It’s Thursday which means that Week 14 kicks off tonight in Music City, with an AFC South clash between the Jaguars and Titans. As per tradition, we begin Thursdays with a prop bet (or two) for the night's big game. We’re bringing you the need-to-know betting notes to help you crack the NFL odds in Week 14.
Leonard Fournette returns tonight from his one-game suspension, which means he should have fresh legs in what looks to be a tasty matchup with Tennessee.
For the season, the Titans are slightly above average against the run in rushing DVOA with a rank of 13 and slightly below average in giving up 119.8 rushing yards per game, ranked 19th in the league. But Tennessee has been exposed via the running game lately, giving up 150.3 rushing yards per game on an average of 5.6 yards per carry over the last three weeks.
This is Fournette’s first game with Scott Milanovich as offensive coordinator, though he showed his commitment to the run game by calling 21 run plays to 24 pass plays in last week’s win over Indianapolis. Fournette has run for 95 yards in each of his last two games — both against tougher defenses than Tennessee — and we expect him to approach the 100-yard mark tonight as well. Take the Over 78.5 on his rushing yards total.
PUTTING THE "FOOT" IN FOOTBALL
If you’re looking for touchdowns, Thursday Night Football might not be for you this week. However, if you enjoy watching a battle of the kickers, this could be must-see TV as Ryan Succop and Josh Lambo figure to play a key role in tonight’s matchup. The last time these two division rivals faced off in Week 3, there were five combined field goals in Jacksonville’s 9-6 win. Last season, there were four field goals in Week 17 and four more in Week 2. You get the idea.
There are a few other factors which lead us to believe this game will come down to the kickers. Tennessee allows its opponents to convert just 44.1 percent of their red-zone opportunities into touchdowns, the lowest rate in the league.
The game total tonight is set at one of the lowest totals of the season at 37.5, meaning oddsmakers are also expecting the teams to stay out of the end zone.
Finally, we have two pretty solid kickers on each sideline, with Lambo converting at 90.5 percent and Succop at 87.5 percent. We’re taking the Over 3.5 on the number of field goals made, which comes in at a nice +110.
SANDERS TEARS ACHILLES
The Denver Broncos were hit with terrible news yesterday as receiver Emmanuel Sanders tore his Achilles in practice and is out for the season. Denver moves forward with a pair of rookies at wideout, with Courtland Sutton sliding into the No. 1 role and DaeSean Hamilton getting bumped into the starting lineup.
Sutton’s arrow is trending way up and the Broncos' matchup with the 49ers this week is nice for their passing game. But we’re going to stay away for now, to see how Sutton handles the added attention that comes with being the WR1 and how Case Keenum deals with three rookies running routes for him.
Instead, we’ll go back to Phillip Lindsay who got us a double winner last week by going Over 76.5 rushing yards and Over 0.5 rushing touchdowns. He has been nothing short of spectacular of late, posting seven yards per carry on 44 carries over his last three games.
He has also racked up 111.2 combined yards on 17.3 touches per game over his last six games. This week, Lindsay gets a 49ers defense that was just torched by Chris Carson and Rashaad Penny for 134 yards and a touchdown on 20 carries.
The game script also sets up nicely for Lindsay as the Broncos are a four-point road fave. Lindsay is as hot as can be and he could see additional touches on Sunday as the Broncos deal with their paper-thin receiver depth chart. We’re doubling-down on Lindsay for the second week in a row: Take the Over for his rushing yards total and the Over 0.5 on his rushing touchdowns total.
Bears coach Matt Nagy said on Wednesday that he “feels strong” about quarterback Mitchell Trubisky playing on Sunday night against the Rams.
Trubisky has missed the last two games and the Bears have managed to go 1-1 in his absence, though there was a massive drop off in their passing game as Trubisky averages 8.23 yards per attempt and Chase Daniel managed just 6.26. He returns for a key NFC matchup on Sunday Night Football as the Bears host the Rams as a three-point underdog.
There are slight concerns as Trubisky returns from an injury to his throwing shoulder but we can’t look past the matchup he faces in Week 14.
The Rams, perhaps because they generally play with a big lead, are allowing 248.9 passing yards per game and have given up some huge weeks to opposing quarterbacks, notably Patrick Mahomes’ 478 passing yards in Week 11 and Drew Brees’ 346 passing yards in Week 9. OK, Trubisky isn’t quite at their level, but opposing QBs have thrown for 245 or more yards against them in six of the last nine games (the only QBs not to reach 245 were C.J. Beathard and Russell Wilson twice).
We’ll be monitoring the prop market closely and leaning towards the Over for Trubisky’s passing yards total, especially if it’s set at the expected 225-235 range.
MIAMI'S LOSS IS NEW ENGLAND'S GAIN
Dolphins top cornerback Xavien Howard is week to week with a knee injury and will likely miss Sunday’s game against the Patriots, though he hasn’t officially been ruled out yet. This would be a boost to New England’s passing game as Howard was just named the AFC Defensive Player of the Week after his third two-interception game of the season.
Howard has been a pest to the Pats’ top receivers, holding Josh Gordon to two catches for 32 yards back in Week 4 (though that was Gordon’s first game in New England) and Brandin Cooks to one catch for 38 yards in last year’s shocking loss at Miami in Week 14.
Howard usually covers a team’s top wideout, meaning Gordon should benefit most from Howard’s absence. Gordon is averaging 5.8 targets per game over his last four and turned a tough matchup last week against Minnesota’s Xavier Rhodes into 58 receiving yards and a touchdown.
We’re expecting slightly higher production this week in what will be a much easier matchup if Howard is indeed ruled out. Keep an eye on Covers’ Twitter feed for injury updates and grab the Over on Gordon’s receiving yards total if Howard sits.