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NFL Odds, Picks: Our Best Bets for Bills vs. Dolphins, Browns vs. Ravens

NFL Odds, Picks: Our Best Bets for Bills vs. Dolphins, Browns vs. Ravens article feature image
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Joshua Bessex/Getty Images. Pictured: Bills running back James Cook.


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NFL Week 15 Predictions (Saturday)

Click on a pick to skip ahead
Colts vs Vikings Spread
1 p.m. ET
Colts vs Vikings Total
1 p.m. ET
Ravens vs Browns Spread
4:30 p.m. ET
Ravens vs Browns Total
4:30 p.m. ET
James Cook Rushing Yards
8:15 p.m. ET
Devin Singletary Rushing Yards
8:15 p.m. ET
James Cook Receiving Yards
8:15 p.m. ET
Josh Allen MVP Futures Bet
8:15 p.m. ET

Pick
Colts +3.5
Best Book
Time
1 p.m. ET

Ricky Henne: The sharps love Indianapolis in this spot with approximately 80% of the money on the Colts. I agree as I see several paths in which Indianapolis can at bare minimum cover.

The Vikings team have wildly outperformed expected outcomes, as they rank second in luck percentage (23.7%). Nine of their 10 wins were one-score games, with their lone victory by more than eight points coming all the way back in Week 1. Even crazier, they have a negative point differential (-1) despite a 10-3 record.

A key to slowing Minnesota down is limiting Justin Jefferson after the catch. The Offensive Player of the Year candidate leads the league in receiving yards (1,500) with 509 coming after the catch. That’s tops among wide receivers by a healthy margin.

However, the Colts are the rare team capable of slowing him down as they give up the second-fewest yards after the catch (10.0). Indy also surrenders the third-fewest yards per game through the air (188.6), so if it can limit Minnesota’s explosive plays, I like their chances to keep it close.

Meanwhile, this is the occasional game in which even Indianapolis’ lowly offense has a chance to move the ball. Minnesota is last in yards per game (403.7) and passing yards per game (287.2). If the Colts offense can’t click against the Vikings, they might as well pack it up for the rest of the season.

The Colts are a scrappy bunch since Jeff Saturday took over as interim head coach, save for that disastrous fourth quarter a couple weeks back against the Cowboys.

The line has dipped down to +3.5 as the week’s progressed, but I’m still backing Saturday’s crew to – pardon the pun that you’ve likely heard ad nauseum – cover on Saturday.

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Pick
Under 47.5
Best Book
Time
1 p.m. ET

Dylan Wilkerson: Vikings punter Ryan Wright is one of the best in the NFL, and the only one who has yet to have a punt end in a touchback. That’s right, not a single touchback. Not only that, but he pins the opponent within their own 20-yard line almost 50% of the time. Even though a punting stat like this isn’t enough to warrant a best bet, it is worth noting!

The Colts offense has been anemic all season. Between coaching changes and quarterback controversy, they can’t seem to get anything going. They are averaging less than 5 yards per play, and are in the bottom third of the league in red-zone conversion rate and third-down conversion rate. Although the Vikings defense is subpar, I don’t expect the Colts to light it up in this matchup.

Contrary to popular belief, the Vikings offense has not lived up to the hype. They are averaging less than seven yards per pass attempt, and just under five yards per rush attempt.

The Colts defense is the only thing keeping them afloat. They are currently allowing less than two points per drive, and 188 passing yards per game (third lowest).

I will be fading the overrated Vikings offense and accurately rated Colts offense!



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Pick
Ravens +3
Best Book
Time
4:30 p.m. ET

Brandon Anderson: This Saturday afternoon game is one of my favorite spots of the week.

The focus on this game will be the QBs for both sides. Deshaun Watson has been terrible since returning, leading the offense to a meager 16 points in eight quarters. Cleveland isn’t passing it well, and now the run game is stalling too. But with a December game in Cleveland and these two run-first offenses, the run game matters far more than the QBs.

