NFL Week 15 Picks

By Chris Coutts
Dec. 16, 2018

The season is coming to an end but the games are only getting better as playoff implications and draft positions create intrigue with every match-up. My blog posts have been as inconsistent as the Minnesota Vikings but I plan on ending the season strong like the Cleveland Browns (crazy to think they are somehow still able to make the playoffs in the most improbable scenario possible). I've been on a hot streak with my picks lately and I don't expect this week to be any different.

Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports
Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

Stay-aways:

Washington Redskins @ Jacksonville Jaguars (-7)

Josh Johnson vs. Cody Kessler is a more fitting title for this game. If you don’t recognize either of those names, I don’t blame you. Two worthless quarterbacks facing each other in a meaningless game. Yikes.... just yikes. The Over/Under is 36 total points which I think is the lowest I have seen this season. The Jaguars beat the Colts two weeks ago 6-0 and I think this game will be just as bad as that game.

Arizona Cardinals @ Atlanta Falcons (-9)

Here’s a great idea by Vegas, give a team that hasn’t scored over 20 points since Week 9 against the Redskins. It is true they’ve faced some tough defenses in Dallas and Baltimore but an offense with weapons like Julio Jones, Calvin Ridley, and the forever underrated Tevin Coleman should never have any type of struggles offensively. Lucky for the Falcons, the Cardinals have a worse offense. I would rather watch milk spoil than watch a single minute of this game.

Detroit Lions @ Buffalo Bills (-2)

Both of these teams confuse me. The Lions, on paper, should be better than their 5-8 record but their offense has been disappointing at best. The Bills, on the other hand, were projected to be one of the worst teams in league but have played spoiler as of late. Part of that has to do with an easy schedule but rookie QB Josh Allen has made some strides towards being competent. The Bills are 4-9 on the season and 5-8 against the spread. The Lions are 7-6 against the spread this season and 4-2 against the spread on the road. Lions may be a sneaky team to put in a teaser this week but overall, this game is a classic stay-away.

Oakland Raiders @ Cincinnati Bengals (-3)

The poor Bengals just couldn’t catch a break this season. Whether it was injuries to all significant offensive players or the hiring of Hue Jackson as a “defensive assistant,” the Bengals went from being a playoff team to top-10 pick real quick. That being said, the Raiders are just worse. The fact that the Raiders are somehow 5-8 ATS this season baffles the hell out of me. I can see this game ending in about 50 different ways and if I’m lucky, I won’t have to watch any of those happen.

Dallas Cowboys @ Indianapolis Colts (-3)

Don’t let the fact that this is a stay-away keep you from watching this game. It actually should be one of the better games of the season but in terms of gambling, this game is a mystery. The Colts look like one of the best teams in the AFC some weeks and then lose to the Jaguars 6-0. The Cowboys are on a hot streak, winning 5 games straight, but have showed continued weaknesses on offense and in their secondary. My gut says Colts, but my mind says Cowboys +3. In my constant state of internal turmoil, I’ve just decided to sit back and enjoy this one.

Green Bay Packers @ Chicago Bears (-4)

Who would have thought these two teams would be in this position at this point of the season? The Packers won last week after firing head coach Mike McCarthy but it was against the hapless Falcons. The Bears have proven they are serious contenders in the NFC but anything can happen in inter-division games, especially between these two storied franchises. The Bears should be a larger favorite than 4 points at this point in the season but Vegas obviously sees the Packers being a little feistier than their record suggests. I’d advise taking the under of 47 in this game instead. Scoring will probably come at a premium.

Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports
Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports

Enticers:

New England Patriots (-3) @ Pittsburgh Steelers

The Patriots have owned the Steelers in the Belichick-Brady era. The Steelers have given the Patriots some good games in the past but the Patriots have usually been the victors. This season has given both teams their frustrations and this game will not be the usual slug fest it always has been. The Steelers offense is one dimensional without starting RB James Conner, who is nursing an ankle injury, and they’ve struggled to keep teams from scoring more than 24 the last few weeks. They’ve lost three in a row, including last week to the Raiders, but still have hopes to make the playoffs. The Patriots aren’t exactly perfect on either side of the ball but they are getting healthier as the weeks go on and are coming off an outlandish loss against the Dolphins (google the Miami Miracle). The Patriots are almost a lock but the Steelers have more to play for in this game. Add it to the “I’ll watch it and regret not betting on it later” games collection.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers @ Baltimore Ravens (-8)

The Ravens are easily the better team in this matchup but that line is way too high. The Ravens control the ball on offense and dominate their opponents on defense. That being said, they should not be favored by more than a touchdown against any team that’s not in place to finish last in the league. The Buccaneers are bad and I suspect this to be a 3 interception game for QB Jameis Winston, but for some reason this game just makes me uneasy. I just don’t see the Ravens winning by double digits so maybe 8 is the perfect number for the spread.

