I went 2-5 in my contest last week and did something I rarely ever do — I picked six favorites. I usually look to bet the underdogs in the NFL, but I thought there was value on a number of road favorites last week. Unfortunately, late field goals prevented the Chiefs and Packers from covering games they handily won, resulting in my losing record for the week. At least those teams came through in teaser bets.
As always, I’ll use lines from the Las Vegas SuperContest, a popular football challenge hosted by the Westgate SuperBook. The point spreads for the contest come out Wednesday evening and are locked at those numbers for the rest of the week.
I’m in a competition where I pick seven sides a week using the SuperContest’s lines, so in this weekly breakdown I will unveil my first impressions of the games and point spreads. I hope this can be a guide for people who are in similar NFL pick’ems or looking to bet games.
Note: My picks could change based on information and any news that is not factored into the contest line. I will discuss and finalize these picks on a Periscope show I host called Weekend Warriors. The show will be live for an hour on Sunday at 11 a.m. ET and can be seen on Stadium’s Periscope channel or Stadium’s Twitter. After the show, I will tweet my seven picks for the contest from my Twitter.
Here are my thoughts for Week 15.
Picks I’m Considering
Texans (+7) over Colts: Two weeks ago, the Colts closed as a three-point favorite in Houston. The Texans were on the doorstep of taking a late lead but Deshaun Watson mishandled a snap that was recovered by the Colts in the final minute. Now we have the rematch between these two teams and the line is probably too high even when you flip home-field advantage to the Colts in this game. I want to know if wide receiver Brandin Cooks suits up for Houston in this game after being inactive last week. If he does, I’ll likely be using the Texans in the contest, and I would bet them at +7 or better.
Falcons (+6) over Buccaneers: The look-ahead line for this game was shockingly low at Buccaneers -1.5. After Tampa Bay’s win and cover in Week 14 and the Falcons’ loss to the Chargers, there’s been one-way action on the Buccaneers, driving the spread to a key number of -6. At this price, I would only make a case for the underdog. Just two weeks ago when hosting the Saints, the Falcons closed +3, and the Buccaneers aren’t three points better than the Taysom Hill-led Saints. This line is inflated because it’s a playoff team going against a team with nothing to play for. In those cases, I usually will side with the underdog.
Patriots (+2) over Dolphins: I haven’t been high on the Dolphins since they inserted Tua Tagovailoa as the starting quarterback. It was the right move for the future, but I would rate the Dolphins higher with Ryan Fitzpatrick as their starting quarterback. Now the Miami rookie will go up against Bill Belichick, who is a master at game planning against young quarterbacks. Even though the Dolphins covered last week against the Chiefs, they were outgained on a yards-per-play basis 7.3-4.8 and were aided by winning the turnover battle 4-1. The Patriots’ playoff chances are low, but they are coming off a Thursday night game so they have the rest advantage. Cam Newton’s contract expires at the end of the season, so these final games will be big for him to help his value on the free agent market. The Patriots are the teaser leg I have the most interest in this week.
Seahawks (-5) over Washington: The Washington Football Team has been a great story this season, but I’m not buying into their success. Their four-game winning streak started against the Bengals in a game they were trailing in before Joe Burrow got hurt. While their win against the Cowboys on Thanksgiving was legitimate, they got a fortunate break when they beat a Steelers team coming off four days rest due to a coronavirus-related scheduling quirk. Last week, they only gained 3.1 yards per play in a 23-15 win over the 49ers in which they scored two defensive touchdowns and lost QB Alex Smith with a calf injury. I’m not high on the Seahawks, and Seattle has a huge game on deck against the Rams, but I could only bet the favorite in this one.
Vikings (-3) over Bears: The Bears snapped a six-game losing streak with a win over the Texans last week. It was an impressive 30-point first half output, but it was also against one of the worst defenses in the NFL. I believe there’s an overreaction in this one because the look-ahead line was Vikings -6.5, and Minnesota was just a three-point favorite at the Bears in Week 10. While the Bears’ offense has shown improvement since their first meeting, the defenses that they’ve faced aren’t enough for the adjustment in the point spread of this game.
