NFL Week 15 Picks & Predictions: The Bets Our Experts Locked in Early, Including Rams vs. Cowboys
Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Los Angeles Rams running back Todd Gurley (30).
- Betting early in the week is often the best way to beat closing lines, and get the most value out of your picks.
- Our experts reveal the early NFL bets they made for Week 15 below.
NFL spreads usually open up on Sunday evenings for the following week — and after they do, they’re almost immediately on the move. The early bets serve as a signal to bookmakers for what the “true” odds should be, and sportsbooks aren’t shy about adjusting on the fly if the market is telling them they missed the mark.
Betting earlier in the week is a key way you can beat the closing line, which should be your goal as a bettor.
Our NFL experts picked three games early in an attempt to beat the market:
- Matthew Freedman discusses Rams at Cowboys (Odds: Cowboys -1)
- John Ewing hits on Bears at Packers (Odds: Packers -4.5)
- Travis Reed and Sean Zerillo analyze Falcons at 49ers (Odds: 49ers -11)
- Chris Raybon and Stuckey tackle Bills at Steelers (Odds: Steelers -2)
Odds as of Monday evening and via PointsBet, where Action Network users can access an exclusive promotion to get a 200% deposit match (deposit $50, bet with $150). No strings attached. No rollover required.
John Ewing: Bears +4.5 vs. Packers
The Bears are an NFL-worse 3-9-1 ATS 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 Mitch 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.
A $100 bettor following this strategy would have returned a profit of $5,022 since 2003.
The Packers opened as 7-point favorites in this division matchup and despite having consistently cashed tickets, the line has moved to Packers -4.5. Sharp action is responsible for the line movement.
History and the pros are on the Bears. I’d bet Chicago down to +3.5, but would stay away if it hits the key number of 3.
John Ewing is 319-293-16 (52.1%) overall betting on the NFL. You can follow him in our free app.
Travis Reed: Falcons-49ers Over 45.5
Coming off the heels of a crazy shootout win in New Orleans, I like another high scoring game for the 49ers at home. The Niners have scored 397 points this season, second only to the Baltimore Ravens. I don’t expect them to have much trouble going through the Atlanta Falcons.
The key is on the other side of the ball with the Falcons’ offense. While coming off a 40-point performance is impressive, that’s definitely an outlier I don’t expect them to repeat.
However, I believe this team is much more capable with Julio Jones and Austin Hooper back as options for Matt Ryan. Couple that with the fact that Richard Sherman is out, and it should open some holes for this offense.
The simulations have this total in the low 50s. I hit the opening line at 45.5 and would continue to take the over up to the key number of 49.
Sean Zerillo: Falcons +11 vs. 49ers
The 49ers have been good to the public this year, posting an 8-4-1 record ATS, while winning outright as a small underdog in New Orleans on Sunday with the majority of the spread and moneyline tickets behind them to reclaim the No. 1 overall seed in the NFC.
After playing what amounts to three consecutive playoff games (vs. Green Bay, at Baltimore, at New Orleans) the Niners return to San Francisco to take on an improving Falcons offense which, as Travis Reed mentioned above, has gotten healthier in recent weeks with Devonta Freeman,Jones, and Hooper all returning from injury — though Calvin Ridley appears set to miss this Week 15 contest with an abdominal injury.
Historically, double-digit underdogs are a profitable play in the NFL, hitting at a 53.6% clip (293-254-12) ATS since 2003, while generating +$1,951 for a consistent $100 bettor.
Furthermore, the 49ers fit the following Bet Labs PRO system, as one of two strong ATS teams to fade this week:
Since 2005, this system is 63-29-3 (68.5%) in weeks 15-17, generating a 31% ROI for a consistent $100 bettor.
After playing multiple playoff-caliber opponents, while potentially looking ahead to the Rams in Week 16 and the Seahawks in Week 17, this is a natural let down spot for the 49ers — even with the No. 1 seed in the NFC still on the line.
It’s much more likely that this spread goes to 10 than 14, and I would look to grab +11 or +10.5 before they potentially disappear later in the week.
Zerillo is 213-146-5 (59.3%) overall betting on the NFL. You can follow him in our free app.
Matthew Freedman: Rams +1 at Cowboys
Under Jason Garrett (since 2010), the Cowboys have been the league’s worst team against the spread as home favorites. The problem is Garrett.
Road dogs are a delicious 36-20-1 ATS (26% ROI) against Garrett’s boys. If you bet on the Cowboys this weekend, you must hate money.
Freedman is 506-383-21 (56.9%) overall betting on the NFL. You can follow him in our free app.
Chris Raybon: Bills-Steelers Under 37
This is your quintessential December cold-weather slugfest between two defense-first teams. The Bills rank second in the NFL in points allowed (16.3), while the Steelers rank sixth (18.3).
And while this should be a defensive struggle, both teams’ young quarterbacks have been doing a good job of taking care of the football — Josh Allen has committed just four turnovers over his last nine games, while Devlin Hodges has turned it over only twice in three starts — so the risk of a defensive score is lower than usual for this type of game.
Both teams are 10-3 toward the under this season, and only one of the past five Steelers games has managed to surpass 33 combined points. As Matthew Freedman points out in his weekly trends piece, the under is 17-7 in Josh Allen’s career starts, according to our Bet Labs data.
Weather could play a factor here, too, so even though this total is already low, I wanted to grab it early, as I wouldn’t bet it lower than 36.5.
Raybon is 179-131-10 (57.7%) overall betting on the NFL. You can follow him in our free app.
Stuckey: Bills-Steelers Over 36.5
I’m actually going to disagree with Raybon here. As he did allude to, 36.5 is always an intriguing number as 37 is actually a key number in the NFL over/under market (20-17 final gets you to the window).
I know both defenses are rock solid, but the Bills proved last week that they’re committed to playing with their newfound pace on offense since their coordinator moved up top to the box.
The very early forecast does call for snow, but contrary to popular opinion, snow can actually be extremely beneficial to an over (especially without high winds) as the lack of footing tends to hurt defenders who don’t have the advantage of knowing where the offensive player is going.
Historically, snow overs in the NFL have hit at an extremely high clip.
Maybe the wind forecast could get worse later in the week, but I wanted to make sure I got a small piece of some over 36.5 (-114) early in the week.
Stuckey is 308-241-7 (56.1%) overall betting on the NFL. You can follow him in our free app.