Beating the Spread: Week 15 Picks

Our Week 15 Beat the Spread column is ready to go for your consideration as you put in your weekly bets!

It’s been a three-week run for us all compiling a winning record and it looks like we’re hitting our stride just in time for the season to come to an end.  Can we keep th momentum going?  Keep reading to find out which bets we like this week.

The Bills and Packers each have three backers this week and are the most popular plays among the staff.  Justin is expecting a low-scoring week with two unders and two underdogs.  Brennan also likes a couple of unders and is back on the big favorite train.  Erik likes the top two teams in the AFC East and expects a shootout in Tampa.  I took the biggest favorite on the board and like the NFC North to represent well this week.

Gamblers know that 60% is the magic number to come out ahead, so that’s the goal again this season.  We didn’t make it last year, which just motivates us, even more, this season.  Every week the four of us will pick five games against the spread or on the over/under.  We’ll track the picks every week and see where we end up.  Feel free to play along in the comments or find us on Twitter!

Let’s get to the lines and picks for Week 15!

The following lines were captured on Tuesday. Betting lines can vary by site and move throughout the week so check yours to make sure that you have similar information.

 

Week 15 Betting Lines
Away Home Line O/U
Raiders Browns Browns -6 42
Patriots Colts Colts -2 45.5
Jets Dolphins Dolphins -8.5 42.5
Football Team Eagles Eagles -5 44
Panthers Bills Bills -11 43.5
Cowboys Giants Cowboys -10.5 45
Texans Jaguars Jaguars -3 39.5
Titans Steelers Titans -1.5 41.5
Cardinals Lions Cardinals -13.5 47.5
Falcons 49ers 49ers -8.5 46
Bengals Broncos Broncos -1.5 43.5
Packers Ravens Packers -5 43.5
Seahawks Rams Rams -7 47.5
Saints Buccaneers Buccaneers -11 46.5
Vikings Bears Vikings -3.5 44
Staff Picks

 

Analysis

 

Justin Dunbar: Justin puts together an article analyzing some of his picks in more detail.  Check out his Week 15 Betting Preview for more! Here are some snippets from his first two picks for this week.

It’s ironically much easier to trust Jones right now, and New England has been the best team in football as of late. It’s hard to understand why they’re getting points here, but I’ll take it! NE +2

Carolina is projected for the least amount of points on this week’s slate, but I see the Bills going over their implied point total of 26.75 here against a defense that is due for regression based on the underlying metrics. BUF -11

Right now, it feels like the entire Browns team is on the COVID-19 list. Among the prominent names: quarterback Baker Mayfield, wide receiver Jarvis Landry, tight end Austin Hooper, and head coach Kevin Stefanski. At this point, it’s hard to see Cleveland mustering any sort of offense, while the Raiders, despite their recent struggles, still rank 5th in yards/play this season. With the chaos the Browns are dealing with this week, I’ll take the points. LV +6

On the surface, this doesn’t seem like the largest number, but the Cardinals are projected to score 30.5 points here. Considering receiver DeAndre Hopkins is likely to miss the rest of the season, and there is substantial blowout potential here, that seems unlikely. Meanwhile, the Lions offense may be without both tight end TJ Hockenson and running back D’Andre Swift again, leaving receiver Amon-Ra St.Brown as the only source of production. Whether it’s the Cardinals “going easy” or the Lions laying an egg, there are a lot of routes to the “under” hitting here. That’s what I’m banking on. ARI/DET Under 47.5

I picked the under in Jets/Dolphins the last time they played, and here I am doing the same again. Against the blitz, Jets quarterback Zach Wilson has a 45.5 PFF passing grade, while he has a 31.1 PFF grade when blitzed. Those aren’t pretty numbers, to say the least; it wouldn’t surprise anyone if the Jets failed to score a touchdown for the second straight week, as Wilson is averaging just 6.1 yards/pass attempt this year. Meanwhile, the Dolphins have exceeded their implied 25.25 point total just three times this season, while Tua Tagovailoa has just a 2% big-time throw rate this year (per PFF). To sum it up, I don’t think you’re getting a shootout here. I’ll gladly take the under between these two struggling offenses.  NYJ/MIA Under 42.5

 

