Week 15 NFL Betting Picks & Predictions: Your Ultimate Guide for Every Game

Week 15 NFL Betting Picks & Predictions: Your Ultimate Guide for Every Game article feature image

USA Today Sports. Pictured: Derrick Henry, Tom Brady, Sean McVay

  • Our experts preview every Week 15 NFL game from a betting perspective.
  • Find their comprehensive guides below, featuring picks for Rams-Cowboys and more.

Which double-digit favorite should you take the points with? Which home underdog should you lay the points with? What are the best betting edges for Sunday’s NFL slate?

Our experts are here to help you find the best betting angles for Week 15. Here are all the games they’ll hit on:

  • Bears at Packers: 1 p.m. ET
  • Patriots at Bengals: 1 p.m. ET
  • Seahawks at Panthers: 1 p.m. ET
  • Texans at Titans: 1 p.m. ET
  • Dolphins at Giants: 1 p.m. ET
  • Eagles at Redskins: 1 p.m. ET
  • Broncos at Chiefs: 1 p.m. ET
  • Buccaneers at Lions: 1 p.m. ET
  • Browns at Cardinals: 4:05 p.m. ET
  • Jaguars at Raiders: 4:05 p.m. ET
  • Vikings at Chargers: 4:05 p.m. ET
  • Rams at Cowboys: 4:25 p.m. ET
  • Falcons at 49ers: 4:25 p.m. ET

See how they’re betting all 13, complete with analysis of the biggest matchups and much more. (Including picks for every game.)



Bears at Packers Picks, Predictions & Betting Odds

  • Odds: Packers -4
  • Over/Under: 40
  • Kickoff: 1 p.m. ET
  • TV Channel: FOX

All odds as of Thursday evening and via DraftKings, where Action Network users get a risk-free bet up to $500.

The Packers are tied with the Vikings for the most wins at home this season (six) and haven’t lost in Lambeau since September. Now with the Bears in town, one would expect the public to hammer the Packers, but the ticket count has essentially been split as of Thursday.

Are the Bears the right side of this bet? Our experts preview this NFC North showdown, featuring analysis of the key matchup, projected odds and a pick.

Bears-Packers Injury Report

Which team is healthier? Packers

Unlike most teams, the Packers have gotten healthier as the season has progressed. Every noteworthy player on their injury report at least got in a limited practice session, suggesting they’re all trending toward playing.

Cornerback Kevin King (shoulder) would be the main injury to monitor since he practiced in full last Friday but was still ruled out, and he’s now getting in limited work early in the week.

The Bears placed linebacker Roquan Smith (pectoral) on injured reserve and could also be down linebacker Danny Trevathan (elbow) again, which would leave them without two of their core linebackers. Taylor Gabriel and Ben Braunecker also have yet to clear the concussion protocol, putting them at risk of missing another game. Justin Bailey

Note: All injury info as of Thursday. See our Injury Report for daily practice participation and game statuses up until kickoff.

Biggest Mismatch

David Montgomery/Tarik Cohen vs. Packers Rush Defense

The Packers rushing defense has struggled all season, allowing the fifth-most fantasy points to opposing running backs. While the Packers held the Bears to 46 total rushing yards in Week 1, that is no longer reasonable expectation for this unit.

In their past five games, the Packers have allowed an average of 121.4 rushing yards with six rushing touchdowns. Last week, 34-year-old Adrian Peterson averaged 3.8 yards per carry with a score, while Derrius Guice averaged 8.4 yards per carry before exiting with an injury.

The mismatch exists, but can the Bears take advantage?

Montgomery has seen his carries increase each of the past three weeks, while averaging 80.5 rushing yards per game in Weeks 13 and 14. He’s very elusive, ranking 11th among all running backs with 62 evaded tackles and ninth in juke rate among all running backs (PlayerProfiler).

Cohen should also be able to attack Green Bay, both on the ground and in the passing game, using his 4.42 40-yard dash speed to produce big plays. The Bears have allowed more than 40 receiving yards per game to opposing running backs and Cohen ranks sixth at the position with 80 targets.

The Packers’ defensive metrics illustrate their struggles, ranking a nondescript 17th against the run and 26th against the pass. While Mitchell Trubisky has produced QB4 and QB3 performances over the past two weeks, the key for the Packers will center around how they limit the Bears’ rushing attack. — Mike Randle

Sean Koerner’s Projected Odds

  • Projected Spread: Packers -5
  • Projected Total: 40.5

The Packers are currently the second-luckiest team in terms of their actual record (10-3) vs. their Pythagorean expected record of 7.5-5.5. A lot of it has to do with their 5-1 record in one-score games, which can often lead to the market overrating them.

Meanwhile the Bears are trending up with Trubisky flashing some of the upside we saw in 2018, using his legs to pick up chunk gains when nothing is available for him in the passing game. Akiem Hicks is also due back, which should help improve their run defense considerably.

The market opened at Packers -5, but sharp action has moved it to -4, which is about right to me.

The total has been parked at 40 despite there being an interesting tickets vs. money split: 61% of the tickets have come in on the over while 62% of the money has come in on the under as of writing (see live public betting data here).

My projected total is right in line with the market, but I don’t always make bets based on my power ratings — they’re only one piece of the puzzle. This matchup lends itself to the under based on a few factors. First, this is graded as my second-slowest paced matchup of the week. We can also expect a low percentage of explosive plays. In fact, this is the lowest graded game for explosive play potential at -10%.

Forty-one is a key number in over/under betting, so I’ll be waiting to see if this reaches 41 or 41.5 before potentially taking the under. Sean Koerner

PRO System Match

The Bears are an NFL-worse 3-9-1 against the spread this season. The Packers have been one of the most profitable teams going 8-5 ATS.

Gamblers tend to remember which teams cover and bet accordingly. Casual bettors will likely be on the Cheeseheads, but history tells us Trubisky and Co. are undervalued.

Bad ATS teams have been good bets against the spread, and the optimal time to bet them is against good ATS teams late in the season.

Following this Pro System, bettors have gone 174-107-10 (61.9%) since 2003. A $100 bettor would have returned a profit of $5,735 following this strategy. John Ewing

PRO Systems are data-driven betting strategies that turn winning long-term trends into easy-to-follow picks, all handpicked and monitored by our team of analysts. Try Action PRO now and instantly access real-time game matches for every PRO System.

Expert Pick

Matthew Freedman: Packers -4

Aaron Rodgers has notable home/away ATS splits.

  • Home: 50-30-3 | 23.4% ROI
  • Away: 44-41-1 | 1.7% ROI

In the Rodgers era (since 2008), the Packers score differential relative to their opponents has been 8.5 points higher at home than on the road. That home/away split is easily the highest in the league.

At Lambeau Field, the Packers truly have a home-field advantage.

Matthew Freedman is 508-383-21 (57%) overall betting on the NFL. You can follow him in our free app.

Patriots at Bengals Picks, Predictions & Betting Odds

  • Odds: Patriots -9
  • Over/Under: 41.5
  • Kickoff: 1 p.m. ET
  • TV Channel: CBS

The Patriots had an eventful week with another videotaping scandal stealing the attention away from their home loss to Kansas City.

Now they head to Cincinnati to face the lowly Bengals on Sunday, and the public expects the Pats to handle business with more than 85% of betting tickets backing the road favorites. Should you back Tom Brady running up the score on the Bengals?

Our experts preview the game, featuring their picks and analysis of the biggest matchups.

Patriots-Bengals Injury Report

Which team is healthier? Patriots

Julian Edelman was nursing a shoulder injury, but you can also add a knee issue to that list. He missed practice on Wednesday, but he did manage a limited session on Thursday. Also of note is offensive lineman Isaiah Wynn, who missed practice on Thursday due to an eye injury. Wynn grades out as one of their best pass-blockers.

Per usual, A.J. Green (ankle) won’t play. Additionally, the Bengals placed Auden Tate (knee) on injured reserve earlier in the week. On the bright side, John Ross (foot) returned to full practice on Thursday. Cincy will roll out Tyler Boyd, Ross and Alex Erickson in 3-WR sets. — Justin Bailey

Biggest Mismatch

Patriots Pass Defense vs. Bengals Pass Offense

The 1-12 Bengals are a mess all over the field, but they’re particularly inept at moving the ball through the air, ranking No. 32 in pass success rate (per Sharp Football Stats).

Andy Dalton is better than backup Ryan Finley, so his return to the starting lineup has been a relative boon for the offense, but Dalton still has a basement-level 6.2 adjusted yards per attempt (AY/A) — just below Sam Darnold (6.4) and just above Mitchell Trubisky (6.1).

With Dalton, the Bengals have only been slightly better, ranking No. 28 in pass success rate. Whether Dalton is leading this team or not, it has been bad in the passing game.

And you probably don’t need me to tell you that the Patriots have the league’s best pass defense by a variety of metrics: They are No. 1 in opponent pass success rate and Pro Football Focus coverage grade.

