing in football handicapping remains true even in the chaos that has been 2020: Tom Brady will carve up your defense if you can’t generate pressure up the middle. The Buccaneers have generally underperformed this season, but each of their losses was at the hands of a top-10 pass rush in the NFL; conversely, when not under duress against the Raiders and Panthers, there was no stopping the Bucs offense. This is especially relevant for their Week 14 matchup, since the Vikings have not shown any ability to generate pressure this season and have a young secondary that may struggle to cover the diverse set of weapons Tampa brings to this matchup. If the game state leads to early success for Tampa Bay, then Kirk Cousins has shown strong garbage-time performances this season -- racking up points in the second half while facing an insurmountable deficit.

All things considered, this is likely one of the highest-scoring games of the week and so for the fairly conservative total of 51.5 the over is the play. Fair price for this total is 54 by my numbers.

Pick: Over 51.5

Tuley: The Vikings barely escaped against the Jaguars this past Sunday, but they’re certainly playing well enough at 6-6 SU/ATS (including 5-1 SU/3-3 ATS in their last six games) to keep up with the Buccaneers (7-5 SU/6-6 ATS, including 2-3 SU/ATS in the last five). If we average out the points scored/points allowed from all their games, this comes to about Buccaneers 28, Vikings 25, so I see value with the Vikings at anything over a field goal.

Pick: Vikings + 6.5

Kansas City Chiefs (-7.5, 50.5) at Miami Dolphins

Dinsick: The Dolphins have proven themselves to be one of the most well prepared and well coached teams in the NFL this season. Their strength lies in their shutdown secondary, which is the ideal matchup for a Chiefs team that relies so heavily on game-breaking plays by its wideouts. While Tua Tagovailoa has not had the ideal start to his career for Miami, he has shown flashes of promise and he has a favorable matchup against a Chiefs team that hasn’t been able to muster a pass rush. Kansas City also plays a bend-but-don’t-break defensive style that complements what Miami will try to do in this game offensively. It’s tough to make the case that Miami is live to win outright considering the heroics of MVP leader Pat Mahomes this season, but I certainly see value in + 7.5, as a fair price in this game is + 6.5 by my numbers.

Pick: Dolphins + 7.5

Indianapolis Colts (-3, 50.5) at Las Vegas Raiders

Youmans: Thanks to quarterback Derek Carr’s heroics and a gift from the Jets, the Raiders (7-5) remain in the AFC playoff race with a small margin for error down the stretch. The Colts (8-4) are walking a similar tightrope, setting up a meaningful showdown on the Las Vegas Strip. Adding to the intrigue, old rival Philip Rivers hobbles into the game in better form after passing for eight touchdowns with two interceptions in his past four games. As the Chargers’ starter last year, Rivers went 0-6 against AFC West opponents, but he’s reappearing with a much better head coach and supporting cast.

Indianapolis ranks No. 5 in the league in total defense (319 ypg) and could have one less Raiders weapon to worry about with running back Josh Jacobs (ankle) expected to miss his second straight game. The Raiders produced only 72 rushing yards on 25 carries without Jacobs against the Jets. A lot will be riding on Carr to win this game for Las Vegas, but he’s facing a legitimate defense this week. Colts coach Frank Reich is 6-3 ATS as a road favorite.

Pick: Colts -2.5

New York Jets at Seattle Seahawks (-13.5, 47.5)

Tuley: The Jets can’t find the winner’s circle, but they keep getting in the money as they’ve covered three of their last four games and four of their last five -- and we all know they played well enough to beat the Raiders this past Sunday. Meanwhile, the Seahawks lost outright to the Giants as 10-point favorites and have failed to cover four of their last five as their No. 31-ranked defense tends to let teams stick around. In addition, NFL double-digits underdogs are now 11-7-1 ATS (61.1%) on the season.

Pick: Jets + 13.5

Green Bay Packers (-7.5, 55) at Detroit Lions

Tuley: I’ve admittedly waffled back and forth on this game, as the Lions played better in their come-from-behind win over the Bears in their first game since Matt Patricia was fired and I love getting more than a TD with home underdogs. On the other hand, I am troubled by the fact the Lions were trailing the Bears by 11 points in the fourth quarter on Sunday, plus the Packers routed the Lions 42-21 in their first meeting this season. But I keep coming back to the Lions jumping out to the early lead in that first meeting and hoping they show more pride (Lions… pride ...get it?) and stick around the whole game. One other prediction: Adrian Peterson rushes for more than 100 yards to help the Lions keep it close.

