Welcome to the Week 14 edition of our NFL Bets of the Week column. Here, I’ll strive to identify a handful of games I feel have profit potential at DraftKings Sportsbook, FanDuel Sportsbook, 888 Sports, and BetStars Sportsbook.
Depending on the circumstance, I’ll hone in on moneylines, point spreads, or projected totals. Sometimes I may even touch on multiple metrics for one game. We’ll strive for quality over quantity here as well — the focus will only be on spots that seem to truly be advantageous. Then, I’ll take you on a fairly deep dive as to why.
Please note we’ll be referencing only legal, regulated sportsbook betting odds and totals here at PlayPicks. A “pick” is a wager that, as of the time of this writing, we feel confident recommending. A “lean” is a wager that we favor over the other side. This play could end up on our card with the release of additional information.
Let’s take a quick look at how things went in Week 13 and follow that up with a leap into two interesting scenarios for Week 14.
Recapping Week 13
Week 13 winners: Buccaneers +3.5, Bills +5 (lean)
Week 13 losers: None
Season record to date:
ATS Picks: 18-10 (.643)
ATS Leans: 3-1 (.750)
Moneyline: 7-6 (.538)
Over/under: 1-1-1 (.500)
Week 14 NFL Betting Picks
Carolina Panthers (6-6) at Cleveland Browns (4-7-1)
Over/Under Total: 47.5
How They Fared in Week 13
The Panthers fell to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers by a 24-17 score. Cam Newton produced an even 300 yards and two touchdowns, but he also threw four interceptions. He added 33 yards on six rushes. Christian McCaffrey accumulated 161 total yards and a touchdown, leading the Panthers in both rushing yards (106) and receptions (nine). Down the line, Curtis Samuel enjoyed his best game as a pro, posting a 6-88 line on 11 targets. The ramifications of the defeat extended beyond just the standings and the team’s playoff hopes. Carolina lost TE Greg Olsen for the rest of the season with yet another injury to his troublesome foot. The defeat was the Panthers’ fourth in a row.
Meanwhile, the Browns suffered a 29-13 road loss to the Texans. Cleveland fell behind by a 23-0 margin in the first half. The game script called for ample passing in the second half, allowing Baker Mayfield to rack up a career-high 397 yards and a touchdown. However, he also threw three interceptions. The rookie signal-caller did manage to re-establish chemistry with Jarvis Landry, with whom he connected with on six occasions for 103 yards. Due to the running game largely being neutralized in the latter portion of the contest, Nick Chubb carried a modest nine times for 30 yards.
Notable Matchups and Metrics
The Panthers’ trend of looking inept away from the friendly confines of Bank of America Stadium continued last Sunday. Surprisingly, it was Newton who was responsible for the majority of the futility. A lingering shoulder issue may have been at least partly to blame, but Newton doubled up his road interception total with a quartet of picks. The shoulder continues to limit him in practice thus far this week as well. He didn’t throw in the open portion of practice Wednesday or Thursday.
With their loss in Tampa, Carolina created a further gulf between their home/road splits. The Panthers are now scoring just 19.8 points per road game, a full 11 less per contest than at home. On defense, the Panthers are yielding 27.8 points per road tilt, a notable bump from the 23.2 per game they’ve allowed on their home field. And despite McCaffrey’s strong performance against the Bucs, there’s still a wide gap between what Carolina has accomplished on the ground at home vs. away. They average an NFL-best 174.7 rush yards per game at BOA Stadium. It’s a much more modest 107 per outing when they travel. In turn, they’re a much less stingy unit against opposing backs on the road, yielding 114.5 ground yards per game; it’s a miserly 78.0 per home date. That’s the fourth-lowest average in the league.
Then, the Browns have finally started to defend the Dawg Pound once again. They’re a solid 3-2-1 at home. That season sample includes victories over the Ravens and Falcons, games in which their defense allowed an average of 12.5 points. Cleveland also matches up well with Carolina’s tendency to surrender more yardage on the ground on the road. The Browns have amassed 139.7 rush yards per game at FirstEnergy Stadium. And those aren’t the only numbers pointing in the direction of Cleveland being able to keep matters close on Sunday.
The Browns are the seventh-best pass defense in the NFL in terms of completion percentage allowed (62.6). They’ve also garnered the third-most interceptions (14). Cleveland has forced teams to keep throws close to the line of scrimmage, allowing the sixth-lowest YPA at 7.1. Their 62.0 percent catch rate allowed is the third lowest in the league. On that note, Newton ranks near the bottom of the league with 5.2 average air yards per completion, tied with Eli Manning for seventh lowest. If he’s truly hampered by his ailing shoulder again Sunday, he could be under even more duress. Olsen missing doesn’t help matters against a team that’s weak on TEs.
The Browns will naturally have to be wary of McCaffrey, especially given their struggles defending the run this season. Yet the combination of their aggressive secondary and the lack of a proven backup TE for Newton should allow them to hone in that much more against the star running back.
By the Numbers
The Panthers are 5-7 (41.7 percent) against the spread this season. That includes a 1-5 mark (16.7 percent) as an away team and a 0-3 tally as an away favorite, an instance in which they’ve failed to cover by an average of 7.5 points. Carolina is also 2-3 (40.0 percent) versus the number after a loss.
The Browns are 7-5 (58.3 percent) against the spread this season. That includes a 4-2 mark (66.7 percent) versus the number as a home team and a 3-1 mark (75.0 percent) as a home underdog. They’re also 3-0 against the spread in non-conference games and 4-2 (66.7 percent) versus the number after a loss.
