The Vikings and Seahawks close out an unpredictable Week 13 on Monday Night Football at CenturyLink Field. Given some of the week’s developments thus far, we could be in for a wild finish to the first football weekend of December. The theme for Sunday could have been Revenge of the Bullied, as the doormats of either conference were on the right side of the score for a change.
The Dolphins played the spoiler role to perfection against the Eagles with a shocking 37-31 win against a Philadelphia squad that was essentially playing for its postseason life. Meanwhile, rookie quarterback Dwayne Haskins led the Redskins into Carolina and emerged with a surprising road victory, likely dashing the hopes of another NFC playoff hopeful. And the Bengals commemorated veteran Andy Dalton’s return to the starting quarterback job with a 22-6 win over a perplexing Jets team.
Other notable results included the Bills’ impressive Thanksgiving road win against the Cowboys, the Ravens’ narrow win in a marquee interconference matchup against the 49ers, and the Texans handing the Patriots only their second loss of the season Sunday night.
As the stakes get even higher in Week 14, we’ll kick off with two underachieving squads in the Bears and Cowboys on Thursday night in a critical game for both teams’ playoff hopes. The headliner of the early window of games Sunday will be a Ravens-Bills showdown in Buffalo, while the Chiefs and Patriots are the main event of the second wave of contests. As far as the final two primetime matchups of the week, Sunday night’s Rams-Seahawks NFC West battle certainly holds more cache than the Giants-Eagles tilt 24 hours later.
Without further ado, here’s a live look at the lines at sportsbooks in the US as we begin looking toward Week 14.
NFL Week 14 odds
Week 14 predictions and analysis
Dallas Cowboys (-2.5) at Chicago Bears
This shapes up as one of the most intriguing late-season Thursday night matchups for a couple of reasons. One is that neither team will be playing on short rest for a change. Both Dallas and Chicago last took the field Thanksgiving. Therefore, although the days of the week they’ve held their practices are different from the norm, they’re both still benefiting from a full week of rest and preparation. That sets the game up to play out without the extenuating circumstance that is an abbreviated week.
Then, each squad needs to continue stacking wins over the last four weeks to ensure the postseason. Courtesy of the putrid quality of the NFC East this season, Dallas still lines up as the division leader despite a 6-6 mark. Four of the Cowboys’ six victories have come against their underwhelming division mates. Then, the Bears check in with a matching 6-6 record. However, they’re looking up at the Vikings and Packers and essentially have no shot at the NFC North crown at this point. Instead, they’re chasing the second wild-card spot, which looks almost as elusive at this point with Chicago set to remain at least three full games behind the next closest team in contention following Monday night’s Vikings-Seahawks Week 13 battle.
Each team heads into the new week with one notable receiver sporting an injury designation. For the Cowboys, it’s No. 1 option Amari Cooper, who’s dealing with a knee injury but whose availability coach Jason Garrett expressed optimism about a day after the Thanksgiving loss to the Bills. On the Bears’ side, Taylor Gabriel (concussion) is looking to avoid a second straight absence. However, second-year wideout Anthony Miller was excellent in the Thanksgiving win over the Lions while serving as the No.2 wideout, racking up 13 receptions for 140 yards.
Given each team’s most recent performance, the Bears’ two-game win streak overall and the fact Chicago is at home, the spread is a rather surprising one. However, it has come down a full point since the open, reflecting that thought process.
Baltimore Ravens (-6) at Buffalo Bills
For the second straight week, the Ravens project to be involved in the premium matchup of the early window of games. Each team continued to impress in Week 13 against good competition, although Baltimore’s win over NFC-elite San Francisco at home was arguably even more noteworthy than Buffalo’s victory over Dallas on the road Thanksgiving Day. In both wins, each team’s defense once again played a pivotal role.
Baltimore’s good-but-not-great passing game could be in trouble versus Buffalo’s staunch secondary. The Bills are giving up just 195.8 passing yards per game, including 163.3 per home contest. Then, the conventional running attack helmed by Mark Ingram will also be challenged versus a Buffalo defense allowing a modest 104.2 rush yards per contest, including 70.3 per game over the last three. For what it’s worth, Buffalo also has allowed the third-fewest rushing yards (109) to quarterbacks, although Lamar Jackson continues to prove matchup-proof on the ground.