They have held opposing passers to a league-low 4.0 AY/A, which is significantly ahead of the No. 2 49ers (5.5) and No. 3 Bills (5.8).

fantasy defense rankings-week 6-2019
USA Today Sports. Pictured: Stephon Gilmore, Jason McCourty

With their shutdown trio of cornerbacks Stephon Gilmore, Jason McCourty and Jonathan Jones, the Pats are the second-best pass defense against No. 1 wide receivers and the top defense against all other receivers (per Football Outsiders’ DVOA metric).

And with safety Devin McCourty, who has an elite 90.1 PFF coverage grade, the Pats are No. 5 in pass defense DVOA against tight ends.

Against this secondary, wide receivers Tyler Boyd, John Ross and Alex Erickson and tight ends Tyler Eifert and C.J. Uzomah are drastically outclassed. — Matthew Freedman

Sean Koerner’s Projected Odds

  • Projected Spread: Patriots -9.5
  • Projected Total: 41

It should come as no surprise that the Patriots are receiving 85% of the action, yet they’re down to -9 after opening at -10. Sharps are absolutely behind this line movement, and I would assume it’s because they were able to get the Bengals at a cheap price with Dalton as the starter.

Let’s set the record straight: The Bengals are a very bad football team, but they’re not as bad as their record indicates. Their Pythagorean expected record is 3.1-9.9 despite letting rookie Ryan Finley — arguably one of the worst quarterbacks to start a game this season — start three games.

I’m also betting the scandal involving the Patriots allegedly having a video crew record Cincinnati’s sideline last week disrupted their game planning enough to be a minor factor. I’m leaning Bengals +9.5 as a result. Sean Koerner

Expert Pick

Freedman: Patriots -9 

In the history of the Bet Labs database (since 2003), the Patriots are 160-101-8 ATS (20.3% ROI).

Bill Belichick usually gets the job done. On average, the outcome for a Pats game is a cover of +3.74 points. That’s a massive margin.

And Belichick is even less generous against poor opponents. When facing teams that failed to make the playoffs in the previous season, the Patriots are 112-58-5 ATS (28.7% ROI). On average, they have scored 4.90 points more than their non-playoff opponents.

Even with Dalton back in the starting lineup, I have no respect for the 1-12 Bengals.

Under the Belichick regime, the Pats have been a “no mercy” franchise against overmatched opponents. And given that they are coming off of back-to-back losses, I expect them to take out their anger on the tanking Bengals.

Coming off a loss, the Pats are 39-15-0 ATS (43.2% ROI).

Matthew Freedman is 508-383-21 (57%) overall betting on the NFL. You can follow him in our free app.

Seahawks at Panthers Picks, Predictions & Betting Odds

  • Odds: Seahawks -6
  • Over/Under: 48.5
  • Kickoff: 1 p.m. ET
  • TV Channel: FOX

A vast majority of bettors (85%) are taking the Seattle Seahawks to cover against the Carolina Panthers, but our experts think this 6-point spread is overvaluing one of these teams.

They detail which one, as well as how they’re betting Sunday’s matchup below.

Seahawks-Panthers Injury Report

Which team is healthier? Both teams are slightly banged up

Greg Olsen (concussion) was able to return to limited practice, but still needs to clear the concussion protocol. Defensive lineman Gerald McCoy (knee) sat out Wednesday, but that’s been his normal routine all season. Unless he doesn’t return during the week, he’ll still likely suit up, as he has all season.

The Seahawks injury report, meanwhile, is always hard to decipher — they’ll have players who missed practice all week suit up for the game, and they’ll have guys who were trending toward playing end up sitting out.

The two defensive injuries to monitor are Jadeveon Clowney (core/illness) and Al Woods (ankle). Clowney is their best pass-rusher, leading the team in quarterback pressures, hits and hurries (Pro Football Focus). And Woods has graded out as one of their best run defenders on the interior. Justin Bailey

Biggest Mismatch

Seahawks Rush Offense vs. Panthers Run Defense

This might be one of the biggest mismatches of the entire weekend.

This past offseason, the Panthers switched to a 3-4 defense in order to increase the amount of pressure they could get on opposing quarterbacks. Well, they did accomplish their goal, but their run defense took a major hit (and ultimately contributed to head coach Ron Rivera losing his job.)

The Panthers currently rank dead-last in Football Outsiders’ rush defense DVOA and are allowing a league-worst 5.3 yards per carry. And it’s not like the run defense is improving, especially once you factor in the injuries they’ve suffered along the defensive line — Kawann Short and Dontari Poe are on injured reserve, and now Gerald McCoy isn’t even fully healthy.

It’s not an ideal situation by any means.

Russell Wilson, who has been playing at an MVP level all season, will make plays every week regardless of the opponent. However, the Seahawks do ultimately want to run the ball more than most NFL teams, and they do it very well. They’re one of only five teams to average more than 30 carries per game along with the Ravens, 49ers, Vikings and Colts. And Pete Carroll’s bunch ranks fifth in rush offense DVOA, averaging a top-10 rate of 4.6 yards per carry.

It could be a demoralizing day for the Carolina defense. Don’t be surprised if Seattle comes out with an extra offensive lineman and pounds the rock against this soft run defense more than it usually does. Not only should they move the ball with ease that way, but it should also open up the passing game for Wilson. Stuckey

Sean Koerner’s Projected Odds

  • Projected Spread: Seahawks -4
  • Projected Total: 49

I’ll be making a play on the Panthers here, but it’s a matter of timing the market to get the best number. The Seahawks opened as 5.5-point favorites, and with 89% of tickets and 76% of money coming in on them as of writing (see live public betting data here), the line has moved up to -6. I can see it ultimately moving up to 6.5 or 7.

Books likely realize sharp action will come in on the Panthers if this lines reaches 7, so expect that to happen when books need heavy action on Carolina to balance it out.

One metric I’ve been tracking lately is fumble recovery luck. I’m essentially looking at how many expected lost/recovered fumbles each team should have if they had a league-average recovery rate. The assumption is that we shouldn’t expect teams to be better or worse at recovering fumbles, therefore teams that have seen either good or bad luck are likely to regress to the mean.

The Panthers should have recovered 3.5 more fumbles (bad luck) while the Seahawks have a -2.5 rating (good luck) — that’s a +6 advantage in fumble luck for the Panthers, the second-highest mark of the week. Now I’m not saying they should recover a ton of fumbles in this game, rather I’m saying that turnovers tend to have a huge underlying impact on how we view the strength of teams.

The Panthers also have a +3.2 edge in Pythagorean expected record differential, in large part because the Seahawks have a 9-1 record in one-score games. This is a buy-low opportunity for the Panthers. Many have written them off after firing Rivera, but this offense is more than capable of hanging with the Seahawks and pulling off a backdoor cover (if needed).

Still, there’s no sense in locking the Panthers in yet — wait until it peaks in the 6.5-7.5 range. Sean Koerner

Expert Pick

Travis Reed: Panthers +6

The Seahawks are 10-3 record and have an MVP candidate in Wilson, but their underlying numbers say they may not be as good as their record indicates. They have only a +20 point differential and have given up 321 points — the most given up by any team with a winning record this season.

While some would call the Seahawks clutch, the math says that winning close games is not sustainable over time and teams are likely to regress toward the mean. While their running game could feast as Stuckey stated above, their defense will have to deal with Christian McCaffrey.

I think anything over a field goal is too much and I’ll gladly snag the +6 as well as take the moneyline in case we see an outright upset.

Texans at Titans Picks, Predictions & Betting Odds

  • Odds: Titans -3
  • Over/Under: 51
  • Kickoff: 1 p.m. ET
  • TV Channel: CBS

Sitting at 8-5 tied atop the AFC South, the Houston Texans and Tennessee Titans will face off in the first of two pivotal matchups this Sunday.

The Titans are favored on their home field, but is there any value on the 3-point spread? Our experts preview this divisional showdown, complete with analysis of the biggest matchups and their picks.

Texans-Titans Injury Report

Which team is healthier? Texans

The key to injury watch with the Texans continues to be Will Fuller, who remains limited in practice due to a lingering hamstring issue.

Derrick Henry (hamstring), cornerback Adoree’ Jackson (foot) and Adam Humphries (ankle) all missed practice on Wednesday and Thursday. Henry’s hamstring is concerning since it was continually being worked on throughout last week’s game. However, he had said that he’ll be “ready to go” this week. Justin Bailey

Biggest Mismatch

Texans Pass Offense vs. Titans Pass Defense

Deshaun Watson has an elite 8.3 adjusted yards per attempt over his career, and the Texans have perhaps the NFL’s best wide receiver trio in DeAndre Hopkins, Fuller and Kenny Stills.

Although the field-stretching and offense-opening Fuller has played in only eight full games this season, the Texans are still No. 5 in pass success rate (per Sharp Football Stats). If we remove from the sample the weeks he was out, their ranking jumps up to No. 2.

