NFL Picks Against the Spread: Week 15, 2023 – Early Games

Jordan Love
NFL Picks (Preseason 2023): 4-7 (-$905)
NFL Picks (Week 1, 2023): 10-6 (+$760)
NFL Picks (Week 2, 2023): 8-7-1 (-$435)
NFL Picks (Week 3, 2023): 12-4 (-$995)
NFL Picks (Week 4, 2023): 6-8-2 (+$440)
NFL Picks (Week 5, 2023): 5-9 (-$2,110)
NFL Picks (Week 6, 2023): 6-8-1 (-$2,230)
NFL Picks (Week 7, 2023): 7-6 (+$30)
NFL Picks (Week 8, 2023): 5-10-1 (-$1,295)
NFL Picks (Week 9, 2023): 5-9 (-$935)
NFL Picks (Week 10, 2023): 7-6 (-$1,230)
NFL Picks (Week 11, 2023): 5-9 ($0)
NFL Picks (Week 12, 2023): 13-2-1 (+$1,960)
NFL Picks (Week 13, 2023): 6-7 (-$115)
NFL Picks (Week 14, 2023): 7-7-1 (+$740)
2023 NFL Picks: 106-105-7 (-$6,320)

NFL Picks (2022): 154-134-8 (+$9,860)
NFL Picks (2021): 144-137-2 (-$5,365)
NFL Picks (2020): 138-124-7 (+$9,350)
NFL Picks (2019): 148-128-9 (+$1,200)
NFL Picks (2018): 140-134-12 (+$845)
NFL Picks (2017): 137-147-10 (-$4,300)
NFL Picks (2016): 148-127-10 (+$780)
NFL Picks (2015): 133-138-10 (-$3,215)
NFL Picks (2014): 143-133-7 (-$1,885)
NFL Picks (2013): 144-131-8 (+$7,825)
NFL Picks (2012): 130-145-8 (-$7,445)
NFL Picks (2011): 137-133-12 (-$1,335)
NFL Picks (2010): 144-131-8 (+$5,880)
NFL Picks (2009): 151-124-9 (+$4,235)
NFL Picks (2008): 136-125-6 (+$6,105)
NFL Picks (2007): 162-135-10 (+$3,585)
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Vegas betting action updated Dec. 17, 11:35 a.m. ET. Follow @walterfootball for updates.

Go to Week 15 NFL Picks – Late Games

NFL Picks Against the Spread: Week 15 Early Games

Los Angeles Chargers (5-8) at Las Vegas Raiders (5-8)
Line: Raiders by 3. Total: 34.5.

Thursday, Dec. 14, 8:15 PM

The Matchup. Edge: None.

Week 14 Analysis: What a great Sunday! We hit our November NFL Pick of the Month and our four-unit wager. Unfortunately, Monday sucked with the Dolphins suffering some major injuries. I’ll once again break down all the 3+ unit picks each week:

Browns, 3 units (win): We had -1.5, so it was nice to not have to sweat out Doug Pederson’s decision to go for two at the end. I actually agreed with the call, but I would have been pretty angry if it affected our wager.

Rams, 4 units (win): It’s such a great feeling to have a line of +6.5 or greater in an overtime game.

Bears, 8 units (win): Congrats if you followed my Pick of the Month! The Bears made this look easy in the second half.

49ers, 3 units (loss): Our near-perfect Sunday was ruined by a miss of one point. The 49ers were favored by 13, but won by 12. Gross.

Dolphins, 5 units (loss): Tyreek Hill and Connor Williams suffering injuries really hurt this bet. Miami couldn’t do anything offensively without them. Hill eventually returned, but wasn’t quite himself.

Packers, 3 units (loss): This was a dumb pick where I didn’t factor in the motivational angle the Packers had of coming off wins versus Detroit and Kansas City.

I want to include a new segment here, where I list “obvious” picks in hindsight that I did not bet:

Saints -5.5: I noted that this was the same, exact matchup as Panthers at Titans from a few weeks ago. The Panthers, at first glance, were appealing at +3.5, but Tennessee had such a great matchup against them that the line didn’t matter. The Saints had the same edge.

If you haven’t visited the site in a while, you may have noticed the new look. Yes, after nearly two decades, we’ve finally re-designed our site to be more modern. This was not done on a whim, but rather out of necessity because of what occurred during the 2023 NFL Draft. Our site crashed during the entire first day of the draft, which was disastrous for our revenue stream because we make more money during the draft than any other time. The site crashed because a line of code conflicted with the old format of the site, so we had to transition to this new look.

Because we lost so much money during the draft, I want to point out that you can really help support the site by paying for the ad-free version of it at the top. It’s $7.99 per month, but you’ll get a super-fast site with no ads. If you don’t want to pay, please spread the word about the site through word of mouth. That would also be a big help!

SAN ANGELES OFFENSE: We must begin with the Chargers because of the injury news. That would be Justin Herbert’s injured finger, which knocked him out of the second quarter of last week’s game. Easton Stick replaced him and was a predictable disaster.

I like backing reserve quarterbacks, provided that the following two things are true: 1) That quarterback is a functional player, unlike Tim Boyle. 2) That quarterback won’t be battling a top-12 defense. We don’t have enough of a sample size on Stick to determine how bad he is, though his performance versus the Broncos won’t very promising. However, the Raiders certainly have a top-12 defense. In fact, they rank 10th in defensive EPA, thanks to the great improvements Antonio Pierce has made since taking over as the interim head coach.

Stick will see plenty of Maxx Crosby, which could lead to multiple turnovers. Stick will have to do a lot of the work because the Chargers won’t be able to run the ball, given their poor run-blocking abilities. This will be deterimental to their chances of winning this game because the Raiders have a run-funnel defense.

LAS VEGAS OFFENSE: The Chargers will be limited offensively, but it’s not like the Raiders have a better outlook. Of course, it’s difficult for that to ever happen, given that they have the 32nd-ranked EPA offense in the NFL with Aidan O’Connell struggling so much behind a poor offensive line.

The Raiders want to run the ball more than anything. There are two issues with this in Thursday’s game. First, Josh Jacobs is banged up and may not play. Second, even if he does, he has a tough matchup against a Chargers ground defense that has improved greatly since early October.

The Chargers are much weaker to the pass than the run. This is especially true against tight ends, but the Raiders don’t get much usage from their rookie tight end, Michael Mayer. O’Connell pretty much locks in on Davante Adams, but the Chargers aren’t terrible at defending outside receivers. The Chargers also blitz at a fairly high clip, which bodes poorly here because O’Connell has struggled against the blitz.

RECAP: This game is so unappealing. I don’t want to back the Chargers because Stick is a seemingly poor backup quarterback going up against a top-10 defense. But then again, is it better to side with the Raiders when you need O’Connell and this dreadful offense to win by more than three points? They didn’t even score a single point last week!

I’m going to pick the Raiders, but I can’t say I’m doing so with any convinction. I think the best play in this game is the under, even on the low 34-point total.

Our Week 15 NFL Picks will be posted all day Tuesday. Follow @walterfootball for updates.

THURSDAY THOUGHTS: Keenan Allen has been ruled out, but there’s also a chance Josh Jacobs won’t play. Davante Adams could be sidelined as well. What an ugly game!

PLAYER PROPS: Keenan Allen is out, which means there are plenty of targets to go around to other players. This has to mean more work for Austin Ekeler with Easton Stick in at quarterback. Ekeler had five catches (seven targets) last week with Stick, so the over 4.5 receptions should hit. The best number is over 4.5 receptions +110 at FanDuel.

