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For The Win: Week 15

NFL Picks Against the Las Vegas Lines

Here I am again this year, back for more NFL picks. Just like last season, I will still be picking all of the NFL games each week, but I will try and help some of you with some confidence and rankings of the selections - which also may assist those of you with Las Vegas trips. I tend to rate games that I like (and some extras like Over/Unders) with 1-3 "Stars", which basically highlight my best bets for the week. Those games which have zero stars I don't truly like one way or the other, but will select to help those trying to get some advice for their weekly office pools or other contests that they may be participating in either this week or this season.

Week 14 was rather unkind, with injuries and upsets all over the place. Such is life in the NFL, but every week is a new week.  Time to refocus on what teams have something to play for – either a playoff push or to get ready for the postseason.  It is also important to look for teams that have packed it in for the season and are looking more at holiday plans and golf in January than finishing the season strong.  With just three games to go, that should help narrow down the 16 games to the key ones to target this week.  Also, note that we have our first Saturday slate this year with two games a day earlier than usual (and this will also happen next week).  

Here we go: 

Note that the lines and Over/Unders are taken from VegasInsider.com.

Teams on a Bye Week – NONE (Byes are over!)

Teams coming off of a Bye Week – NONE

(Thursday) DENVER (-2.5) at INDIANAPOLIS
Two teams with nothing to play for start off Week 15, and overall it is just better to try and forget that this game even exists.  Indianapolis is still shaking off all the snow from the trip to Buffalo, and Denver is still figuring out their quarterback situation.  They may have stepped in the right direction last week with a home win over the Jets and now get to play indoors against the Colts.  I am taking the better defense here with Denver.  PICK: Broncos

(Saturday) DETROIT (-5.5) vs. CHICAGO 
The first game of Saturday starts at 4:30 Eastern, and it features the Lions in a spot to make a playoff push.  The divisional title is all but gone to Minnesota.  Detroit has to win this game with a trip to Cincinnati followed by a big home game against the Packers in Week 17.  At 7-6, the Lions need two wins before facing Aaron Rodgers to give them the best chance to be playing come January.  Chicago is limping to the end here despite a commanding 33-7 win over a banged up Bengals team last week.  Even after a 33-7 win, the Bears are still -50 on net points this season and 0-4 in the division.  I expect that mark to move to 0-5 after Saturday.  Take the better team with more motivation to win by double digits, 27-13 Detroit.  PICK: Lions

(Saturday) KANSAS CITY (+1.5) vs. LOS ANGELES CHARGERS 
This one should be a good one, as the AFC West could be at stake.  Both the Chiefs and the Chargers have one divisional game and one AFC East matchup left after this contest, and all four are winnable games.  Kansas City gets to host Miami before a trip to Denver, while the Chargers head to the Jets before hosting Oakland.  Both franchises know that a win in this game could be the difference maker in the division, so expect a close, heated battle for 60 minutes.  As the Chiefs just proved last week, going to Kansas City is no joke, and the Chargers are going to have an uphill battle.  The Chargers are far better than the Raiders, but Kansas City getting points at home in December with the playoffs in sight makes me favor the home team in this matchup.  PICK:  Chiefs

BUFFALO (-2) vs. MIAMI 
In a true scheduling quirk, the Bills face the Dolphins for the first time all season – and will also face them again in Florida in two weeks.  At 7-6, the Bills can win out and secure a Wild Card playoff spot, so they will be pushing hard to get this win and set the tone for the next clash with Miami.  This game is incredibly important for Buffalo as this is their final home game before heading to New England this week, and two wins over Miami may just be enough to get to the postseason – but those chances get much slimmer with a loss.  Miami played better with Jay Cutler against New England and seems to be embracing their spoiler role, and Kenyan Drake will decide this contest.  The Bills have allowed a league-worst 18 rushing touchdowns this season, and Drake was the path for Miami to upset the Patriots on Monday.  This game will be close, but I have to go will the Bills at home in the cold over a team from Florida to get a narrow victory.  PICK:  Bills

GREEN BAY (+6) at CAROLINA
I may be cherry-picking the points here, but you should too if you can find that number.  I have seen the Panthers as slim as a 2.5-point favorite in this one, but when you consider that Aaron Rodgers is back for the Packers and Green Bay is still in the playoff hunt, he is hard to fade even on the road when he is getting points.  The Packers have been playing well of late and staying alive, but so have the Panthers who got a huge win over Minnesota at home last week.  I expect a high scoring contest here with Rodgers looking to light it up while Green Bay’s bad pass defense will yield plenty of points.  The Over/Under is as low as 44 in this matchup, which seems far too low.  The Panthers have allowed quarterbacks a QB rating over 92 on the season, and I expect it to go up after facing Rodgers.  PICK: Packers

