Breaking Down The Lines: A Review Of NFL Week 15 Games

Week 17

Week 14 was another solid week (18-13 with a push in one spread). We were a nice 18-9 going into the Sunday night game, before going 0-4 to cap the week. It was a sour ending to a sweet week and now, our pick percentage is over the early season goal of 55%. We are having a tremendous season and I’m looking to finish out strong, setting a new goal of 56% by the end of the season.

2019 record: 214-175 (55.01%)

Let’s keep the momentum going with another big week of predictions. As always, the betting lines listed come from the BetRivers online sportsbook. If you have a few minutes, check out Collin’s in-depth predictions and analysis. Got just a minute? Here is a summary of Collin’s picks for the upcoming week.

Matchup/LineCollin's PickTake With the SpreadOver/Under
Jets @ Ravens -16 O/U: 45.5Ravens 27 Jets 10RavensUnder
Bears @ Packers -4.5 O/U: 40.5 Packers 20 Bears 17BearsUnder
Broncos @ Chiefs -9.5 O/U: 46Chiefs 24 Broncos 17BroncosUnder
Texans @ Titans -3 O/U: 50Titans 31 Texans 27TitansOver
Dolphins @ Giants -3.5 O/U: 46.5Dolphins 27 Giants 24 DolphinsOver
Patriots -9 @ Bengals O/U: 40.5Patriots 30 Bengals 10 PatriotsUnder
Eagles -4.5 @ Redskins O/U: 40 Eagles 20 Redskins 16RedskinsUnder
Seahawks -6 @ Panthers O/U: 48Seahawks 34 Panthers 17 SeahwaksOver
Bucs -3.5 @ Lions O/U: 47.5 Bucs 31 Lions 21BucsOver
Browns -3 @ Cardinals O/U: 48Browns 30 Cardinals 19BrownsOver
Jaguars @ Raiders -6.5 O/U: 45Raiders 30 Jaguars 17RaidersOver
Vikings -2.5 @ Chargers O/U: 45.5Chargers 30 Vikings 27ChargersOver
Falcons @ 49ers -10.5 O/U: 47.549ers 38 Falcons 2149ersOver
Rams -1.5 @ Cowboys O/U: 49Rams 31 Cowboys 21RamsOver
Bills @ Steelers -2 O/U: 36 Steelers 20 Bills 17SteelersOver
Colts @ Saints -8.5 O/U: 46Saints 27 Colts 24ColtsOver

December 12th (Thursday)

Jets @ Ravens -16 O/U: 45.5

The Ravens have been nearly unstoppable so far this year. After a stumble against the Browns, the Ravens have been on a tear. The line here is 16, which certainly seems high, but consider Lamar Jackson does have a sore quad and the Ravens are a full two games ahead of the Patriots in the AFC by virtue of a tiebreak in their head-to-head. They only need one more win to get the overall top seed in the AFC.

My fear in this game is the Ravens playing a very conservative gameplan and letting their defense secure the victory. I can see them covering by halftime but pulling Jackson in the second half when this game is out of hand. I’m still taking the Ravens but this isn’t going to end up a massive scoreline like many people think it will. Ravens 27 Jets 10

December 15th (Sunday)

Bears @ Packers -4.5 O/U: 40.5

The Bears are starting to find their footing in the passing game. Over the past month, Mitch Trubisky has gone from a certain bust to now looking moderately effective. He tore up the Cowboys a week ago in the air and on the ground. The Packers, on the other hand, seem very matchup dependent with their game plans.

Last week, they seemed really okay just doing the bare minimum. The clear and obvious part here is, if the Packers can avoid throwing the ball in a game, they will do so. Matt Lafluer loves the idea of running the ball more than anything else in life, especially if the matchup calls for it. Since the Bears are good against the pass and bad against the run, it’s likely this game won’t turn into a boat race. I’m expecting a relatively low-scoring affair with plenty of rushing attempts on both sides to turn it into a fast clock game. Packers 20 Bears 17

Broncos @ Chiefs -9.5 O/U: 46

The Broncos were completely destroyed in the first meeting between these two teams, and that was after Mahomes left in the first quarter with an injury. With a healthy Mahomes and the motivation of possibly securing a bye in the playoffs, I expect the Chiefs to come out firing at home this week. The Chiefs defense has also been surprisingly sharp since Week 10 (17 points or less in every game).

