NFL Week #15: Picks and Analysis
Good to be up for the season. Hoping to close out the regular season strongly and end up with a profit.
Note that this week’s write-up includes my thoughts on Sunday-Monday games and does not include the three Thursday and Saturday matchups.
Now, on to my breakdown of NFL Week #15.
2018 NFL REGULAR SEASON RESULTS
STARTING BANKROLL: $10,000.
CURRENT BALANCE: $10,814. [+ $814.]
OVERALL W-L RECORD: 50 wins / 46 loses / 4 pushes
LAST WEEK’S RESULTS: 6-3-0 (+ $810)
INDIANAPOLIS +4.5 vs. HOUSTON — WON $300
FIRST HALF: INDIANAPOLIS +3 vs. HOUSTON — WON $300
CLEVELAND (PICK) vs. CAROLINA — WON $300
ATLANTA / GREEN BAY UNDER 51 — LOST $330
LA RAMS / CHICAGO UNDER 51.5 — WON $300
NY GIANTS -3 vs. WASHINGTON — WON $300
LA CHARGERS -14 vs. CINCINNATI — LOST $330
PHILADELPHIA +3.5 vs. DALLAS — LOST $330
OAKLAND +10 vs. PITTSBURGH — WON $300
THIS WEEK’S PICKS: (Note: All lines are taken from Westgate Las Vegas as of Saturday afternoon): SIX PLAYS
MIAMI +7.5 vs. MINNESOTA — Risking $330 to win $300
The Vikings are a gutless fraud, evidenced by two dismal performances the last few weeks with their playoff hopes on the line. While Minnesota did face tough road competition (at NWE and SEA), the manner in which they lost both games, by two touchdowns, scoring just 17 points total, was telling as to the current state of the team. Vikings couldn’t convert anything offensively. Offensive line play has been horrid. While Vikings defense does remain one of the NFL’s best, the lackluster offense has way too many concerns to be laying a full touchdown. Moreover, Minnesota just fired its offensive coordinator, which might be satisfying to fans on some level — but when teams are firing key members of the coaching staff 14 weeks into the season, that’s not usually a team that fares well as a betting favorite. Minnesota will probably get the win here, but Miami has shown enough recent toughness for me to think they’ll hang stubbornly with the Vikings on the road and keep this game within the 7.5-point margin. Dolphins have covered three straight games and are very much in the playoff hunt. While Vikings have reached desperation stage, Miami has enough confidence and talent to keep this one close. Taking Miami plus the points.
CINCINNATI -3 vs. OAKLAND — Risking $330 to win $300
At first glance, this play makes absolutely no sense. Two bad teams going nowhere, playing a meaningless late-season game. But Cincinnati has been in this spot before, and played inspired football down the stretch under the presumption the head coach could be in front of the home crowd one last time (woeful Bengals won their final two games last season, convinced Marvin Lewis was on his way out). I see similar prospect here, with Cincinnati playing over the heads against a very beatable opponent. Key here is RB Mixon, who’s averaging 4.8 YPC, which should get 30 touches and be able to tear up the young and weak Oakland defense. QB Driskell might be an upgrade the way Andy Dalton has been playing. Bengals played very tough last week at Chargers, covering, and keeping LAC out of the end zone their final eight drives. I see Cincy showing signs of life here, while Oakland gets a bad travel East spot after three straight home games. Raiders have played better, as well. But this really looks like a flat spot for the visitor. Rare for me to lay a FG in a shit game like this, but the circumstances of the Bengals playing hard for Lewis in the final home game is enough for me to play the favorite.
CHICAGO -5 vs. GREEN BAY — Risking $550 to win $500
I see this as the Best Bet of the week. Everything points to a Bears victory here, including revenge (for Week 1 loss), motivation (chance to lock up division title), a huge edge on defense (Bears #1 ranked defense), and confidence (Bears 6-1 at home). Chicago is coming off their most impressive win in years, totally shutting down the Rams and now face an injury-ridden rival. Packers got their dead cat bounce win at home beating miserable Atlanta last week following the abrupt coaching change, but that kick in the ass should wear thin here in a much tough environment. Packers lack the weapons, even with QB Rogers taking the snaps. Green Bay has lost ALL SIX road games this season. Looks like a very favorable spot to lay points. Surprised this line isn’t -7 (which could be the closing number).