Jaguars (+12.5) over Ravens: I’m not thrilled taking the Jaguars here, but they are starting what I think is their best quarterback option in Gardner Minshew. It’s also a good spot to fade the Ravens after a dramatic Monday night win against the Browns.
I Need More Information
Chargers at Raiders (-3): I’m not really sure why the Raiders are a field goal favorite in this game. Their defense is terrible, which led to DC Paul Guenther becoming the fall guy after his unit gave up 44 points to the Colts. I’m just not interested in backing the Chargers as long as Anthony Lynn is their head coach.
Panthers at Packers (-8.5): The Packers aren’t a team I want to bet on when they are over a touchdown favorite because of the questions surrounding their defense. They will be facing a competent offense that will have wide receiver DJ Moore back from the COVID-19 list. I would’ve considered the Panthers if RB Christian McCaffrey was healthy for this one, but it sounds like he’s unlikely to play.
Bills (-6.5) at Broncos: I really want to make a case for the Broncos in what’s a difficult scheduling situation for the Bills. Buffalo is coming off a statement win over the Steelers on Sunday night and has a Monday night game in Week 16 against the Patriots with Saturday’s matchup against the Broncos in Denver sandwiched between. I’m aware that the Bills’ passing attack should be able to take advantage of the Broncos’ thin secondary, but I’ll likely be tempted to take the home underdog if this line gets to +7.
Lions at Titans (-11): The look-ahead line for this game was Titans -8.5. Lions QB Matthew Stafford left Week 14’s game in the fourth quarter, so I need to know if he’s going to start before handicapping this game.
Jets at Rams (-17.5): Maybe this line is too high, but I will not be picking the Jets this week — or for the rest of the season.
Browns (-4.5) at Giants: A few weeks ago, I thought this game would setup nicely to fade the Browns. Cleveland would be coming off a huge Monday night game against the Ravens, so a Sunday afternoon game against a non-conference opponent would be a prime spot for a letdown, especially if the Browns pulled off a win in Week 14. Then this game got flexed to Sunday night and the Browns lost a heartbreaker, ultimately changing my perspective on the matchup. I think the Browns will be focused to get back on track in a competitive AFC playoff race, while the Giants might be returning to Colt McCoy for starting quarterback duties. That’s because New York inexplicably started a hobbled Daniel Jones last week and he picked up a new injury that could keep him on the sideline for this game.
Eagles at Cardinals (-6): Jalen Hurts gave the Eagles’ offense an immediate boost in his first NFL start. I assume that this line has gone up in Arizona’s favor because Philadelphia could be down three starters in their secondary for this game. I’m curious to see where the spread goes from here.
Chiefs (-3) at Saints: I need more time to decide on this game for a few reasons. The big factor is if QB Drew Brees will return from injury or if Taysom Hill will make his fifth straight start. This is also a game where playoff situations should factor into your handicap. Since this game is late on Sunday afternoon, the Saints could get a boost if the Packers are upset by the Panthers on Saturday night. That’s because the Packers just took over the No. 1 seed in the NFC after the Saints’ loss in Week 14. As for the Chiefs, they’re in a good position to capture the No. 1 seed in the AFC after back-to-back losses by the Steelers. So this isn’t a game they “need” to win, as they’ll be the top seed in the AFC regardless of what happens after this week. There’s still a lot of information to unpack about this game, but it’s one that I have interest in picking.
49ers (-3) at Cowboys: I’m not sure what we are going to get from the 49ers after two consecutive losses have basically knocked them out of NFC playoff contention. I also don’t feel comfortable picking the Cowboys even though getting three points at home is intriguing against a potentially unmotivated San Francisco team.
Steelers (-12.5) at Bengals: This is probably a good opportunity for the Steelers to get right in a game they’ll be rested for. I just don’t trust their offense to cover such a big number even though they are playing against the worst team in the NFL right now.