NFL Picks Week 15: ATS Betting Predictions

nfl picks week 15
PHOTO CREDIT: BILL STREICHER-USA TODAY SPORTS
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The push for the NFL Playoffs is in full gear and this week’s slate is loaded with important showdowns. Eyes will be glued on key matchups between the Texans-Titans, Rams-Cowboys, and Bills-Steelers, while eight other contests also carry major postseason implications. As the pressure mounts, which teams will rise to the occasion? More importantly, which teams will cover the spread? Let’s get into it with our NFL picks for Week 15.

Note: Unless otherwise noted, trends date back to the start of the 2003 season. All picks are against the spread.

Bears vs. Packers

  • Spread: Bears (+4.5), Packers (-4.5)
  • Moneyline:  Bears (+195), Packers (-230) 
  • Total: 40
  • Date: Sunday, 1 pm, FOX

Thanks to the wonders of modern technology there won’t be a frozen tundra at Lambeau Field on Sunday afternoon when the Bears and Packers meet up, but it’s going to be cold. Really cold. Temperatures aren’t expected to eclipse 20 degrees, setting up an old school NFC North battle in the elements.

The Bears enter with a 4-9 ATS record, tying them with the Eagles as the NFL’s worst cover team this season. Despite failing to cover a week ago, the Packers sport an 8-5 ATS mark and have been one of the league’s best bets this season, but history suggests that this may work against them here.

Teams covering less than 35% of its games that are playing an opponent covering more than 60% of its games are 131-93-8 ATS in November or later, while road underdogs are 68-46-3 ATS.

One other thing about those anticipated frigid temperatures–home favorites are only 12-17 ATS when the average game temperature is below 20 degrees.

Bears vs. Packers Pick

Absolutely nobody wants to bet on Mitch Trubisky over Aaron Rodgers, and neither do I, but…give me the Bears (+4.5) over the Packers

Eagles vs. Redskins

  • Spread: Eagles (-4), Redskins (+4)
  • Moneyline: Eagles (-186), Redskins (+163)
  • Total: 39
  • Date: Sunday, 1 pm, FOX

The Eagles survived the woeful New York Giants on Monday night when Carson Wentz and a cast of relative unknowns exploded in the fourth quarter and overtime to keep their NFC East title hopes alive. If the Eagles can knock off the 3-10 Redskins Sunday at FedEx Field, they will get a shot at the Cowboys next week in what will likely amount to a division championship game. 

The Eagles have failed to cover in four straight games, sinking their ATS record to a miserable 4-9 this season and backing them on the road in light of their significant injury concerns isn’t exactly a palatable proposition—particularly against a Redskins team that has shown some fight in recent weeks. 

That being said, I think Wentz uses the momentum of his fourth quarter heroics last week and carries the Eagles to a win. Plus, road favorites in division contests of four points or more that have covered less than 35 percent of its games are 13-5-2 ATS.

Eagles vs. Redskins Pick

I’ll take the Eagles (-4) over the Redskins

 

Patriots vs. Bengals

  • Spread: Patriots (-9), Bengals (+9)
  • Moneyline: Patriots (-400), Bengals (+330)
  • Total: 41.5
  • Date: Sunday, 1 pm, CBS

There was some early week sharp action on Cincy which pushed this number down after the Patriots opened -10. And I get it—the Bengals have been chippy since the return of Andy Dalton, while the Patriots have looked rather ordinary in recent weeks. 

I went against the Patriots at home week despite their incredible late-season record at home against conference opponents because I simply didn’t think that they could make enough explosive plays to keep pace with the Chiefs. Despite this, there’s no way I’m betting against them Bill Belichick’s team this week. Since the start of the 2003 season, the Patriots are a ridiculous 24-6 ATS on the road following a loss.

With the Bills trailing in the AFC East by only one game and the Chiefs and Texans also within striking distance of a first-round bye, the Patriots can ill afford to overlook the lowly Bengals.