The Bills won’t have it any easier. The Ravens have been continually coaxing their passing yards per game allowed down, and they’ve yielded just 155.3 yards through the air over the last three. They’ve also surrendered the seventh-fewest rushing yards per contest (94.9), which could make it a day of tough sledding for Devin Singletary and Frank Gore.
WEEKEND UPDATE: The spread has climbed another point in the Ravens’ favor throughout the week, even with Marquise Brown (ankle) and Seth Roberts (knee) both listed as questionable for Baltimore. Meanwhile, the Bills are essentially at full health, so the movement speaks volumes about the public’s faith in the Ravens being able to essentially win by at least a touchdown in one of the more difficult road environments in the league. Of note is the fact Baltimore is 3-1 (75.0 percent) against the number as a road favorite this season, with a massive 31.8-point margin of victory as well.
Carolina Panthers at Atlanta Falcons (-3.5)
These two underwhelming NFC South denizens square off in a game that no longer has any playoff implications now that the Panthers are 5-7. Both squads endured Week 13 losses. The Falcons dropping a 26-18 decision to the Saints on Thanksgiving night that was more lopsided than the score indicates. The Panthers rather surprisingly took it on the chin at home against the lowly Redskins by a 29-21 margin that also is a bit deceiving, given a late touchdown by Carolina.
This game may be one of the more difficult of the week to prognosticate, given that the motivation of each team has to be questioned at this point. Atlanta will have a rest advantage after having played Thursday night in Week 13, so they’ll have and home field on their side. The fact a healthy Devonta Freeman is available will also boost their chances versus a Panthers defense that’s now allowing 137.5 rushing yards per game after getting gashed for 248 yards and 8.3 yards per rush by the Redskins in Week 13.
The Panthers will look to capitalize on a Falcons defense that seemed to take a couple steps back on Thanksgiving night from the dramatic two-game improvement they’d demonstrated back in Weeks 11 and 12. One of those stellar performances came against this same Panthers squad in a 29-3 drubbing at Bank of America Stadium. Kyle Allen will be looking to atone for a four-interception performance in that game and should have an opportunity to do so against an Atlanta defense surrendering 259.5 passing yards per contest.
WEEKEND UPDATE: In an eventful week for the Panthers that saw them jettison their long-time head coach, the public has gone in further on the equally downtrodden Falcons and pushed their projected advantage another full 1.5 points. The fact Carolina won’t have Greg Olsen (concussion) and starting left tackle Greg Little (ankle) at its disposal certainly hurts their chances as well, while the Falcons will come into the contest with Julio Jones (shoulder) having overcome the shoulder injury that kept him out of the Thanksgiving night loss to the Saints. It is worth noting Carolina has a 3-2 mark against the number as a road underdog this season, while Atlanta has failed to cover in both of the instances it’s been a home favorite in 2019.
Cincinnati Bengals at Cleveland Browns (-7)
The AFC North is evenly divided between the Haves and Have Nots at the moment. These two squads fall firmly in the latter category. Cleveland saw a three-game winning streak that appeared to be a potential season-salvager come to an end in Pittsburgh on Sunday. Quarterback Baker Mayfield also suffered a hand injury, although he remained in the game and is saying he’s fine. Then, Andy Dalton enjoyed a successful return to the starting job for the Bengals. He led Cincinnati to its first win of the season, a 22-6 victory over the Jets.
Dalton will look to keep it up against a Browns pass defense that’s allowing the sixth-fewest passing yards per game (213.2), but that’s actually been more vulnerable at home (230.7 YPG) than on the road (195.8 YPG). Cincinnati will reportedly have speedster John Ross (shoulder) back for this game, however, which certainly ups the overall potency of the passing attack. The path to success could nevertheless be much clearer on the ground – Cleveland allows 124.0 rushing yards per contest. Joe Mixon has shown signs of life for Cincy in recent weeks and could be a feature piece in this spot.
