Intro by Doug Kezirian
While a potential Super Bowl matchup of Tom Brady against Bill Belichick has generated buzz this week, this Sunday's game between Tampa Bay and Buffalo also could be a Super Bowl preview. The Bucs are currently 3- or 3.5-point home favorites, depending on the sportsbook.
"You're going to see this number kick around three and 3.5 all week," SuperBook executive director John Murray told ESPN. "There's already a ton of money on this game, period. Lot of money on both sides. Lot of money on the game total both ways ... definitely going to be the biggest handle game of the day."
The Bills may now be relegated to the wild card race after losing at home to the Patriots on Monday in a bizarre and windy game. However, since becoming a legitimate contender last season, the Bills are 5-1 ATS as an underdog. Another Buffalo loss could open the door for the surging Chiefs to wind up the AFC's top seed. Kansas City has won five straight games.
"I think Kansas City the last four or five weeks is one of the most interesting stories in the NFL," Murray said. "All of a sudden the Chiefs are winning with their defense,"
Kansas City has held each opponent to 17 points or less during this current five-game win streak, and quarterback Patrick Mahomes has thrown more than one TD pass in just one of those games.
Every Friday during the season, betting analysts Doug Kezirian (13-23-2, 0-2 last week), Tyler Fulghum (15-23, 6-0), Joe Fortenbaugh (38-35-1, 2-3) and Anita Marks (202-185, 16-10), Fantasy and Sports Betting analyst Eric Moody (100-93, 8-6), ESPN Stats & Information's Seth Walder (51-44, 2-2) and Mackenzie Kraemer (5-13, 1-2), sports betting deputy editor David Bearman (26-22-1, 2-2) and Football Outsiders' Aaron Schatz (41-35, 3-3) will provide their top plays across the NFL landscape. (Records through Week 13.)
Here are their best bets for Sunday's Week 14 games.
Note: Lines from Caesars Sportsbook as of Wednesday (unless otherwise indicated).
Jump to: Ravens-Browns | Jaguars-Titans | Raiders-Chiefs | Saints-Jets | Cowboys-Washington | Falcons-Panthers | Seahawks-Texans | Lions-Broncos | Giants-Chargers | 49ers-Bengals | Bills-Buccaneers | Bears-Packers
Sunday's 8:20 p.m. ET game
Chicago Bears at Green Bay Packers (-12.5, 43)
Fortenbaugh: I'm not going to overthink this one. The Bears have been abysmal on offense this season, ranking 29th in yards per play and 30th in scoring. So is it any surprise to learn that this outfit hasn't topped 27 points in any of its 12 contests this season? As for Green Bay, the Packers are coming off a bye and are a lucrative 21-7 ATS in their past 28 showdowns with the Bears, not to mention 13-3 ATS over their past 16 games overall. There's a reason Aaron Rodgers had no problem telling the fans at Soldier Field, "I own you," back in Week 6. It's because that sentiment is true.
Pick: Packers -12.5
Bearman: Back in 2014, Rodgers told everyone to R-E-L-A-X after a 1-2 start and the Packers went all the way to the NFC title game. This year, he said "I own you" after scoring in Chicago and, we should totally believe him ... because he does own the Bears. The Packers are 20-7 ATS vs. the Bears with Rodgers under center, including 5-0 dating back to 2019, with the past three decided by double digits. By the way, it's not just the Bears. The Packers are a league-best 10-2 ATS this season and 10-1 since the opening-week disaster vs. the Saints. The Packers' defense has surprisingly been just as good as its offense and now faces a Bears offense that is dead last in passing, 30th in total yards and third-to-last in points scored. As Joe said, don't overthink this one. It might be the largest spread in the past 20 years of this rivalry, but one team and one player does, in fact, own the other team.
Pick: Packers -12.5
Fulghum: Rodgers owns the Bears. Justin Fields is returning to action for the first time in weeks on the road against a Green Bay defense that has been amazing even without two of its best players. Anything under 14 is good by me, unless you think the Packers get bored.
Pick: Packers -12.5
Schatz: The Bears' defense was playing well earlier in the season, but it's down to 18th in the Football Outsiders DVOA ratings. Khalil Mack, Danny Trevathan and Duke Shelley are all on IR. This situation sets up pretty well for the Packers (third in offensive DVOA) to score plenty of points. In particular, the Bears are the worst pass defense in the league against deep throws (16 or more yards in the air). But the Packers' defense hasn't been great either, coming out as just average in DVOA this season. The Bears' offense isn't very good, but it's realistic that the Bears will score enough points on Green Bay to push this game over the total. We estimate a nice 69% chance that this game will go over.
Pick: Over 43
Sunday's 4 p.m. ET games
Detroit Lions at Denver Broncos (-10, 42)
Schatz: This line has moved around, starting at 8.5 and dropping to 7.5, then turning around and going up to 10. Denver is the clear favorite in this game, but 10 points seems like a bit much. The Broncos are 18th in the Football Outsiders DVOA ratings, and the Lions are 29th, not 32nd as you would expect given their 1-10-1 record. Detroit is much better than Denver on special teams, the kind of thing that could keep this a close field-position battle rather than a Denver blowout. Both teams have trouble in the red zone, which could also keep things close. For all their losses, the Lions have finished within 10 points of their opponent in nine out of 12 games this season.
