NFL Picks Week 14
I’m on a home underdog and divisional under for my NFL Week 14 picks. Check out my Sunday bets below.
The Bears defense is one that’s improved quite a bit over the past month or so. They’ve been stout against the run all season, allowing the second-lowest success rate on rush attempts. The Lions, though, have run the ball at a top-10 rate this season.
The Bears’ pass rush has also been much better since acquiring Montez Sweat in Week 9. From Weeks 1-8, Chicago had one of the lowest pressure rates in the league but since adding Sweat in Week 9, it’s right around the league average. The Bears rank 6th in defensive DVOA since then, as well.
The Bears managed to get pressure on 26 of Jared Goff’s dropbacks a couple of weeks ago when these two teams played. It was a big reason why Goff struggled and threw three interceptions. Now, Goff tends to struggle on the road/outdoors, so this could be a letdown spot for him and the offense.
Center Frank Ragnow is out for the Lions, which is a huge blow. It likely means that RG Colby Sorsdal will get the start, but he’s struggled as a rookie and could be a big liability here.
On the other side of the ball, the Lions defense has really been struggling lately and it ranks 26th in DVOA over its last four games. They also just lost DT Alim McNeill to the injured reserve. He’s one of their best run defenders, so his loss will have a bigger impact against an extreme run-heavy team like the Bears.
I think Chicago is getting too many points here at home for a team that’s healthy/playing much better against a Lions team that’s starting to falter a bit.
It’s critical to buy the extra half point to get the +3.5, which is -120 at FanDuel.
Pick: Bears +3.5 (-120)
The Panthers were much more conservative in their first game under interim head coach Chris Tabor. They had the third-highest early down run rate and seventh-slowest pace in neutral situations last week.
Carolina also made some personnel decisions that indicate a more conservative approach, like D.J. Chark seeing his lowest playing time of the season. Chark leads the team in receptions or at least 15 yards down the field, so the Panthers actively took away the player who has provided them with the most explosive plays in the passing game.
On the other side, the Saints have also been more run-heavy and slower-paced recently. Derek Carr attempting to play through various injuries is better for the under than if Jameis Winston was to start. Carr has struggled in the red zone again this season and ranks toward the bottom (24 of 33 qualified QBs) in red-zone success rate.
Taysom Hill, who is one of the best weapons in the red zone, has yet to practice this week and is in danger of missing this game. Downfield threat Rashid Shaheed remains out, along with Michael Thomas, who is still on injured reserve. Having a thin WR group behind Chris Olave might make it easier to slow him down.
Also, on the Panthers defense, CB Jaycee Horn returned last week, which should be a big help to their secondary.
For all these reasons, I think 39 is a bit too high of a total for this matchup this week.
Pick: Under 39 (-110)
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