Fuller missed last week, but he’s practiced some this week, and I expect that he’ll play.

Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Will Fuller, DeAndre Hopkins, Deshaun Watson

The Texans have gotten surprisingly steady play from tight ends Darren Fells and Jordan Akins, and they have a top-tier pass-catching back in Duke Johnson.

The Titans have a respectable defense, but it’s a total funnel — they rank No. 5 against the run but No. 23 against the pass (per Football Outsiders’ DVOA metric). And they’re likely worse in pass defense than that ranking indicates. No. 1 cornerback Malcolm Butler (wrist, IR) suffered a season-ending injury in Week 9, and they have been No. 30 in opponent pass success rate since then.

And it gets worse: Last week, the Titans were without No. 2 cornerback Jackson, and for the past two weeks, they were without backup cornerback LeShaun Sims (ankle). Both are uncertain to play this week. If Jackson and Sims are out, the Titans will likely start special-teamer Tye Smith and the recently-added past-his-prime veteran Tramaine Brock at perimeter corner.

The Titans are No. 32 in pass defense DVOA against supplementary receivers (usually slot receivers). They’re Nos. 23 and 25 in pass defense DVOA against running backs and tight ends.

The Titans have struggled against aggressive quarterbacks with multiple receiving options this season: Matt Ryan (397 yards), Philip Rivers (329 yards and two touchdowns), Jameis Winston (301 yards and two touchdowns) as well as Patrick Mahomes (446 yards and three touchdowns).

Watson has 300-yards, multi-touchdown potential in this key divisional matchup. Matthew Freedman

Sean Koerner’s Projected Odds

  • Projected Spread: Titans -4
  • Projected Total: 48

Ryan Tannehill’s strong play has been one of the more surprising stories of 2019. Now he faces a Texans defense that laid down last week, allowing Drew Lock to drop 309 passing yards and three touchdowns in his second career start.

The Texans have struggled to generate pressure with J.J. Watt on the shelf as they have the second-worst pressure rate at 18.3%. Tannehill, meanwhile, has excelled with a 127.3 QB rating when working from a clean pocket. That happens to be the highest mark of qualified quarterbacks, meaning the Texans will have trouble slowing down this Titans offense.

The Texans could be without one of their more explosive players if Fuller is unable to suit up.

Titans -3 is only a lean for now because I want to see if the market moves down to -2.5. I’ll also wait to pull the trigger until we know the status of Fuller and Henry. Sean Koerner

PRO System Match

Since 2003, the under is 835-740-29 (53.0%) in division games. Unders have been a smart play in division games as increased familiarity between teams creates a lower-scoring environment.

It may seem obvious to some bettors, but it’s been more profitable to take the under in division games with high totals (more than 44 points) — it’s just easier for unders to cash when more points are expected to be scored.

Following this Pro System, bettors have gone 189-113-3 (62.6%) since 2003. A $100 bettor would have returned a profit of $6,658 following this strategy.

A majority of tickets are on the over (see live public betting data here), but history suggests the smart play is the under. John Ewing

Expert Pick

Freedman: Texans +3

Watson has been his best in adverse circumstances. His career doesn’t offer a huge sample of games, but his splits are suggestive: In his 16 games as an underdog, he’s averaged 25.2 DraftKings points per game (per our FantasyLabs Trends Tool).

And we see these same splits reflected in his record against the spread. As a dog, he is 11-5 (35.2% ROI). Plus, I think the Texans will be able to move the ball through the air: The Titans are without their top-three perimeter cornerbacks.

Freedman is 508-383-21 (57%) overall betting on the NFL. You can follow him in our free app.

Dolphins at Giants Picks, Predictions & Betting Odds

  • Odds: Giants -3.5
  • Over/Under: 46.5
  • Kickoff: 1 p.m. ET
  • TV Channel: CBS

The Giants nearly staged an upset of the Eagles in Eli Manning’s return to the field last Monday, but they couldn’t hold a lead and fell to 2-11 on the season. It’s hard to believe that the Dolphins are entering Week 15 with more wins than the opposing Giants, but head coach Brian Flores has Miami playing surprisingly well.

Our experts preview Sunday’s matchup between the Dolphins and Giants, featuring analysis of the biggest matchups and picks.

Dolphins-Giants Injury Report

Which team is healthier? Giants

Evan Engram (foot) was out last week, but he’s gotten in limited practices this week. Golden Tate (foot) also popped up on the injury report, but was upgraded to full practice on Thursday. Daniel Jones (ankle) is getting in limited practices, but it’s being reported that Manning is expected to start again.

Last week was a disaster for the Dolphins after stud receivers DeVante Parker and Albert Wilson left the game against the Jets with concussions. Both receivers remain in the concussion protocol at the time of writing. Allen Hurns (ankle/knee) is also on the injury report, but was able to return to practice on Thursday. The Dolphins may be incredibly thin at receiver heading into this game. Justin Bailey

Biggest Mismatch

Giants RB Saquon Barkley vs. Dolphins LBs Jerome Baker & Sam Eguavoen

Barkley is popping in some of our FantasyLabs Models, and it’s not hard to see why: No running back on the slate has a better matchup than he does.

This has been a disappointing year for Barkley: He was injured in Week 3 and missed all of Weeks 4-6, and when on the field he has suffered from significant year-over-year regression.

  • 2019 (nine games): 15.7 carries for 66.7 yards and 0.22 touchdowns rushing, 6.1 targets for 4.1 receptions, 29.4 yards and 0.11 touchdowns receiving
  • 2018 (16 games): 16.3 carries for 81.7 yards and 0.69 touchdowns rushing, 7.6 targets for 5.7 receptions, 45.1 yards and 0.25 touchdowns receiving

He is getting a little less volume and is a little less efficient, but the big difference is that he’s scoring 0.61 fewer touchdowns per game. That’s what happens when a running back’s team scores 23.1 points per game in one season and just 19.0 the next.

Over the past six weeks, Barkley turned 16 carries and 5.4 targets into just 73.6 scoreless yards per game.

But this is his get-right spot.

Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Saquon Barkley

The Dolphins are No. 29 in rush defense and No. 32 in pass defense against running backs (per Football Outsiders’ DVOA metric).

Last week, the Dolphins allowed crusty 31-year-old backup Bilal Powell to get 88 yards on 19 carries and three targets. Two weeks before that, they allowed Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt to combine for 210 yards and two touchdowns.

Lots of players contribute to the vastness of the Dolphins’ back-centric defensive ineptitude, but linebackers Jerome Baker and Sam Eguavoen seem especially to blame, as evidenced by their poor Pro Football Focus grades.

  • Jerome Baker: 41.7 overall grade, 35.8 run defense, 54.1 coverage
  • Sam Eguavoen: 47.0 overall grade, 42.4 run defense, 60.6 coverage

Whether it’s as a runner or receiver, Barkley should be able to smash against these linebackers whenever he matches up with them. In what could be a massive bounceback performance, Barkley has 160-yard, two-touchdown upside. Matthew Freedman

Sean Koerner’s Projected Odds

  • Projected Spread: Giants -5
  • Projected Total: 47

Luckily I didn’t end up pulling the trigger on Jets -5 last week — sometimes the best bet you can make is by not making one at all. I’ll be taking that route again by not taking a side in a Ryan Fitzpatrick vs. Manning matchup.

Still, I’ll very likely bet some player props for this matchup, so be sure to follow me in our app to see which I play. Sean Koerner

PRO System Match

The Giants have lost nine in a row and the offense hasn’t topped 17 points in their past three games. Despite the struggles, oddsmakers opened the G-Men as 3.5-point favorites vs. the Dolphins.

Casual bettors aren’t buying Manning and Co. More than 70% of spread tickets are on the Dolphins as of writing (see live public betting data here). While this may seem like a good time to fade the Giants inconsistent offense, history suggests otherwise.

Teams that haven’t been able to put up a lot of points recently can be undervalued as teams to regress to the mean throughout the season. This is especially true against opponents that may not know their tendencies or personnel as well as their divisional rivals.

This creates an excellent first-half betting opportunity. Gamblers following this Pro System have gone 167-117-4 (59%) against the spread since 2005. A $100 bettor would have returned a profit of $3,610 following this strategy. John Ewing

Expert Pick

Stuckey: Giants -3.5

I just don’t think this Dolphins roster is anywhere close to as talented as the Giants, and think this line should be closer to 6.

The Dolphins own the league’s worst defense — a unit that can’t generate pressure and is completely decimated on the back-end. I expect a Giants team that should get healthier on offense with the return of Golden Tate (and potentially Engram) to move the ball with relative ease against a Dolphins defense that’s allowing 6.2 yards per play.

It looks like Manning will get the nod under center, and he looked serviceable enough in his first start back. I trust him here against a much easier defense that should also allow the Giants to get going on the ground. Plus, he likely won’t be as charitable with the ball as Jones has been.

Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Sterling Shepard, Eli Manning

On the other side of the ball, the Giants defensive line should dominate the line of scrimmage against an inferior Miami offensive line. The Dolphins’ offensive line ranks dead last in adjusted line yards in addition to most advanced metrics. New York’s defense excels at stopping the run which it will have no issue doing against Miami’s historically bad rushing attack that’s averaging a league-low 3.3 yards per carry.

Now, the Giants secondary has played pretty poorly this year and I have to give credit to Ryan Fitzpatrick for his production on such a bad team. However, he has no running game to speak of and a banged up receiving corps that may now be without its top wideout DeVante Parker, who is currently in concussion protocol. I think this secondary can do just enough in tangent with the defensive line production to get the necessary stops.

Before I hit either, I will wait to see if the market drives the Giants down to 3 at some point but do like both at their current levels. I also think throwing the Giants into a ML parlay with say the Patriots isn’t a bad option.

The Dolphins will fight but the Giants should win this game by 6+ more times than not.

Stuckey is 308-243-7 (55.9%) overall betting on the NFL. You can follow him in our free app.

Eagles at Redskins Picks, Predictions & Betting Odds

  • Odds: Eagles -4.5
  • Over/Under: 39
  • Kickoff: 1 p.m. ET
  • TV Channel: FOX

This season can’t seem to end soon enough for the Redskins, who have struggled all year. They host a resilient Eagles squad at FedEx Field where they are just 1-5 this season, averaging 13.1 points per game. Nearly 70% of bettors have taken the under in this game as of Thursday.

Will the either team have enough offense to push this total over?

Our experts preview the game, featuring their picks and analysis of the biggest matchups.

Eagles-Redskins Injury Report

Which team is healthier? Redskins

Linebacker Ryan Kerrigan (calf) has been ruled out, which is good news for Carson Wentz since Kerrigan is one of the Redskins’ best pass-rushers. Cornerback Quinton Dunbar (hamstring) missed practice Wednesday and is worth monitoring given he’s Pro Football Focus’ No. 1 overall cornerback this season.

Paul Richardson (hamstring) has returned to limited practice after being out the last few weeks. Meanwhile, Trey Quinn (concussion) was downgraded to no practice on Thursday after getting in a limited session on Wednesday.

The Eagles will be without Alshon Jeffery (foot) for the remainder of the season, and Nelson Agholor (knee) still isn’t practicing. If Agholor were to miss this game, the Eagles would trot out JJ Arcega-Whiteside, Greg Ward and Robert Davis, who was recently called up from the practice squad. Justin Bailey

Biggest Mismatch

Redskins WR Terry McLaurin vs. Eagles CB Ronald Darby

Amid a sorry 3-10 campaign, McLaurin is Washington’s most promising future building block.

The rookie third-round pick out of Ohio State burst on the scene with 60-plus yards and a touchdown in four of his first five games and currently ranks top-20 league-wide in yards per reception (15.6) and touchdown grabs (6).

At 6-feet, 208 pounds, the 23-year-old already looks the part of a complete receiver, combining wicked route-running prowess with 98th-percentile speed and the ability to make plays on the ball (he ranks second among wide receivers with a 68.4% contested catch rate, per Player Profiler). His stellar play has earned him a grade of 82.4 receiving grade from Pro Football Focus, the 11th-best mark among 120 qualified wide receivers.

A fifth-year former second-round pick by the Bills, Darby is only 25, but has seen better days. He has been targeted 6.6 times per game this season and isn’t making opposing QBs regret their choice, surrendering 37-of-59 (62.9%) completions for 612 yards — an outlandish 10.4 yards per target and 16.5 yards per reception.

Darby has given up at least one completion of 20 or more yards in seven of nine games, and his 2.04 yards allowed per snap in coverage ranks 129th of 131 qualified cornerbacks, per PFF.

With all of that said — and to the delight of under bettors everywhere — McLaurin has by no means been a lock to exploit this type of situation as of late. Since interim coach Bill Callahan took the reins in Week 6, Washington has thrown on a paltry 53% of its offensive plays, fifth-fewest in the league over that span.

And then there’s the issue of his former Ohio State teammate and current Redskins starting quarterback, Dwayne Haskins:

  • McLaurin with Case Keenum/Colt McCoy at QB: 28 receptions on 45 targets (62.2%) | 458 yards (10.2 YPT, 16.4 YPR) | 5 TD, 24 first downs
  • McLaurin with Haskins at QB: 19 receptions on 35 targets (54.3%) | 248 yards (7.1 YPT, 13.1 YPR) | 1 TD, 13 first downs

Haskins’ failure to fully take advantage of his top weapon is a primary reason the under is 4-1 in his five career starts. — Chris Raybon

Sean Koerner’s Projected Odds

  • Projected Spread: Eagles -4.5
  • Projected Total: 40

My projections are right in line with this market.

The Eagles should be closer to -6 here, but with a cluster injury at wide receiver, it’s enough to move their power rating down 1 to 1.5 points. Lane Johnson is also likely to miss this game, which means they may have a tougher time stopping the Redskins’ solid defensive line — which generates pressure at the third-highest rate — from getting to Wentz.

Given the lack of talent the Eagles will have available at wide receiver, it may allow the Redskins to focus on trying to take away his safety valves in tight ends Zach Ertz and Dallas Goedert. Sharps are likely thinking a similar outcome. The market opened at Eagles -4.5, which has drawn 65% of the tickets and 83% of the money (see live public betting data here), yet the line is dropping to -4 at the sharper books.

I’m certain sharps are leaning Redskins, but I’ll be waiting until we have more clarity on Johnson’s or Agholor’s status before betting money on a Dwayne Haskins-quarterbacked team.Sean Koerner

Expert Pick

Raybon: Under 40

As I mentioned above, the under is 4-1 in Haskins’ five career starts, and his inconsistent connection with McLaurin could potentially thwart the best means this game has of finding its way over the total.

Someone needs to tell Haskins that he doesn’t need to physically drop to execute a dropback. He’s been sacked on an absurd 14.0% of dropbacks, most in the NFL. That has led to a league-worst 4.23 net yards per pass attempt average, just the type of offensive ineptitude we look for when betting unders.

The Redskins will also be without second-year running back Derrius Guice, who accounted for nearly 40% of the team’s touchdowns since Week 7, despite the fact he wasn’t even activated from the injured reserve until Week 11.

But it’s injuries on the Philly side that figure to have the greatest impact on the total. Lane Johnson — PFF’s No. 1 graded tackle this season — will miss this game with a high-ankle sprain sustained on Monday Night Football. The Eagles also lost Jeffery while Agholor could sit out for a second week in a row with a knee injury.

Aside from inconsistent rookie running back Miles Sanders, the offense has no explosion. Wentz’s 6.5 yards per pass attempt ranks 30th, and the Eagles haven’t produced scoring play of over 25 yards on offense since Week 8.

Instead, they have to rely on long drives like the back-to-back 10-play, 58-yard and 14-play, 80-yard touchdown drives that chewed up five minutes, 17 seconds and six minutes, 39 seconds, respectively, in their comeback effort against the Giants last Monday.

Raybon is 180-132-10 (57.7%) overall betting on the NFL. You can follow him in our free app.

Broncos at Chiefs Picks, Predictions & Betting Odds

  • Odds: Chiefs -10
  • Over/Under: 46.5
  • Kickoff: 1 p.m. ET
  • TV Channel: CBS

The Chiefs host the Broncos on Sunday at Arrowhead Stadium and bettors are essentially split on this total. The Chiefs have gone under their projected total in their past three games and 53% of bettors have taken the under in this game as of Thursday. Should you follow the public here?

Our experts preview this divisional contest featuring analysis of the key matchup, projected odds and a pick.

Broncos-Chiefs Injury Report

Which team is healthier? Chiefs

Patrick Mahomes suffered a hand injury against the Patriots last week, but it doesn’t appear too bothersome as he’s practiced in full this week. Damien Williams (ribs) has returned to limited practice and could be on track to suit up this week against the Broncos.

Cornerbacks Morris Claiborne (shoulder) and Rashad Fenton (hamstring), along with defensive lineman Frank Clark (illness/shoulder) all haven’t practiced this week, but the Chiefs said Clark has a chance to play.

Noah Fant (foot) was knocked out early last week, but he was able to return to a limited practice on Thursday after sitting out on Wednesday. Defensive lineman Dre’Mont Jones (ankle) has been absent from practice, and his potential absence would be good news for the Chiefs since he grades out as Denver’s second-best pass-rusher among interior linemen, per Pro Football Focus.

Offensive lineman Ron Leary (concussion) remains in the concussion protocol at the time of writing. He’s struggled in run blocking this season, but he’s been an excellent pass-blocker. The Broncos would prefer to have him back since Austin Schlottmann hasn’t fared well as his fill-in. — Justin Bailey

Biggest Mismatch

Broncos Rush Offense vs. Chiefs Rush Defense

The Broncos have lost eight in a row to the Chiefs. Yes, eight in a row against a division rival — a streak that started when Peyton Manning was still under center for Denver back in 2015.

