Beating the Spread: Week 15 Picks

We are in the home stretch and looking to finish strong. I had a good week overall in Week 14 but it’s funny how it’s easy to focus on the loses rather than the wins. I was so confident in the Seahawks taking care of business on Sunday Night Football that when they were dominated early, I lost all taste for watching that game. The Rams have seemingly come back from the dead and once again, we rewrite and reconfigure what we think we know about the NFL. It’s fun but it is exhausting!

As we look at Week 15 lines, I’m struck by how much harder it is to find lines I really love. In the middle of the season, three or four lines would jump out at me on my first run through and now it’s more like one or two. You’d like to think it would be easier down the stretch, with some teams seemingly phoning it in and others having everything to play for, but the lines are doing a good job reflecting that.

As the three of us try to navigate the final 15 bets over the next three weeks, let us know how your picks have gone this year.

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 Team / Home Team / Line / O-U)

New England Cincinnati NE -9.5 40.5
Tampa Bay Detroit TB-3.5 47.5
Chicago Green Bay GB -4.5 41
Houston Tennessee TEN -3 50
Denver Kansas City KC -11.5 45.5
Miami NY Giants NYG -3 48
Buffalo Pittsburgh PIT -2 36.5
Philadelphia Washington PHI -6 40.5
Seattle Carolina SEA -6 48.5
Jacksonville Oakland OAK -6.5 45.5
Cleveland Arizona CLE -2.5 48
LA Rams Dallas LAR -1 49
Atlanta San Francisco SF -11 47
Minnesota LA Chargers MIN -2.5 44.5
Indianapolis New Orleans NO -9 46

 

Staff Picks

Analyst Jeff Berckes Erik Smith Tom Schweitzer
Pick #1 LAR -1 TEN -3 LAR -1
Pick #2 BUF +2 BUF +2 BUF +2
Pick #3 DEN +11.5 MIN -2.5 LAC +2.5
Pick #4 TB -3.5 PHI -6 DET +3.5
Pick #5 NE -9.5 NE -9.5 SF -11
2019 Record 45-24-1 40-29-1 38-32

Analysis:

 

Jeff Berckes: I’m betting all road teams this week, so we’ll see how that works out. As I mentioned in the introduction, it sure seems like the Rams are back and they are playing competitive football right now. The reigning NFC Champions are at the very least a good team right now and that cannot be said for Dallas. I simply haven’t seen enough life from the Cowboys to think they’ll hold serve at home here. Take the hot hand (LAR -1). A fascinating matchup between the Bills and Steelers this week. I like the Bills, I believe in the Bills, I think they’re maybe a year early. I don’t understand this walking corpse of a Steelers team, I left them for dead weeks ago, and they’re still competitive with a third-string QB. There’s a possibility that these are the two AFC Wild Card teams and so I think we can expect good football here, but I believe the Bills are the better squad and they’re getting a couple of points on the road (BUF +2). The Broncos have been mostly competitive this year and are coming off one of the more shocking wins of the year, at Houston. Traveling to division foe Kansas City worries me, but with 11.5 points, I’ll take my chances. The Broncos have lost only two games by more than that margin this year and yes, I get that one of them was against the Chiefs, but I think it’s played a little tighter the second time around (DEN +11.5). Going against a lot of my instincts the last couple of weeks to pick a high volatility team like Tampa Bay, but they’ve been able to beat bad teams lately. The Lions are a bad team right now. Let’s do this thing (TB -3.5). Finally, I know it’s a giant line and on the road and we had that weird storyline with the sideline taping, but it feels like New England is going to take out their angst on the Bengals. This is the current number two seed in the AFC traveling to a one-win Bengals team and it’s only 9.5? Yes, I’ll bet on the market correction for the Patriots (NE -9.5).

 

Erik Smith: I see Buffalo versus Pittsburgh as a pretty even matchup, and while Josh Allen has his faults, he’s far superior to Devlin Hodges. In a close defensive battle, I think Buffalo can come up with more ways to come through at the end of the game, so give me BUF +2. This feels like a trap of some kind, but I just don’t like this Houston team, especially their defense, and their offense can be so frustrating to watch some weeks. Meanwhile, Tennessee knows exactly who they are, and A.J. Brown continues to look like a star in the making. TEN -3 is my pick, and let’s hope we don’t get the explosive version of the Texans offense this week. I’m not ready to believe in the Chargers just because of one blowout against the Jaguars. Meanwhile, the Vikings may get Adam Thielen back, have the better quarterback, and the better coaching staff. The Vikings also have more to play for, so I’ll take MIN -2.5. I worry about how the Patriots will score enough points to win by double-digits, but I’ve seen enough Bengals games to know one thing, that they can’t hang with the Patriots on any level of their organization. Andy Dalton should be good for a pick-six, and we may see a rejuvenated New England offense for one week. NE -9.5 makes sense in a tricky week for betting. The Eagles have squandered away opportunity after opportunity and barely beat the Eli Manning-led Giants last week. So why would I back them favored by six points on the road, especially when they can barely field a receiving corps? I don’t know. But I know they desperately need this win, and Washington just lost their spark in Derrius Guice. I think the Eagles can keep Adrian Peterson at bay, and cause Dwayne Haskins to self-destruct a time or two. PHI -6 is the pick, but this is a game I will not be watching.

 

Tom Schweitzer: Once again, I dipped my toe into the totals market last week and came out looking foolish. I don’t know why I bother when I’m near 60% picking sides. I heard a crazy stat during last week’s Lions-Vikings game, which was that Detroits 17-0 deficit was their largest of the year. It’s incredible that Detroit is 3-9-1 given that they’ve been in almost every game. Only two of their 9 losses came by more than a touchdown, both matchups against the Vikings. The Buccaneers have put together a nice 3-game win streak but I still don’t trust Jameis Winston and I think the loss of Mike Evans hurts. I’ll take the Lions +3.5 at home. I thought the Bills were pretty impressive in last week’s loss to Baltimore. They got down 10-0 early, but fought back and had a chance to tie the game late. They’re a tough and well-coached team. I worry about them looking ahead to next week’s matchup with the Patriots, but they need to beat Pittsburgh for that game to even matter. The Steelers have had easy matchups in their recent 7-1 stretch and have been lucky to win a few of the games, so I think we’ll see the Bills (+2) expose them a bit. Another well-coached team that needs to keep winning to stay in their division race is the 49ers. I think they’ll be able to expose Atlanta’s poor run defense and cause enough pressure on Matt Ryan to force mistakes. I’ll take the 49ers -11. The Vikings are a below .500 team on the road. Their most best road win Is against Dallas, which looks less and less impressive as the season goes on. The Chargers (+2.5) defense has played better since the return Derwin James and I think they’ll do a better job of exploiting the Vikings secondary than the Lions did last week, so LA is the play. Last up, the Rams (-1) are starting to hit their stride at the same time the Cowboys fall apart. Even with 10 days to prepare, I think the Cowboys will come up short again.


 

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)

Jeff Berckes

In addition to writing fantasy football content for QB List, I write Bears stuff for Windy City Gridiron and co-host the podcast Bears Over Beers. Follow me on Twitter @gridironborn

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