Week 14 was hyped up as a week with many premier matchups, and it certainly delivered.
Between Jalen Hurts winning in his first start, the Bills making a statement in primetime, and a back-and-forth affair between the Chiefs and Dolphins, Sunday provides us with tremendous entertainment. However, that wasn’t all the week had in store; Monday Night Football featured arguably the game of the year between the Ravens and Browns!
With that, let us examine my model’s projections for every game in the Week 15 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 15 slate! This week, we have two Saturday games, as well as a matchup between the top-two teams in Pro Football Focus’ power ratings!
NOTE: Model will be updated with injury updates, power ratings calculated with injuries in mind
*Odds via Vegas Insider
THURSDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL
Los Angeles Chargers (4-9, 20th) at Las Vegas Raiders (7-6, 23rd)
Chargers Win Probability: 54.90756023%
It may seem shocking to see the Chargers with over a 50% chance of winning, but perhaps it shouldn’t be. Their point differential is roughly the same as the Raiders’, and it’s skewed anyways by one poor performance against the Patriots. Ever since their close loss to the Chiefs, Las Vegas’ offensive production has declined dramatically, as they’re extremely reliant on explosive plays. The Chargers, meanwhile, can perform well when they give Justin Herbert a clean pocket, which shouldn’t be an issue against the Raiders and their barren pass rush. Thus, receivers Keenan Allen and Mike Williams could take over this game.
Raiders Win Probability: 45.09243977%
The Raiders would appear to be a much-more functional team than the Chargers, and thus have performed much better offensively this season. They also have much more to play for as they seek to keep their minor playoff hopes alive, and have the better quarterback in Derek Carr.
Projected Winner: LAC by 1.77
Spread: LV (-3.5)
Projected Spread: LAC (-1.62)
Moneyline Value: LAC
Over/Under Total Projection: 49.44 (Real O/U= 4.06)
Right now, my model believes the Chargers are the better team, and it sure looks like the Raiders have flamed out; they have a negative-51 point differential in their past three games, with their only win being a last-second victory against the winless Jets. Los Angeles was one yard away from beating Las Vegas the last time these two teams faced off, so perhaps they get their revenge here! Either way, them as a 3.5-point underdog and their moneyline are both good bets.
Another good bet is the under in this game. Any matchup with the Raiders could lead to the over hitting, but both of these teams have struggled offensively as of late. Meanwhile, they both are generally conservative and reliant on big plays, so if those don’t come, this could be much more low-scoring than people expect.
Buffalo Bills (10-3, 5th) at Denver Broncos (5-8, 22nd)
Bills Win Probability: 65.07903184%
After defeating the Steelers in primetime, the Bills have become the darlings of the public. Their offense ranks in the top ten in almost every metric, as their coaching staff is putting their players in position to succeed. Josh Allen is able to get rid of the ball quickly in an offense with a lot of playmakers that passes the ball on early downs a lot. Meanwhile, on the other side of the ball, the Broncos have one of the league’s worst offenses, whereas Buffalo’s defense has made great strides of late and has the pass rush/secondary combination to dominate against Drew Lock.
Broncos Win Probability: 34.92096816%
The Broncos continue to be a pesky team, and a lot of credit has to go to their defense. Led by head coach Vic Fangio, they continue to defend the pass extremely well, and they rank in the top-ten in PFF coverage grade and pass-rush grade. His two-high defensive scheme is built to limit big plays, which is a good fit against an explosive offense. Plus, it is worth noting that Lock has played better as of late, as has Denver’s young group of receivers.
Projected Winner: BUF by 7.86
Spread: BUF (-7)
Projected Spread: BUF (-4.98)
Moneyline Value: DEN
Over/Under Total Projection: 46.35 (Real O/U= 50)
With such a severe offensive advantage and a much more aggressive coaching staff, the Bills should take care of business and win this game, even if it is a potential letdown against a respectable Broncos team coming off of a primetime win. I think that this game is likely lower scoring than people expect, given that Denver will likely force Buffalo to run the football by selling out to stop the pass (as they’ve done against the Chiefs), but the Bills winning by a touchdown feels about right.
Carolina Panthers (4-9, 26th) at Green Bay Packers (10-3, 3rd)
Panthers Win Probability: 24.24685417%
Although the Panthers are just 4-9, they also have a -25 point differential, meaning that they have been extremely competitive. A majority of the credit needs to go to their offense; they rank 9th in yards/play. Receiver DJ Moore should return to this game, and if that’s the case, they should be able to move the ball against a Packers defense that ranks in the bottom five in PFF tackling grade.
