Update: The late-arriving spreads have arrived! All picks are in.
So maybe I’m the Tim Tebow of picking games?
Obviously this is a ridiculous analogy, because the pious Tebow surely would never indulge in such hedonistic pursuits as gambling or, in my case, analyzing spreads and picking games for sport with no monetary investment.
But the evidence of my Tebowness as a handicapper is building.
Going into last week, I was 78-87-7, obviously way, way, way under .500 with just four weeks left to get my head above water. I had taken Week 13 off, but professed last week that I would return ready to make good on my promise of yet another .500+ record this year. As I said, “I will finish the season above .500.”
That meant I needed a strong Week 14 to build some positive momentum, and like Tim Tebow in the 4th quarter I got it. I went 11-5 last week, and I now sit at 89-92-7 on the year.
Forget waiting until Week 17 to make a last gasp run at .500. Let’s get over it this week and then shoot for even greater heights over the season’s final two weeks.
I’m feeling good. Let’s pick some winners.
A couple of quick things to keep in mind:
- All times are ET.
- If you want updated point spread info, or some expert advice as you make your weekly picks, below are a few helpful links.
- DocSports: Week 15 NFL Odds and Lines
Here is your Week 15 Bettor’s Guide, complete with free spread picks for each Week 15 game, as well as the over-under odds for each matchup; and, in a new weekly feature based on popular demand, my Lock of the Week. I was spot on last week (Arizona +4 v San Fran) so why not go out on a limb yet again?
Can you tell I’m pumped to make these picks? If not, I am.
NFL Week 15 Bettor’s Guide
Point Spreads – Free Picks ATS – Over-Under Odds
TV Schedule – Lock of the Week
Jacksonville Jaguars at Atlanta Falcons
- Jaguars-Falcons Date: Thursday, December 15 at 8:20 PM on NFL Network
- Jaguars-Falcons Point Spread: Falcons -11
- Jaguars-Falcons Over-Under Odds: 42.5
- Jaguars-Falcons Spread Pick: I have a great belief in Atlanta at home, and I have very little belief in Blaine Gabbert on the road. Plus, Jacksonville’s only offensive capability is running the ball with MJD, but Atlanta’s defensive strength is stopping the run. With Atlanta having everything on the line, and the Jags playing nothing more than pride, I expect an easy, breezy win for the Falcons. Jaguars-Falcons free pick: Falcons -11
Dallas Cowboys at Tampa Bay Buccaneers
- Cowboys-Buccaneers Date: Saturday, December 17th at 8:20 PM on NFL Network
- Cowboys-Buccaneers Point Spread: Cowboys -7
- Cowboys-Buccaneers Over-Under Odds: 47
- Cowboys-Buccaneers Spread Pick: The Bucs are terrible. Just flat terrible. And while the Cowboys are basically just mediocre, they have shown that they can handle bad teams with relative ease (like the Rams, about the only comparable for how badly TB is playing right now). Dallas lost Demarco Murray, but they do have a healthy Miles Austin again. This one should be easy for Dallas. Cowboys-Buccaneers free pick: Cowboys -7
Cincinnati Bengals at St. Louis Rams
- Bengals-Rams Date: Sunday, December 18th at 1:00 PM on CBS
- Bengals-Rams Point Spread: Bengals -6
- Bengals-Rams Over-Under Odds: 38.5
- Bengals-Rams Spread Pick: Damnit…another spread where my first instinct is to take the team giving the points! I hate that. But I also hate the Rams. They suck. And what indication have they given us that they can compete with a solid team like Cincinnati? I think Cedric Benson runs roughshod and the Bengals keep themselves alive in the playoff race; yes, I’m giving the points on the road. Again. The Bucs and Rams are that bad. Bengals-Rams free pick: Bengals -6
Miami Dolphins at Buffalo Bills
- Dolphins-Bills Date: Sunday, December 18th at 1:00 PM on CBS
- Dolphins-Bills Point Spread: Bills -1.5
- Dolphins-Bills Over-Under Odds: 40.5
- Dolphins-Bills Spread Pick: The Dolphins will playing without the fired Tony Sparano for the first time in 3+ years, as Todd Bowles has now taken over as coach. It’s always difficult to tell how that will affect a team. Miami has been playing well over the last 5-6 weeks, minus last week’s drubbing at the hands of the Eagles. But whenever the Dolphins have to go to Buffalo in December, it seems to work out poorly. I’ll take the team with continuity and home field advantage. Dolphins-Bills free pick: Bills -1.5
