Welcome back to another week of Beating the Spread. As always, I’m Jake Roy and I’m joined by Brennan Rampe and Tyler Gentile. We’ll be here every Friday throughout the season, posting our picks along with some analysis.
Week 15. We’ve got a full slate this week, including a few Saturday games. Bye weeks have come to an end and every team will be in action. The playoff race is also heating up, so we’ll have to consider motivation as a potential factor here and there. Even more importantly, the race for the Beat the Spread title is heating up. Tyler and I are each hovering at about 60% with Brennan not too far behind with 20 picks left on the season. Let’s keep it going through the regular season.
You can play along in the comments or find us on Twitter (@Jake3Roy, @808Paperboi, @phdinnfl). Assuming -110 odds we need about 53% to break even, let’s see if we can hit that magic number for the season and come out with some profit. So, without further ado, here are the lines we’ll use for Week 15!
|Jake Roy (@Jake3Roy)||Brennan Rampe (@Phdinnfl)||Tyler Gentile (@808PaperBoi)|
|Pick #1||Jets Pick ‘Em||Bills -7.5||Falcons/Saints under 43.0|
|Pick #2||Patriots -1.0||Cowboys -5.0||Eagles/Bears over 48.5|
|Pick #3||Patriots/Raiders under 44.5||Eagles -9.0||Cowboys/Jaguars over 47.5|
|Pick #4||Panthers/Steelers under 38.5||Chargers -3.0||Chargers/Titans over 47.0|
|Pick #5||Cowboys/Jaguars over 47.5||Bengals -3.5||Bengals -3.5|
Over the past few weeks, I’ve been shooting from the hip and somehow hitting again and again. I guess the NFL is a bit of a crapshoot. Or I’m just that good. Who’s to say? First off on this week’s slate is the Jets and Lions in the Meadowlands. Both teams come into this game in the hunt for a playoff spot, so neither team will be taking their foot off the gas. Dan Campbell and Robert Salah are two of the last coaches I’d expect to take their foot off the gas, they might be the top two picks if you had to have a coach play in the game. Vrabel is probably up there as well. I digress. The game is a straight pick ’em, meaning neither team is getting any points. Just pick the winner. I’m taking the Jets here, almost entirely because they’re at home. The Lions are riding high after a big win against the Vikings, while the Jets are coming off a gritty loss in Buffalo. Mike White is a warrior and the team wants to play for him, and Sauce Gardner is good enough to lock up Amon-Ra St. Brown. I’ll take the home team in a tight one. NYJ 0.0
Homer pick. Give me the Patriots. Derek Carr is exactly the type of quarterback that Bill Belichick’s defenses eat alive. He practically invents ways to turn the ball over, especially against pressure, and the Patriots have been great at getting after the quarterback. Davante Adams is playing on another level as of late, but Belichick is famous for taking away a team’s best weapon. The Raiders’ defense is porous enough to allow even the Patriots’ offense to get up and down the field. Josh McDaniels will want to prove he’s a capable head coach against his former mentor, but he’s proven time and time again that he’s in over his head. I’ll give the point and take the Patriots. NE -1.0
This game is also a carbon copy of the Patriots’ week 14 game against the Cardinals. Long, sustained drives will probably be rare for both teams. Points will need to be scored off turnovers. Touchdowns will be at a premium. Both teams will probably take whatever points they can get via the field goal, rather than going for it on fourth down. McDaniels may be aggressive to earn a win against Belichick, but I think even he’s smart enough to take the points when you can against the New England offense. I see this with a similar scoreline to last week for the Pats. NE/LV U44.5
Unders have been great for me on this little hot streak of mine, so I’ll go back to the well. There are some really gross games on this week’s schedule, which means we’ve got some very low totals to work with. I’ll go to Carolina where the Panthers are hosting the Steelers. It’s too early to say who will be under center for the Steelers. I don’t care. None of the options they have are particularly inspiring. Kenny Pickett has some explosiveness to him but he’s also wildly inaccurate, Mitch Trubisky is the most boring quarterback of all time, and Mason Rudolph is, well, Mason Rudolph. The Panthers are in a similar situation where the quarterbacks aren’t very inspiring. It’s been a constant carousel at the position for them with nobody finding a rhythm. It’s a low total, but both teams are boring and should keep the ball between the 20s. PIT/CAR U38.5
I hate this pick, but I’ve talked myself into it. If the number moves to 48.0, stay away. I’m going with the over in Jacksonville against my better instincts. At first glance, I liked the under, but after writing about two sentences I deleted them and switched to the over. If I lose, I can justify it by saying my first thought was correct. The Cowboys are down a couple of corners and just surrendered 23 points to Davis Mills and the Texans without their top two receivers. The Jaguars have better receivers in Christian Kirk and Zay Jones and could go for some big plays against busted coverages. Jacksonville is allowing almost 23 a game, middle of the pack. I see the Cowboys getting to at least 30 here, so you’ll need just 18 from the Cowboys to push this one over. Hopefully, Dak Prescott can play a better game this time around and run the score up in Jacksonville. DAL/JAX O47.5
