Week 14 Staff Picks: Can Anyone in NFC Stop Eagles?

Philadelphia Eagles QB Jalen Hurts & WR A.J. Brown
Philadelphia Eagles QB Jalen Hurts & WR A.J. Brown
Photo: USA Today Sports Images

NFL Week 14 - Compiled by Vincent Verhei

Sometimes, gambling advice is objective—like in the NFL picks you get with FO+, for instance. But sometimes gambling advice is subjective. We're trying something new this week, with staff picks from the FO writers. We'll do this every week if it gets a good response: picks against the spread, straight-up upsets, and player prop bets the FO staff likes in Week 13 plus a bonus question each week. This week's bonus question asks best bets to win the NFC.

Lines are taken from the consensus at Vegas Insider.

Favorite Pick Against the Spread

Cale Clinton: New York Jets (+9.5) at Buffalo Bills. This is exactly how The Mike White Experience ended last time around. One big win fueled by passing, one close loss, then a throttling by the Buffalo Bills. This time around, things will be different, because this is a different Mike White. Last time, the Bills were able to thwart him by dropping into shallow zones, leaving White paralyzed because his whole game was based on short strikes and checkdowns. This time around, White isn’t afraid to take shots downfield, and the Jets offense is exploiting zone looks for big yards after the catch. It’ll be interesting to see how this Jets offensive line handles Buffalo’s new blitz-heavy front seven fueled by the absence of Von Miller, but I at least like New York to cover.

Bryan Knowles: New England Patriots (-1.5) at Arizona Cardinals. The Cardinals have had a negative DVOA in six of their last seven games. They cannot throw deep, as Kyler Murray has some of the worst deep attempt splits we have ever seen. They cannot run the ball or stop the run. They can't generate meaningful pressure, nor convert it into sacks when it happens. The Patriots are going to dink, dunk, and creep their way to a comfortable win.

Jackson Roberts: Minnesota Vikings (+2.5) at Detroit Lions. I get it, the Vikings are much, MUCH worse than their 10-2 record indicates. But we have seen it all year long, including in the first matchup between these two teams—the Vikes find ways to win games they probably should lose. And this line has swung FIVE points in the direction of the Lions since the books opened, which should tell you that Vegas wins big if the Vikings win. Never bet against Vegas, folks.

Aaron Schatz: Miami Dolphins (-3.5) at Los Angeles Chargers. I'm still a big Justin Herbert fan but the Chargers are a mess otherwise, especially on defense. On first downs, for example, Miami is the No. 2 pass offense and the Chargers have the No. 29 pass defense. Those intermediate middle passes that Tua Tagovailoa loves so much? The Chargers are 26th in DVOA against those. Meanwhile, the Miami defense has improved since Bradley Chubb showed up, ranking 12th in defensive DVOA against the pass since Week 9. Have fun against that pass rush, wrecked Chargers offensive line (especially you, right tackle Foster Sarell).

Vincent Verhei: New England Patriots (-1.5) at Arizona Cardinals. Officially, the Cardinals rank 30th in DVOA, but I think that's giving them too much credit. They have only had three games with a positive DVOA all season, and two of them were against Baker Mayfield and John Wolford. The other was against Jalen Hurts and the Eagles, so fair play to them there, but that leaves them with one game all season where they have played well against a team with a viable starting quarterback. And here's some fun with our new quarterback directional stats: Kyler Murray ranks dead last among qualified players on deep passes, while the Patriots rank third against deep passes. Enjoy your 20 completions for 100 yards, Arizona fans!

Carl Yedor: Philadelphia Eagles (-6.5) at New York Giants. It has been a fun story in New York this year, but reality appears to be setting in for the Giants as they cling to a wild-card spot in the NFC playoff picture. Philadelphia has been a well-oiled offensive machine for most of this season, and while the Giants might be able to have some success running the ball when they are in possession, they just don't have the firepower to keep up with the Eagles.

Upset of the Week

Limited to teams that are underdogs by three points or more.

