Week 15. Within a month we’ll be watching playoff professional football. There are a lot of juicy games on the slate this weekend. I’m excited. Let’s jump right in.
Titans (8-5) @ Titans (8-5)
Sunday 1:00pm ET
The AFC South comes down to the final 3 weeks of the season. Houston and Tennessee are tied atop the division at 8-5 and play each other twice down the stretch – once this week in Nashville and again in Week 17 in Houston.
The Titans’ offense is all the rage lately. 31-year-old Ryan Tannehill has resurrected his career and led Tennessee to 4-straight wins and 4-straight 30-point games.
Vegas is used to the Titans scoring 20 per game, not 35, so Tennessee has also won their last 4 games ATS.
Upon seeing these numbers, I immediately knew who I was going to bet … the Texans.
What!?! How can you bet against a team that is on fire and playing at home?!?
Easily. By taking Houston +3 (-115), I am getting the better team at an unbeatable price. I checked Killersports to see if teams that have won 4-in-a-row both ATS and SU have any value in their fifth game – they do not.
A quick look at the DVOA numbers tells me the Titans’ offense is ranked 9th while the Texans’ is 12th. It is crucial to remember that most of the Titans’ production has come in the past 4 weeks.
The Vegas spread is 51 points. This means a 27-24 game is expected. Each offense is good. Maybe the offenses are even. But answer me this … who would you rather back with your money? Ryan Tannehill or Deshaun Watson?
The Texans’ special teams are ranked 7th DVOA in the NFL while Tennessee’s special teams are 27th. The Texans are already getting 3 points from Vegas. An extra score here or there from ST will create a very steep uphill climb for the Titans.
Rams (8-5) @ Cowboys (6-7)
Sunday 4:25pm ET
Call me stubborn, but I gotta go with the Cowboys again this week.
If you caught the TNF game in Week 14 between Dallas and Chicago, you heard Joe Buck say “carbon copy” at least 4 times. He was referring to the similarity between the Cowboys’ Thanksgiving Day loss and their loss in that game to the Bears.
In both games, Dallas was favored. In both games, Dallas drove down and scored a TD in their first possession. In both games, Zeke disappeared in the second half. In both games, Dallas got blown out.
I like the Cowboys for a few reasons. Their offense is legit, on paper at least. Dak Prescott leads the NFL in passing yards, his #1 WR Amari Cooper is 5th in receiving yards, and Zeke is 5th in rushing yards.
When the Cowboys run their scripted plays to begin the game, they are unstoppable. At some point, the script runs out and OC Kellen Moore seems to forget that he has Zeke Elliott.
Maybe Jason Garrett and Co. are terrible at in-game adjustments. Maybe the Cowboys are the worst conditioned team in the league. Maybe the mob is paying them off. I can’t explain it, but something is causing this team to fall apart in the 2nd and 3rd quarters.
Come the 4th quarter, Dak seems to remember that he is the league’s leading passer. When Dallas is down 20 their offense begins clicking again.
The Rams are no longer the elite team they once were. You can gash LA’s defense. Look at what the Buccaneers, Seahawks, and Ravens did.
This is as good a week as any to predict a long-overdue breakout from the Cowboys’ offense. The first step of this breakout? Get Zeke going.
It may seem counterintuitive to predict a big game from Zeke against the DVOA #3-ranked rush defense in the league, but nothing makes sense in the NFL. Get used to it.
Dallas opened at -3.5 but can now be had at +1.5 (-110) on Bovada. A four-point swing making the line shorter? Sounds nice.
Browns (6-7) @ Cardinals (3-9-1)
Sunday 4:25pm ET
At first glance I really liked the Browns in this matchup. After pouring through some numbers I like it even more. These numbers weren’t fancy formulas. They were records, scores, and passer stats.
The Arizona Cardinals are not a good football team. They have won 3 games and have beat nobody good – the 1-12 Bengals, the 4-9 Falcons, and the 2-11 Giants.
