Week 14 NFL Betting Preview – Vikings vs. Seahawks on MNF and Other Games
Published on December 06, 2018
Week 14 in the NFL means it’s time for all 32 teams to put up or shut up.
The margin for error is shrinking for those jockeying for a spot in the Playoffs, and precious home-field advantage is up for grabs for the teams with the best records.
After checking out my favorite online sportsbooks, I was able to see some discrepancies in some of the pricing that’s leading me to a place I just love to visit.
It’s called “The Land of Value.”
I’m going to break down the Monday Night Football game between the Vikings and the Seahawks because it’s MNF, and that’s just what I like to do.
But I also spent ample time scoping the betting lines for Sunday’s slate of action, and that’s where I found some wagers I kept circling back to.
Follow along and see if there are any betting angles you agree with.
Monday Night Football games are always going to be exciting and full of action. That’s just the nature of the beast when you pit two NFL teams against one another on ESPN during primetime for the entire world to see.
When the contest features a pair of teams who are squarely on the Playoff bubble, things get even more exhilarating. Seattle is looking to make it four in a row and remain in the driver’s seat of the #5 seed, while the Vikings are holding onto the sixth and final Playoff slot by just a half-game over three other teams.
It’s expected to be a tight one in Seattle, as Pete Carroll and Mike Zimmer both know exactly what is on the line. The point spread is bouncing around between 3 and 3.5 depending on where you are shopping your odds, so be careful when and where you book this one.
But as you’ll see below, who covers the line in this one is actually the least of my concerns.
There is a lot to cover here. For starters, let’s examine the home team, who is in the midst of winning three straight games.
Led by Russell Wilson, Seattle finds themselves battling out a host of NFC teams for a chance to reach the Playoffs. The Rams are running away with the NFC West, so a postseason berth by virtue of one of the two wild card spots is really the Seahawks’ only hope at this point.
After beating the Packers and the Panthers, the ’Hawks trounced the 49ers by 27 in a game where Wilson threw four touchdowns on just 17 passing attempts. Chris Carson rushed for 69 yards, and Rashaad Penny carried seven times for 65 yards and found the end zone.
WR Doug Baldwin is having a quiet year, which has led to Seattle relying on their run game more and more as the season has progressed. In fact, the Seahawks are the only team in the NFL who runs the ball more then they pass. If they can control the time of possession and keep opposing offenses off the field, then they know they have done their job.
Ready for the polar opposite? While Seattle ranks 32nd (dead last) in the percentage of time they throw a pass (48.86%), Minnesota tops the charts. The Vikings elect to throw 67.31% of the time, and that number has risen to 70.53% over their past three games.
Kirk Cousins has thrown for 3,490 yards and 23 touchdowns while completing 71.3% of his passes. Adam Thielen leads the league with 98 receptions, and Stefon Diggs isn’t far behind with 84. Clearly, they don’t fully trust Dalvin Cook, because they haven’t given the former FSU back more than ten carries in a game since September 9th.
Playing this game at CenturyLink Field in a raucous environment leads me to think the Vikings will have a tough time getting their ground game going, meaning they’ll once again feature a pass-heavy game plan. The Seattle secondary has been average at best so far in 2018, so Cousins should find plenty of opportunities to move the chains and sustain drives.
Because of how significant this game is to the standings, I’m thinking we’ll see a slugfest of sorts. The Playoff implications are so great that I can’t imagine either coach not being fully prepared or either team not showing up.
The Vikings lead the NFL in terms of stopping opponents on third down, as their opposition converts just 29.9% of the time. And while the Vikes would love to get finicky and force some turnovers, the Seahawks have committed fewer TOs than every team in the league.
There are a lot of numbers to take into account in this one, but sometimes you have to also realize what’s really at stake. I think both defenses show up for this one and even think the Vikings have a shot at winning this ball game.
I think the outcome comes down to the final possession, but I feel even more confident that we’ll see some big stops in some opportune times.
Vikings 20, Seahawks 23
I went back and forth between who I think wins this game. In the end for me, the home-field edge and play of Russell Wilson are what tip the scale in Seattle’s direction.
But rather than try and guess who will have the ball last, I’ll take a stab at this game falling under 45.5. I presume the public will be on the over, which makes me perk up about the under even more.
Kansas City plays their second game since releasing Kareem Hunt, while the Ravens need to continue winning to keep their Playoff hopes alive. There will be no shortage of intensity on the gridiron in Arrowhead Stadium this Sunday – that much I can promise.
The key here for Chiefs backers is to make sure they shop their line and get in early. The line was at Chiefs -7 on nearly all the sites, but I was able to lock down the Chiefs at -6.5 (still at -110) over on Sportsbook.ag.
