There is a common saying in football that anything can happen on “any given Sunday”, and that was extremely true in Week 13.
tThere were an extraordinary amount of upsets that took place. Not only did the Colt McCoy-led Giants beat the Seahawks in Seattle, but on Monday, the Washington Football Team was able to defeat the undefeated Steelers. Heck, even the Jets and Jaguars came within seconds of winning!
With that, let us examine my model’s projections for every game in the Week 14 slate. My model is able to calculate a team’s chances of winning by using Pro Football Focus grades and coaching adjustments, and from there, calculating the gap between the two teams before covering it into a win probability. In the past, that win probability was used to project a spread, and from there, it served as more a model to pick against the spread.
However, this was never my goal with the model. Rather, I want it to be able to project the estimated margin of victory by each team. Luckily, I have now transformed my model to calculate how much better a team is than average on a neutral field, and from there, those totals can be used to project how much one team will beat another by. Now, I can provide reasonable expectations for you all on how a game should turn out.
If you had been interested in the betting aspect of this model, however, fret not! You can still utilize the difference in margin of victory and spread to find the best values from a spread perspective, while my model now projects recommended money lines and over/under totals. After we go through all the games, I will go over the model’s top bets of the week, so you will want to stick around until the end!
Also, home-field advantage has been non-existent this season in terms of point differential, so for more accurate projections to made, there won’t be any points added to help home teams.
With that addressed, let us get to the Week 14 slate! We start off with a Super Bowl rematch on Thursday Night Football, and end with two exceptional primetime matchups.
NOTE: Model will be updated with injury updates, power ratings calculated with injuries in mind
*Odds via Vegas Insider
THURSDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL
New England Patriots (6-6, 15th) at Los Angeles Rams (8-4, 4th)
Patriots Win Probability: 41.78182526%
Just when you think you can count them out, the Patriots come crawling back. After winning two straight games, they’re now back to .500, and certainly could make some noise in the AFC wildcard picture. Good coaching can build a foundation and gives a team a high floor, and New England personifies that perfectly. Their defense is finally playing up to expectations, while their offense is extremely versatile and benefits from a creative play-caller in Josh McDaniels. The fact that they beat the Chargers 45-0 with Cam Newton throwing for 69 yards says a lot about their overall flexibility as a team.
Rams Win Probability: 58.21817474%
Speaking of well-coached teams, the Rams certainly fit the bill as such. Even though quarterback Jared Goff has been inconsistent in terms of his game-to-game performance, head coach Sean McVay gives this offense a tremendous baseline based on his ability to scheme up opportunities for his abundance of playmakers. With how well they defend the pass, that’s enough to be considered one of the elite teams in the NFC.
Projected Winner: LAR by 5.03
Spread: LAR (-5)
Projected Spread: LAR (-2.71)
Moneyline Value: NE
Over/Under Total Projection: 47.42 (Real O/U= 44.5)
Belichick made a fool out of McVay in Super Bowl two years ago, and that could certainly happen again. Nevertheless, a lot has changed since then, and the Rams simply have much more overall talent. Their strengths don’t particularly mesh well with New England, yet the same can be said about the Patriots, who may not have the athleticism on defense to match up with Los Angeles’ playmakers on horizontal concepts. This is going to be a very fun game, and although New England has a better chance to win that they are getting credit for, the current spread is fair.
SUNDAY 1 PM ET
Denver Broncos (4-8, 25th) at Carolina Panthers (4-8, 26th)
Broncos Win Probability: 52.40851262%
The Broncos weren’t given much of a chance at all to compete with the Chiefs in Kansas City, but they were able to do just that. Their defense ranks fifth in Pro Football Focus’ opponent-adjusted grades this season, and they’ve been particularly strong against the pass. Even though Drew Lock isn’t an efficient quarterback, he has a lot to work with offensively between Noah Fant, Tim Patrick, and Jerry Jeudy, which has allowed him to post a 5.69% big-time throw rate (per PFF). There should be plenty of opportunities to raise that rate against a subpar Panthers defense.
