Pittsburgh Steelers at Buffalo Bills: 2016 Week 14 NFL Pick

Pittsburgh Steelers (7-5) at Buffalo Bills (6-6)

The Steelers got a big home win last week against the New York Giants, but this could be a letdown game for them in Buffalo. The Steelers are just 10-22 ATS as non-divisional road favorites in the Mike Tomlin era (since 2007) and have already fallen flat this season in Philadelphia and Miami in that spot. In fact, the Steelers have just 3 road wins this season and two of them came against the Browns and the Colts without Andrew Luck. We’re getting good line value with the Bills as field goal home underdogs (I would have made it an even line), so the Bills are worth a bet if you can get them at that number. The money line is a good bet in either scenario though.

Buffalo Bills 23 Pittsburgh Steelers 20 Upset Pick +135

Pick against the Spread: Buffalo +3

Confidence: Medium

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Denver Broncos at Tennessee Titans: 2016 Week 14 NFL Pick

Denver Broncos (8-4) at Tennessee Titans (6-6)

Despite 6-6 record, the Titans enter this game 7th in first down rate differential. They’ve been competitive in every game and have a +12 point differential on the season, despite being -7 in return touchdown differential. Aside from those 7 plays, they have a +60 point differential (which would be 4th best in the NFL). They have 38 offensive touchdowns on the season, as opposed to 27 allowed by their defense, a +11 differential that is only behind New England and Dallas (both at +14). The Broncos are a solid opponent, especially with quarterback Trevor Siemian back under center, but this line favors the Broncos by a point on the road. Tennessee is an underrated team that should be at least 3 or 4 point home favorites in this game.

The Broncos are also in a tough spot here with arguably their biggest regular season game on deck, a home clash against the New England Patriots, a game in which the Broncos will almost definitely be home underdogs. Road favorites are 51-71 ATS since 2002 before being home underdogs, as big upcoming home games can be a major distraction for teams. The Broncos are only 1 point favorites here, but I think they could easily overlook an underrated Tennessee team with New England on deck. The Titans could be without defensive end Jurrell Casey, but the Broncos could be without middle linebacker Brandon Marshall. Both teams are otherwise healthy, so those two injuries more or less cancel each other out, with Tennessee getting an advantage if Casey can play. I like the Titans a good amount this week.

Tennessee Titans 24 Denver Broncos 17 Upset Pick +100

Pick against the spread: Tennessee +1

Confidence: High

Cincinnati Bengals at Cleveland Browns: 2016 Week 14 NFL Pick

Cincinnati Bengals (4-7-1) at Cleveland Browns (0-12)

The Browns are 0-12 and probably the worst team in the league right now, but they have a pretty decent shot at getting their first win of the season this week, for three reasons. For one, they’re coming off of their bye week. Bye weeks have proven very valuable for winless teams in the past. Since 1989, 19 teams have gone into their bye week with a record of 0-5 or worse. Of those 19 teams, 11 have won their first game off of the bye week and 16 of them have covered against the spread, 16-2-1 ATS.

The second reason why the Browns have a shot this week is the return of Robert Griffin. Griffin has proven to be very frail throughout his career, but he’s undoubtedly the most talented quarterback on the roster and he spent the whole off-season as the starter. I have no idea if he’s 100% in his first week off the injury, but his return should be valuable for this team, as they’ve played 4 other quarterbacks in his absence. The third reason is the Bengals aren’t a very imposing opponent without wide receiver AJ Green and running back Giovani Bernard, both of whom are out with injury.

The Bengals got a big home win last week against the Eagles, but the Eagles were missing their top-2 skill position players and have not played well at all offensively since losing right tackle Lane Johnson with a suspension. The Bengals also were in a great spot last week, as they had this upcoming “easy” game on the schedule, but this week they’re in a very tough spot with a home clash against the Pittsburgh Steelers on deck. Road favorites are 51-71 ATS since 2002 before being home underdogs. The Bengals’ 18 point win over the Eagles last week shifted this line from 3.5 on the early line last week all the way to 6, so I like the Browns’ chances of at least keeping this game close and covering the spread, even if they don’t win their first game of the season. The money line isn’t a bad bet either this week.

Cleveland Browns 24 Cincinnati Bengals 23 Upset Pick +210

Pick against the spread: Cleveland +6

Confidence: High

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Seattle Seahawks at Green Bay Packers: 2016 Week 14 NFL Pick

Seattle Seahawks (8-3-1) at Green Bay Packers (6-6)

Typically, the Seahawks are unstoppable in the second half of the season, going 33-10-1 ATS since Pete Carroll’s first season in 2011 in games 9-16 of the regular season. This year, they got off to a strong start, covering in games 9 and 10, but then they got embarrassed in their 11th game of the season, losing 14-5 as 5.5 point favorites in Tampa Bay. They bounced back in a huge way last week, blowing out a banged up Carolina team 40-7, but that game might have been a case of winning the battle losing the war, as the Seahawks have lost safety Earl Thomas, one of the best in the game, for the season with a broken leg. It’s not that the Seahawks can’t win the Super Bowl without Thomas, especially in a year where all of the top teams have glaring flaws, but it certainly becomes a lot more difficult of a task for the Seahawks and it takes a lot of the air out of last week’s big win.