Brennan Rampe: The Raiders have started to collapse after a 3-0 start. They are now 6-7, largely due to all the off-the-field issues surrounding former coach Jon Gruden and former players Henry Ruggs III and Damon Arnette. Those incidents caused tons of distractions, and they had no choice but to release talented players. They’re struggling on both sides of the ball, but offense is the weakness of this team. DeSean Jackson hasn’t been able to replace Ruggs, and Darren Waller has been out for weeks. The Browns beat their divisional rival Ravens, but it’s going to be very hard to win consecutive games, as coronavirus has severely affected this team. Baker Mayfield, several offensive linemen, Jarvis Landry, Austin Hooper, and head coach Kevin Stefanski have all tested positive and will likely be unavailable. These two teams will probably have a hard time scoring points. I don’t know who’s going to win this game, but it’ll probably be low-scoring. Inside the Numbers: Outside of scoring 36 points against the Cowboys, since Week 9 the Raiders are averaging 13.4 points per game. The Browns, meanwhile, outside of scoring 41 points against the Bengals in Week 9, are averaging 13.6 since Week 6. LV/CLE Under 42

The Bills lost a thriller to the defending champion Buccaneers, but they fought until the very end. They have lost two in a row, but I’m still confident that this team can make the playoffs. The Panthers, meanwhile, are a mess. They started off 3-0 but have collapsed because of their struggles to find their quarterback of the future. Sam Darnold turned out to be a bust, and Cam Newton hasn’t been any better. P.J. Walker has even gotten playing time. The offense has had a hard time scoring, and the defense is starting to give up points as they are on the field so often. I expect the Bills to end this two-game losing streak and they should probably win big at home. Inside the Numbers: The Bills are 14-10-2 as home favorites against the spread under Sean McDermott. BUF -11

The Texans started off strong against the Seahawks, but fell apart in the second quarter. Their divisional rival Jaguars are a trainwreck. Tension is getting high between coach Urban Meyer and his staff and players. The Jaguars lost 20-0 to the Titans, a game in which first overall pick Trevor Lawrence threw four interceptions. Lawrence has just not looked good this season, but injuries to offensive players and poor coaching are the reasons for that. Meyer is definitely going to be one-and-done this year. This game is going to have two rookie quarterbacks with first-year head coaches, and these are two of the worst offenses in the league. I have absolutely no idea who wins this game, but it should be very low-scoring. Inside the Numbers: The Texans are averaging 13.6 points a game this season, while the Jaguars score about 13.8 points per game. JAX/HOU Under 39.5

The Broncos blew out the Lions at home, but most teams can do that. The Bengals lost a thriller at home to the 49ers, but they gave it all they had. Both of these teams are 7-6, and the loser of this game is going to have a hard time making the playoffs. The Bengals are way more talented than the Lions are. Unlike the Lions, the Bengals have pass-rushers and wide receivers in addition to the coaching being a lot better. The Bengals have gotten blown out on occasion, and they lost a stunner to the Jets, but I give them the edge here. I don’t think they lose three games in a row and I trust Joe Burrow more than Teddy Bridgewater. Inside the Numbers: The Bengals are 10-7 against the spread as road underdogs under Zac Taylor. CIN +1.5

The Packers beat the Bears for the millionth time to improve to 10-3. They are currently the top seed in the NFC, and I think it stays that way. Aaron Rodgers could potentially win a second straight MVP award, and this defense is playing exceptionally. They are causing tons of turnovers, and sometimes even scoring touchdowns. They also will likely get David Bakhtiari, Jaire Alexander, and Za’Darius Smith back. The Ravens have had to deal with so many injuries this year, and it might be too much to handle. They lost their top cornerback Marlon Humphrey, and Lamar Jackson suffered an ankle sprain in the loss against the Browns. Jackson will likely play, but might not be at full strength. Jackson is 12-0 against NFC teams, but I think that ends here. I like the Packers to win by a touchdown, and wouldn’t be surprised if it becomes a blowout. The Packers are also my pick to win Super Bowl LVI. Inside the Numbers: The Packers are 8-3 against the spread in non-conference games under Matt LaFleur. GB -5

 