Panthers Win Probability: 47.59148738%
Although the Broncos have played well defensively, they will be without cornerbacks AJ Bouye and Bryce Callahan for the rest of the season, which will put a lot of pressure on unproven quarterbacks. Carolina’s offense ranks 11th in yards per pass attempt, and they’ve been extremely consistent this season. I expect them to continue to have success through the air, while their pass rush should cause trouble for Lock.
Projected Winner: DEN by 0.68
Spread: CAR (-3.5)
Projected Spread: DEN (-0.8)
Moneyline Value: DEN
Over/Under Total Projection: 44.31 (Real O/U= 47)
My model has the Broncos slightly better than the Panthers, though it’s clear the betting markets do not agree. Carolina, in my opinion, has outperformed given their talent level, as evidenced in their low PFF grades, and the narratives around these two teams stem a lot from turnover luck. Obviously, Lock is as turnover-prone as it gets, but he should be able to produce enough big plays against a poor defense, while Vic Fangio’s two-high defense could cause some issues for Panthers offensive coordinator Joe Brady. This is a very even game, which makes Denver’s moneyline a strong play here.
Houston Texans (4-8, 22nd) at Chicago Bears (5-7, 23rd)
Texans Win Probability: 53.14292869%
Deshaun Watson versus Mitch Trubisky. That’s all there is to say about this game. Houston is the only team in this matchup with a competent offense, and thus, my faith would be on them winning. Their 0.25 expected points added per pass play (EPA/play) is off the charts, and the Bears just let Matthew Stafford pass for 402 yards and 9.6 yards/attempt against them.
Bears Win Probability: 46.85707131
The Bears did just score 30 points against the Lions, and perhaps head coach Matt Nagy is more aggressive with his job on the line. They certainly aren’t facing a strong defense in the Texans, and they have practically the same point differential as them. Without star receiver Will Fuller, Watson was more prone to holding onto the ball, so perhaps Chicago’s strong pass rush can make an impact.
Projected Winner: HOU by 1.09
Spread: HOU (-1.5)
Projected Spread: HOU (-1.04)
Moneyline Value: Neither
Over/Under Total Projection: 47.2 (Real O/U= 44.5)
It feels like the Texans should be favored by more in this game, but then again, they are a 4-8 team, and Watson is coming off of a game in which he looked more like his old, much more volatile self. The main storyline in this game has to be Watson facing one of the teams who passed on him in the 2017 NFL draft, which is ironic; him beating Chicago helps them be in position to draft a quarterback. The over has some value here, as it should in any game the Texans are playing in, but expectations for this game appear to be in line with my model’s projections.
Dallas Cowboys (3-9, 28th) at Cincinnati Bengals (2-9-1, 31st)
Cowboys Win Probability: 71.1450146%
The Cowboys have not been a functional football team recently. At the same time, quarterback Andy Dalton has actually played recently, as has the team’s trio of impact receivers. Sure, their defense is a catastrophe, but do you really think that Brandon Allen is going to take advantage?
Bengals Win Probability: 28.5549854%
Although Allen brings them down, the Bengals still have talented receivers, which should allow them to have some sort of offensive production. Additionally, they continue to get surprising returns from their pass coverage; their defense may actually be the strongest unit in this game.
Projected Winner: DAL by 2.68
Spread: DAL (-3.5)
Projected Spread: DAL (-7.08)
Moneyline Value: DAL
Over/Under Total Projection: 41.93 (Real O/U= 43.5)
It’s the Andy Dalton revenge game! In actuality, both of these teams would be better off losing this game for the sake of draft position. Nevertheless, someone has to win, and with that in mind, it’s very logical to side with Dallas, who still have star players and won’t have their coaching issues exploited by a team with similar issues. I certainly wouldn’t back them as a 3.5-point favorite, nor would I even think about having any extra incentive to focus intently on this game, but they should be able to win.
Tennessee Titans (8-4, 7th) at Jacksonville Jaguars (1-11, 30th)
Titans Win Probability: 83.34143694%
Even after their loss to the Browns last week, the Titans remain in first place in the AFC South, and aren’t a team to be taken lightly. They have the third-ranked offense in the NFL in PFF’s opponent-adjusted grades, and averaging 0.31 EPA/pass attempt. Is anyone expecting them NOT to absolutely dominate against the Jaguars, who are dead last in yards/play allowed?
