Bye weeks are over, everyone! It’s time for the fantasy playoffs, and for the NFL, it is also time for teams to make their final playoff pushes! This is the best time of the year!
Today, let’s take a look at the Week 15 slate. Every week, I’ll be providing my projections on the outcome of each game, and then contextualizing what to do with that information: best bets, teasers, parlays, survivor picks, and much more!
These projections started with me using projected PFF grades to decipher the true talent of every team. From there, I utilized those projections to establish each team’s offense and defense rank, which allowed me to derive how talented each team is compared to the average team with a neutral field; as the season goes, I’ll be analyzing PFF data and other key metrics to continue to update each team’s offense and defense ranking. Adding in an adjustment for home field, and, what do you know, each game had a projection! The combination of the foundation of it starting objectively, and then the mixture of subjective analysis to make it less of a “blind” projection, will hopefully lead us to where we want to go. You can consider these, based on the subjective touch, predictions instead of pure projections, but, hey, it gets us in the same place!
Enough rambling; it’s time to get to the point of this article! Let’s completely preview Week 15 from a betting perspective!
All Stats via Pro Football Focus
Week 15 Personal Projections
NE (+2) at IND
Wait, the Patriots are underdogs here?
After winning seven straight games, you’d assume New England would be getting more respect from the betting markets here but that doesn’t appear to be the case. Currently the #1 seed, the Patriots have the league’s best point differential right now, and are playing sound football at all facets of the game. Over the first six games of the season, New England was averaging a 66.95 PFF team grade. Since then, they are averaging an 83.49 PFF team grade. Furthermore, they are outscoring opponents by an average of 21.7 points during their seven-game winning streak; they’re on fire right now!
Right now, Mac Jones is Pro Football Focus’ 6th-highest graded quarterback. Carson Wentz, on the other hand, ranks 19th. I’ll take my chances with Jones being the better quarterback here, especially since Wentz has to go up against the Patriots defense. Currently, New England ranks 1st in PFF coverage grade. The Colts? Just 18th.
I’d say these are equal offenses with a clear defensive advantage for the Patriots, who are the more well-rounded team. 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!
BUF (-10.5) vs CAR
From an underdog to a big favorite, let us stick with the AFC here!
The Bills may be just 7-6, but don’t let that deceive you; they have the second-best point differential in the NFL, and are the type of dominant team that can take care of inferior opponents. That is exactly what the Panthers are. The Panthers are currently on a three-game using streak despite facing three sub-.500 team, and are averaging a 57.5 PFF team grade during that span. Furthermore, they rank in the bottom-five in PFF passing grade, receiving grade, and pass-blocking grade. That doesn’t sound like a team that is going to move the ball against a defense that ranks first in yards/play allowed.
Simply put, Carolina cannot keep pace with the Bills. The Panthers run their fair share of man coverage, which is great news for Stefon Diggs and Gabriel Davis, who have performed well versus man coverage this year. 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 (18th in PFF ddefense grade). It’s a lot of points, but it’s hard to not see Buffalo winning this game by at least two touchdowns.
NE (+8) at IND
PIT (+8) vs TEN
We’ve already discussed the Patriots, but teasing the Steelers also makes sense. Believe it or not, but the Titans rank 21st in yards/play, and averaged just 3.8 yards/play against the Jaguars last week. Without A.J. Brown, they lack any sort of explosion in what remains a run-heavy offense. Expect Pittsburgh to make this a very close game, and we can tease them through the key number of seven here.
Parlay (Four Games and Eight Games)
NE (-2) at IND
BUF (-10.5) vs CAR
LAR (-4.5) vs SEA
ARI at DET (Under 47.5)
LAC (+3) vs KC
NYJ (+10) at MIA
MIN at CHI (Over 44)
GB at BAL (Over 43.5)
I’m forcing myself to deliver an eight-game parlay, which, once again, is a worse option than the four-game parlay this week. The Rams are going through a COVID-19 crisis, but as long as Matthew Stafford and Cooper Kupp are playing, they remain a substantially better team than the Seahawks, who had to wait until the fourth quarter to pull away from the lowly Texans last week. The Jets, meanwhile, only lost by a score against Miami last time they played, and ten points is a lot for a middling offense to cover; I also like the Chargers to potentially win outright here, considering they’ve been the more effective offense. In what is likely to be a blowout and without DeAndre Hopkins, expect the Cardinals to not be adamant running up the score here, while the Lions offense, which is dealing with multiple injuries, is likely to hit the struggle bus against Arizona’s defense. From there, we’re looking at two low totals with efficient offenses (Vikings, Packers) against struggling defenses (Bears, Ravens).
ARI vs DET
BUF vs CAR
The Cardinals are an obvious pick favored by 13.5 points currently, while the Bills are 10.5-point favorites. Buffalo’s remaining schedule is slightly more favorable, so I’d advise using Arizona if you haven’t already. If neither of these two teams are available, the Cowboys, favored by 10.5 points against the Giants, also come into play.
Parting Bold Predictions
Carson Wentz Throws Three+ Interceptions
The Bills and Patriots Combine To Allow Under 20 Points
The Panthers Get Shutout
(Photo by Michael Allio/Icon Sportswire)