Los Angeles Chargers (4-9) at Las Vegas Raiders (7-6) Line: Raiders by 3. Total: 52. Thursday, Dec. 17, 8:20 PM
The Matchup. Edge: None.
WEEK 14 RECAP: It was nice to have a solid week where I went 10-6 (+$1,330). My only big loss was the Jaguars +7.5. They had a chance for a back-door cover at the end, but turned the ball over on downs twice in the red zone while down 31-10, so two touchdowns would have gotten there. I got some back-door covers with the Dolphins and Lions covering, which was part of the plan. I wrote last week that I thought I identified how to predict back-door covers, and it was nice to get two of three correct.
My Week 15 NFL Picks will be posted all day Tuesday. Follow @walterfootball for updates.
By the way, if you want to support this site, check out my new book!
In this book, I talk about the top NFL Draft busts, and what would've happened had each team gone a different route. Also, I discuss why Roger Goodell has banned us from the NFL Combine.
SAN ANGELES OFFENSE: The Raiders have made a big change by firing their defensive coordinator, Paul Guenther. It was a much-needed move, but the timing is odd because Guenther's replacement won't have very long to prepare for this game.
I'm not sure the Raiders have the personnel to stop the Chargers anyway. They just surrendered a big game to Jonathan Taylor, so the Chargers will have success on the ground. Austin Ekeler wasn't available the first time the Chargers battled the Raiders, and I like Ekeler's chances of having a big game.
Meanwhile, the Raiders have trouble stopping the pass and getting to the quarterback, and the latter aspect of the defense will be worse if Clelin Ferrell, who suffered an injury Sunday, won't be available for this contest. Justin Herbert has struggled this year when facing terrific defensive coordinators and coaches like Bill Belichick, Brian Flores and Sean McDermott. He won't have that sort of a challenge in this contest.
LAS VEGAS OFFENSE: Ekeler wasn't the only important Charger missing in the first matchup between these teams, a 31-26 thriller in Week 9. Both Joey Bosa and Chris Harris were out as well for the Chargers. They're both healthy now, so they'll obviously have a big impact in this game.
Derek Carr is now protected well with only one absent offensive lineman, but Bosa can still create havoc in the backfield. Carr will also have trouble finding open receivers, as Harris and Casey Hayward are a terrific duo at corner.
That said, the Chargers figure to be weak to Josh Jacobs and Darren Waller. The San Angeles linebacking corps has some injury concerns, so stopping running backs and tight ends is a problem.
RECAP: My strategy for Thursday games is to go with the better team. I'm not sure if that's the Chargers or the Raiders though. The Raiders have three more wins, but the Chargers were so close to beating the Chiefs, Saints and Buccaneers earlier in the year. They could easily be 7-6 right now as well.
With the hook available, I think I'll be on the Chargers. Unless there's some major injury news I don't know about yet, this won't be a wager of any sort. This should be a close game, so taking the +3.5 makes sense. As usual, I'm sure the Chargers will find a way to lose, but we still win if this is a field goal game.
Our Week 15 NFL Picks will be posted all day Tuesday. Follow @walterfootball for updates.
THURSDAY THOUGHTS: The Chargers suddenly have several new injuries. Bryan Bulaga is out again, meaning they're going to be down two offensive linemen. Nasir Adderely is also sidelined, so two safeties will be missing. There's also a question about Keenan Allen and Austin Ekeler playing, which would be a problem because Mike Williams won't be available. I'm switching my pick to the Raiders, and if one of Allen and Ekeler is sidelined, I'll have some units on the host, even with the line move.
FINAL THOUGHTS: I was going to bet the Raiders until I factored in two things. One, both Keenan Allen and Mike Williams will play, albeit on snap counts. This might be a ruse, especially with Williams, but it definitely helps the Chargers. Two, Jon Gruden will be without both of his coordinators, as Greg Olson is out tonight, while Paul Guenther was fired. This could be a tough spot for him on a short week. I'm still going to side with the Raiders, especially now that this line has fallen to -3, but I'm not excited about it. The sharps aren't either, as they've been split on this game.
Buffalo Bills (10-3) at Denver Broncos (5-8) Line: Bills by 6. Total: 48. Saturday, Dec. 19, 4:30 PM
The Matchup. Edge: Bills.
My overrated-underrated feature was posted in this spot the past couple of years. I thought it would be better if there was less clutter on this page, so I set up a new NFL Overrated and Underrated Teams page that will be updated every Monday. I have overrated and underrated teams listed there, and some may shock you!
BUFFALO OFFENSE: This would have been a tough matchup for Josh Allen a couple of weeks ago. The Broncos possessed a great defense, armed with two talented cornerbacks, A.J. Bouye and Bryce Callahan. It was very difficult to throw on them for that reason. With an ineffective running game, Allen would've been challenged to cover a number above six versus such a defense.
Things have changed, however, as neither Bouye nor Callahan are available. Bouye was popped for a PED suspension, while Callahan was placed on injured reserve. Down two cornerbacks, the Broncos will find it difficult to stop Buffalo's talented group of receivers.
The Broncos will need to counter this by putting tons of pressure on Allen. That's easier said than done. The Steelers have a great front seven, yet they could only rattle Allen for about a quarter-and-a-half before the third-year pro went nuts and torched them. I suspect the same thing will happen in this game.
DENVER OFFENSE: Which Drew Lock will we see? That's the question we must answer in order to handicap this game. Lock has been incredibly erratic this year. He looked great last week, and he's had other positive moments, but he's also been a major turnover machine in other contests. I suppose this is to be expected from such a young quarterback, especially one not drafted in the first round.
Lock had an easy matchup last week versus Carolina's awful defense. Things will be much different in this game, as the Bills actually have talented cornerbacks who can cover his receivers. They can also apply pressure on Lock, forcing him into turnovers.
I wouldn't expect Denver's running game to work well either. The Bills don't have a good ranking versus the rush, but that's because Matt Milano missed most of the season. Milano is back, and Buffalo's defense has improved since his return.
RECAP: The Bills are obviously the better team, but they have some great matchup edges to exploit in this game, particularly with their receivers against Denver's injury-ravaged cornerbacks. I'm going to pick them, but the question is, will I bet them?