Jaguars Win Probability: 16.65856306%
The Jaguars may have lost eleven straight, but they are certainly pesky. They have lost their last two games to the Browns and Vikings by a combined five points, and Mike Glennon has played well- he currently has an absurd 7.08% big-time throw rate. Tennessee’s defense hasn’t been particularly productive this season, so Jacksonville may be able to replicate their Week 2 performance: they scored 30 points against this defense and nearly beat them.
Projected Winner: TEN by 12.65
Spread: TEN (-7.5)
Projected Spread: TEN (-11)
Moneyline Value: TEN
Over/Under Total Projection: 49.39 (Real O/U= 53)
The opening line for this game was TEN (-9.5), which would be far more fair. The public is certainly overreacting to the Titans’ recent loss to a 9-3 Browns team. Sure, their defense played terribly, but Ryan Tannehill was extremely efficient through the air, and they dealt with some poor luck. I could be dead wrong here, but I don’t see a scenario where they don’t win by 10+ points.
The over/under total here is intriguing. Due to narratives about Tennessee’s defense, there is a lot of support for the over. However, there is a decent chance that this is a game where the Titans have success not he ground, which would eat up time on the clock and reduce the opportunities for points. Additionally, they still rank 15th in PFF’s opponent-adjusted defense grades, so it is likely they aren’t getting enough credit by the betting markets.
Kansas City Chiefs (11-1, 1st) at Miami Dolphins (8-4, 17th)
Chiefs Win Probability: 65.33224328%
The Chiefs may have only scored 22 points against the Broncos, but that number is misleading. They settled for five field goals, caught a touchdown that was ruled incomplete, and also had another touchdown nullified by penalty. This is certainly not a good fit for the Dolphins, who rely on a lot of man-coverage concepts and blitzes. On the other side of the ball, defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo presents quite the test for rookie quarterback Tua Tagovailoa.
Dolphins Win Probability: 34.66775672%
Few coaches have maximized on his roster’s potential more than Brian Flores. The Dolphins are very well-coached on both sides of the ball, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see them score some points here. They are certainly smart enough and talented enough on the perimeter to give Kansas City some fits here. I’d keep an eye on their ability to generate pressure on Mahomes, as the Chiefs have struggled in pass protection since losing star tackle Mitchell Schwartz.
Projected Winner: KC by 10.63
Spread: KC (-7)
Projected Spread: KC (-5.06)
Moneyline Value: MIA
Over/Under Total Projection: 52.89 (Real O/U= 49)
It doesn’t surprise me that the public has favored betting the Dolphins here, but you must proceed with caution any time you attempt to fade the Chiefs. It’s hard to find a way where Miami wins here, unless Kansas City overlooks them.
I’m sorry, but any game where the over/under total is under 50 in a game involving the Chiefs is foolish. Heck, they may cover that on their own!
Arizona Cardinals (6-6, 21st) at New York Giants (5-7, 24th)
Cardinals Win Probability: 54.99635651
The Cardinals have lost four of their last five, but they have played a lot of difficult opponents. Now, they get to face the Giants, which is a major break for their defense. Defensive coordinator Vance Joseph likes to utilize different exotic blitzes, and that figures to work much better against a poor offensive line than against the Rams. Plus, although New York has performed well defensively, they aren’t very talented and are built in the trenches, and may be exposed against an offense that spreads out the defensive line and puts a lot of pressure on opposing linebackers and safeties.
Giants Win Probability: 45.00364349%
Right now, Arizona’s offense is struggling mightily; Kyler Murray’s shoulder injury has mitigated his abilities as a rusher, which hurts an offense that was really reliant on his scrambling production. Defensive coordinator Patrick Graham ought to get looks by teams as a head coaching candidate, as he’s getting career years from several of his defensive players. They don’t have the talent the Cardinals do, but they have five wins for a reason; they are pesky.