NY GIANTS +1 vs. TENNESSEE — Risking $330 to win $300
Giants have played very solid football the last month, which apparently isn’t reflected in this pointspread. NYG are 4-0-1 ATS and have been left for dead, but they’ve put up some big offensive numbers during this stretch and look to be a very live, motivated home underdog. Tennessee is a notoriously inconsistent road team. QB Mariota’s numbers home vs. away are staggeringly different. Now, Titans coming off a huge home win have to travel to a bad weather spot versus a hot team which is scoring points. Line is low, but I’m still taking the Giants which I believe will win outright end the Titans’ playoff prospects. Tennessee is just 2-5 on the road this season, both SU and ATS. NYG should be favored in this game, probably laying -2. Sure, WR Beckham is out with injury, but that doesn’t seem to matter since Giants tagged 40 on WASH last week without the most overrated WR in football.
NEW ENGLAND -2 vs. PITTSBURGH — Risking $330 to win $300
This isn’t so much a bet on the Patriots as a wager against the Steelers, which have looked absolutely terrible the last five weeks. Aside from a solid opening half versus LAC a few weeks ago (in a game they ultimately lost), Pittsburgh has been dominated by opponents. With QB Roethlisberger perhaps not fully at 100 percent (he left the game due to rib injury, last week), I’ll fade the unlikely prospects Pittsburgh has some magic formula to return to its previous form. Losing to Denver and Oakland (and being down 16-0 to Jacksonville) isn’t just an aberration. It’s a sign of serious problems. Biggest problem is — Steelers aren’t giving Roethlisberger pass protection. It’s rare to find any betting value with the Patriots, but coming off a shocking last-second loss, New England should be focused here. I’ll gladly lay less than a FG with the favorite.
TEASER: BALTIMORE -2 vs. TAMPA / DETROIT +8.5 vs. BUFFALO — Risking $330 to win $300
The QB controversy has been cleared up with the Ravens’ announcement this week that Lamar Jackson will start the remainder of the season. Jackson (3-1 as a starter) has played reasonably well, and will get much better with more snaps. He gets to face a softer defense at home this week and should get the win. Ravens played top-tier Kansas City tough last week losing in OT, and are in the must-win situation, so motivation shouldn’t be a problem. Meanwhile, Tampa Bay lost to rival last week in what was a very winnable game. That should be a devastating emotional blow to a team that doesn’t have much to play for, going into a cold and rainy environment (forecast is 35 degrees and rain), facing one of the NFL’s best defenses. Also, let’s credit Baltimore’s kicking game as the best in the league (26/28 FGs made). Even if Baltimore’s offense is lackluster, I think Tucker gives the home team enough of an edge to comfortably lay points. Playing the Wong teaser on this matchup, taking Ravens from -8 down to -2.
In the other matchup, I’ll play the underdog Lions getting more than a TD in what should be a toss-up. Buffalo has blown two wins the last two games (including an inexcusable loss at home to NYJ). QB Josh Allen can’t seem to make a play when his team needs it. I’ll fade the less-than-likely prospect Buffalo will blow any opponent out at this stage. Weather won’t help either offense, with near-freezing temperatures and rain/sleet in the forecast. Looks like a close 20-17 type of game. Based on reports QB Stafford is starting (and given the Lions’ reasonably strong performance last week, beating ARZ 17-3), that tells me Detroit is still playing with some pride. So, I’ll tease this live dog up over the key numbers to +8.5.
OTHER GAMES / SOME THOUGHTS
DAL at INDY — Everything’s been going right for Cowboys the last month, including two home wins aided by horrible officiating. But let’s also credit Dallas with some terrific defensive play and a solid rushing attack. That could spell trouble for Indy, coming back home after two straight road games. QB Luck is having a Pro Bowl season, but this might be his most formidable test. I’d play Dallas getting the FG, but also have some concern this looks like a very flat spot for the Cowboys, which seem all but assured of winning the NFC East. Colts might need this game just a bit more and after watching them play such an excellent game beating HOU last week (breaking Texans 8-game win streak), clearly this team is capable of the cover. Conflicting evidence tells me to pass on this matchup.
