FairwayJay's NFL Underdog Picks for Week 14
The NFL Week 14 schedule is the final bye week with the Falcons, Bears, Packers, Saints, Commanders and Colts not in action this week. Only the Washington Commanders (7-5-1) have a shot at the playoffs of those teams after the Saints (4-9) blew their chance to get into the awful NFC South division race blowing a 16-3 fourth quarter lead to allow QB Brady and the Buccaneers (6-6) to rally for a 17-16 win this past Monday night.
That was certainly one of the worst blown games and losses of the season in a game New Orleans (+3.5) was in complete control. Tampa Bay not only rallied for the improbable win, but overcame a 2-0 turnover deficit. Teams that are exactly +2 in the turnover column in a game this season (like the Saints were), are now 32-6 SU and 35-3 ATS. Teams that are +3 or greater in a game this season are 25-1 SU and 24-2 ATS. Turnovers are the most impactful stats in determining both straight up (SU) and against the spread (ATS) winners in the NFL as I outline in this week's NFL betting and bonus update, Winning and Losing the Turnover Battle.
But wait, Thursday night kickoff to Week 14 provided yet another top-5 worst losses and blown games of the season and another team kicking away their chance to get into the playoff picture. The Las Vegas Raiders also blew a 16-3 late 4th quarter lead and lost to the Los Angeles Rams in QB Baker Mayfield's first game with the Rams, 17-16.
Raiders bettors who laid a bad number (-6.5) at the leading online sportsbooks got screwed late while early bettors (-5.5/6) were still okay after the Rams cut the deficit to 16-10 following a 75-yard 17 play TD drive with 3 1/2 minutes remaining. Even at that point, the Rams still had less than 200 yards offense as the Raiders had been in complete control but also made some mistakes, key INT in red zone and failed to put the Rams away. Then, after a 3-and-out by the Raiders, Mayfield marched the Rams 98 yards with no timeouts capped by the winning 23-yard TD pass to Van Jefferson with 10 seconds remaining. The 98-yard drive was the longest go-ahead TD drive in the final 2 minutes of a game over the past 45 NFL seasons.
As Raiders spread, ML and teaser bettors found out, bonehead plays can prove costly as an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty on the Raiders' recently acquired defensive lineman Jerry Tillery stopped the clock and gave the Rams a first down instead of 2nd and 19 inside their own 15 yard line that wiped out a sack by Max Crosby. Stupidity and bonehead plays by players are uncontrollable (for bettors) and something you also have to overcome when betting on the most popular sport, pro football.
We move onto Sunday for our NFL Week 14 underdog picks off back-to-back 2-0 weeks in Week 12 and Week 13. We'll take winners anyway we get them, but our two Week 13 picks on the Giants (OT tie) and Rams were both heavy favorites to win outright late in their games. The LA Rams (+7) gave up a TD in the closing minute to lose to Seattle 27-23 in a no-sweat bet late in which the public was heavily bet on the Seahawks. The NY Giants (+2.5) were -900 to win the game in regulation leading the Washington Commanders 20-13 and in possession of the ball at midfield with less than 5 minutes remaining. Following a punt, the Commanders drove 90 yards in 8 plays to tie the game and send it to overtime. We take a push but a point spread winner and look to add more down the closing stretch of the season.
The 2022 underdog picks are now 25-21 ATS with 19 outright underdog winners. That follows last year's 28-12 ATS 70% season. The 5+ year record posting only underdog picks at Off Shore Gaming Association now stands at 155-112 ATS (58.0%) - a nice benefit for OSGA members and followers.
Be sure to monitor the NFL betting lines at the leading online sportsbooks and the Week 14 injury reports. along with the NFL Weather, which shows snow and near freezing temperatures in Buffalo and some potential light rain in San Francisco. We've been waiting on the status of Jaguars QB Trevor Lawrence (toe), and he practiced Friday and looks like he'll start Sunday at Tennessee with CJ Beathard ready as backup.
Seven division games highlight the Week 14 card as teams push towards the playoffs. Betting lines courtesy of BetOnline.