Projected Winner: ARI by 1.7
Spread: ARI (-2.5)
Projected Spread: ARI (-1.65)
Moneyline Value: Neither
Over/Under Total Projection: 47.08 (Real O/U= 45)
This is a strange game to get a read on, as I don’t believe either team is particularly good. Arizona is proving my model right for being skeptical of them earlier in the season, while the Giants are trying to win in the trenches- a strategy that won’t work. This is likely to be a slow-paced, dull type of game, with the Cardinals should be able to pull through with a win. Daniel Jones coming back for this game means that it will likely come down to the wire, though Arizona just has more impact playmakers that likely will make the difference here.
Minnesota Vikings (6-6, 11th) at Tampa Bay Bucs (7-5, 5th)
Vikings Win Probability: 47.91435291%
The Vikings have underwhelmed in back-to-back home games against the Panthers and Jaguars. Then again, they certainly haven’t caught fair breaks, including three defensive touchdowns allowed. Their offense still is in the top five in yards/play, while Kirk Cousins has a very strong 84.6 PFF grade. Having two of the highest-graded receivers help, and with how the Bucs have struggled defending explosive passes in recent weeks, perhaps Adam Thielen and Justin Jefferson can take advantage.
Bucs Win Probability: 52.08564709%
This is an excellent matchup for the Bucs. With the league’s top run defense, they are in great position to slow down the most run-heavy offense in the NFL. Meanwhile, Cousins notoriously struggles under pressure, which is an issue against a stout pass rush, while their young secondary could be exploited by Tom Brady and a dynamic group of receivers. Add in that they are coming off of their bye, and Tampa Bay should win this game.
Projected Winner: TB by 1.28
Spread: TB (-6.5)
Projected Spread: TB (-0.69)
Moneyline Value: MIN
Over/Under Total Projection: 49 (Real O/U= 52.5)
The matchups favor the Bucs here, but they have often had the talent advantage. There is something wrong with them currently, and a large majority of the blame has to go to head coach Bruce Arians, who has gone from being aggressive to being extremely conservative in terms of fourth-down decisions on early-down rush attempts. With how much talent the Vikings have offensively, 6.5 points is too much to expect Tampa Bay to cover from, unless they change their offensive strategy. Speaking of conservative offensive strategies, the amount of rushing that is likely to be in this game makes the under a decent play, though you’re putting a lot of faith on Minnesota’s young secondary to hold up.
SUNDAY 4 PM ET
Indianapolis Colts (8-4, 12th) at Las Vegas Raiders (7-5, 19th)
Colts Win Probability: 58.42032144%
The Colts may not flashy, but they remain extremely functional. Interestingly, their passing attack is generating more EPA/attempt than the Raiders, which wouldn’t fit with the narratives about these teams; receiver TY Hilton is coming off of his best game of the season. Las Vegas has been atrocious defensively this season, so you know that head coach Frank Reich is going to pick apart their weaknesses, while their defensive scheme should allow them to limit the Raiders’ deep threats.
Raiders Win Probability: 41.57967856%
Although the Raiders’ passing offense has yielded less EPA/play than the Colts, they have also played a much more difficult schedule. Derek Carr has played tremendously this season, whereas Rivers has been very inconsistent this season. Additionally, with head coach Jon Gruden, they have often played to the level of their opponent. I’d expect them to be fired up in such a critical game for their playoff hopes.
Projected Winner: IND by 4.03
Spread: IND (-2.5)
Projected Spread: IND (-2.78)
Moneyline Value: Neither
Over/Under Total Projection: 50.61 (Real O/U= 51.5)
The Raiders have been a surprise simply because they aren’t the most talented, and it seems that they may be running on fumes at this point. Indianapolis, on the other hand, is much more disciplined, has far fewer roster holes, and has specific matchups that they ought to be able to exploit. Overall, though, I’d expect this to be a very tight game, and a very fun one given that the outcome of this game will go a long way to deciding the AFC wildcard picture.
New York Jets (0-12, 32nd) at Seattle Seahawks (8-4, 8th)
Jets Win Probability: 4.6509034%
The Jets came so close to their first win! That was before now-fired defensive coordinator Gregg Williams thought that opting for a cover zero blitz and lining up an undrafted cornerback with Henry Ruggs III was a smart idea. That likely was their last chance to avoid a winless season, but hey, the Seahawks just lost to the Colt McCoy-led Giants!