Patriots vs. Bengals Pick

Over the last 17 seasons, New England is 7-0 SU and 5-2 ATS following back-to-back losses, and I expect those trends to continue this week. Give me the Patriots (-9) over the Bengals

 

Broncos vs. Chiefs

  • Spread: Broncos (+10), Chiefs (-10)
  • Moneyline: Broncos (+425), Chiefs (-530)
  • Total: 45
  • Date: Sunday, 1 pm, CBS

Broncos rookie quarterback Drew Lock was impressive in the team’s upset road win over the Texans last Sunday, while the Chiefs are coming off of a huge statement win on the road over the Patriots that jumped their 2020 Super Bowl odds from +1100 to +800. Could Kansas City be in store for a letdown in this spot? Maybe. But teams on a two-game winning streak that are double-digit underdogs are only 10-13 ATS overall and 5-8 ATS in division contests. Moreover, double-digit underdogs that are coming off of a game in which they covered by at least 20 points as an underdog are only 3-6 ATS. Small sample size alert, yes, but my lean is on Kansas City.

Broncos vs. Chiefs Pick

Forget the side, my eye is on the total. The current over/under is set at a fairly manageable 45 points, but there a few trends to consider:

  • The under is 8-4 in division home games coached by Andy Reid at Arrowhead Stadium in December or later.
  • The under is 32-21-1 in all home games coached by Reid at Arrowhead Stadium.
  • The under is 28-15-1 in all home games coached by Reid at Arrowhead Stadium in November or later.
  • The under is always a solid late-season play in division contests.

I’m going to take under 45 points.

Seahawks vs. Panthers

  • Spread: Seahawks (-6.5), Panthers (+6.5)
  • Moneyline: Seahawks (-245), Panthers (+210)
  • Total: 48.5
  • Date: Sunday, 1 pm, FOX

It was about a month ago that I watched Panthers quarterback Kyle Allen almost engineer a remarkable game-tying final drive in the snow at Lambeau Field. I thought to myself, “Shit. This kid might have it.”

Since then, the Panthers are 0-4, lowlighted by a home loss as a double-digit favorite to the now 3-10 Redskins and a blowout loss in Atlanta last week. And yet, here I am taking the Panthers to cover this week. You will get no argument from me that Russell Wilson very much deserves to be in the MVP conversation, and I’m also well aware that Seattle will be looking to stay alive in the NFC West hunt. It’s just that I don’t think Seattle is that good. This still strikes me as an average team propped up by an elite quarterback—a team that has excelled in close games and has been the beneficiary of some good luck. I won’t go as far to say that the Panthers win the game outright, but I’ll gladly take the 6.5 points with the home dog. 

Seahawks vs. Panthers Pick

I’m on the Panthers (+6.5) over the Seahawks.

 

Buccaneers vs. Lions

  • Spread: Bucs (-4), Lions (+4)
  • Moneyline: Buccaneers (-215), Lions (+170)
  • Total: 45.5
  • Date: Sunday, 1 pm, FOX

Why would anybody bet on this game? The Lions are terrible and have checked out. The Bucs are coming off of a shootout win over the Colts in which Bruce Arians’ offense was impressive, even after losing wide receiver Mike Evans. Sunday, then, should be no problem against a Detroit squad that will have gone 49 days without a win by kickoff, right? I guess, but I don’t trust Winston on the road laying points. At all. Tampa Bay is 5-10-1 ATS in Winston’s starts as a favorite of four points or less.

Buccaneers vs. Lions Pick

My pick is to ignore this game entirely, but since we’re here–I’ll take the Lions (+4) over the Bucs.

 

Dolphins vs. Giants

  • Spread: Dolphins (+3.5), Giants (-3.5)
  • Moneyline: Buccaneers (-215), Lions (+170)
  • Total: 45.5
  • Date: Sunday, 1 pm, CBS

Another opportunity to go dumpster diving, I see. Why are the Giants, losers of nine straight games, favored by more than a field goal? I don’t have a good answer, but teams with a .300 record or worse that have covered two straight games are only 1-4 ATS against teams with a sub-.200 record. Moreover, teams that have lost nine straight games are 10-7-1 ATS overall and 5-3 ATS at home. What about favored teams that have lost nine straight games? Glad you asked. It hasn’t happened since at least 2003.

Dolphins vs. Giants Pick

Give me the Giants (-3.5), gulp, over the Dolphins.

