NFL Week 15 Predictions

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Honolulu transplant from Nashville, Tennessee. Teaching high school English during the day, coaching Track & Field in the afternoon, then drinking enough to do it all over again.

Too competitive for an amateur, too amateur to be competitive.

With only 3 weeks left in the season, the teams without Patrick Mahomes on the roster are more and more muddied. The Steelers have lost two straight, the Seahawks and Titans are inconsistent, the Ravens can’t be stopped on 4th downs, and the Browns are legit but maybe not elite. This is why the NFL is so much fun to watch, but while picking the betting favorite is not a sexy pick, I did it more than usual this week. There’s a few spreads I want to take advantage of and a few I want to avoid, though, so read on to find out which ones are locks. Last week I cleared 10-6 on winning teams, shooting my total up to 87-45. Here are my NFL Week 15 Predictions.

Take these betting lines against the spread:

Lock It In
Raiders -3
49ers -3
Dolphins -2.5
Vikings -3.5
Rams -17
Browns -4
Chiefs -3
Texans +7.5
Bet with Caution
Bills -7
Packers -8.5
Jaguars +14
Falcons +6
Titans -10
Washington +5.5
Steelers -13
Eagles +6.5
Texans +7.5

Chargers (4-9) @ Raiders (7-6)
Spread: Raiders -3
Prediction: Raiders 27-18

The Chargers can’t get out of their own way. If their defense isn’t getting wrecked by the worst receiving corps in the league then the special teams unit has 100 men on the field. They break my hurt every week and while the Raiders aren’t exactly models of consistency, they sport a potent offense attack. A divisional matchup could make this more interesting, but the Raiders are fighting for AFC relevance while the Chargers are relegated to basement duty.

Bills (10-3) @ Broncos (5-8)
Spread: Bills -7
Prediction: Bills 24-14

The Bills defense ranked 22nd in EPA/play allowed through Week 8, but since the halfway mark they have ranked 11th. It’s not elite, but certainly good enough to beat some of the better teams in the league. The offense has been a top 5 unit in that second half time span and proved it against the Steelers last week. The Broncos aren’t a team to overlook, but Drew Lock isn’t taking over a game any time soon. That being said, the spell he mouthed in that famous viral video has kept him afloat in Denver: he’ll score some points and keep it close. Don’t be surprised if they do in fact cover +7.

Panthers (4-9) @ Packers (10-3)
Spread: Packers -8.5
Prediction: Packers 28-13

Aaron Rodgers is having an MVP level season and both fans and voters love the comeback story. Forgotten about in the hype of the last few seasons, Rodgers makes a resounding comeback to lead an elite team to the promised land. His defense has been 9th in EPA/play allowed since Week 9, albeit against teams that haven’t had strong offenses like Chicago, Philadelphia, and Detroit. That being said, the Panthers fall in the same category as those teams and the Packers will have control the whole time.

Buccaneers (8-5) @ Falcons (4-9)
Spread: Buccaneers -6
Prediction: Buccaneers 28-27

The Buccaneers might not be the powerhouse that piqued our curiosity early in the season, but they’ve only had one really bad game this season. A few mediocre games and some where they played excellently, this team is still trying to find its footing in Bruce Arian’s offense. The Falcons, despite Matt Ryan and Julio Jones being who they are, can’t seem to beat anybody. The anti-clutch curse is still very much alive and they will lose another close one to Brady and co.

Jaguars (1-12) @ Ravens (8-5)
Spread: Ravens -14
Prediction: Ravens 21-17

The Jaguars inserted The Tiger King back into the lineup last week against the Titans, and I think he gives them a much better chance at winning than The Giraffe. He’ll keep the game close and cover the 14 point spread, but the defense will lose the game for them. With the Ravens unstoppable on 4th down, Jacksonville doesn’t stand a chance against post-poop Lamar. I used up all my poop jokes with OBJ and I can’t give sloppy seconds to Lamar. He’ll just have to settle for being number 2 in poop jokes. (There they are. Happy now?)

Lamar Jackson laughs after a win
USA Today

49ers (5-8) @ Cowboys (4-9)
Spread: 49ers -3
Prediction: 49ers 27-16

Kyle Shanahan is working with what he’s got on offense and it isn’t much in the passing department. Negative air yards isn’t a long-term winning formula, making this team very one-dimensional. That being said, this team can still take out bad teams, and the Cowboys are certainly a bad team. The 9ers are still a superior defensive unit and should hold Dalton and the Boys to very limited opportunities. 

Texans (4-9) @ Colts (9-4)
Spread: Colts -7.5
Prediction: Colts 30-27

The last time these two teams met was wild. The Colts are a good playoff team that in theory would handle the Texans and take care of business, but that’s not how division games work. The Texans and Deshaun Watson will put up a fight, but the Colts are looking to secure their place in a tight playoff race. It should make for good television and, for me, easy money in my pocket going Texans +7.5

Patriots (6-7) @ Dolphins (8-5) 
Spread: Dolphins -2.5
Prediction: Dolphins 24-10

The Patriots may have cruised to a win against the Chargers, but when they played a great defense they absolutely crumbled. It was an eye-popping win that may have symbolized a return to Super Bowl form for the Rams. While the Dolphins defense isn’t quite at that level, it’s a top tier unit that will give New England fits all game. I don’t expect much from this team despite their Week 1 matchup results. Give me the Dolphins in a big way.

