Three NFL Week 15 games are already in the books but there are a lot of impact games and opportunities to enjoy.
With their 29-28 comeback victory over the Kansas City Chiefs, the Los Angeles Chargers locked up a playoff berth. The Dallas Cowboys and Seattle Seahawks can also clinch invites to the postseason party with wins this week.
Nostrathomas Predicts NFL Week 15
For those that are keeping score, after last week Nostrathomas is now 21-23-2 with his top picks, 86-90-2 against the spread and 114-57-2 straight up for the 2018 NFL season.
All point spreads taken from Vegasinsider.com on Saturday morning.
NFL Week 15 Best Bets
Green Bay Packers vs Chicago Bears -5 (1 PM ET; Soldier Field, Chicago, IL)
Normally, Nostrathomas would say that bulletin board material is overrated. This time though, it’s the Green Bay Packers. The Chicago Bears are still stinging from their Week One, 23-20 loss at Lambeau Field. Their ears are also ringing from an Aaron Rodgers comment. After their loss to the Minnesota Vikings, Rodgers talked about Green Bay’s playoff hopes, saying “All we got to do is win out, and go to Soldier Field and win like we’ve done a bunch in the past.”
Of course, there is a grain of truth to that quote. Chicago hasn’t beaten the Packers at home since 2010. Still, this year’s Bears aren’t entering this game looking for a win to make another bad season easier to swallow. This time, Chicago can lock down the NFC North title while simultaneously snuffing out the Packers playoff hopes.
Rodgers still has a dangerous receiver in Davante Adams and big target tight end Jimmy Graham to strike with in the passing game. Where Green Bay will fall short is on the ground. Aaron Jones will be tasked with running against the defense that has the fourth best yards per attempt average in the league.
The Bears also have a secondary that’s finishing the season as one of the best in the NFL. Safety Eddie Jackson and cornerback Kyle Fuller have given Chicago Pro Bowl caliber performances. Fuller also has unfinished business with the Packers. His dropped interception in Week One kept the door wide open for Green Bay’s comeback. He and the rest of the Bears defense will be looking to end Rodgers’ current run of 368 passes with no interceptions.
Who Has the Edge
The Bears have spent the season exorcising every demon that has haunted them over the past decade. They started the Minnesota Vikings current three losses in four games slide and swept the season series with the Detroit Lions. The Packers are the only NFC North nemesis that they’ve yet failed to topple.
Green Bay is on an eight game losing streak and 1-6-1 against the spread since last year. The Bears are 7-1 straight up and against the spread over that same span. Look for the Packers to fall this week at Soldier Field.
Chicago Bears 30 Green Bay Packers 21
Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs Baltimore Ravens -7.5 (1 PM ET; M&T Bank Stadium, Baltimore, MD)
The Baltimore Ravens made the obvious official this past week. Rookie Lamar Jackson has run away from Joe Flacco for the starting quarterback job. Jackson’s job now is to keep Baltimore in postseason position. The Ravens would be the second AFC Wild Card if the season ended today.
Jameis Winston had been putting up big passing numbers for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers since being reinstated as the team’s starter until the New Orleans Saints came to town last week. Now he has to face a team that’s equally adept at shutting down both the passing and running game.
The one thing Tampa Bay has going for them this week is that they’re currently second in the NFL with 5,591 total yards of offense. The problem is that they’re one of the worst in the league at turning those yards into points. The Buccaneers average of 16.8 yards of offense to score just one point. That multiplies out to averaging 117.6 yards of offense for every seven points.
Tampa Bay is 1-6 on the road this season while the Ravens have covered in their last three games. What is surprising about this game is that, as of this writing, 78 percent of public money has come in on the Buccaneers. They’ve also been bet-heavy the past two days but the spread hasn’t moved. That lack of movement leaves Nostrathomas to believe that the pro gamblers are hammering Baltimore’s side of the spread. Join them and take the Ravens to win and cover.
Baltimore Ravens 27 Tampa Bay Buccaneers 18
Seattle Seahawks -3.5 vs San Francisco 49ers (4:05 PM ET; Levi’s Stadium, Santa Clara, CA)
The Seattle Seahawks opened as -5.5 favorites and by the middle of the week heavy money on the San Francisco 49ers drove the spread down to its current level. Surprisingly though, with heavy money coming in on Seattle the past two days, the line hasn’t moved up at least one point.