How can the Broncos end that streak in Arrowhead with a rookie quarterback?

Well, there is a path. They can potentially control the clock by churning yards on the ground against a very poor Chiefs rush defense that ranks 30th against the run (per Football Outsiders’ DVOA).

If Devonta Freeman and Philip Lindsay can get going, it will likely take pressure off Drew Lock keep the crowd subdued and set up the deep shots to Courtland Sutton and the receiving corps. Steve Spagnuolo’s defense in Kansas City has improved significantly against the pass throughout the season and now ranks sixth in DVOA against the pass, but they’re still extremely vulnerable against the run.

And if the Broncos start crushing K.C. on the ground, the safeties will start to creep up and it should open up some things in the passing game. Also, staying ahead of the sticks will be extremely important for Lock against a secondary that is playing at a much higher level than the Texans — his first road opponent.

If the Broncos get enough on the ground and from Lock, they can keep this closer than many might think. — Stuckey

Sean Koerner’s Projected Odds

  • Projected Spread: Chiefs -9.5
  • Projected Total: 46

Mahomes is expected to be fine after injuring his hand last week, but we do need to monitor his status before playing this spread or total.

However, this is the perfect matchup to focus on in-game betting.

We’ll have a better sense of how Mahomes’ hand feels after a drive or two. And Andy Reid admitted to operating a more conservative offense after Mahomes suffered the injury, so if they march down the field with a short-passing, run-heavy offense to score in either of their first two possessions, I’ll come in on the under.

The Broncos are a run-heavy team and should have success against Kansas City’s run funnel defense. However, once they start trailing and are forced into a more pass-heavy game plan, the Broncos will be forced to attack the strength of the Chiefs, who have improved against the pass under Spagnuolo.

Kansas City now ranks sixth in Football Outsiders’ pass defense and would be a much stiffer test than what Lock saw against the Texans. I’m looking to bet the live under as a result. Sean Koerner

PRO System Match

Since 2003, the under is 835-740-29 (53.0%) in division games. Unders have been a smart play in division games as increased familiarity between teams creates a lower-scoring environment.

It may seem obvious to some bettors, but it has been more profitable to take the under in division games with high totals (more than 44 points). It’s just easier for unders to cash when more points are expected to be scored.

Following this Pro System, bettors have gone 189-113-3 (62.6%) since 2003. A $100 bettor would have returned a profit of $6,658 following this strategy.

Unders are 35-21-1 (62%) in the Reid era at Arrowhead. With the Chiefs at home in a division matchup, this under trend is likely to continue. John Ewing

Expert Pick

Matthew Freedman: Under 46.5

Whenever the Chiefs are home, I almost always automatically bet the under.

That might seem counterintuitive: If the team with one of the best offenses in the league is at home, shouldn’t we expect that team to score more points than usual? And wouldn’t that drive the game to the over?

With the Chiefs, that historically hasn’t been the case.

Under Reid (since 2013), the Chiefs have actually scored 2.9 fewer points at home than on the road. That’s easily the most negative home/away offensive scoring differential in the league.

In fact, Chiefs games have an NFL-worst home/away total differential of -7.9 points. In Kansas City, NFL games rank No. 23 with a mediocre 43.6 points. On the road, Chiefs games blow out with a league-high 51.4 points.

Arrowhead is a tough place to score, for both the home and visiting teams.

In the Reid era, no home team has made under bettors more money than the Chiefs have with their 35-21-1 under record (including playoffs, 21.7% ROI).

Freedman is 508-383-21 (57%) overall betting on the NFL. You can follow him in our free app.

Buccaneers at Lions Picks, Predictions & Betting Odds

  • Odds: Buccaneers -3.5
  • Over/Under: 46
  • Kickoff: 1 p.m. ET
  • TV Channel: FOX

Jameis Winston has been one of the most volatile quarterbacks in the league this season and a regular heart attack for those who bet on him. Now, with an injured thumb, Winston leads the Bucs into Detroit against the hapless Lions.

Our experts preview Sunday’s showdown, with analysis of the biggest matchups and a pick.

Buccaneers-Lions Injury Report

Which team is healthier? Lions

The Lions have a lengthy injury report heading into Week 15. Matthew Stafford (back) is expected to be out again. Additionally, they placed Marvin Jones (ankle) on injured reserve early. Running back Bo Scarbrough (ribs) was also downgraded on Thursday to no practice. If Scarbrough can’t play, Ty Johnson and J.D. McKissic would likely form a timeshare.

The Bucs are expected to lose Mike Evans for the rest of the season due to his hamstring injury, so he likely won’t be playing this week. He’s expected to be placed on injured reserve. Scotty Miller’s (hamstring, full practice Thursday) potential return will muddy the waters a little bit with target share replacements for Evans’ absence.

Meanwhile, Winston (thumb) hasn’t resume throwing footballs in practice yet. He’s still not able to grip a football and has been throwing tennis balls instead. Winston is tentatively expected to play in Week 15. If he’s out, Ryan Griffin will be handed the reins to the offense. Justin Bailey

Biggest Mismatch

Buccaneers Run Defense vs. Lions Run Game

With the league’s ninth-worst scoring defense (25.8 points per game allowed) and without Stafford, the Lions are now featuring Scarbrough, who had more practice squad employers (four) than NFL carries (zero) up until four weeks ago.

Now, the Lions are feeding Scarbrough 18.0 carries per game. With all due respect to Scarbrough, he’s topped 4.0 yards per carry just once in four games, caught 1-of-4 targets for five yards, and produced as many touchdowns (one) as lost fumbles. That he’s viewed as a bright spot by those who follow the team — as well as those who run it, apparently — illustrates the trying state of a Lions run game that ranks 28th in schedule-adjusted efficiency, per Football Outsiders’ DVOA.

The Lions possess quality run-blocking offensive lineman (Frank Ragnow, Graham Glasgow, Taylor Decker) but have a weak link on each side in left guard Joe Dahl (57.1 Pro Football Focus run-blocking grade) and right tackle Rock Wagner (53.1). Inline tight end Jesse James (53) has been a non-factor in that area, as well. This is bad news against a star-studded Bucs front that ranks No. 1 in run-defense DVOA.

Led by defensive tackle Vita Vea and linebacker Lavonte David, coordinator Todd Bowles’ unit is stuffing runs for no gain or a loss at a 30% clip while allowing opposing backs to muster just 3.18 yards per carry, figures that rank second-best league-wide, per Football Outsiders.

This season, the over has gone 10-3 in Bucs games and 8-5 in Lions games, but the Lions are unlikely to support third-string quarterback David Blough with a run game. Both teams also lost a top pass-catching weapon to injury (Evans, Jones), meaning sharp money is on those figures regressing to the mean: At the time of this writing, 69% of dollars wagered are on the total have gone toward the under despite 61% of betting tickets hitting the over (see live public betting data here). Chris Raybon

Sean Koerner’s Projected Odds

  • Projected Spread: Buccaneers -3.5
  • Projected Total: 46

Winston is one of the toughest quarterbacks to handicap simply due to his wide range of outcomes. He can look like an MVP candidate for a drive, a half or even a game, then an error-prone-disaster-on-the-verge-of-being-benched the next. This can be seen by the very fact he is tied for second in touchdown passes and has thrown the most interceptions on the season.

So how can we take advantage of this in a sneaky way?

My hypothesis is to avoid betting the spread altogether and look at the moneyline. The moneyline is typically derived from the spread, but when it comes to the Bucs, we should expect a wider range of outcomes. Therefore the strategy is to bet the Bucs on the moneyline when they’re an underdog and against them when they’re the favorites.

Testing this out in the Bet Labs database, it appears to be a winning strategy. Backing the Bucs on the moneyline for all of Winston’s starts as an underdog would’ve resulted in 16-31 (34%) +$343 won (ROI 6.9%). Fading Winston on the moneyline as a favorite by taking the other team on the moneyline has gone 9-11 (45%) +$210 won (ROI 10.5%).

USA Today Sports. Pictured: Jameis Winston

It’s worth nibbling on the Lions +165 to win this game.

The under also has some value here. On paper, this matchup appears as a shootout as both passing offenses are above average while both passing defenses are below average. However, both teams lost key wide receivers this week in Evans and Jones. Both excel at stretching the field, so their absence will sap two explosive players from this game.

Neither team will effectively run the ball, but in a matchup that’s expected to be close, it could lure each to at least attempt to establish the run.

Looking at the market behavior, we see an odd split: 64% of the tickets are on the over while 71% of the money is on the under as of writing. Only 28 games in our Bet Labs database (since 2006) have seen 60% or more of the tickets on the over and 65% or more of the money on the under. The under has gone 16-11 (59%) in those games. Sean Koerner

PRO System Match

The Lions offense is struggling: They’ve been held to 20 or fewer points in three consecutive games.