Bears (6-7) @ Vikings (6-7)
Spread: Vikings -3.5
Prediction: Vikings 26-21

The Bears slapped around the Texans a week ago, meaning they’re due for a return to reality this week. Kirk Cousins is the champion of analytics and his return to the god-tier might be hyperbole but the Bears will believe it when they try to shut down Dalvin Cook so much that Cousins rips them through the air. David Montgomery is doing his best Cook impression the past two weeks, but I think he also regresses back to the mean.

Justin Jefferson and Adam Thielen celebrate
Brad Rempel / USA Today

Lions (5-8) @ Titans (9-4)
Spread: Titans -10
Prediction: Titans 34-21

Last week I successfully picked the Jaguars to win so that I don’t jinx the Titans. I’ll take the L in the column but in my heart it’s a W. I think they’ve shrugged off my jinxes this season so I will pick them to beat a Lions team that is probably going to be without Matt Stafford. If I’m the Lions, there’s no need to put him back in despite Stafford’s reputation as an iron man. The Titans have finally kicked off DHember in proper fashion against their division rivals and that trend continues the rest of the season. I don’t imagine he gets to 2000 this season, but I do think Tennessee makes excellent plays the remainder of the season.

Seahawks (9-4) @ Washington (6-7)
Spread: Seahawks -5.5
Prediction: Seahawks 24-20

Washington has major questions at QB, so much so that I’m considering benching Terry McClaurin in fantasy. That’s not good when Russell Wilson is on the other team, feeling a little slighted after the past few weeks. What’s interesting is that this is exactly the Wild Card game that would occur if the season ended today. Without Alex Smith, the Football Team is lost. The Seahawks have me a little worried, though, but not enough that I think they lose the game.

Eagles (4-8-1) @ Cardinals (7-6)
Spread: Cardinals -6.5
Prediction: Cardinals 23-20

Jalen Hurts has brought life back to the franchise and I’m here for a winning Eagles fan base. When the Eagles win, the fans complain about the greatest things. It’s how we get glorious viral clips of everyday heroes ragging on Nelson Agholor. That being said, this team is still average at best and the Cardinals are fighting to keep their playoff spot. Cardinals win but the game is unpredictable because of Hurts and his weekly development.

Jalen Hurts looks to throw on the run against the Saints
Chris Szagola / AP Phot

Jets (0-13) @ Rams (9-4)
Spread: Rams -17
Prediction: Rams 24-3

The Jets are getting closer to their quest for 16 and the prize of Trevor Lawrence. It’s almost a guarantee at this point. The only question is in which games will the Jets be competitive or completely worthless. I think the elite defense of the Rams makes this game fall into the latter category and I can’t imagine the Jets scoring more than 10 points, even with the return of Mims. Cam Akers and the running game feasts this week and clear the -17 spread. 

Chiefs (12-1) @ Saints  (10-3)
Spread: Chiefs -3
Prediction: Chiefs 30-26

This could be a potential Super Bowl matchup here and I am going to watch the hell out of this game. I think the Saints are more limited than they want to admit on offense, but the defense is still elite. If Mahomes corrects his turnover issues from last week, Kansas City can force the Saints into a one-dimensional offense. Taysom Hill is not great, but the athletic RB (H Back? TE? I’m not calling him a QB) will be able to beat teams with his legs. All it takes is a few stops from the Saints and this team can get a lead in the first half.

Browns (9-4) @ Giants (5-8)
Spread: Browns -4
Prediction: Browns 27-21

Has Baker Mayfield arrived? Cleveland should rejoice that they have a competent QB who can win games for them. The offense is electric and the defense is capable, shutting down the upstart Giants. In all honesty, I think the Giants have overperformed against teams that are either equally bad (Washington, Philadelphia, Cincinnati) or ones that are still struggling with consistency (Hello, Seattle). Arizona brought them back to Earth and the Browns continue to humble the better Met Life Stadium team. 

Steelers (11-2) @ Bengals (2-10-1)
Spread: Steelers -13
Prediction: Steelers 28-10

After losing two straight, the Steelers could use a pick-me-up in the form of another cupcake win. The defense will be feelings like its old self and the offense should find more of a rhythm against the lowly Bengals. Looking for a little redemption, I think Mike Tomlin tries to send a message to the rest of the league by blowing out the Bengals. The only reason I think Cincy even scores 10 is because it’s a division game and there’s more tape than usual. Otherwise the defense does all the heavy lifting again and maybe even scores a pick-six or scoop and score.

Ben Roethlisberger throws a short pass
USA Today

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Episode 101