I have some slight concerns with the Bills' mental state in this game. They just beat the Steelers on national TV, and their final two games are against the rival Patriots and Dolphins. They could easily look past Denver, so I wouldn't go crazy betting Buffalo.
That said, this is a stand-alone national TV game, so the Bills could have some motivation. I'm going to bet two units on them, but that's about it.
THURSDAY THOUGHTS: Sharp action on the Bills moved this line to -6.5, but then other professional money came in on Denver at +6.5. I still like the Bills for a couple of units.
SATURDAY NOTES: There's no new injury news regarding this game, so I'll once again acknowledge that the Bills could be looking past the Broncos. However, I've heard some NFL analysts on TV mention this as a potential trap game, so perhaps it won't be one. That makes me like the Broncos a bit at this reduced number, though it's worth noting that the line has dropped because of major sharp action on Denver.
FINAL THOUGHTS: I could be wrong, but the games that end up being traps are the ones no one acknowledges as traps. Everyone is saying the Bills will look past the Broncos, but as a young team, they could just as easily be eager to play on national TV. The sharps are split on this game, betting the Broncos at +6.5 and Bills at -5.5. I'm still going with two units on Buffalo. The best line is -6 -103 at Bookmaker.
The Motivation. Edge: Broncos.
Will the Bills be caught in a trap game?
Carolina Panthers (4-9) at Green Bay Packers (10-3) Line: Packers by 9.5. Total: 52.5. Saturday, Dec. 19, 8:15 PM
The Matchup. Edge: None.
VEGAS UPDATE: I'll be posting how the Vegas sportsbooks have done the previous week in this spot. The highest-bet sides were 44-40-2 last season and 24-31 heading into Week 14.
Here are the teams getting the most bets last week:
The books had a solid weekend. They went 2-2 with the heaviest-bet games, which is a win for them because of the vig. They also made money on the Saints losing outright because of teasers.
Here are the teams getting the most bets this week:
What a surprise that five road favorites are getting the most money!
GREEN BAY OFFENSE: We just saw Drew Lock torch the Panthers in what turned out to be the best overall game of his young career. If Lock had so much success, how in the world are the Panthers going to stop Aaron Rodgers?
There might be a sliver of hope for Carolina because the Packers are missing two offensive linemen. This prevented Rodgers and company from going completely nuts against the injury-ravaged Lions last week. Still, Carolina doesn't have the personnel to stop Rodgers, Davante Adams or Robert Tonyan.
Of course, Rodgers could just hand off to Aaron Jones and Jamaal Williams the entire time, given that the Panthers also struggle versus the rush. I expect another split between the two, as the Packers seem to limit Jones' workload in games they're supposed to win easily.
CAROLINA OFFENSE: It remains to be seen if Christian McCaffrey will return from his thigh injury in this game. Matt Rhule has told the media that he plans for McCaffrey to play again this year. Winning these final few games is very important, after all.
If Rhule is truthful in this regard, I expect McCaffrey to return next week, since he didn't seem close to playing this past Sunday. Crazier things have happened though. Either way, the Panthers figure to have success on the ground, whether it's with McCaffrey or Mike Davis. The Packers really struggle to stop the run.
Teddy Bridgewater will be able to feed off the rushing attack. He'll likely have his full receiving corps intact, as D.J. Moore is expected to return from his minor illness. The Packers will be able to erase one of these wideouts with Jaire Alexander, but Bridgewater has so many weapons at his disposal.
RECAP: Everyone is down on the Panthers after their ugly home loss to the Broncos. That was unexpected, and it has caused this spread to rise to -9 from the advance line of -7.5.
I think that was a fluky loss, and I expect Carolina to play better this week. The Panthers should at least be able to keep this game close. Did you know they lost just one game this year by more than eight points, which was Tampa's huge victory when Tom Brady was coming off a defeat? Bridgewater is a great back-door quarterback, and I have confidence he'll be able to cover this high spread. Again, the Packers won't be fully efficient because of the offensive line concerns, so Bridgewater will be able to sneak within the number.
THURSDAY THOUGHTS: It doesn't sound like Christian McCaffrey will play, but I still like the Panthers. With D.J. Moore returning, the Panthers have a good chance to get the back-door cover.
SATURDAY NOTES: I still have heavy interest in the Panthers, even though McCaffrey is doubtful. The Packers have had trouble covering these high lines ever since they lost two offensive linemen, while the Panthers have been kings of the back-door touchdown this year.
FINAL THOUGHTS: Russell Okung is out, which is something I considered a possibility when I marked down Carolina as a four-unit pick. The Panthers usually keep games close, so I don't see why that would suddenly change. The sharps haven't touched this game, but the line has moved because of heavy public action on Green Bay. The best line is +9.5 -105 at Bookmaker, then +9.5 -108 at FanDuel.
Houston Texans (4-9) at Indianapolis Colts (9-4) Line: Colts by 7. Total: 51.5. Sunday, Dec. 13, 1:00 PM
The Matchup. Edge: Colts.
HATE MAIL: I will be posting hate mail here. We got a bit this week:
This might be the most-fail hate mail of all time. This guy asked, "Do you even try to know what you're talking about?" and then proceeded to confirm everything I wrote. It's almost like these haters are plants to make me look good.
Here's another plant:
Hey guys, Alex Smith is 9-5. Deshaun Watson is 4-9. This means that Smith is doubly as good as Watson!
I'm not sure if this qualifies as hate, but my answer was downvoted:
I previously said I would call the Redskins "the Redskins Football Team," but I haven't lived up to that promise. My apologies!
INDAIANPOLIS OFFENSE: The Texans have the worst defense in the NFL, thanks to Bill O'Brien's mismanagement, plus all of the injuries and suspensions they've sustained in recent weeks. They're so bad that they had no answer for Mitchell Trubisky in an utterly embarrassing blowout loss in which Trubisky proved that he was the correct choice over Deshaun Watson in that one game alone.
Or maybe it was because the Texans were completely deflated following the brutal loss to Indianapolis. The Texans had a chance to win to keep their slim playoff chances alive, but a botched snap near the goal line at the very end of the game ruined everything. When Watson sat by himself on the bench, with a towel draped all over his head, I suspected Houston might mail it in against Chicago, and that's exactly what happened.
