Green Bay Packers at Cleveland Browns: 2017 Week 14 NFL Pick

Green Bay Packers (6-6) at Cleveland Browns (0-12)

Typically, it is not a good idea to bet on teams who will be big home underdogs in their next game, as teams tend to struggle before a big home game, going 39-67 ATS since 2014 before being 4.5+ point home underdogs. The early line has the Browns as 6.5 point home underdogs against the Ravens next week. However, the Browns are in desperation mode at 0-12, so I’m not sure if that trend really applies. On the other side, the Packers may see this as an easy win before they get Aaron Rodgers back for the playoff push next week and may not give their best effort as a result.

Even if they do give good effort, I’m not convinced this will be an easy win for the Packers. Brett Hundley is legitimately one of the worst quarterbacks to start for an extended period of time this season. The Packers covered in a near victory as 14-point underdogs in Pittsburgh two weeks ago and beat the Buccaneers last week, but they lost the first down battle 28-15 against the Steelers and 25-16 against the Buccaneers, a mediocre team that they needed overtime to beat at home. In 7 games with Hundley under center, the Packers have won the first down rate battle just once, on the road, in Chicago, which isn’t that impressive.

On the season, the Packers rank just 18th in first down rate differential at -0.61%, despite having Rodgers for the first 5 games of the season. Part of that is because of injuries on defense, but they remain banged up on that side of the field in this one, with starting cornerbacks Kevin King and Davon House out and outside linebacker Nick Perry questionable after missing practice all week. That’s actually only 5 spots ahead of the Browns, who rank 23rd at -2.35%.

The Browns obviously haven’t won any games, but their defense hasn’t been bad and their offense has been putting together some drives. The issue for them has been turnovers as they rank dead last in turnover margin at -19. Turnover margin tends to be inconsistent on a week-to-week basis, but it hasn’t been for the Browns because they’ve been at a significant disadvantage quarterback wise in every game they’ve played. This week they won’t be, so they could easily play turnover neutral football and pull the upset, especially given how good recently reinstated wide receiver Josh Gordon looked in his debut last week. Even if they don’t win their first game of the season this week, I like their chances of covering this 3.5 point spread, given that 25% of games are decided by a field goal or less.

Cleveland Browns 20 Green Bay Packers 19 Upset Pick +150

Pick against the spread: Cleveland +3.5

Confidence: High

Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Green Bay Packers: 2017 Week 13 NFL Pick

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (4-7) at Green Bay Packers (5-6)

The Buccaneers get Jameis Winston back from a 3-game absence with a shoulder injury this week, but that’s about the only good news for them in terms of injuries. Center Ali Marpet and right tackle DeMar Dotson were both placed on injured reserve this week and they are by far their two best offensive linemen. Left guard Evan Smith returns from a one-game absence, but he hardly replaces Marpet and Dotson. Starting running back Doug Martin will be out as well, so, while Winston has a good receiving corps to work with in his return, he doesn’t have a good offensive line or running game, so they may struggle to set up big plays downfield. Winston also might not be at 100% because his injury is to his throwing shoulder. He wasn’t playing that well prior to being shut down.

On defense, they are without starting cornerback Vernon Hargreaves (3rd missed game), rotational safety TJ Ward (3rd missed game), rotational defensive tackle Clinton McDonald (1st missed game), and their top-3 defensive ends Robert Ayers (2nd missed game), William Gholston (3rd missed game), and Noah Spence (6th missed game). The Ayers injury is the biggest one, as he is by far their best defensive end. They couldn’t stop anything against the Falcons last week in his first missed game. The Buccaneers allowed the Falcons to pick up first downs at a 42.19% rate last week and now they’re missing McDonald and Ward too. With all of their injury issues, the Buccaneers rank 26th in my roster rankings, even with Winston returning.

The Packers are still missing quarterback Aaron Rodgers, but they rank 21st in my roster rankings and are getting healthier on defense. Outside linebacker Clay Matthews, outside linebacker Nick Perry, defensive tackle Kenny Clark, safety Morgan Burnett, and defensive end Mike Daniels are arguably their 5 best defensive players. They’ve played together in the same game just 4 times this season and just once since week 5. All 5 are healthy this week, so they could easily have their best defensive performance in weeks. I have this line calculated at -4, so we’re getting some line value with the Packers. It’s not enough for me to bet on Brett Hundley confidently, but the Packers should be victorious here at home against a banged up Tampa Bay team.