SAME-GAME PARLAY: We’re going to toss in Ekeler 4+ receptions with the following: under 34.5, Josh Palmer 40+ receiving yards, and Michael Mayer 3+ receptions. I expect this to be a low-scoring game with two sluggish offenses and a top-10 Raiders defense. Keenan Allen is out, so Josh Palmer is the No. 1 wideout, and the Raiders allow top-10 production to outside receivers. The Chargers have allowed the fifth-most receptions to tight ends, so Michael Mayer could be targeted more often than usual. This parlay pays out +1373 on FanDuel. You can Get $150 in bonus bets from FanDuel by clicking the link.

FINAL THOUGHTS: Keenan Allen and Josh Jacobs are both out. This obviously hurts the Chargers more because running backs are so replaceable. I still like the Raiders, and there’s a slight sharp edge on them as well. If you want to bet the Raiders, the best line is -3 -101 at Bookmaker.

The Motivation. Edge: None.

No edge found.

The Spread. Edge: None. Calculated Spread: Raiders -2.

Westgate Advance Point Spread: Chargers -4.

Computer Model: Raiders -3.

The Vegas. Edge: None.

Equal action.

Percentage of money on Las Vegas: 57% (390,000 bets)

The Trends. Edge: None.

  • History: Raiders have won 5 of the last 8 meetings.
  • Opening Line: Raiders -3.
  • Opening Total: 34.
  • Weather: Dome.

  • Week 15 NFL Pick: Raiders 17, Chargers 13
    Raiders -3 (0 Units) — Correct; $0
    Under 34.5 (0 Units) — Incorrect; $0
    Player Prop: Austin Ekeler over 4.5 receptions +110 (1 Unit) – FanDuel — Incorrect; -$100
    Same-Game Parlay: Under 34.5, Austin Ekeler 4+ receptions, Josh Palmer 40+ receiving yards, Michael Mayer 3+ receptions +1373 (0.3 Units to win 4.1) – FanDuel — Incorrect; -$30
    Raiders 63, Chargers 21

    Minnesota Vikings (6-7) at Cincinnati Bengals (7-6)
    Line: Bengals by 3.5. Total: 40.5.

    Saturday, Dec. 16, 1:00 PM

    The Matchup. Edge: None.

    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!

    CINCINNATI OFFENSE: It’s incredible how great Jake Browning has been the past two weeks after struggling so much in his first start against Pittsburgh. He completed his first 11 passes against the Jaguars, then connected on his first six versus Indianapolis. It makes me wonder if the Bengals can have the same type of run the 2017 Eagles enjoyed with Nick Foles replacing Carson Wentz.

    Then again, it’s fair to consider which defenses Browning has torched the past two weeks. The Jaguars are horrendous against the pass, while the Colts were missing their top two cornerbacks. Battling the Vikings is a different animal. While the Jaguars and Colts are 27th and 19th in defensive EPA, respectively, the Vikings are fourth. We just saw Minnesota’s defense pitch a shutout, as Brian Flores’ blitz packages confused Aidan O’Connell. They could have the same effect here, as Browning is completing just 59.3 percent of his passes when blitzed, compared to 81.3 percent when not blitzed.

    The Bengals won’t get much out of their running backs like they did last week. The Vikings surrender the sixth-fewest rushing yards in the NFL, as Josh Jacobs learned in a frustrating performance last week. Joe Mixon won’t get much on the ground either.

    MINNESOTA OFFENSE: While the Bengals are very comfortable with their backup quarterback, the same can’t be said of the Vikings, who benched Joshua Dobbs last week. The “Passtronaut” has fallen back down to Earth – see what I did there? – as he’s struggled mightily in his past two games. In fairness, Dobbs has battled two top-10 EPA defenses, as the Bears and Raiders are ranked highly in that regard.

    The Bengals are not. They are 28th in defensive EPA. They allow lots of production to slot receivers and tight ends. The Vikings can take advantage of the latter liability, obviously, with T.J. Hockenson serving as a great threat. It’ll help if Justin Jefferson returns from the injury he suffered last week, but even if he doesn’t, Minnesota will have way more offensive success this week.

    Running the ball will be a different story. The Bengals have one of the weaker ground defenses in the NFL, however the Vikings aren’t equipped to capitalize on this weakness because they struggle to rush the ball against every defense they face.

    RECAP: Browning has been great the past two weeks, but battling the Vikings is a different animal compared to the defenses he has gone against recently. It’ll be interesting to see how Browning handles Flores’ blitz packages as well.

    With the public backing the Bengals, I’m going to side with the underdog. No one will want to wager on the Vikings after seeing them struggle in a 3-0 win last week, but Minnesota’s offense will be much better against a team not ranked in the top 10 of defense. This is especially true if Jefferson is able to play, but I’m not even counting on that.

    I love getting the team with the superior defense at more than +3. This is such great line value, as the Vikings were -1 on the advance line. There should not have been a 4.5-point swing through the ultimate key number of three based on one week’s worth of results.

    THURSDAY THOUGHTS: Justin Jefferson told the media that he would play in this game. If this spread were still +3.5, I’d lock in the Vikings, but this line is +3 everywhere. The best +3.5 I see is for -121 vig at Bookmaker. That’s not bad, but I’d rather just hold out for something better.

    SATURDAY NOTES: It’s interesting that a couple of Cincinnati players were designated as questionable because of an illness on Friday. If there’s something going around the locker room, it’ll make things even easier for the Vikings, who look much better after the Raiders trashed the Chargers. I’ve been waiting for a better +3.5 than the -120 vig we had on Thursday. We now have +3.5 -114 at Bookmaker. I’m going to lock in Minnesota for four units at that number.

    PLAYER PROPS: The Bengals have been gashed by tight ends all year. I like T.J. Hockenson over 50.5 even with Justin Jefferson returning. The best vig is for -115 at BetMGM. You can Get $1,500 in bonus bets from BetMGM by clicking the link.

    FINAL THOUGHTS: The public is on the Bengals, while the sharps are on the Vikings. I’m glad we locked this in yesterday at +3.5 -114 because the best +3.5 currently available is for -126 vig at Bookmaker. It’s worth paying up to -127 for 3.5, but if you don’t have Bookmaker, +3 +100 is your best choice (Caesars).

    The Motivation. Edge: None.

    No edge found.

    The Spread. Edge: Vikings. Calculated Spread: Bengals -2.5.

    Westgate Advance Point Spread: Vikings -1.

    Computer Model: Pick.

    The Vegas. Edge: Bengals.

    Slight lean on the Vikings.

    Percentage of money on Cincinnati: 58% (249,000 bets)

    The Trends. Edge: None.

  • Opening Line: Bengals -4.
  • Opening Total: 39.5.
  • Weather: Slight chance of rain, 52 degrees. Light wind.

  • Week 15 NFL Pick: Bengals 21, Vikings 20
    Vikings +3.5 -114 (4 Units) – Bookmaker — Correct; +$400
    Over 40.5 (0 Units) — Correct; $0
    Player Prop: T.J. Hockenson over 50.5 receiving yards -115 (1 Unit) – BetMGM — Correct; +$100
    Bengals 27, Vikings 24

    Pittsburgh Steelers (7-6) at Indianapolis Colts (7-6)
    Line: Colts by 1.5. Total: 42.5.

