Time is running out for NFL teams to secure a place in the playoffs and Paul Higham returns with his NFL Week 14 RedZone picks.
Here we go with Week 14 in the NFL and although three teams can secure play-off spots it’s still anyone’s game as we enter the fourth quarter of the season.
Plenty can change though over the rest of the season, and we’ve got some huge games again in the early slate of NFL RedZone fixtures.
The Baltimore Ravens need to respond to a crushing loss as they face the Cleveland Browns for the second time in a fortnight, while the Titans are back off their bye week needing a win to continue their push for top spot in the AFC.
Kansas City have won five straight and will fancy making it six in a row while the New Orleans Saints are dropping like a stone after five consecutive defeats – but a game against the Jets could help stop that skid.
Here’s our pick of the NFL Red Zone games, along with a touchdown scorers double at a nice price.
We're approaching playoff clinching season. 👀
Which division race is the most exciting? pic.twitter.com/TUbHhJYbGw
— NFL (@NFL) December 9, 2021
Baltimore Ravens @ Cleveland Browns
It’s not often you play the same team twice in a row in the NFL, but after losing in Baltimore a fortnight ago, the Browns return from a bye week for another crack at the Ravens in Cleveland.
Baltimore spent last week losing a bruising but thrilling encounter with Pittsburgh as part of their brutal finishing stretch of games, which is among the toughest in the league. So a fresh Cleveland playing at home are therefore posted as narrow 2.5-point favourites.
The teams are tied third in the league for rushing, but on defence there’s a difference as the Browns are balanced but the Ravens own the top run-stopping unit right now but the second-worst at defending the pass.
Baltimore stuffed Cleveland’s run game in their gritty 16-10 win two weeks ago, so the Browns may have to let Baker Mayfield take a few more shots to turn the tables in what’s a crucial game for both sides’ play-off plans.
The Ravens have the ball more than anyone else in the league, but they’ve been held to under 20 points in five of the last six and that stuttering offence will be under pressure again from a fresh pass-rushing unit who were no doubt taking notes as Pittsburgh sacked Lamar Jackson seven times.
Jackson threw four picks in the last Browns game but his defence bailed him out for the win. I don’t think he’ll get away with it this time so am happy to back the Browns to win a tight one.
The safer bet on the whole though is under 41.5 points. That would’ve landed in Baltimore’s last four games and in four of Cleveland’s last six – where neither side eclipsed 20 points.
Best bet: Under 41.5 points at Evens
Which pair of players or coaches in a divisional matchup are you most looking forward to seeing in Week 14?
@KyleBrandt ➡️ @Flash_Garrett vs @Lj_era8@PSchrags ➡️ Sean McVay vs Kliff Kingsbury@MJD ➡️ Kevin Stefanski and @bakermayfield pic.twitter.com/mgTS5jGfCs
— Good Morning Football (@gmfb) December 9, 2021
Las Vegas Raiders @ Kansas City Chiefs
Just over a month ago the Chiefs looked dead and buried, but five straight wins has catapulted them to 8-4 and chasing the top seed in the AFC. And their success has been down to a surprising defensive transformation.
While the Chiefs’ defence stunk early on, they’ve only allowed around 11 points per game over the last five, with their one blowout win in the usual Patrick Mahomes style coming in a dominant victory against these Raiders in Las Vegas.
Under coach Andy Reid the Chiefs are 5-1 at home against the spread versus the Raiders, and they’re 5/6 to beat it again as 9.5-point favourites. They’ve won seven of the last eight against Las Vegas, who themselves have lost four of their last five.
Vegas won’t be as open defensively this time though so although KC should cover, don’t expect the points total to be as high as the first game as this could be a lot more like their low-scoring wins of late.
Five of the last six Chiefs games have gone under the points total, and while the Raiders pile up plenty of yards to keep hold of the ball, they’re just 17th in points per game. They’re also 29th in RedZone scoring and if Darren Waller is out, they’re without their top scoring threat.
The Chiefs mightn’t have to force this one.
Best bet: Under 48.5pts at 17/20
“I would argue there is no regression. This is who Patrick Mahomes is. He’s always been streaky.”
— Herd w/Colin Cowherd (@TheHerd) December 9, 2021
New Orleans Saints @ New York Jets
Having Alvin Kamara back after four games could be huge for the Saints as they look to end a five-game losing streak – their worst for 16 years when, ironically enough, they ended that spell by beating the New York Jets.
And facing the 3-9 Jets, who’ve lost four of the last five and heading towards an 11th year without making the playoffs seems the perfect remedy for New Orleans to finally get back to winning ways.
It won’t be as simple as it sounds though, as the Saints’ backup QB Taysom Hill has far too many mistakes in him to ever feel comfortable and New Orleans will need him to just run or hand the ball off to Kamara to try and limit mistakes.
The Jets have looked handy at times and rookie QB Zach Wilson has shown flashes and as 6.5-point underdogs at home against a team on such a big losing streak they might be worth a look.
Kamara’s return should open up even more space for running QB Hill though, so back him to score a rushing TD at 11/10, while Kamara may be better value to score a receiving TD at 16/5 given he’s got more scores in the air than on the ground this season.
You can back both of them to score those TDs at 17/2 via Bet Builder and that’d be a nice play for this game, where the Saints should get a few points but may not be able to cover in a game with two teams that could produce anything on the day.
Best bet: Saints to score over 24.5pts at 5/6
Elijah Moore in his last 10 games:
🗽 70 Targets
🗽 1 Drop
— PFF (@PFF) December 10, 2021
Jacksonville Jaguars @ Tennessee Titans
The Titans limped into their bye week with two defeats, scoring just 13 points in each game, and including a huge upset against Houston, but they return at 8-4 and are still in the running for the top spot in the AFC.
If you’re a glass-half-full Titan you’re in good shape with them big 8.5-point favourites to win a fifth in a row against the Jags – who are 2-10 after four straight losses and looking pretty awful especially on offence. And having already beaten them 37-19 this season.
Pessimists will point to the 18 players the Titans have on IR, including dominant running back Derrick Henry and their two best receivers, and the 13 interceptions Ryan Tannehill has thrown this season.
Henry decimated the Jags’ defence in the first meeting and although stand-in duo Dontrell Hilliard and D’Onta Foreman aren’t in his league, they did both have 100-yard games against the Patriots.
And the Jaguars are very much not the Patriots. So back that duo to get their yards and watch for Titans receiver Nick Westbrook-Ikhine to score his fourth TD of the season as the default top target.
The Jags have averaged just under 11 points per game over their last six and almost half of those points have come late on. Tennessee will get a welcome victory boost here.
Best bet: Titans -8.5pts at 10/11
Travis Kelce & Alvin Kamara to score at 13/2
Patrick Mahomes threw five TDs the last time the Chiefs faced the Raiders, and Las Vegas will be trying everything to stop him this time.
That won’t help though against tight end Travis Kelce, who didn’t score in Las Vegas but did have a 100-yard game and will surely find the end zone this time around having scored five of his six TDs this season at Arrowhead.
Alvin Kamara has been out for four games and the Saints have missed him badly when losing five in a row. QB Taysom Hill is pretty bad but he can make short throws and star RB Kamara actually has more receiving TDs this season than rushing (4-3).