Green Bay Packers 20 Tampa Bay Buccaneers 16

Pick against the spread: Green Bay -2.5

Confidence: Low

Green Bay Packers at Pittsburgh Steelers: 2017 Week 12 NFL Pick

Green Bay Packers (5-5) at Pittsburgh Steelers (8-2)

The Packers are obviously not the same team with backup quarterback Brett Hundley under center instead of Aaron Rodgers, as that’s about as big of a dropoff from starting quarterback to backup quarterback in the NFL. That’s not the only injury the Packers are dealing with though. They remain without their top-2 running backs Aaron Jones and Ty Montgomery. Right tackle Bryan Bulaga is out for the year. On defense, Morgan Burnett will miss his 5th game of the season this week and stud nose tackle Kenny Clark and talented edge rusher Clay Matthews will join him on the sideline this week for the first time this season. Given their injury situation, they are one of the least talented teams in the league.

The Steelers are not at full strength either, so they won’t be able to fully take advantage of the Packers’ injury situation. Top cornerback Joe Haden remains out. Right tackle Marcus Gilbert was just suspended for the next 4 games. And talented rookie wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster will miss this game with a hamstring injury. They should still win this game pretty easily, but this line is pretty high at -14. The Steelers are still my pick because they have an easy trip to Cincinnati on deck. Big favorites tend to take care of business before being big favorites again, as favorites of 7+ are 66-42 ATS before being favorites of 7+ again the following week. This is my lowest confidence pick of the week though.

Pittsburgh Steelers 27 Green Bay Packers 13

Pick against the spread: Pittsburgh -14

Confidence: None

Houston Texans at Baltimore Ravens: 2017 Week 12 NFL Pick

Houston Texans (4-6) at Baltimore Ravens (5-5)

After last week’s 23-0 win over the Brett Hundley led Packers in Green Bay, the Ravens have remarkably posted 3 shutouts this season in just 10 games. In fact, outside of that weird London game against the Jaguars where they didn’t have stud defensive tackle Brandon Williams, the Ravens have been statistically as good as any team in the league this season on defense. They’ve benefitted from an easy schedule of offenses, with their shutouts coming against the Bengals, Dolphins, and Packers, but that schedule doesn’t get any harder this week with the Houston Texans coming to town.

Without quarterback Deshaun Watson and wide receiver Will Fuller, the Texans offense is as bad as any offense in the league, while their defense isn’t much better without JJ Watt and Whitney Mercilus. The Ravens have offensive issues as well, but they are as healthy as they’ve been in weeks on offense, with passing down back Danny Woodhead and left tackle Ronnie Stanley back to 100% and wide receivers Jeremy Maclin and Mike Wallace rounding into form on the outside after early season injuries. They don’t nearly have the problems that the Texans do with immobile Tom Savage behind the league’s worst offensive line.

I have this line calculated at -10, so we’re getting significant line value with the Ravens at -7. The Texans are also in a tough spot with another tough game in Tennessee on deck after this one. Underdogs of 6+ are 56-93 ATS since 2012 before being underdogs of 6+ again, which the Texans likely will be next week (they are -7 on the early line). The Ravens are worth a bet at 7 and would become a high confidence pick if this line were to move to 6.5 before game time, as about 10% of games are decided by exactly a touchdown. They should win this game by double digits.

Baltimore Ravens 17 Houston Texans 6

Pick against the spread: Baltimore -7

Confidence: Medium

Baltimore Ravens at Green Bay Packers: 2017 Week 11 NFL Pick

Baltimore Ravens (4-5) at Green Bay Packers (5-4)

This line was Green Bay +3 a week ago, but the Packers’ upset victory in Chicago caused this line to move to +2. That’s unfortunate because I would have had some interest in the Packers at +3. The Packers are obviously banged up, losing their top-2 running backs last week after already being without quarterback Aaron Rodgers, right tackle Bryan Bulaga, and defensive back Morgan Burnett for an extended period of time. However, they still have a strong receiving corps and are above average on both the offensive and defensive lines and new quarterback Brett Hundley is coming off of his best start of the season.