However, teams don't quit two weeks in a row in most cases, so I expect a better effort from the Texans this week. The problem is that their league-worst defense won't have any answers for what Indianapolis is doing. Jonathan Taylor will run all over them, making things even easier for Philip Rivers, who is finally clicking with T.Y. Hilton. The duo should torch a Texan secondary that features Vernon Hargreaves as its top cornerback, which is just sad.
HOUSTON OFFENSE: The Texans won't be stopping the Colts at all, barring some fluky fumbles, so Watson will need to engage the Colts in a shootout. This will be possible despite what we saw last week because Brandin Cooks will be available. Cooks missed last week's game with a neck injury, but is expected to return this week. That means Watson's top two wideouts won't be Keke Coutee and Chad Hansen again.
Cooks gives Watson a viable threat against a defense that could be missing some players. Both Darius Leonard and Xavier Rhodes got banged up during Sunday's win over the Raiders. Frank Reich said both players will be OK, but it's unclear if they'll be able to suit up for this contest. If at least one is out, that'll give the Texans a chance to keep this game close.
Houston could also have David Johnson back from injury. The Colts have an elite run defense under normal circumstances, but not when Leonard is banged up or absent. Johnson, at the very worst, will at least make Indianapolis respect the run a little bit.
RECAP: There are so many injury question marks right now, I'm not sure where I'll end up with this game. If the Colts are missing some of their top defenders, I'll be on the Texans to stay within the number. If, however, everyone is healthy for Indianapolis, which was the case last week, I may select the Colts.
Having said that, it'll be difficult to back the Colts with a big wager. They just beat the Texans a couple of weeks ago, so you have to question their motivation here, especially with the Steelers on deck next week.
THURSDAY THOUGHTS: I was worried about Xavier Rhodes and Justin Houston playing, yet both practiced fully Wednesday. So much for that! Meanwhile, the Texans won't have top safety Justin Reid. I'm switching to Indianapolis.
SATURDAY NOTES: I was tempted to place a small bet on the Colts, but it looks like DeForest Buckner might be out after missing Friday's practice. The Colts may think they won't need him, given that they already beat the Texans just recently. The Colts also may look past the Texans with the Steelers on the schedule next week.
FINAL THOUGHTS: DeForest Buckner is active, which is the news we were waiting on concerning this game. Despite this, there's been some sharp action on Houston at +7.5. Bookmaker has the Colts listed at -7 -117, which is worth a small wager, but I think there are greater betting opportunities this week.
The Motivation. Edge: Texans.
The Colts just beat the Texans. They play the Steelers next.
Detroit Lions (5-8) at Tennessee Titans (9-4) Line: Titans by 8. Total: 53.5. Sunday, Dec. 13, 1:00 PM
The Matchup. Edge: Titans.
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DETROIT OFFENSE: There's no line on this game at the moment because it's unclear what Matthew Stafford's status happens to be. Stafford played well in a tight game against the Packers, but he injured his ribs in the fourth quarter and was forced to give way to Chase Daniel. It was yet another injury for Stafford in his snake-bitten career.
Given that the Lions have nothing to play for, I wouldn't blame them if they sat Stafford. If so, Chase Daniel wouldn't be able to properly take advantage of all the injuries in Tennessee's defense. The Titans were missing three cornerbacks, their top two edge rushers, a starting safety and their best linebacker against the Jaguars last week. Mike Glennon couldn't capitalize on this, and Daniel wouldn't be able to do so either, even if Kenny Golladay returns to the field.
Assuming Stafford is sidelined, the Titans will be able to play closer to the line of scrimmage, thus limiting D'Andre Swift. The rookie runner will need Stafford's presence to have a solid performance.
TENNESSEE OFFENSE: The Lions also have major injury concerns throughout their putrid defense. They're down several cornerbacks, as well as their top edge rusher. Thus, Ryan Tannehill will have all the time he needs to find A.J. Brown and Corey Davis for large gains.
Tannehill may not need to do anything anyway. Derrick Henry is coming off a 200-yard performance, and he easily could have another one. The Lions are horrific at stopping the run, thanks in part to Danny Shelton being on injured reserve. Henry has a decent chance to eclipse the 200-yard barrier again. Hell, 300 yards isn't out of the question!
RECAP: I have a feeling we're going to see a zero-effort performance from the Lions. They just played their "Super Bowl" against the Packers. At 5-7, they even had a chance to earn one of the three wild-card spots. That's over now. Now at 5-8 with an injured quarterback, the Lions are done. They can begin looking forward to their tropical island vacations in January.
With that in mind, I will be on the Titans. I don't know how many units this wager will be because there's no line, and Stafford's status is unknown, so check back later or follow me @walterfootball for updates.
THURSDAY THOUGHTS: Kenny Golladay didn't practice Wednesday, and neither did Frank Ragnow, who has a fractured throat. Yes, a fractured throat! The Titans, meanwhile, will be getting some help with Kristian Fulton returning to bolster the secondary. Perhaps Adoree Jackson will return as well.
SATURDAY NOTES: The Lions are a disaster. Matthew Stafford will play after barely practicing, but he won't be 100 percent. He'll also be missing three offensive linemen, plus Kenny Golladay. On the other side of the ball, the Lions will be down two defensive linemen and three cornerbacks. Most importantly, the Lions are coming off their "Super Bowl" loss, so I don't see them trying very hard against the Titans, who might get some players back from injury this week.
FINAL THOUGHTS: There's some great injury news for the Titans. Rodger Saffold will be active after being a question mark earlier in the week. Even more importantly, Adoree Jackson will make his 2020 debut. It's unclear if he'll be 100 percent, but he'll definitely be a much-needed upgrade in the secondary. I love the Titans. They should destroy the Lions, who will be flat following their "Super Bowl" loss. The best line is -8 -108 at Bookmaker. There's some sharp money on the Lions.
The Motivation. Edge: Titans.
The Lions just lost their "Super Bowl" and were basically eliminated from the playoffs.
TAMPA BAY OFFENSE: It's amazing how much Tom Brady transformed in last week's game alone. He looked horrendous on his first two drives, missing wide-open receivers on throws he used to make in his sleep. As someone who bet the Buccaneers heavily, I was concerned I was going to lose my big wager. Fortunately, Brady got his act together in the second quarter, as he proceeded to torch the injury-ravaged Minnesota defense.