    Saturday, Dec. 16, 4:30 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 34-42 in 2020 and 48-37 in 2021. The highest bet sides were 32-35-1 last year, and they are now 25-22 ATS.

    Here are the teams getting the most bets last week:

  • Texans -3
  • Dolphins -13.5
  • Browns -2.5
  • Broncos +3
  • Buccaneers +1.5
  • Aside from the Texans game, the public crushed it on Sunday, but they gave money back Monday when the Dolphins failed to cover.

    Here are the teams getting the most bets this week:

  • Falcons -3
  • Rams -6.5
  • Ravens -3.5
  • Two road favorites, plus the Rams, who looked great last week.

    PITTSBURGH OFFENSE: I imagine Steeler fans were hoping that Kenny Pickett would be able to return after last week’s disastrous performance. Unfortunately for them, as well as those who bet the Steelers over 8.5 wins, Pickett has already been ruled out. I can only assume that Mitchell Trubisky will draw the start once again.

    Trubisky is obviously far worse than Pickett, but to be fair, he was battling the NFL’s No. 2 EPA defense last week. The Colts aren’t nearly as good, ranking 19th. They have injuries at cornerback, which bodes well for the Steelers because George Pickens and Diontae Johnson have big advantages there.

    The Steelers should also be able to generate yardage with their running backs. It seems as though the Colts will be better versus the rush with Grover Stewart back in action. However, Indianapolis allows lots of receiving yardage to opposing backs, so Najee Harris and Jaylen Warren could pick up some big gains through the air.

    INDIANAPOLIS OFFENSE: The Steelers have injury concerns on this side of the ball as well. T.J. Watt and Alex Highsmith both got hurt last week, and it remains to be seen if they’ll be able to play.

    The potential absences of Watt and Highsmith would be enormous. The Steelers are a completely different defense without Watt, but Highsmith being available would at least give the Steelers a chance of stopping Indianapolis. If both are sidelined, we’ll see a replication of Bailey Zappe’s Thursday night performance, where a terrible quarterback is able to have success against a skeleton crew defense.

    Conversely, if Watt is on the field, Minshew will continue to have problems with turnovers. He’ll at least be able to lean on the run, as the Steelers are below average versus ground attacks.

    RECAP: My decision on this game will come down to the health of the Steeler pass rushers, particularly Watt. If Watt can play, I’ll be more than happy to fade the overrated Colts, who were just blown out by Jake Browning and were outgained by the Titans the prior week. Watt will be able to rattle Minshew and force him into more turnovers.

    Watt’s presence is crucial because we’ve seen the disparity between the Steelers defense with him on and off the field last year. The Steelers were 8-2 and sixth against the pass with Watt, and 1-6 and 30th against the pass without Watt. It was also evident that Watt being at less than 100 percent allowed the Patriots to thrive last week.

    Check back later in the week for my official pick. I’ll be monitoring the status of Watt and Highsmith carefully.

    THURSDAY THOUGHTS: T.J. Watt has cleared concussion protocol, which is huge. Unsurprisingly, there’s sharp money on the Steelers.

    SATURDAY NOTES: Neither T.J. Watt nor Alex Highsmith is on the injury report. The Steelers look appealing to rebound off their embarrassing home loss, though the Colts will be getting a couple of defensive players back from injury. It’s no surprise that the Steelers are getting the sharp money.

    PLAYER PROPS: Like the Bengals, the Colts have gotten killed by tight ends all year. Mitchell Trubisky will want to get rid of the ball quickly by targeting Pat Freiermuth. I’m not in love with the number (31.5), but they made it high for a reason. The best bet is over 31.5 -120 at BetMGM. You can Get $1,500 in bonus bets from BetMGM by clicking the link.

    FINAL THOUGHTS: Sharp money has come in on the Steelers ever since it was announced that T.J. Watt and Alex Highsmith would play. I’m on Pittsburgh for two units, with a slight downgrade as a result of a couple of Colts players returning from injury. The best line is +1 -103 at Bookmaker.

    The Motivation. Edge: None.

    No edge found.

    The Spread. Edge: None. Calculated Spread: Pick.

    Westgate Advance Point Spread: Colts -2.5.

    Computer Model: Colts -1.

    The Vegas. Edge: None.

    Equal action.

    Percentage of money on Indianapolis: 55% (207,000 bets)

    The Trends. Edge: Steelers.

  • Mike Tomlin is 56-32 ATS as an underdog. ???
  • Opening Line: Colts -2.5.
  • Opening Total: 39.
  • Weather: Dome.

  • Week 15 NFL Pick: Steelers 23, Colts 20
    Steelers +1 -103 (2 Units) – Bookmaker — Incorrect; -$205
    Over 42.5 (0 Units) — Correct; $0
    Player Prop: Pat Freiermuth over 31.5 receiving yards -120 (0.5 Units) – BetMGM — Incorrect; -$60
    Colts 30, Steelers 13

    Denver Broncos (7-6) at Detroit Lions (9-4)
    Line: Lions by 5. Total: 48.

    Saturday, Dec. 16, 8:15 PM

    The Matchup. Edge: Lions.

    HATE MAIL: We’re going to post hate mail here this year. I love getting messages like this during a game I eventually win:

    This was sent when the Lions went up 13-10. I’d say things worked out!

    Here’s something from our friend John Capricotti, who doesn’t seem to think wide-spread illnesses matter:

    This is actually true. The Circa sportsbook manager contacted me and asked for John Capricotti’s contact info. Anyway, the “conversation” continued.

    I can’t say I’m surprised that John Capricotti didn’t back up his claim with the receipts.

    DETROIT OFFENSE: I loved the Bears last week. I didn’t think the Lions would play well in the elements, especially against a defense that was going to stop the run. Detroit, as a consequence, scored no points in the second half of that game, as we easily cashed out November NFL Pick of the Month tickets.

    This matchup is far more favorable for the Lions. Denver has a highly ranked defense, but it has two flaws. One is stopping the run, which is a huge problem in this contest. The Lions love pounding the ball with David Montgomery and then mixing in Jahymr Gibbs. They had no success with the two backs last week, but things will be much different this time around.

    The Broncos’ second flaw on this side of the ball is their inability to keep tight ends in check. Players at that position have torched them all year. The Lions happen to have a terrific player at the position in Sam LaPorta, who figures to have a dominant performance.

    DENVER OFFENSE: It doesn’t get better for the Broncos on this side of the ball. Sean Payton would love nothing more than to run the ball with Javonte Williams and keep Russell Wilson from making mistakes. This won’t be a viable strategy in this game because, despite their defensive flaws, the Lions play very well against opposing ground attacks.

    The Lions happen to be terrible against the pass because of numerous injuries to their defensive backs, but the Broncos are not equipped to capitalize on this liability. Wilson failed to exploit a similar situation when he battled the Texans two weeks ago, as he was responsible for three interceptions. Wilson didn’t commit turnovers last week, but wasn’t in a position to do so. Instead, he just missed open receivers downfield.

    The Broncos will score some points, as Wilson will connect with Courtland Sutton on occasion. However, I would not expect any sort of offensive fireworks that we’ve seen from Detroit’s recent opponents.

    RECAP: We were heavy against the Lions last week, but it’s time to go back to them. This is a great matchup for Detroit on both sides of the ball. They’ll be able to dominate with their running game and tight end against the Broncos’ flawed defense. Meanwhile, their porous secondary won’t be exploited in this particular matchup.