The Browns should certainly be set up for one of their best offensive performances of the season if statistics are any indication. The Bengals continue to bleed production through both the ground and air. Cincy is surrendering an NFL-high 157.6 rushing yards per contest, even though they’ve allowed a more acceptable (but still elevated) 132.2 per road game. They’ve yielded 255.7 passing yards per road tilt as well, and although Mayfield has consistently underwhelmed this season, the chances for a breakout exist in this spot exist for multiple members of the offense.
Four of Cleveland’s five wins have been by more than the current spread, but seven of the Bengals’ 11 losses have been by that number or less.
WEEKEND UPDATE: This line has seen some major movement throughout the week, with the Browns seeing three points shaved off their projected advantage. Mayfield no longer carries an injury designation, while Ross has a clean bill of health as well and will be available for Cincinnati. The fact Cleveland has so consistently underwhelmed this season and Cincinnati’s much better play last week has apparently made believers out of the public to an extent, while Cincy’s 4-1 mark against the number as a road underdog also stands out in this scenario.
Denver Broncos at Houston Texans (-9.5)
The Broncos decided to jump-start the Drew Lock Era on Sunday against the Chargers. A game-winning field goal ensured it was a success, but Lock’s numbers were predictably underwhelming overall. However, the rookie did enjoy immediate chemistry with No. 1 receiver Courtland Sutton, who caught both of Lock’s TD passes. The Texans were pretty impressive themselves, knocking off what had been a one-loss Patriots team coming in. It was a particularly important win for Houston in its quest to be considered a serious postseason contender.
Houston will have to guard against overconfidence/a letdown versus the rookie quarterback and a 4-8 Denver team overall. The Texans will have a tough challenge awaiting irrespective of which way they try to attack. The Broncos come in allowing the fifth-fewest passing yards per game (210.6). They’re a bit more welcoming on the ground with the 20th-ranked rush defense in terms of yards per game allowed (113.7), but they’ve actually been much stouter on the road (103.0) than at home (124.3)
The Broncos will have to protect Lock with a strong running game against Houston. The fortunate thing is the Texans’ defense has been weakening in that regard recently. They’ve allowed an NFL-high 192.0 rushing yard per contest over the last three, including 145 to New England on Sunday night. The passing attack could have its opportunities as well if coach Vic Fangio opts to open the playbook for Lock a bit further – Houston surrenders 262.9 passing yards per game, although they yield a much more presentable 234.3 at home.
WEEKEND UPDATE: The Texans have held steady as 9.5-point favorites throughout the week, with nothing really emerging on the injury front for either squad to sway the public in one direction or another. That holds true even as Will Fuller (hamstring) remains questionable for Houston. However, Fuller had cleared his questionable tag by the Friday before Week 13 and failed to do so in this instance, so his availability is more in question. Nevertheless, the money seems to be firmly in the camp of the Texans defense having enough to overwhelm Lock in this spot.
Detroit Lions at Minnesota Vikings (-13)
The Lions suffered another heartbreaking loss in Week 13, dropping a 24-20 decision to the Bears on Thanksgiving Day. However, they may have found something in rookie quarterback David Blough, who could be the starter over the final four games with Jeff Driskel (hamstring) now on injured reserve. Meanwhile, the Vikings will play this game on a short week following an upcoming Monday night battle against the Seahawks.
The number could potentially move some based on the outcome of that contest, as well as on the health status of Vikings receiver Adam Thielen. Thielen was ruled out by Saturday for Monday night’s game due to his hamstring injury. However, he managed to practice on three occasions during Week 13 prep and there were no reports of a setback. Therefore, he could be back for this game to help Kirk Cousins exploit a Lions defense surrendering the third-most passing yards per game (280.1).
Detroit’s clearest path to some sort of sustained offense in this matchup will likely come through the air as well. Minnesota has not only allowed 244.5 passing yards per game going into the Monday night showdown versus the Seahawks, they’ve yielded 297.7 over the last three. Blough didn’t come off like a rookie whatsoever against the Bears and will have had extra time to prepare for this game, making the elevated number an interesting one as of Monday afternoon.
