NFL Sports

NFL: Week 15 Picks Against the Spread

Michael Crabtree

Order has been restored. Aided by calling outright upsets by the Bears and Colts, the Game Haus posted a 10-6 mark against the spread last week. The season mark now sits at 105-97-6. Picks are bolded, outright upsets have an asterisk, and all spreads are from rtsports.com at the time of writing. Here’s to putting two good weeks in a row together.

Thursday Night:

Chargers at Chiefs (-3.5)- These might be the two best teams in the AFC right now, but the Chargers are traveling to perhaps the toughest place to play in the entire league on a short week. Also, their two top running backs are dinged up. That will make it nearly impossible to contain Patrick Mahomes and the rest of Kansas City’s loaded offense. KC 34 Lac 23

Saturday:

Texans (-6) at Jets- The Jets have not won a game without Sam Darnold at quarterback this year; he is starting, so nothing is impossible here. However, it is not like Houston started playing poorly in any way in their first loss since September last week. The Jets just do not have the firepower to hang with a team that appears to be a legit Super Bowl contender like Houston. Hou 31 Nyj 17

Browns at Broncos (-3)- Denver might have the biggest discrepancy in football in terms of how they play at home versus on the road. It took a half for the defense to wake up, as well as for the offense to figure out life without Emanuel Sanders in San Francisco. That might cost them a playoff spot, but Baker Mayfield went on the road to face a similar defense in terms of talent in Houston a few weeks ago. It wasn’t pretty. Expect something similar here. Den 24 Cle 17

Sunday:

Cardinals at Falcons (-9)- In this battle of bad teams, Atlanta has at least shown ability to score this year, while Arizona has not. Atlanta is a bad defense, but that has not mattered this year for the Cardinals, who average just a shade over 13 points per game. Atl 23 Ari 13

*Cowboys at Colts (-3)- This game could go either way. Dallas can clinch the NFC East here, and Indy can also greatly help its playoff cause. However, Dallas has been basically the same team all year long. Amari Cooper has given the offense a little more punch, but this team has been about running the football and playing defense well enough to keep games close and win them late.

Amari Cooper
Photo: Sporting News

The Colts are impossible to figure out week to week. They dropped five of their first six, got on a roll, then got shutout by cruddy Jacksonville and followed that up by ending the longest winning streak in the league last week. You know what you are getting from one side here, but not from the other. Thus, even if it ends up being wrong, the Cowboys are the right pick here. Dal 24 Ind 20

Lions at Bills (-2.5)- Both teams are playing for nothing but pride here, and both offenses have struggled this year, but the Josh Allen-led Bills are going along a little better right now. The Lions have had very little production on the ground since Kerryon Johnson got injured, and Matthew Stafford has had just two touchdown passes in the last four games. Buf 21 Det 17

Packers at Bears (-6)- We’ve seen the reverse of this scenario many times before. A really good Packers team buries a subpar Bears squad while steamrolling towards the playoffs. The tables have turned here. After years of beatings, little brother is finally stronger than big brother. The Bears should relish the chance to bury the Packers and play with their hair on fire. Chi 28 GB 20

Dolphins at Vikings (-7)- The public will be all over Miami here after both their miracle win and Minnesota’s Monday night debacle last week. Football miracles are fun to watch, but they have no staying power. Miami is not a playoff team, sitting at 29th in total offense. Including this one, two of their last three are on the road in cold weather cities; we’ve seen this before. On the other side, firing the offensive coordinator is clearly a panic move by the Vikings, but there really is no reason to panic in Vikings land. We’ve seen many teams get carved up in Seattle over the last half decade or so. Min 27 Mia 14

*Raiders at Bengals (-3)- Both teams are going nowhere but near the top of the draft board. It is absolutely time for Marvin Lewis to go in Cincinnati, but you would be hard pressed to find any coach that could have kept this team afloat with all the injuries. Last week’s upset of the Steelers seems to have given the Raiders some late season life that the Bengals do not have. Oak 23 Cin 20

Bucs at Ravens (-8)- Even with last week’s loss, we’ve seen enough to know that the Lamar Jackson-centric version of the Ravens, combined with one of the best defenses around, is good enough to both beat bad teams and at least bother good teams like Kansas City last week. Tampa Bay is bad, but the offense has been fairly productive all year long. This is too many points. Baltimore has limitations in the passing game. Bal 24 TB 23

Titans at Giants (-2.5)- The Giants have won four out of five, and Eli Manning may get another year at the helm in New York… Gulp. The Titans are suddenly a trendy playoff pick. Who knows? They are no more or less inconsistent than the other teams in the AFC Wild Card chase, but the Giants are dangerous to any playoff hunting team right now. Nyg 23 Ten 17

Redskins at Jaguars (-7)- Don’t watch this game, but bet it. Jacksonville has scored 15 total points in the last two games. They are not seven points better than any other NFL team, even a team that is starting a quarterback that was signed just prior to last week’s game and hasn’t made a start since 2011. Jac 12 Was 10

Seahawks (-5) at 49ers- Seattle just keeps winning by running the football better than anybody else, playing good defense and not turning the ball over. San Francisco’s grit was finally rewarded last week, but we saw just two weeks ago how bad a matchup this is for them right now. Sea 30 SF 17

Patriots (-1.5) at Steelers- The Patriots are no doubt going to be playing with an even bigger chip on their shoulder than normal after losing the way they did last week. In fact, both teams are desperate for this one after surprising losses last week. As usual, the Patriots are quietly going about their business, and there is a new form of Steelers drama popping up in the media every five minutes. Based on these two cultures alone, this is an easy one. NE 31 Pit 21

Eagles at Rams (-9)- The Rams are not playing anywhere near the level they were early in the year, but Carson Wentz is out for this one. It looks like the defending champs will just go through the motions after last week’s back breaking loss. Lar 31 Phi 17

Cam Newton
Photo: pressform.info

MNF:

Saints (-6) at Panthers- This is incredibly late for the first meeting of the year between division rivals. Carolina has fallen off a cliff since starting 6-2 and needs this one to salvage any playoff hopes. They are not going to be overwhelmed by the Saints arsenal, but New Orleans is still playing for home field in the playoffs. After watching Cam Newton miss a slew of open pass catchers last week, it is hard not to think that the Panthers quarterback is more hurt than the outside world knows. NO 27 Car 17

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