Minnesota at Detroit (-2)
New York Jets at Buffalo (-10)
Baltimore at Pittsburgh (-2)
Philadelphia (-7) at New York Giants
Cleveland at Cincinnati (-5.5)
Jacksonville at Tennessee (-3.5)
Kansas City (-9.5) at Denver
Other key games with playoff implications and more betting action and interest include:
Tampa Bay at San Francisco (-3.5)
Miami (-3) at Los Angeles Chargers
NFL Week 14 Underdog Picks
I'm going to preface this week's underdog picks noting that in 5+ years posting only NFL underdog picks, there have been a handful of times where we use a home favorite of 2-points or less. Those teams are essentially priced as an underdog factoring home field. This week the Detroit Lions opened as a +2 point underdog before flipping to -1 early week and as high as -2.5 which I would not have posted. I bet the Lions and teased them when they were a plus-priced underdog. Now many leading online sportsbooks have the Lions -2 and BetUS even has Detroit -1 (-120) and major US Sportsbooks like FanDuel and BetMGM currently have the Lions -1.5. A light 'Dog card so we'll add the Lions, and our first 'Dog pick on these pages this season that is -2 points or less at home.
Detroit (-1.5) vs Minnesota - Lions moneyline -130
Baltimore (+2) at Pittsburgh - Ravens moneyline +110
Jacksonville (+3.5) at Tennessee - Jaguars moneyline +165
Check back Sunday and Monday as we consider more including the Chargers (+3) with the potential of three offensive linemen returning. Otherwise, it's two rookies and two backups again, and QB Justin Herbert has been sacked 14 times the last 3 games - more sacks the the first nine games combined. I liked this as a high-scoring game against the Dolphins, but must monitor the offensive line and injuries with who will start and play. Los Angeles has been out-gained in 5 of their last 6 games. The Miami Dolphins stayed on the West Coast following last week's loss to the 49ers, and the Arizona Cardinals (+2) are off a bye for their Monday night home game against the New England Patriots. I already teased the Cardinals, and don't believe the Patriots should be favored. However, the coaching mismatch negates edges and the Patriots are 29-9-1 ATS after consecutive spread losses, including 15-0 ATS if facing a team off a loss like the Cardinals.
Minnesota at Detroit
The Vikings (10-2) have the NFC North locked up, but the Lions (5-7) are playing better ball with 4 wins in their last 5 games and 5-0 ATS. We've been on the Lions a number of times in our underdog picks report including in Week 8 as a +3.5 home 'Dog in a game they blew and lost 31-27. The Lions then started their current winning run and we were on Detroit in Week 9 in their win over Green Bay, Week 10 comeback win over the Bears and Thanksgiving Day in Week 12 when they took the Super Bowl favorite Buffalo Bills to the limit in a 28-25 loss as +9.5 'Dogs. Last week's 40-14 blowout win over the Jaguars also saw the Lions go from +1 to -1 or -1.5 over the Jaguars and the Lions offense with QB Jared Goff is averaging 0.122 EPA/play since week 9 - fourth best in the NFL. Lions leading WR Amon-Ra St. Brown is still underrated after his 11 receptions for 114 yards and 2 TD's last week. St. Brown has gained a first down on a league-high 18.2% of his third down routes this season, and he'll have a major impact in this game going against the NFL's top receiver Justin Jefferson. Vikings nickelback Chandon Sullivan is surrendering 1.43 yards per cover snap in the slot (3rd-worst) and he will struggle versus St. Brown on Sunday after NY Jets rookie WR Garrett Wilson torched the Vikings secondary last week with 8 catches for 162 yards.
