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NFL Week 15 Lookahead Picks: Bets for Ravens vs Browns, Cowboys vs Jaguars

NFL Week 15 Lookahead Picks: Bets for Ravens vs Browns, Cowboys vs Jaguars article feature image
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Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images. Pictured: Tyler Huntley (left), Lamar Jackson (right).

Welcome back to The Lookahead.

While everyone else is busy betting on this weekend’s games, we continue to get out ahead of things with a pair of picks for next Sunday. It’s all about locking in that sweet closing line value (CLV) and gobbling up easy value before this week’s results move next week’s lines.

We continue to lock in important CLV ahead of the games every week, often crossing key numbers. This week, we’re grabbing one division underdog and one big favorite with two lines set to move past key numbers.

I’ve already got your NFL Week 14 picks covered, so let’s look ahead and get some CLV for Week 15.

Ravens (+3) vs.

Browns

This line feels like an overreaction to the quarterback news on both sides.

These teams played six weeks ago, and the Ravens closed as a touchdown favorite. That means this is a 10-point line move. A portion of that is the venue change, but the majority of it is the presumed change from Lamar Jackson and Jacoby Brissett to Tyler Huntley and Deshaun Watson.

Watson was awful in his Cleveland debut. He’s only covered three of his last 11 games as a home favorite, losing five of them outright. He looked rusty and not on the same page, with his offense scoring only six points against the lowly Texans, and that for an offense that had been in the top quarter of the league all season under Brissett. Watson may not be an upgrade right now the way this offense has been playing — he might even be a downgrade.

Huntley is obviously a downgrade from Jackson, but how much? Huntley is 3-1 ATS as a starter. He’s featured prominently in six games now for Baltimore, and all them finished within three points. John Harbaugh is 16-7-1 ATS (70%) as a divisional underdog. He knows how to adjust his team’s game plan and muck up the game when needed, simplifying the offense and trusting his run game and his defense.

That’s exactly the sort of game script we should expect from this one — two run-first teams that are among the best in the league running the football. The ground attack is all the more important in a December game in Cleveland, where the weather will almost certainly be a factor, further muting any QB advantage the Browns have and pushing the total down, helping our underdog.

Both teams are excellent running the ball, but the big difference is the run defense. Cleveland’s has been a sieve, ranked 31st in DVOA against the run for the season. Baltimore, on the other hand, ranks 1st in run defense DVOA since acquiring Roquan Smith. Baltimore will run the ball in this game, but Cleveland may not.

Defense and coaching are the difference here, and both tilt heavily in Baltimore’s direction. AFC North dogs are 40-21-1 ATS (66%) in division games from Week 14 forward, and Kevin Stefanski is an ugly 1-7 ATS as a division favorite.

In a game that should be low scoring and close, I definitely want the +3 key number. If Baltimore looks fine without Jackson this weekend, or if Watson looks bad again versus Cincinnati, that probably drops. There’s also still a chance Jackson might just end up playing next weekend. Baltimore could end up a favorite if that’s the case.

I like the matchup here, and Baltimore has a big advantage in defense and coaching. I’ll trust the team that’s proven trustworthy, and I want to grab the key number before it’s gone. Give me Ravens +3.

THE PICK: Bet Ravens +3


Cowboys (-6) vs.

Jaguars

I probably don’t have to do much convincing to tell you the Cowboys are better than the Jaguars. The question is whether they’re better by enough.

Since Dak Prescott returned in Week 7, the Cowboys ranked second in overall DVOA. The offense ranks sixth, including top six both running and passing, and the defense has been the best in the league. Dallas is 5-1 in that span, covering this number in all five wins. The Cowboys are No. 1 in weighted DVOA right now. They are the hottest team in football.

The Jaguars are decidedly not hot at 4-8. This is not one of those teams that hangs around in every game and keeps things close. When the Jags are bad, they tend to be really bad.

That’s mostly been the case since a hot 2-1 start. Since the calendar turned to October, Jacksonville is 2-7 and ranks 29th in DVOA overall. That includes 30th in pass defense and 31st in overall defense — trouble against an offense rolling like this.

Dallas hosts Houston this weekend as what may close as the biggest favorite of the season. The Cowboys already have five wins by at least 15 points and may add another on Sunday. Add in a likely Jacksonville loss in Tennessee and this line should rise to -7 and past the key number quickly as books try to avoid a potential barrage of Cowboys money.

There’s also still a possibility Trevor Lawrence (toe) is not healthy for this game. He’s not even a sure thing to play this week, and even if he does, the risk of re-injury is there. If backup QB C.J. Beathard ends up playing, this line probably hits double digits.

If you prefer to make a Lookahead teaser, this is an easy number for that since you can just tease the Cowboys down to a pick-em and only need a win.

Jacksonville has lost seven times already by six or more points, and Dallas has proven itself a brilliant front runner with eight of its nine wins covering this line. I’m not going to wait around for the spread to rise. Grab Dallas now.

THE PICK: Bet Cowboys -6

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