Seahawks Win Probability: 95.35490966%
Can you imagine the damage Tyler Lockett and DK Metcalf can do against the Jets’ current group of starting cornerbacks? This feels like a massive rebound spot for Wilson, who still has a 90.3 PFF Grade and a 6.57% big-time throw rate for the season.
Projected Winner: SEA by 14.77
Spread: SEA (-13.5)
Projected Spread: SEA (-14.97)
Moneyline Value: SEA
Over/Under Total Projection: 49.36 (Real O/U= 47)
The Seahawks are becoming much more conservative and aren’t letting Wilson feast like they were early in the season, which could be the death sentence for their Super Bowl chances. They’ll have no problem handling the Jets, but we’ll see if that holds up against the NFC’s premier teams come playoff time.
Green Bay Packers (9-3, 3rd) at Detroit Lions (5-7, 29th)
Packers Win Probability: 80.21112518%
Right now, the Packers ought to be considered the best team in the NFC. Their offense ranks 2nd in opponent-adjusted grades, and a lot the credit has to go to Aaron Rodgers. His 94.2 PFF grade and 7.61%:1.48% big-time throw rate: turnover-worthy play rate ratio are outrageous, while star receiver Davante Adams is the highest-graded receiver in the NFL. Add in the innovation stemmed from extra play-action concepts and more pre-snap motion from head coach Matt LeFleur, and they look unstoppable right now. It’s hard to see them not scoring 40+ points against the Lions, who just let the Bears, of all teams, drop 30 points on them.
Lions Win Probability: 19.78887482%
Quietly, Matthew Stafford has played well this season. His 77.7 PFF grade is on line with his career average, and he has twice as many big-time throws and turnover-worthy plays. Thus, Detroit should be able to move the ball against Green Bay, particularly if they continue to push the ball down the field on early downs in the post-Matt Patricia era.
Projected Winner: GB by 13.54
Spread: GB (-7.5)
Projected Spread: GB (-9.97)
Moneyline Value: GB
Over/Under Total Projection: 52.96 (Real O/U= 55)
Name any way the Lions slow down the Packers; the chances are that you can’t. Between Rodgers, Adams, and an innovate play caller in LeFleur, who also is one of the league’s best coaches when it comes to fourth-down decisions, they have the type of foundation that few teams can rely on. I’d expect Rodgers’ dominance over Detroit to continue here.
Atlanta Falcons (4-8, 16th) at Los Angeles Chargers (3-9, 20th)
Falcons Win Probability: 56.39413092%
Leave it to the Falcons to find another way to lose a close game. This time, they opted for a third and two run with Todd Gurley, which lost a ton of yardage and forced a fourth-down heave when they were in the red zone and 15 yards away from beating the Saints.
It’s a shame that their talent has only yielded four wins. Matt Ryan is a top-ten graded quarterback this season, while the receiver duo of Julio Jones and Calvin Ridley remains fantastic. Heck, their defense ranks 10th in opponent-adjusted grades, and their pass rush ought to dominate against the Chargers’ “offensive line”.
Chargers Win Probability: 43.60586908%
Jones-Ridley is quite the receiver tandem, but Keenan Allen and Mike Williams aren’t far behind. Although the Falcons have a lot of star players, their offense hasn’t performed up to their capabilities this season, and they’re facing a very strong Chargers pass defense. Anthony Lynn is essentially coaching for his job, so it’ll be interesting to see if he allows Los Angeles to open the offense up and is more aggressive.
Projected Winner: ATL by 2.89
Spread: ATL (-2.5)
Projected Spread: ATL (-2.11)
Moneyline Value: Neither
Over/Under Total Projection: 46.76 (Real O/U= 50)
This is just a perfect matchup; the two most underachieving teams in the NFL that waste so much talent by finding different ways to come up just short. Well, someone has to win here, right? I’d certainly side with Atlanta, the team that is currently playing better and has the much more reliable quarterback. However, if there was a game that could end in a tie, this would be the one!