Erik Smith: I’ve been backing the Patriots lately and they keep rewarding me, so no reason to change now. I respect Indianapolis and this will be a tough game, but Carson Wentz is just mistake-prone enough to give the Patriots the opportunities they need while they play disciplined defense-first football. These teams are very similar with plus coaching, plus offensive line play, strong running games, and tough defenses. But at the end of the day, Bellichick is the better coach, and the Patriots know who they are, and they’ve shown that they will lean on what works to pull out the win. NE +2

It’s a tough week with all of the COVID issues across the league, so it’s hard to know what we can count on heading into Week 15. But I’m pretty certain that the Bills are the superior team, and they would need to lose multiple players to make me worry about the outcome in this one. The Panthers are in disarray, the Bills desperately need to win, and as of now, it looks like Josh Allen will be playing. There’s no reason this shouldn’t be a blowout. BUF -11

In a week where there isn’t much that we can count on, I’ll take Aaron Rodgers and Davante Adams and hope for the best. The Ravens may be forced to play a hobbled Lamar Jackson, and the injuries have just become too much on both sides of the ball for Baltimore. Yes, this is a prideful, veteran team, but so are the Packers, and I would expect them to put this game away in the second half with the better unit on both sides of the ball.  GB -5

Seattle has been playing better recently, as Russell Wilson looks more like himself and they may have found a spark in Rashaad Penny (for as long as he’s healthy). Los Angeles has looked better as well, but they have been hit by COVID issues on offense and defense, and were without Jalen Ramsey last week and likely without Odell Beckham Jr. this week. But really, I’m backing the Seahawks here because seven points are just way too many in this divisional rivalry. These teams know each other well, and Seattle certainly won’t roll over as the underdog. Expect a fun battle with big plays on both sides that ends up a lot closer than the Rams would like. SEA +7

I almost picked Tampa Bay -11 here but ultimately hated giving that many points in a divisional game with Sean Payton on the other side. But I would not be surprised to Tom Brady put up a boatload of points on his march toward the MVP, and the prior matchup this year saw a combined 63 points scored in New Orleans. I expect a similar outcome here, either in a high-scoring competitive game or with the Buccanneers winning in a blowout. I don’t often pick point totals, but I feel good about this one.  NO/TB Over 46.5

 

Bryan Sweet: It’s hard to believe the firing of a HC could have a positive impact on a team, but that seems to be the perception around the Jaguars.  Urban Meyer couldn’t make it through one full NFL season and Darrell Bevell takes over on an interim basis.  Bevell has a history of leaning on a strong running game and I suspect we’ll see a healthy does of James Robinson going forward.  Are they going to become good all of a sudden?  No, but I think they can handle the Texans.  JAX -3

I’d be genuinely surprised if Lamar Jackson plays this week and if he does he certainly won’t be as much of a threat running the ball.  Tyler Huntley looked OK in his stead last week but he can’t replicate the dual threat that Jackson brings to the table.  Green Bay is among the NFC’s elite right now and have their eyes on the first-round BYE in just a few short weeks.  I think they take care of business against an undermanned Baltimore team.  GB -5

This one is simply the result of COVID running rampant through the CLeveland organization.  Unless something dramatic changes between now and Sunday, Cleveland will be leaning on Nick Mullens to captain the ship and keep their playoff hopes afloat.  Las Vegas has been up and down all season but should be able to at least keep it close against a team missing multiple players.  LV +6

Last week’s loss to the Rams has to put some fear into the hearts of the Cardinals and their fans as they were never really in that game despite losing by a single score.  The best cure for a bad game is a date with Detroit and the Cardinals will look to make amends and clean up some things against an inferior opponent.  Arizona also has eyes on the first-round BYE they lost last week and might just steamroll the Lions this week who will be without several of their best offensive players.  ARI -13.5

You just never know what you’re going to get with either the Vikings or the Bears but Minnesota has the better players and I think they will make the difference in a mostly equal game.  Justin Jefferson and Dalvin Cook should be able to pace Minnesota’s offense and the defense should be able to slow Chicago’s offense enough to cover a small spread.  MIN -3.5

 


 

What are your favorite picks of the week? Put in your comments below to play along. We’ll be updating our records all season!

 

Featured image by Justin Paradis (@freshmeatcomm on Twitter)

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