Week 14 NFL picks: Are the Steelers headed for a second straight loss??
After a perfect 4-0 week, the column is back to breakdown a Sunday slate. I appreciate all of your guys' support throughout this year, and we are going to keep rolling on Sunday. We are 43-31-1 on the year hitting at a 58 percent clip on the year. This is a really interesting and complicated slate, and really needed to dig to find a few edges. We got five breakdowns and six solid picks for Sunday's slate, so lets get to it.
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Now, to the picks:
Kansas City Chiefs at Miami Dolphins
Line: Kansas City (-7.5)
The Kansas City Chiefs are rolling into a matchup with an upstart Miami Dolphins team in a premier morning matchup on Sunday. I love Miami’s story and Brian Flores has arguably been the best coach in the NFL this year. Remember, Flores was a key part of those Patriots staffs that were able to limit Mahomes in key spots of the 2019 AFC Championship game.
Looking ahead to Sunday, we are going to see a different type of Dolphins defense, and Flores has shown he is able to mix things up. The Dolphins have the sixth best pass DVOA, and have two legitimate All-Pro corners on the outside with Xavien Howard and Bryon Jones. There aren’t many defenses who can “limit” Patrick Mahomes, but the Dolphins defense is one of the few that has a legitimate shot. The Dolphins have been one of the best defenses situationally, ranking first in third down conversion percentage and ninth in red zone touchdown percentage. It’s impossible to stop the Chiefs from constantly moving the ball, but you can limit the Chiefs by making the key stops on third downs and making the Chiefs settle for field goals. It's an area where the Chiefs have struggled with the last three games.
I believe the Dolphins will be able to do just that. The Chiefs are 0-3 ATS in their last three games. Contrarily, the Dolphins have been one of the best teams against the number covering seven out of their last eight. It's going to be abnormally warm on Sunday with 80 degree weather and 72 percent humidity in Miami. Any factor that will make the Chiefs uncomfortable is an edge.
Tua and the Dolphins offense will need to step up big time for sure. But I believe they can put up enough points to keep this within a one possession game.
The pick Miami +7.5 (buy up to key number if your book is at 7)
Minnesota Vikings at Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Spread: Tampa -6.5
Over the last few weeks, the Bucs have been slipping and now Tom Brady and company are in danger of missing the playoffs all together if they do not get a win on Sunday.
There have been a lot of gnarly things to happen in 2020, but Tom Brady missing the playoffs??? Get out of here, I am telling you that is simply not going to happen.
The Buccaneers are coming off a bye, and in his press conference this week Bruce Arians gave praise for the work Tom Brady did over the course of his bye week- Bruce Arians is a traditional asshole and never hypes players up, so something good must have happened for him to do this. Also Tampa is coming off the toughest stretch of competition they'll play all year, going through a gauntlet where they faced the Saints, Rams, and Chiefs in a four game span. The Vikings are a huge drop off from that and while they have won five of out their last six, four of those wins came against bottom 10 opponents - Panthers, Jaguars, Bears, and Lions. In addition, the Vikings barely escaped with wins against the Panthers and Jaguars, and their one win against the Packers came in a game where Rodgers could not throw down the field because of 35-40 mile an hour wind.
In addition, the Bucs are the worst possible matchup for Minnesota on both sides of the ball. The Vikings have been successful with excellent play from running back Dalvin Cook, and basically their whole offense is centered around Cook. Now they will be playing a defense that ranks first in rush DVOA. They are also playing a defense that applies pressure at the fifth highest rate- not good for Kirk Cousins. They are playing a defense that is top 10 in forcing turnovers - also not good for Kirk Cousins, who has thrown the third most interceptions in the NFL.
Defensively, Minnesota is a complete disaster. The Vikings are incapable of rushing the passer, ranking 24th in adjusted sack rate and 27th in pressure rate. They have one of the lowest graded corner groups in the NFL, and they are playing against arguably the most talented trio of wide receivers. Even worse, star middle linebacker Eric Kenrdricks will not be active which leaves a gaping whole in the Vikings run defense scheme. Simply, it’s just a nightmare matchup for the Vikings, and I can see an angry Tom Brady easily putting up 35 in this game.
We will take Tampa here, and the over is viable as well since we get a higher probability of defensive touchdown, and garbage time points from Kirk Cousins if the Buccaneers jump out to a huge lead.