Pick: Lions +10
New York Giants at Los Angeles Chargers (-10, 43)
Marks: Daniel Jones is not expected to play because of a neck injury, Mike Glennon needs to pass concussion protocol, and there is a good chance Jake Fromm will have to start for the Giants. It would be Fromm's first career start. The Giants have not had home cooking all week; they flew straight to Arizona and spent the week out west to prepare for the Chargers game. I like both running backs to find success in this matchup, Ekeler against a Giants defense that is allowing 4.5 yards per carry, and Barkley to be utilized in the passing game as well.
Pick: Chargers -4 in 6-point teaser with Broncos -4, Ekeler over 105.5 combined rushing and receiving yards (-110), Golladay under 39.5 receiving yards (-115)
San Francisco 49ers (-1.5, 48.5) at Cincinnati Bengals
Fortenbaugh: In one of the biggest "red flag" line moves of the week, Cincinnati opened as a 2.5-point favorite before a deluge of San Francisco money moved the number all the way to 49ers -1.5. Why? For starters, Kyle Shanahan's crew is 4-2 both SU and ATS on the road this season with a +31 point differential. Standout linebacker Fred Warner is expected back in the lineup, and dual-threat playmaker Deebo Samuel could see the field on Sunday as well. But the bottom line here is that, while pleasantly surprising in 2021, the Bengals aren't nearly as solid as their record indicates, as Cincinnati ranks 20th in opponent yards per play, 20th in turnover differential and 29th in sacks allowed. Don't be scared to wager on Cincinnati missing the playoffs at a price of -110.
Pick: 49ers -1.5
Schatz: The Bengals have the better win-loss record this season, but there's a big gap between these teams in advanced analytics. The 49ers are seventh overall in DVOA despite being just 6-6. They rank in the top 10 for both offense and defense. The Bengals, on the other hand, are just 19th in DVOA. ESPN FPI has a similar gap; San Francisco is ninth, and Cincinnati 20th. Part of the gap between win-loss record and analytics is that San Francisco has played one of the league's hardest schedules and Cincinnati has played the easiest based on average DVOA of opponent. The Bengals have two particular weaknesses that are very bad to have against the San Francisco offense: They rank 24th in DVOA against tight ends, and they rank 29th against passes in the middle of the field.
Pick: 49ers -1.5
Marks: Joe Burrow's pinkie injury is significant because of the impact it has on his throwing the ball. Burrow has three touchdown passes and five interceptions over his past four games. Tee Higgins is dealing with an ankle injury, and Ja'Marr Chase has been struggling to find explosive plays in the passing game recently. The Bengals expect to be without Logan Wilson, so George Kittle could be in line for another huge night.
Pick: 49ers -1.5, Kittle anytime TD (+119), Burrow under 34.5 passing attempts (-105)
Buffalo Bills at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (-3.5, 53.5)
Fulghum: It's fantasy gold, Jerry! This game features two of the top four teams in the NFL in pass rate over expectation and two of the top eight run defenses in the NFL in terms of yards per rush. Both these teams prefer to put the ball in the hands of their MVP-caliber QBs, and the matchup dictates that is the most efficient way for both offenses to move the ball and score in this game. With no gale-force winds expected in Tampa Bay, sit back and watch both QBs let it rip.
Picks: Over 53.5, Josh Allen over 40.5 pass attempts (-120), Tom Brady over 40.5 pass attempts (-125)
Marks: The Bills' pass defense presents a much different challenge than the Falcons' did. Buffalo gets after the quarterback with a 30% pressure rate, and opposing QBs are averaging less than a 60% completion percentage. Brady will be in for a more challenging afternoon. Fournette continues to dominate the Bucs' backfield, and as we saw last week, the Bills could struggle against the run. The Bills will be without Tre'Davious White, so Dane Jackson is the lucky DB to face Mike Evans on Sunday. Good luck with that!
Picks: Brady under 303.5 passing yards (-140), Fournette over 55.5 rushing yards (-110), Allen over 32.5 rushing yards (-120), Mike Evans scores TD (+117)
Moody: Allen has averaged 245 passing yards per game over his past four. The Buccaneers' defense has been performing much better lately, especially in the secondary. Matt Ryan, Carson Wentz, Daniel Jones, Taylor Heinicke and Trevor Siemian averaged just 237 passing yards per game over the past five games against them.
Evans is averaging 7.8 targets and 66.2 receiving yards over his past four games, and a high portion of his snaps will likely be against Jackson, who will replace White (torn ACL).
Rob Gronkowski has averaged 8.7 targets and 84 receiving yards per game since returning in Week 11. His rapport with Brady is well known, and Bills linebackers will have difficulty slowing him down in the middle of the field.
Picks: Allen under 290.5 passing yards (-115), Evans over 58.5 receiving yards (-135), Gronkowski over 46.5 receiving yards (-120)
Sunday's 1 p.m. ET games
Baltimore Ravens at Cleveland Browns (-2.5, 43)
Walder: I know Baltimore's passing offense hasn't looked great recently, but these receiving lines have sunk too far. Normally when I compare the expected receiving yards per game -- based on air yards, expected completion percentage and expected YAC from NFL Next Gen Stats -- to a receiver's line, they're very close. Marquise Brown's and Mark Andrews' are not. Based on the targets they've received, the Ravens wide receiver and tight end have earned 74.3 and 71.3 expected receiving yards per game this season. I like each of their chances of going over.
Picks: Brown over 55.5 receiving yards (-115), Andrews over 50.5 receiving yards (-115)