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Red Zone Returns – Week 14

It’s been a rough season for underdog NFL punters, so we’re buying into the trends and giving up a few points in Week 14.

Detroit Lions @ Chicago Bears

We’ve not been the biggest fans of the Detroit Lions throughout the NFL season. Sure, they’re 9-3 for the first time in the Super Bowl era and rank 4th in rushing yards and passing yards for 27.3 points per game. But something isn’t quite right. Just last week, they blew out to a 21-0 lead before allowing the game to get much closer than needed.

The offence is superb when it clicks, but it doesn’t click every week, and on the days it does, it’s not always for the full game. The defence, meanwhile, is middling at best.

The Chicago Bears rush defence can cause the Lions some problems here. They give up the fewest yards in the NFL, alongside the San Francisco 49ers at 79 yards per game. If Chicago can put some pressure on the rushing game and force Jared Goff and the Lions offence to do it all through the air, they bring turnovers and some dodgy weather into play.

Justin Fields is effectively playing for his career at this point, so we can expect a little bit extra from him. He profiles as the sort of RPO quarterback who might be able to find some success in this forecasted weather, too.

Coming off a bye, playing at home and with the hook on a field goal loss, Chicago is the play in this one. The Under at 43.5 deserves a look, too.

Best Bet CHICAGO BEARS +3.5 @ $1.90*

Buffalo Bills @ Kansas City Chiefs

Sometimes, you just need to play the spot’s when betting in the NFL.

The spot’s in this one: Patrick Mahomes as a favourite of a field goal or shorter, is 21-7-1 against the spread. In addition, following their loss in Week 13, he’s 15-3 straight up after a loss.

Mahomes by less than a field goal, at home and after a loss?

Yes, please.

That isn’t to say the Kansas City Chiefs haven’t had their issues this season. They’re certainly not as dominant with the ball and have been heavily reliant on Mahomes as an MVP candidate at $7. Their 22.9 points per game, while still in the top half of the NFL, is uncharacteristically low given what we’ve come to expect from this team in recent years. However, the defence is arguably the best it has been since Mahomes’ arrival. They’ve been able to make up for the weak receiving corps on the defensive end to still be 8-4 and in Super Bowl LVIII contention.

Meanwhile, the Buffalo Bills have struggled all season. Expected to be in the mix come February, they’re now 6-6 and at risk of missing the playoffs altogether. There is only so much Josh Allen can do with this banged-up team, and he is banged up himself.

Coming off the bye will help the Bills, but they’re just 1-4 on the road this season and one of the worst-performing teams against the spread.

Bills v Chiefs has become one of the best rivalries in the NFL and there is every expectation for this game to be added to the list, but Mahomes catching a number this low is too good to pass up.

Best Bet KANSAS CITY CHIEFS -1.5 @ $1.90*

Minnesota Vikings @ Las Vegas Raiders

Josh Dobbs came out flying for the Minnesota Vikings but has since slowed down. However, the return of Justin Jefferson should instil a new life in the offence and provide Dobbs with a significant target whether he throws it to him or not. We already know Dobbs doesn’t need long to gel with new teammates.

Jefferson causes nightmares for a defence. He’s going to have been the focus for the Las Vegas Raiders all week, which may open things up further for Dobbs as a runner, along with Jordan Addison and T.J. Hockenson.

The Raiders defence is sure to have their hands full, which puts further pressure on their lacklustre offence. While improving, the Raiders still rank a lowly 27th in points scored, 31st in rushing yards per game and per attempt, and 21st in passing yards. The Vikings’ blitz-heavy defence doesn’t always pay dividends but profiles well against the inexperienced Aidan O’Connell here. Las Vegas will need Josh Jacobs to have a significant influence, but he runs up against the 7th-ranked rush defence in yards allowed per game here.

The Vikings are the way to go with the Game Saver token put into use.

Best Bet MINNESOTA VIKINGS TO WIN @ $1.62*

Green Bay Packers @ New York Giants

It’s all starting to come together for Green Bay Packers quarterback, Jordan Love. He has cleared 260 passing yards and produced three touchdowns in each of his last two games without any interceptions to finally start playing up to his potential.

Here, he goes up against a New York Giants defence that struggles to contain the running game and is middling defending the pass at best. The Packers shouldn’t have too much trouble getting up the field despite the poor weather conditions that are forecast for this one. Meanwhile, Tommy DeVito and the Giants will come in with a significant rest advantage, but also on the back of some notable turnover luck.

The Packers are in form. Their 27-19 win over the Chiefs highlights the spark their offence has struck in the last month. Green Bay has scored 23+ points in each of their last three games, having struggled earlier in the season. With the defence also improving of late, they should be able to clear this one by a touchdown.

Best Bet GREEN BAY PACKERS -6.5 @ $1.89*

Indianapolis Colts @ Cincinnati Bengals

Gardiner Minshew v Jake Browning.

It’s one of the many, many ugly quarterback battles in the NFL this week. Still, there is an opportunity to capitalise on selling high on Browning while the weather looks set to reduce their impact – good or bad – on the game.

We can call Minshew v Browning a wash. However, I’d lean towards Minshew as the more reliable of the two and the more likely to produce a game-winning performance if there is to be one from the position. Defensively, Minshew will get some help with things looking a lot more difficult for the Browning and the Bengals offence.

Grover Stuart is back from suspension. The Colts played with a top-10 run defence in the games before he was ordered to the sideline. They’ve uncovered a top-10 pass rush win rate in that time, too.

The Bengals, on the other hand, rank 32nd in the NFL in total defence, giving up 388 yards per game. They’re 27th in both pass and rush defence through 13 weeks of the season. When the quarterback battle is a coin flip, and the weather is caving in, we look to the defensive side of the ball and it’s advantage, Colts.

Best Bet INDIANAPOLIS COLTS TO WIN @ $1.94*

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