Freedman: 11 NFL Betting Picks Based on Week 15 Trends
Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Aaron Rodgers, Khalil Mack
- Matthew Freedman identifies 11 NFL trends worth betting for Week 15, featuring spread and over/under picks.
Although I am not a “trends bettor,” I find that trends help me identify spots I should consider further when analyzing games.
Using our Bet Labs database, I have uncovered 11 intriguing NFL trends worth betting for Week 15.
Odds as of Wednesday morning and via DraftKings, where Action Network users get a risk-free bet up to $500.
Thursday Night Football
New York Jets +15.5 at Baltimore Ravens
Lamar Jackson is the 2019 NFL MVP, but the Jets might present a greater challenge than expected.
The Ravens are No. 1 with 2,612 rushing yards, 5.5 rushing yards per attempt, a 55.2% rush play rate and 55% rush success rate, but the Jets are No. 2 against the run (per Football Outsiders’ DVOA metric).
On top of that, opponents are 8-2 against the spread as road underdogs against the Ravens with Jackson as the starter, good for a 54.7% return on investment.
Sunday, 1 p.m. ET
New England Patriots -10 at Cincinnati Bengals
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 Andy 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).
Detroit Lions +3.5 vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Against Jameis Winston and the Buccaneers, opposing teams have had significant favorite/underdog ATS splits.
- Favorite: 22-23-2 | -2.8% ROI
- Underdog: 13-6-1 | 34.5% ROI
It makes sense that dogs have been successful against Winston: He’s a turnover machine. He easily leads the league with 23 interceptions this season, to which he’s added five lost fumbles.
Winston is careless enough with the ball to let any opponent keep a game close.
Green Bay Packers -4.5 vs. Chicago Bears
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.
Houston Texans +3 at Tennessee Titans
Quarterback Deshaun 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 ATS record. 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.
Kansas City Chiefs-Denver Broncos Under 46
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 Andy 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 Stadium 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).
Washington Redskins-Philadelphia Eagles Under 40.5
Whenever divisional opponents face off in the final month of the season, we should expect lower-scoring games. The teams are familiar with each other, the weather is colder and they tend to play slower and more conservatively.
In the Bet Labs database, the December divisional under is 284-216-12 (10.5% ROI).
On top of that, the Redskins under interim offensive coordinator Bill Callahan have leaned on the run and slowed the game down — presumably in order to keep games close and ensure “respectable losses” — and that’s resulted in low-scoring affairs.
With Callahan, the Redskins are 6-2 (44.5%). to the under, and I don’t think that’s a fluke. When Callahan was last a coach — with the 4-12 Raiders in 2003 — he called the game with a similar “Let’s keep this thing close” mentality, and he had a similar over/under record.
With his two losing teams, Callahan is 16-7-1 to the under (32.8% ROI).
Sunday, 4:05 p.m. ET
Minnesota Vikings -2.5 at Los Angeles Chargers
Under Mike Zimmer (since 2014), the Vikings have had all sorts of regular-season ATS 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).
Sunday, 4:25 p.m. ET
Los Angeles Rams +1 at Dallas Cowboys
Under Jason Garrett (since 2010), the Cowboys have been the league’s worst ATS team in the league 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.
Sunday Night Football
Buffalo Bills-Pittsburgh Steelers Under 37
I’m all over Bills unders. Sean McDermott is a defensive-oriented guy, and since he joined the franchise in 2017, the Bills are 27-18 (17.3% ROI) to the under.
In his first year, the Bills allowed a middling 5.3 yards per play, but over the past two seasons, they have been one of the league’s stingiest defenses, ranking No. 3 last year with 4.9 yards per play allowed and No. 4 this season with 4.8.
And with Josh Allen, the Bills have a perfectly under-prone offense. Allen is inaccurate (56.7% career completion rate). Allen turns the ball over (20 interceptions, six lost fumbles in 25 games). Allen runs whenever possible (7.4 carries per game).
And yet Allen is just good enough to keep drives going and to prevent opposing offenses from incessantly getting the ball back.
In Allen’s 24 career starts, the Bills since last season have played a strong style of low-scoring complementary football (per RotoViz Team Splits App).
- Allen’s starts (24 games): 20.0 points scored, 17.8 points allowed
- Other starts (five games): 12.8 points scored, 32 points allowed
In Allen’s 24 starts, the Bills under is 17-7 (37.6% ROI).
Monday Night Football
New Orleans Saints-Indianapolis Colts Over 45.5
If last week’s 94-point Saints-49ers game didn’t drive the point home, nothing will: Never fade the Superdome.
With Drew Brees, the Saints at home are 66-46-2 (15.5% ROI) to the over. They don’t call it the Coors Field of Fantasy Football for nothing.
Matthew Freedman is 506-383-21 (56.9%) overall betting on the NFL. You can follow him in our free app.
He’s the Editor-in-Chief of FantasyLabs. He has a dog and sometimes a British accent. In Cedar Rapids, Iowa, he’s known only as The Labyrinthian.