Packers Win Probability: 75.65314583%
Simply put, the Packers have been fantastic this season. Outside of the Chiefs, they clearly have the best offense in the NFL, as Aaron Rodgers is making a strong case to be the league’s MVP. I don’t see any way that Carolina slows him down, and if they wanted to, they could probably run for 200+ yards on the ground as well. They’re just the much better team and have a lot to play for as they look to secure the top seed in the NFC.
Projected Winner: GB by 12.17
Spread: GB (-8.5)
Projected Spread: GB (-8.5)
Moneyline Value: CAR
Over/Under Total Projection: 53.6 (Real O/U= 51.5)
This game is very similar to the Packers’ matchup with the Lions last week. Rodgers should feast against a poor defense, but there is a chance that the Panthers offense can score enough points to make this somewhat interesting. For me, the exciting aspect of this game is how Rodgers plays. Does he cement his MVP case in front of a national audience? Or is this more of a slow-moving game where their success comes through the ground? That storyline is surprisingly compelling .
SUNDAY 1PM ET
Houston Texans (4-9, 24th) at Indianapolis Colts (9-4, 9th)
Texans Win Probability: 32.77005578%
With the Texans, there is always only one reason why they could come out on top- their quarterback. Deshaun Watson is PFF’s third-highest graded quarterback, and his ability to elevate the players around him is incredible. As long as he is in Houston, this franchise will have a chance to beat anyone.
Colts Win Probability: 67.22994422%
Outside of the quarterback position, the Colts are substantially better than the Texans. Offensively, they are providing Phillip Rivers with the clean pockets needed for him to thrive, which is great news for TY Hilton, who appears to have been rejuvenated in recent weeks. Despite the quarterback difference, these two offenses rank the same in EPA/pass attempt (0.22). Meanwhile, their defense is loaded with depth, and could wreck havoc on Watson, who is playing hind a battered offensive line and with no receivers.
Projected Winner: IND by 8.25
Spread: IND (-7)
Projected Spread: IND (-5.69)
Moneyline Value: HOU
Over/Under Total Projection: 50.73 (Real O/U= 51)
I’d love to back Watson, but unfortunately, he has very little to work with right now. The Colts appear to be clicking on all cylinders, are extremely well-coached, and are loaded with the type of roster depth that Houston doesn’t have. It’s nice to see general manager Chris Ballard reap the benefits of a tremendous team-building job, and their future remains extremely bright.
Detroit Lions (5-8, 30th) at Tennessee Titans (9-4, 6th)
Lions Win Probability: 11.73089705%
If Matthew Stafford was playing, perhaps you could talk yourself into the idea of the Lions passing the ball effectively against a subpar pass defense. Now, however, Detroit will likely be forced to start Chase Daniel, though he is certainly a competent backup, and the team’s receiving corps has played well.
Titans Win Probability: 88.26910295%
The Titans are in a great position to win this game. The Lions cannot stop the pass whatsoever; Tennessee’s receiving duo of AJ Brown and Corey Davis should constantly be open, while Ryan Tannehill won’t be pressured behind a bad pass rush. Plus, Detroit also can’t defend the run to save their lives, so Derrick Henry could probably run for 200+ yards again. Wow! The Titans should score a lot of points here!
Projected Winner: TEN by 14.54
Spread: TEN (-10.5)
Projected Spread: TEN (-12.63)
Moneyline Value: TEN
Over/Under Total Projection: 50.7 (Real O/U= 51.5)
If they play somewhat up to their capabilities, the Titans should drop 40 points in this game. Daniel is a decent backup, but he’s not going to be able to keep up with one of the most efficient offenses in the NFL. With Stafford out, this feels like a game where Detroit may just get blown out with nothing to play for.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (8-5, 4th) at Atlanta Falcons (4-9, 16th)
Bucs Win Probability: 56.8754367%
Coming out of their bye week, the Bucs got back on track with a two-score victory against the Vikings. Tom Brady quietly has a 90 PFF grade this season, and with Antonio Brown becoming a bigger part of their offense, they’re starting to score points much more consistently. Meanwhile, their aggressive blitz-happy defense is difficult for opposing quarterbacks to deal with, and Matt Ryan has historically struggled under pressure.
Falcons Win Probability: 43.1245633%
This may come as a shock, but the Falcons are PFF’s seventh-highest ranked defense, based on opponent-adjusted grades. They’ve done a good job generating pressure on the opposing quarterback as of late, so if Tampa Bay deals with communication issues this week, that could throw a wrench in their offensive plans. Plus, you should never count out Atlanta offensively, as they still benefit from the services of Ryan and a talented group of receivers.