It wasn’t easy, but the Bills defeated the Jets 20-12 last week. The offense did just enough, and the defense was great despite losing Von Miller for the rest of the year. Former Bills wide receiver Cole Beasley came out of retirement this week to rejoin the team, adding a familiar weapon to Buffalo’s offense. Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa struggled against the 49ers’ defense in Week 13, which was understandable, but he was just bad in last week’s 23-17 loss to the Chargers. He completed only ten of his 28 pass attempts, and one of Miami’s touchdowns was off of an insane fumble recovery that was picked up by Tyreek Hill. The Dolphins are about to play their third road game in a row and the weather in Buffalo will be freezing and snowy. Buffalo also lost to Miami in Week 3, so I’m sure they’re looking to get revenge and get one step closer to winning the AFC East for the third straight year. Inside the Numbers: The Bills are 19-13-3 with an average margin of victory (MOV) of 10.1 as a home favorite against the spread under Sean McDermott. BUF -7.5
Desmond Ridder is making his first career start, and this line is somehow only 43. What more is he really going to do here other than hand the ball off the way Atlanta has all year? They run at the second-highest rate, and New Orleans is 11th in EPA/rush on defense. They held the Bucs to 17 last game and the 49ers to 13 points the week prior. It’s hard to see the Falcons putting up more than 17 with a rookie QB playing in the Superdome. The Saints have also been one of the more anemic offenses in the league this year, and aside from Chris Olave, who will match up against A.J. Terrell, they have practically no passing game. They’re 23rd in offensive DVOA and 22nd in EPA/play. This feels like too many points, so give me the under. ATL/NO U43.0
Going back to my favorite over team, da buurrs. Over their last six games with Justin Fields starting their games have sailed over the total averaging 58.5 points per game. Over that span, they are seventh in offensive DVOA, and eighth in EPA/play (including Trevor Semien’s game), but they are also dead last in defensive DVOA on the season. The Eagles haven’t seen a QB like Fields yet, and we saw the Giants put up plenty of garbage time points against them last week en route to a 48-22 finish. Obviously, the Eagles possess an elite offense and will have zero trouble moving the ball and scoring against Chicago. Philly is second in DVOA, second in EPA/play, and t5th in yards per play. A similar state of affairs that took place in the Giants/Eagles game last week seems in play here. CHI/PHI O48.5
Trevor Lawrence is evolving before our very eyes, people! Despite the Jaguars’ lowly 5-8 record, their second-year QB has led the offense to the eighth-best pass DVOA and seventh-best in EPA/dropback. Over the last five games, he has come alive in the red zone, throwing ten of his 20 TDs, and has added some more mobility to his game. His recent form of success should continue against a beaten and bruised Cowboys defense that was exposed by the Texans who scored 23 points last week.
Despite losing another piece to the offensive line in Terence Steele, the Cowboys appear likely to get Tyron Smith back and don’t have much to fret about facing the Jacksonville defense. They are 28th in DVOA, 22nd in EPA/play, and t25th in opponent yards per play. This should be a back-and-forth affair and look to the Jaguars to keep it within the spread and maybe even pull off the upset here at home. JAX/DAL O47.5
The Chargers continue to show that they can not stop the run at all. The Titans have done the same when it comes to defending the pass. Hey, would you look at that! An over match made in heaven!
When Justin Herbert is on and dishing out laser-beams dimes, he is as good as any QB in the league. Last week with a full complement of weapons Herbert was on fire against the Dolphins, and I expect more of the same from him this week in an ever-better matchup. Against the pass, Tennessee is 28th in DVOA, 27th in EPA/dropback, and because of this teams are keying in on this weakness and have thrown the second most pass yards per game against them. I know all of the metrics haven’t been in love with the Chargers for the duration of this season, but they finally look healthy-ish and have a fantastic matchup to showcase their passing attack this week.
The same goes for the Titans and their running game against this miserable Chargers’ run defense. They are 29th in DVOA, 29th in EPA/rush, and tied for last in terms of opponent YPC. The advanced metrics haven’t been in love with the Titans’ ground attack either, but in cake matchups, Derrick Henry has thrived. I like him to do more of the same this week. TEN/LAC O47.0
We’ve got a matchup between teams on the opposite side of the ATS spectrum. The Bucs are a league-worst 3-9-1 against the spread, while the Bengals are a league-best 10-3 ATS. In fact, Cincinnati is 18-3 ATS, including the playoffs, over their last 21 games!
It’s finally time to accept the fact that Tom Brady will not be leading this team anywhere this season. They STINK, and we saw that on full display in last week’s 35-7 drubbing to the 49ers. They are also dealing with a wild number of injuries this week to some key cogs on the team. The only thing that was holding this team together was the defense. Now it is extremely banged up, and since week 7 they are actually just 23rd in EPA/play. The Bengals should continue this incredible ATS streak against the worst ATS team. CIN -3.5
Featured image by Justin Paradis (@JustParaDesigns on Twitter)