Week 14 NFL Picks: Sides & Totals

Mike Evans #13 of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers looks on during the first half against the Buffalo Bills at Raymond James Stadium on December 12, 2021 in Tampa, Florida.
Image Credit: Julio Aguilar/Getty Images

Each week, BetPrep NFL Sharp “Tommy The Hitman” discusses every game through the eyes of a professional sports bettor with host and 30-year sports talk radio vet Jody McDonald of CBS Sports Radio.

Here are some recent highlights from the latest episode of Hot Read Hits, the official NFL podcast of BetPrep:

Jags (+8.5) at Titans, Sunday, 1 p.m. ET

My Power Ranking has the Titans winning by seven, so 8.5 points is a big edge.

The Titans are not explosive offensively, not built to cover margin: Just 6.6% of Ryan Tannehill’s completions have gained 20 or more yards, ahead of only Mike White (5.7%) and Tyrod Taylor (4.4%) among the 43 qualifying quarterbacks. The Titans are averaging a gain of 20 or more yards once every 25.1 offensive plays, last in the league. And remember, most of their stats this season are with some combination of A.J. Brown, Derrick Henry, and Julio Jones active. Only Jones has a chance to play in Week 14.

The Jaguars are surprisingly good at defending the run – ninth in yards allowed per carry. While Trevor Lawrence struggles generally, he did play well earlier in the year against the Titans. Last week the rookie No. 1 overall draft pick completed 16-of-28 passes for 145 yards (5.2 Y/A). Lawrence has now averaged 4.9 yards per pass attempt over the six games since the bye and has not thrown more than one touchdown pass in a game since Week 1.

When these teams played in Week 5, Lawrence did have a spark of fantasy appeal, throwing for 8.3 yards per pass attempt and 273 yards while adding a rushing touchdown. It was one of the few fantasy highlights for Lawrence this season.

Jaguars games are 10-2 towards Under the game total, tied with the Broncos for the highest rate in the league. This of course makes the points we’re getting here more valuable.

The Titans are a below-average team despite what their record says and shouldn’t be laying more than a touchdown to any team in the league. Back the Jaguars.

Bills at Buccaneers (minus-3, minus-120; Over 53), Sunday, 4:25 ET

Tampa Bay is my No. 1-ranked team. The Buccaneers are the only offense in the league that is in the top-five in expected points added per pass attempt (0.28) and per rushing attempt (0.09).

The Bills prefer to throw, leading the NFL in passing rate on first down plays outside of

the fourth quarter (61%). The Bucs are third (58%). These are two elite scoring offenses. The Bucs are first in points per drive (2.72), while the Bills are fourth (2.53).

A big expected edge for Tampa Bay is its style of defense. Josh Allen is struggling against the blitz. Allen has only been blitzed on 26.7% of his dropbacks (18th); but when blitzed, he has completed 59.0% of his passes (28th) for 6.5 yards per pass attempt (26th) compared to a 68.2% completion rate (13th) and 7.6 Y/A (12th) when not blitzed. And the Bucs blitz at the league’s highest rate (35.4%). Buffalo is going to throw and play fast. Buffalo entered their Week 13 game that was played in horribly windy conditions with a 65% situation-neutral pass rate (third highest) and still threw at a 50% clip despite Hoth-like weather conditions.

The Bills will once again be chucking it against a Buccaneers defense facing the highest

opponent pass rate (72%). Bills games are averaging 51.7 total points over the last month when the Monday Night’s weather fiasco is removed — which would rank fourth highest. Buffalo operates at the eighth-fastest situation-neutral pace and ranks eighth in scoring on a per-snap basis.

The Bucs also throw and play fast. The league’s second-fastest offense passes at the

highest rate both on the season (69%) and over the last four weeks (70%). The Buccaneers came out flying in Week 13, throwing on every snap and deploying the hurry-up on a 13-play opening touchdown drive. Only the Cardinals have used more no-huddle than the Bucs over the last three weeks.

Working against Buffalo is the short week and the fatiguing game where they were physically beaten by the New England running game. Now they go to humid Tampa, which is an underrated home-field advantage since the bye week last year when Tampa figured its offense out. Since that bye, at home, Tampa is 7-1 ATS, 8-0 SU and the fewest amount of points the Bucs have scored was 26.

Star Bills CB Tre’Davious White is out for the season. Even with him, Buffalo’s defensive metrics look good mostly on paper given it has been against a laughably bad schedule of opposing quarterbacks that include Big Ben, Tua, Mills, Lawrence, Mike White, Trevor Siemian. Against Carson Wentz- and Ryan Tannehill-led offenses, they gave up 41 and 34 points, respectively. Allen has not played near the level that he had played last season. One has to wonder if there is something going on in Buffalo’s locker room, as head coach Sean McDermott seemed disgruntled after the loss against New England about his team’s offense. Safeties Jordan Poyer and Micah Hyde made it a point to mention that their defense held New England to 14 points in their post-game press conference as well.

I like the Bucs and the over.