Every Friday during the NFL season, ESPN betting analysts Doug Kezirian (1-1 last week, 14-24-1 overall), Joe Fortenbaugh (1-2, 27-45-1), Anita Marks (13-4, 60-69-2), Preston Johnson (0-0, 12-19), Mike Clay (3-0, 15-10) and Tyler Fulghum (14-8, 46-53-1), sports betting deputy editor David Bearman (4-0, 25-16), Seth Walder (2-3, 42-24) of ESPN analytics and Aaron Schatz (4-2, 32-37-2) of Football Outsiders will tell us what they like from Sunday’s slate.
Note: Lines courtesy of Caesars Sportsbook by William Hill and subject to change.
8:20 p.m. ET game
Pittsburgh Steelers at Buffalo Bills (-2.5, 46)
Fortenbaugh: The Steelers have laid eggs in back-to-back outings despite closing as 10.5-point favorites over Baltimore in Week 12 and 5.5-point favorites over Washington in Week 13. Needless to say, the public is losing faith in Pittsburgh. Meanwhile Josh Allen and the surging Bills have won five of their past six, punctuated by a 34-24 butt-kicking of the 49ers on national television this past Monday night. Needless to say, the public is gaining faith in Buffalo. This is a classic “buy low” spot on the Steelers. Remember, Mike Tomlin is 17-5 ATS in his past 22 road games as an underdog facing a team with a winning record.
Pick: Steelers +2.5
Fulghum: This line seems like an overreaction to Week 13 outcomes. Listen, we knew the Steelers were eventually going to lose a game and that Washington had the personnel on defense to make life difficult for quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. It was a classic sandwich-spot letdown between a matchup with the Ravens and this game with the Bills, and the Steelers seemed to lose interest after jumping out to a 14-0 lead.
But Allen will not throw for 375 yards and four TDs against this dynamic Steelers defense like he did against the 49ers. The Steelers (if not the Rams) are the best defense in the NFL, especially against the pass, where they lead the NFL in pressure rate and force QBs to lose their timing or turn the ball over.
Pick: Steelers +2.5
Marks: The Steelers are coming off their first loss and playing their third game in 12 days, and have to be a tired bunch. They are also dealing with a number of injuries on defense and on their offensive line. Meanwhile, the Bills looked great against the 49ers on Monday. Allen completed 80% of his passes for 375 yards and four touchdowns. This is a great spot for the Bills to beat a team they will possibly see again in the postseason.
Pick: Teaser: Bills +3.5 and over 40
1 p.m. ET games
Arizona Cardinals (-2, 45) at New York Giants
Fortenbaugh: Are the Cardinals good? It seemed so when Arizona opened 5-2 both straight up and against the spread, with quarterback Kyler Murray garnering some MVP whispers. But the Cardinals are 1-4 SU and 0-5 ATS in their past five games, with the “Hail Murray” against Buffalo the only thing keeping them from a five-game losing streak. Arizona’s defense has surrendered 28 or more points in five of its past six games, so Murray can’t bank on the other side of the ball to bail him out. The Giants have held all four opponents to 20 or fewer points during the team’s four-game winning streak and now can boast of a defense that is tied for third in the NFL in takeaways, eighth in sacks, ninth in scoring defense and 10th in total defense.
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