Welcome back to another edition of Beating the Spread! I’m Jake Roy, and I’m leading the BTS team again this season. I’m joined by two-time Beating the Spread participant Brennan Rampe and newcomer Jason Wolf. We’re here every weekend throughout the season and we’ll crown our champion at the end.
Week 15! We’re past the bye weeks and on to the home stretch. It’s a full slate of games all weekend long, starting on Thursday, continuing on Saturday, and finally finishing up on Sunday. Even this late in the season, it’s hard to know what teams really are. Are the Lions serious contenders? Are the Bills back in playoff contention? Could the Bears make a late run? Your guess is as good as mine.
|Jake Roy (@Jake3Roy)
|Brennan Rampe (@Phdinnfl)
|Jason Wolf (@J_Wolf_picks)
|Eagles/Seahawks over 47.5
|Steelers/Colts under 42.5
|Browns – 3.0
The Eagles defense stinks out loud. I’ve never seen a team struggle so much to get off the field. While Seattle doesn’t have the best offense, they do have competent receivers in D.K. Metcalf, Tyler Lockett, and Jaxon Smith-Njigba. On top of that, Reed Blankenship is in the concussion protocol, leaving his status for Monday night up in the air. The Seahawks don’t have the best defense either, allowing 24.5 points per game. After a brutal stretch for the Eagles’ offense, they’ll pull out all the stops to score some points. An A.J. Brown touchdown is a virtual certainty. Primetime unders have been the trend this season, but I like this game to get into the 50s. PHI/SEA O47.5
I have a love-hate relationship with Saturday NFL games. On the one hand, I love watching the NFL. On the other, my life is dictated by the NFL schedule and my weekend disappears. Luckily for me, the second game is an ugly one. The Steelers’ offense has gotten so bad, the fans were clamoring for Mason Rudolph over Mitch Trubisky. They’re the Iowa of the NFL, they just can’t score. Even against the Colts’ soft defense, they’ll struggle to move the ball. The Colts are better on offense, but the Steelers are strong defensively. Skip this game, be productive on Saturday evening, and strap back in for the night game. PIT/IND U42.5
Joe Flacco is doing everything he can to lead the Browns to the playoffs. That’s an outrageous sentence in 2023, but it’s the truth. While the Bears have been much better on defense as of late, I don’t know how long it can last. Yannick Ngakoue, a key piece of the pass rush, broke his ankle and is done for the year. With pressure on the quarterback, it will put pressure on the back end, a unit that isn’t as strong. Playing on the road, I don’t think the Bears have the firepower to stay in the game. I’ll take the home team by a field goal. CLE -3.0
The Atlanta Falcons may have lost last week, but Desmond Ridder had one of the best games of his career. At 6-7, they still have a chance to win the terrible NFC South. The Carolina Panthers are an absolute mess at 1-12. Bryce Young hasn’t played well at all but no quarterback could succeed with the offensive line and weapons he has. They might be better with a new coaching staff, but they’re hopeless this year. Atlanta won the first meeting in Week 1 24-10 and I expect them to sweep the series and cover the spread. ATL -3.0
Inside the Numbers: The Falcons are 9-7-0 in division games against the spread under Arthur Smith.
The Buffalo Bills are coming off of an impressive win over the Kansas City Chiefs, while the Dallas Cowboys crushed the Philadelphia Eagles in primetime. Dak Prescott could end up winning the MVP award this year as he is having a fantastic season, and the Cowboys look like a team that could make a deep playoff run. Buffalo is 7-6 but is still in the hunt in a very crowded AFC playoff picture. They might have to win out to get in, and that will be tough to do. The Bills defense has been dealing with injuries all year long and they’re about to go up against one of the league’s most explosive offenses. They might be playing at home, but I think that the Cowboys will win in a shootout. DAL +2.5
Inside the Numbers: The Cowboys are 10-7-0 in non-conference games against the spread under Mike McCarthy.
The Baltimore Ravens are 10-3 after a wild overtime win over the Los Angeles Rams. They’re the top seed in the AFC and they’re very likely to get home-field advantage in the playoffs. Their offense is much more efficient this year, and their defense is one of the best units in the league. The Jacksonville Jaguars were 8-3 but have now lost back-to-back games. Trevor Lawrence seems to be playing through a high ankle sprain, which is risky as there’s a chance he could aggravate his injury. The biggest problem in Jacksonville right now is their defense, as they have been torn apart by Jake Browning and an old Joe Flacco. Lamar Jackson is very difficult to defend and I could see him carving up that defense. Christian Kirk is also going to be out for a while, so the Jaguars are without one of their top weapons. Jacksonville has managed to keep the score close in their two losses, but I could see Baltimore running away with this one. BAL -3.5
Inside the Numbers: The Ravens are 15-11-1 as an away favorite against the spread since 2019.
Betting against the 49ers is always scary but this is a very large number for a team in a divisional road spot, especially going up against an opponent with a significant rest advantage. The Cardinals are coming off their week 14 bye and will be as healthy on offense as they have been all season with their main pieces fresh and on the field. The 49ers are surely a much better team but the defense hasn’t been impenetrable since safety Talanoa Hufanga was lost for the year. Arizona could be getting handled comfortably all game and this bet could still hit with ease however I am expecting Kyler Murray and the offense to do enough to be able to hang within two touchdowns. San Francisco has the division all but locked up and they might be looking ahead to their week 16 blockbuster matchup with the Ravens. Give me the Cardinals with almost a two-touchdown cushion. ARI +13.5
Kind of surprised the Broncos are getting so many points here and to be honest, whenever I can’t figure out why the line is what it is, it gives me enough pause to stay away entirely. But in this case, I am stumped and I am chalking it up to simply public perception of these two teams not catching up to reality. The Lions’ defense has been atrocious for large chunks of the season while the Broncos have been a completely different team since their historic loss to the Dolphins. I think the Broncos’ win against the Chargers is (rightfully) being mostly pushed aside and forgotten but the reality is that the Broncos defense has been a top 5 unit for the better part of the month while Russell Wilson has looked, dare I say… good? I feel like this line should be +3.5 or +4 at max so something is a little off here but I’m falling into the trap willingly. DEN -5.0
As a massive Ravens fan, this is exactly the kind of game that they lose. Coming off a miraculous win against the Rams in an enthralling back-and-forth affair, the Ravens are flying high after the Jaguars, Dolphins, and Chiefs all lost in week 14, giving Baltimore a one-game lead for the AFC’s #1 seed and a coveted playoff bye. The Jags, however, are in a much different place as they lost to the Bengals as double-digit favorites and now have to worry about the Texans catching up to them in the division. Motivation will be ultra high for the Jaguars as they look to make up for last week’s ugly loss and the Ravens might sandwiched between feeling good about last week and looking forward to next week’s huge tilt against the 49ers. Football reasons aside, this just *feels* like the letdown spot for the Ravens that has been awaiting. The nice thing is that the Ravens can take this by a field goal and we still walk away with the win. JAX +3.5
Featured image by Justin Paradis (@JustParaDesigns on Twitter)