Vegas clearly respects Baltimore an awful lot here when you consider the Chiefs are 5-0 at home this season with an average margin of victory of 16.2 points, and no game has been decided by fewer than 7 points.
Those of you who think Lamar Jackson can get into a shootout with Mahomes will like the over here, as six of the Chiefs’ last seven games have seen the total hit 53 or more points.
Talk about contrasting styles. Here, we have the NFL’s #1-ranked scoring offense facing the #1-ranked scoring defense. The Chiefs need to keep piling on the wins to maintain separation between themselves and the trio of 9-3 teams who reside in the AFC.
Meanwhile, the Ravens currently sit a half-game behind the Steelers in the AFC North and are in the thick of the wild card race thanks to reeling off three straight victories.
I can’t help but notice that Baltimore made the change from Joe Flacco to Lamar Jackson at the same time this winning streak started, and I certainly don’t think the two are just a coincidence.
Jackson has carried the ball 54 times in the past three games and gives Marty Mornhinweg’s offense a completely new look and an extra layer of options.
Marty will have to get creative in his play calling and draw up some plays that allow Lamar to get out in the open field and take advantage of his dynamic skill set.
The problem is that KC’s defense, despite giving up lots of yards and points, is a determined and ball-hawking group that can still get after the quarterback.
Kansas City ranks second in the NFL in sacks (39) and forced fumbles (18). Jackson passed tests at home versus the decrepit Bengals and Raiders, and he was able to win at Atlanta.
Now traveling to Arrowhead Stadium to face the most prolific team in the AFC, it’s going to get a lot more difficult.
The mini-run that Baltimore has been on has been nice, but it gets way less impressive when you look at the quality of opponents they actually have beaten. The Ravens defense has had their way with most opposing offenses in 2018, but that’s going to change in a big way on Sunday.
They don’t have the athletes or discipline on defense to be able to contain Patrick Mahomes, and quite frankly, nobody does. That’s why I see the Chiefs having no problem dispatching Baltimore in a game where John Harbaugh’s defensive prowess is set to take a big hit.
Ravens 20, Chiefs 34
If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.
Chiefs have yet to play a home game that they didn’t win by a touchdown or more, and I think that streak stays alive here.
The Steelers have suddenly lost back-to-back games and have the Ravens breathing down their neck in the AFC North. Oakland just keeps losing, as a three-point win over Cleveland and a two-point win over Arizona are the only two victories the Raiders have on their entire 2018 resume.
The Raiders have been so poor in 2018 that they are at home playing a battered team, and they’re still a double-digit underdog. Pittsburgh is 4-1-1 away from Heinz Field this season, so obviously the oddsmakers have faith that Mike Tomlin can win this game comfortably.
The Steelers enter this road matchup banged up in more ways than one. Their confidence is certainly shaken after blowing a 23-7 halftime lead at home against the Chargers on Sunday Night Football.
Not only did they drop the ball there in front of millions watching, but they also lost running back James Conner to a leg injury that is much more serious than originally anticipated.
Tomlin’s plan is to use an RB by committee approach versus the Raiders this Sunday, as rookie Jaylen Samuels will get his first shot to prove his worth. Veteran Stevan Ridley and 23-year-old Trey Edmunds figure to be rotated in as well, but Pittsburgh tends to let one man handle the majority of the touches when push comes to shove.
We saw DeAngelo Williams get the bulk of the work when Le’Veon Bell was hurt in the past, and we saw the Steelers lean heavily on Conner in 2018.
Either way, the natural feeling is that this offense takes at least some sort of step backward without the services of the man who had evolved into their bell cow.
Big Ben still has Antonio Brown and JuJu Smith-Schuster, so it’s not like he lacks a talented supporting cast. But the Steelers are trending down as an entity, and the Raiders at least showed up and were competitive with KC last weekend.
Derek Carr found a rhythm with Jared Cook and Jordy Nelson, and they ran the ball for 171 yards on just 28 carries. At the Oakland Coliseum playing in front of their fans, they should be able to muster enough plays to hang around.
But then again, these are the Oakland Raiders. Trusting them is a lot easier said than done.
I know the Steelers have found success on the road this season, but career splits tell me Ben Roethlisberger isn’t nearly as efficient when playing as a visitor. Look at his home/road splits for yourself.
Notice the highlighted portion that signifies the immense drop-off in his TD/INT ratio. I know the Raiders defense is among the worst in the league, but I don’t see Pitt completely pulling away in this one.
I’d love to get bold and say that Jon Gruden shows up big and pulls off the upset, but that’s a bit ambitious for even a Las Vegas native and future Raiders fan!
Steelers 31, Raiders 27
I know the Raiders aren’t a very good football team. You could argue that they are actually the bottom feeders of all 32 teams in the National Football League.