Given their poor play, oddsmakers opened the Lions as home underdogs against the Buccaneers and a majority of spread tickets are coming in on Tampa Bay. But while this may seem like a good time to fade Detroit’s inconsistent offense, history suggests otherwise.

Teams that haven’t been able to put up a lot of points recently can be undervalued as teams to regress to the mean throughout the season. This is especially true against opponents that may not know their tendencies or personnel as well as their divisional rivals.

This creates an excellent first-half betting opportunity. Gamblers following this Pro System have gone 167-117-4 (59%) against the spread since 2005. A $100 bettor would have returned a profit of $3,610 following this strategy. John Ewing

Expert Pick

Stuckey: Lions +3.5

This comes down to a numbers play for me. I have this Bucs team as about a field goal better than this Lions team on a neutral field, so this line should be right around a pick. That means I would gladly take +3 with the home dog Lions and especially +3.5.

Neither team will likely have much success running the ball, so it will come down to which team can move the ball more efficiently through the air. Well, each team lost a key cog of their respective passing attacks last week as Detroit won’t have the services of Jones and Tampa lost Evans. For Tampa, that leaves pretty much just Chris Godwin while Detroit at least has a viable slot option in Danny Amendola to pair with Kenny Golladay on the outside.

fantasy football half ppr rankings-wr-week 9-2019
Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Kenny Golladay

I’d actually give the edge to the Lions here as Detroit has a more talented secondary with Darius Slay on the outside and Justin Coleman in the slot in addition to the emerging rookie Amani Oruwariye. Plus, this unit really only has to worry about one major threat in Godwin. The loss of Evans crushes the Tampa offense, which has arguably the best wide receiver duo in the league when Evans and Godwin are on the field at the same time.

Tampa obviously has the better overall quarterback, but Winston is dealing with a fractured right thumb in his throwing hand. For someone that is already prone to turnovers, this could turn into a disaster in the dome.

Blough was pretty horrid in his last start at Minnesota but that was his first career road start in a hostile environment against a solid defense. He showed me enough in his first start in Detroit on Thanksgiving against the Bears to trust him back at home.

After three straight wins, the Bucs are overvalued in the market right now relative to a Lions team that hasn’t won a game since October. But Detroit has played a relatively tough schedule over that span and has been in almost every single game this year; all 11 of their games against teams other than the Vikings have been decided by one possession.

Plus, I’m getting to fade Winston as a favorite, which is always the preference when betting on a game involving the former Florida State product. He can beat anybody just as easily as he can lose to anybody. Winston is just 6-13-1 ATS as a favorite in his career, failing to cover by an average margin of about a field goal per game. (Only Philip Rivers is less profitable as a favorite among active starting QBs).

Hold your nose and side with the value home dog.

Stuckey is 308-243-7 (55.9%) overall betting on the NFL. You can follow him in our free app.

Browns at Cardinals Picks, Predictions & Betting Odds

  • Odds: Browns -2.5
  • Over/Under: 49
  • Kickoff: 4:05 p.m. ET
  • TV Channel: CBS

Baker Mayfield and the Browns travel to Arizona to face off with Kyler Murray and the Cardinals in a game featuring two promising young quarterbacks but generally disappointing teams.

Our experts anticipate Mayfield and Cleveland to test Arizona’s lagging defense in a potential shootout. Find their picks and full analysis below.

Browns-Cardinals Injury Report

Which team is healthier? Cardinals

Terrell Suggs has been absent this week due to a back injury and an illness. He’s second on the team in quarterback pressures, sacks and hurries. Christian Kirk (ankle) has been limited in practice all week, but since he’s still getting practice sessions, I wouldn’t hit the panic button yet.

It appears Odell Beckham Jr. (groin) will continue to play through his sports hernia that he’s been dealing with this season, so his streak of appearing on the injury report is likely nothing to worry about. David Njoku (knee) popped back up on the injury report after just one game, but he was upgraded to a full practice on Thursday. Center J.C. Tretter (knee) has also missed back-to-back practices so far. His potential absence wouldn’t be ideal considering he’s one of the league’s best pass-blocking centers. Justin Bailey

Biggest Mismatch

Browns Passing Offense vs. Cardinals Pass Defense

No matter where you look in this Cardinals secondary, the results are ugly.

We are talking about a defense that ranks 29th in pass defense DVOA, per Football Outsiders. That includes bottom-five ranks against No. 1 receivers, slot receivers, tight ends and running backs. That’s obviously not ideal against a Browns aerial attack that features Beckham and Jarvis Landry with the recent additions of running back Kareem Hunt (back from suspension) and tight end David Njoku (back from injury). With Hunt and Njoku now back in the fold, this passing offense is much more potent than some of their season-long statistics indicate.

Pro Football Focus actually ranks Arizona as the worst coverage defense in the entire NFL with a coverage grade of 33.8, which is lower than Miami’s 39.1. Inside the perfect conditions of State Farm Stadium in Phoenix, Baker Mayfield should find opportunities all day against this Arizona defense that simply can’t cover. Stuckey

Sean Koerner’s Projected Odds

  • Projected Spread: Browns -3
  • Projected Total: 48

I’m right in line with this market, so this is a pass for me.Sean Koerner

Expert Pick

Raybon: Browns -2.5

“Armageddon.” Those were Stuckey’s words when I told him I was betting the Browns as we drafted our picks for this week’s Action Network Podcast. As a 100th-percentile Murray/Kliff Kingsbury truther, this is way, way off-brand for me.

But covering this game would be off-brand for the Cardinals.

Arizona has posted a respectable 7-5-1 record against the spread this season, but they’ve never covered a spread as low as +2.5 despite already having had three opportunities to do so. In Week 2, they were +2 at home against the Panthers. They lost 38-20. In Week 13, they were +2.5 at home against the Rams. They lost 34-7. Last week, they were +2.5 at home against the Steelers. They lost 23-17. To recap: When the Cards have been underdogs by less than a field goal, they’ve failed to cover by an average of 15.3 points per game.

USA Today Sports. Pictured: Baker Mayfield, Odell Beckham Jr.

To be fair, they’re 4-of-4 at covering spreads of +3/3.5, but those four games came against the Lions (3-9-1), Bengals (1-12), Falcons (4-9), and Giants (2-10). At 6-7, the Browns have been a relative disappointment, but they’re nowhere near as bad as the aforementioned four. Cleveland’s average point differential — a better predictor of future performance than win-loss record —  is -1.4, but the Browns played the eighth-hardest schedule according to opponent point differential, which adjusts to +1.2 after adjusting for strength of schedule. The Cards have played the seventh-hardest slate, but their adjusted mark still sets at -5.4.

Both teams have been roughly equal on offense — Cleveland ranks 13th in schedule-adjusted efficiency while Arizona ranks 14th, according to Football Outsiders’ weighted DVOA (which weights recent games more heavily).  While the Browns have been slightly below-average on defense (19th), however, the Cardinals have been borderline terrible (26th) and are even worse on special teams (29th). The Cardinals offense ranks 24th in third-down conversion rate and 30th in red-zone TD rate while the Browns defense ranks fifth and 12th, respectively, in those same categories.

So while I’m usually reluctant to back the Browns under Freddie Kitchens, I like them in this spot.

Despite often getting in their own way, the Browns are still talented enough that they’ve still performed at the level of an average team, while the Cardinals roster around Murray simply doesn’t afford them any margin for error. Their only wins coming against teams that are a combined 7-32 (.179). I think Cleveland takes care of business and wins this game, so I’d be willing to bet this up to -3 in hopes of a push in a worst-case scenario, but the real value is at -2.5.

According to our public betting data, 64% of the bets and 69% of the money has come in on the Browns as of this writing, so if you plan to bet this, act quickly to grab a -2.5 before they’re gone.

Raybon is 180-132-10 (57.7%) overall betting on the NFL. You can follow him in our free app.

Jaguars at Raiders Picks, Predictions & Betting Odds

  • Odds: Raiders -6.5
  • Over/Under: 45.5
  • Kickoff: 4:05 p.m. ET
  • TV Channel: CBS

The Jaguars and Raiders are on nasty losing streaks as they enter their Week 15 matchup. Which team will end their struggles and pick up a win?

Our experts preview this matchup below.

Jaguars-Raiders Injury Report

Which team is healthier? Raiders

If Josh Jacobs (shoulder) suits up, I’d consider Oakland the healthier team. He has practiced in some fashion this week, which is a good sign for his status, but he’s still dealing with a fractured shoulder. His status sounds up in the air at the time of writing.

The Jaguars consider D.J. Chark (foot) as “week-to-week” and claim he’ll be a game-time decision. He hasn’t practiced on Wednesday or Thursday, which typically isn’t a great sign. Even if he somehow does play, he likely won’t be 100%. I’d consider him more doubtful than questionable. Justin Bailey

Biggest Mismatch

Raiders Running Backs vs. Jaguars Linebackers

Even if Jacobs is out, I still like the matchup for backups DeAndre Washington and Jalen Richard.