Brady should continue to stay hot, given the Falcons' problems when it comes to defending the pass. They couldn't even stop Justin Herbert last week even though Mike Williams was lost with an injury. Atlanta failed to cover someone named Tyron Johnson, so how will it deal with Mike Evans, Chris Godwin and Antonio Brown?
The Falcons are better against the run than the pass, but they can still be beaten by backs serving as receivers, roles in which Ronald Jones and Leonard Fournette (if active) have excelled this year.
ATLANTA OFFENSE: The Falcons have been much better with Julio Jones this year. They'd own a 5-2 record with Jones playing full games if the Todd Gurley mishap at the goal line versus Detroit is counted as a win. When Jones was announced out last week, I penciled in the Falcons as a two-unit wager.
I then increased the bet to four units when we got some news Saturday afternoon. The Falcons would be missing two offensive linemen - Kaleb McGary, James Carpenter - which would give the Chargers a nice matchup edge because they put good pressure on the quarterback. Thus, it was no surprise that the Falcons were limited to 17 points, with Matt Ryan throwing three interceptions. It could have even been worse, as Ryan had a chance to toss five picks!
As you can imagine, I'll be waiting on injury news concerning this game. Jones and the offensive line mean so much. If Jones and one of the missing blockers is healthy, the Falcons will be able to keep pace with the Buccaneers in a potential shootout. If not, Ryan will continue to see tons of pressure and commit mistakes.
RECAP: I know I may sound like a broken record sometimes when citing that we need to see an injury report for a game, but we really need to see this final injury report, given how important Jones and the offensive line are to Ryan's success.
I'm going to pencil in the Buccaneers for now because I don't see the Falcons rushing Jones back because they have no chance to make the playoffs. However, Jones could end up being 100 percent and ready to go. If so, I could see the Falcons keeping this game close. Otherwise, a Tampa blowout is possible.
THURSDAY THOUGHTS: The Falcons called Julio Jones "week to week," which might mean he's done for the year because there are just three weeks remaining. He's unlikely to play this week, which is the reason why the sharps have backed the Buccaneers.
SATURDAY NOTES: Julio Jones is out, which makes the Buccaneers an automatic play. However, I was hoping for more injuries. We might get them if both Kaleb McGary and James Carpenter miss this game, but they're both questionable at the moment.
FINAL THOUGHTS: I was hoping the Falcons would be down multiple offensive linemen this week, but that's not the case. I won't be betting this game at this number. The sharps bet Tampa earlier in the week, but haven't touched them at -6.5. The best line is Tampa -6.5 -104 at Bookmaker.
New England Patriots (6-7) at Miami Dolphins (8-5) Line: Dolphins by 1. Total: 41. Sunday, Dec. 20, 1:00 PM
The Matchup. Edge: Patriots.
College Football Opinion Piece: Go here to read about Why NFL Teams Should Avoid Hiring Jim Harbaugh. As a warning, this could be triggering to you if you have sand-in-the-vag syndrome (i.e. if you're a blue checkmark on Twitter.)
NEW ENGLAND OFFENSE: The Patriots had an atrocious showing last Thursday, as they utterly embarrassed themselves in a blowout loss to the Rams. Cam Newton was terrible, as an injury to his abdomen clearly bothered him. It didn't help that he was going up against the top pass defense in the NFL.
Newton will have had nine days to recover, which should help him perform better in this contest. Unfortunately for Newton, he'll have another challenging matchup. Miami has excellent cornerbacks, and Newton's receivers can't get open whatsoever.
That said, I could see the Patriots having some successful drives in this game because of their rushing attack. Miami is far weaker to the run in comparison to the pass. It didn't have to worry about this against the Chiefs, but the Patriots are very good at pounding the rock with their plethora of running backs, as well as Newton.
MIAMI OFFENSE: The Dolphins saw their top play-makers suffer injuries against the Chiefs. Mike Gesicki, DeVante Parker and Jakeem Grant all got hurt last week. It's a miracle Tua Tagovailoa was able to achieve a back-door cover, given that he was throwing to unknown players.
Then again, maybe it wasn't quite a miracle, given how bad Kansas City's defense has been in recent weeks. The Patriots, conversely, have been much better on this side of the ball ever since Stephon Gilmore returned from injury. Gilmore and the other New England defensive backs will smother Miami's receivers.
This, as you can imagine, will make things very difficult for Tagovailoa, who already had a challenge, given the matchup against Bill Belichick. The NFL's greatest coach eats rookie quarterbacks for breakfast, so he'll confuse Tagovailoa into some turnovers.
RECAP: Belichick is outstanding against rookie quarterbacks. Belichick also thrives when he has extra time to prepare. Unfortunately for the Dolphins, we have a confluence of those two elements in this game, creating a great wagering opportunity on the Patriots.
I'm definitely going to be betting the Patriots. The only question is the unit count, and I'll know the answer when I see the Dolphins' injury report. If several key players will be absent, which is a strong possibility, this could end up being my top play of the week.
THURSDAY THOUGHTS: Good news, bad news for the Dolphins. The bad news is that Mike Gesicki is expected to be out. The good news is that DeVante Parker was limited in Wednesday's practice, giving him a chance to play. I still like the Patriots, but I was hoping for both Gesicki and Parker to be sidelined.
SATURDAY NOTES: It's disappointing that both Mike Gesicki and DeVante Parker may play, but there's a chance that neither will be 100 percent. Still, the biggest edge in this game Bill Belichick versus a rookie quarterback. We saw Tua Tagovailoa struggle versus Vic Fangio, and he could have similar issues in this game.
FINAL THOUGHTS: Major injury news here, as DeVante Parker and Mike Gesicki are both sidelined. So, Tua Tagovailoa will have to beat Bill Belichick without his top two weapons. Good luck! The sharps have noticed this and bet the Patriots. I'm going to bump up my unit count to five in the wake of the injury news. The best line is +1 -110 at BetUS.
Seattle Seahawks (9-4) at Washington Redskins (6-7) Line: Seahawks by 6.5. Total: 44. Sunday, Dec. 20, 1:00 PM
The Matchup. Edge: Seahawks.
If you've followed this site for a while, you might remember that I like to respond to my spam mails. It all started seven years ago, when a man named Jon Wire from the "United Bank of Africoan" promised me an ATM card of some sort, so I responded as a man named Mister Compassion Chuck Norris, who was raised by wolves. The following season, I received e-mails from Richard Held and Loon Bruce, who told me I won a Facebook Award, which comes with a "lump sum pay out of (750,000.00 GBP)." Pretending to be Matthew Millen Kim, I sent out my application and fake money.