Cale Clinton: Jacksonville Jaguars (+3.5) at Tennessee Titans. Jacksonville is coming off their worst game by DVOA this year but is only one week removed from a major upset win over the Baltimore Ravens. Jacksonville can lean on one of their defensive strengths in this game: the Jaguars have four straight games with a negative rushing DVOA as Derrick Henry comes inoff a string of poor performances. If Trevor Lawrence and the Jaguars passing attack can outduel the Baltimore Ravens secondary, they should hopefully be able to take care of business against a weaker Titans passing defense.

Bryan Knowles: Los Angeles Rams (+6.5) over Las Vegas Raiders. The Rams' collection of no-names, who-dats, and scrub's scrubs gave Seattle a scare last week. Their 5.5% DVOA was their best since Week 6, and they scored a go-ahead touchdown with 3:07 left to play. Obviously, you don't get points for being ahead after 57 minutes, but they looked like an actual team for the first time in months. Add in the chaos that comes from Thursday games and … well, you never know, do you?

Jackson Roberts: Tampa Bay Buccaneers (+3.5) at San Francisco 49ers. It's one thing for Brock Purdy to take over midgame and keep the wheels from falling off. It's another entirely for him to win a game with the GOAT on the opposing sideline after a week to think about it. Of course the 49ers defense terrifies me, but I think this will be a low-scoring, ugly, back-and-forth affair, and that game script favors the better quarterback in crunch time.

Aaron Schatz: Tampa Bay Buccaneers (+3.5) at San Francisco 49ers. I think the 49ers are the better team, and even the better team with Brock Purdy at quarterback, but come on, the idea of Tom Brady beating a great defense when that team's offense is hamstrung by a seventh-round rookie? Not ridiculous.

Vincent Verhei: Jacksonville Jaguars (+3.5) at Tennessee Titans. I don't actually like any of the big underdogs to win this week, but I have been riding Jacksonville since the preseason, so I'll stick with them.

Carl Yedor: Jacksonville Jaguars (+3.5) at Tennessee Titans. Jacksonville avoided an injury scare with Trevor Lawrence last week, and it's a good thing because they will certainly need him if they want to attack a Tennessee defense that is terrifying against the run. If Jacksonville wants to make a run at a playoff berth, they need to take care of their divisional competition, and their passing offense could be enough to spring the upset here if they can hit a few big chunk plays down the field.

Do You Have a Particular Player You Like to Put Up Really Strong Fantasy Points or Go Over His Betting Props This Week?

Jackson Roberts: Davante Adams, WR, LV. Is it a stretch to pick the receiver coming off the most fantasy points at the position last week? Hardly. But the Rams are 31st in DVOA against WR1s, and you could argue that Adams is the best WR1 going right now. I love my chances to cash in big on both yards and touchdowns here.

Aaron Schatz: Garrett Wilson, WR, NYJ. The Bills rank 27th in DVOA against WR1 and Wilson already had a nice 92-yard game against them in Week 9, with Zach Wilson as his quarterback. I think he can easily top 61.5 yards with Mike White throwing him the ball. In fact, it's probably more likely to happen if the Bills take a lead and the Jets have to throw to come back, compared to the close game these teams played five weeks ago.

Vincent Verhei: Ezekiel Elliott, RB, DAL. After a quiet week from Nick Chubb, my running pick of "running back facing the Houston Texans" is now up to a four-week total of 436 yards from scrimmage and two touchdowns. Which isn't bad! While Tony Pollard has been the more explosive and efficient of the Dallas runners, I'm counting on Elliott racking up plenty of volume as the Cowboys kill clock in the second half.

Carl Yedor: Tony Pollard and Ezekiel Elliott, RBs, DAL. The Texans run defense is impressively bad. Dallas is favored by more than two touchdowns and should be looking to grind through clock for much of the second half on the ground. There will be plenty of touches to go around between Pollard and Elliott, and I wouldn't be surprised if both of them score at least once.

Bonus Question

Jimmy Garoppolo's injury dropped San Francisco's odds of winning the NFC, but those odds are still pretty good compared to the Football Outsiders playoff odds simulation. Where's the value for you in the NFC championship odds, especially now that it looks like Garoppolo could return during the playoffs?