    I think it’s telling that the Lions, despite their recent losing ways, are listed as five-point favorites. The Broncos have turned into a bit of a public darling amid their recent success, so this spread strikes me as something that would generating a public backing on Denver. I think you could have gotten the public to pounce on the Broncos at +3, so why is this listed at +5? I think the sportsbooks know the sharps would hammer the Lions at -3, given the great mismatches in Detroit’s favor, as well as the fact that the Lions play so much better indoors, especially when they’re at home.

    One other thing to consider is that this is Denver’s third-consecutive road game. Underdogs in their third-straight road game are 61-78 against the spread dating back to 1989, which as far back as my database goes. Underdogs of more than three are a slightly worse 46-63 ATS.

    This is a huge play on the Lions. I love them at anything less than -7.

    THURSDAY THOUGHTS: There’s been sharp money on both sides of this game, with some pro action coming in on the Broncos at +5, possibly because Taylor Decker has missed both practices thus far. I still love the Lions, but I’m going to drop my unit count if Decker is out.

    SATURDAY NOTES: I was worried about Detroit’s offensive line earlier in the week, but both Frank Ragnow and Taylor Decker practiced fully on Friday. Assuming they’re good to go, this will be a five-unit wager.

    PLAYER PROPS: I don’t get David Montgomery’s rushing prop. It’s 65.5. Montgomery has gone over 65.5 in all but two games this year, and in this contest, he gets the Broncos, who have allowed the most rushing yards to opposing backs this year. The best number is over 65.5 -115 at BetMGM. You can Get $1,500 in bonus bets from BetMGM by clicking the link.

    FINAL THOUGHTS: The sharps love the Lions, and so do I. The offensive linemen who missed practice time are all active. The best line is -5 -110 at Caesars and BetMGM. You can Get $1,500 in bonus bets from BetMGM by clicking the link.

    The Motivation. Edge: None.

    No edge found.

    The Spread. Edge: Broncos. Calculated Spread: Lions -2.5.

    Westgate Advance Point Spread: Lions -4.5.

    Computer Model: Broncos -1.

    The Vegas. Edge: None.

    Equal action.

    Percentage of money on Detroit: 59% (342,000 bets)

    The Trends. Edge: Broncos.

  • Russell Wilson is 35-17 ATS as an underdog.
  • Russell Wilson is 25-17 ATS in night games.
  • Opening Line: Lions -4.
  • Opening Total: 46.5.
  • Weather: Dome.

  • Week 15 NFL Pick: Lions 30, Broncos 20
    Lions -5 (5 Units) – BetMGM/Caesars — Correct; +$500
    Over 48 (0 Units) — Correct; $0
    Player Prop: David Montgomery over 65.5 rushing yards -115 (1.5 Units) – BetMGM — Correct; +$150
    Lions 42, Broncos 17

    Atlanta Falcons (6-7) at Carolina Panthers (1-12)
    Line: Falcons by 2.5. Total: 33.5.

    Sunday, Dec. 17, 1:00 PM

    The Matchup. Edge: Falcons.

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    ATLANTA OFFENSE: It can’t have been a surprise that the Falcons lost last week despite once again outgaining their opponent by a large margin. Poor coaching and quarterbacking once again sabotaged a potential victory.

    This is a great matchup for the Falcons because the Panthers can’t stop the run at all. Atlanta would love nothing more than to pound the rock 35 times, and it’ll be able to do that successfully in this contest. The only issue is Arthur Smith’s incompetence. Smith inexplicably went back to a 50-50 timeshare between Bijan Robinson and Tyler Allgeier, so perhaps my theory about Smith watching the DVD of the 2023 NFL Draft during his bye week has been proven false.

    At any rate, Robinson and Allgeier moving the chains on the ground will be necessary because Desmond Ridder has a difficult matchup. The Panthers are excellent versus the pass, so they can limit Drake London and Kyle Pitts enough. Ridder will need to be in favorable passing downs to avoid turnovers and sacks.

    CAROLINA OFFENSE: As bad as Ridder has been this season, he’s played like Peyton Manning compared to Bryce Young. The No. 1 overall pick has been outplayed by every single rookie quarterback this year, including Aidan O’Connell, Jaren Hall, and Tommy DeVito. OK, maybe not Clayton Tune, so Young has that going for him at least.

    Some will point to Young’s receivers sucking, but he had wide-open players he completely missed last week. Young is just a terrible quarterback, though I like his chances of connecting with Adam Thielen in this matchup. The Falcons are just outside the top 10 in allowing production to slot receivers.

    The Panthers should be able to run the ball as well. Atlanta was previously stout versus the rush, but it’s missing two starting defensive tackles at the moment. This will open up opportunities for Chuba Hubbard.

    RECAP: I have no desire to bet this game. The Falcons are the better team, and they’ll be able to exploit a great mismatch as Robinson will be going up against the league’s worst run defense. If all goes well for the Falcons, they’ll be able to win by double digits.

    Of course, nothing ever goes well for the Falcons because they’re so poorly coached. They outgained the Buccaneers by 150 net yards and averaged two more yards per play, yet they still found a way to lose. They also kick way too many field goals, so it’s difficult for them to cover any spread – even those under three.

    I’m still going to side with Atlanta because of the matchup and also a fade of the Panthers, but this is not a viable betting situation.

    THURSDAY THOUGHTS: A bunch of key defenders on both sides missed Wednesday’s practice. I’d say it’ll be interesting to see how things pan out, but I have no plans on betting this game.

    SATURDAY NOTES: I’d like to show you the injuries the Falcons have on their defensive line and in their front seven at the moment:

    I’m showing you this because I can’t bet the Falcons. The reason I say this is twofold. First, Brian Burns missed practice time this week, so he could be out for Carolina. Second, the Panthers have four players tagged with illnesses on the injury report, so the flu could be circulating through the locker room.

    PLAYER PROPS: Bijan Robinson has gone over 63.5 rushing yards in all but one plus matchup since Week 2. Carolina certainly counts as a plus matchup; the Panthers have given up the third-most rushing yards to opposing backs. The best number is 63.5 -110 at DraftKings. You can Get $150 in bonus bets from DraftKings by clicking the link.

    FINAL THOUGHTS: The inactives list really favors the Panthers. The Falcons will be without their top two defensive tackles again, and they’ll be missing two offensive linemen with Kaleb McGary and Chris Lindstrom missing. I still can’t back Carolina though. The sharps, however, are on the Panthers. If you still like Atlanta, you can get -2.5 -120 at Bookmaker and FanDuel.

    The Motivation. Edge: None.

    No edge found.

    The Spread. Edge: Panthers. Calculated Spread: Falcons -2.5.

    Westgate Advance Point Spread: Falcons -2.5.

    Computer Model: Falcons -2.

    The Vegas. Edge: Panthers.

    Slight lean on the Falcons

    Percentage of money on Atlanta: 60% (120,000 bets)

    The Trends. Edge: Falcons.

  • History: Falcons have won 13 of the last 19 meetings.
  • Opening Line: Falcons -2.5.
  • Opening Total: 35.
  • Weather: Rain, 51 degrees. Mild wind, 14 mph.

  • Week 15 NFL Pick: Falcons 19, Panthers 13
    Falcons -2.5 (0 Units) — Incorrect; $0
    Under 32.5 (0 Units) — Correct; $0
    Player Prop: Bijan Robinson over 63.5 rushing yards -110 (1 Unit) – DraftKings — Incorrect; -$110
    Panthers 9, Falcons 7

    Chicago Bears (5-8) at Cleveland Browns (8-5)
    Line: Browns by 3. Total: 37.