I've been messing around with spammers ever since, pretending to be Harvey Weinstein, Tom Brady, Ramsay Bolton and Walter White. I had plenty of Spam Mails this year, so check them out if you want to see me screw with spammers. I'll have new ones every week this year!
SEATTLE OFFENSE: Russell Wilson endured some struggles for a few weeks, as he uncharacteristically lost games he should have won against the Giants and Rams. Much of that had to do with his offensive line. The Seahawks endured injuries to the blocking unit since Week 5, as Mike Iupati, Ethan Pocic and Brandon Shell took turns getting hurt.
Week 14 was the first time Wilson had his entire offensive line intact, so it wasn't a surprise that he torched the Jets for 37 points on four touchdowns in just three quarters. This, of course, was a very easy matchup, so things won't be so simple this time. However, the Redskins don't have the best secondary. The Redskins Football Team has a high ranking versus aerial attacks because they haven't really battled too many talented quarterbacks this year. I imagine their ranking will worsen after this game.
The Redskins have a chance to contain the Seahawks by putting lots of pressure on Wilson with Chase Young and the rest of the defensive front. Young has been amazing as a rookie, and he absolutely dominated the 49ers. The Redskin front will have a tougher challenge against a completely healthy Seattle offensive line, but some drives will be disrupted.
WASHINGTON OFFENSE: The Redskins nearly had their win spoiled by Dwayne Haskins' incompetence last week. Haskins had to replace an injured Alex Smith in the second half versus the 49ers. He had a solid first drive, but proceeded to get worse each possession. He nearly heaved a game-tying interception, but was very fortunate his overthrow grazed the ground.
Smith is the likely starter in this game, but there's no guarantee that he'll be 100 percent, given that he was walking in and out of the locker room with a limp this past Sunday. Smith will have to face a Seattle defense that will welcome back Carlos Dunlap from last week's absence, and potentially Quinton Dunbar, who was close to playing last week. If Dunbar returns to action, the Seahawks will have a fully healthy secondary for the first time since Week 3.
Speaking of injuries, it remains to be seen if Antonio Gibson will be able to play. Gibson didn't practice at all last week, so he might be a long shot to suit up for this contest. If so, the Redskins won't exactly be able to threaten the Seahawks with the run, as they'll waste downs giving Peyton Barber carries instead.
RECAP: The Redskins have gotten very lucky in recent weeks, but their great fortune may end here. They're simply getting the Seahawks at the worst time possible. If they were battling Seattle a couple weeks ago, when the Giants played them, I'd consider picking them to cover, and perhaps even win outright. The Seahawks of a couple of weeks ago had numerous injuries at key areas, which would explain the straight-up loss to New York.
Things have changed. The Seahawks are fully healthy and primed for a playoff run. The Redskins, conversely, have been inflated by some wins. Smith is also banged up, which hurt Washington's chances of staying within the number.
I feel like I'm late to the party with the spread rising from -5 to -6 (not to mention from -3.5 on the advance line), but sharp action did this. I still like the Seahawks at that key number, barring some unexpected surprises on the injury report.
One thing that is keeping me from going too crazy here is that the Seahawks have the Rams coming up next. However, Seattle recently had its unexpected loss to the Giants, so I think there's a good chance the team will be focused.
THURSDAY THOUGHTS: Alex Smith didn't practice Wednesday or Thursday. He still has time to get healthy enough to play, but we're still getting closer to Dwayne Haskins starting again.
SATURDAY NOTES: Alex Smith is out, so Dwayne Haskins will start. Save for the opening-week win against the pathetic Eagles, the Redskins have lost by an average score of 32-17 in the three games Haskins started, with those losses coming against the Cardinals, Browns and Ravens. It's not ideal that the Seahawks will likely be missing Brandon Shell, Carlos Dunlap and Quinton Dunbar, but they're only the second team the Redskins have played with a winning record since Week 5. Making matters worse for the Redskins Football Team, they'll be without their top two coverage linebackers, Cole Holcomb and Kevin Pierre-Louis, so Russell Wilson should be able to exploit this matchup. I'm bumping up the unit count to three.
FINAL THOUGHTS: I can't say I'm the biggest fan of Brandon Shell being ruled out against the Redskins' defensive line. However, I still really like the Seahawks, even though the sharps bet the Redskins at +6.5. The best line I see is -6 -110 at Bovada.
The Motivation. Edge: Redskins.
The Seahawks play the Rams next.
Chicago Bears (5-7) at Minnesota Vikings (6-6) Line: Vikings by 3. Total: 47. Sunday, Dec. 20, 1:00 PM
The Matchup. Edge: None.
Video of the Week: This video is only four seconds long, but it's great (thanks, Philip O.):
Apparently, this has been on YouTube since 2006, and yet this is the first time I've seen it!
CHICAGO OFFENSE: Mitchell Trubisky has been amazing the past two weeks. I never thought I'd write that, but there it is. Trubisky torched the Texans, who had no hope of stopping the quarterback who outplayed all of his 2017 NFL Draft peers in Week 14.
That's not going to last very long, however. Trubisky has had the luxury of battling two of the worst defenses in the NFL, the Lions and the Texans. However, Minnesota's stop unit isn't much better, as long as Eric Kendricks is sidelined once again. The Vikings have endured many injuries on this side of the ball this year, but Kendricks, one of the top linebackers in the NFL, has been the glue that has held everything together. Without him, the Vikings are almost as bad as Detroit and Houston.
If Kendricks is available, the Vikings will be able to limit David Montgomery and force Trubisky to throw in long-yardage situations, which naturally could result in many turnovers. However, Kendricks' absence will open things up for Montgomery, which will prevent Trubisky's ability to make mistakes.
MINNESOTA OFFENSE: It was shocking that Dalvin Cook eclipsed the century plateau last week. He had an extremely difficult matchup against the Buccaneers' top ground defense, but he managed to get there. I mention this because Cook will have another tough battle this week versus the Bears, who are terrific at stopping the rush.