Tennessee Titans at Indianapolis Colts
- Titans-Colts Date: Sunday, December 18th at 1:00 PM on CBS
- Titans-Colts Point Spread: Titans -6.5
- Titans-Colts Over-Under Odds: 41
- Titans-Colts Spread Pick: Son of a bitch. Another one. You know what? I’m going to buck my own trend here. I’m taking the Colts to keep this one close. At some point don’t we have to have the drama of a game coming down to the wire for Indy with an 0-16 record on the line? I think it happens this week. Dan Orlovsky is getting more comfortable and Tennessee doesn’t have nearly the D that Baltimore does. With rookie Jake Locker starting on the road, and Chris Johnson just inconsistent enough to wonder if he can take advantage of the Colts’ bad run D, The Colts might just be able to keep this within a TD. Titans-Colts free pick: Colts +6.5
Washington Redskins at New York Giants
- Redskins-Giants Date: Sunday, December 18th at 1:00 PM on FOX
- Redskins-Giants Point Spread: Giants -7
- Redskins-Giants Over-Under Odds: 45.5
- Redskins-Giants Spread Pick: The Giants simply don’t blow anyone out. They play to the level of their competition. Always. Whether it’s losing to Seattle or beating New England or damn near beating Green Bay, they always make it exciting. It will be here too, as the Redskins have been surprisingly good on offense lately now that Mike Shanahan has settled on Roy Helu. Redskins-Giants free pick: Redskins +7
Seattle Seahawks at Chicago Bears
- Seahawks-Bears Date: Sunday, December 18th at 1:00 PM on FOX
- Seahawks-Bears Point Spread: Bears -3.5
- Seahawks-Bears Over-Under Odds: 35.5
- Seahawks-Bears Spread Pick: I’d love to pick the Bears here, but I just don’t trust Caleb Hanie and Marion Barber. Seattle has been playing really good football lately, and their defense is, *gasp*, about as good as Chicago’s. The difference is that Seattle has the better QB and running back. Who thought we’d be saying that about Tarvaris Jackson and Marshawn Lynch in Week 15? Seahawks-Bears free pick: Seahawks +3.5
New Orleans Saints at Minnesota Vikings
- Saints-Vikings Date: Sunday, December 18th at 1:00 PM on FOX
- Saints-Vikings Point Spread: Saints -7
- Saints-Vikings Over-Under Odds: 50.5
- Saints-Vikings Spread Pick: Vikings fan Drew Lange LOL’d on Twitter at this spread when he saw it and said he’d take the Saints. I agree. No-brainer really (although it is making me VERY nervous how many road favorites of 6+ points I’m taking…) Saints-Vikings free pick: Saints -7
Carolina Panthers at Houston Texans
- Panthers-Texans Date: Sunday, December 18th at 1:00 PM on FOX
- Panthers-Texans Point Spread: Texans -6.5
- Panthers-Texans Over-Under Odds: 45.5
- Panthers-Texans Spread Pick: Cam Newton was the king of the backdoor cover earlier this year, and I think he does it again this week. Not only will Houston struggle to put up big point numbers with T.J. Yates at QB, but the Texans’ D could be a little less great than usual with Wade Phillips needing to leave the team for health reasons. Carolina is very talented on offense and should be able to score enough to keep it close. Panthers-Texans free pick: Panthers +6.5
Green Bay Packers at Kansas City Chiefs
- Packers-Chiefs Date: Sunday, December 18th at 1:00 PM on FOX
- Packers-Chiefs Point Spread: Packers -14
- Packers-Chiefs Over-Under Odds: 45.5
- Packers-Chiefs Spread Pick: Kansas City is going through the upheavel of a coaching change while one of the most dominant offenses in NFL history comes to town. Even without Greg Jennings, the focused Packers are going to wallop the Chiefs. Another road favorite. Packers-Chiefs free pick: Packers -14
Detroit Lions at Oakland Raiders
- Lions-Raiders Date: Sunday, December 18th at 4:05 PM on FOX
- Lions-Raiders Point Spread: Lions -1
- Lions-Raiders Over-Under Odds: 47.5
- Lions-Raiders Spread Pick: I’ve seen parts of the last few Raiders’ games, and they’ve looked absolutely awful in all of them. With no Darren McFadden again, and Detroit seemingly getting itself righted a bit, I think the Lions get it done. Lions-Raiders free pick: Lions +1