    Sunday, Dec. 17, 1:00 PM

    The Matchup. Edge: Bears.

    If you missed it, I have an NFL Betting Props page. I’ll be adding to it as the season progresses!

    Also, Confidence Pool Picks will return. They’ll be posted by Wednesday morning each week!

    CLEVELAND OFFENSE: If you didn’t read my Bengals-Vikings pick, I questioned the level of competition Jake Browning has seen thus far. Browning has gone against some poor pass defenses in his recent two starts, causing the Cincinnati line to be inflated. I think you could say the same thing is happening here with Joe Flacco.

    Flacco has been solid for the Browns through two starts, but it must be noted that his most recent victory came against the Jaguars, whom Browning torched as well. Jacksonville has one of the worst pass defenses in the NFL, so any quarterback coming off a game against them will look much better than they really are. Flacco is due for some major regression to the mean against the Bears, who have the fifth-ranked EPA defense, thanks to Montez Sweat bolstering the pass rush.

    The Bears will also be able to limit the run, so Flacco will be in worse situations. Chicago has surrendered the third-fewest rushing yards to opposing backs, so neither Jerome Ford nor Kareem Hunt project well.

    CHICAGO OFFENSE: The Bears have also looked excellent in recent games, but their performances have been legitimate. Early in the year, Justin Fields wasn’t playing well behind an offensive line missing players. The blocking unit got healthier eventually, but Fields was then lost to an injury. Now, everyone is back, and the results have been spectacular.

    If you’re concerned about this being a difficult matchup for Fields, you may be mistaken. The Browns have not performed well defensively, struggling to stop the Broncos and Rams in recent games. Even Trevor Lawrence nearly beat them on one leg last week.

    Cleveland has progressively gotten worse to the run. The Bears utilize a three-man running back committee, which doesn’t even include Fields. They should be able to pick up plenty of yards on the ground, setting up favorable opportunities for Fields to connect with D.J. Moore.

    RECAP: This is our first opportunity to fade Flacco. The Browns should be 2-0 against the spread with Flacco, as they hung tight against the Rams and then defeated the Jaguars. Neither the Rams nor the Jaguars, however, have a top-10 defense. The Bears, believe it or not, possess one. In fact, their stop unit ranks fifth, as Sweat has been a huge addition.

    Siding with backup quarterbacks is normally a winning strategy. However, that’s not the case when the reserve signal-caller has to battle a top-12 defense. The Bears have the personnel to frustrate Flacco.

    Speaking of defenses, the decline of Cleveland’s defense is the reason why the Browns are overrated. Their defensive EPA ranking is down to 16th, as they’ve had issues stopping the Broncos and Rams in recent weeks. Chicago’s offense has been so much better since Fields returned from injury, so I like them to pull the upset.

    THURSDAY THOUGHTS: If there was any speculation that Myles Garrett were healthy, he missed Wednesday’s practice. The absence was designated as rest, but it was also noted that it was attributed to his bothersome shoulder.

    SATURDAY NOTES: The Browns have some major injuries, including one to Ethan Pocic. The talented center will miss this game, as will safety Juan Thornhill. Some key defensive players are questionable as well (Anthony Walker, Denzel Ward). I already loved the Bears. This injury edge only makes them more appealing. I’m going to bump up the unit count to five.

    PLAYER PROPS: Justin Fields carves up man defense, and the Browns play lots of man. Scrambling quarterbacks love man, so Fields should hit the over on his rushing prop, which is 56.5 -114 at FanDuel. Get $150 in bonus bets from FanDuel.

    LOCKED IN: I was hoping for a +3.5, but I don’t think we’ll get it. In fact, I’m worried that the sharps will drop this down to +2.5 by kickoff. I’m going to lock in +3 -113 at Bookmaker for five units.

    FINAL THOUGHTS: Anthony Walker is out for the Browns, which is a big blow for their reeling defense. The sharps are all over the Bears. You can get +3 -114 at Bookmaker.

    The Motivation. Edge: None.

    No edge found.

    The Spread. Edge: Bears. Calculated Spread: Browns -1.

    Westgate Advance Point Spread: Browns -2.5.

    Computer Model: Bears -2.5.

    The Vegas. Edge: Browns.

    Lots of money coming in on the Bears, some of it being sharp.

    Percentage of money on Chicago: 72% (149,000 bets)

    The Trends. Edge: None.

  • Bears are 22-41 ATS in December road games the previous 63 instances.
  • Kevin Stefanski is 13-20 ATS as a favorite.
  • Opening Line: Browns -2.5.
  • Opening Total: 37.5.
  • Weather: Likely rain, 48 degrees. Mild wind, 14 mph.

  • Week 15 NFL Pick: Bears 20, Browns 17
    Bears +3 -113 (5 Units) – Bookmaker — Push; $0
    Under 37 (0 Units) — Push; $0
    Player Prop: Justin Fields over 56.5 rushing yards -114 (1 Unit) – FanDuel — Incorrect; -$115
    Browns 20, Bears 17

    Tampa Bay Buccaneers (6-7) at Green Bay Packers (6-7)
    Line: Packers by 3.5. Total: 41.5.

    Sunday, Dec. 17, 1:00 PM

    The Matchup. Edge: Packers.

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    GREEN BAY OFFENSE: Has any quarterback had more ups and downs than Jordan Love in a single season? He started off well in his first few games, then looked terrible for a month or so. Love then rebounded out of nowhere with three consecutive impressive victories. And just when we thought he was locked in as Green Bay’s long-term franchise quarterback, we saw Monday night’s disastrous performance against the Giants.

    Love will have an opportunity to rebound in this game. The Buccaneers have one of the worst pass defenses in the NFL. They’re in the bottom five of allowing production to both outside and slot receivers. They also have an issue stopping tight ends. Love will have a field day throwing all over this defense, even if Christian Watson can’t return.

    The Packers won’t get much on the ground once again. This has always been the case with the plodding A.J. Dillon, but it’ll be true with Aaron Jones as well because the Buccaneers are stellar versus the run.

    TAMPA BAY OFFENSE: The Buccaneers want to have Baker Mayfield target Mike Evans more than anything. The two inexplicably couldn’t connect last week amid the victory, but that was a game in which Tampa Bay was outgained by 150 net yards and averaged two fewer yards per play. The Buccaneers will need to play better against superior competition, so they’ll need Mayfield and Evans to regain their chemistry.

    The problem with that is Green Bay’s pass defense. The Packers are solid at defending outside receivers, so they’ll be able to limit Evans, especially if Jaire Alexander can finally return from injury. If Mayfield can’t connect with Mayfield, he’ll have severe problems moving the ball.

    While the Packers are solid at defending outside receivers, they struggle to stop the run. Rachaad White is an excellent receiver out of the backfield, but he’s not someone who can dominate on the ground.

    RECAP: I’ll be shocked if we see Love perform like he did Monday night. Love was rattled by the Giants’ blitz. The Buccaneers, conversely, have nothing to bother Love, as they rank near the bottom of all pass defense categories.