Projected Winner: TB by 4.11
Spread: TB (-6)
Projected Spread: TB (-2.27)
Moneyline Value: ATL
Over/Under Total Projection: 49.4 (Real O/U= 50.5)
These two teams share a lot in common, but the Bucs are just an upgraded version. You never know what you’re going to get from them, but they have done a great job beating up on less-talented teams this season, so this could be a scenario where they come out and make a statement. Julio Jones’ availability for the Falcons is a key storyline to follow in this game. If he plays, Atlanta should score enough to have a chance to win. If not, it’s going to be awfully tough for them to go toe-to-toe with Brady and co.
Jacksonville Jaguars (1-12, 31st) at Baltimore Ravens (8-5, 11th)
Jaguars Win Probability: 11.97353898%
Minshew Mania is back! With Mike Glennon being benched for Gardner Minshew, we’ll see the Jaguars’ race for the #2 overall pick put in jeopardy. He has performed well against the blitz over his career, which will be key against the Ravens, though I have no idea how Jacksonville wins this game.
Ravens Win Probability: 88.02646102%
Over the past two weeks, the Ravens appear to have gotten their swagger back. Their offense has been much more unpredictable, and as such, their productivity running the football was been tremendous- they are now generating 0.03 EPA/rush attempt. The Jaguars rank in the bottom-ten in run defense, but where Baltimore could also have success is through the air, as Jacksonville’s coverage unit has been atrocious. Either way, expect the Ravens to continue to look like their 2019 selves.
Projected Winner: BAL by 12.99
Spread: BAL (-13.5)
Projected Spread: BAL (-12.55)
Moneyline Value: Neither
Over/Under Total Projection: 47.3 (Real O/U= 47.5)
The Ravens are back! Seriously, they look very similar to how they did last year, as it appears that offensive coordinator Greg Roman has found a counter punch to opposing defense’s response to their dominance last year. Either way, they won’t be tested against the Jaguars, who have lost 12 straight games and have been decimated by injuries on both sides of the ball. Heck, I wouldn’t even be shocked if they pitched a shut out here.
New England Patriots (6-7, 14th) at Miami Dolphins (8-5, 17th)
Patriots Win Probability: 52.6175987%
The Patriots have had to deal with a very tough schedule this year, and with a -2 point differential, they’ve been about as advertised- mediocre. Still, that makes them an above-average team right now, considering how many middling teams there are. Cam Newton has not played well recently, but his underlying production has been fine, and his abilities as a rusher have allowed New England to have one of the league’s most dynamic rushing attacks. On the other side of the ball, the Patriots have posted their three highest PFF coverage grades since mid-October, and also have been much more effective at generating pressure. With a young defense, this is when you would expect Bill Belichick to have them playing at their best.
Dolphins Win Probability: 47.23824013%
Of these two teams, the Dolphins have much more to play for, considering that they are trying to sneak into the #7 seed in the AFC. Their passing offense is generating far more EPA/pass attempt (0.19 more) than the Patriots, and their elite secondary should be able to shut down New England’s lackluster receiving corps. As much as Belichick can generally outcoach most teams, doing so against his disciple, Brian Flores, may be difficult- Miami is one of the best-run organizations in the NFL.
Projected Winner: NE by 1.39
Spread: MIA (-2.5)
Projected Spread: NE (-0.91)
Moneyline Value: NE
Over/Under Total Projection: 46.2 (Real O/U= 41.5)
Pro Football Focus currently has the Patriots as the better overall team with the better offense and defense, as does my model. Thus, they should win this game. That analysis may seem simplistic, but what else is there to say? Tua Tagovailoa hasn’t played particularly well, and with the Dolphins relying a lot on other teams to make mistakes, Belichick and the Patriots aren’t a good matchup for them.
The spread doesn’t go through the key number of 3, so I’d recommend New England’s moneyline instead. If you want to go all-in on this game, there is also substantial value on the total. 41.5 is ridiculously low for any game, and is a clear overvaluation of these defenses. In 2020, going with the over with such a low total is an easy automatic pick.