That’s why the key difference here is the run defenses. Cleveland has not been able to stop the run all season, but the Ravens rank first in run defense since acquiring Roquan Smith. Add in J.K. Dobbins as a real difference maker for Baltimore’s run game, and that swings this in the Ravens’ favor.

You won’t find many trends backing Cleveland. Kevin Stefansky is 9-17 ATS (35%) as a favorite, including 1-7 ATS as a division favorite. Watson is 10-15-2 ATS (40%) as a favorite and hasn’t earned favorite status yet in his return. John Harbaugh is 17-7-1 ATS (71%) as a division dog, and AFC North underdogs are 41-22-1 ATS (65%) in division games from Week 14 forward.

The Ravens have won 24 of the last 29 in this “rivalry,” and I see little reason to expect any other outcome here.


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Pick
Under 38.5 (to 37.5)
Best Book
Time
4:30 p.m. ET

John LanFranca: Another outdoor divisional game, so you know what that means — the under is the play. Unders have been cashing for bettors at a 67% clip this season and now we get the No. 2 defense (according to DVOA) since Week 10 in the Ravens.

Since Week 7, the Ravens rush defense has been elite, allowing only 2.77 yards per carry to opposing ball carriers. Without the help of the running game, I am skeptical DeShaun Watson is ready to make enough plays to send this over the total. Watson has struggled badly since his return in both the red zone and on third down, completing fewer than 35% of his passes in both high-leverage situations.

The Ravens have no explosive element to their offense, ranking 31st in number of explosive passing plays this season. They may have success rushing against the Browns, but probably just enough to keep the clock running, which in turn will shorten the game and keep their defense fresh.

Eight of the last 10 games in which Baltimore has played have gone under the total. This is going to be another grind that does not feature much scoring. I am gladly playing this under until the key number of 37.

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Pick
James Cook Over 25.5 Rushing Yards
Best Book
Time
8:15 p.m. ET

Sean Koerner: After posting a rushing line of 14/64/0 in Week 13, Cook followed up with a very disappointing Week 14 in which he only rushed for 4/6/0.

However, his playing time remained the same as his Week 13 breakout (41% snap rate). Last week, he was a victim of …

1) The Bills passing more when he was in on early downs.
2) Buffalo being dominated in time of possession.

Both factors will likely shift in Cook’s favor in Week 15. There is also likely going to be snow and wind in the forecast, leading the Bills to a run-heavy game script.

I think Cook will be sneaky in snowy conditions considering he has one of the lowest EFF ratings on NextGenStats. EFF is a stat that measures the total distance a player travels per rushing yard gained. Cook’s rating indicates a very efficient, north-south running style that I’ve found to be valuable in snowy conditions.

I’m projecting Cook’s median closer to 33.5 yards and I love his upside this week.


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Pick
Devin Singletary Over 40.5 Rushing Yards
Best Book
Time
8:15 p.m. ET

Matt Trebby: Given the projected forecast in Orchard Park, it’s going to be difficult to throw the football — to say the least.

The Bills appear to have the edge on the ground over the Dolphins, with Singletary and rookie James Cook emerging as a strong one-two punch. Miami’s defense ranks eighth in DVOA against the run, but these are snowy conditions it will not be used to.

Singletary has gone over this total in nine of his 13 games this season, including four of his last five. His only under in that five-game stretch saw him fall just short with 39 rushing yards.

Pick: Devin Singletary Over 40.5 Rushing Yards

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Pick
James Cook Over 12.5 Receiving Yards
Best Book
Time
8:15 p.m. ET

Matt Trebby: Cook has been getting a lot of hype, and his snap counts have increased of late, becoming almost level with Singletary over the last two weeks. In a game like this, though, it would make sense to go with the veteran on the ground who has played through them plenty before.

There’s still a way to back Cook, though. He’s gone over his receiving yards total in two of his last three games, and the one under was last week when he had his second-highest snap percentage of the season.

The acquisition of Nyheim Hines seemed to potentially doom Cook’s role, but that hasn’t been the case. Cook was drafted to be the pass-catching complement to Singletary, and it looks like that’s what he has become.