Pick: Lions + 7.5 

Atlanta Falcons (-2.5, 49.5) at Los Angeles Chargers

Tuley: I’m willing to back either of these teams as underdogs against other teams, but I’ll pass on taking the points with the Chargers in this matchup as the Falcons have been playing better overall lately. Still, let’s include the Chargers in our teaser portfolio. Anthony Lynn is certainly capable of costing them another straight-up win, but I can’t see him making enough mistakes to have the Falcons win by more than a touchdown. This is also a good time to bring up my preference for betting Overs in late-season games between also-rans as we don’t expect the defenses to offer much resistance, so these types of games are likely to turn into shootouts.

Pick: Over 49.5, plus Chargers in teasers

New Orleans Saints (-6.5, 43) at Philadelphia Eagles

Dinsick: The Carson Wentz era ended with a flop and we finally get to see if Jalen Hurts has the goods, albeit being thrown into the fire against a clear top-three defense in the NFL. Regardless of the opponent, the mobility and decision making presented by Hurts is surely an upgrade over Wentz and should give the Eagles a fighting chance against the NFC-leading Saints. It appears likely that the Taysom Hill show will continue, as Drew Brees may be better served not playing in cold Philadelphia against a strong defensive line considering his injury. With the limitations of Hill in the passing game and the potential of Hurts injecting some enthusiasm into this team, the Eagles are live on Sunday and worth backing at + 7; fair price for me with Hill and Hurts at QB is + 6.

Pick: Eagles + 7

Washington Football Team at San Francisco 49ers (-3, 43.5)

Tuley: My opinion on Washington has changed more than any other NFL team this season. The so-called Football Team is just 5-7 but tied with the Giants for first in the NFC East (and I’m not even calling it the NFC Least anymore). The defense is still carrying the Team, but Alex Smith and the offense is doing more than I expected at any time this season. I don’t think the 49ers should be favored by a full field goal here, but I’ll take it (note: shop around as some books have been at Washington + 3.5 or offering + 3 EVEN). 

Pick: Washington + 3 or better

Pittsburgh Steelers at Buffalo Bills (-1.5, 48)

Youmans: It’s not uncommon for a team that has a long winning streak snapped to drop two in a row, and the Steelers’ current form is not indicative of an 11-1 team. Pittsburgh’s problems have nothing to do with quarterback Ben Roethlisberger or its defense, as the Steelers rushed for 21 yards on 14 carries in Monday’s loss to Washington. A slumping offense is not primed to trade shots with Josh Allen and the Bills, who have scored 27 or more points in four consecutive games. The lookahead line was Pittsburgh -1.5 prior to Monday’s results. Buffalo has flipped to the favorite, and it does not seem to be an overreaction. The Bills (9-3) are 5-1 in their past six games, losing only to Arizona on a Hail Mary. The Steelers picked on weak quarterbacks in a majority of their victories. However, Allen could have issues with a ball-hawking pass defense, and Big Ben is usually dangerous as an underdog. The Buffalo side might wind up being too popular with the public, so this is more of a lean than a best bet.

Pick: Bills -1.5

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Betting Splits: Percentage of handle & tickets from DraftKings for every game on the board, updated every 10 minutes. GO HERE.

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Betting Splits: Percentage of handle & tickets from DraftKings for every game on the board, updated every 10 minutes. GO HERE.

NFL Power Ratings3 sets of numbers from Steve MakinenGO HERE.

CFB Power Ratings3 sets of numbers from Steve MakinenGO HERE.

View more CFB tools for Pro subscribers

View more NFL tools for Pro subscribers

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VSiN PrimeTime: Be aware of injuries on the offensive line, skill positions get the most publicity, but if an elite tackle is out it could have a huge impact on the game. View more tips.

A Numbers Game: If you’re just getting into soccer betting, make sure you know exactly what you’re betting. i.e. Double chance, to win, to advance, etc. View more tips.
 
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