With only a month left to go in the NFL’s regular season, Week 14 presents football fans with four games featuring matchups between legitimate Super Bowl contenders.
And as always, online sportsbook Bovada has bettors covered with lines on a Sunday slate that will prove pivotal for playoff positioning.
AFC Heavyweights Clash in Chase for Conference’s Top Seed
Before the season started, the Buffalo Bills (9-3) were stuck near the bottom in terms of odds on winning Super Bowl 54, with most books tabbing the team as 100 to 1 underdogs.
The Baltimore Ravens (10-2) were a bit higher at 33 to 1 on a title run, but both teams were widely considered to be also-rans in the hunt for a Lombardi Trophy. Fast forward to Week 14, however, and the Bills host the Ravens in a crucial game that could decide the AFC’s #1 overall seed.
Baltimore will be looking for its ninth straight win, and fourth consecutive victory over a playoff contending opponent. Over the last three games, the Ravens have defeated the San Francisco 49ers (10-2), the Los Angeles Rams (7-5), and the Houston Texans (8-4) by a combined scoreline of 106-30.
Throw in blowout victories over the New England Patriots (10-2) and the Seattle Seahawks (10-2) during Baltimore’s impressive winning streak, and this is a team that will arrive in Buffalo prepared to beat the best of the best.
Buffalo isn’t quite in that tier just yet, but a win over the Ravens would definitely put the Bills there.
Expect to see a ton of yardage gained by quarterbacks on the run, as the Ravens’ Lamar Jackson and the Bills’ Josh Allen deploy a similar double-threat offensive attack.
Buffalo is listed as a big (+6) home dog here, so the bookmakers are giving Baltimore a ton of respect given the team’s torrid run of late.
The Ravens might just boast a little extra motivation too, knowing that a Patriots loss to the Kansas City Chiefs (8-4) would vault Baltimore into a one-game lead in the AFC.
That game goes down in Foxboro though, where Bill Belichick and Tom Brady seldom leave the stadium without a win in hand.
New England hasn’t lost a regular season home game since Week 4 of the 2017 season, reeling off 18 consecutive victories on home turf. That streak extends to 21 wins when the postseason is included, and the Patriots know they need to beat the Chiefs on Sunday to have any shot at home field advantage throughout the playoffs.
As for Kansas City, a midseason injury to QB Pat Mahomes cut into the juggernaut’s record somewhat, but the Chiefs appear to be rounding into form at the right time. With a healthy Mahomes back in the fold, Kansas City’s offense is clicking once again to the tune of 32 points per game over the last three weeks.
They’ll need every bit of that output too, given New England’s dominant defense is allowing an absurdly low 12.1 points per game on the year.
With the Patriots only favored by (-3) here, the razor thin line suggests bet shops would list this one as a pick’em on a neutral field.
NFC’s Top Teams Battle for Seeding Supremacy
In what might just be the game of the week, the New Orleans Saints (10-2) host the 49ers in a matchup of double-digit winning NFC contenders.
But while both teams sport the same sterling record, the Saints’ comfortable lead in the NFC South – coupled with a head-to-head tiebreaker over the Seahawks – makes them the conference’s top seed. Meanwhile, the Niners are currently slotted into a Wild Card spot based on their head-to-head loss against Seattle.
San Francisco still has a Week 17 rematch to remedy that situation, but they’ll need to get past a scorching hot Saints team first. Since laying an egg in a 26-9 loss to the dreadful Atlanta Falcons (3-9), New Orleans has won three straight divisional games to clinch the South.
San Francisco hits the road for the second straight week, and a trip to the Superdome typically doesn’t bode well for even the best of teams. As such, the Saints are listed as slim (-2.5) home favorites here.
To cap off Sunday in style, the night game features an NFC West tilt between the Seahawks and Rams.
Los Angeles has fallen on hard times in a “hangover” season following last year’s Super Bowl loss, and if they don’t win this game, they’ll likely miss the playoffs altogether. QB Jared Goff just isn’t giving the Rams a chance to win against top teams, which is why L.A. is listed as (+1.5) home dogs with Russell Wilson in MVP-caliber form coming to town.