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 looked like my Dolphins cover last week against the Chiefs was safe and then Tyreek Hill ran out of bounds and stopped the clock, forcing the Chiefs to kick a FG. A beautiful backdoor cover a few minutes later allowed me to escape with a win there. I was not so lucky with the Packers where the Lions kept pace and snuck in under the hook. Ugh.

My tendency right now is to want to bet against the teams that simply appear dead in the water. Unfortunately, some of those teams are getting gigantic lines, and in the NFL, it doesn’t take much to keep a game reasonably close. A 17 point spread in the Rams-Jets contest seems reasonable given the teams, but it’s a crazy number where a lot can happen, the Rams can win comfortably by two scores but fail to cover the spread! Same thing with the Ravens against the Jaguars (13 points) or the Steelers and Bengals (12.5).

I could use a bit of good luck this week as Erik is starting to stretch his lead. Bryan and I are in danger of getting knocked out of the hunt for the QB List Beat the Spread championship. Let us know what lines look particularly interesting to you this week.

 

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

 

Staff Picks

 

Analysis:

Jeff Berckes: Coming off a tough loss against a division rival may seem like a bad time to go back to the Browns, but I think this is a spot where they show their mettle and destroy an inferior team on the road. The Browns defensive line should have no issues getting to the QB in this one as the Giants’ o-line has been giving up a ton of pressure lately. The Browns o-line, one of the best in the game, should be able to make like easy for Nick Chubb. I don’t believe in the Giants and amid concerns of Daniel Jones missing the start, I’ll happily take Cleveland here. CLE -3.5

Continuing to fade NFC East teams here, I’m going to go against the grain a bit. The Cardinals suffered a mid-season swoon, losing three straight. However, Kyler Murray was playing through an injury and they were missing significant contributors on defense. The Cardinals are healthy and get to face the Eagles who are all of the sudden interesting again with Jalen Hurts. It feels like the betting world loves the shiny new thing, but the Eagles’ problems are throughout the roster and the Cardinals need to string together wins to secure playoff position. ARI -6.5

I got burned by the Chiefs earlier in the year and swore I wouldn’t bet against them again. Then, I did and I got a little lucky with a beautiful back door cover with the Dolphins last week. Thank you so much to Brian Flores for kicking the FG and trying the onside kick instead of trying to score the TD first. Chiefs haven’t covered in a while but I like their chances here. Despite the record, I think that the Saints are going to struggle to hang with the Chiefs. The Chiefs sit in the driver’s seat for the #1 seed and will have a chance to essentially lock it up with their remaining contests against the Falcons and Chargers. KC -3

The Bills look good. I think they could be the team that gives the Chiefs the most trouble in the playoffs given that the Titans’ defense is significantly worse than expected. But I’m expecting it to be a slugfest in Denver, as Vic Fangio matches wits with Brian Daboll. I wish that the line was 7 or 7.5, but I feel reasonably confident Fangio’s crew keeps it close. DEN +6

Finally, the Packers and the hook burned me last week as they only won by 7 where the line was 7.5. I want to take that side again here against the Packers, but I think the safer bet is taking the over. As always at this point in the year, you worry about the weather, but as long as the forecast is reasonably calm, I’ll take the points as Joe Brady should be able to scheme up plenty of points for Teddy Bridgewater to run alongside Rodgers. GB/CAR O51.5

 

Erik Smith: The Falcons will be without Julio Jones, making this offense mediocre to bad. Todd Gurley is obviously at less than 100%, tanking what little running game they had, and Matt Ryan has played some outright bad football at times lately. Atlanta’s defense has been putting up more of a fight lately, but they can’t hang with this Buccaneers team that is fighting for the playoffs. If Tampa Bay can take care of a much better Minnesota team like they did last week, I think they can handle the Falcons. TB-5.5

Baltimore is potentially missing some key pieces in the passing game, but hopefully that just motivates them to run the ball even more. Lamar Jackson still looks really good as a runner, and his rushing volume has been up over the second half of the season. J.K. Dobbins is their most explosive back and is finally taking over the lead role with Mark Ingram taking a back seat, and Jacksonville can certainly be exploited on the ground. The following teams have beaten the Jaguars by more than 13 points this year: Miami, Houston, Detroit, Pittsburgh, and Tennessee. Let’s add Baltimore to the list. BAL -13