Chicago Bears (6-7, 21st) at Minnesota Vikings (6-7, 13th)
Bears Win Probability: 41.98883286%
Quietly, the Bears are still in the playoff hunt at 6-7! Yes, it has come against the Lions and Vikings, but they have scored a combined 66 points over their past two games. Even though he isn’t playing great, Mitch Trubisky has been an upgrade over Nick Foles, as the offense is functioning much better now. Ditto to their defense, which has the pass rush to disrupt Kirk Cousins, who was pressured 28 times last week, and the run defense to limit Minnesota’s rushing attack and force them into obvious passing situations on third and long.
Vikings Win Probability: 58.01116714%
This season, the Vikings rank 4th in yards/play and are 7th in PFF’s opponent-adjusted rankings. Meanwhile, Kirk Cousins is graded 25 points higher than Trubisky, while their big-time throw rate/turnover-worthy play rate ratio are flipped. When these two teams first faced off, Cousins played extremely well, and I don’t see that won’t be the case this time around. The Bears don’t have the depth in the secondary to deal with Adam Thielen and Justin Jefferson, so if they open up their offense, they could have a lot of success. Their defense, on the other hand, did a great job of neutralizing Chicago’s passing offense in the first matchup, and it’s hard to see Trubisky staying composed against everything that head coach Mike Zimmer will throw his way.
Projected Winner: MIN by 3.71
Spread: MIN (-3)
Projected Spread: MIN (-2.64)
Moneyline Value: CHI
Over/Under Total Projection: 46.8 (Real O/U= 47)
The quarterback mismatch here is massive, and the same can be said for these two offenses as a whole. Minnesota’s insistence on running the football into a brick wall will keep this game much closer than it ought to be, but I’d still rather be on the side of the the far superior offense and Mike Zimmer if forced to choose a side. This game actually has playoff implications, as both teams have to win to stay in the race for the #7 seed, so this should be a fun game to watch!
Seattle Seahawks (9-4, 10th) at Washington (6-7, 18th)
Seahawks Win Probability: 59.16596283%
Playing the Jets gave the Seahawks a great chance to regroup following a very disappointing loss to the Giants at home, and they took advantage; they put together an all-around performance in a 40-3 rout. The Washington Football Team have performed well defensively, but Russell Wilson, DK Metcalf, and Tyler Lockett are a far cry from the Cowboys, Steelers, and 49ers. The massive offensive mismatch here indicates that Seattle is in a good position to win this game; Washington is generating negative EPA/play this season.
Washington Win Probability: 40.83403717%
Over their four-game winning streak, Washington has received stable quarterback play from Alex Smith, and assuming he plays this game, that should continue against an underperforming Seahawks defense. Plus, if there was a defense to slow down Seattle, it’d be them. Their defensive line could do damage against Wilson, should he hold onto the ball too long, whereas their ability to limit production after the catch will be important against Lockett and Metcalf. Even though the Seahawks have more talent, their conservative nature of play is a major hindrance, so Washington may be able to take advantage.
Projected Winner: SEA by 4.98
Spread: SEA (-5.5)
Projected Spread: SEA (-3.03)
Moneyline Value: WSH
Over/Under Total Projection: 48.32 (Real O/U= 44.5)
If the Seahawks were a normal team, they’d be competing for the #1 seed right now with their explosive passing attack and perimeter defensive players. Yet, they always find a way to get in their own way, which will likely make this game much more interesting than it should be. My model was high on Washington before this winning streak, but now the public appears to have caught on, and the uncertainty regarding Smith’s status makes it impossible to bet on Washington currently. I’d expect Seattle to generate enough explosive plays to win this game, but unless they go back to “letting Russ cook”, I think they’re in trouble come playoff time.
San Francisco 49ers (5-8, 12th) at Dallas Cowboys (4-9, 27th)
49ers Win Probability: 75.10222572%
Despite their 5-8 record, the 49ers are from a bad football team. No team has had to deal with as much adversity as them through injuries and not even being able to play their recent home games in the Bay Area, yet they keep on fighting. Even without Deebo Samuel, their offense should continue to produce thanks to receiver Brandon Aiyuk and the brilliance of Kyle Shanahan, who somehow has Nick Mullens in the top-ten in yards/pass attempt this season. Shanahan is an absolute wizard, and I have no doubts that he is going to carve up a Cowboys defense that suffers from a failure of fundamentals more than any unit in the league. At the same time, San Francisco’s defense is also one of the better units of the week, and Dallas isn’t exactly clicking offensively.
Cowboys Win Probability: 24.89777428%
Andy Dalton has actually been a very stable quarterback option for the Cowboys as of late, and with one of the league’s best receiving trios, Dallas has the tools to produce offensively, especially if they continue to lean on the passing game. At this point, you have to wonder if the 49ers will eventually crack under adversity, especially after falling to 5-8 after a loss to Washington.