I think last week, the Broncos exposed the Texans in a variety of ways and demonstrated they are, at their core, a solid defensive team. I think the Broncos may hang around in this game, but the Chiefs at home is too compelling. Chiefs 24 Broncos 17

Texans @ Titans -3 O/U: 50

I hope this game lives up to the hype. The Titans are playing their best football of the year and they’re home against the current division leader, the Texans. The Texans, following their big win over the Patriots, had a major letdown game a week ago when the Broncos absolutely crushed them at home. It was a reality check for them and a reminder that you can’t take games off in the NFL.

The Titans are averaging over 9 yards per play twice this season. It’s been twice over the past three weeks. They are firing on all cylinders on offense and this game has all the makings of a shootout. The Texans are a divisional opponent and Deshaun Watson has put up some monster games against them in the past, so I’m buying the shootout narrative here and I like the Titans at home to cover. Titans 31 Texans 27

Dolphins @ Giants -3.5 O/U: 46.5

The Giants have not been very good, but you already knew that. The Dolphins have played better as the season has gone on, but they have some real issues with player health concerns heading into the weekend. The Giants played fairly well Monday, but much of that can be attributed to the Eagles looking completely lost in the first half.

The Giants are still a team who struggles defensively and can’t open rushing lanes for their running back. I think the Dolphins are the more complete team and even if they’re down a few players, I think they’ll find a way and pull out a nice road victory in a game we should see Saquan Barkley re-emerge as one of the elite backs in the league. Dolphins 27 Giants 24

Patriots -9 @ Bengals O/U: 40.5

A month ago, this would seem like a gimmie. Now, this game appears to be more competitive. Sure, that’s great for ratings and the fans of both sides, but for the gambling community, it’s a game that isn’t getting an overwhelming amount of action on the Patriots. It’s probably warranted, given the lack of offense the Patriots have shown lately. I’m not terribly worried here for the Patriots.

I feel like the Patriots are going to get back to the formula they utilized when blowing out teams earlier in the season. Back then, the Patriots were running the ball effectively and controlling the game flow. The Bengals feature a capable offense and an underrated defense who struggles against the run. The formula for a Patriots victory is clear here. They need to run the ball, play solid rush defense, and lean on their secondary in third-down situations. Patriots 30 Bengals 10

Eagles -4.5 @ Redskins O/U: 40

I’ve gone over this game fairly extensively and am not confident in either team’s ability to score. The Redskins have been surprisingly solid on defense of late, but their inability to exploit matchups against weak secondaries means their ceiling on offense is very limited. Conversely, the Eagles are down to less than a handful of receivers — and none of the good ones — and their run game has not been what it was billed to be.

They’ve been relying way too heavily on check-downs and tight ends to facilitate their offense. I feel like urgency will kick in during this game, but the Redskins will close the gap with a late touchdown. Eagles 20 Redskins 16

Seahawks -6 @ Panthers O/U: 48

The Seahawks haven’t been the same high-flying team on offense we saw earlier in the season. They pulled off an impressive win against the Vikings but struggled last week to disrupt Jared Goff. As a result, the Seahawks fell behind and couldn’t overcome a large second-half deficit.

The Panthers are in the midst of a long losing streak and have struggled greatly on defense. The key here will be getting into a positive game script. If the Panthers can protect their quarterback, they should be able to keep pace in this game. I’m a little skeptical, given their most recent performance against the Falcons. I think the Seahawks will have a big advantage in this game on the ground and via play-action. I see them running away with a big road victory here. Seahawks 34 Panthers 17

Bucs -3.5 @ Lions O/U: 47.5

This line keeps moving all over the place. I have been monitoring Jameis Winston’s hand situation all day and to be honest, I’m concerned. If Winston plays, I’m going to go with the Bucs and the over here. Otherwise, I’m going Lions to cover, the under, and I like the Lions to win outright.

Both these teams have their issues on offense, but both also have big troubles on defense too. I have much more faith in the Lions as home underdogs with their backup, rather than the Bucs and their backup, who shouldn’t have the ability to throw the ball all over the field. Bucs 31 Lions 21

Browns -3 @ Cardinals O/U: 48

The Browns continue to disappoint. Last week, they barely edged out the Bengals, which wasn’t that much of a surprise since the Bengals have been covering spreads most of the season. However, the Cardinals have been worse. Kyler Murray has taken a lion’s share of sacks this season, compared with other quarterbacks in the league.

