NFL Picks for Week 14
Chris Raybon: You wouldn’t know it from their records — the Vikings are 10-2 and the Lions are 5-7 — but the Lions have been the better team. Detroit is 13th overall in the DVOA standings, while Minnesota is 20th. The Lions have the best offense (ninth vs. 19th) and special teams (ninth vs. 20th), and defenses are about even (19th vs. 18th).
The Lions were the bottom three passing defenses when they fired defensive backs coach Aubrey Pleasant in late October, but have since flown up to 19th. Detroit plays men’s coverage at the fifth-highest rate and blitz at the sixth-highest rate, which tends to give Kirk Cousins tantrums. Cousins’ passer rating goes from 91.2 when not blitzed to 79.6 when blitzed, and his 52.6 PFF rating against blitz ranks 34th out of 38 qualified quarterbacks. And against men’s coverage, Minnesota’s 6.8 yards per target pass attempt ranks 27th in the NFL.
On offense, the Lions should be able to rack up points on a Vikings defense that ranks 23rd in pressure rating (19.5%), as Jared Goff’s pass rating in a clean pocket (108.9 ) is 48.1 points better than under pressure (60.8). The Vikings also play the second-lowest men’s coverage rate, with the Lions’ 8.5 yards per target pass attempt against the zone ranking seventh in the league. Goff will have a fully healthy stable of arms with Amon-Ra St. Brown, D’Andre Swift, Jameson Williams, DJ Chark and Josh Reynolds all healthy at the same time for the second time this season.
The Lions have played much better at home this season, averaging 31.9 ppg and +4.0 ppg to 18.4 ppg and -7.4 ppg on the road. It’s been profitable late in the season to wipe out teams with high winning percentages as underdogs like Minnsota, according to our Action Labs data, dogs with 80% or higher winning percentages only got 12-23-1 (33%) against the spread since 2003.
Use our live NFL odds page to get the best numbers on Detroit. FanDuel was still hanging the Lions -1.5 at 9 p.m. ET Saturday night.
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Chris Raybon: It’s a good place to sell high on the Steelers, who are 3-1 and ATS in their last four games. The Steelers enjoyed a huge turnover chance in that span, with eight takeouts and no freebies.
With the exception of the last practice against the Jaguars, the Ravens’ defense has been off since acquiring Roquan Smith, giving up 13.3 points per game and 263 total yards per game over their last four. The Ravens are a well-balanced defense, ranking ninth overall in the DVOA, sixth against the run and 11th against the pass. Even if he doesn’t turn the ball over, Kenny Pickett will struggle to score points against this defense as his 77.3 pass rating on a clean pocket ranks last in the NFL among 37 qualified quarterbacks. .
With Lamar Jackson struggling, his absence isn’t as significant as it would have been earlier in the season. Tyler Huntley gets the ball out quickly and has only lost one start by more than one and none by more than three. And while he doesn’t have the same type of athletic ability as Jackson, he’s shown he can run some of the same zone reads and guards and be productive. Against one of the best defenses in the league last week at the Broncos, Huntley threw just five misses on 32 pass attempts while rushing 10 times for 41 yards.
We should get the Ravens’ best effort here, as they’re surely looking for revenge after the Steelers beat them twice by a combined four points last season. That’s usually where the Steelers have weak spots, according to our Action Labs data they’re just 80-92-2 (47%) ATS as favorites under Mike Tomlin. Meanwhile, the Ravens are 32-22-3 (59%) ATS as a divisional road dog under John Harbaugh.
Excluding the final week of the season, Baltimore is also 12–2-2 (86%) ATS in divisional road games starting in Week 10 under Harbaugh, covering in average 5.6 points per game.
I’d bet Baltimore up to +1.
Chris Raybon: It’s a matchup of two defenses that rank in the top six in the DVOA, with Buffalo placing fourth and the Jets sixth.
Both defenses also rank in the top 10 in rushing ratio, with the Jets fifth at 24.6% and the Bills ninth at 23.8%. Even more impressively, neither defense needs blitz to get pressure, as the Jets rank 31st in blitz rate (15.1%) and the Bills rank 23rd (19.4%). That helped both teams also rank in the top 10 for fewest passing plays over 20 yards allowed, with the Jets third (9.9%) and the Bills ninth (11.3%).
Josh Allen led his offense to just 17 points in Game 1 against the Jets and could struggle against Robert Saleh’s pass defense, which is ranked fifth in the DVOA. In four games against defenses ranked in the top 12 against the pass, the Bills are averaging just 23.5 points per game compared to 29.9 against defenses outside the top 12.
The Bills are also running the ball more lately, which could shorten the game. After calling engineered runs on just 32.8% of their offensive plays (excluding knees) in their first eight games, they called engineered runs 40.4% of the time in their four last matches.
On the other side of the ball, Mike White faces his toughest game yet after coming up against two below-average defenses at the Bears (32nd in weighted DVOA) and Vikings (20th). White struggled against the Bills last season, going 24 of 44 for 251 yards without a touchdown and four interceptions.
The Bills’ defensive metrics are even more impressive when you consider all the players who missed games, including Tre’Davious White (10 missed games), Jordan Poyer (three), Tremaine Edmunds (three), Ed Oliver ( three), Greg Rousseau (three) and Matt Milano (one). Having White available is important because he’s the best answer the Bills have for Garrett Wilson, who has 13 catches for 257 yards and two touchdowns in White’s two starts. With everyone healthy last week, the Bills allowed just 242 total yards on 51 plays to the Patriots.
With wind and potential light snow in the forecast for Sunday, it’s shaping up to be an ugly season-ending divisional clash. According to our Action Labs data, the outdoor subdivisions are 62-38-1 (62%) since 2021, including a 26-11-1 (70%) mark this season.
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