    Another reason Love should rebound is the fact that he’s battling an NFC South opponent. NFC South teams struggle to cover the spread in non-divisional games this year (11-25 against the spread). This is because they play each other, and the winner looks good, forcing the oddsmakers to adjust the lines, as they’ve done here. The Buccaneers beat the Falcons, so with that, as well as the Packers’ Monday result, this spread has dropped from -3.5 to the key number of -3.

    This spread is way too short. The Packers, as a top-10 EPA team battling a poor opponent, should be favored by six at the very least. I love the line value and overreaction in Green Bay’s favor.

    THURSDAY THOUGHTS: Still no Vita Vea in practice, but that doesn’t matter to the sharps, who have been on the Buccaneers for some reason.

    SATURDAY NOTES: Both teams have their injury problems. Jamel Dean and Devin White will be back for the Buccaneers, but Vita Vea, Carlton Davis and Ryan Neal are all sidelined. For the Packers, we still have no idea if Aaron Jones and Jaire Alexander willl play after both were limited in practice all week. Eric Stokes looks like he’ll return at least, but Christian Watson is listed as doubtful. Given the injury uncertainty, I’m going to drop the unit count to two.

    PLAYER PROPS: Tucker Kraft has cleared this receiving yardage prop (34.5) in his past two games, easily doing so in the previous contest with Christian Watson sidelined. The Buccaneers have allowed the sixth-most receiving yards to tight ends. The best number is over 34.5 -115 at BetMGM. You can Get $1,500 in bonus bets from BetMGM by clicking the link.

    FINAL THOUGHTS: The Buccaneers had some great injury news heading into this game, with Vita Vea being active. This is bad news for Aaron Jones, who is active. Jaire Alexander is out again. I think I’m going to lay off the Packers with this injury news, as well as the bad -3.5 line, and also the sharp money coming in on Tampa. If you still want to bet Green Bay, the best line is -3.5 -105 at Bookmaker.

    The Motivation. Edge: None.

    No edge found.

    The Spread. Edge: Packers. Calculated Spread: Packers -6.

    Westgate Advance Point Spread: Packers -3.5.

    Computer Model: Packers -5.

    The Vegas. Edge: None.

    Equal action.

    Percentage of money on Green Bay: 52% (103,000 bets)

    The Trends. Edge: Packers.

  • Road Team is 130-90 ATS in Buccaneers games since 2009.
  • Packers are 63-39 ATS in divisional games since 2006.
  • Packers are 40-23 ATS in December/January home games since 2000.
  • Matt LaFleur is 15-7 ATS after a loss.
  • Opening Line: Packers -3.5.
  • Opening Total: 42.5.
  • Weather: Cloudy, 40 degrees. Mild wind, 10 mph.

  • Week 15 NFL Pick: Packers 26, Buccaneers 20
    Packers -3.5 (0 Units) — Incorrect; $0
    Over 41.5 (0 Units) — Correct; $0
    Player Prop: Tucker Kraft over 34.5 receiving yards -115 (1 Unit) – BetMGM — Correct; +$100
    Buccaneers 34, Packers 20

    Houston Texans (7-6) at Tennessee Titans (5-8)
    Line: Titans by 3. Total: 38.

    Sunday, Dec. 17, 1:00 PM

    The Matchup. Edge: Titans.

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    HOUSTON OFFENSE: It’s unclear if C.J. Stroud will play in this game. He suffered a concussion in the fourth quarter of last week’s loss. Players have had trouble clearing concussion protocol within a week this year, though it has been done on occasion. Even still, I bet the NFL would want to protect one of its faces of the league for the long term.

    It’ll likely be Davis Mills starting for the Texans. Believe it or not, that’s not my concern for Houston’s offense because the Titans have a poor pass defense that can be shredded by most quarterbacks. The issue is the receiving corps. Tank Dell was already sidelined, while Noah Brown has been playing hurt. Now, Nico Collins is injured as well. Collins hurt his calf against the Jets. While this is not an injury that’ll have any long-term ramifications, it’s one that could hinder Collins in the coming weeks.

    The Texans likely won’t have the personnel to expose Tennessee’s secondary. They’ll need to run on the Titans, which will be an issue because Tennessee stops ground attacks extremely well.

    TENNESSEE OFFENSE: In past years, I’d be discussing how Derrick Henry will trample the Texans relentlessly because Houston can’t stop the run at all. Henry has enjoyed some legendary performances against Houston’s inept defense.

    Times have changed, however, and these are not your slightly older brother’s Texans. They’ve improved tremendously against the run this year, allowing the seventh-fewest rushing yards in the NFL. So, don’t expect much from Henry versus Houston for a change.

    The Texans are weaker to the pass than the run. They couldn’t even contain Zach Wilson last week, which bodes well for Will Levis. However, it’s important to note that Levis is extremely inconsistent. It’s difficult to rely on him because he sometimes looks lost in the pocket, even against easier matchups like the one he had a few weeks ago versus the Buccaneers.

    RECAP: We don’t know Stroud’s status yet. I’m going to be on the Titans unless we get word that Stroud and Collins will play. If they’re both in, I’ll like the Texans because their defense matches up well versus Henry. If both are out, it’ll be difficult to back a team that won’t be able to expose Tennessee’s weak secondary.

    Check back later for an official pick on this game once we have more information on Stroud and Collins!

    THURSDAY THOUGHTS: Both C.J. Stroud and Nico Collins missed Wednesday’s practice. It’s bad news for Stroud’s outlook that he at least wasn’t limited.

    SATURDAY NOTES: The Texans are a mess. C.J. Stroud is doubtful. Nico Collins hasn’t practiced all week. Multiple offensive linemen are questionable. The top two defenders, Blake Cashman and Will Anderson, are both out. The Titans will be without Jeffery Simmons and Denico Autry, but I can see why the spread would move across -3 to -3.5. I don’t really want to back Will Levis at -3.5, but I certainly have no interest in Houston.

    PLAYER PROPS: This may not look like the best matchup for Derrick Henry on paper because the Texans are in the middle of the pack in allowing rushing yards to opposing backs. However, two of Houston’s best run defenders, Will Anderson and Blake Cashman, are both out. Henry has cleared this prop number (67.5) in seven of his 12 games since Week 2. The best number is over 67.5 -110 at BetMGM. You can Get $1,500 in bonus bets from BetMGM by clicking the link.

    FINAL THOUGHTS: The sharps bet the Texans heavily at +3.5. I have no play on this game. If you like the Titans at this lesser number, you can get -3 -113 at Bookmaker.

    The Motivation. Edge: None.

    No edge found.

    The Spread. Edge: None. Calculated Spread: Texans -2.

    Westgate Advance Point Spread: Texans -3.5.

    Computer Model: Titans -1.

    The Vegas. Edge: Texans.

    Plenty of action on the Titans.

    Percentage of money on Tennessee: 78% (119,000 bets)

    The Trends. Edge: Titans.

  • History: Titans have won 5 of the last 7 meetings.
  • Opening Line: Titans -2.
  • Opening Total: 37.
  • Weather: Chance of rain, 52 degrees. Light wind.

  • Week 15 NFL Pick: Titans 17, Texans 13
    Titans -3 (0 Units) — Incorrect; $0
    Under 38 (0 Units) — Correct; $0
    Player Prop: Derrick Henry over 67.5 rushing yards -115 (1 Unit) – BetMGM — Incorrect; -$115
    Texans 19, Titans 17

    New York Giants (5-8) at New Orleans Saints (6-7)
    Line: Saints by 6. Total: 39.5.

    Sunday, Dec. 17, 1:00 PM

    The Matchup. Edge: None.