Cook will need to be effective to keep Kirk Cousins in better passing situations. Cousins will need them, if last week's game is any indication. Cousins moved the chains well in between the 20s, but frequently bogged down in the red zone because he took so many bad sacks. Chicago's defense will be ready to tee off on him.
Fortunately for Cousins, he has some talented weapons at his disposal. The Bears have a good secondary, but they struggle to defend the slot, so I expect Justin Jefferson to rebound from last week's lackluster performance.
RECAP: I can't make a confident prediction on this game without knocking Kendricks' status. He's so important to how Minnesota's defense functions, especially when considering all of the other injuries to the stop unit.
I'll definitely be betting the Bears if Kendricks is sidelined again. If he plays, I'll be on the Vikings. I wouldn't trust Trubisky nearly as much if Kendricks is patrolling the middle of the field. Also, it'll give us a nice opportunity to exploit line value; this spread was Minnesota -6 a week ago!
THURSDAY THOUGHTS: Eric Kendricks is the big injury news regarding this game, and his status will affect my pick. Kendricks is off to a bad start, missing practice Wednesday or Thursday. I'll switch to Chicago if Kendricks is out.
SATURDAY NOTES: It's a shame these two teams are playing each other this week because I would love to bet against both. The Vikings won't have Eric Kendricks, so that means they'll be missing seven defensive starters. The Bears, meanwhile, will be down two cornerbacks against Minnesota's great receivers.
FINAL THOUGHTS: The sharps are betting the Bears. I'm worried about my Chicago under eight win total because the Packers may not need to beat the Bears in Week 17 if they continue to win and the Saints lose to the Chiefs. I'm going to hedge a bit with the moneyline today, but that's just a personal thing for me. I wouldn't touch this game otherwise because there are so many injuries on both sides.
BALTIMORE OFFENSE: All hope seemed lost for the Ravens when they were stuck in a fourth down, trailing by one, in the final minutes of the game when Trace McSorley suffered an injury. Lamar Jackson came out of nowhere, however, to fire a touchdown on the very next play. It was truly a heroic moment.
Jackson didn't have the toughest matchup last week, as he was battling a Cleveland secondary missing both of its starting cornerbacks. Jackson will once again be in that position, as the Jaguars have some major injury woes in their defensive backfield as well. Jackson doesn't have the best receivers at his disposal, nor does he maintain the best pass protection, but he still has a positive matchup.
Jackson, of course, will run through Jacksonville's pathetic defense. The same applies to his running backs, who are licking their chops after seeing Derrick Henry accumulate 200 rushing yards against this defense last week.
JACKSONVILLE OFFENSE: Jackson needed to come through in the clutch on numerous occasions last week because Baker Mayfield was torching Baltimore's secondary. The Ravens lost several cornerbacks to injury Monday night, allowing Mayfield to become unstoppable in the fourth quarter after struggling earlier in the game.
I imagine the Ravens will have a tough time healing up for this game, considering the short week. If so, that'll give the Jaguars a great opportunity to keep up on the scoreboard. Gardner Minshew will start in favor of Mike Glennon this week, which automatically improves the passing attack. Minshew's receivers should have nice matchup edges against the Baltimore corners.
Meanwhile, James Robinson should rebound from last week's sluggish performance. Both Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt had success against the Ravens on Monday, so Robinson figures to continue that trend.
RECAP: Unless the Ravens magically recover from Monday's thriller, I can't see them being up for this game. Not only did they suffer multiple injuries to their secondary; they also had an emotional victory at the last second. It'll be difficult for them to match that same intensity, especially on short rest.
I also believe this line is too high. The Ravens were only -11 on the advance line, and I personally made this spread -10. The Jaguars have kept most of their games close this year, while the Ravens haven't blown out too many teams. Since Week 3, they've won only two games by more than this point spread, while the Jaguars have kept all but two of their games within 10 points since Week 6.
I'm definitely going to be on the Jaguars for at least a couple of units. The exact unit count will depend on how many cornerbacks the Ravens won't have available.
THURSDAY THOUGHTS: Marcus Peters and Jimmy Smith both missed Wednesday's practice. There's still lots of time remaining this week, but the Ravens could be down several cornerbacks.
SATURDAY NOTES: The short week wasn't kind to the Ravens, who could be down multiple cornerbacks, including Marcus Peters and Jimmy Smith (the latter already declared out.) With that in mind, I like the Jaguars, as they'll be able to use positive matchups for their receivers in a likely back-door situation.
FINAL THOUGHTS: Great news for us Jaguar bettors: Not only will the Ravens be without two of their top three cornerbacks - Peters and Smith are both out - Calais Campbell will be sidelined as well! There's some sharp money coming in on the Jaguars, which is not a surprise. The best line I see is +12.5 -110 at FanDuel. I'm making this a four-unit play.
The Motivation. Edge: Jaguars.
The Ravens are coming off an emotional, last-second win.
San Francisco 49ers (5-8) at Dallas Cowboys (4-9) Line: 49ers by 4. Total: 45. Sunday, Dec. 20, 1:00 PM
The Matchup. Edge: 49ers.
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SAN FRANCISCO OFFENSE: Nick Mullens caught a ton of flak for his poor performance against the Redskins, but he can't be blamed too much for the loss, despite his struggles. Mullens lost Deebo Samuel on the very first play from scrimmage, and he was battling one of the top defensive lines in the NFL without two of his blockers.
Samuel is out for the year, and there's no guarantee the offensive line will be any healthier. However, this won't be as difficult of a matchup. The Cowboys get after the quarterback at a decent rate, but not as well as the Redskins do. Mullens will have more time in the pocket this week, by default, so he'll be able to locate receivers not named Samuel against a secondary that struggles to cover.
The 49ers should also have more success running the ball than they did versus Washington. The Cowboys have struggled to stop the run in most games this year, so both Raheem Mostert and Jeff Wilson Jr. figure to thrive.
DALLAS OFFENSE: Don't talk to Andy Dalton about offensive line injuries. His front has been ravaged by them this year, and he even suffered a nasty concussion because of the poor blocking in his first matchup against the Redskins.
If the 49ers still had most of their defensive linemen, this would be an easy matchup for them. That, however, is not the case. The obvious Pro Bowlers are out - Nick Bosa, Dee Ford - but the 49ers were also missing two interior players last week, Kevin Givens and D.J. Jones. If San Francisco's defensive line talent and depth continue to be diminished, Dalton will have the amount of time he needs in the pocket to find his receivers. He'll need more time than usual because San Francisco's excellent cornerbacks can stick with Dallas' prolific receivers.