But I’m just not sold that the Steelers deserve to be a double-digit road favorite given Mike Tomlin’s history of laying eggs in games that look like “cupcakes.”
Who wins the NFC East could very well come down to this game on Sunday. Should Dallas win, they inch one step closer to wrapping this thing up and keeping Jason Garrett employed for at least another year.
Philly needs to win to match Dallas at the top of the standings, and then things will get really interesting.
Based on the way Dallas has been playing over the past month or so, it’s hard to argue with them being more than a field goal favorite over the defending Super Bowl champs.
To be fair, this line could have opened at 4.5 or 5, and I don’t think many would have even batted an eye.
The Eagles have won two straight and look to be building some positive momentum as they head into the final stretch of the season. With that being said, it looks like their backs are still completely against the wall here if they want a chance at defending their crown.
The current four-game winning streak that Jerry Jones and his team have been enjoying starts and ends with one thing specifically.
Really stout defense.
Behind the play of Leighton Vander Esch and Jaylon Smith, this unit has held opponents to just 18.6 points/game, the fewest among any NFC squads. In terms of yards allowed in the NFC, only the Khalil Mack-led Bears group has given up fewer.
I don’t expect things to come easy for Carson Wentz and the Eagles offense, but that doesn’t mean they’ll get shut out entirely.
Philly is starting to get their groove back, albeit their past two wins didn’t exactly come against the “cream of the crop.” But just getting to a point where they now have the opportunity to get back to the top of the NFC East standings should give them added adrenaline.
We saw Doug Pederson finally make it a point to get recently-acquired Golden Tate more involved, as a handful of scripted plays to get Tate the ball on quick throws were a big part of their scheme.
A fast and reliable target in the slot is exactly what Wentz will need against a defense that will be in his face and wreaking havoc all game long.
Pederson will continue to eagerly find ways to get Josh Adams touches out of the backfield, as the rookie out of Notre Dame has amassed 42 carries (22 and 20) over the past two games since being named as the starter.
I’m not sure how effective Adams will be, but that doesn’t stop me from having faith that Philly will be ready to go for this one.
The recipe for success is simple in the Big D. The Cowboys are going to try and feed Ezekiel Elliott the ball 25+ times and let their defense go to work. That’s why it’s extremely important that the Eagles get off to a fast start and avoid letting Dallas eat away at the clock.
I’m not saying that the Cowboys D will fall apart by any means, but I sense that Carson Wentz plays a really solid game and puts his team in positions to be successful. I know Amari Cooper has been a huge lift for Dak and the Dallas offense, but I’m not sold that Prescott is efficient enough when it matters most.
I think the Eagles not only keep this thing close, but I think they sneak away with a W and leave “Jerry World” a bit stunned and perplexed.
Eagles 27, Cowboys 24
There is so much on the line for Philly that I find it hard to imagine a scenario where they at least don’t have the ball late in the fourth quarter with a chance to win this game.
Being that I can cash in if they emerge victoriously or lose by a field goal or less, I’m finding myself pretty enthusiastic about placing this wager.
I gave you a fair amount of insight into a few games taking place on Sunday, as well as the Monday night game in Seattle. For those of you just looking for a simple pick in some of Sunday’s other matchups, just keep on reading.
Carolina is spiraling right out of NFC Playoff contention after starting the year out 6-2. Losers of four straight, Cam Newton is coming off a four-interception game and will now be without his star tight end after Greg Olsen was placed on season-ending IR.
Cleveland has been up and down all season. Baker Mayfield has shown flashes of brilliance, but he’s also displayed traces of inexperience.
With the temperature set to be around freezing when this game kicks off, I see a couple of struggling teams going to battle in what I believe will be a low-scoring dogfight.
The Saints are coming off their most dismal performance since opening the year with a home loss to these same Buccaneers. Now Sean Payton will get to exact some revenge on Dirk Koetter’s team when the Saints travel to Raymond James Stadium for this NFC South matchup.
I wouldn’t want to be playing Drew Brees after his team got embarrassed on national television. I anticipate he shreds the Bucs secondary to pieces this weekend in Florida and leaves nothing to chance.
New Orleans needs a W if they plan on keeping pace with the Rams for a shot at securing home-field advantage throughout the NFC Playoffs.
Look for them to dismantle Tampa in this Week 14 game that I suspect turns into a laugher.
Just because these are the seven games that caught my eye doesn’t mean there aren’t others that you might be more interested in.
We have an action-packed slate filled with 14 NFL games on Sunday, plus a really captivating tussle set to take place on Monday evening.
I suggest you head over to the most reputable sites when it comes to betting NFL football games and start booking some action now. The lines and prices I found here most certainly won’t last forever!