WEEKEND UPDATE: The Vikings lost only a half-point off their projected advantage throughout the week, even as Thielen now carries a doubtful designation into the weekend. The presence of Blough under center for the Lions doesn’t engender much faith from the public that this game can be kept very close, and the fact the Vikes lost Monday night to the Seahawks also gives them even more of a sense of urgency. Minnesota also beat a Matthew Stafford-helmed Detroit squad by 12 points earlier this season and two of the victories in their current four-game winning streak in this series have come by more than the current spread.
Indianapolis Colts at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (-3)
This line may have been a bit on the unlikely side a few weeks ago. However, the Buccaneers have now won two straight after an extended skid, while the Colts are facing the prospect of playing this Week 14 contest without T.Y. Hilton (calf) and Marlon Mack (hand). They’ll definitely be without Eric Ebron (ankles), who’s now on injured reserve. The lack of offensive firepower ultimately got them Sunday against the Titans, despite strong efforts from Jacoby Brissett (319 yards, two touchdowns) and Zach Pascal (109 yards receiving).
The Buccaneers got a mistake-free performance from Jameis Winston versus the Jaguars, but it the defense can lay just as much claim to the win. Tampa’s beleaguered secondary has seemingly shown some improvement the last two weeks versus the Falcons and Jaguars. They’ll catch a break Sunday if they don’t have to worry about Hilton, although Jack Doyle could be a problem for a Bucs defense that’s struggled versus tight ends all season (64-795-7 line allowed to the position).
Tampa will certainly face a stiff test when it has the ball. Indy is ranked in the top half of the league in both passing yards per game (226.9) and rushing yards per game (101.8) allowed. What’s more the Colts have been considerably tougher defending the ground game on the road, where they allow just 94.8 rushing yards per contest. Given the typically disheveled state of the Buccaneers’ ground game that seems to flip-flop its feature back between Peyton Barber and Ronald Jones each week, the Bucs may be forced into a mostly one-dimensional attack.
WEEKEND UPDATE: The number held steady throughout the week for the Buccaneers, who come in with a clean bill of health at the key positions. Then, even though the Colts do have Mack back in the fold, Hilton has been ruled out again for the game. The belief here seems to be that while Indy will likely be able to do some damage versus Tampa’s still-suspect defense, they ultimately won’t have enough firepower to keep up with the points coach Bruce Arians’ aggressive attack is capable of generating. However, the Bucs do sport an 0-3 mark against the number as home favorites and a 1-3 mark there straight up, making this one of the more interesting spots of the slate.
Miami Dolphins at New York Jets (-5.5)
The Dolphins have clawed their way to relative respectability in the oddsmakers’ eyes, at least when it comes to facing a lackluster and underachieving squad like the Jets. While Miami was busy giving hell to another would-be postseason contender in the Eagles in Week 13, the Jets were busy failing to score a touchdown against the previously winless Bengals. Just one win now separates the two AFC East rivals, which would have seemed highly unlikely earlier in the season.
New York had to fight to topple Miami on the road back in Week 9. Ryan Fitzpatrick and Devante Parker have become a lethal connection since that point, with the latter posting a pair of 100-yard receiving efforts in his last three games. Fitzpatrick already racked up 288 yards and three touchdowns against New York in his prior meeting against them and has a pair of 300-yard tallies in his last three, along with five touchdown passes in his last two.
The Jets will face an appealing matchup through both the ground and air versus Miami. However, New York was in a very similar spot in Week 13 against Cincinnati and it still wasn’t enough to get Le’Veon Bell going. The former Pro Bowler hasn’t topped 70 rushing yards with New York yet and therefore offers little confidence despite going against a Dolphins defense surrendering 153.2 rushing yards per game on the road. Then, while Sam Darnold has played much better in recent weeks, he emerged from Sunday’s loss to the Bengals with rib and knee injuries that could threaten his availability for this contest.
WEEKEND UPDATE: The Dolphins got a bit of love from the public this week, enough to coax the spread down another half-point. This really shapes up as a battle for late-season pride, and even though they already accomplished the feat once this season, Miami players could be extra motivated to hand ex-HC Adam Gase a second loss this season. And, the questionable tags that Bell and Ryan Griffin both sport due to illnesses doesn’t hurt the Dolphins’ out look, either.