Ezekiel Elliott would also have better blocking in this scenario, but it may not really matter. Elliott has gained weight and given up on his team, so I don't see him taking advantage of this matchup if it's an easy one.
RECAP: There are so many injury question marks right now that it's difficult to pick this game with much confidence at the moment. I'm leaning toward the 49ers, however, as the Cowboys probably should be underdogs of more than a field goal (my number is Dallas +4.5) because they're so terrible. The 49ers are bad, too, but not nearly as miserable as Dallas. I think people forgot how bad the Cowboys are because of their win over the Bengals, but that was simply a byproduct of them playing against the second-worst team in the NFL and being the beneficiaries of three fumble recoveries to start the game.
I was hoping to get the 49ers at -2.5, but the sharps had the same thought process, as they moved this line to -3. I'm not excited about this loss of value, so I probably will not bet this game.
THURSDAY THOUGHTS: I don't really have an update of note. There are no interesting injury news, and the sharps, who bet this game up to -3, haven't touched it at this number.
SATURDAY NOTES: The 49ers are getting back some players from injury this week, namely a couple of defensive linemen and K'Waun Williams. They should be able to beat the Cowboys, though I can't say I'm overly excited to bet Nick Mullens as a road favorite. I'm going to put two units on the 49ers.
FINAL THOUGHTS: The sharps have been pounding the 49ers all week. The public joined in when Ezekiel Elliott was announced out, but I think his absence is actually a plus for the Cowboys because he's been fat and lethargic this year. Tony Pollard is better right now. With the line move, and the Pollard upgrade, and the surprise Jason Verrett inactive, I'm removing my unit count.
Week 15 NFL Picks - Late Games
Jets at Rams, Eagles at Cardinals, Chiefs at Saints, Browns at Giants, Steelers at Bengals
A list of some of my favorite team/player prop picks this week (Offense & defensive ROY picks to be counted
whenever winners are announced.) Picks carried over on a week-to-week basis will be in black.
Note: For legality purposes, this Web site does not promote or advocate gambling. This is solely for entertainment purposes only.
Last Week's NFL Picks Against The Spread (Week 5, 2021): 5-10-1 (-$1,770)
Last Week's 2-3 Unit NFL Picks (Week 5, 2021): 1-2 (-$305)
Last Week's 4-5 Unit NFL Picks (Week 5, 2021): 0-2-1 (-$1,010)
Last Week Over-Under (Week 5, 2021): 6-10 ($0)
Last Week's Prop/ML/Teaser/Parlay Picks (Week 4, 2021): +$150
2021 NFL Picks of the Month: 1-0, 100% (+$800)
2021 Season NFL Picks Against The Spread: 45-45-1, 50.0% (-$4,480) 2021 Season 2-3 Unit NFL Picks: 8-14, 36.4% (-$1,375) 2021 Season 4-5 Unit NFL Picks: 6-14-1, 30.0% (-$4,215) 2021 Season Over-Under: 40-40, 50.0% ($0) 2021 Season Prop/ML/Teaser/Parlay Picks: -$435
1999 Season NFL Picks Against The Spread: 27-41-3 (39.7%) 2000 Season NFL Picks Against The Spread: 128-123-8 (51.0%) 2001 Season NFL Picks Against The Spread: 127-122-7 (51.0%) 2002 Season NFL Picks Against The Spread: 123-136-7 (47.5%) 2003 Season NFL Picks Against The Spread: 146-126-8 (53.7%) 2004 Season NFL Picks Against The Spread: 157-123-8 (56.1%) 2005 Season NFL Picks Against The Spread: 156-126-11 (55.3%) 2006 Season NFL Picks Against The Spread: 151-135-9 (52.8%) 2007 Season NFL Picks Against The Spread: 162-135-10, 54.5% (+$3,585) 2008 Season NFL Picks Against The Spread: 148-140-7, 51.4% (+$6,105) 2009 Season NFL Picks Against The Spread: 151-124-9, 54.9% (+$4,235) 2010 Season NFL Picks Against The Spread: 144-131-8, 52.4% (+$5,880) 2011 Season NFL Picks Against The Spread: 137-133-12, 50.7% (-$1,335) 2012 Season NFL Picks Against The Spread: 130-145-8, 47.3% (-$7,445) 2013 Season NFL Picks Against The Spread: 144-131-8, 52.4% (+$7,825) 2014 Season NFL Picks Against The Spread: 143-133-7, 51.8% (-$1,885) 2015 Season NFL Picks Against The Spread: 134-138-12, 49.3% (-$3,215) 2016 Season NFL Picks Against The Spread: 148-127-10, 53.8% (+$780) 2017 Season NFL Picks Against The Spread: 137-140-8, 49.5% (-$4,300) 2018 Season NFL Picks Against The Spread: 140-134-14, 51.3% (+$845) 2019 Season NFL Picks Against The Spread: 149-128-9, 53.6% (+$1,200) 2020 Season NFL Picks Against The Spread: 138-124-7, 52.7% (+$9,350)