Philadelphia Eagles (+200)
Dallas Cowboys (+280)
San Francisco 49ers (+500)
Minnesota Vikings (+650)
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (+750)
Seattle Seahawks (+2000)
Washington Commanders (+4000)
New York Giants (+4000)

Cale Clinton: Dallas Cowboys (+280). Getting Philadelphia at plus-value is probably the pick, but I’ll take Dallas at slightly better odds. Dallas looks like the hottest team in football in two of their last three games, and if their new floor is a one-score game against the Giants with three second-half touchdowns, I’ll take it. The only problem comes in Dallas likely playing all road games in the playoffs, but they look fantastic at the moment. There is no other real value on the board. Seattle has too tough a closing schedule to represent any real value, and there is not magic playoff switch Tom Brady could flip that would get me to trust a team that’s played as poorly as the Buccaneers most of the season.

Bryan Knowles: Philadelphia Eagles (+200). The answer is the Eagles, whether or not Jimmy G is back. They're in a dead heat with the Cowboys for best team in the NFC, both by our numbers and by general perception, and we give them an 80% chance of earning the bye and home field, both of which are huge in this sort of thing. Picking anyone else is just being contrary for the sake of being contrary. If you do think Garoppolo is going to be back and be as effective as usual, then the 49ers do have the second-best odds here. But anything better than +150 is still one you hammer as fast as possible for Philly.

Jackson Roberts: Philadelphia Eagles (+200). It never feels good to pick the favorite in a value conversation, but 2:1 feels awfully fair for the team most likely to earn the bye and would therefore need only two wins to cash this bet, while the others would all require three. I have too many prior disappointments to rely on the Cowboys in the playoffs, I'm not ready to hitch my wagon to Brock Purdy, and everyone else on the board feels fatally flawed.

Vincent Verhei: Philadelphia Eagles (+200). Ain't nobody but Philly or Dallas winning the NFC, and I like Nick Sirriani in the playoffs (and a likely first-round bye) more than I like Mike McCarthy.

Carl Yedor: Minnesota Vikings (+650). Philadelphia clearly has the best chance of winning the conference given their inside track to the first-round bye, but Minnesota seems like a lock for the No. 2 seed (in spite of their relatively poor DVOA) because they have banked so many wins. While it would not be a first-round bye, they would still have a reasonable path to the NFC Championship Game, particularly if they can avoid Dallas in the divisional round. I'm intentionally going contrarian here, but you only need Minnesota to win one-out-of-seven times to come out ahead here.

Comments

5 comments, Last at 09 Dec 2022, 4:24pm

#1 by Pat // Dec 08, 2022 - 4:29pm

Totally agree with Carl on the value part. The Cowboys are a terrible choice at +280 because at this point, they're way behind the Eagles just because Philly's got the inside track for the bye which kicks Dallas out to #5. And the extra game is worth way more than 7%. If you want to go chalk, just go with the Eagles. One less game does everything. Minnesota at the #2 seed with +650 is solid odds, even if it's unlikely.

Points: 1

#3 by KP // Dec 09, 2022 - 8:51am

Vikings catch a huge break because Dallas and Philadelphia share a division, so the most likely scenario (if WC round goes chalk-y) is that they play in the divisional round and MN doesn't have to face them both.

 

Points: 0

#2 by Jackson87 // Dec 08, 2022 - 6:03pm

I put a few dollars on the Cowboys at +550 in September, not because I believed in them or thought the odds great, but because I hate them and just in case they win the conference I will salvage something out of it. Am planning on doing the same with the Yankees in the spring.

Points: 2

#4 by Cheesehead_Canuck // Dec 09, 2022 - 3:33pm

The Bucs lost to a terrible Panthers team with PJ Walker. Why is it so hard to believe the 49ers can't manufacture a win?

Points: 0

#5 by Jackson Roberts // Dec 09, 2022 - 4:24pm

Very reasonable take to have! I just looked at the upset board and wasn’t as in love with the Jags as my colleagues, so I decided to go against the 7th round rookie making his first career start

Points: 0

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