Projected Winner: SF by 9.28
Spread: SF (-3)
Projected Spread: SF (-8.29)
Moneyline Value: SF
Over/Under Total Projection: 46.37 (Real O/U= 45.5)
I’m sorry, what???
The 49ers are much more than three points better than the Cowboys. Forget about all the mismatches, particularly with San Francisco’s offense versus Dallas’ defense; just look at the coaching staffs of both teams! Congratulations to the Cowboys for defeating the hapless Bengals, but this is very disrespectful to the 49ers, who were a favorite against the Bills just two weeks ago! If I were a betting man, I’d be racing to go all-in on San Francisco here.
SUNDAY 4PM ET
New York Jets (0-13, 32nd) at Los Angeles Rams (9-4, 2nd)
Jets Win Probability: <1%
Rams Win Probability: >99%
Right now, my model believes the Rams are the best team in the NFC. Obviously, a lot of credit goes to their defense. Defensive coordinator Brandon Staley runs a defense that is able to limit explosive plays and is extremely creative, which is why he’ll likely be a head coach next year. He is able to mask Los Angeles’ flaws, which allows their stars, mainly Aaron Donald and Jalen Ramsey, to flourish; their pass defense is arguably the best in the NFL. However, it’s not as though the Rams are a slouch offensively. Even though Jared Goff hasn’t played great this season, they still rank 13th in yards/play, and head coach Sean McVay does a great job exploiting opposing defenses’ weaknesses. He’ll have his pick of the litter against the Jets.
Projected Winner: LAR by 18.35
Spread: LAR (-17)
Projected Spread: LAR (-17.3)
Moneyline Value: LAR
Over/Under Total Projection: 45.95 (Real O/U= 44)
How are the Jets going to score a point against this Rams defense? Are they even going to cross midfield? That’s the real question with this game. Whereas Los Angeles has a 82.1 PFF coverage grade this season, the Jets rank last with a 29.8 coverage grade. If that doesn’t display the difference between these two teams, I don’t know what will?
Philadelphia Eagles (4-8-1, 28th) at Arizona Cardinals (7-6, 19th)
Eagles Win Probability: 25.32691069%
Maybe Carson Wentz was the problem after all? Yes, Jalen Hurts did not perform well as a passer, but he did open up the offense tremendously. Philadelphia ran for over 200 yards against a stout Saints run defense, while Hurts did not take a single sack. With his accuracy and dynamism as a rusher, he’s a clear upgrade over Wentz right now, and should perform much better against a below-average Cardinals defense. Meanwhile, Arizona’s offense is extremely limited due to Kyler Murray’s shoulder injury, and the Eagles have the 7th-best defense, based on yards/play allowed.
Cardinals Win Probability: 74.67308931%
Expecting the Eagles to run for over 200 yards again is probably foolish. The Cardinals are currently generating positive EPA/play whether they run or pass the ball, which is very impressive. I’d expect them to exploit Philadelphia’s lack of linebacker talent, while the quick nature of their offense will limit the Eagles’ pass rush.
Projected Winner: ARI by 7.11
Spread: ARI (-6)
Projected Spread: ARI (-8.14)
Moneyline Value: ARI
Over/Under Total Projection: 47.15 (Real O/U= 49.5)
This is not my model fading Hurts, but rather the Eagles, who did not play well against the Saints. Facing a competent quarterback, duplicating their success will be very difficult, even if Hurts performs as expected as a passer. It’ll be interesting to see if head coach Doug Pederson has more wrinkles up his sleeve with some game film on this new offense, but I have my doubts; it probably isn’t wise to buy Philadelphia when their stock is at a whole time well.
Kansas City Chiefs (12-1, 1st) at New Orleans Saints (10-3, 7th)
Chiefs Win Probability: 57.6329766%
Right now, if you let me pick between the Chiefs or the field to win the Super Bowl, I’d side with Kansas City. That’s how much better they are than everyone else. I don’t think there is any doubting that they have by far the best offense in the NFL, as they rank first in yards/play and PFF opponent-adjusted grades. With how much the Saints like to blitz, I can easily see Patrick Mahomes throwing for over 400+ yards in this game, and this figures to be a game in which they have a lot of explosive plays. Yes, Drew Brees may be back for this game, but New Orleans’ offense wasn’t great before he got hurt, and they simply don’t have the explosiveness to match the Chiefs.