The Cardinals’ last win came in Week 7. Kyler Murray may become a good QB some day, but he is not good this year. Baker Mayfield belly flopped last week against Cincinnati, but I still like him over Murray in this matchup.
Baker is an adrenaline guy and does not seem to be well-coached. He was likely ill-prepared and unmotivated to play against the Bengals. I do not hold Mayfield’s poor performance against him. He had nothing to prove against Old Man Dalton.
Baker has everything to prove against Kyler Murray. Each QB is a #1 overall pick. Each went to OU. Each won the Heisman. Each are attempting to resurrect struggling franchises. Baker Mayfield is ultra-competitive and is going to show out.
On Bovada, you can bet the Browns will score over 24.5 points (-110). I like this bet. Also, Cleveland -3 (EVEN) seems +EV to me.
Bills (9-4) @ Steelers (8-5)
Sunday 8:20pm ET
The line has remained rather steady all week on the SNF Bills-Steelers battle. Pittsburgh opened at -1 (-110) and are now -1.5 (-110).
The Bills have shocked a lot of football fans, winning 9 of their first 13 games. Defense is their calling card. Buffalo is 5th DVOA in total defense, 5th in pass defense, and 17th in rush defense.
Undrafted Samford product Devlin “Duck” Hodges will quarterback his first primetime NFL game Sunday night. The Bills will be a tough test.
Could Hodges dice up the Bills’ D and lead his team to a runaway victory? Probably not. The most points Pittsburgh has scored in a Hodges start is 24. The most TDs Hodges has thrown in any game is one.
IF … Hodges does manage to throw the ball well enough to keep his team in the game, it is going to be a close victory. Hodges beat the Chargers by 7, the Browns by 7, and the Cardinals by 6. The Steelers won’t be pulling away from anybody this season.
Of course, Josh Allen will need to pull his weight if the Bills are to win on the road. I like the chances Allen succeeds in Pittsburgh. Before last week when the Ravens did unspeakable things to the Bill’s passing game, Allen was enjoying a 3-game win streak in which he threw for a combined 672 yards and 6 TDs while rushing for an additional 145 yards and 2 TDs.
No one is Lamar Jackson, but Josh Allen is the best Lamar impersonator the league has right now.
Buffalo could win by any amount. If Pittsburgh wins, it’s gonna be a nailbiter. This is the perfect opportunity for a teaser – more on this below.
If you don’t want to risk a teaser – bet Bills +1.5 (-110) or just hop on the Buffalo ML at (+105).
Bonus NFL Teaser Play
Do you think a third-string QB has a better chance of blowing out another team or having his own team get blown out?
If you say the former, get outta here. If you say the latter, I have a teaser for you.
The Steelers are starting Duck Hodges. I covered that above. The Lions are hosting the red-hot Buccaneers and trying out David Blough under center for the 3rd straight week.
Blough is an undrafted rookie from Purdue and is 0-2 in his young career. His first 2 starts have been serviceable at best – with a combined completion percentage of 59% and an even TD-to-pick ratio.
Blough kept the Lions in their Thanksgiving Day game right till the end and then followed it up with a decent performance in Minneapolis.
Just like Duck Hodges, Blough is good enough to keep his team in the game, but he’s not going to blow anyone out. Even with Matthew Stafford at QB, the Lions only managed to score 30 points three times – 2 of these were in losses and 1 was against the Giants.
This is Jameis Winston’s contract year. He is getting hot … see the connection. The Lions will maybe pick him off a time or two but won’t be able to do anything with the short field. Jameis will throw for at least 350 yards and 3 TDs on Sunday.
Stop gap RB Bo Scarbrough may be out with a rib injury, forcing the Lions to dig even deeper into their bench. Detroit’s #2 WR Marvin Jones was just placed on IR. The Lions’ offense is woefully depleted.
By teasing each of these teams by 7 points, we cover ourselves against a game-winning field goal.
Merry Christmas! See you on top!