CLEVELAND (+7.5) vs. BALTIMORE 
I know that the Ravens have a shot at the playoffs, but they are coming off of a bad loss to Pittsburgh where they squandered a late lead and now they have to go to Cleveland and face a Browns team still desperate for a win.  Couple that with the Ravens giving up over 500 yards passing to Ben Roethlisberger and you know that Josh Gordon is going to have a huge game here.  Baltimore may pull out a win, but the Browns are keeping games close and I am more than willing to take more than a touchdown here for a home underdog.  PICK:  Browns

JACKSONVILLE (-10.5) vs. HOUSTON 
Jacksonville is pushing for the AFC South title before their home team, and it is the last home game of the year.  The Jaguars look to be going to the playoffs for sure at 9-4 with two winnable road games ahead (at SF, at Tennessee) but I am looking for the home team to impress the home fans and take care of business.  The Texans’ strength is passing, but that’s also the strength of the Jacksonville defense.  I like the Jaguars to get the job done and the big number does not scare me off.  PICK:  Jaguars

MINNESOTA (-10.5) vs. CINCINNATI 
The Minnesota Vikings took a tough loss last week at Carolina, but a home game against the banged-up Bengals is just what the doctor ordered.  This has “get right game” written all over it, and with two divisional games up next, the Vikings will want to right their ship in a hurry here.  I do not trust Cincinnati to score much at all on the Minnesota defense, so this could be a low scoring laugher, like 23-3.  PICK:  Vikings

NEW ORLEANS (-15) vs. NEW YORK JETS 
The Saints are at home and get to host a Jets team forced to trot out Bryce Petty as their starting quarterback.  It is no wonder that New Orleans is favored by more than two touchdowns.  I fully expect the Saints to win this game, and the only question is by how much.  Considering that I expect the defense to score a touchdown, give me New Orleans and swallow the big, big number.  PICK:  Saints

PHILADELPHIA (-7.5) at NEW YORK GIANTS 
The Eagles just clinched the NFC East and are the top seed right now in the NFC, but they still have a ton to play for this week (and the next three weeks).  Losing Carson Wentz (ACL) is a major blow, so getting Nick Foles comfortable and ready for the playoffs is the top priority.  It looks like Zach Ertz will be back and ready to go, and he will see a ton of targets against the Giants who seem to be ready to call it a season.  If Wentz was still under center this line would be in the double digits, so I think that Foles can more than handle covering just over a touchdown with his defense and supporting cast helping him on Sunday.  PICK:  Eagles

ARIZONA (+3.5) at WASHINGTON 
This might be one of the worst games of the week, as neither team topped 13 points in Week 14.  Arizona now heads to a chilly Washington D.C. as both teams look to regroup.  The Cardinals hope to keep very slim playoff hopes alive with a win here, but they will need to produce a lot more offense against a Washington team that is in almost the same boat – except without playoff hopes.  With Washington signaling the “giving up” mode with putting Jordan Reed on IR, I think the Cardinals are in a good spot to pull out a win on the road.  Honestly, this game could be ugly in either direction, but I like taking the team with some hope and getting points.  PICK: Cardinals

SEATTLE (-1.5) vs. LOS ANGELES RAMS
Welcome to the NFC West title game here in Week 15.  I fully expect both teams to win their final two games (Rams at Tennessee, vs. San Francisco; Seattle at Dallas, vs. Arizona) so the winner of this game will have the inside track for the division.  A Seahawks win moves them to 9-5 and tied with the Rams, but Seattle’s 5-0 divisional record would put them ahead.  Of course, a Rams win would have them two games in front of the Seahawks and all but clinch the title for them and give them a shot at a bye.  As for the matchup, it really comes down to how well both defenses play as both Russell Wilson and Jared Goff can put up points on anyone.  Can the Rams stop Wilson?  Can Seattle stop Goff and Todd Gurley?  Considering that Los Angeles has one of the worst rushing defenses and that they play quite a bit of man defense, I expect Russell Wilson to run often and pick them apart, so I am siding with the home team to win an exciting and high scoring game.  PICK:  Seahawks