New York Jets at Philadelphia Eagles
- Jets-Eagles Date: Sunday, December 18th at 4:15 PM on CBS
- Jets-Eagles Point Spread: Eagles -3
- Jets-Eagles Over-Under Odds: 44
- Jets-Eagles Spread Pick: Sorry, but one nice victory over a team that started 0-7 and just fired its coach doesn’t do much for me. The 2011 Eagles are still the 2011 Eagles, and the Jets are one of the hottest teams in football. They also always seem to play their best at the end of the season. And I’m getting points to take them? Yes please! Jets-Eagles free pick: Jets +3
Cleveland Browns at Arizona Cardinals
- Browns-Cardinals Date: Sunday, December 18th at 4:15 PM on CBS
- Browns-Cardinals Point Spread: Cardinals -7
- Browns-Cardinals Over-Under Odds: 37.5
- Browns-Cardinals Spread Pick: The Cardinals are playing really good football right now. The only team that has beaten them in their last six games is San Francisco over a month ago. Larry Fitzgerald will be able to make 2-3 plays that make the difference in this game, and the Cardinals’ defense is underrated and improving. That said, I still don’t trust John Skelton with 7 points. He throws too many interceptions. Cards win, Browns cover. Browns-Cardinals free pick: Browns +7
New England Patriots at Denver Broncos
- Patriots-Broncos Date: Sunday, December 18th at 4:15 PM on CBS
- Patriots-Broncos Point Spread: Patriots -6
- Patriots-Broncos Over-Under Odds: 45.5
- Patriots-Broncos Spread Pick: Ah, the game I’ve been waiting for. Who isn’t going to watch this game? I will be fascinating to watch the quintessential NFL QB prototype, Tom Brady, go up against Tim Tebow and all of his mind-boggling Tebowness. Fact: The Broncos keep winning, not just covering, as the underdog. Fact: Tom Brady is 1-5 against Denver in his career. Fact: The Patriots’ defense can’t stop anyone. Fact: The game is in Mile High, where Tebow Mania is at a fever pitch and surely will help the home team. Look for this one in my Lock of the Week below… Patriots-Broncos free pick: Broncos +6
Baltimore Ravens at San Diego Chargers
- Ravens-Chargers Date: Sunday, December 18th at 8:20 PM on NBC
- Ravens-Chargers Point Spread: Ravens -1.5
- Ravens-Chargers Over-Under Odds: 44
- Ravens-Chargers Spread Pick: The Chargers have lost one game in December since Norv Turner took over as coach. One. That’s remarkable, as is the Chargers’ offense when it has all of its parts healthy. They are healthy now, and Philip Rivers is playing better, which means the Ravens – who have to travel clear across the country for this one – are in for a dog fight. I’ll go with the odds and say Rivers/Turner pull out yet another tough December battle. Ravens-Chargers free pick: Chargers +1.5
Pittsburgh Steelers at San Francisco 49ers
- Steelers-49ers Date: Monday, December 19th at 8:30 PM on NBC
- Steelers-49ers Point Spread: 49ers -1.5
- Steelers-49ers Over-Under Odds: 38.5
- Steelers-49ers Spread Pick: Big Ben or not, I think this is a very tough game for San Francisco. The 49ers have not been able to protect Alex Smith lately, and their red zone offense has been atrocious. Plus, the absence of Patrick Willis is a bigger deal to San Fran than the absence of James Harrison is to Pittsburgh. I want to see San Francisco’s offense start to click again, like it was earlier in the season, before I predict them to win a road game against a Super Bowl contender. Steelers-49ers free pick: Steelers +1.5
Week 15 Lock of the Week
There are a number of games I feel really good about this week. Washington +7, Jets +3, Panthers +6.5 (notice the lack of road favorites in that list…) all seem like solid bets to me.
But no game screams “lock” like Broncos-Patriots.
The Law of Tebow is like the Law of Gus in the NCAA Tournament. You always know a Gus Johnson game is going to go down to the wire and be exciting, and I think we can safely now assume that with a Tebow game until something changes. It happens every week. It’s not a fluke. It’s how these Broncos play, and the Patriots’ defense isn’t good enough to let the offense run away and hide.
Sit back, relax, and strap it down for this. It’s going to be a great game.