The Browns are 11th in pressure rate this season (24.5%) and they have solid corners. I’m putting my faith in those two areas for the matchup. I also realize Baker Mayfield hasn’t been good this season (15 TDs & 16 INTs), but the Cardinals are dead last in passing defense. Nick Chubb is going to be a lot for the Cardinals to handle, so I don’t expect much in the way of the Cardinals defense slowing the Browns down much. Browns 30 Cardinals 19

Jaguars @ Raiders -6.5 O/U: 45

Neither of these teams has been playing well lately. The Jags rush defense looks worse than I’ve seen them over the past five seasons. The Raiders pass defense is rivaling their garbage teams of recent years past. Okay, the Raiders’ defense overall has looked awful over the past few games. Both these teams appear to be on the same flight that’s currently barreling towards the earth, engines ablaze.

Deciding on this game ultimately comes down to who will be more motivated. The Raiders are at home and have a shot still at making the playoffs. It’s not a great chance but it’s a chance, nonetheless. The Raiders will be motivated to win and the Jags will very likely only be hoping just to not get blown out as they have been over the past few weeks. Raiders 30 Jaguars 17

Vikings -2.5 @ Chargers O/U: 45.5

I’m not sure what to think of the Vikings now. Last week was an easy victory against a banged-up team and prior to that, the Vikings struggled on the road against the Seahawks. The Chargers have been great over the past six quarters on defense, likely due to the return of Derwin James. The Vikings have been very suspect in the secondary and the Chargers are now fully healthy. Keep in mind, the Vikings were also bad against running backs in the Seattle game, allowing 216 combined yards to Seattle running back duo, Chris Carson and Rashaad Penny.

This week’s duo is just as deadly, if not more deadly. Austin Ekeler is absolutely electric and Melvin Gordon has played his way back into form recently. I’m leaning Chargers here at home, not as if it’s an advantage anyways. I think Dalvin Cook will have a monster game, but the Chargers offense looks like they’re hitting their stride and the defense has been rejuvenated since the return of Derwin James. Chargers 30 Vikings 27

Falcons @ 49ers -10.5 O/U: 47.5

The Falcons just lost Calvin Ridley, which means the 49ers can now absolutely commit to slowing down Julio Jones and Devonta Freeman. The 49ers have a massive advantage on offense against a Falcons defense who has been very bad against opposing quarterbacks. I like the 49ers to control this game and pull away early. I think the Falcons will score through the air and make a semi-comeback but ultimately fall short in this one. 49ers 38 Falcons 21

Rams -1.5 @ Cowboys O/U: 49

The Rams are just a better team than the Cowboys. One can make the case the Cowboys have more talent, but when you factor in coaching, it’s not even close. McVay’s Rams have had issues for a good chunk of the year. Those issues stemmed from pass protection. In the past, the Rams ran three-receiver sets on over 90% of their offensive plays. Now, they’re adding a tight end, moving from their 11-personnel heavy sets to a more blocking-friendly 12 personnel set.

Tyler Higbee is coming off back-to-back 100-yard games. Nothing the Cowboys have done lately has impressed anyone. They haven’t been pressuring quarterbacks lately. Their defense has been in absolute shambles as they were torn to shreds two weeks in a row. I think being home should help, but I love the personnel changes on the field in LA and believe the Rams will win this one on the road. Rams 31 Cowboys 21

Bills @ Steelers -2 O/U: 36

The Steelers have been a formidable team, led by their defense this season. Their quarterback situation isn’t ideal, but Devlin Hodges is capable and can manage the offense well, in tandem with the defensive philosophies. This team’s success is predicated on their turnover success on defense. The Steelers lead the NFL with 33 defensive turnovers. The Bills are very sound on pass defense but have been known to struggle against the run.

I expect this game to be very low-scoring. I’m leaning Steelers here because of the defense’s ability to cause turnovers. I think it’s going to be a very close game but I’m going Steelers by a field goal. Steelers 20 Bills 17

December 16th (Monday night)

Colts @ Saints -8.5 O/U: 46

The Saints are back to being that team with the bad secondary we feared they might be. Their offense is in full stride now and they have a home game against a team who might still be without their best offensive weapon (TY Hilton). Call me crazy because I feel like this is a bit of a trap game for the Saints.

Their defensive line just lost three key players. The Colts love to run the ball, so their issues at receiver are likely overblown. I think this game stays within a score, with the Saints winning it on a field goal. Don’t sleep on the Colts this season like the Chiefs and a few other good teams have. They’re solid all over. Saints 27 Colts 24


Author: Collin Hulbert