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February 23, 2019

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Vegas pick’em: NFL Week 15 winners against the spread

Revelations and Regrets Football

Mark Tenally / AP

In this Sunday, Sept. 13, 2015, photo, Miami Dolphins defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh rushes during the second half of an NFL game against the Washington Redskins in Landover, Md. The 2015 NFL season has had plenty of flops, such as Jimmy Graham’s move to the Northwest, the “lose-lose” LeSean McCoy-Kiko Alonso trade and the Ndamukong Suh-Miami Dolphins marriage.

Week 15: Patriots at Steelers

Game of the Week: Patriots minus-3 at Steelers (Poll consensus year to date: 7-7)
Patriots minus-3 — 50.4%
Steelers plus-3 — 49.6%

This poll is closed, see Full Results »

Note: This is not a scientific poll. The results reflect only the opinions of those who chose to participate.

The Miami Dolphins have found their niche this year in pulling off massive upsets.

Miami now holds two of the top five upsets of the 2017-2018 NFL season after knocking off New England 27-20 as 11-point underdogs on Monday Night Football. The victory doesn’t knock off its Week 6 win over Atlanta, where they were 14-point underdogs, for the top honor but it might have been even more important to sports books.

The vast majority of the action was on the Patriots, including 77 percent of the money at William Hill sports books. Sports bettors collectively had more than held their own against the books over the last few weeks, but saw their success diminish in Week 14 — with the Dolphins to blame for a large chunk of the losses.

The Dolphins appear to have one more chance at a major upset before the end of the season next week when they play at Kansas City. They head to Buffalo this week, but there’s no point spread yet with Bills quarterback Tyrod Taylor’s status unclear.

Check back later in the week for a pick on that game, but find the other 15 matchups below. Lines are the best currently available in Las Vegas on the chosen side, with picks separated into three confidence categories with attached records. The blog is 112-92-4 picking every game on the year after going 10-6 last week.

Plays (29-13)

Carolina Panthers minus-3 vs. Green Bay Packers The Panthers lead the league in adjusted sack rate, while the Packers are 30th in pass protection by the same statistic. Aaron Rodgers has returned from injury early to success before, but never in a situation this precarious.

Kansas City Chiefs plus-1.5 vs. Los Angeles Chargers Kansas City’s betting lines continue to be weighed down by a somewhat fluky string of losses and a memory lapse that discredits it looking like the NFL’s best team over the first month of the season. Backing the Chiefs until the market, which is also sky-high on the Chargers, corrects is the right play.

Leans (31-31-3)

Tennessee Titans plus-2 at San Francisco 49ers Not sure victories over two of the league’s bottom dwellers, Chicago and Houston, entitles San Francisco to lay points against a team still fighting for a playoff spot. The Titans are mediocre, but not terrible like the two teams the new-look 49ers beat up on.

Los Angeles Rams plus-2 at Seattle Seahawks Los Angeles leads the NFL in gaining 7.8 yards per pass attempt. No team, therefore, is better equipped to take advantage of a Seattle secondary still adjusting to life without Richard Sherman and Kam Chancellor.

Chicago Bears plus-5.5 at Detroit Lions As seen last month when the Lions beat the Bears 27-24 despite being outgained, there’s not as much separation between these teams as perceived. Including that game, the Bears have a minus-6 point differential in their last four games as compared to the Lions’ minus-25.

Houston Texans plus-11 at Jacksonville Jaguars Last week’s early like was Jacksonville minus-8.5, meaning the market is implying that Texans’ third-string quarter T.J. Yates is a drop-off from Tom Savage. Yates’ career numbers, however, are a little stronger than Savage — making the difference between the two a wash at worst.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers plus-6.5 vs. Atlanta Falcons Despite eking out a 20-17 victory over the Saints as 2.5-point favorites last week, the Falcons further showed their true colors as an average at best team masquerading as a contender mostly based on last year’s success. They were outgained on a per-play basis and required an interception in the end zone at the end of the game to miraculously escape with a victory.

Pittsburgh Steelers plus-3 vs. New England Patriots Despite last week’s troubles in a 39-38 win over the Ravens as 6-point favorites, the Steelers still rank 11th in defense by Football Outsiders’ DVOA. That’s by far the best defense the Patriots have seen in more than a month.

Guesses (52-48-1)

Dallas Cowboys minus-3 at Oakland Raiders The Cowboys’ offense has gotten healthy, and has the production to show for it with nearly 7 yards per play and two consecutive blowout wins. That’s bad news for a Raiders’ defense that comfortably ranks last in the league by DVOA.

Washington Redskins minus-4 vs. Arizona Cardinals It’s a surefire signal to run when a team quarterbacked by Blaine Gabbert is drawing the bulk of the action on the road. Washington still has a scoring margin nearly 30 points better than Arizona, so it’s a recency bias driving down the point spread.

Cleveland Browns plus-7.5 vs. Baltimore Ravens This matchup carried the same line in Week 2 when the Browns traveled Baltimore. The Ravens have improved since then and Browns have been even more disappointing than expected, but not to such extremes that there’s no adjustment for home-field advantage in the series.

New York Jets plus-16.5 at New Orleans Saints Any time an NFL point spread stretches this high, it’s a blind take. Over time, it’s not going to be profitable to lay more than two touchdowns.

Cincinnati Bengals plus-11 at Minnesota Vikings It ironically took a loss snapping a 7-game covering streak for Minnesota for it to finally carry an inflated point spread. No one is going to want to touch the Bengals in this spot, which is all the more reason to take the double digits.

Indianapolis Colts plus-2.5 vs. Denver Broncos The Colts are struggling but have been more efficient at home this season, going 4-2 against the spread. The Broncos have the only decent unit in this game, their defense, but that’s not enough to merit them laying points on the road.

New York Giants plus-7.5 vs. Philadelphia Eagles Going to need a better read on how Nick Foles will fare under center before laying double digits with the Eagles on his watch. The look-ahead line before Carson Wentz’s injury was Philadelphia minus-9, so that adjustment was curiously minimal.

Case Keefer can be reached at 702-948-2790 or [email protected]. Follow Case on Twitter at twitter.com/casekeefer.

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