 

Texans vs. Titans

  • Spread: Texans (+3.5), Titans (-3.5)
  • Moneyline: Texans (+145), Titans (-167)
  • Total: 51
  • Date: Sunday, 1 pm, CBS

The streaking Titans were impressive last week in a 42-21 win at Oakland and have been one of the NFL’s best teams for over a month. They welcome a Texans squad that looked fat and happy throughout an upset loss to the Broncos in rookie quarterback Drew Lock’s first road start last week. 

Ryan Tannehill (118.5 quarterback rating) has been sensational this season in leading Tennessee to a 6-1 record over seven starts, making it easy to want to back the Titans in this game, but Deshaun Watson’s track record as an underdog gives me pause. He is 11-5 ATS overall as an underdog, including 8-4 ATS as a road underdog. 

As for the total, I’m a big proponent of playing the under in late-season division contests given it is 522-435-19 (54.5%) in games played during the month of November or later. It’s also 66-56 in AFC South contests, including 7-1 in games that close with a total between 49-52 points. Moreover, the under is 51-36-2 ATS in all division games played in November or later when the total closes between 49-52 points. Finally, it’s 34-23-1 when the total closes between 50 and 52 points. 

Texans vs. Titans Pick

I like the idea of playing against recency bias between two pretty evenly matched teams, so my picks are on the Texans (+3.5) and under 51 points

 

Browns vs. Cardinals

  • Spread: Browns (-3), Cardinals (+3)
  • Moneyline: Browns (-143), Cardinals (+125)
  • Total: 49
  • Date: Sunday, 4:05 pm, CBS

Kyler Murray made some critical errors in the Cardinals’ loss to the Steelers a week ago, but I don’t think that happens again this time. The Cardinals are still playing hard, and I simply don’t trust Cleveland.

Browns vs. Cardinals Pick

I’m taking the Cardinals (+3) over the Browns.

 

Jaguars vs. Raiders

  • Spread: Jaguars (+6.5), Raiders (-6.5)
  • Moneyline: Jaguars (+230), Raiders (-275)
  • Total: 45
  • Date: Sunday, 4:05 pm, CBS

The Raiders and Jags have struggled to keep things competitive in recent weeks. Jacksonville has lost its previous four games by a total of 117 points (29.3 points per game). Things have been almost as ugly for Oakland, a team that has lost its last three by a total of 84 points (28 points per game). 

Neither team inspires any confidence right now, but I’m going back the Raiders for several reasons:

  1. They showed some fight before red-hot Tennessee pulled away in the second half, while the Jags appeared to completely pack it in during a blowout loss to the Chargers. 
  2. No team has ever been a favorite of more than three points after being outscored by at least 24+ points per game over a three-game stretch after the month of October.
  3. Home teams coming off of a loss of at least 21 points that are favored by more than six points are 24-12-1 ATS in Week 10 or later. 
  4. This will be the Raiders’ final game in Oakland before moving to Las Vegas next season. 

I think the Raiders go out with a bang. Give me the Raiders (-6.5) over the Jags

 

Falcons vs. 49ers

  • Spread: Falcons (+10.5), 49ers (-10.5)
  • Moneyline: Falcons (+400), 49ers (-480)
  • Total: 47.5
  • Date: Sunday, 4:25 pm, FOX

San Francisco regained control of the NFC West and the conference’s top seed thanks to their 48-46 instant classic of a win in New Orleans last week, combined with Seattle’s slip up in Los Angeles. The 49ers should keep that control with the 4-9 Falcons flying west this week, but I have some concerns about backing the home team in this one. 

The Falcons are 3-2 since the start of November and have played respectable football in recent weeks. Obviously, the 49ers present an entirely different challenge, but just how up for this game will Kyle Shannahan’s squad be in its return home following two slugfests against the Ravens and Saints? 

Typically, I would look for the letdown spot. I actually selected Atlanta at first glance, but deeper research revealed home teams favored by double digits that also have an .800 record or better while covering at least 60% of its games playing an opponent with a .400 record or worse are 52-29-1 ATS and 20-8 ATS in Week 11 or later. Yeah, I know. Cool stat, nerd—but this is a decent sample that I can’t ignore, so I can’t back the Falcons in this spot.

Falcons vs. 49ers Pick

I wanted to take the Falcons in a potential 49ers letdown spot, but in light of the above information, I’m going to lean with San Francisco in terms of the side. But my pick is on over 47.5 points. Matt Ryan and Julio Jones should make enough plays, while the 49ers offense shouldn’t have much trouble with a mediocre Falcons defense.