New Orleans Saints (10-2, 14th) at Philadelphia Eagles (3-8-1, 27th)
Saints Win Probability: 72.58824337%
Over the past two seasons, the Saints are now 8-0 without Drew Brees. That demonstrates the job that head coach Sean Payton has done, in addition to the overall roster depth that they have. Several data points suggest that Taysom Hill isn’t a quarterback that they can count on, but he is able to look good in one of the most quarterback-friendly offensive systems in the NFL. The Eagles rank in the bottom-ten in PFF coverage grade, which bodes well for receivers Michael Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders, whereas their offensive line could struggle against New Orleans’ defensive line.
Eagles Win Probability: 27.41175663%
Philadelphia has suffered from severely poor quarterback play this season, but after benching Carson Wentz for Jalen Hurts, that may no longer be the case. Hurts’ accuracy is on another level compared to Wentz, which allows their receivers, mainly Jalen Reagor, to have an opportunity to shine. Meanwhile, their pass rush should do damage against Hill, who holds onto the ball too long, which gives them a really good chance at making an impact play that turns the tide of this game in their favor.
Projected Winner: NO by 8.14
Spread: NO (-7)
Projected Spread: NO (-7.45)
Moneyline Value: Neither
Over/Under Total Projection: 44.69 (Real O/U= 44)
With Hurts under center, the Eagles suddenly are an exciting football team with a lot of “upside”. Hurts graded out very well in college, and performed very well in Green Bay, which bodes well to his ability to be a successful quarterback. This is his chance to make his case as Philadelphia’s quarterback of the future, as well as head coach Doug Pederson’s chance to keep his job, and for that reason, I expect them to come out firing. Still, my model favors the Saints, who currently are extremely talented and are playing very well; even if they have the inferior quarterback, Hill’s production will likely continued to be inflated by the scheme he is in and his supporting cast.
Washington (5-7, 18th) at San Francisco 49ers (5-7, 9th)
Washington Win Probability: 41.81000247%
A few weeks ago, I noticed that my model was much higher on the Washington Football Team than the public. Now, I know why. Beating the Cowboys is one thing, but taking down the previously undefeated Steelers is another. Their defense, which ranks 2nd in both overall grade and coverage grade from PFF, has been fabulous; they lack a clear weakness. Plus, it also helps that they have a very stable option at quarterback in Alex Smith, who is the better signal-caller in this matchup.
49ers Win Probability: 58.18999753%
Don’t let their record fool you; the 49ers are a very competitive football team. Few teams have dealt with the adversity that they have; they play in arguably the toughest division in the NFL, have dealt with the worst injury luck, and now can’t even play home games in Santa Clara. Nevertheless, even in their loss to the Bills, they were competitive, and they’re just a week removed from taking down the Rams. I trust Kyle Shanahan’s offense to produce enough, even against Washington, while their defense will certainly benefit from playing a far more conservative passing attack.
Projected Winner: SF by 4.29
Spread: SF (-3.5)
Projected Spread: SF (-2.7)
Moneyline Value: WSH
Over/Under Total Projection: 44 (Real O/U= 43.5)
With two quarterbacks with a very low average depth of target and two strong defenses, it is likely that this is a close, low-scoring affair. It’s nice to see my model’s faith in Washington be backed up, but you know who it also believes in? The 49ers. The Football Team will be riding high after their upset victory, and I never want to count out Shanahan after a loss. In my opinion, he’ll find a way to win this game and keep San Francisco’s playoff hopes alive.
SUNDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL
Pittsburgh Steelers (11-1, 2nd) at Buffalo Bills (9-3, 6th)
Steelers Win Probability: 53.77100879%
The Steelers are no longer undefeated, yet there isn’t much to take away from their loss to Washington. It’s highly unlikely that they continue to suffer from a historically-bad case of the drops, and when that happens, Ben Roethlisberger’s underlying production should translate into actual numbers. Meanwhile, as great as Josh Allen has played, he does hold onto the ball long, can make mistakes, and plays behind a shaky interior offensive line, so I wouldn’t discount Pittsburgh’s defenses ability to give him trouble.
