NFL Week 14: Avoid a fumble by grabbing hold of our expert’s 9/1 treble

Our resident gridiron guru isn’t afraid to toss one up when the time's right…


Cleveland Browns v Green Bay Packers: Browns win – 7/5

There’s plenty of reasons why Cleveland haven’t won a game. Hue Jackson may well have been lucky to escape the axe that his General Manager felt the brunt of midweek, because he’s simply not producing.

However, there’s more than enough on film in recent weeks to suggest that their talent will shine through. They can capitalise against Brett Hundley and co.

DeShone Kizer played well in Los Angeles last week. His only real flaw was the interception he threw to Adrian Phillips late in the game when chasing a result. If they can force Hundley to throw the ball, and they will – as Cleveland boasts a run defence that ranks sixth in the league – he will make mistakes on third down.

Green Bay’s record is solely based on Aaron Rodgers’ miracles. Their stats are appalling for a team people refuse to rule out of a Super Bowl appearance. Out of 32 teams, they’re 20th in points scored, 25th in total yards per game, 27th in pass yards per game, 26th in pass yards against and 24th in total yards per game against.

The interior pass rush of Cleveland and a breakout performance from #1 overall pick Myles Garrett are on the cards. I think they’ll win this.

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Seattle Seahawks v Jacksonville Jaguars: Seahawks win – 23/20

First in points against. First in total yards against. First in pass yards against. These are fairly impressive numbers being put up by the Jacksonville defence. So, what exactly has me picking a Seahawks team that can run the ball, on a 3,000-mile trip?

Not every NFL team is the same and sometimes, to find their weakness, you need to dissect their schedule. The Jags have done well against prototype offences. They can man-up and beat teams on talent level alone. But, there’s a lot to be exploited with some manipulation and misdirection.

Tennessee put thirty points up against them. They used read-option, a mobile quarterback and a freak tight end who doesn’t drop the ball. That’s exactly what Seattle possess. That Tennessee outfit is 25th in the league when it comes to defending the pass. Seattle are considerably better.

When there’s any chance of backing against Blake Bortles, you should take it. When there’s a chink in the impressive armour of the NFL’s best defence, you must exploit it.

Baltimore Ravens v Pittsburgh Steelers: Steelers (-4.5) – 20/21

The Pittsburgh Steelers have lost their pace on defence with Ryan Shazier going down to a very serious back injury last week. Which, in theory, culminates with one of the toughest matchups they’ll have against underneath routes through the returning Danny Woodhead.

However, Flacco won’t be winning this game by dunking the ball underneath and playing conservatively. He’ll have to stretch Pittsburgh to keep up with their prolific offence. The familiarity the Steelers have with Joe and his ways mean that this game will likely come down to mismatches – again.

It did back in week 4, when the Steelers ran out seventeen-point-winners. Baltimore have improved this year, but only on one side of the ball. Tony Jefferson is one of the most underrated defensive backs in football, and he joins one of the very best in general, in Eric Weddle.

That’s fine defending the deep ball, but because of the depth of the Pittsburgh arsenal, their receiving corps and Le’Veon Bell will command sub packages on the field and take advantage of receiver-heavy formations like Pistol Trips. Baltimore are second-to-last when it comes to throwing the ball. They’re third-to-last in total yards.

A trip to Pittsburgh is not complementary to those statistics.

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* All odds correct at time of posting.

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