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NFL Week 14: Preview and Picks on the mega Philly-Dallas and Buffalo-Kansas City showdowns


Credit: Dallas Cowboys

The NFL article is back at it again but this week it’s going to look different. I’m not betting on the NFL this week, or anything for that matter. I’m not going to suggest making a bet on something I’m not going to do myself.


I will break down the games that have the biggest playoff implications and give leans to teams I like. We are going to break down Dallas-Philly and Buffalo-Kansas City.


Philadelphia at Dallas


Spread: Dallas (-3.5)


Total: 51.5


Last week against San Francisco, Philadelphia got outgained for the fifth consecutive game, but they weren’t able to escape with a win this time.


Put simply, Philadelphia did not have any answer for San Francisco. Kyle Shanahan’s offense had 456 yards of total offense including 146 yards on the ground. Going into last week, Philadelphia ranked first in Action’s Network’s “luck rating” that takes in teams who benefit from game swinging plays such as turnovers, penalties, and their percentages on third down/red zone.


Philadelphia allowed San Francisco to convert on 8-11 of their third downs and moved the ball at will. Now Philadelphia has to travel to Dallas, which hasn't needed any luck at all while playing at home. Dallas is 6-0 at home this season and they have won five of those contests by at least 20 points. The most competitive contest came in a 41-35 win against Seattle last Thursday night. The competition hasn’t been great but being able to dominate any type of NFL opposition is impressive.



Beyond that, the computers love Dallas, they rank 2nd in EPA and DVOA. Only San Francisco ranks higher. Dallas has outgained every opponent with the exception of the game at San Francisco. Dak Prescott is playing at an MVP level. Dallas leads the league in yards per play. Philly’s defense has been vulnerable.


On the other side, Dallas’s defense has the metrics of being elite. There are underlying stats that suggest they are in the middle of the pack. Dallas ranks first in the NFL in negative plays. On a down to down basis, you can move the ball on Dallas. Philly had success in the run game in the first meeting. While Dallas’s front seven is excellent against the pass, they can get bullied in the run game. That’s going to be Philly’s game plan. If Dallas adjusts and stops the run. Dallas will blow them out of the water here.


Philly is not going to be able to stop Dallas. Ball control will be important. Jalen Hurts will have to compete with them to score. The QB who wins this game will be the front runner for MVP. It's a game I just want to sit back and watch.


I lean Dallas -1.5 in the first half. They play with a lead for most of this game.


Lean: Dallas (-1.5 - 1H)


 

Buffalo at Kansas City


Spread: Kansas City (-1)

Total: 48.5


This is the biggest trap line I have ever seen. Kansas City only gives up a point at home against a fringe playoff team. I know Buffalo is not your run of the mill team- looking outside of the postseason rankings. The computers like Buffalo better than Kansas City.


Which is crazy.


The EPA database has Buffalo ranked fourth overall while Kansas City is slotted sixth. DVOA has Buffalo and Kansas City ranked as even teams. Kansas City ranks ahead by a thousandth of a decimal point. How do we break down this game?


I mentioned that Philly is one of the NFL luckiest teams, Buffalo ranks among the unluckiest teams in the NFL (27 of 32). Some of their unfortunate events are on themselves. Josh Allen has regressed. He has more turnover worthy throws this season than he has had in the previous two. They aren’t turning teams over and their third down defense has not been elite.



The computers still love them. They rank 2nd in the NFL in offensive EPA and 6th in defensive EPA. They are still explosive. Their defense ranks among the best. They are playing with a sense of urgency. They know they can compete with Kansas City. I can see Buffalo being a good play here.


On the other side, Kansas City has Patrick Mahomes. The offense is not otherworldly. Actually, they are slightly above average. KC ranks 11th in points per game (22.9) and eight in yards per play (5.6). Patrick Mahomes is still clutch. If Kansas City is within one possession in the 4th quarter, I’m trusting Mahomes. Kansas City’s defense has been elite. They rank 3rd in total defense and 8th in yards per play (8.0). Their front four and secondary complement each other well. Drue Tranquill has been a surprise at Mike Linebacker. They are the unit that has the swagger on this team.


Buffalo has the edge metrically and situationally. But logically, you have to take Kansas City here right? If I were betting this game, I would probably take Kansas City. You are going to feel like an idiot if you lose betting against Mahomes in Arrowhead at even money.


The lean: Kansas City (ML)


Follow Austin Montgomery on Twitter - @AMontgomeryLive 





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