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    NEW YORK OFFENSE: How long can this Tommy DeVito insanity last? It’s reaching Jeremy Lin levels of hype, as “Tommy Cutlets” has inexplicably won three games in a row, most recently defeating the Packers on Monday night.

    DeVito has a somewhat tougher matchup this week. The Saints have an excellent pass defense, as they limit opposing outside receivers extremely well. They at least don’t generate that much pressure on opposing quarterbacks, so DeVito should have some time to throw. DeVito can also pick up yards on the ground, given that the Saints have surrendered the third-most rushing yardage to opposing quarterbacks this year.

    DeVito won’t have to do it all himself, as he’ll once again be able to lean on Saquon Barkley. The Saints don’t have the best run defense, ranking in the bottom half in that regard.

    NEW ORLEANS OFFENSE: It shouldn’t surprise anyone if DeVito ends up playing the best of the two quarterbacks in this matchup. This isn’t a knock on Derek Carr’s talent, but rather his health, as he revealed that he’s playing with injured ribs. Carr has gotten so banged up this year, it’s shocking that he hasn’t missed any time.

    The Giants will come after Carr with their heavy blitz packages. This rattled “No Cookie” Jordan Love on Monday night, but it may not have the same impact on Carr, though it’s impossible to know for sure because of the injuries. Still, it’s worth noting that Carr’s stats are only a bit worse when he’s blitzed.

    Of course, the Saints will want to pound the rock, which is what they did so effectively with Alvin Kamara and Jamaal Williams. Both backs will have success against the Giants’ poor rush defense. Taysom Hill will also thrive if he returns from injury.

    RECAP: This is another instance where we can fade an NFC South playing outside the division. Again, NFC South teams are an incredibly lackluster 11-25 against the spread this year in non-divisional games. The Saints are priced up because they crushed the Panthers, but that is irrelevant because Carolina sucks so much.

    Fading the Saints as a heavy favorite is a good idea in general. Carr is just 7-19 against the spread as a favorite of 3.5-plus in his career. He’s also not healthy because he’s playing with rib injuries. It’s unlikely that he’ll be 100 percent in this game, which will allow the Giants to sneak within the number.

    Given the Saints’ struggles with mobile quarterbacks, the Giants definitely seem like the right play. My only concern is that the Giants are playing on a short week following such an emotional win, but I still like them to cover this high number.

    THURSDAY THOUGHTS: The only injury note is that Chris Olave missed Wednesday’s practice, but I haven’t heard anything regarding the possibility of him missing this game.

    SATURDAY NOTES: Chris Olave hasn’t practiced at all. He’s questionable, but it’s difficult to see him play. Meanwhile, the Giants might get Darren Waller back from injured reserve. It’s not a surprise to see the sharps jump on the Giants. I’m going to bet a couple of units on New York.

    PLAYER PROPS: The Saints have struggled against slot receivers all year. We targeting Adam Thielen last week, and we’re going with Wan’Dale Robinson in this spot. Robinson’ aDoT is low, so we’re going to look at receptions. The over 3.5 +110 at BetMGM is the best number. You can Get $1,500 in bonus bets from BetMGM by clicking the link.

    FINAL THOUGHTS: No Chris Olave or Ryan Ramczyk for the Saints, which makes the Giants slightly interesting. The best line is +6 -106 at Bookmaker. The sharps haven’t taken a side, which is surprising. I’d bet the Giants if they weren’t coming off an upset win on a short week.

    The Motivation. Edge: Giants.

    The Saints have an important game against the Rams four days after this game.

    The Spread. Edge: Giants. Calculated Spread: Saints -5.

    Westgate Advance Point Spread: Saints -6.

    Computer Model: Saints -5.

    The Vegas. Edge: Saints.

    Decent lean on the Giants.

    Percentage of money on New York: 68% (125,000 bets)

    The Trends. Edge: Giants.

  • Derek Carr is 7-19 ATS as a favorite of 3.5+.
  • Opening Line: Saints -6.
  • Opening Total: 36.5.
  • Weather: Dome.

  • Week 15 NFL Pick: Saints 20, Giants 17
    Giants +6 (0 Units) — Incorrect; $0
    Under 39.5 (0 Units) — Correct; $0
    Player Prop: Wan’Dale Robinson over 3.5 receptions +110 (1 Unit) – BetMGM — Correct; +$110
    Saints 24, Giants 6

    New York Jets (5-8) at Miami Dolphins (9-4)
    Line: Dolphins by 7.5. Total: 37.

    Sunday, Dec. 17, 1:00 PM

    The Matchup. Edge: None.

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    MIAMI OFFENSE: The Dolphins received some horrible news today, with Connor Williams being ruled out for the season. Williams getting hurt on the initial drive crushed Miami’s chances Monday night, beginning with the botched snap near the goal line. Blocking was an issue throughout the night as well.

    Williams’ absence will be painful against the Jets’ ferocious defensive line. New York will be able to dominate in the trenches even better than the Titans did. Tua Tagovailoa won’t have much time to throw, and to make matters worse, Tyreek Hill isn’t 100 percent. Hill is considered day-to-day, so he may play in this game, but he might not be 100 percent.

    Miami’s best chance of moving the chains is via the rushing attack, as the Jets have possessed a run-funnel defense this year. Raheem Mostert and De’Von Achane will be able to pick up chunks of yardage, though they won’t be as impactful as they would be if Williams and Hill were healthy.

    NEW YORK OFFENSE: The Jets had no chance to move the chains consistently against the Dolphins in their Black Friday matchup because the coaching staff made the foolish decision to bench Zach Wilson in favor of Tim Boyle. The beleaguered Boyle was predictably horrendous in that game and the next one. He was relieved by Wilson last week, and the results were much better, as Wilson had his way with Houston’s secondary.

    This is a tougher matchup for Wilson, though it’s not impossible because the Dolphins have some injuries in their secondary. Jalen Ramsey doesn’t travel, which allowed DeAndre Hopkins to have a huge game Monday night. Garrett Wilson could be in for a similar performance.

    Miami stops the run very well, so Breece Hall won’t get much on the ground. However, Hall could mimic what Tyjae Spears did Monday night in generating tons of receiving yardage.

    RECAP: My rule behind backing huge favorites is that all three criteria must be met: 1) There must be a huge disparity in talent between the teams. 2) The favorite must be healthy. 3) The favorite must be focused.

    At least two of the three criteria are violated in this situation. The Dolphins are not healthy. They have multiple offensive line injuries, stemming from Williams leaving the Monday night game on the first drive and subsequently being ruled out for the year. Hill also may not be 100 percent. Miami may not be focused either. It recently beat the Jets, so what’s the motivation here, especially with some tough games on deck? Following this affair, the Dolphins will take on the Cowboys, Ravens, and Bills.

    The Jets are playing with so much more confidence now. I know it’s been one game, but Zach Wilson, despite his glaring flaws, is a major upgrade over Boyle. If Will Levis could keep the Titans competitive with the Dolphins, Wilson certainly can as well.

    THURSDAY THOUGHTS: Sharp money continues to pour in on the Jets, as a bunch of key players missed Wednesday’s practice, including Tyreek Hill, De’Von Achane, and Terron Armstead.

    SATURDAY NOTES: I don’t know how the Dolphins are going to function. First of all, Tyreek Hill didn’t practice a single time all week. If that wasn’t bad enough, every single starter on the offensive line is on the injury report in some fashion. There are also injuries to defensive players, as Xavien Howard, Jevon Holland and Andrew Van Ginkel have all missed practice. This spread is way too high for this sort of injured team.