Saints Win Probability: 42.3670234%
Few teams have a fighting chance against the Chiefs, but the Saints qualify. Forget their defense; the only to beat Kansas City is to score a lot of points. Whenever this team is playing in a big game, it’s hard to go against head coach Sean Payton, who probably has some tricks up his sleeve and is one of the few coaches that will be aggressive enough to try to ambush the Chiefs early AND to keep tacking off. Maybe New Orleans can pick apart Kansas City’s lackluster linebacking corps, though they’ll need turnover luck to win this game.
Projected Winner: KC by 6.02
Spread: KC (-3)
Projected Spread: KC (-2.52)
Moneyline Value: NO
Over/Under Total Projection: 55.8 (Real O/U= 51.5)
With all due respect for the Saints, I don’t think that they have as strong of a chance of winning as my model is indicating. They don’t have the ability to match Kansas City’s propensity for chunk plays, whereas their undisciplined defense is going to get absolutely exploited here.
The real enticing value here lies with the over/under total. The fact that this is so low is a combination of Brees’ uncertain status and an overvaluation of the Chiefs’ defense, but similar to Chiefs/Dolphins last week, you have to be all-in on the over when there is a chance Kansas City covers a majority of this on their own. Also, given how big of a game this is for the Saints, I’d expect them to do their part for the over to hit as well.
SUNDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL
Cleveland Browns (9-4, 15th) at New York Giants (5-8, 25th)
Browns Win Probability: 64.35316535%
The Browns showed the world on primetime what had already been clear previously: head coach Kevin Stefanski is leading one of the most underrated offenses in the NFL. They rank 4th in PFF’s opponent-adjusted grades, and now that he is finally supported, Baker Mayfield is playing like his rookie self. The Giants don’t exactly have the coverage players to deal with Cleveland, nor will they limit the Browns’ pass rush; Daniel Jones is injured, is playing behind one of the league’s worst offensive lines, and also is oblivious to pressure. Add in how much tactically better they are than New York, and there is a lot working in Cleveland’s favor.
Giants Win Probability: 35.64683465%
If Daniel Jones is healthier this game, the Giants will actually have the higher-graded quarterback. Perhaps their pass rush can fluster Mayfield, who is awful under pressure, and this could be a letdown spot for the Browns after a gut-wrenching loss on Monday Night Football. Plus, you never want to count out defensive coordinator Patrick Graham!
Projected Winner: CLE by 5.88
Spread: CLE (-4)
Projected Spread: CLE (-4.74)
Moneyline Value: Neither
Over/Under Total Projection: 48.41 (Real O/U= 45.5)
The Browns are the far smarter team, and may have been a value bet when this spread was closer to CLE (-3). However, for as much as the Giants have been overvalued, Cleveland is getting much more national recognition after their performance against the Ravens. The Browns winning by six feels about right, and I feel really strongly about them having an incredibly bright future with Stefanski and general manager Andrew Berry running the show.
MONDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL
Pittsburgh Steelers (11-2, 8th) at Cincinnati Bengals (2-10-1, 29th)
Steelers Win Probability: 87.64898183%
It’s been tough sledding for the Steelers, who have gone from a serious candidate to go 16-0 to potentially not even being a top-two seed after losing two straight to Washington and the Bills. My model now has them ranked as the 4th-best team in the AFC, but they still have an elite defense that could beat the Bengals on its own, while they have enough offensive talent to perform better than they are currently.
Bengals Win Probability: 12.35101817%
The Bengals are hopeless at this point of the season, which shows how much Joe Burrow was doing to elevate them. Then again, Pittsburgh’s offense has been a disaster recently, so they have a better chance to win this game than they should.
Projected Winner: PIT by 14.12
Spread: PIT (-12.5)
Projected Spread: PIT (-12.43)
Moneyline Value: Neither
Over/Under Total Projection: 39.82 (Real O/U= 40.5)
Are the Steelers capable of blowing out anybody right now? That’s the main intrigue surrounding this game. This is a great opportunity for their offense to get back on track, though, unfortunately, it’s likely that the Bengals offense gifts them with too easy of a victory against what is still the top defense in the NFL. Thus, Pittsburgh will likely be able to win by multiple touchdowns without solving their issues, which actually may not be helpful for them ahead of a couple big games against the Colts and Browns.
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.
- SF (-3) at DAL
- LAC (+3.5) at LV
- LAC (+160) at LV
- NE (+132) at MIA
- NE at MIA (Over 41.5)
- KC at NO (Over 51.5)
- LAC at LV (Under 53.5)
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!