I’ve lost some covers lately going with the Chiefs, but there have been unfortunate backdoor covers and I think the reasoning was sound. Even with the Friday news that Drew Brees is returning for the Saints, they don’t have the firepower to keep up with Mahomes. We’ve seen the Chiefs move the ball on even the elite defenses, and this week should be no different. Anytime I can bet Mahomes with such a small line, I’m taking it. KC -3

The Bengals just scored seven points on the awful Cowboys defense, and the Steelers beat Cincinnati by 26 back when Joe Burrow was still playing. You can’t set this line high enough, as the Bengals are a shell of the team that Pittsburgh already blew out this year. PIT -12.5

My last bet is my least favorite, but I have reasons to be concerned about the Vikings. Last week Kirk Cousins was battered by the Tampa Bay defense, taking six sacks and being forced to scramble five times while throwing for just 225 yards on 37 attempts. The week before they barely beat the Jaguars, and Cousins was sacked four times against a poor Jacksonville defense. The Bears just beat up an undermanned Deshaun Watson last week, and I expect them to do the same here. While I’m not buying into the Mitch Trubisky resurgence, their offense is at least playing with some confidence after two straight 30 point games. I expect this to be close, so give me the points. CHI +3

 

Bryan Sweet: As we enter the 15th Sunday of NFL football, it’s time to look at teams who are looking forward to the playoffs as well as teams looking forward to the draft.  These last few weeks could see some serious shakeups in the playoff picture and every win is important.  The Colts are currently sitting 6th in the AFC playoffs but, perhaps more importantly, are losing the tiebreaker to the Titans for the AFC South crown.  Indy took care of business with a six-point victory in Houston two weeks ago and now Houston is struggling with injuries and suspensions at the WR position.  The Colts have an RB on the rise in Jonathan Taylor who will be working against one of the worst run defenses in the NFL and the Colts boast a top-tier defense to back up their stout running game.  I think the Colts are at least 10-points better than Houston and should cover this week.  IND -7

So, did anybody else watch Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs turn the ball over three times last week against a good defense and still put up 31 points or just me?  Kansas City can put up points in a hurry in all phases of the game and New Orleans has been competent with Taysom Hill at QB the last three weeks.  Hill brings an element to the offense that Brees lacks which should open up passing lanes and keep KC’s defense on their toes all game.  I think the Chiefs get the victory but I’m not sure by how much and I can even see this game going to overtime to settle it.  I think we see points in this game and lots of them.  KC/NO OVER 51.5

It could be argued that Josh Allen is the third-best QB in football right now and would have Buffalo on a seven-game winning streak if not for the “Hail Murray” to close out their Week 10 tilt with Arizona.  Denver, on the other hand, is one of the most up-and-down teams in the NFL with a spate of injuries that have decimated their secondary.  Even with John Brown out, Buffalo’s offense should still be able to move the ball down the field easily and may put this one away by halftime.  BUF -6

I didn’t think the Seahawks would be able to cover the nearly 14-point spread against the lowly Jets last week and promptly went out and blew the doors off of them 40-3.  This will be a different type of test with Washington’s formidable defensive line potentially causing havoc against Seattle’s seemingly overmatched offensive line.  Alex Smith looks likes he may be sidelined in this one as well, pushing Dwayne Haskins back under center.  There are too many obstacles to a high-scoring affair but I think we can still eke past this low total.  Let’s say Seattle wins 24-21, putting us just over.  SEA/WAS OVER 44.5

The addition of a seventh playoff team in each conference gives Tampa Bay a little breathing room as they’re two games clear missing the playoffs but one would imagine they want to be a well-oiled machine before the playoffs arrive.  The Falcons are already eliminated from playoff consideration and are just going through the motions to wrap up the season and look to officially naming a new head coach.  Tampa looks like they will be without Ronald Jones, which might be a good thing if they are forced to pass more against Atlanta’s 30th-ranked pass defense.  I like Tampa pretty easily in this one.  TB -5.5
 


 

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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