    PLAYER PROPS: Breece Hall’s rushing prop is 43.5, yet he hasn’t eclipsed 40 rushing yards since Week 9. The Dolphins are excellent versus the run, so they’ll be able to keep Hall in check, just like they did in the Black Friday game when Hall had 25 rushing yards. The best line is under 43.5 -114 at FanDuel. You can Get $150 in bonus bets from FanDuel by clicking the link.

    FINAL THOUGHTS: The Dolphins are missing a ton of key players, including Tyreek Hill, Jevon Holland, Xavien Howard, DeShon Elliott, and Robert Hunt. This spread has dropped to +7 as a result of these injuries, with Hill primarily moving the line. The sharps love the Jets. The best line is +7.5 -115 at Bookmaker.

    The Motivation. Edge: Jets.

    Look-ahead Alert: The Dolphins already beat the Jets. After this game, they battle the Cowboys, Ravens, and Bills.

    The Spread. Edge: None. Calculated Spread: Dolphins -10.5.

    Westgate Advance Point Spread: Dolphins -13.

    Computer Model: Dolphins -7.5.

    The Vegas. Edge: None.

    Equal action.

    Percentage of money on New York: 53% (115,000 bets)

    The Trends. Edge: None.

  • History: Dolphins have won 10 of the last 12 meetings.
  • Dolphins are 31-45 ATS at home against teams with losing records since 2003.
  • Opening Line: Dolphins -13.5.
  • Opening Total: 40.5.
  • Weather: Chance of thunderstorms, 77 degrees. HEAVY WINDS, 23 mph.

  • Week 15 NFL Pick: Dolphins 16, Jets 13
    Jets +7.5 -115 (5 Units) – Bookmaker — Incorrect; -$575
    Under 37 (0 Units) — Correct; $0
    Player Prop: Breece Hall under 43.5 rushing yards -114 (1 Unit) – FanDuel — Correct; +$100
    Dolphins 30, Jets 0

    Kansas City Chiefs (8-5) at New England Patriots (3-10)
    Line: Chiefs by 10. Total: 39.5.

    Sunday, Dec. 17, 1:00 PM

    The Matchup. Edge: None.

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    KANSAS CITY OFFENSE: The Chiefs have been struggling with severe incompetence. Their receivers do nothing but drop passes and fumble the ball inside the red zone. Last week’s special trick was lining up ahead of the center, only to have a touchdown called back because of this penalty. Patrick Mahomes must be so frustrated by this receiving corps.

    Playing the Patriots is exactly what the doctor ordered, right? I wouldn’t be too sure about that. New England is ranked second in defensive EPA, as Bill Belichick, following some horrific results earlier in the season, has seemingly figured things out. The Patriots have been especially potent versus tight ends, allowing the fifth-least production to the position. This is obviously vital in this matchup because the Patriots have the horses to slow down Travis Kelce.

    The Patriots also put the clamps on the run and shut down slot receivers. Their lone weakness is to outside receivers, but the Chiefs don’t have the personnel to take advantage of that liability.

    NEW ENGLAND OFFENSE: The Patriots also aren’t getting much out of their receivers, but unlike the Chiefs, they’ve been able to run the ball well, even amid Rhamondre Stevenson’s injury. Ezekiel Elliott was given up for dead, but he’s seen a bit of a renaissance in the second half of the year, thriving in relief of Stevenson.

    The Chiefs struggle against the run, so this obviously bodes well for Elliott. It’ll also make Bailey Zappe’s life easier. Zappe has had his struggles, but he performed well last week in Pittsburgh when he was able to feed off of Elliott’s rushing.

    Zappe will have a chance for success if Demario Douglas returns from his concussion. Now New England’s top receiver, Douglas has a great matchup against the Chiefs, who surrender the fourth-most production to slot receivers.

    RECAP: It may seem crazy to back the Patriots against the Chiefs until you realize how poorly Kansas City has been playing. In fact, the Chiefs have been so bad that the EPA metrics have the Patriots as the better team. Yes, it’s true. New England, thanks to the vast improvements to the defense, is ranked 11th in net EPA. The Chiefs are 16th, as a result of their mistake-prone offense and declining defense.

    The Chiefs could always hit the “on” switch, but it seems unlikely that will happen in this game. The Patriots can frustrate them by pounding the ball to keep Mahomes on the sideline. Mahomes, who won’t have as much time on the field, could force the issue. New England may come away with some turnovers as a consequence.

    I realize I’ve sworn off the Patriots, but I’m going back to them one last time. This spread is way too high based on how these teams have performed in recent weeks.

    THURSDAY THOUGHTS: No Isiah Pacheco in Wednesday’s practice for the Chiefs. The Patriots, meanwhile, received good news with their top offensive player, as Demario Douglas was able to practice on a limited basis.

    SATURDAY NOTES: The Chiefs won’t have Isiah Pacheco or Donovan Smith, but those are the only injuries, as Drue Tranquill will be back from injury. Kansas City’s defense should be better as a result. The Patriots, meanwhile, are getting back Demario Douglas, but they could be missing Trent Brown and Christian Barmore, both of whom missed Friday’s practice.

    PLAYER PROPS: Demario Douglas is back for the Patriots. He’s their No. 1 receiver, and he has a great matchup against a Kansas City defense that has surrendered the third-most production to slot receivers. Douglas has logged five or more catches in each of the previous four games he has played, so he should be able to clear 4.5 receptions. The best number is over 4.5 -105 at DraftKings. You can Get $150 in bonus bets from DraftKings by clicking the link.

    FINAL THOUGHTS: The Patriots will be without Trent Brown, which is not ideal. In exchange, we get a slightly better line (+10 -114 at Bookmaker). I have no desire to bet this game, but the sharps were on New England earlier in the week.

    The Motivation. Edge: None.

    No edge found.

    The Spread. Edge: Patriots. Calculated Spread: Chiefs -7.5.

    Westgate Advance Point Spread: Chiefs -10.5.

    Computer Model: Pick.

    The Vegas. Edge: Patriots.

    Plenty of money on the Chiefs.

    Percentage of money on Kansas City: 70% (139,000 bets)

    The Trends. Edge: None.

  • Patrick Mahomes is 79-23 SU, 54-47 ATS (42-35 ATS when not favored by double digits.)
  • Patrick Mahomes is 12-8 ATS after a loss.
  • Patrick Mahomes is 6-10 ATS as a road favorite of 7+.
  • Patriots are 44-27 ATS in December & January home games since 2000.
  • Opening Line: Chiefs -10.5.
  • Opening Total: 37.5.
  • Weather: Chance of rain, 47 degrees. Mild wind, 10 mph.

  • Week 15 NFL Pick: Chiefs 20, Patriots 13
    Patriots +10 (0 Units) — Push; $0
    Under 39.5 (0 Units) — Incorrect; $0
    Player Prop: Demario Douglas over 4.5 receptions -105 (1.5 Units) – DraftKings — Incorrect; -$160
    Chiefs 27, Patriots 17

    Prop/Teaser/Parlay Picks
    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.

    NFL Picks Week 15 – Late Games

    49ers at Cardinals  |  Redskins at Rams  |  Cowboys at Bills  |  Ravens at Jaguars  |  Eagles at Seahawks  | 

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