Miami Dolphins @ Minnesota Vikings (-8)

The Dolphins are coming off an incredulous win against the Patriots and the Vikings got embarrassed on Monday night by the Seahawks. This game falls into the same category as the Ravens-Bucs game. 8 points just seems a little too high for a team that’s struggled as much as the Vikings have. Putting the Vikings and Ravens in a 5 point teaser is definitely the way to go.

Tennessee Titans @ New York Giants (-2.5)

This game hurts my head thinking about. The Giants have been all over the place this season. They look like the worst team one week and then blowout the Redskins. Yes, I know it’s the Redskins but the Giants shouldn’t be blowing anybody out. The Titans have gone from playing like a playoff team to a team that hasn’t made the playoffs in 20 years. The Titans have snuck out some wins in the last few weeks, but they’re wins nonetheless. I don’t think the Giants should be favorites in this game but I don’t know what to make of either of these teams at this point. I’d take the Titans but only if I could adjust the line higher than +2.5.

Jonathan Dyer-USA TODAY Sports
Jonathan Dyer-USA TODAY Sports

Locks:

Seattle Seahawks (-4.5) @ San Francisco 49ers

The only teams hotter than the Seahawks right now are the Cowboys and Chargers. Seattle hasn’t shown the ability to score more than 30 points this season but scored 43 points against the 49ers just a few weeks ago. Seattle’s defense is back to keeping teams from beating them through the air which bodes well against a 49ers team who have an offense riddled with key injuries. 49ers QB Nick Mullens is no longer seen as the next Brett Favre and the 49ers have come back to reality after a few competitive games. Seattle needs to win out in order to make the playoffs and games against the 49ers and Cardinals make that plausible.

Philadelphia Eagles @ Los Angeles Rams (-8.5)

I mentioned the Eagles in the previous game as a team who have for some reason turned to dog poop. They’ve been competitive in games the last few weeks and have dealt with some key injuries all season, but this offense is a shell of what it was last year. Part of it is their depleted ground game and the other part is their offensive line not protecting QB Carson Wentz. Wentz has been sacked .... times in the last 4 weeks which is um.... not good. The Eagles secondary is a desolate wasteland that’s been nuked by most teams they’ve played.
The Rams, much like the Saints, are trying to get home field advantage throughout the NFC playoffs and won’t let the defending Super Bowl champs get in their way. This game is in Los Angeles so cold weather won’t be a factor for QB Jared Goff like it was in Chicago last week. I’d be surprised if the Rams don’t score more than 45 and the Eagles score more than 21

*Disclaimer: I wrote this before news about Carson Wentz being out was announced. This only makes this more of a lock because God bless Nick Foles but I don’t envision him having a good week*

New Orleans Saints (-6.5) @ Carolina Panthers

The Saints have been on a skid of sorts lately considering how hot their offense was at the beginning of the season. Their previous 28-14 win against the Buccaneers proved that the offensive injuries that this team has sustained are more significant than originally thought. Veteran slot WR Ted Ginn Jr. is due back either this week or next week, however, and the offensive line is starting to get healthier as well. It has also been a few weeks since star RB Alvin Kamara has gone off for a 200 all-purpose yards and 3 TD game.
The Panthers, along with the Eagles and the Steelers, are in the weird position of going from playoff contenders to maybe missing the playoffs altogether. QB Cam Newton has had a lingering shoulder injury and their defense has been torn apart in recent games but RB Christian McCaffrey is on a tear. If this game took place 5 weeks ago, I would have been shocked at this line, but with the Saints gunning for home field advantage in the playoffs and the Panthers on their heels, the Saints won’t let this game slip through their hands.

Picks:

New Orleans (-6.5)

Los Angeles Rams (-8.5)

Seattle (-4.5)

Vikings/Ravens (5-point teaser)

Odds of picks parlayed: +695