San Francisco 49ers at New Orleans Saints (-2.5)
The co-main-event of the 1 p.m. ET games features former NFC West mates San Francisco and New Orleans, two teams that can wow on both sides of the ball. In a testament to the caliber of team the Niner shave proven to be this season, the Saints get just a three-point projected advantage to open the week despite having a rest- and home-field edge for this contest. New Orleans handled its business on the road in Week 13 by getting revenge on the Falcons, while San Fran fell to — but played admirably against – the Ravens.
The Niners like to lean heavily on their run game, but it seems inevitable Jimmy Garoppolo and his band of pass-catchers will have to put some work in Week 14. New Orleans allows just 88.6 rushing yards per game overall, the third-lowest figure in the league. Not that they’re that much more giving through the air – they’re surrendering 234.9 passing yards per contest, including a miserly 200.8 at the Superdome.
Of course, New Orleans will be faced with essentially just as tough a task. The Niners secondary is especially suffocating. They’re allowing an NFL-low 134.2 passing yards per game, including a microscopic 105.7 per contest over the last three. Those figures wouldn’t even seem feasible 50 years ago, much, much less in today’s pass-happy league. Yet something will likely have to give Sunday, considering it’s Drew Brees and Michael Thomas that San Fran’s defense will be up against. Don’t discount the possibility of the Alvin Kamara–Latavius Murray duo making some hay on the ground, however – the Niners have actually given up 116.7 rushing yards per contest, including 143.3 over the last three.
WEEKEND UPDATE: The Saints lost a half-point off their projected advantage over the course of the week. The Saints do have a couple of offensive line injuries — certainly worrisome versus the 49ers’ fierce pass rush — but otherwise, both teams are doing well on the health front, with even Matt Breida now free of an injury tag after missing the last three games with an ankle sprain. San Francisco does sport a 4-2 mark versus the number as a road team, and given how evenly matched the two squads are in talent, this should be a closely contested battle no matter which team prevails.
Washington Redskins at Green Bay Packers (-13)
Did the Redskins play their Super Bowl in Week 13 in a road win over the Panthers? We’ll find out soon enough, as a trip to frigid Lambeau could well snap them right back to reality. Washington did ride an impressive rushing attack to the win against Carolina, exploiting their opponent’s biggest weakness by far. Adrian Peterson and Derrius Guice combined for 238 rushing yards and three touchdowns. Meanwhile, the Packers were busy beating up on Washington’s division mates, the similarly lowly Giants, dismantling Big Blue by a 31-13 score on the road.
The ‘Skins do have a similar opportunity on paper to exploit against Green Bay, however. Although not quite as generous as the Panthers, the Pack has allowed 123.0 rushing yards per game, and they’ve curiously yielded much more at home (142.3 YPG) than on the road (103.7 YPG). Therefore, coach Bill Callahan could certainly be handing his impressive backfield tandem another heavy workload. Yet, how long he may be able to stick with such a set-up remains to be seen, given rookie Dwayne Haskins’ limitations under center.
The Packers will look to attack through both the ground and air against a Washington defense that’s been beatable both ways. Washington’s allowed 119.8 rushing yards per road game and 226.2 through the air when traveling as well. Neither figure is close to the worst in the league, but a Green Bay offense that figures multiple high-upside pieces could certainly do enough to separate by a couple touchdowns under the right circumstances.
WEEKEND UPDATE: The Packers are just as big a favorite as they were to start the week. Green Bay comes in with excellent health at all key spots, while Washington will be down both Paul Richardson (hamstring) and Trey Quinn (concussion) in the receiving corps, significantly weakening the outlook for a Redskins offense already likely to struggle to move the ball with Haskins. The fact the Pack is an NFL-best 4-2 versus the number as a home favorite also boosts their profile in this spot, although it’s worth mentioning their average margin of victory is only six points in that sample.
