Each week during NFL season, several members of the staff will select their favorite play of the week. I’ll compile them here along with best available prices. Readers can then decide if any are worth following. Let’s dive in.
TheLines Staff NFL Week 14 Bets Grid
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Favorite Week 14 Bets
Stephen Andress: Bucs (+3.5 -115) At 49ers
Mo noted this week how the market has been slow to adjust the 49ers’ rating significantly, despite Jimmy Garoppolo going down for the rest of the regular season. Part of this is the narrative that you can just insert any old quarterback into Kyle Shanahan’s offense.
Expected completion percentage for all of Shanahan’s quarterbacks since arriving in San Francisco backs this up, but that doesn’t measure actual QB performance. It measures expectations.
The reality is the 49ers’ results have seen a significant dropoff when Jimmy G is not on the field. In the Shanahan era, the Faithful are 42-19 in games Garoppolo has attempted the majority of passes and 9-29 otherwise. That is a stark contrast.
Among QB with at least 600 pass attempts during Shanahan’s tenure by the bay, here is where his QBs have ranked in EPA and Success Rate:
- Nick Mullens: 28th in EPA, 23rd in SR
- C.J. Beathard: 46th in EPA, 38th in SR
- Jimmy Garoppolo: 3rd in EPA, 5th in SR
Where is seventh-round rookie QB Brock Purdy more likely to fall in that range of outcomes?
I’ll bet on Tom Brady, who has faced the least pressure in the NFL, and his ability to get rid of the ball quickly against this 49ers defensive line. In a game with an extremely low total and seventh-round, rookie, third-string QB, more than a field goal has to be value.
Mo Nuwwarah: Buccaneers (+3.5 -115) At 49ers
Brock Purdy entered the game in relief last week for the 49ers and acquitted himself fairly well. Consequently, we saw the 49ers remain fairly solid favorites here despite the inherent danger in plugging in a seventh-round rookie.
I think that’s vastly underselling the value Jimmy Garoppolo brings to the table here. In most situations, I feel the market overreacts to a backup QB. But a solid veteran with plenty of NFL experience is a completely different story. This relatively minor move is downright disrespectful to a guy who has produced like a top-five QB in his time under Kyle Shanahan.
A Buccaneers defense that’s still a top-10 unit should have its way with Purdy here.
Obviously, there’s major concern on the other side of the ball. How can a pretty pitiful Bucs offense move the ball on this ultra-stout Niners D?
The 49ers get a ton of mileage out of their pass rush. However, nobody avoids sacks better than Tom Brady, with the Bucs ranking first in adjusted sack rate. Even if Nick Bosa — no lock to even play — beats these tackles, Brady will just dump the ball off a bunch and avoid the negative plays that have plagued recent Niners opponents.
All the Bucs should need is around 17 points here. I think the total is rightfully very low, vastly increasing the value of these points, and I like the Bucs here even in a fairly tough situational spot traveling across the country on a short week.
Brett Gibbons: Browns At Bengals Over 46.5 (-105)
For having so many studs on the roster, the Browns defense sure is abysmal. Marred by remedial play calling, Cleveland ranks dead last in EPA per rush allowed. Their opponents rush with the fourth-highest Success Rate. While statistically their passing defense is middle-of-the-pack, their EPA margins are skewed by the immense success teams find on the ground.
In reality, their secondary isn’t all that great. Denzel Ward boasts Pro Bowl status, but he landed on the injury report once again. Joe Burrow & Co. – though they’ve been stumped by Joe Woods lately – should move the ball in numerous ways.
On the other side, the Bengals field their own subpar rushing defense. They’re 26th in EPA per rush allowed and 15th in rushing yards per game allowed. Nick Chubb has rushed for over 100 yards in five of eight games against Cincinnati. He’s scored two touchdowns each in three of his last four outings against them. The lone time Chubb didn’t was in Week 17 last year where he was limited to nine carries due to an injury.
The Browns score points on the Bengals, going over 30 points in four of their last five meetings. Earlier this year, Cleveland won 32-13 in Cincinnati’s first game without Ja’Marr Chase. Chase returns to the lineup and the Bengals should find more scoring success at home.
Eli Hershkovich: Week 14 Bets
John Haslbauer: Texans (+17) at Cowboys
This is a prime overreaction spot following a pair of outlier finishes from these teams last week.
The Kyle Allen experiment ended as Lovie Smith remembered that Davis Mills is emphatically the team’s best option at QB for the remainder of the season. A pair of ugly pick-sixes will make the 27-13 loss to the Browns look worse than it was, but the defense played well enough to win last week. They didn’t allow an offensive touchdown and kept Nick Chubb in check with only 80 rushing yards. The Texans will have the No. 1 pick in the upcoming draft and have not been shy about their intentions to draft a new franchise QB. That means it’s audition time for Davis Mills, who should come extra motivated after last week’s benching.
The Cowboys have beaten their opponents by a combined score of 122-42 over the last three weeks, mauling the Vikings, Giants and Colts over that span. On the surface, it would make sense for that trend to continue against the worst team in the NFL this week.
But, it’s never quite that simple. At the start of the 4th quarter last week, the Cowboys struggled to separate from the Colts, leading just 21-19. They proceeded to pour on 33 unanswered points in the fourth quarter thanks to some over-aggressive play calling from Jeff Saturday, but it’s worth noting that this was a closely contested game for the first three quarters.
I don’t expect the Texans to win, but their roster is full of players with uncertain futures next season with plenty to prove. I see the Cowboys getting out to a hot start here and potentially resting some starters in the fourth quarter to set the stage for another Texans backdoor cover of this three-score spread.
Evan Scrimshaw: Lions (-2) Vs. Vikings
The Lions have been one of the second half’s biggest surprises, rattling off four wins in five games. Their one loss, Thanksgiving against the Bills, saw them mostly hold Josh Allen in check. In the wins, the Lions have only given up 20 points once.
The Vikings, on the other hand, continue to win games they have no business winning. The Jets had six opportunities in the red zone last week and came out of them with one touchdown. The week before, it took a special teams touchdown to put the Patriots away.
A five-win team being favored against a 10-win team feels absurd, but the Vikings aren’t actually what they appear to be. The fact that TheLines power rankings have the Vikings at 11 says everything you need to know about their actual talent levels.
The Lions were beating Minnesota handily the first time they played before D’Andre Swift and Amon-Ra St. Brown got hurt. Given that and their recent form, the Lions are just better right now. And they should win.
Good luck with your Week 14 NFL bets!