Week 15 of the NFL season is here. Time to place your bets.
Joe Fortenbaugh: Dolphins +1 vs. Patriots. If bookmakers had to set a true point spread on this game without worrying about balancing the action that would inevitably come in on the public-heavy Patriots, I’d have to imagine that Miami would be favored in this spot. The Dolphins have quietly covered the number in each of their last four games and had the Patriots on the ropes in Foxboro earlier this season before falling 27-17. And let’s not forget about the loss of tight end Rob Gronkowski. In the six games New England has played without its Pro Bowl tight end this season, the Patriots have averaged just 20.8 points and 348.8 yards per game. In the seven outings with a healthy Gronk? That would amount to an average of 32.0 points and 417.7 yards per game. Miami is looking to grab the sixth seed in the AFC and will get one step closer to accomplishing that mission Sunday.
Tom Mantzouranis: Jaguars +2 vs. Bills. Earlier in the season, I had a rule: "Always take the points whenever anyone plays the Jaguars." But, as is proven over and over again, the NFL season is a long one that evolves considerably from Week 1 to Week 17. Once 0-8, the the Jags are riding a three-game win streak, the second-longest in the league right now behind only Philadelphia's. That has masked the fact that there are still significant flaws in Jacksonville, but the team is playing hard for Gus Bradley and having fun, and that goes a long way when playing a team with a similar talent level, as the Jags are this week. The Bills are making their second straight trip to Florida, and they're on a 1-5 SU and ATS streak, having been outscored 170-100 on the road this year.
NFL Week 15 Betting Odds
|(Odds courtesy of COVERS.com)|
Stay Away From
Fortenbaugh: 49ers -5 at Buccaneers. After a highly emotional and intensely physical victory over the Seattle Seahawks in Week 14, the Niners have to travel all the way across the country to play a Buccaneers team that has covered the spread in five of its last six outings. Note that the home team is 7-1 ATS over the last eight meetings between these two franchises and that teams are 4-8 ATS the week after playing the Seahawks in 2013.
Mantzouranis: Saints -6.5 at Rams. The Saints are coming off of three consecutive emotional, primetime games and now have to adjust to playing in the daytime hours. This contest against the Rams is also sandwiched by two key games against the Panthers. By winning the first, last week, New Orleans has given itself a semi-comfortable margin for the NFC's No. 2 seed, but it's still fair to wonder how much the Saints are focused on the Rams on a short week with another game against Carolina ahead. Meanwhile, the Rams have two players who stylistically give the Saints problems in Zac Stacy and Robert Quinn, and it helps tremendously, obviously, that this game is in St. Louis. The Saints have also lost three of their last five against the Rams, most recently a 2011 loss. That year, the Saints went 13-3 and the Rams went 2-14. Sound familiar? This one might be closer than people think.
Best Of The Rest
Fortenbaugh: Jaguars +2 vs. Bills. Jacksonville has won and covered in four of its last five outings and enters Week 15 on extra rest to face a Buffalo team that is 1-5 on the road this season with a -3 turnover differential while losing by an average of 11.6 points per game. One team is treading up while the other is trending down. We’ll ride the hot hand here.
Seahawks -7 at Giants. The squarest play of the week, but I’ve got no problems backing a Seahawks team that is 7-3 ATS over its last 10 games coming off a loss. The Giants are -83 in point differential and -13 in turnover differential this season and 14-22-2 ATS at home since 2010. The Seahawks should roll in this one.
Mantzouranis: Jets +11 at Panthers. The Panthers will be hot to avenge their Monday night loss, but I like the Jets to cover for some of the same reasons I like the Rams to keep it close against the Saints: short week and another key game next week. Even more than the Saints, the Panthers can't afford to lay an egg here, and I doubt they will. But at the same time, it's hard to like a double-digit spread against a Jets team that snapped a moribund streak last week (albeit against the Raiders) and has a dominant front-seven that features the type of varied packages that typically confuse Cam Newton.
Dolphins +1 vs. Patriots. The Dolphins have much more to play for than the Patriots at this point, and are getting very good play from their defense. The Rob Gronkowski injury doesn't hurt as much as his absence did earlier in the season, when the Pats were also without Danny Amendola and Shane Vereen, but it does make a big difference in how the team structures its offense. The Patriots needed a miracle finish to beat the Browns last week, and Miami's better than Cleveland on both sides of the ball. Plus, at seven straight losses to the Patriots, isn't it time for things to turn around?
Seahawks at Giants, over 41.5. The Seahawks are flying cross-country after a tough loss to the 49ers, but they're -- expert analysis ahead! -- much better than the Giants, and they have the Super Bowl so squarely and obviously in their sights that petty little things like travel don't apply. They also lead the league in takeaways, which is a disaster-in-the-making against a team with such poor ball security as the Giants. BURKE: Seahawks can clinch NFC West; more Week 15 playoff picture