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Sunday's Best

Week 14 Details, Angles and Edges

by Warren Sharp
Updated On: December 12, 2020, 1:31 pm ET

Houston Texans at Chicago Bears

The Chicago Bears have not played a single team ranking in the top half of the NFL in pass rate since week 6… until they take on the Texans, who are the NFL’s #7 most pass heavy offense.

In fact, primarily because neither of these teams can run the ball (#31 and #32 run offense), both offenses are top-8 in pass rate.  

That makes for a very interesting meeting between these two quarterbacks.  The Bears passed over Deshaun Watson to draft Mitch Trubisky.  It wasn’t just passing over Watson, though, it was a flat out ignoring of Watson.

But it’s not just Watson with something to prove here.  Trubisky hasn’t had close to the same career as Watson to date, but Trubisky has a second chance to earn a role in the NFL and is playing for his future in a game that should be very meaningful to him as well.

While the Bears are known for defense, they’ve been trending downward for a couple weeks now.  Of course the Packers Offense makes anyone look foolish, but last week, the Bears allowed Matthew Stafford to throw for 9.6 YPA, a 52% success rate and 3 TDs despite not having his #1 receiving option in Kenny Golladay.

Watson lost WRs Will Fuller and Kenny Stills, but that didn’t stop him last week from averaging 9.0 YPA with 341 passing yards against a top-10 passing defense of the Colts last weekend.  The Titans likely win that game without a Watson fumble on a snap at the 2-yard line with a minute left in the game.

Look for slot WR Keke Coutee to dominate against the replacement slot CB for Buster Skrine, who will miss this game with a concussion.  Skrine started all season long and has been terrible, so it’s not really a downgrade that he’s out, but it just means the backup is likely equally terrible.

On the other side of the ball, Mitchell Trubisky has not failed to put up at least 23 points in every game he’s started except in a low scoring win over the Bears back in week 2.  He lost last week’s game 30-34 against the Lions, but threw for a respectable 7.9 YPA, a 58% success rate and a 108 passer rating.

Trubisky was spreading the ball around to Allen Robinson, Cole Kmet, Anthony Miller, Darnell Mooney and David Montgomery extremely well (each had between 4-6 catches on between 4-7 targets).

Importantly, the Bears converted TDs on all 4 red zone trips.  That was one week after converting on 3 of 4 red zone trips against the Packers the prior week.

Like the Lions, the Texans red zone defense has been terrible this season, similarly ranking bottom-10 on the season.

Interestingly, Houston is allowing the most efficiency per attempt on throws within 15 yards of the line of scrimmage (.45), and Mitchell Trubisky is fifth in the league with 106.3 passer rating on throws within 15 yards, completing 71.5% of those passes with nine touchdowns and two interceptions.

 

 

Green Bay Packers at Detroit Lions

Aaron Rodgers is 46-25 ATS against divisional opponents in his career, and has a 56-13-3 (81%) in 6-point teasers in those games.  

As a divisional favorite of between 6 and 9.5 points, when he plays the full game, Rodgers is 15-3 ATS and 16-1-1 (94%) in 6-point teasers.

With the Packers laying 7.5 points in Detroit, they are in the perfect window for a 6-point teaser.

 

 

Tennessee Titans at Jacksonville Jaguars

After playing the NFL’s easiest schedule of run offenses over the first 11 weeks of the season, the Jaguars faced the NFL’s #9 and #6 run offenses in consecutive weeks, between the Browns and Vikings.

Cleveland destroyed the Jags run defense, averaging 6.3 YPC with a 70% success rate while totaling 207 rushing yards.  Nick Chubb gained 7.6 YPC with an 89% success rate.

Last week, the Vikings didn’t have near that level of success, but still totaled 145 rushing yards but averaged only 3.8 YPC.

The difference was simple:  instead of running a ton of outside zone, the Vikings mixed in so many other run concepts the Jaguars are much better defending.

On the season, Jacksonville is terrible vs outside zone.  That’s what the Browns used to destroy them (12 runs, 11.0 YPC, 92% success).  And when the Vikings used outside zone, they dominated (4.9 YPC, 70% success) but they ran 6 leads (1.5 YPC, 17% success), 4 pitches (1.5 YPC, 25% success) and a number of other concepts the Jaguars Defense is good against.

Tennessee has 30 more outside zone runs on the season than any other run type, and if they choose to focus on this run concept they should have success on the ground.

The Titans run offense is far more like the Browns than the Vikings, and I expect better success on the ground from the Titans here.

Additionally, after playing 4 straight games against top-10 run defenses, the Titans ran too predictably against the Browns, fell into a quick 17-0 hole, and had to abandon the run.

If Arthur Smith has learned anything from that experience, he should get things on track vs the Jaguars #26 run defense, the first bottom-10 run defense the Titans have faced since dropping 42 points on the Houston Texans back in week 6.

On the other side of the ball, we can’t overlook the brilliant RB James Robinson, who is just 137 total yards shy of the all-time record for an undrafted RB.  

While the Jaguars will be playing without C Brandon Linder, they still have a top-10 rushing offense.

Tennessee has played just 4 other teams that rank top-15 in rushing efficiency, and allowed:

41 points to the Browns
30 points to the Jaguars
30 points to the Vikings
24 points to the Ravens

While both ground games could be productive, both QBs should feel comfortable in the pocket:  Tennessee is last in the NFL in sack rate (2.9%) while Jacksonville is 29th (3.5%).

Tennessee absolutely needs this game to keep pace with the Colts in the AFC South, but the Jaguars have been extremely live of late, covering 4 of their last 5 games despite losing all of them.  And they didn’t even need the 4th quarter to earn most of these covers.  Jacksonville trailed by over 1 score entering the 4th quarter in just one of their last 5 games.

This series has seen 64% of games go over the total since 2015, including 100% of games totaled over 43 points (4-0 to the over) and 4 of the 5 rematch games have gone over the total as well (80%).   
 

Warren Sharp

Warren Sharp is a football and betting analyst for NBC Sports. As a leading voice in football analytics, Warren writes a yearly book previewing the upcoming season from all angles at his Sharp Football Analysis website. You can follow Warren Sharp on Twitter @SharpFootball.