Week 14 NFL Betting Preview: Titans Overs, Detroit Defense, Blitzing Patrick Mahomes

The best bets went 3-0 last week with easy covers on the Browns/Titans over and Falcons/Saints under as well as a close winner with the Colts.

The over/under divide continues to regress towards 50% with the overs owning a slight edge this season at 95-93-4. Underdogs have a big advantage with a 106-80-2 ats (57%) lead over favorites. Road underdogs went 8-3 last week and are now 69-51 ats (58%) with 45 of the 69 covers as outright winners. 

We saw big underdogs winning outright like Washington, the Giants, and Cleveland. I mentioned last week about a strong subset of these road underdogs that have emerged as the most profitable to date. Road underdogs of six points or fewer in games with low totals (less than 45 points) are now an astonishing 15-0 ats with nine outright winners after the Lions and Washington won last week. As of this publication, the Patriots and Washington again fit this trend for the week. 

Week 14 Best Bets

Tennessee Titans vs Jacksonville Jaguars over 52

I easily hit the over in the Titans game last week and I will continue to back the over this week. I have this game modeled at 56 points, so I think there is plenty of value here. The market continues to perceive the Titans as a run-heavy team with a good defense. In this matchup, these defenses currently rank 30th and 31st in points per drive allowed on drives that haven’t ended in a turnover.

The Titans offense ranks third in DVOA, both running and passing, while the Jags defense is 23rd in run defense and 31st in DVOA pass defense. The Titans rank sixth in explosive run percentage and seventh in explosive passes. In addition, the Jags defense can’t get pressure on the quarterback without their only legit pass rusher in Josh Allen, and rank 24th in pressure rate on the season. Ryan Tannehill is third in the NFL in passer rating with a clean pocket. There is no reason the Titans shouldn’t be able to score at will. Meanwhile, the Titans pass rush is currently non-existent and ranks second-worst in the NFL.

We can make fun of Mike Glennon all we want but to be fair before his first start two weeks ago he declared that he was ready to air it out — and he has. Over 20% of his attempts so far have gone for over 20 yards, the most in the NFL if this was a full season figure. The Titans pass defense has been shredded and ranks 29th in DVOA on deep pass defense.

In addition, rookie James Robinson has been excellent this season and ranks 10th in the NFL in explosive runs. Tennessee has allowed plenty of chunk plays on the ground, allowing the seventh-highest percentage of explosive runs. The last two times these teams have met the games have reached 62 and 63 total points.

Green Bay Packers -8 vs Detroit Lions

I rarely like to take a road favorite over seven points but this matchup is just too good to pass up. The Lions gave up 30 points to a bad Chicago offense last week and needed a semi-miracle to win outright. Their defense is absolutely atrocious by all metrics and there is no way the Packers don’t score on virtually every drive. The Lions pass defense ranks 30th in EPA per dropback and 30th in explosive pass percentage allowed. In addition, their pass rush has struggled to generate any pressure, ranked 27th in the NFL.

Aaron Rodgers should have a clean pocket most of the game and ranks first in the NFL in passer rating with 31 TDs and 4 INTs when not facing pressure. The Lions have struggled defensively defending the pass all season but now are without top CBs Jeff Okudah and Desmond Trufant. Even if Okudah plays he is no match for Davante Adams

Nobody expects the Lions’ top WR, Kenny Golladay, to play again this week and that allows stud CB Jaire Alexander to shut down the only real downfield threat for the Lions in Marvin Jones. In addition, this Packers defense has really played well of late and ranks fifth-best in EPA per play allowed the last five weeks. Their biggest issue all season has been a weak run defense but similar to when they matched up on Thanksgiving against the worst run defense in the NFL, the Lions are not equipped to take advantage. The Lions will not be able to run their way to a cover here.

Kansas City Chiefs -7 vs Miami Dolphins

The Dolphins have been a great story this season but between a very weak schedule plus unsustainable turnovers and special teams touchdowns, this seems like a major hill to climb on Sunday. The Dolphins boast the single easiest schedule so far this season, based on DVOA rankings, and have only faced two top-10 DVOA pass offenses (Buffalo and Seattle).

Against Buffalo and Seattle, the Dolphins allowed 31 points in each game as well as 415 yards to Josh Allen and 360 yards to Russell Wilson. Combined, those QBs completed 70% of their throws with 6 TDs, 1 INT, and an out of this world 11.2 yards per attempt. When you get to face QBs like Sam Darnold, Joe Flacco, Brandon Allen, Cam Newton, Gardner Minshew, and Drew Lock, your pass defense ends up looking much better than it really is.

In addition, the Dolphins blitz at the second-highest rate in the NFL and we all know that Patrick Mahomes shreds defenses that love to blitz. He has proven this over and over and against the four defenses that rank in the top-eight in blitz rate (Baltimore, Jets, Tampa, and Houston) the Chiefs have gone 4-0 and Mahomes has put up an incredible stat line: 75% completions, 8.9 ypa, 369 passing yards per game, 15 TD, and 0 INT. In fact, his four best passing performances, based on passing yards, have come against these blitz-happy teams.

Miami is second in the NFL in takeaways and are going to try and replicate this success against a Chiefs offense that ranks first in the fewest giveaways in the NFL. In addition, Miami also has leaned on the top third down defense in the NFL, allowing a league-low 32.2% conversion rate. However, they have only faced three offenses that rank in the top 10 in third down offense. Against Buffalo (second), the Rams (sixth), and New England (10th), those teams converted 17-of-37 third downs, a rate of 46%. The Chiefs are the league’s best third down offense.

At the end of the day, it’s hard to see Tua Tagovailoa match Mahomes and keep up in a high-scoring game. Tagovailoa is only averaging 6.6 ypa and has needed big outlier performances against the 28th-ranked pass defense of the Bengals and against a Cardinals team that was missing multiple players in the secondary in their November road game. 

Best Bets Record YTD: 16-15-3 (52%)