Yes, the 49ers are at home, where they exposed the Denver Broncos as frauds last week. Yes, Nick Mullens has done at picking the team up at quarterback. Yes, George Kittle is the best tight end in football right now. No they’re not going to win, much less cover against Russell Wilson and the Seahawks.
Seattle is sixth in Nostrathomas’ statistical power rankings heading into NFL Week 15. The 49ers are thirtieth. San Francisco has a strong rushing defense but don’t do anything else better than the Seahawks to consider putting faith in them for a second week in a row.
Seattle has won their last four and is 4-0-1 against the spread in their last five. The Seahawks have also covered their last four away and 11-2-1 against the spread against San Francisco over their last 14 games.
Seattle Seahawks 28 San Francisco 49ers 20
New Orleans Saints -6 vs Carolina Panthers (Monday Night Football, Bank of America Stadium, Charlotte, NC)
The New Orleans Saints wrapped up the NFC South title last week and will now be trying to force the rest of the conference have to travel through New Orleans in the postseason. For the Carolina Panthers, their five game losing streak has them on the brink of falling completely out of playoff contention.
The one thing Carolina does well is run the ball. They’re first in the league in yards per attempt average but are going against the third best defense against the run.
The Saints defense has been surprisingly good since allowing 35 points to the Los Angeles Rams in Week Nine. In the five weeks since then New Orleans has only given up an average of 11 points per game.
New Orleans has covered in their last four games in Charlotte and are 10-1 against the spread in their last 11 games. Take them to win and cover this week. Betters may also want to look at the total of 50.5 points. The final score has gone over in seven of the last eight games between these two.
New Orleans Saints 32 Carolina Panthers 24
Best of the Rest
Miami Dolphins +7.5 vs Minnesota Vikings (1 PM ET; U.S. Bank Stadium, Minneapolis, MN)
Both the Miami Dolphins and Minnesota Vikings are playing for their postseason lives in this game. Minnesota is currently the sixth seed in the NFC. The Dolphins are one of four teams bottled up at 7-6 in the AFC but are down to Baltimore and Indianapolis when it comes to tiebreakers.
Miami came away with what may be the most improbable win of the 2018 season with the Miracle in Miami finish. That has kept the Dolphins in position to continue competing for an AFC postseason slot. Minnesota is coming off an embarrassing loss to the Seahawks in Seattle. That defeat led to the firing of offensive coordinator John DeFilippo this past week.
The Vikings are the superior team on defense but will they be able to serve up enough on offense to revive their playoff fortunes? Minnesota is 4-2 at home this season while the Dolphins are 1-5 on the road, and that win was Week Two against the New York Jets. Here’s betting that they win but it’s too big of a spread to expect them to cover.
Minnesota Vikings 25 Miami Dolphins 21
Dallas Cowboys vs Indianapolis Colts -3 (1 PM ET; Lucas Oil Stadium, Indianapolis, IN)
The Dallas Cowboys have been on fire since receiver Amari Cooper arrived in town. Dallas has shot to the top of the NFC East and it appears they’ll have no trouble locking up the division title. Their challenge this week is to beat an Indianapolis Colts team that has pushed their way into the playoff conversation despite opening the season 1-5.
As hot as Cooper has been for the Cowboys, T.Y. Hilton can match that big play ability for Indianapolis. Hilton and tight end Eric Ebron have been big contributors to Andrew Luck’s rise back to elite quarterback status this season.
This one is almost too tight to call and the trends don’t help in making a decision on who will win and cover any easier. The Colts have won six of their last seven, 5-2 against the spread but Dallas has won and covered their last five.
Nostrathomas is going to take the home team to come out on top in this game.
Indianapolis Colts 26 Dallas Cowboys 21
New England Patriots -2.5 vs Pittsburgh Steelers (4:25 PM ET; Heinz Field, Pittsburgh, PA)
This game is a must have for both teams. The New England Patriots need a win to stay ahead of the Houston Texans for a first round bye. Houston won their Week 15 game 29-22 over the Jets in New York. The Pittsburgh Steelers need it to keep Baltimore behind them in the AFC North.
Pittsburgh can play with the Patriots on defense but it’s their offense that should have Steelers backers worried. Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger is still suffering from sore ribs and it’s unlikely running back James Conner will play.
