NFL Picks Week #14 (2021 regular season)
NFL PICKS (WEEK #14)
BY PROFESSOR MJ
Written Wednesday December 8st, 2021 at 2 PM Eastern Time (spreads/odds may have changed)
Oh yeah!!! We won our 5-star pick last week as the Cardinals beat the 7.5 point spread in Chicago last week.
Overall, I made three official picks in Week 13 and we won two of them.
Let’s review our record against the spread (ATS) so far in the 2021 NFL season, as a function of the star rating:
- 5 STARS: 2-1-1 record
- 4 STARS: 5-4 record
- 3 STARS: 8-4 record
- 2 STARS: 3-6 record
- 1 STAR: 9-2 record
- TOTAL: 27-17-1 record (61.1%)
- (Leans: 19-17-1 record, 52.7%)
On the menu this week, I’ve got 3 official picks and 3 unofficial picks (“leans”) for you. Let’s rock and roll!
PICK #1 (4 STARS): JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS +9 AT TENNESSEE TITANS
Star wide receiver A.J. Brown will be out again for the Titans. He has missed two full games this season, and in those matchups the Titans lost 27-24 at the Jets in Week 4, and they were also defeated in Week 12 by a 36-13 score in New England. In other words, the team missed him a lot.
On top of that, their other starting wide receiver Julio Jones has a 50-50 shot of suiting up this Sunday. Even if he plays, he hasn’t been great this year and he has been slowed down by a hamstring injury that does not seem to heal.
Let’s be honest, Tennessee’s offense is much weaker without A.J. Brown and Derrick Henry in the lineup. Even Ryan Tannehill has not looked as sharp as usual in 2021 with 14 TD passes and 13 interceptions, which is really disappointing.
Granted, the Titans are coming off their bye week, which is the main reason why I did not grade this pick with a 5-star rating. Tennessee also shows a 4-1-1 ATS record at home against the Jags.
But that’s about it for the bad news since I found many arguments and betting systems backing Jacksonville in this AFC South battle.
We have the famous “revenge factor” going the Jaguars’ way since they lost 37-19 in Week 5. That may contribute to make the Titans overconfident about this meeting.
I also mentioned in previous articles how road underdogs coming off a road loss tend to do well from a betting perspective. Indeed, over many years, such teams have posted a 160-97-5 record ATS.
Another betting strategy that I keep track of is as follows: betting a bad team coming off an ugly loss when playing on the road against a division rival. The Jags just lost by a 30-point margin against the Rams, so that certainly qualifies as an “ugly loss”, right? And they are a weak team playing as visitors against a divisional foe. By following those rules, we earned a 60-40-2 record ATS over several years.
In summary, I don’t believe the Titans have enough weapons to beat the Jags by 10 points or more. James Robinson should be able to do enough damage against an average defense to cover the spread in a surprisingly tight divisional war.
PICK #2 (3 STARS): CINCINNATI BENGALS +2 VS SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS
I’m really confused by this line. Why the heck are the Bengals underdogs at home against the Niners? Is Joe Burrow more banged up than I think? Based on the reports I have read, he should be good to go. As for running back Joe Mixon, he briefly left last week’s game, but he came back later on. As of Wednesday, he is now feeling ill, but again he seems more likely to play than not.
On San Francisco’s side, the news don’t appear as bright. As a matter of fact, Deebo Samuel is on the wrong side of questionable. He has been the cornerstone of this offense in 2021. Also, both starting running backs Elijah Mitchell and Jeff Wilson may miss the game, leaving the team with JaMychal Hasty in the backfield.
To make matters worse, San Francisco’s defense is also affected by the injury bug! Cornerback Emmanuel Moseley is out. Fred Warner, Dre Greenlaw and Jaquiski Tartt are all listed as questionable. Granted, Cincinnati has two offensive linemen listed as questionable.
The Bengals will be at home for the third straight week, while the Niners will be on the road for the third time in four weeks. So I reiterate my question: why the heck are the Bengals not favored at home against a very comparable opponent, which is also pretty banged up?
No matter the answer, I will put my money on Cincy this weekend. They are 6-1 ATS after a double-digit home loss, while the Niners have beaten the spread just once in their past six games on fieldturf.
PICK #3 (2 STARS): NEW ORLEANS -5 AT NEW YORK JETS
Head coach Sean Payton has hinted that Taysom Hill should be under center for this matchup. And the team is very likely to get Alvin Kamara back on the field, which should give the offense a big boost. It should allow the Saints offense to get back on track against such a very weak Jets defense.
New Orleans is much more desperate to win, and they will benefit from three extra days of rest after playing last Thursday. The Saints also have a 9-3 record ATS on the road against teams with a losing record. Meanwhile, the Jets are 1-4 ATS as underdogs, and 1-5 following a double-digit home loss.
I agree that Zach Wilson and the Jets offense has done better of late, though. Rookie Elijah Moore has emerged as an important piece of this offense with five TDs in his last five games, but he has a quad injury and missed Wednesday’s practice. He will either miss the game, or be limited if he suits up. Also, both Michael Carter and Tevin Coleman may not be there, which would make the backfield much weaker for New York.
So, I’m taking the Saints to run away with this game by a margin of at least six points, especially considering they absolutely need to win this game to stay alive in the playoff race.
Just for fun, here are some additional picks that I am NOT betting, but I consider them to be borderline acceptable:
- Pittsburgh Steelers +3 at Minnesota Vikings (Adam Thielen has been ruled out of this game, which will leave a big hole in the Vikings offense. Pittsburgh should be smart enough to double cover Justin Jefferson, who is a huge notch better than K.J. Osborn and Tyler Conklin. Minnesota has failed to beat the spread the last six times they were home favorites. Pittsburgh owns a 13-5 record ATS as road underdogs.);
- Dallas Cowboys -4 at Washington Football Team (The “double division revenge” factor goes in full effect as Dallas lost both meetings last year. They also had three more days to game plan after playing the Thursday nighter. This pick did not make it among the official ones because Washington has been playing smart football of late. However, the Cowboys are pretty healthy and may even get defensive end Randy Gregory back. Meanwhile, Washington will miss a few guys like tight end Logan Thomas and defensive end Montez Sweat. I believe the wheels will come off for Washington this weekend and Dallas will run away with the victory. They are 5-2 ATS in their last seven trips in Washington.);
- Buffalo Bills +3.5 at Tampa Bay Bucs (Missing star cornerback Tre’Davious White makes me worry when facing Tom Brady. But the Bucs also have a depleted secondary, which the Bills could take advantage of. When Tampa faced a team with a .500 record or better this year, they held a 3-2 record, with only one of those wins coming by a margin of four points or more. Buffalo can keep up with them and cover that spread.);
That’s it for my Week 14 NFL picks, a big thank you for reading and supporting the Professor MJ brand!
(Sports Betting Expert / University Professor / PhD in statistics)