The Final Word
The Panthers have been a markedly different team on the road. Olsen’s season-ending injury certainly doesn’t help their cause. The Browns secondary has the talent to give the Panthers’ solid, but still unproven receiving corps trouble. On the other side, Carolina is undeniably a desperate team, and they could well have enough here to pull out a rare road win. Yet Cleveland’s confidence is high despite last week’s loss. I look for them to have enough on offense to keep this very close, potentially even notching an outright victory.
The Pick: Browns +2
New York Jets (3-9) at Buffalo Bills (4-8)
Over/Under total: 38.5
How They Fared in Week 13
The Jets dropped their sixth game in a row, falling to the Tennessee Titans by a 26-22 score. New York jumped out to a 16-6 halftime lead before allowing the Titans to rack up 20 second-half point to secure a home victory. Josh McCown filled in for Sam Darnold (foot) for a third straight game, but he was only able to compile 128 passing yards. Isaiah Crowell did enjoy one of his better games of the season, gaining 98 yards on 21 rushes while adding four receptions. Robby Anderson shook off an ankle injury to lead New York with four receptions and 48 yards.
The Bills gave the Miami Dolphins everything they could handle before falling to them by a 21-17 score down in South Florida. Rookie signal-caller Josh Allen shined while throwing for 231 yards and a pair of touchdowns. But he was also guilty of a pair of interceptions. The mobile gunslinger paced Buffalo with 135 rushing yards on just nine carries. He almost pulled off a momentous upset win as well, but his fourth-down heave to a wide-open Charles Clay in the Dolphins’ end zone was just a tad short. The Bills’ pass defense continued to shine, limiting Ryan Tannehill to 137 passing yards and sacking him three times. They did, however, yield a trio of touchdown throws.
Notable Matchups and Metrics
The Bills are a team built on defense. That unit has especially dominant over the last three games. Buffalo is allowing 17.3 points and a league-low 112.7 passing yards per game during that stretch against the Jets, Jaguars, and Dolphins. Then, the Bills are also surrendering an average of just 2.3 touchdowns and 235.7 total yards per contest over that span. Incidentally, the latter figure matches their No. 2 ranking in that category for the season (294.2 yards allowed per game).
Buffalo also checks in as the NFL’s toughest unit to pass against on their home field. They’re allowing just 181.0 yards per game there. The Bills also shine in multiple other pass defense categories: their rankings in catch rate allowed (64.0 percent), air yards allowed (2,859), yards after catch allowed (1,211), and average depth of target allowed (7.4) all rank within the top 10. And their 11 interceptions tie them for sixth with several other clubs.
All of those numbers could spell trouble for the offensively challenged Jets. New York has the third-fewest passing yards (2,309). Darnold and McCown have combined to throw the second-most interceptions (18). Darnold, the expected starter Sunday, has the third-lowest completion percentage (55.0) and is saddled with a 25.3 percent bad pass rate. Plus, New York has yielded 28 sacks. Across from them, the Bills have taken the quarterback down 31 times. Sunday will be Darnold’s first exposure to the Bills defense as well. He missed the previous matchup with his foot injury.
If New York is looking to turn to its running game to balance things out, they may find tough sledding. For one, the Jets have generated a modest 99.3 rushing yards per game on the road. Plus, Crowell missed practice the first two days of the week with a toe injury. He’s now officially shaping up as a game-time decision. An absence on his part would leave only the inexperienced duo of Elijah McGuire and Trenton Cannon as Gang Green’s healthy backs.
In personnel news for the Buffalo offense, Kelvin Benjamin has been released. Going on name recognition alone, it looks like an impactful loss. However, the fact that the team opted to cut ties with a player for whom they traded a pair of draft picks speaks to how little he was moving the needle. Indeed, Benjamin brought in only 23 of 62 targets (37.1 percent catch rate) over 12 games this season. He finished his Buffalo tenure with just 39 grabs over 18 games. Emerging youngsters Robert Foster and Zay Jones have made a much better impression, as has recent acquisition Isaiah McKenzie.
Finally, New York’s offense has been as bad as Buffalo’s defense has been good over the last three games. The Jets are averaging just 15 points per contest in that stretch, a figure that ranks second lowest behind only Jacksonville’s 14.3 during that span. Granted, Darnold’s return could provide a lift, but his turnover-prone ways (14 interceptions, five total fumbles) could certainly emerge with expected temperatures of the low 30s, the possibility of snow, and with an aggressive defense coming after him.
By the Numbers
The Jets are 4-8 (33.3 percent) against the spread overall this season. New York is also 2-4 (33.3 percent) versus the number as a road underdog. And Gang Green is 0-4 against the spread in division games, failing to cover by an average of 13.4 points. The Jets are 2-6 (25.0 percent) versus the number after a loss.
The Bills are only 1-2 against the spread in division games, but that one “win” versus the number came against the Jets, whom they walloped by 31 points in Week 10.
The Final Word
The Bills have a legitimate home-field edge when it comes to non-elite opponents. Such is the way Week 14 shapes up, as New York has plenty of holes. Darnold’s expected return could also play well into the Buffalo defense’s hands. A Crowell absence would also make Darnold a potential liability. The defense would be able to key on him that much more. Meanwhile, Josh Allen’s increasing confidence and the threat he poses as a runner should lead to some plays against a solid-but-not-great Jets defense. The fact that the Bills are as healthy on defense as they’ve been all season furthers the case for a low-scoring home win that should be by just enough to cover the 3.5-point number.
The Lean: Bills -3.5, Bills moneyline