NFL tips for week 14
Chris Raybon: You wouldn’t know from their records – the Vikings are 10-2 and the Lions are 5-7 – but the Lions were the better team. Detroit is 13th in overall DVOA while Minnesota is 20th. The Lions have better offense (9th vs. 19th) and special teams (9th vs. 20th), and defense is about the same (19th vs. 18th).
The Lions were one of the last three pass defenders when they fired defensive backs coach Aubrey Pleasant in late October, but they have since plummeted to 19th place. Detroit plays Man Coverage at the 5th highest rate and Blitz at the 6th highest rate, which tends to give Kirk Cousins seizures. Cousins’ passer rating falls from a 91.2 without a blitz to a 79.6 when he’s blitzed, and his 52.6 PFF rating against blitz ranks him 34th out of 38 qualified quarterbacks. And against man coverage, Minnesota ranks 27th in the NFL with 6.8 yards per pass attempt.
On offense, the Lions should be able to pick up points on a Vikings defense ranked 23rd in pressure rate (19.5%) given Jared Goff’s passing rating from a clean pocket (108.9) 48, 1 points better than under pressure (60.8). . The Vikings also have the second-lowest man coverage, while the Lions rank seventh in the league with 8.5 yards per pass attempt against Zone. Goff will have a fully healthy armory with Amon-Ra St. Brown, D’Andre Swift, Jameson Williams, DJ Chark and Josh Reynolds all simultaneously healthy for the second time all season.
The Lions have played much better at home this season, averaging 31.9 points per game and a +4.0 point difference compared to 18.4 points per game and a -7.4 point difference away. It was profitable to weaken high winning teams as underdogs like Minnsota towards the end of the season. According to our Action Labs data, dogs with a win rate of 80% or more have only played 12-23-1 (33%) against the spread since 2003.
Use our NFL live odds page to get the best Detroit numbers. FanDuel was still hanging at Lions -1.5 at 9pm ET Saturday night.
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Chris Raybon: This is a good place to sell up the Steelers, who have led 3-1 straight and against the spread in their last four games. The Steelers have benefited from massive revenue luck during that span, with eight takeaways and no giveaways.
Aside from the most recent drive against the Jaguars, the Ravens’ defense has been down since Roquan Smith took over, allowing for 13.3 points per game and 263 total yards per game in the last four. The Ravens are a well-rounded defense, ranking ninth in DVOA overall, sixth against run and 11th against pass. Even if he doesn’t flip the ball, Kenny Pickett will struggle to score against this defense. His 77.3 pass rating from a clean pocket ranks last in the NFL among 37 qualified quarterbacks.
With Lamar Jackson struggling, his absence isn’t as big as it was at the start of the season. Tyler Huntley gets the ball out quickly and has only lost one start by more than a point and none by more than three points. And while he doesn’t have the same athletic ability as Jackson, he’s shown he can pull off some of the same zone reads and keepers and be productive. Against one of the league’s best defenses last week, the Broncos, Huntley threw just five misses on 32 pass attempts while running 10 times for 41 yards.
We should get the best of the Ravens here as they are certainly looking for revenge after the Steelers beat them by four points total twice last season. This tends to be where the Steelers have disappointment points, according to our Action Labs data they are only 80-92-2 (47%) against the spread as favorites under Mike Tomlin. Meanwhile, the Ravens are 32-22-3 (59%) ATS as a divisional road dog under John Harbaugh.
Aside from the final week of the season, as of Week 10 under Harbaugh, Baltimore is also 12-2-2 (86%) ATS in divisional road games, covering an average of 5.6 points per game.
I would put Baltimore at +1.
Chris Raybon: This is a matchup of two defenses that rank in the top six in the DVOA, with Buffalo fourth and the Jets sixth.
Both defenses also rank in the top 10 in pressure rate, with the Jets fifth at 24.6% and the Bills ninth at 23.8%. Even more impressively, no defense needs to blitz to apply pressure, as the Jets rank 31st (15.1%) and the Bills 23rd (19.4%) in blitz percentage. This has helped both teams also rank in the top 10 for fewest passes allowed over 20 yards, with the Jets finishing third (9.9%) and the Bills ninth (11.3%).
Josh Allen led his offense to just 17 points in the first meeting against the Jets, holding off pass defenses from Robert Saleh, who ranks fifth in the DVOA. In four games against defenses ranked in the top 12 against pass, the Bills average just 23.5 points per game compared to 29.9 against defenses outside of the top 12.
The Bills are also running the ball more lately, which could shorten the game. After calling draft runs on just 32.8% of their offensive plays (excluding knee downs) in the first eight games, they’ve called draft runs 40.4% of the time in the last four games.
On the other side of the ball, Mike White faces his toughest matchup yet after encountering two underperforming defenses in the Bears (32nd in weighted DVOA) and the Vikings (20th). White struggled against the Bills last season, walking 24 of 44 for 251 yards without touchdowns and four interceptions.
The Bills’ defensive stats are even more impressive when you factor in all the players who missed games, including Tre’Davious White (10 games missed), Jordan Poyer (three), Tremaine Edmunds (three), Ed Oliver (three), Greg Rousseau (three) and Matt Milano (one). Having White available is great since he’s the Bills’ best answer to Garrett Wilson, who has 13 catches for 257 yards and two touchdowns in White’s two starts. With everyone healthy last week, the Bills only allowed the Patriots 242 yards in 51 games.
With wind and possible light snow forecast for Sunday, this looks set to be an ugly late-season clash between the divisions. According to our Action Labs data, outdoor division unders are 62-38-1 (62%) since 2021, including a 26-11-1 (70%) mark this season.