Vikings vs. Chargers

  • Spread: Vikings (-2.5), Chargers (+2.5)
  • Moneyline: Vikings (-129), Chargers (+114)
  • Total: 45.5
  • Date: Sunday, 4:05 pm, CBS

I was forcefully on the Vikings earlier in the week for two reasons:

  1. Mike Zimmer’s teams have been lights out ATS as a favorite (35-18-1) and as a favorite in non-conference games (12-4 ATS)
  2. The Chargers regularly invent new ways to lose winnable games, while the Vikings are typically a disciplined team.

The only issue I have here is that an argument can be made that Los Angeles is equally talented and the home team. A lot of Zimmer’s ATS covers as a favorite come at home (only 9-8 on the road), and I hate that 71% of all spread bets and 63% of the action is on the road favorite as of Friday morning. So…

Vikings vs. Chargers Pick

This isn’t a game I plan to play, but I’ll take the Chargers (+2.5) over the Vikings.

Rams vs. Cowboys

  • Spread: Rams (-1.5), Cowboys (+1.5)
  • Moneyline: Rams (-121), Cowboys (+106)
  • Total: 49
  • Date: Sunday, 4:25 pm, FOX

Holy line movement. The Cowboys opened as much as a three-point favorite at some sportsbooks, but the Rams are now favored by 1.5 points at the time of this publication. 

There’s a reason why.

Dallas, led by lame-duck head coach Jason Garrett, is in the midst of a three-game losing streak that has plummeted its record below .500. Following yet another disappointing road loss last week, the Cowboys are now 0-6 this season against opponents with a winning record. While many experts keep asking when the Cowboys’ talent is finally going to show up, I have a different question—is this team actually that talented? Pairing a vastly overrated defense and an inefficient offense with a coaching staff likely in its final weeks isn’t exactly a recipe for success.

There’s also this: Dallas is 22-36-1 ATS when they open as a home favorite under Garrett. He’s been the least profitable NFL coach in this role this decade. Meanwhile, the surging Rams—a team in a must-win spot—are 6-1 ATS away from Los Angeles this season.

Sure, it’s possible that something finally clicks this week with the Cowboys, but I’ve run out of patience. I’m out. Give me the Rams (-1.5) over the Cowboys.

 

Bills vs. Steelers

  • Spread: Bills (+2), Steelers (-2)
  • Moneyline: Bills (+112), Steelers (-125)
  • Total: 36
  • Date: Sunday, 8:20 pm, NBC

I give a lot of credit to the job Mike Tomlin has done this season by resurrecting the Steelers after a miserable September. Here they are with an AFC wild card berth within reach, but I just don’t see it with this team.  I know “Duck” Hodges is a nice story. He’s done just enough to assist an opportunistic defense that gets after the quarterback like few others teams do. Josh Allen can look about as erratic against heavy pressure as any quarterback, which is a concern, but I think Buffalo is the better overall team.

There’s also this: Tomlin teams are only 7-12 ATS as a favorite when the total is set at 37 points or less and 1-4 ATS when favored by three points or less. It’s also worth noting that teams which have won and covered three straight contests as the Steelers have are only 36-45-2 ATS overall.

Bills vs. Steelers Prediction

I strongly encourage bettors to look at the splits in this game. I like the Bills as I believe they’re the better team and Pittsburgh is due for a slip up, but so does the public. Almost 75% of total spread bets and the handle back Buffalo as of Friday morning. If those splits don’t shift and the Steelers remain a 1-2 point favorite, then this is a no play for me.

Colts vs. Saints

  • Spread: Colts (+9), Saints (-9)
  • Moneyline: Colts (+300), Saints (-360)
  • Total: 46.5
  • Date: Monday, 8:15 pm, ESPN

The Colts’ season is pretty much over after a loss at Tampa Bay last week, while the Saints are still jockeying for playoff position in the hotly-contested NFC. New Orleans is 23-15 ATS as a home favorite following a loss in Drew Brees’ starts and 10-5 ATS following a loss of three points or less.

Colts vs. Saints Prediction

I’m backing the Saints (-9) on over the Colts on Monday night.

 

Week 14: 7-9-1 ATS

ATS Season record: 47-39-2 ATS (54.7%)

 

 

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