WASH at JAX — I usually prefer studying, betting, and watching these garbage matchups rather than the high-profile games. These “bad games” often present much better wagering opportunities. However, both of these teams are really struggling at the moment, especially on offense. It would be hard to find a worse game for scoring, since total is lowest of any game this season (O/U is 36). For this reason, taking Redskins plus 8 is very tempting. However, I’m concerned that Washington might not score. Recall, Jacksonville completely dominated Pittsburgh at home (for 55 minutes) and shut out Indy and QB Luck 6-0. Much easier task here facing inept Washington with another QB (fourth string). It’s Washington plus the points, or nothing here. There are better wagering opportunities on the board, so this game ranks as a pass.
ARZ at ATL — Falcons inexplicably laying -9 here despite being a total shit show. Cardinals stunk at home last week, looking pathetically awful in a 17-3 loss to the Lions. Hard to say what team will show up for this late season road contest. I’ve bashed Cards QB Josh Rosen unmercifully before, but see this as a rare spot where he might produce some points in a perfect indoor environment versus soft defense with lingering injuries in the secondary. Tempted also to play this total OVER 44. With Falcons left with nothing to play for, look for the offense to take out some frustrations on the Arizona punching bag. Still, I’ll pass on a wager unless perhaps the total drops to 43,5.
SEA at SFO — I’m not interested in the game at all. Sure, Seattle should roll easily. But these are the kinds of games that bite favorite bettors in the ass. I don’t like laying points on the road in divisional games, and 49ers now in the midst of a three-game homestand off an impressive upset win versus Denver last week, that might inspire enough confidence to hang tough with Seahawks. Seattle is an absolute sucker bet here, but I’m not wagering on San Fran, either. Pass.
PHILA at LAR — Eagles have to be deflated after loss to DAL last week, and play an even tougher road game versus an opponent that played its worst game of the season in CHI. Rams look to be in a spot to roll up the score if they want, especially with Eagles changing QB (though the falloff isn’t as severe as with most teams, given Foles’ pedigree). Recall is was QB Wentz going down to injury in game at LAR last season that ignited Foles’ improbable Super Bowl run. I see lots of contradictory info here, uncertain as to how both teams will react coming off tough losses. UNDER 52 looks to be worth consideration since Eagles offense should have some issues, and Rams might want to just win and stay healthy for what should be two very winnable games to end the season (next two are against ARZ and SFO). But I can’t stand in front of the Rams’ offensive freight strain coming off a loss, thinking they might also tag the Eagles for 50. Passing on this one.
NOR at CAR — I won’t lay points on a team playing its second-straight road game, especially with the number at -6. Saints were fortunate to get out of Tampa last week with a win and now play a reeling Carolina team that’s been horrific the second half of the season. Very tempting to play Carolina in a MNF game in what becomes their Super Bowl versus hated division rival. But New Orleans has uncharateristically good on the road this year. I’m also wary to Saints playing a third-straight road game, never a good spot in the NFL. If you bet this game, Carolina is probably the correct side. But there’s not enough here for me to firem unless somehow this number goes to +7.
MY WAGERS ON NFL SEASON WIN TOTALS [UPDATED]:
Arizona Cardinals OVER 5.5 wins -180 — Wagering $450 to win $250 3-10
Buffalo Bills OVER 6 wins EVEN — Wagering $400 to win $400 4-8
Cincinnati Bengals OVER 6.5 wins -170 — Wagering $680 to win $400 5-8
Dallas Cowboys UNDER 8.5 wins +110 — Wagering $500 to win $550 8-5
Detroit Lions UNDER 7.5 wins EVEN — Risking $400 to win $400 5-9
Houston Texans UNDER 8.5 wins +120 — Risking $400 to win $480 8-4
Jacksonville Jaguars OVER 9 wins -145 — LOST $725
Indianapolis Colts UNDER 6.5 wins +170 — LOST $400
New Orleans Saints OVER 9.5 wins -145 — WON $500
Seattle Seahawks UNDER 8 wins (Best Bet) -150 — Risking $1,500 to win $750 7-5