The Patriots have covered the spread in 34 of their last 45 games after a loss. New England has also won their last five and six of last seven against the Steelers, 5-1-1 against the spread. Pittsburgh also hasn’t covered in four straight. Take the Patriots to get their must win and cover at Heinz Field.
New England Patriots 28 Pittsburgh Steelers 23
Philadelphia Eagles vs Los Angeles Rams -12 (Sunday Night Football; Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, Los Angeles, California)
This game jumped from the Los Angeles Rams favored by -9.5 to -12 after news broke that Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz would be out with a fractured vertebrae in his back. Nick Foles was able to lead Philadelphia to a Super Bowl Championship as the backup last season but he’s being thrust into a near impossible situation now.
Last year the Eagles were riding at the top of the NFC on their way to the title. This year, one loss puts them on the fringe of playoff contention. Philadelphia is also facing a Rams team that completely embarrassed by the Bears last Sunday Night.
At this point, it’s difficult to see the Eagles scoring enough to keep this game close.
Los Angeles Rams 33 Philadelphia Eagles 20
Tennessee Titans vs New York Giants +1 (1 PM ET; MetLife Stadium, East Rutherford, NJ)
Tennessee still has playoff hopes for this season but they have the Indianapolis Colts, Miami Dolphins and the AFC North loser to climb past. One more loss is going to turn that hill into a mountain. Meanwhile, the Giants have shown an unwillingness to settle into a top 10 2019 draft pick.
The Titans are on a two game win streak, both at home over the New York Jets and the Cody Kessler led Jacksonville Jaguars. New York has also won two straight. They beat the Chicago Bears and backup quarterback Chase Daniel and buried the undermanned Washington Redskins last week.
There’s no real statistical edge that either team takes into this game. As for the trends, Tennessee is 2-5 on the road this season. The Giants have covered the point spread in their last three games and play host tomorrow. That’s reason enough to give them the edge here.
New York Giants 24 Tennessee Titans 19
Games of the Weak
Detroit Lions +2.5 vs Buffalo Bills (1 PM ET; New Era Field, Buffalo, NY)
The Detroit Lions head coach is 2-1 against his former AFC East rivals this season. Can they run that record to 3-1? That depends on how much offense he can get out of quarterback Matthew Stafford.
Stafford is currently having the worst full season of his NFL career. He’s thrown for over 300 yards in only three games this season. Last week against the Arizona Cardinals he finished with 101 yards through the air.
The Buffalo Bills are coming off of two close losses to the Dolphins and Jets. Josh Allen has shown that he’s mentally ready to take over as the franchise quarterback but he still has growing to do. Take the road dog to win and cover.
Detroit Lions 19 Buffalo Bills 15
Arizona Cardinals vs Atlanta Falcons -9.5 (1 PM ET; Mercedes-Benz Stadium, Atlanta, Georgia)
For the Atlanta Falcons in 2018, Matt Ryan has thrown for over 4,000 yards with 28 touchdowns and only six interceptions. Despite those numbers Atlanta is 14th in scoring this season. Still, that should be enough to win and cover at home against an Arizona Cardinals team that is last in scoring with a 13.7 points per game average.
Atlanta Falcons 24 Arizona Cardinals 10
Oakland Raiders vs Cincinnati Bengals -3 (1 PM ET; Paul Brown Stadium, Cincinnati, OH)
Here we have what will be a common sight over the final three weeks. a late season battle against two teams going nowhere. The Cincinnati Bengals have lost five in a row and seven of their last eight. The Oakland Raiders beat the Pittsburgh Steelers 24-21 last week but they’ve been in turmoil all season and are still in the picture for the first pick in the 2019 NFL Draft.
Cincinnati Bengals 20 Oakland Raiders 16
Washington Redskins +7.5 vs Jacksonville Jaguars (1 PM ET; TIAA Bank Stadium, Jacksonville, FL)
Both of these teams have seen their playoff hopes smothered this season. The Washington Redskins have suffered from season ending injuries to quarterbacks Alex Smith and Colt McCoy. The Jacksonville Jaguars have apparently suffered from indifference.
It’s too much to expect Jacksonville to cover a spread this large. Take them to win, because somebody has to, but don’t be surprised if Washington keeps it close.
Jacksonville Jaguars 10 Washington Redskins 6
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