Despite that, this line has actually shifted from 2.5 in favor of Seattle to 3 in the past week. That might not seem like a huge line movement, but it’s pretty significant considering about 1 in 6 games are decided by exactly a field goal. We’re getting good value with the Packers at home, just the fourth time in Aaron Rodgers’ career that he’s been a home underdog (2-1 ATS). The Packers are also in a great spot, going to Chicago next week to face the lowly Bears. Home underdogs are 79-44 ATS since 2002 before being road favorites, which the Packers almost certainly will be next week. The Seahawks have an easy game against the Rams on deck, but it’s in 4 days, which is tough. Favorites are just 57-83 ATS since 2008 before Thursday Night Football. Normally I bet on the Seahawks in the second half of the season, but I like the Packers a lot if you can get them as field goal underdogs.

Green Bay Packers 27 Seattle Seahawks 24 Upset Pick +125

Pick against the spread: Green Bay +3

Confidence: Medium

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Atlanta Falcons at Los Angeles Rams: 2016 Week 14 NFL Pick

Atlanta Falcons (7-5) at Los Angeles Rams (4-8)

The Rams have been beaten badly in back-to-back games. First they couldn’t stop anything against the Saints, who scored 7 offensive touchdowns in a 49-21 victory. Then last week they couldn’t move the ball, not breaking 100 yards until a garbage time touchdown drive and totalling just 7 first downs in a 26-10 loss in New England. Their offense has been the problem all year as they rank dead last (by almost 2%) in first down rate. Overall, they rank 31st in first down rate differential on the season, despite a solid defense. Unfortunately for them, things do not get any easier the next couple of weeks, as they host the Falcons this week and then go to Seattle to face the Seahawks next week.

The Rams are 6.5 point underdogs here at home, but that’s not enough points to scare me off of Atlanta, who ranks 4th in first down rate differential. Next week, the Rams figure to be at least double digit underdogs in Seattle, which puts them in a very tough spot. Not only are teams 41-63 ATS since 2012 before being double digit underdogs, underdogs of 6 or more are 48-81 ATS since 2012 before being underdogs of 6 or more again, as it’s very tough for an inferior team to keep it close against a superior team with another tough game next on the schedule. Next week’s game is going to be the Rams’ Super Bowl, so they could easily look past the Falcons this week, especially since the game is on Thursday Night.

The Falcons, meanwhile, host the lowly 49ers next week. Favorites of 6 or more are 93-52 ATS since 2012 before being favorites of 6 or more again, including 33-7 ATS when their opponent will be underdogs of 6 or more again in their next game. With no real distractions on the horizon, the Falcons should be able to steamroll an inferior Rams team. The only thing preventing this from being a bigger play is Julio Jones’ uncertain status with injury. The Falcons have said they expect him to play despite a toe injury, but he hasn’t practiced all week so nothing is certain. Even if he plays, he could be nothing more than a decoy. I think it’s still worth a bet on the Falcons as long as the line is under a touchdown though.

Atlanta Falcons 24 Los Angeles Rams 13

Pick against the spread: Atlanta -6.5

Confidence: Medium

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Oakland Raiders at Kansas City Chiefs: 2016 Week 14 NFL Pick

Oakland Raiders (10-2) at Kansas City Chiefs (9-3)

Back in week 6, the Chiefs clobbered the Raiders in Oakland, 26-10, easily the Chiefs’ most impressive game of the season. The Chiefs won the first down battle 22 to 16 and won the first down rate battle by a margin of +5.80%. That was easily the best game the Chiefs have played this season though and there’s no guarantee they can play that well again. Despite a 9-3 record, the Chiefs enter this game 27th in first down rate differential and have allowed 34 more first downs than they’ve gained and 4 more offensive touchdowns than they’ve scored.

They’ve won 9 games because of five wins by a touchdown or less (including 2 in overtime), a +6 margin in return touchdowns, and a + 14 turnover margin. Unfortunately for them, there’s zero week-to-week consistency or correlation in turnover margins (and, as a result, in return touchdown margins). For this reason, I love betting against teams that have strong turnover margins, as they tend to be overrated by traditional metrics. In the past two weeks alone, the Chiefs have scored 25 points on a special teams safety, a safety return touchdown, a pick six, a pick two, and a fake punt touchdown in two games they won by a combined 4 points. A win is a win, but at some point, they’re going to have to start consistently moving the ball better than their opponents to win games.

Fortunately for them, they’re as healthy right now as they’ve been in a while. They’ve gotten their top pass rusher Justin Houston back from off-season surgery and this week will get their top wide receiver Jeremy Maclin back from a 4-game absence with a groin injury. Aside from starting defensive end Jaye Howard, they aren’t missing any key players right now, so they’re healthier than most teams in the league right now. Also fortunately for them, the Raiders are also not as good as their record, as just 3 of their 10 wins have come by more than a touchdown and their turnover margin is +12, 3rd best in the NFL. Despite a 10-2 record, they have just 8 more first downs and 3 more offensive touchdowns than their opponents and rank 17th in first down rate differential. I have them ranked slightly higher than the Chiefs and I’m taking them for a low confidence pick as 3 point road underdogs, but there’s not enough for me to put money on them because both teams enter this game overrated.

Kansas City Chiefs 17 Oakland Raiders 16

Pick against the spread: Oakland +3

Confidence: Low

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