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September 26, 2017

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Week 15 NFL picks against the spread for the Sun’s handicapping contest

Road favorites make up nearly 70 percent of the card



Tennessee Titans tight end Delanie Walker (82) is restrained by tackle Michael Roos, center, and field judge Mike Weir (50) during an altercation in the second quarter of an NFL football game between the Titans and the Indianapolis Colts on Thursday, Nov. 14, 2013, in Nashville, Tenn.

This is the type of NFL week that has the potential to force bookmakers to tear their hair out and throw inanimate objects across their offices.

Sun's NFL betting game of week 15

Which road favorite of a field goal or more would you feel most comfortable backing?
Eagles -5 at Vikings — 24.8%
Chiefs -5 at Raiders — 22.5%
Seahawks -7 at Giants — 20.2%
49ers -5.5 at Buccaneers — 16.5%
Saints -6 at Rams — 8.3%
Cardinals -3 at Titans — 7.8%

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.

Or, for the more joyous alternative, to strut out to the floor of the sports book with patrons’ locks scratching underneath their shoes like a barber before he sweeps up his shop.

The Week 15 betting board is a field of landmines, poised to blow up on whichever side fails to navigate it properly. That’s the reality when this many haves meet this many have-nots — on the road nonetheless.

Nine of the top 10 ranked teams in Football Outsiders’ DVOA ratings — an advanced metric somewhat closely related to oddsmakers’ power ratings — face opponents with losing records. Seven of them do it away from home.

The Sun’s sports writers couldn’t totally avoid road favorites or home underdogs in the handicapping contest requiring six weekly picks against the spread, which are available at the bottom of the page, even if they wanted to. There are 10 road favorites on the board.

That’s the most during a single slate since Week 13 of the 2009 NFL season. Seven of 10 home underdogs came through with covers back then, saving sports books from a bloody Sunday.

Casualties to the casinos’ bottom lines are always a possibility when the league’s elite teams travel to take on afterthoughts, as the public can’t resist backing Super Bowl contenders at decreased prices. Seven or eight out of every 10 tickets printed at sports books this weekend will be on the road favorites, which are an average of minus-4 against their outmanned opponents.

The biggest road favorite on the card, DVOA’s No. 1 Seattle Seahawks, gives only seven points at the New York Giants.

Along with the Seahawks, teams like the Saints laying six points at the Rams and the Chiefs surrendering five to the Raiders will be the most popular plays. Bettors will need to hope for a change of fortune from the rest of the season, as road favorites have been far from profitable.

Home underdogs have reversed their previously reported woes of recent years by going 37-31-1 against the spread through 14 weeks.

The Sun’s prognosticators showed more of a willingness to go with the teams taking points at home with 11 selections as opposed to just four on away favorites. Six of those, however, were from one contestant who brazenly sided with the largest dogs to make up his entry.

The most popular home underdogs in the contest were the Buccaneers getting 5.5 points against the 49ers and the Titans taking a field goal from the Cardinals. It’s dicey going against San Francisco and Arizona, as the two franchises are tied with fellow NFC West rival Seattle for the best against-the-spread record in the league at 9-4.

Find all of the week 15 picks for the Sun’s handicapping contest below. Games are listed in order of their sports book rotation number.


Case Keefer (2012 champion)

Record: 41-42-1 (4-2 last week)

Buccaneers plus-5.5 vs. 49ers

Titans plus-3 vs. Cardinals

Bills minus-2 at Jaguars

Patriots minus-1 at Dolphins

Raiders plus-5 vs. Chiefs

Lions minus-6 vs. Ravens


Taylor Bern

Record: 38-44-2 (3-3 last week)

Titans plus-3 vs. Cardinals

Giants plus-7 vs. Seahawks

Vikings plus-5 vs. Eagles

Buccaneers plus-5.5 vs. 49ers

Rams plus-6 vs. Saints

Raiders plus-5 vs. Chiefs


Ray Brewer

Record: 37-43-4 (3-3 last week)

Redskins vs. Falcons over 50

49ers minus-5.5 at Buccaneers

Bears minus-1 at Browns

Jaguars plus-2 vs. Bills

Jets plus-11 at Panthers

Steelers plus-2.5 vs. Bengals

Case Keefer can be reached at 948-2790 or [email protected]. Follow Case on Twitter at

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