2002 Season 2-3 Unit NFL Picks: 41-49-2 (45.6%) 2003 Season 2-3 Unit NFL Picks: 52-51-2 (50.5%) 2004 Season 2-3 Unit NFL Picks: 65-44-3 (59.6%) 2005 Season 2-3 Unit NFL Picks: 77-61-1 (55.8%) 2006 Season 2-3 Unit NFL Picks: 65-61-4 (51.6%) 2007 Season 2-3 Unit NFL Picks: 83-59-5, 58.5% (+$4,110) 2008 Season 2-3 Unit NFL Picks: 44-57-3, 43.6% (-$3,510) 2009 Season 2-3 Unit NFL Picks: 49-35-3, 58.3% (+$2,260) 2010 Season 2-3 Unit NFL Picks: 51-38-4, 57.3% (+$3,180) 2011 Season 2-3 Unit NFL Picks: 44-51-3, 46.3% (-$2,715) 2012 Season 2-3 Unit NFL Picks: 45-50-2, 47.4% (-$2,130) 2013 Season 2-3 Unit NFL Picks: 38-42, 47.5% (-$2,890) 2015 Season 2-3 Unit NFL Picks: 47-44-1, 51.6% (-$820) 2016 Season 2-3 Unit NFL Picks: 42-35-3, 54.5% (+$475) 2017 Season 2-3 Unit NFL Picks: 32-40-3, 43.8% (-$2,395) 2018 Season 2-3 Unit NFL Picks: 52-41-2, 55.9% (+$2,670) 2019 Season 2-3 Unit NFL Picks: 44-36-2, 55.0% (+$655) 2020 Season 2-3 Unit NFL Picks: 47-43-3, 52.2% (-$1,965)
2002 Season 4-5 Unit NFL Picks: 11-12 (47.8%) 2003 Season 4-5 Unit NFL Picks: 16-13-1 (55.2%) 2004 Season 4-5 Unit NFL Picks: 18-11 (62.1%) 2005 Season 4-5 Unit NFL Picks: 25-22-1 (53.2%) 2006 Season 4-5 Unit NFL Picks: 21-29-1 (42.0%) 2007 Season 4-5 Unit NFL Picks: 35-30-2, 53.8% (+$420) 2008 Season 4-5 Unit NFL Picks: 39-26-2, 60.0% (+$4,055) 2009 Season 4-5 Unit NFL Picks: 29-26, 52.7% (+$330) 2010 Season 4-5 Unit NFL Picks: 32-22, 59.3% (+$4,790) 2011 Season 4-5 Unit NFL Picks: 14-14, 50.0% (-$1,260) 2012 Season 4-5 Unit NFL Picks: 14-21, 40.0% (-$3,650) 2013 Season 4-5 Unit NFL Picks: 17-9-3, 65.4% (+$2,970) 2015 Season 4-5 Unit NFL Picks: 17-16-2, 51.5% (-$1,120) 2016 Season 4-5 Unit NFL Picks: 21-22-5, 48.8% (-$1,465) 2017 Season 4-5 Unit NFL Picks: 20-22-1, 47.6% (-$1,595) 2018 Season 4-5 Unit NFL Picks: 27-32-1, 45.8% (-$4,735) 2019 Season 4-5 Unit NFL Picks: 37-27-2, 57.8% (+$2,185) 2020 Season 4-5 Unit NFL Picks: 37-22-1, 62.7% (+$5,515)
2001 Season Over-Under: 3-2 (60.0%) 2002 Season Over-Under: 121-91-3 (57.1%) 2003 Season Over-Under: 126-132-2 (48.8%) 2004 Season Over-Under: 139-124-4 (52.9%) 2005 Season Over-Under: 117-145-4 (44.7%) 2006 Season Over-Under: 129-132-5 (49.4%) 2007 Season Over-Under: 136-145-3, 48.4% (-$1,900) 2008 Season Over-Under: 137-125-6, 52.3% (+$860) 2009 Season Over-Under: 128-135-4, 48.7% (-$3,195) 2010 Season Over-Under: 128-135-5, 48.7% (-$5) 2011 Season Over-Under: 131-131-5, 50.0% (+$135) 2012 Season Over-Under: 125-121-5, 50.8% (+$30) 2013 Season Over-Under: 132-130-5, 50.4% (-$340) 2015 Season Over-Under: 143-119-5, 54.6% ($0) 2016 Season Over-Under: 123-141-1, 46.6% (+$95) 2017 Season Over-Under: 136-139-2, 49.5% (+$640) 2018 Season Over-Under: 118-128-3, 48.0% (-$225) 2019 Season Over-Under: 126-133-4, 48.6% (-$50) 2020 Season Over-Under: 141-122-6, 53.6% ($0)
2007 Season Prop/ML/Teaser/Parlay Picks: +$1,035 2008 Season Prop/ML/Teaser/Parlay Picks: +$1,775 2009 Season Prop/ML/Teaser/Parlay Picks: +$865 2010 Season Prop/ML/Teaser/Parlay Picks: -$200 2011 Season Prop/ML/Teaser/Parlay Picks: +$590 2012 Season Prop/ML/Teaser/Parlay Picks: -$1,685 2013 Season Prop/ML/Teaser/Parlay Picks: +$2,245 2015 Season Prop/ML/Teaser/Parlay Picks: -$855 2016 Season Prop/ML/Teaser/Parlay Picks: -$275 2017 Season Prop/ML/Teaser/Parlay Picks: -$510 2018 Season Prop/ML/Teaser/Parlay Picks: +$1,495 2019 Season Prop/ML/Teaser/Parlay Picks: -$1,715 2020 Season Prop/ML/Teaser/Parlay Picks: +$4,975
2006 NFL Picks of the Month: 3-3 (50%) 2007 NFL Picks of the Month: 3-3, 50.0% (-$400) 2008 NFL Picks of the Month: 6-1, 85.7% (+$3,720) 2009 NFL Picks of the Month: 3-2, 60.0% (+$640) 2010 NFL Picks of the Month: 2-4, 33.3% (-$1,810) 2011 NFL Picks of the Month: 5-2, 71.4% (+$1,870) 2012 NFL Picks of the Month: 3-2, 60.0% (+$560) 2013 NFL Picks of the Month: 6-0, 100% (+$3,900) 2014 NFL Picks of the Month: 2-4, 33.3% (-$1,350) 2015 NFL Picks of the Month: 3-3, 50.0% (-$100) 2016 NFL Picks of the Month: 5-1, 83.3% (+$2,780) 2017 NFL Picks of the Month: 4-2, 66.7% (+$1,040) 2018 NFL Picks of the Month: 4-3, 57.1% (-$640) 2019 NFL Picks of the Month: 3-3-1, 50.0% (-$625) 2020 NFL Picks of the Month: 3-2, 60.0% (+$665)
Career NFL Picks Against The Spread: 3,034-2,801-179, 52.0% (+$15,525) Career 2-3 Unit NFL Picks: 965-870-49 (52.6%) Career 4-5 Unit NFL Picks: 458-410-23 (52.8%) Career Over-Under: 2,503-2,456-66 (50.5%) Career Second-Half NFL Picks: 22-15-1 (61.1%) Career NFL Picks of the Month: 45-29-1 (60.8%)
My Team-by-Team ATS Record This section shows how well I do when picking each team this year. The purpose is to see how well I read each team. Pushes are not
displayed. Winning/losing streak in parentheses.