Los Angeles Chargers (-3) at Jacksonville Jaguars
We could conceivably be watching the concurrent conclusions of the Anthony Lynn and Philip Rivers Eras in Los Angeles. The Chargers lost yet another heartbreaker in Week 13, to a rookie quarterback in the Broncos’ Drew Lock no less, and they are all but eliminated at 4-8. The good news for them? Their opponents are in just as bad a shape. Jacksonville’s loss to the Buccaneers was their fourth straight, and they’ve now officially made the switch back to Gardner Minshew at quarterback after he was inserted for Nick Foles at halftime Sunday.
The Chargers’ key to a cover and win here would most likely be on the ground, especially considering Rivers has reportedly been in danger of being pulled himself recently. Melvin Gordon and Austin Ekeler are well-equipped to exploit a Jaguars defense allowing 136.6 rushing yards per game overall, including 185.7 over the last three. Jacksonville has remained a solid pass defense even following the departure of Jalen Ramsey earlier in the season and the Jags will come into this contest having allowed just 206 yards per game over the last three contests.
Minshew will have a tough assignment in front of him in the form of a Chargers secondary surrendering just 199.3 passing yards per contest. The rookie has had time to sit back and observe for multiple games since his initial starting run earlier in the season, however. That could certainly pay dividends in the form of smarter decision-making while working with a talented pass-catching core of D.J. Chark, Chris Conley and Dede Westbrook, as well as with do-it-all Leonard Fournette, who now boasts a career-high 65 receptions following back-to-back nine-reception tallies.
WEEKEND UPDATE: The road team saw a relatively rare half-point bump in its projected advantage this week, with the public not swayed by the news of Minshew’s return to the starting job. As alluded to previously, Minshew could well be revitalized here, so an upset would have to be firmly in the realm of possibility. Jacksonville does have a lackluster 1-2 mark ATS as a home underdog this season, while the Bolts check in with an ugly 1-3 tally as a road favorite.
Kansas City Chiefs at New England Patriots (-3)
This late-game heavyweight fight should live up to its billing. The Patriots look nowhere near as efficient on offense as they did earlier in the campaign. The Chiefs have a few warts of their own and an injury-riddled backfield that lost another member in Darrel Williams to a hamstring injury Sunday. Yet both squads are also led by big-game quarterbacks and supporting casts on both sides of the ball that are capable of rising to the level of moments the likes of this type of late-season game.
New England’s legitimate offensive questions continue to surface in the Sunday night loss to the Texans in Week 13. Tom Brady took another three sacks against Houston. The trouble the Patriots are having with pass protection looms particularly large versus a Chiefs squad that’s already accumulated 34 sacks on the season. Not that Brady would have an easy assignment even if he had a perpetually clean pocket – Kansas City’s savvy secondary has 12 interceptions and is allowing an acceptable 230.8 passing yards per contest while tying with several teams for fourth-lowest catch rate allowed (62.0 percent).
However, the Chiefs’ assignment is even more daunting. Even with the loss to the Texans on Sunday night, the Pats are still allowing the lowest catch rate (55.0 percent) in the NFL, the fewest passing touchdowns (eight) and an AFC-low 163.5 passing yards per contest overall. Patrick Mahomes and the high-octane KC passing attack was somewhat hamstrung by wind in Week 13 and could be facing some frigid and snowy conditions against New England. Then, whatever healthy running backs take the field for the Chiefs don’t project for much success – the Patriots are also surrendering the fewest rushing yards of any team on its home field (77.6 per game).
WEEKEND UPDATE: The Patriots have held their three-point projected advantage throughout the week. KC will come in with an injury-hampered running back group now that Darrel Williams is on injured reserve due to the aforementioned hamstring issue, while Damien Williams (ribs) is out at least one more week. New England is in much better shape, as even the questionable tags sported by Julian Edelman (shoulder) and Mohamed Sanu (ankle) appear to be mere formalities at this point. New England is famously tough to conquer outright on its home field, but it’s worth noting they sport a much more ordinary 3-2 tally against the number as a home favorite.
Tennessee Titans (-2.5) at Oakland Raiders
The Titans may ultimately prove to be that “team that gets hot at the right time” with the way they’re going. Ryan Tannehill continued to reward coach Mike Vrabel’s decision to insert him into the starting job earlier this season with another multi-touchdown effort in a big divisional road victory over the Colts in Week 13. Then, the Raiders currently reside on the other end of the momentum spectrum, so to speak. After a 40-9 thrashing at the hands of the Chiefs on Sunday, Jon Gruden’s crew is now 6-6 and in urgent need for a win to remain relevant in the playoff chase.