Bills Win Probability: 46.22899121%
Good offenses tend to beat good defenses, which is great news for the Bills, who rank in the top-ten offensively by practically every metric. It is safe to say that they have the severe offensive advantage, while they also are much more sound in their decision-making process- better fourth-down decisions, a lot of play-action passes, specific gameplans to exploit their opponent’s weaknesses. Right now, they are the team I’d trust the most to dethrone the Chiefs in the AFC.
Projected Winner: PIT by 2.59
Spread: BUF (-2.5)
Projected Spread: PIT (-1.25)
Moneyline Value: PIT
Over/Under Total Projection: 48.67 (Real O/U= 46.5)
No game has seen a greater line shift than this one, as the Steelers have gone from 2.5-point favorites to underdogs by the same amount! In my mind, this is a clear overreaction to what we saw from these two teams on Monday night. Pittsburgh is still a very well-rounded team that is being deflated by drops, something you wouldn’t expect to continue as noticeable of a problem, while Allen has still been volatile game-to-game. With the #1 seed on the line, my model not only believes the Steelers cover the spread, but win outright, which makes them a very valuable spread and moneyline pick.
MONDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL
Baltimore Ravens (7-5, 10th) at Cleveland Browns (9-3, 13th)
Ravens Win Probability: 52.50048616%
It hasn’t been an easy couple of weeks for them, but the Ravens seem to be the past the bulk of their COVID-19 issues, as if tight end Mark Andrews comes back this week, they’ll be fully healthy again. Overall, they didn’t play great against the Cowboys, yet they did turn back the clock with a dynamic performance on the ground; their offense seemed much more unpredictable than it did previously. Meanwhile, Baker Mayfield is one of the worst quarterbacks under pressure, and their blitz-happy defense exploited him in Week 1- they blew out Cleveland by 32 points.
Browns Win Probability: 47.49953184%
Yet, the Browns are a much different team now. At the time, Mayfield was playing his first game for a new head coach, while they had a lot of moving parts that couldn’t mesh together in time during the shortened offseason. Now, they look like a cohesive unit, as evidenced by them winning five of their last six games, including in Tennessee last week. Mayfield has had back-to-back performances with a PFF passing grade over 80; he is producing big-time throws (5.31%) and isn’t making many mistakes. Thus, they are far less reliant on their rushing attack than they had been previously, which makes them a much better team. Their passing attack is currently far more productive (0.20 EPA/attempt better) than Baltimore, which gives them a distinct advantage in this game.
Projected Winner: BAL by 1.39
Spread: BAL (-1)
Projected Spread: BAL (-0.83)
Moneyline Value: Neither
Over/Under Total Projection: 50.06 (Real O/U= 45.5)
This game is pretty much a toss up, though the matchups favor the Ravens; their rushing attack should flourish while they’ll put pressure on Mayfield. It’s hard to completely buy into Cleveland until they face a strong defense, which they will deal with here. I’d love to believe that this is their chance to not only cement their playoff position, but make a run at the AFC North, yet it’s hard not to side with Baltimore here.
The best bet in this game, though, is the total. As mentioned, this game features two offenses built to score points, and this should be a very close game that involves more passing than either team may want. That means more points scored, and to be honest, I don’t know what is driving this total to be so low.
Best Model Picks
Although my model is more of a projection model than a betting model, we can still use it to identify the best value picks. To do so, I calculated the average difference from Vegas’ lines and the model’s projections, as well as the standard deviation. Thus, all of these picks are listed because they are one deviation over from the average difference.
- GB (-7.5) at DET
- MIN (+6.5) at TB
- TEN (-7.5) at JAX
- PIT (+2.5) at BUF
- DEN (+150) at CAR
- PIT (+110) at BUF
- BAL at CLE (Over 45.5)
- TEN at JAX (Under 53)
- KC at MIA (Over 49)
All odds are updated from Vegas Insider as of Tuesday night/Wednesday morning. Additionally, all advanced metrics are courtesy of Pro Football Focus. Remember, these are based on blind projections, so when it comes to betting on games, please bet responsibility and realize that as a small-sample size sport, anything can happen within one game of football! Hey, that’s the fun of it all; enjoy a great week of football!