The Lions RB combo of Jamaal Williams and D'Andre Swift is excellent and Detroit rushes for 127 YPG (11th) while the Vikings and RB Cook average 102 YPG including just 86 rushing YPG over their last three contests. The underlying numbers are much more comparable than these two teams big discrepancy in win-loss records. Also, in weighted DVOA offense from Football Outsiders, the Lions are No. 13 while the Vikings are No. 20 and the Lions defense ranks better as well with both teams playing top-5 most difficult schedules. Also, the The Vikings are -0.8 in yards per play margin ranking No. 27 in the NFL (6.0 defense, No. 30). Also, the Vikings have been out-gained in each of their last four games (3 wins) and Minnesota is allowing 31 yards per game more than it gains on the season - yet the Vikings are 10-2 with 9 wins in their last 10 games (all by one score). This is also a reunion for Vikings TE TJ Hockenson as he plays his former team for the first time since the Lions traded him to the Vikings last month. With Vikings OT Christian Darrisaw and Safety Harrison Smith questionable as of Friday, and the Vikings not likely their best this week off plenty of fortunate wins, we back and bet the the more motivated and better playing Lions in their home den to beat their division rival. Recall the Lions blew 14-0 and 24-14 fourth quarter leads against the Vikings back in Week 3 in a 28-24 loss but easy point spread cover. I bet this game over the total as well, which is now 51.5, and we anticipate a high-scoring Lions win.
Baltimore at Pittsburgh
The +3 and +2.5 or gone on the Ravens, but still we're going to fly here with the birds even with concerns betting on Baltimore with backup QB Tyler Huntley as Lamar Jackson (knee) remains out. Another game with the home team Steelers (5-7) favored over a division-leading Ravens (8-4) team. Pittsburgh has also beaten Baltimore 4-straight times including by 1 and 3 points last season. Now the Steelers start rookie QB Kenny Pickett, but the Steelers have scored just 213 points this season (17.7 per game) - right at the bottom of the AFC with the Texans, Colts and Titans. Let's hope Huntley hangs onto the football, minimizes mistakes and INT's and adds to the Ravens top-3 rushing attack averaging 158 yards per game. Huntley averaged 56 rushing yards per game in five games last season with some as starter for injury Lamar Jackson as well. The Steelers were steamrolled by the Eagles and Bengals before a pair of wins the last two weeks over the crumbling Colts and Falcons, who benched their quarterback this week. This is not a good Steelers team as favorite, and the Ravens are still a quality team with a top-6 DVOA defense and No. 2 against the rush that allows an AFC-low 82 rushing yards per game and 3.8 yards per rush to slow the Steelers rush attack. Pittsburgh's offense averages an AFC-low 4.8 yards per play - tied with the horrible Houston Texans.
Jacksonville at Tennessee
This has been a one-sided series with the Titans (7-5) winning 10 of the last 11 match-ups against the Jaguars (4-8). Trevor Lawrence should play, but he is now 1-12 in true road games his first two seasons after last week's route by the Lions over the Jaguars. He was horrible last year in Nashville tossing four interceptions in a 20-0 Tennessee win. Still, we toss out the trends and know the Jaguars can be quite good when playing their best and they have lost 6 games by one score this season. The Titans are a slightly above average team that was destroyed last week at Philadelphia 35-10 with just 11 first downs and 209 yards offense. Tennessee has averaged just 79 rushing yards per game over their last three contests while the Jaguars have a better running game and now top-10 in the league averaging 127 YPG led by rookie RB Travis Etienne Jr. He's been slowed in recent weeks, but did have three straight 100 yard rushing games including 156 against the Bronco's top-tier defense. The Titans have been fortunate yet easily in front in the AFC South. The Jaguars (+6.5) led 14-0 and had the Eagles on the ropes back in Week 4 when we took one of our tough underdog pick losses in a 29-21 Eagles win. The Jaguars were out-played, but had 5 turnovers including random 4 lost fumbles in a 5-1 turnover deficit - and you should know by now what turnover troubles and losing the turnover battle means when betting NFL games. The Jaguars are capable of bouncing back and QB Trevor Lawrence said "I feel good" after Friday's practice.
So do we as we also bounce back with some outright winners this week.
You can bet on it.
FairwayJay is a proven sports handicapper with unparalleled success in NFL pointspread prognosis. Fairway is recognized as one of the sports industry's insightful analysts, and he chips in additional sports betting coverage and reporting on industry news and events. Follow FairwayJay here at OSGA.com and on Twitter @FairwayJay for more betting insights.