Tennessee will almost surely look to keep riding Tannehill and his young group of explosive pass catchers against Oakland. The Raiders are allowing 259.8 passing yards per contest and have surrendered the third-most passing touchdowns (27). Running the ball against them – which Vrabel undoubtedly will want to do plenty of as well with Derrick Henry – has been a tougher proposition. Oakland is yielding a modest 103.6 rushing yards per game, although Henry comes in with gaudy rushing yardage tallies of 188/159/149 over his last three games.
Oakland will need to see improved quarterback play from Derek Carr to avoid defeat here as a home underdog. The problem for Carr – who’s thrown for just 349 combined yards, one touchdown and three interceptions over his last two games – is multi-faceted: he’s down a trusted option in Hunter Renfrow (ribs), has seen de facto No. 1 wideout Tyrell Williams go into the tank over the last two games and draws a matchup against a Titans defense that has 11 interceptions and 33 sacks. Leaning on rookie back Josh Jacobs may also offer limited success, given Tennessee’s 98.3 rush yards allowed per road game ranks them just outside the top 10.
WEEKEND UPDATE: The Titans lost a half-point off their edge during the week, but the public is still showing plenty of faith in them as a road team in this spot. The Raiders have clearly lost a bit of luster over the last couple of weeks, and Jacobs’ questionable status due to a shoulder injury doesn’t help their outlook, either. Hunter Renfrow (ribs) is also ruled out, robbing the inconsistent Raiders air attack of another body. Ultimately, this does shape up to be a game that could turn out as close as the spread projects, considering the importance for both squads.
Pittsburgh Steelers (-1.5) at Arizona Cardinals
Steelers coach Mike Tomlin made his latest case for his Coach of the Year candidacy in a Week 13 comeback win for Pittsburgh over the Browns, one after which players gave their boss all the credit for adjusting the defensive scheme on the fly in the halftime locker room. Meanwhile, just mere hours after Pittsburgh celebrated its ascent to 7-5, the Cardinals were busy serving as collateral damage for an ornery Rams team that took out its recent offensive frustrations against Arizona’s perpetually porous pass defense.
The Steelers had to like what they saw from rookie quarterback Devlin Hodges in his first NFL start. The 23-year-old completed 66.7 percent of his passes for 212 yards with a touchdown and an interception against the Browns and likely walks into a matchup against a Cardinals team surrendering the most passing yards per game (307.5) following Sunday’s debacle. Speedsters James Washington and Diontae Johnson face a secondary that’s allowed the most passing touchdowns (31) in the league.
The Cardinals will be looking to pick up the pieces after their shockingly poor offensive showing in Week 13, a game they had a bye week to prepare for. The main issue going in is that Pittsburgh’s defense is hardly the cure for what ails any offense. The Steelers come in with the second-most interceptions (15), third-most sacks (43) and tied for the fourth-lowest catch rate (62.0) surrendered. Arizona’s unsettled backfield – sort of a running back version of the old “if you have two starting quarterbacks you have none” adage – doesn’t have the brightest outlook, either: Pittsburgh is allowing just 97.8 rushing yards per road game and allowing just 3.9 yards per carry to running backs on the season.
WEEKEND UPDATE: Pittsburgh, already a somewhat surprising road favorite in this spot, lost a point off their projected advantage throughout the week thanks to some Cardinals money coming in. The Steelers will once again be missing JuJu Smith-Schuster (knee) and James Conner (shoulder) for this game, lessening their offensive ammunition. While this number has come down to the point where there’s plenty of uncertainty, the Over on 43.5 points could be in play, considering Arizona’s defensive issues.
Seattle Seahawks at Los Angeles Rams (-1)
The Seahawks are in the midst of a Monday night dogfight with the Vikings as this is being written and will thus come into this contest on a short week of rest. The Rams will come in with a lot more confidence than they would have had just a week ago. Jared Goff, Robert Woods and Cooper Kupp utilized the Cardinals’ JV-level pass defense to erase all their recent woes with 417 yards through the air and 9.1 yards per attempt.
