NFL Picks Week #15 (2019 regular season)
NFL PICKS (WEEK #15)
BY PROFESSOR MJ
Written Wednesday December 12th, 2019 at 10 a.m. Eastern Time (spreads/odds may have changed)
PICK #1: New England Patriots -9 at Cincinnati Bengals (rated 4 stars)
Let’s kick off with a few stats. The Patriots are 5-1 both against the spread (ATS) and straight up over the past six meetings with the Bengals. New England also holds a 4-0 ATS record on the road against teams with a losing record.
As for the Bengals, they are posting a bad 1-6 ATS record as home underdogs.
I know the Patriots don’t look the same. But I wouldn’t bet against a Belichick-coached team following a couple of losses. No way!
One might argue this is a sandwich game for New England after facing the Chiefs and awaiting a key meeting with the Bills. However, considering this game is very important for New England, I do not believe they will fall into a trap.
The Patriots eat bad teams for breakfast. They have played five games against teams with a 5-8 record or worse. In those games, they outscored their opponents 174-to-35!! That’s an average margin of victory of 28 points. So do you think they can win this one by at least 10 points? You bet they can!
So, overall, yes the Pats offense is struggling but Cincy’s defense allows an average of close to 400 yards per game. New England will find a way to move the ball, while their defense will complicate things for Andy Dalton and company.
PICK #2: Carolina Panthers +6 vs Seattle Seahawks (rated 3 stars)
The Seahawks have won 10 games this season; 9 of them were by one possession (i.e. 8 points or less). This point spread is asking them to win by at least seven points on the road against a decent team. Seems like a task that has less than a 50% chance of happening.
I am aware Carolina is undergoing a five-game losing skid. Still, they are not a bottom five team. They have one of the best playmakers in the game in Christian McCaffrey. Curtis Samuel and D.J. Moore are respectable wide receivers. And it’s not like Seattle’s defense is very stingy; they rank 26th in terms of yards allowed per game.
The Seahawks will travel through three time zone to play an early Sunday game, which is not good for them. They will be on the road for the third time in four weeks.
Seattle is 0-4 ATS after allowing 150+ rushing yards, which was the case against the Rams last week. On the other side, Carolina is 4-0 ATS after allowing 350+ total yards; they allowed 461 to the Falcons last week.
I’m taking the Panthers and the six points in this one.
PICK #3: Chicago Bears +4.5 at Green Bay Packers (rated 2 stars)
After starting the season with a 3-5 record, the Bears have gone 4-1 since then. Their defense has allowed a maximum of 24 points in each of their past seven contests. With their offense finally finding some rhythm, that should be enough to cover the 4.5 point spread.
Green Bay’s defense is okay, but not stout either. They rank 22nd in yards allowed per game. Mitch Trubisky finally woke up recently; he tossed 6 TD passes versus 2 picks in his previous two games. He also completed 75% of his passes during this stretch. I think the Bears will be able to move the ball at Lambeau Field this Sunday.
Chicago gets three extra days of rest after hosting the Cowboys last Thursday. They will be looking for payback after a 10-3 loss in the season opener to those same Packers.
I would pound this game more if Roquan Smith didn’t get hurt. I think he did a fine job this season at linebacker, but he landed on injured reserve a few days ago.
Divisional games tend to be more tight, and I don’t believe this one will be an exception. Take Da Bears and the points here.
PICK #4: Buffalo Bills +2 at Pittsburgh Steelers (rated 2 star)
I like the way the Buffalo organization is headed. They are playing smart football and their players are buying Sean McDermott’s message. They proved they were serious contenders last week by limiting Lamar Jackson and his friends, a task that seemed impossible to do based on Baltimore’s unbelievable run.
The Bills are 3-0 ATS after a straight up loss this year; they don’t get crushed after losing a game.
Both teams have a very solid defense. However, I trust Buffalo’s offense a lot more and I think Josh Allen will do enough to get the W on the road.
Devlin Hodges is 3-0 as a starter. However, if you remove points scored by the defense and special teams, he generated 17.7 points per game on average (which included a game against a weak Arizona defense). He has not faced a defense like Buffalo’s and he’s likely to struggle a lot. I am aware that James Conner and JuJu Smith-Schuster are likely to be back, but it won’t be enough with their third-string quarterback.
The Steelers lead the league with 33 takeaways. That’s out of the ordinary and difficult to sustain. Josh Allen has more experience trying to avoid turnovers than Hodges does. In the end, I believe Buffalo comes out on top to secure a playoff berth.
Gooooooood luck with your plays this week!
(Sports Betting Expert / University Professor / PhD in statistics)