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Estimated Reading Time: 5 minutes
NFL Week 14 is upon us, and betting value abounds. We’ll be identifying an underdog with a key schematic advantage that isn’t being accounted for. We’ll also be fading two offenses that are overrated by the market. Let’s get into it.
Minnesota Vikings @ Las Vegas Raiders (+3, 40.5)
Both of these teams were on a bye in Week 13 and should be well rested heading into this game. The biggest storyline is the return of Justin Jefferson, who missed seven games with a hamstring injury. While it may seem like the Vikings' passing offense is in line for a big day, the unit has a difficult matchup against a zone-heavy Raiders secondary.
We’ve talked a lot about man and zone splits in these articles, and no player may have a more extreme split than Josh Dobbs. Against man, Dobbs ranks an impressive 13th among quarterbacks in EPA+. However, when facing zone, he is the fourth-worst signal-caller in the league by EPA+. Dobbs will see a healthy amount of zone from the Raider's defense, which has deployed that coverage at the second-highest rate in the NFL since Week 9.
Las Vegas should also be able to limit Dobbs’ ability to create big gains when plays break down. On plays that PFF classifies as “scramble drills,” Dobbs has generated the seventh-most total EPA of any quarterback. It is by far his best asset to the offense. Unfortunately for Dobbs, the Raiders excel at taking away these plays and have held opponents to a stifling -12.8 total EPA in the scramble drill, good enough for fourth best in the NFL.
Raiders quarterback Aidan O’Connell has had the exact opposite split as Dobbs, ranking fourth worst against man and just above average against zone.
Luckily for O’Connell, the Vikings play zone at a top-10 rate. Coming off the best game of his career against the Chiefs, earning an 85.5 PFF grade and generating an impressive 0.13 EPA per dropback, O’Connell is in position to produce another great game.
Best Bet: Raiders +3 (to PK)
The Raiders' schematic advantage on both sides of the ball is significant enough that they should not be underdogs in this game, especially at +3. Back the Raiders at this price.
Denver Broncos @ Los Angeles Chargers (-2.5, 44)
Our betting angle for this game is the total, as both of these offenses have struggled recently. The Chargers mustered just six points last week against the Patriots, and the Broncos haven’t sustained offensive production all season, with their scoring totals being significantly boosted by extreme turnover luck on the defense.
Since Week 9, the Chargers rank 20th in offensive success rate and the Broncos rank 22nd. During that same span, both of these defenses have been solid and have kept their floundering offenses in games. When we graph unit EPA+ since Week 9, both teams show up in the top left quadrant with below-average offenses and above-average defenses.
The Broncos' secondary also matches up well with a Chargers offense that has only one real weapon in Keenan Allen. Cornerback Pat Surtain is capable of erasing Allen from this game and forcing other receivers to get open for Justin Herbert, which has not happened in the past couple of weeks. Surtain is one of the best shadow cornerbacks and should follow Allen regardless of whether Denver plays man or zone.
Both of these secondaries have excelled recently and have limited opposing passing offenses at top-10 rates. Because of this, the offensive game plans should focus on running the ball against more exploitable run defenses. However, neither offense runs the ball particularly well, and I don’t anticipate some huge explosion on the ground from either team. As a result, we should see many run plays that result in medium gains, which keeps the clock running and limits explosive plays.
Best Bet: Under 44 (to 42.5)
Somehow, this total is a full point above league-average scoring. The jump from 43 to 44 is highly significant, too, with both being key numbers. Take the under here in a game where neither offense has a clear path to success.
Player Prop Best Bet: Josh Jacobs o15.5 Receiving Yards
We’re going back to this Raiders game for our player prop, as the Vikings' zone-heavy tendencies provide Jacobs with a great opportunity to have a big role in the passing game. When facing zone coverage, Jacobs has had a staggering 32.5% target share, which is higher than even star wide receiver Davante Adams.
Jacobs should be in line for plenty of dump-offs and check-downs against a Minnesota defense that allowed running backs to average a ridiculous 8.6 receptions a game for 48 yards per game over their past five games. Take Jacobs to clear this very low line in an ideal matchup through the air.