New York Jets at San Francisco 49ers: 2016 Week 14 NFL Pick

New York Jets (3-9) at San Francisco 49ers (1-11)

The Jets were embarrassed on national television in a 41-10 Monday Night Football home loss to the Indianapolis Colts last week. This might sound counterintuitive, but that puts them in a great spot this week, as teams are 92-54 ATS since 2002 off of an against the spread loss of 28 or more (the Jets lost by 31 as 2 point underdogs). It makes sense when you think about it, as teams tend to be overlooked, undervalued, and embarrassed in that spot. I don’t know if the Jets are truly embarrassed or not, but they could easily be overlooked and I think they’re definitely undervalued.

This line shifted from 1 in favor of the 49ers on the early line last week to 3 this week, thanks to the Jets’ horrible showing on national television. That’s way too big of a line movement, especially considering the 49ers lost big as road favorites in Chicago last week. This line suggests that these two teams are more or less even, but I think the Jets are still a level above the 49ers, even down to 3rd string quarterback Bryce Petty. The 49ers’ defense has been decimated by injuries and this week they are missing left tackle Joe Staley, easily their best player on either side of the ball. They’ve lost their lost 11 straight games by an average of 14.91 points per game.

The 49ers could also easily overlook the Jets, with a tough road game in Atlanta on deck. Teams are 160-260 ATS since 2002 before being double digit underdogs, including 37-62 ATS as favorites. In a lost season, the 49ers could easily overlook a bad Jets team with a tough opponent on deck. The Jets are less likely to overlook the 49ers because of how badly they got beaten last week and the Jets are also the better team. There’s not enough here for me to put any money on the Jets as 3 point underdogs, but I think the money line at +120 is a good value.

New York Jets 17 San Francisco 49ers 16 Upset Pick +120

Pick against the spread: NY Jets +3

Confidence: Low

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Minnesota Vikings at Jacksonville Jaguars: 2016 Week 14 NFL Pick

Minnesota Vikings (6-6) at Jacksonville Jaguars (2-10)

The Vikings have a strong defense, allowing the 6th lowest first down rate in the NFL, but they were dealt a huge blow when they lost Harrison Smith with an ankle injury that could sideline him for the rest of the year. As valuable to Minnesota’s defense as Earl Thomas is to Seattle’s, Smith is one of the top defensive players in the entire NFL. This defense won’t be the same without him. In fact, I think the Jaguars’ actually are the ones with the better defense in this matchup, as they rank 7th in first down rate allowed and are relatively healthy right now.

The Jaguars’ offense hasn’t been good this year, but they might actually have the better offense in this game too, with Minnesota entering 30th in first down rate. The Jaguars might have the better offense and defense and are at home, but are underdogs of 3.5 points because the Vikings are 6-6 and 2-10. The big difference between these two teams: the Vikings have a +13 turnover margin and a +6 return touchdown margin, while the Jaguars have a -18 turnover margin and a -4 return touchdown margin. Turnover margins are incredibly inconsistent on a week-to-week basis though (and, as a result, return touchdowns are as well). On average a team with a +3 turnover margin in a game will have a turnover margin of +0.0 the following week, the same average as teams that had a -3 turnover margin.

For this reason, I love betting on teams with poor turnover margins and against teams with great turnover margins. It might sound counterintuitive, but these two teams are about as far apart as you can get in turnover margins and return touchdown margins and we’re still only talking about a difference of about 30 snaps, when both teams have played about 1500 snaps this year each. Football is a short season and it’s easy to get caught up in records, but records can be skewed by outlier snaps. For the majority of the snaps this year, the Jaguars have outplayed the Vikings. Close to 1 in 4 games are decided by 3 points or fewer, so I love getting the Jaguars as 3.5 point home underdogs.

Jacksonville Jaguars 16 Minnesota Vikings 13 Upset Pick +160

Pick against the spread: Jacksonville +3.5

Confidence: High

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New Orleans Saints at Tampa Bay Buccaneers: 2016 Week 14 NFL Pick

New Orleans Saints (5-7) at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (7-6)

The Saints are just 5-7, but enter this game 5th in first down rate differential. That’s because, on the season, the Saints have 39 more first downs than their opponents (the 2nd best differential in the league) and 10 more offensive touchdowns than their opponents (tied for the 4th best differential in the league), but are just 5-7 because of because of a -4 margin in return touchdowns and 5 losses by 6 points or fewer (including 4 losses by 3 points or fewer). They had their worst week of the season last week in a 15-point home loss to the Lions, but could easily be 7-5 or 8-4 or even 9-3 right now if a few things had gone their way.

Despite that, the Saints are 3 point underdogs here in Tampa Bay, suggesting these two teams are even. The Buccaneers are 7-5, but rank 25th in first down rate differential. They’re not a bad team and they’re relatively healthy right now, but the Saints are also relatively healthy right now and are definitely the better team in this one, despite what the records say. The Buccaneers have also had a weak homefield advantage in recent years, going 20-39 ATS at home since 2009, including just 2-4 ATS at home this season. The Saints are my Pick of the Week this week.

New Orleans Saints 31 Tampa Bay Buccaneers 27 Upset Pick +125

Pick against the spread: New Orleans +3

Confidence: Pick of the Week

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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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