NEW ENGLAND (-2.5) at PITTSBURGH 
A motivated Tom Brady coming off of a bad performance is usually not good news for any team, but I think it looks especially bad for a Pittsburgh team that has a weakened pass defense.  The Patriots (10-3) need a win here to move ahead of the Steelers (11-2), who are playing for the top seed if they can get past Brady and New England.  Can it happen? Sure – but I struggle to see how New England does not get amped up after laying an egg against Miami.  Of course, LeVeon Bell could produce like Kenyan Drake (there’s something I thought I would never say or write) and put up huge numbers, and he likely will.  It is just that the Patriots defense had been stellar for the past two months before the trip to Florida and even on a short week I think they recover.  Brady had a terrible game, and I think he fixes that – with Rob Gronkowski back in action after a suspension.  Arguably the game of the week (and certainly the top one on Sunday afternoon) but I like the Patriots by at least a field goal.  PICK: Patriots

TENNESSEE (+2) vs. SAN FRANCISCO 
This is a tricky matchup, as the Titans have a shot at the playoffs at 8-5, but they have a horrible schedule after the 49ers with two tough home games (Rams and Jaguars).  The Titans play at a very slow pace and run the ball a ton with Derrick Henry and DeMarco Murray, and that is what I think they will want to do against the 49ers.  Jimmy Garoppolo will look to throw against that weak Titans secondary, but somehow Tennessee stifled Arizona last week and could do the same again come Sunday.  The Titans desperately need this game and can run their way to victory here.  PICK:  Titans

DALLAS (-3) at OAKLAND 
Dallas still has faint playoff hopes, which could be even smaller by Sunday Night Football kickoff, but the Cowboys know that they must gear up to win in Oakland.  The Raiders looked terrible last week in Kansas City and their playoff hopes are all but gone.  Dallas has a tough schedule after this one (Seattle, at Philadelphia) so this is a must-win for the Cowboys.  Look for Dallas to follow the Kansas City script and put plenty of pressure on Derek Carr.  PICK:  Cowboys

(Monday) ATLANTA (-6) at TAMPA BAY
By the time Monday comes around, Atlanta will have a pretty good idea of where they fit into the NFC playoff picture.  At 8-5, this is another must-win situation with the Falcons facing the Saints and Panthers in the final two weeks of the season.  Tampa Bay gave Detroit a good battle on Sunday but their defense continues to let them down.  Julio Jones and the ground game for Atlanta should be able to take care of the eliminated Buccaneers on Monday.  PICK:  Falcons

BEST BETS

Once again this year I will give not only the "Best Bets" but also a rating of each one on a 1-3 "Star" scale. The more stars, the more I like that side of the game.

* ONE STAR *

 

  • PHILADELPHIA (-7.5) at NEW YORK GIANTS 
  • SEATTLE vs. LOS ANGELES RAMS (OVER 47.5)
  • TENNESSEE (+2) vs. SAN FRANCISCO 
  • CLEVELAND “FOR THE WIN” (+275) vs. BALTIMORE 

  