The pick: Tampa Bay (-6.5) and over 53
New Orleans Saints at Philadelphia Eagles
Spread: New Orleans -7.5
Taysom Hill is a 7.5 point favorite on the road, what the hell is going on. This is a preposterous line to me. I know the Saints defense has been playing well with Hill at the helm, but the Saints have faced the Falcons twice and the Broncos with a practice squad WR at quarterback during his time as a starter.
The Eagles are starting rookie quarterback Jalen Hurts in his debut start to replace Carson Wentz. Hurts had a touchdown drive in limited action against the Packers. Hurts is definitely an upgrade over Wentz, who had the worst quarterback grade in the NFL by a mike. It's also fair to note Wentz was the 31st graded QB in the NFL, while Hill is the 32nd graded quarterback by PFF. The Saints have been winning games, but Taysom Hill hasn’t been good. The Eagles have a solid front seven with Fletcher Cox and Brandon Graham clogging the middle. Philadelphia is the No. 1 team in the NFL in run stuff rate, fifth in defensive line yards, and 12th overall in run DVOA. In other words, I don’t see the Saints moving the ball on this one.
With a low total and getting over a touchdown, the Eagles are in a good spot. I love Jalen Hurts story of resilience, and I would not be surprised if Hurts led the Eagles to victory in this one.
The pick: Philadelphia (+7.5)
Atlanta Falcons at Los Angeles Chargers
Line: Atlanta (-1)
This is a game featuring two teams most bettors would never want to back, and it should be a stay away for most people.
The Falcons pissed down their legs, for the millionth game this season against the Saints last week. This after crushing the Raiders two weeks ago. This team is horrible, they rank near the bottom of the NFL in every situational football statistic - penalties, third down, special teams, red zone, and etc. The Falcons are also missing star receiver Julio Jones, and the Falcons offense is not the same without Julio on the field.
Also, this is a spot where the Falcons pass defense is going to get shredded, they rank: 30th in yards per completion, 25th in passing success rate, 23rd in adjusted sack rate, and 30th in passing yards per game. Justin Herbert and the Chargers passing offense makes you salivate when watching.
I know, nobody on the planet wants to back the Chargers after they got demolished by the Patriots 45-0, showing no signs of life in the process. However, in that game the Patriots scored three special teams touchdowns and the game was over in the fourth quarter. Also, it was a bad spot for the Chargers, they were just eliminated from the playoffs the previous week, and were playing a desperate Patriots team coached by Bill Belichick.
Although Anthony Lynn is a dead man walking, he is generally loved in the Chargers locker room, and I think his boys play hard for him here. The Falcons should not be factored on the road in any circumstance.
The Chargers should lose and tank, but they get the win here because it's the Chargers thing to do.
The pick: Chargers ML (+105)
Pittsburgh Steelers at Buffalo Bills
Spread: Buffalo (-1.5)
This is a game that I have gone back and forth on. I loved the look ahead line of Bills +2.5, but after the Bills demolished the 49ers in a stand alone game, and then the Steelers collapsed earlier on Monday afternoon against the Redskins, the Bills have now become everyone’s favorite play of the week. I still think the Bills win this game, but we have to decide if we want to be a square on Sunday Night Football. I know you guys like having action in the prime time games, so we are going to ride the Bills here.
First, the clear obvious fact of the Steelers offense being bad is not news to us. They have ranked in the 20’s in passing success rate and running success rate the entire year. The Steelers main issue is, they can’t run the football and that's a major weakness against the Bills defense. Whether Benny Snell or James Connor is in the back field, the Steelers rank 29th in yards per rush and rank 30th in rush DVOA. Big Ben passing the ball in windy Buffalo weather is not the path to success.
Defensively, we know the Steelers have an amazing defense - they rank No. 1 in defensive DVOA for a reason. However, I’m not sure Buffalo is the best matchup for them0. Josh Allen has been on a tear, and has been the second highest graded quarterback over the last five weeks according to PFF. The Bills offensive line has been above average in pass protection, Allen has been good against the blitz, and Buffalo’s receivers have a big advantage over the Steelers DB’s. The Steelers have played the easiest schedule of opposing offenses, and Buffalo will be their biggest test by far. Pittsburgh will also be without their top corner Joe Haden, and I think Stefon Diggs will have a huge game.
This is a statement game in Buffalo in a primetime game.
You can call me Spongebob for being square, but we are still going to be cashing with the Bills sunday night.
The pick: Buffalo (-1.5)
Follow Austin Montgomery on Twitter @AmontgomeryLive
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