NFL Picks Week #15 (2021 regular season)
NFL PICKS (WEEK #15)
BY PROFESSOR MJ
Written Wednesday December 15nd, 2021 at 10 AM Eastern Time (spreads/odds may have changed)
We posted a 1-2 record last week with the NFL picks against the spread (ATS). Still, overall this season, we hold a 28-19-1 record, a 59.4% winning rate.
If you have been an avid and long-time reader of my NFL write-ups, you will be surprised by this week’s picks.
Let’s get started right away with my NFL Week 15 picks!
PICK #1 (3 STARS): BUFFALO BILLS -10.5 VS CAROLINA PANTHERS
Most of the time, my NFL picks go towards underdogs. And when I take favorites, they rarely have big point spreads. However, I do more exceptions when we get near the end of the regular season.
Why? I have noticed more blowouts occurring at that time of the year, especially in matchups involving a team that is in a must-win situation facing a team that may have already given up on their season. And I suspect that referees don’t want to screw teams involved in the playoff race.
The Panthers versus Bills meeting fits that description. Buffalo was a Super Bowl favorite not long ago, but they are now in a position where they might miss the playoffs. They need this game badly, so they won’t take this weaker opponent lightly, especially at home.
The temperature is expected to feel like -6 degrees Celsius on Sunday in Buffalo. That should give an additional edge to the Bills against a warm-weather team like Carolina.
Buffalo currently holds a 7-6 record. Can you guess their average margin of victory in their seven wins? Try a number. 10? 15? The answer: they have crushed their opponents by an average margin of 26.1 points. That’s astounding! That’s exactly what you are looking for when laying 10.5 points: a team that can blow out its opponent. You don’t want to do this with a team like the Vikings who are always involved in tight games.
Buffalo has lost its past two games, so they will be ready to roll. Their record ATS following a loss is 4-1-1. Also, they generally had no trouble handling weaker squads, as evidenced by their 6-1-1 ATS record against teams with a losing record.
One of the most dangerous weapons on Carolina’s side is wide receiver D.J. Moore. However, he is questionable to play with various injuries. The Panthers don’t even know who their starting quarterback is, as they keep alternating between Cam Newton and P.J. Walker.
I’m taking the Bills to run away with this game by a margin of at least 11 points.
PICK #2 (3 STARS): DALLAS COWBOYS -10.5 AT NEW YORK GIANTS
Holy cow, are you kidding me? Professor MJ backing two big favorites in the same week? That is a very rare occurrence!
Cowboys owner Jerry Jones called out his QB Dak Prescott publicly by saying he was in a slump and needed to perform better. I have no doubt that will motivate Prescott to come up with a huge game, especially against such a weak team like the New York Football Giants.
Dallas finally has its three star wide receivers healthy. They got Randy Gregory and Neville Gallimore back on the defensive line, and the results were magnificent last week in Washington. They constantly put pressure on Taylor Heinicke, and it should get even better this week against one of the worst offensive lines in football. I wish the best of luck to whoever plays at the QB position for the Giants.
At the time I wrote this article, it looked very likely that Daniel Jones would miss the game. Mike Glennon has been atrocious by completing just 53% of his passes, so the organization is considering playing Jake Fromm. Things look very bleak for the Giants this weekend.
The Cowboys will be on the road for a fourth time in five weeks, which is not good. However, the Giants are coming off a game across the country in Los Angeles so they won’t be well-rested either.
I enjoy the following NFL betting strategy that has led to a 96-69-7 record ATS in the past: bet AGAINST the home team if they are coming off at least two consecutive road losses. The public expects them to play better in front of their fans by pure magic, but it rarely happens. I feel like this betting angle works even better late in the season when the team in question has lost any hope of reaching the postseason, in which case the home field advantage diminishes.
Dallas has beaten the spread in 7 of the past 9 meetings with the Giants. They are also 4-1 ATS as road favorites and 6-2 ATS after a straight up win.
Meanwhile, the Giants present a bad 7-16 record ATS as home underdogs.
In other words, there are numerous trends suggesting to back America’s team this Sunday, and that is exactly what I’m going to do.
PICK #3 (2 STARS): PHILADELPHIA EAGLES -6 VS WASHINGTON FOOTBALL TEAM
It is possible that the line changes by the time you read this article. Many players from Washington have been put on the COVID list, and there are rumors that more may be coming, which could impact the line. I took the Eagles -6 points before it may increase even more later in the week. We’ll see if that was the right decision or not.