Just two years ago, the Jags had one of the league’s most feared defenses. Now, they are No. 31 in rush defense and No. 26 in pass defense against running backs (per Football Outsiders’ DVOA metric).

Just last week, the Jags allowed Chargers backs to go off for a combined 326 yards and three touchdowns on 25 carries and 10 targets.

And that was no fluke: Over the past month, the Jags have allowed 225.8 yards and 2.3 touchdowns on 26 carries and five targets per game to opposing backfields.

The problem lies primarily with the Jags linebackers: Starters Myles Jack (knee, IR) and Quincy Williams (hand, IR) hadn’t played well this year anyway. They’re replaced by backups Donald Payne and Austin Calitro, both undrafted third-year special-teamers with little experience on defense.

And with their limited playing time this year, they’ve produced some incredibly poor Pro Football Focus grades.

  • Donald Payne: 27.3 overall grade, 50.8 run defense, 27.1 coverage
  • Austin Calitro: 40.7 overall grade, 46.4 run defense, 44.5 coverage

It almost doesn’t even matter who the running backs are: If they’re facing the Jags, they have a massive edge.

But I like the Raiders backs enough on their own. Jacobs was the first back selected in the 2019 draft, and he has lived up to the hype with 100.6 yards and 0.58 touchdowns from scrimmage per game. Washington put up 96 yards and a touchdown on 20 touches in Jacobs’ absence last week. And Richard is popping in one of our FantasyLabs Models.

Against the Jags, the backfield trio of Jacobs, Washington and Richard has 200-yard, multi-touchdown potential. Matthew Freedman

Sean Koerner’s Projected Odds

  • Projected Spread: Raiders -4
  • Projected Total: 45.5

All underlying metrics show value on the Jaguars on this number, but the human element needs to be factored in here. The Jaguars have completely given up, especially on defense, so it’s hard to trust them right now. Additionally, this is the Raiders’ last game in Oakland.

Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Hunter Renfrow (13), Darren Waller (83), Derek Carr (4)

Similar to the Dolphins game, I’m not interested in trying to find value with so many conflicting variables. I’ll only be taking a stab at player props from this matchup instead. Sean Koerner

Expert Pick

Our staff doesn’t see value on this game right now, but that could change as lines move, so download our app to follow specific experts and action around this game.

Vikings at Chargers Picks, Predictions & Betting Odds

  • Odds: Vikings -2.5
  • Over/Under: 45.5
  • Kickoff: 4:05 p.m. ET
  • TV Channel: CBS

The Los Angeles Chargers host the Minnesota Vikings this Sunday, but the public isn’t shying away from fading the 3-point home underdogs — more than 75% of tickets and money are backing Kirk Cousins and Co. on the road as of Thursday evening.

But do our experts agree with the public? They preview this game, featuring the most important matchups and their spread picks.

Vikings-Chargers Injury Report

Which team is healthier? Chargers

The Chargers have just two players on their injury report: Mike Williams (knee) and linebacker Uchenna Nwosu (ankle). Williams has been limited most weeks with his knee injury, but hasn’t missed any time. Nwosu was still limited in practice, suggesting he’s trending toward playing.

Adam Thielen (hamstring) has returned to practice, and the Vikings appear to be optimistic that it’s finally the time for him to return. It’s also worth noting that Dalvin Cook (chest) was listed as a full participant on Wednesday, while Alexander Mattison (ankle) hasn’t practiced Wednesday or Thursday. Justin Bailey

Biggest Mismatch

Chargers Passing Offense vs. Vikings Pass Defense

Philip Rivers is always a tough matchup late in the season, regardless of the Chargers playoff status. For example, he produced his best performance of 2019 in a meaningless game at Jacksonville last week, finishing as the overall QB7 with 314 passing yards and three touchdowns.

The Vikings, meanwhile, ranks seventh overall in Football Outsiders’ run defense DVOA but have been susceptible through the air. They’ve allowed the eighth-most passing yards to opposing wideouts, and cornerback Xavier Rhodes has failed to match his prior year production. He’s Pro Football Focus’ 111th-ranked cornerback and has routinely struggled on deep pass plays. Per Player Profiler, Rhodes ranks 75th in coverage rating

Williams has produced all season despite only catching his first touchdown last week. He ranks first among all wide receivers in both yards per reception (21.1) and average target distance (17.1). Keenan Allen also dominates the short to intermediates routes ranking fourth with 81 receptions and third with 12 red-zone receptions.

Keenan Allen-Mike Williams
Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Keenan Allen, Mike Williams

And while Minnesota’s run defense is tough, they have allowed the fifth-most touchdowns to opposing running backs. Both Melvin Gordon and Austin Ekeler provide Rivers will exceptional options that the Vikings will have to limit. Mike Randle

Sean Koerner’s Projected Odds

  • Projected Spread: Chargers -1.5
  • Projected Total: 45

I almost don’t know where to begin with this one.

Sportsbooks don’t set lines as a way to predict how games will end — their main goal is to divide the action evenly. And it just so happens that having a market where millions of dollars helps set where the line ultimately closes creates an extremely accurate forecast for NFL games.

The public has become increasingly sharp over the years as access to data and timely news is more readily available than ever. It makes the market incredibly sharp, in general, and tough to beat.

This is a rare game in which the wrong team is favored. The market has demanded that it be.

The Vikings opened as 2.5-point road favorites, which has been pummeled by 82% of the tickets and 86% of the money as of writing (see live public betting data here). So why hasn’t the line gone up to the key number of -3? Sharp money — I can almost guarantee you that books have either already received sharp money or know they’ll get sharp action at 3, so the line has been frozen.

The Chargers have been one of the unluckiest teams this season. They have a +2.8 edge in Pythagorean win differential over the Vikings, which is largely due to a 2-8 record in one-score games.

The Chargers also happen to be one of the unluckiest teams in fumble recoveries while the Vikings have been one of the luckiest. It comes out to a +6.7 edge in fumble luck for the Chargers — another signal that identifies hidden value on a team moving forward.

The Chargers’ pass defense has been lethal, allowing fewer than 185 yards passing to seven of their past 10 opponents. Stud safety Derwin James returned from injured reserve two games ago, which only improved their stout defense. The Vikings rely heavily on Cook and Mattison, but each are likely to be less than 100% as they’re dealing with injuries.

The Chargers are going to be my play of the year, but I’ll want to see if the market can push it up to +3 before pulling the trigger. You might have to act fast if it does, though, with all signs pointing to sharps not allowing that number to be available for long. Sean Koerner

Expert Pick

Matthew Freedman: Vikings -2.5

I’m gonna disagree with Sean here and take the Vikings based on a couple key trends.

Under Mike Zimmer (since 2014), the Vikings have had all sorts of regular-season against-the-spread edges.

  • As favorites: 35-18-1 | 28.3% ROI
  • Outside of division: 41-17-1 | 37% ROI

These trends make sense within the context of who Zimmer is as a coach and what kind of team the Vikings are.

Zimmer is a focused, no-nonsense, risk-adverse, process-oriented, defense-directed “manager” (for lack of a better word), and the Vikings are a disciplined team that doesn’t often make big mistakes.

They don’t play down to the level of their underdog opponents. They don’t present a known and easy challenge to teams that aren’t familiar with them.

And this week, two of Zimmer’s historical edges line up.

As non-divisional favorites, the Vikings are 24-8-1 ATS (45.1% ROI).

Freedman is 508-383-21 (57%) overall betting on the NFL. You can follow him in our free app.

Rams at Cowboys Picks, Predictions & Betting Odds

  • Odds: Rams -1.5
  • Over/Under: 49
  • Kickoff: 4:25 p.m. ET
  • TV Channel: FOX

After opening as 3-point underdogs, the Los Angeles Rams have been bet up to 1.5-point favorites against the Dallas Cowboys.

Is there any more value left on this spread?

Our experts preview Sunday’s NFC showdown, featuring analysis of the biggest matchups and their picks.

Rams-Cowboys Injury Report

Which team is healthier? Rams

The only Rams player in jeopardy of missing this game is Gerald Everett (knee). Even if he’s out, Tyler Higbee has filled in nicely, catching 14 of his 18 targets for 223 yards and one touchdown over their past two games.

Meanwhile, I’d expect Cowboys linebacker Leighton Vander Esch to remain out with his neck injury since he still hasn’t resumed practicing. Safety Jeff Heath could potentially make a return, though, after missing the past two games with his shoulder issue.

Cornerback Byron Jones (hip) will also be worth monitoring since he grades out as their best cornerback in coverage, allowing a completion rate of just 56% when targeted (per Pro Football Focus). Justin Bailey

Biggest Mismatch

Rams vs. Cowboys at … the Little Things

On our Week 14 NFL betting podcast I ranted about the Cowboys, who at the time sat at 6-6 despite leading the league in yards per play and ranking right near the top in net yards per play.