The Ravens, meanwhile, are a mediocre team with major offensive issues, especially with talented left tackle Ronnie Stanley injured. In fact, I have the Ravens just a couple spots ahead of the Packers in my roster rankings and I have this line calculated at -3. Unfortunately, the Packers are in a tough spot with a much tougher game in Pittsburgh on deck. Teams are 48-78 ATS since 2002 before being 10+ point underdogs, as Tough upcoming games tend to present a distraction for teams. Given that, I’d need the full field goal to bet the Packers confidently. This is a low confidence pick, although the money line makes some sense at +110.

Green Bay Packers 19 Baltimore Ravens 17 Upset Pick +110

Pick against the spread: Green Bay +2

Confidence: Low

Green Bay Packers at Chicago Bears: 2017 Week 10 NFL Pick

Green Bay Packers (4-4) at Chicago Bears (3-5)

Since losing Aaron Rodgers with a broken collarbone in the first quarter against the Vikings, the Packers have lost 3 straight games against the Vikings, Saints, and Lions, by an average of 11.7 points per game. As a result, the public has soured on them in a big way. This line has shifted from 3 in favor of the hometown Bears on the early line last week to 6 this week. About 30% of games are decided by 3-6 points, so that’s a huge shift. I typically disagree with significant week-to-week line movements as they tend to be overreactions to a single week of play and this situation is no different.

The Bears have a solid running game and defense, but they rank 24th in first down rate differential and 23rd in my roster rankings, so they shouldn’t be favored by 6 over anyone except the worst few teams in the league, which I don’t think the Packers are. In fact, I have these two teams about even. The Packers have issues in the passing game without Rodgers, but they still have the advantage in that area over the Bears because they have much better pass catchers and better pass protection.

The Bears are better in the run game and on defense, but the Packers have an underrated front 7, with 2nd year players Kenny Clark and Blake Martinez having breakout seasons, and the Bears could be without top linebacker Danny Trevathan. I don’t love betting on Brett Hundley, but this line is too high to pass on. The Bears are too offensively challenged to be trusted as favorites of this many points. Outside of their win over Carolina in which they had two defensive touchdowns, the Bears haven’t won by more than 6 points since week 13 of last season against the 49ers, who are one of the worst teams in the NFL. The Packers are worth a small bet.

Chicago Bears 16 Green Bay Packers 13

Pick against the spread: Green Bay +6

Confidence: Medium

Detroit Lions at Green Bay Packers: 2017 Week 9 NFL Pick

Detroit Lions (3-4) at Green Bay Packers (4-3)

The Lions have been on my overrated last for a while. They made the playoffs last season with a 9-7 record, but 8 of those wins came by a touchdown or less and none of their wins came against playoff qualifiers. They finished the season 28th in first down rate differential, worst among playoff qualifiers. So far this season, they rank 25th in first down rate differential and are 3-4 on the season, with wins over the Cardinals, the Giants, and the Case Keenum led Vikings. They’re arguably even less talented than last season with left tackle Taylor Decker and defensive end Kerry Hyder out indefinitely. They have major problems on the offensive line and in the running game and their defense is middling at best.

Despite that, they seem to still be a little bit overrated, as they are 2.5 point favorites in Green Bay this week. They should only be favored by that many on the road against the worst teams in the league and, even without Aaron Rodgers, the Packers are not among the worst teams in the league. They still have a strong offensive line, good pass catchers, and a capable front 7, and rookie running back Aaron Jones has given life to this running game for the first time in a while.

They played a good New Orleans team close before their bye in Brett Hundley’s first start without top defensive back Morgan Burnett. Now coming off the bye with Burnett back healthy, they should be able to give the Lions a close game too or even pull the upset. I’d need a full field goal to put money on the spread, but the money line is a smart bet at +115 because this game is a toss up at best. If this line creeps up to a field goal before game time, I’ll consider upgrading this to a medium confidence pick. About 1 in 6 games are decided by exactly a field goal, so getting protection against a field goal win by Detroit is key.

Green Bay Packers 21 Detroit Lions 20 Upset Pick +115

Pick against the spread: Green Bay +2.5

Confidence: Low