There are three very solid arguments that I value a lot that support this betting play:
- Philly is the better rested team since they are coming off their bye week;
- Speaking of bye weeks, it has been proven that FAVORITES coming off their bye week tend to cover the spread at a good rate;
- We have the “double division revenge” factor here. As a matter of fact, the Eagles lost both meetings against Washington last year, so it should be payback time!
Philadelphia has also beaten the spread in 6 of the past 8 meetings between these two teams.
I already mentioned how the Football Team will be missing several players due to a covid outbreak. In terms of injuries, they also saw QB Taylor Heinicke get nicked up against the Cowboys. He hurt his knee during that game; he should be on the field this Sunday, but it could affect his play.
Also, star wide receiver Terry McLaurin suffered a concussion in the Dallas game. It is uncertain whether he will suit up or not, but if he misses the game that would be a huge blow to Washington and I would like this bet even more.
I am aware that Miles Sanders and Jordan Howard may miss the game for the Eagles, but the team still has Boston Scott and Kenneth Gainwell in the backfield so it does not worry me too much.
So, as crazy as it sounds, I’m going with a third favorite this week by putting money on the Eagles -6 against Washington.
PICK #4 (2 STARS): GREEN BAY PACKERS -5 AT BALTIMORE RAVENS
The craziness continues as I go with a fourth favorite, this time taking the team from the Frozen Tundra, playing in Baltimore.
Green Bay should be better rested than the Ravens since they were at home for three straight weeks, while Baltimore travelled in four of their past five weeks.
Just as I did with the New York Giants, I am fading the home team coming off at least two straight road losses. Those defeats against the Steelers and the Browns must be discouraging, and you can feel this team is starting to collapse.
Will Lamar Jackson play or not? If he does, he won’t be as electric as usual. And Baltimore’s passing offense is not built to keep up with such a high-octane offense as Green Bay’s.
The Packers have a tendency to destroy opponents. Indeed, they hold a 7-1 record ATS as favorites, 8-1 ATS following a win, and 19-7 ATS when facing teams with a winning record. That is extremely impressive!
Meanwhile, Baltimore has beaten the spread just once in their last seven games at home against teams with a winning record.
Aaron Rodgers should have a big day against a depleted Ravens secondary that ranks 23rd in terms of passer rating allowed. Baltimore is missing Marcus Peters, Marlon Humphrey, DeShon Elliott and maybe Jimmy Smith. No wonder this defense keeps giving up big plays.
I’m taking the Packers as 5-point favorites as visitors in Baltimore Sunday at 4:25 PM Eastern Time.
Just for fun, here are some additional picks that I am NOT betting, but I consider them to be borderline acceptable:
- New Orleans Saints +11 at Tampa Bay Bucs (Just like the Packers, the Bucs know how to dismantle other teams, so I’m too scared to bet this game. I also don’t like the fact that Tampa will be looking to avenge an earlier loss to the Saints in Week 8. However, this spread simply seems too high to me! I truly believe New Orleans can keep this game close. They got many injured players back last week, and they might get Ryan Ramczyk and Cameron Jordan in their lineup this Sunday. The Saints are 6-1 ATS against Tampa in their last seven meetings.);
- Chicago Bears +3.5 vs Minnesota Vikings (As I have mentioned on a few occasions before this year, the Vikings struggle to beat the spread when they are established as favorites. They often end up in tight games and leave bettors disappointed. Also, they are 3-12 on Monday Night Football, while Chicago owns a 5-2 record under such circumstances. I am not pulling the trigger on this game because I am worried star linebacker Roquan Smith might miss the game, and the Vikings have much more incentive to win.);
- Kansas City Chiefs -3 at Los Angeles Chargers (The Chiefs won their past four games by a margin of 27, 10, 13 and 39 points, respectively. None of their opponents were super bad squads as they all had a 6-7 record or better. I also like to bet elite teams who get a chance for an in-division revenge after an earlier loss. In this case, the Chargers beat K.C. 30-24 in Week 3, so I like the Chiefs to flip the script. They show an incredible 7-1 ATS record on the road against the Chargers.);
- Cincinnati Bengals +3 at Denver Broncos (It won’t be easy, but I expect the Bengals to pull it off in Denver this weekend. They have the better passing offense and have beaten the spread the last four times they made a trip in Denver. They are also 5-2 ATS after a straight up loss and 4-1 ATS on the road. However, I’m worried about Denver’s solid secondary and the fact that the Bengals have 4-5 defensive players listed as questionable, including Trey Hendrickson that has racked up 12.5 sacks so far this season.).
I appreciate you for taking the time to read my weekly NFL picks, thank you my friend! Have a great weekend and I’ll see you again very soon!
(Sports Betting Expert / University Professor / PhD in statistics)