It’s getting down to the nitty-gritty, folks. We only have three full NFL gambling weeks left. If you are up on the season, then great work! If you are down, hopefully, you are nothing more than a parlay away from being back in the black. After some rough picks over the first 5 weeks of the season, I’ve been averaging 3.8 correct prognostications out of five that I’ve been giving you guys every week.
How close did I come to a perfect week last week? The Bengals, of all teams, went for a quick field goal while down 11, in the hopes of recovering an onside kick and scoring a touchdown, followed by a two-point conversion. This is a good option if you are fighting for the playoffs and need a miracle. Also, this is a good decision if you have a great quarterback and are absolutely convinced that if you can get the ball in his hands one more time, he can make something happen. This is NOT a good decision if you have one win and the game is completely meaningless. Just go for the win, cowards!
Instead, they kicked the field goal, didn’t get the onside kick, and lost by eight. The line? 8.5 points. That’s some brutal gambling right there. Damn brutal. Let’s try to get it perfect this week.
Week 15 NFL Gambling Advice:
Seattle Seahawks (-6.5) at Carolina Panthers
The Seattle Seahawks are obviously a better team than the Panthers, and they are a touchdown better for sure. The key to some of my success this year is that I’ve been riding road favorites. The reason? Las Vegas generally starts a line at zero, and then immediately gives the home team three points, then figures the line from there. The problem, a dying team like the Panthers have no home-field advantage.
Beyond that, Russell Wilson only has one interception this season in games played east of the Mississippi River, compared to eight touchdowns. This feels like a “get right” game for the Seahawks, where they take care of business in a low key, non-national television game. Expect a big game from Wilson, and take the Seahawks giving points on the road.
Denver Broncos (+9.5) at Kansas City Chiefs
There is a lot of helium right now underneath the Broncos with Drew Lock looking very much the part of an NFL quarterback over the past two weeks. The problem with helium is that it tends to deflate. Remember earlier this year when everyone in New York was ready to etch Daniel Jones’ name onto the moon after two games? Yea, things went downhill pretty quickly after that. Beyond that, the Chiefs are starting to fall into place in the contender role they have expected to be. Patrick Mahomes looks healthier every week and is playing in front of a home crowd where he has eight touchdown passes and one interception this season. The Chiefs’ defense is a major question mark, and it’s hard to get a good feel for how good they looked against the Patriots because the Patriots offense is in the gutter.
Still, in spite of the big number being thrown out, I’m going to go with the Chiefs at home. When in doubt, bet the better team. Helium teams are like the drunk guy throwing sevens at the craps table. Eventually, that run goes cold, and it usually happens sooner rather than later.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (-3.5) at Detroit Lions
There is a lot going on here. The Lions are terrible on offense and are stuck riding David Blough to the bottom of the standings. Jameis Winston is going to play with a hairline fracture in his throwing hand. Both defenses suck. Neither team is playing for anything. Well, almost nothing.
Here are the storylines going into the game:
Jameis Winston is on pace for over 5000 yards and the fifth-most passing yards in NFL history, in a contract year. He could also become the first quarterback in NFL history to throw 30 touchdowns and 30 interceptions in a season. If he can grip the football, he is playing.
Shaq Barrett continues his unlikely run towards twenty sacks. It has only been done twelve times in NFL history. Barrett has fifteen on the season and has registered at least half a sack in all but one game since the Bucs’ bye week. If they can find a matchup flaw on the Detroit offensive line (not a difficult thing to do) then they are going to relentlessly send him after the rookie quarterback.
The Lions are probably playing for head coach Matt Patricia’s job. Two months ago, the Lions looked poised to make a big run. Matthew Stafford was playing great football under offensive coordinator Darrell Bevel, Kenny Golladay was looking like a star, and there were playmakers on defense. What happened? Even before Stafford went down with a broken back, they were absolutely screwed out of a victory on Monday Night Football against the Packers. Since then, things have completely fallen apart for the team. Stafford is out. Kerryon Johnson is out. The defensive players that weren’t traded are falling apart.
And most importantly, this team looks like it has completely quit. Patricia isn’t a good coach by any stretch of the imagination and was on my “first coach fired” shortlist before the season started. This entire team looks like dead men walking at this point.
I’ll take the guys playing for something 10 times out of 10. That’s why I’m taking the Bucs giving points on the road.
Atlanta Falcons (+11) at San Francisco 49ers
The 49ers are 5-1 at home this season and are winning games by an average of 17.7 points at home so far. In the game of the year last week, they pulled out a massive victory against the Saints in New Orleans. They are undoubtedly a contender in the NFC.
The issue is, they have given up at least 20 points in five of their past six games. The formerly Gawd awful, and now merely terrible Falcons have won three of their past five games and are averaging 27 points over that span.
Do I think the Falcons are going to win? Absolutely not. But the Falcons have some things going for them. This feels like a letdown game for the 49ers after their huge win last week. They will also likely play without cornerback Richard Sherman. The Falcons actually seem to be legitimately playing to keep their coaches from getting fired. Austin Hooper had no business coming back from injury as quickly as he did in a lost season, but here he is. Julio Jones has been fighting a shoulder injury but continues to play through it. I do believe the Falcons can put up 27 on Sunday. I don’t think the 49ers can put up 39.
I’ll take the Falcons getting points on the road.
Buffalo Bills (+1.5) at Pittsburgh Steelers
Do you like defense?!? Well, do you like offenses that can’t really get much done?!? Do you like that Vegas has so little faith in anyone scoring points that this game has an under/over at 36.5 points?!? Duck Hodges?!?
Watch, everyone is predicting this to be a low scoring slog, and it’s just going to up and turn into a defense-absent shootout between a guy named Josh and a guy named Devlin. The Steelers have been reliant on their deep passing game and the Bills have been reliant on their run game.
I genuinely have no idea where to go with this. There is actually a lot on the line, here. A few weeks ago, the Bills looked like a lock to make the playoffs. Now? They have the Steelers and Titans only one game back in the wild card race. Neither team can afford to lose this week.
Usually, my recommendation is to say “when in doubt, take the points and pray” but I’m not sure I can honestly give that. The Steelers have been playing like a team that has the confidence that it is going to make the playoffs. The Bills play like a team that just can’t pull out wins against good teams. It’s national tv. It’s a huge game. I hate myself for saying this, but take the Steelers at home.