  • 6-TEAM, 6-POINT TEASER (6.1-1 ODDS):
    • PHILADELPHIA (-1.5) at NEW YORK GIANTS 
    • (Saturday) DETROIT (+0.5) vs. CHICAGO 
    • (Monday) ATLANTA (EVEN) at TAMPA BAY
    • TENNESSEE (+8) vs. SAN FRANCISCO 
    • DALLAS (+3) at OAKLAND 
    • CLEVELAND (+13.5) vs. BALTIMORE
  • 7-TEAM, 6-POINT TEASER (8.9-1 ODDS):
    • PHILADELPHIA (-1.5) at NEW YORK GIANTS 
    • (Saturday) DETROIT (+0.5) vs. CHICAGO 
    • (Monday) ATLANTA (EVEN) at TAMPA BAY
    • TENNESSEE (+8) vs. SAN FRANCISCO 
    • DALLAS (+3) at OAKLAND 
    • CLEVELAND (+13.5) vs. BALTIMORE 
    • GREEN BAY at CAROLINA (OVER 38)
  • 7-TEAM, 6-POINT TEASER (8.9-1 ODDS):
    • PHILADELPHIA (-1.5) at NEW YORK GIANTS 
    • (Saturday) DETROIT (+0.5) vs. CHICAGO 
    • (Monday) ATLANTA (EVEN) at TAMPA BAY
    • TENNESSEE (+8) vs. SAN FRANCISCO 
    • DALLAS (+3) at OAKLAND 
    • CLEVELAND (+13.5) vs. BALTIMORE 
    • GREEN BAY at CAROLINA (OVER 38)
  • 8-TEAM, 6-POINT TEASER (12.75-1 ODDS):
    • PHILADELPHIA (-1.5) at NEW YORK GIANTS 
    • (Saturday) DETROIT (+0.5) vs. CHICAGO 
    • (Monday) ATLANTA (EVEN) at TAMPA BAY
    • TENNESSEE (+8) vs. SAN FRANCISCO 
    • DALLAS (+3) at OAKLAND 
    • CLEVELAND (+13.5) vs. BALTIMORE 
    • GREEN BAY at CAROLINA (OVER 38)
    • GREEN BAY (+12) at CAROLINA
  • 9-TEAM, 6-POINT TEASER (18.25-1 ODDS):
    • PHILADELPHIA (-1.5) at NEW YORK GIANTS 
    • (Saturday) DETROIT (+0.5) vs. CHICAGO 
    • (Monday) ATLANTA (EVEN) at TAMPA BAY
    • TENNESSEE (+8) vs. SAN FRANCISCO 
    • DALLAS (+3) at OAKLAND 
    • CLEVELAND (+13.5) vs. BALTIMORE 
    • GREEN BAY at CAROLINA (OVER 38)
    • GREEN BAY (+12) at CAROLINA
    • SEATTLE vs. LOS ANGELES RAMS (OVER 41.5)
  • 10-TEAM, 6-POINT TEASER (26-1 ODDS):
    • PHILADELPHIA (-1.5) at NEW YORK GIANTS 
    • (Saturday) DETROIT (+0.5) vs. CHICAGO 
    • (Monday) ATLANTA (EVEN) at TAMPA BAY
    • TENNESSEE (+8) vs. SAN FRANCISCO 
    • DALLAS (+3) at OAKLAND 
    • CLEVELAND (+13.5) vs. BALTIMORE 
    • GREEN BAY at CAROLINA (OVER 38)
    • GREEN BAY (+12) at CAROLINA
    • SEATTLE vs. LOS ANGELES RAMS (OVER 41.5)
    • JACKSONVILLE (-4.5) vs. HOUSTON 

** TWO STAR GAMES **

  • 2-TEAM, 6-POINT TEASER:
    • GREEN BAY (+12) at CAROLINA
    • GREEN BAY at CAROLINA (OVER 38)
  • (Saturday) DETROIT (-5.5) vs. CHICAGO 
  • GREEN BAY (+6) at CAROLINA
  • GREEN BAY at CAROLINA (OVER 44)
  • CLEVELAND (+7.5) vs. BALTIMORE 
  • DALLAS (-3) at OAKLAND 
  • (Monday) ATLANTA (-6) at TAMPA BAY
  • 4-TEAM, 6-POINT TEASER (2.65-1 ODDS):
    • PHILADELPHIA (-1.5) at NEW YORK GIANTS 
    • (Saturday) DETROIT (+0.5) vs. CHICAGO 
    • (Monday) ATLANTA (EVEN) at TAMPA BAY
    • TENNESSEE (+8) vs. SAN FRANCISCO 
  • 5-TEAM, 6-POINT TEASER (4.10-1 ODDS):
    • PHILADELPHIA (-1.5) at NEW YORK GIANTS 
    • (Saturday) DETROIT (+0.5) vs. CHICAGO 
    • (Monday) ATLANTA (EVEN) at TAMPA BAY
    • TENNESSEE (+8) vs. SAN FRANCISCO 
    • DALLAS (+3) at OAKLAND

*** THREE STAR GAMES ***

  • 3-TEAM, 6-POINT TEASER (1.65-1 ODDS):
    • PHILADELPHIA (-1.5) at NEW YORK GIANTS 
    • (Saturday) DETROIT (+0.5) vs. CHICAGO 
    • (Monday) ATLANTA (EVEN) at TAMPA BAY  

PICK(S) OF THE WEEK:  Detroit, Green Bay, Philadelphia, Tennessee, Dallas, Atlanta, Green Bay / Carolina Over 44, Rams / Seattle Over 47.5

RESULTS

Last Week

  • OVERALL: 6-10 (37.5%)
  • BEST BETS (STARS): 9.85-22 (30.9%)
  • PICK OF WEEK: 3-8 (27.3%)

Season

  • OVERALL: 106-94-8 (53.0%)
  • BEST BETS (STARS): 208.49-207-3 (50.2%)
  • PICK OF WEEK: 60-44-2 (57.7%)

Good luck this weekend!

Questions, suggestions, and comments are always welcome to pasquino@footballguys.com 

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