So, why can’t Dallas figure it out, especially against winning teams? The little things.

Special teams (they’re my worst rated unit), penalties (27th in penalty yards per game), turnovers (26th in takeaways per game), red-zone production (17th in red-zone touchdown scoring percentage), coaching strategy, play-calling, etc. It’s all the little things that can determine a game but don’t show up in a simple analysis of yards per play that are hurting the Cowboys.

The Rams haven’t been elite in any of those categories, per se, but have been superior to the Cowboys in every single one. The Rams also bring in the much more competent staff. In a matchup of a very good offense (Cowboys) vs. a very good defense (Rams), and a vulnerable offense (Rams) vs. a vulnerable defense (Cowboys), these little things could make all of the difference. — Stuckey

Sean Koerner’s Projected Odds

  • Projected Spread: Cowboys -1.5
  • Projected Total: 47.5

This market has been fascinating to follow.

The Cowboys opened at -3, but 90% of the action has poured in on the Rams to move it all the way to Rams -1.5 (see live public betting data here). That’s a massive line move that required both public and sharp money to move off a key number of 3 and even flip the favorite. It’s likely due to Dak Prescott spraining his left hand and injuring his right index finger. Any time a quarterback as valuable as Dak is likely to play at less than 100%, it’s hard to handicap this early in the week.

However, the market hasn’t been correlating the injury with the total.

The over/under opened at 48 and has been bet all the way up to 49. I highlighted this type of inconsistent market behavior when Ryan Finley was benched for Andy Dalton. That over/under ended up moving up about three points while the spread only improved by a half point — the two line moves didn’t line up and it offered a ton of value on the Bengals at +3 against the Jets. We’re seeing that a bit here.

Prescott and Jared Goff both struggle against pressure. The Rams rank second in generating pressure while the Cowboys rank 10th. I expect both teams to lean on the running game more, which will keep the clock running and prevent it from becoming a shootout.

It’s also worth pointing out that I do have this projected to be the fastest paced game of the week, but for the reasons above and the inflated number, I still like the under at 49. Sean Koerner

Koerner is 147-104-2 (58.6%) overall betting on the NFL. You can follow him in our free app.

Expert Pick

Stuckey: Cowboys +1.5

Now, having said all I did about the little things earlier, I have to play the Cowboys here.

First, I know that, in a way, this game (somehow) means nothing to the Cowboys — they can beat the Eagles then the Redskins over the next two weeks to win the division. But on the flip side, this game is almost essential to the playoff chances for the Rams, who are fighting for the last wild-card spot in the deep NFC.

Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Jared Goff

But at the end of the day, I play numbers, not teams.

When this line opened around Cowboys -3, it looked reasonable to me since I have these teams rated very similarly. Even when it ticked down a bit, I had no interest in Dallas for fear of the reasons I outlined above. However, I cannot pass up +1.5, which is where this line currently sits after everyone and their brother, sister and cousin has decided to play the Rams — that’s just too much value on the home team (with extra prep following a Thursday game) in a fairly even matchup, per my numbers.

This game also fits one of my primary principles — buy low, sell high — when betting the NFL, which sees more overreactions on a week-to-week basis than any other sport.

Last week, everybody wanted to back the Cowboys on the road in Chicago and fade the Rams at home against Seattle. Well, after passing on Dallas last week and betting the Rams, the tides have shifted too much with this number.

I’ll be out on an island by myself late Sunday afternoon with a Cowboys ticket, hoping Jason Garrett doesn’t do something like punt on fourth-and-1 from the Rams’ 30-yard line. And hey, at least Brett Maher is no longer kicking in Big D!

Stuckey is 308-241-7 (56.1%) overall betting on the NFL. You can follow him in our free app.

Falcons at 49ers Picks, Predictions & Betting Odds

  • Odds: 49ers -10.5
  • Over/Under: 48.5
  • Kickoff: 4:25 p.m. ET
  • TV Channel: FOX

Public bettors are almost evenly split, with 54% backing the Atlanta Falcons to cover and 46% supporting the San Francisco 49ers.

Our experts are also split.

Find their case for both sides of this spread below, complete with analysis of key matchups.

Falcons-49ers Injury Report

Which team is healthier? Falcons

Devonta Freeman (knee) and Julio Jones (shoulder) both sat out of practice on Wednesday, but their return on Thursday suggest they’re trending toward playing.

The 49ers, meanwhile, are in rough shape. They placed defensive lineman David Jones (ankle) on injured reserve on Thursday and Richard Sherman (hamstring) is expected to be out at least a couple of weeks. Additionally, safety Jaquiski Tartt (ribs), defensive lineman Julian Taylor (knee), Dee Ford (quad/hamstring) and cornerback K’Waun Williams (concussion) have all been absent from practice this week. They may be longshots to suit up if they don’t return to practice on Friday. Justin Bailey

Biggest Mismatch

Jimmy Garoppolo vs. Falcons Pass Defense

The 49ers feature one of the most balanced offensive attacks in the league. After dominating teams on the ground over the first half of the season, they’ve recently displayed a high passing efficiency.

Garoppolo has thrown for 16 touchdowns and only four interceptions over his past six games, tallying three overall QB4 or better performances over that span. Now he faces a Falcons defense that ranks 26th in Football Outsiders’ passing defense DVOA and will be without top cornerback Desmond Trufant for the rest of the season.

Atlanta will certainly struggle to limit San Francisco’s robust rushing attack, but the Falcons are at risk of getting blowout with a pass defense that’s allowed the fourth-most fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks. With the recent breakout performances by wide receivers Deebo Samuel, Emmanuel Sanders and All-Pro tight end George Kittle, the Falcons will have their hands full with a suddenly-dangerous San Francisco passing attack. Mike Randle

Sean Koerner’s Projected Odds

  • Projected Spread: 49ers -10.5
  • Projected Total: 46

I’m in line with this market, so this is another a pass. Sean Koerner

Expert Pick

Randle: 49ers -10.5

While we’ve discussed the danger of picking against the 9- to 10-point underdogs in the NFL, the Falcons are simply too injured on both sides of the ball to keep this matchup close. The season-ending loss of Trufant coincides with the Falcons also losing wide receiver Calvin Ridley and nagging injuries to Julio Jones and Austin Hooper to severely limit the Falcons efficiency.

Matt Ryan-Calvin Ridley-Julio Jones
Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Matt Ryan, Calvin Ridley, Julio Jones

San Francisco’s second-best offense by DVOA is now comprised of a top-two pass offensive attack, with Garoppolo playing his best football at the end of the season. I expect a huge bounceback by the 49ers defense against a Falcons offensive line that’s allowed 16 sacks over the past three games.

I’ll buck the trend of 9- to 10-point underdogs covering, and go with a healthier and more accomplished San Francisco team at home.

Randle is 237-231-4 (50.6%) overall betting on the NFL. You can follow him in our free app.

Chris Raybon: Falcons +10.5

I agree with Mike’s points on the 49ers — I was, after all, a year early on pegging them a surprise Super Bowl contenders — but I differ in how to approach this line.

If you like the 49ers, I think you have to wait for the key number of 10 — though, as Mike also alludes to, favorites struggle to cover 9- to 10-point spreads, posting a disastrous .176 mark against the spread since 2015.

At 10.5 or more, I think it has to be Falcons or nothing.

Yes, losing Ridley hurts, but Hooper was targeted at a higher rate than Ridley when both were in the lineup together and should be closer to full strength after logging 47 snaps in his return last week, while wide receiver is a position of depth for Atlanta, with Russell Gage, Christian Blake and Olamide Zaccheaus all posting big games over the past few weeks.

And Trufant allowed a 106.2 passer rating and five touchdown in nine games, according to Pro Football Focus, so he wasn’t exactly moving the needle for this defense. In fact, the 49ers arguably are in worse shape injury-wise after losing Sherman, Ford and starting center Weston Richburg (torn patellar tendon).

The Falcons were never as bad as their 1-7 start may have suggested, and since the bye, they’re 3-2 with an average point differential of +8.4, which includes a 26-9 win over Drew Brees and the Saints in the Superdome (without Trufant).

Meanwhile, since thumping Carolina 51-13 in Week 7, the 49ers’ average point differential is +6.3 over a six-game span that includes four one-possession games and only one victory by more than 10 points.

Atlanta catches San Francisco in a prime letdown spot after last week’s emotional win as an underdog in New Orleans. Last week’s performance shouldn’t have come as a surprise, but neither should a potential letdown this week: According to our Bet Labs data, the 49ers are 18-13 (58.1%) against the spread as an underdog under Kyle Shanahan, but they’re just 4-9 (30.8%) ATS as a favorite, and 1-7 (12.5%) ATS as a favorite after covering in the previous game.

Raybon is 180-134-10 (57.3%) overall betting on the NFL. You can follow him in our free app.

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