Los Angeles could be in position to come close to replicating its success against Seattle. The Seahawks don’t quite have the same level of ineptitude in their secondary as the Cardinals, but they’re not too far behind on paper. They came into Monday night’s game against the Vikes allowing the fourth-most passing yards per game (268.7). Given their Week 13 success, Goff’s 395 yards against the Seahawks in their first meeting, and the Rams’need to keep stacking wins, its likely coach Sean McVay leans much heavier on his passing attack than trying to run into the brick wall the Seahawks have generally been against the run (101.5 rushing yards per game allowed).
Seattle’s offensive assignment won’t be easy in either phase. The Rams are ranked in the top half of the league against both the run and pass and also check in with 38 sacks, tied for fifth most. However, the Seahawks did compile 429 total net yards against Los Angeles the first time these teams met, and Chris Carson did rush for 188 yards at 4.4 yards per clip. Russell Wilson will also have a more potent receivers corps at his disposal that when he first saw the Rams, now that Josh Gordon has joined Tyler Lockett and DK Metcalf.
This will be one of the more interesting lines to revisit at the end of the week, as the number could certainly move depending on the Seahawks’ showing Monday night.
WEEKEND UPDATE: The line indeed is an interesting one to revisit, considering it’s completely flipped over the course of the week. Seattle was a 2.5-point road favorite at one point, but Los Angeles has now gained narrow favorite status despite Seattle pulling out yet another win Monday night. The shorter week for the Seahawks may be playing a factor in the public’s thinking, as there are otherwise no major factors at play here that should be swaying things. The last three games in this series have all been barn-burners, as they’ve been decided by a total of seven points. Worth noting here is that Seattle has an impressive 5-1 record ATS on the road, including an unblemished 3-0 mark as a road dog.
New York Giants at Philadelphia Eagles (-9.5) – Monday Night
The general consensus is that the Eagles and Giants are very far apart in terms of the state of their respective franchises. However, when it’s all said and done, it’s increasingly looking like Philadelphia will be right alongside New York once the final gun in Week 17 goes off – heading home to start 2020. Philly took another step toward that unwanted outcome by dropping a 37-31 decision to the then-two-win Dolphins on Sunday. The G-Men fell to 2-10 with a 31-13 shellacking at the hands of the visiting Packers, a result that was exponentially more expected.
Philadelphia now sits at 5-7 and is essentially out of the NFC playoff picture, which would have been hard to fathom at the start of the season. However, they’ll at least have what the oddsmakers feel is a layup of an opportunity versus New York. The Giants’ woeful defensive numbers bear that out – the G-Men slot in the bottom 10 in passing yards allowed per game (258.6) and in the bottom 15 in rushing yards surrendered per contest (114.2). Carson Wentz, Miles Sanders, Alshon Jeffery and the team’s talented tight-end duo will all be poised to take out some of their recent frustrations.
New York will face a much tougher task, although the way Miami manhandled Philadelphia’s secondary Sunday does give them some hope. The path to success versus the Eagles is largely through the air. Due in part to a multitude of injuries in the secondary earlier in the season, Philly is allowing 241.7 passing yards per game. That number comes with a giant asterisk, however, as almost all their troubles have come on the road. The Eagles have surrendered just 188.7 passing yards per game at home, second in the NFC behind only the 49ers’ shutdown unit. Unfortunately for the Giants and a struggling Saquon Barkley, the outlook is even uglier on the ground – Doug Pederson’s crew is giving up a minuscule 81.8 rushing yards per game at Lincoln Financial Field.
WEEKEND UPDATE: Eli Manning carries no clout with the public any longer. Even with the announcement he’ll be under center for Daniel Jones (ankle) on Monday night, the line still moved up another point in favor of the Eagles this week. Making that movement all the more interesting is the fact Golden Tate will make his return from a concussion, although it was also revealed Saturday that Evan Engram (foot) would miss another game. Nevertheless, this is a hefty spread for an Eagles team that’s 2-4 versus the number as a home team and has a cumulative average margin of victory of 3.3 points there.