The Bills usually thrive passing the ball down the field, but that might not be possible given the conditions. It would make sense for Cook to be very active as a receiver, while Singletary handles the bulk of the ground work.

Raybon projects Singletary for 47 rushing yards on Saturday night, and he has Cook projected for 19.2 receiving yards compared to his line of 12.5, creating two clear ways to back each of Buffalo’s top running backs.


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Pick
Josh Allen MVP Futures Bet (+2500)
Best Book
Time
8:15 p.m. ET

Brandon Anderson: Sportsbooks seem to think the MVP race is down to two men. Jalen Hurts is the odds-on favorite, and Patrick Mahomes is the only other guy within shouting distance.

Personally, I think those odds should be reversed, but that’s a column for another day. More importantly, I don’t think this is a two-man race just yet.

We know the formula for an NFL MVP; I wrote about it before the season. We are looking for a quarterback who wins 13-plus games, makes a run at the 1-seed, pushes 4,500 yards, 40-plus touchdowns and is at or near the top of the EPA and EPA + CPOE ranks.

There isn’t one candidate who checks every box. Hurts may or may not hit the statistical marks, depending on how voters weigh his rushing stats. He’s likely got the wins and the 1-seed, but he comes up shockingly short on the advanced metrics. Mahomes has the numbers and metrics, and likely the wins, but he’s not in position for the 1-seed.

That’s because the Bills are the 1-seed right now and control their destiny, and that’s why I think Josh Allen is still a real MVP threat.

Yes, Allen has fallen off. Through six games, Allen threw for 17 TDs and just under 2,000 yards with only four picks, culminating with a head-to-head win over Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs, an important tiebreaker for the 1-seed and — maybe — the MVP.

Allen has thrown only nine TDs and 1,573 yards in the seven games since. That includes seven interceptions, a few back-breakers that directly cost the Bills a couple games.

But the truth is Allen is also the biggest reason Buffalo was in those games in the first place. Allen is as much the reason the Bills have survived this midseason swoon as the reason for the dip. He’s doing everything for this offense. How many times have you seen the Bills turn to Old Faithful, with Allen running because the team has no other answers?

It’s hard to find a more valuable player to what his team does, and the fact that the Bills are still the 1-seed in the uber-competitive AFC even after a two-month dip shows just how good Allen is. More importantly, it also sets Allen up for a memorable closing month that could give him a push for the MVP.

People remember hot starts and big finishes — that gooey middle can sometimes get lost in the wash. Buffalo is set up to finish with a flourish. The Bills host the Dolphins Saturday night in snowy Highmark Stadium, where Buffalo is primed for a big win. After that, it’s a game against the corpse of Chicago’s defense, and then it’s the big one — a road trip to face the red-hot Bengals.

If Allen and the Bills lose that, kiss this bet goodbye. But while Mahomes is compiling numbers against bad teams down the stretch without any real chance for an MVP moment, that Week 17 game between the Bills and Bengals will be the final major AFC domino that sets the whole playoff picture.

If Allen beats a Bengals team playing as well as anyone to effectively clinch the 1-seed and reassure Buffalo’s status as a Super Bowl favorite, Allen will be thrust back into the MVP race in a hurry.

A do-everything QB with 13-plus wins, the 1-seed and all the numbers? Those midseason interceptions will be quickly written off as “Hey, remember when Allen was hurt with that elbow injury?” Don’t forget Allen would have head-to-head wins over Mahomes and Joe Burrow and a far sexier case than Hurts.

Allen also has a good chance to finish top two in both EPA and EPA + CPOE with a big finish, behind only Mahomes.

The Bills are 51% to win the AFC 1-seed, per Football Outsiders. That’s better than coin-flip odds that we’re betting on the all-world QB on a 1-seed. That alone gives us a chance, especially if the Eagles stumble. Add in a big finish with memorable wins and an MVP moment in Cincinnati, and we’re cooking.

I can’t get anywhere near +2500 on Allen. He’s far too good, too valuable to be this much of a long shot as the superstar on a 1-seed with under a month left. We have to play Allen for MVP and hope for a big finish.


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