Week 15 NFL Picks Against the Spread: Underdogs That Will Cover Your Bet

Matt Fitzgerald@@MattFitz_geraldCorrespondent IIIDecember 9, 2013

SAN DIEGO, CA - DECEMBER 8:  Philip Rivers #17 of the San Diego Chargers makes a call in the huddle during the game against the New York Giants on December 8, 2013 at Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego, California. (Photo by Donald Miralle/Getty Images)
Donald Miralle/Getty Images

The 2013 NFL regular season is hurtling closer to its conclusion, with just one game to play before Week 15. The stakes are high, and opportunities abound for less-flourishing teams to play spoiler.

But there are a couple of clashes between clubs in the playoff race in which the underdogs are being disrespected with regard to the spread.

Below is a look at predictions for every game on tap for Week 15, along with a breakdown of the matchups in which the favored teams will fail to cover their projected margins.

NFL Week 15 Lines and Predictions
Away TeamHome TeamPick (Spread)
San Diego ChargersDenver BroncosChargers (+10)
Washington RedskinsAtlanta FalconsFalcons (-6)
San Francisco 49ersTampa Bay Buccaneers49ers (-5)
Arizona CardinalsTennessee TitansCardinals (-2.5)
New Orleans SaintsSt. Louis RamsSaints (-4.5)
Seattle SeahawksNew York GiantsSeahawks (-7)
Chicago BearsCleveland BrownsN/A
Houston TeansIndianapolis ColtsTexans (+6.5)
Buffalo BillsJacksonville JaguarsBills (-2)
New England PatriotsMiami DolphinsPatriots (-2.5)
Philadelphia EaglesMinnesota VikingsEagles (-4.5)
New York JetsCarolina PanthersPanthers (-11.5)
Kansas City ChiefsOakland RaidersChiefs (-3.5)
Green Bay PackersDallas CowboysN/A
Cincinnati BengalsPittsburgh SteelersBengals (-3)
Baltimore RavensDetroit LionsRavens (+6)
Source: ScoresAndOdds.com

San Diego Chargers (+10) over Denver Broncos

SAN DIEGO, CA - DECEMBER 08:  Quarterback Philip Rivers #17 of the San Diego Chargers looks for an open receiver against the New York Giants in the second half at Qualcomm Stadium on December 8, 2013 in San Diego, California. The Chargers defeated the Gia
Jeff Gross/Getty Images

Chargers head coach Mike McCoy was the offensive coordinator in Denver before taking the helm in San Diego, so there is some familiarity there. When these two AFC West rivals met in Week 10, Denver held off a rally by the hosts to pull off a 28-20 road victory.

Given that this is a Thursday night affair, anything can happen on a short week between the explosiveness of these two passing attacks led by Peyton Manning and Philip Rivers.

Thus, a double-digit spread between two familiar foes seems a little bit generous, even with the AFC's best team playing at home.

Defense has prevented the Chargers from being true contenders in 2013, but their season is on the line in this one, and they generated at least some momentum in Week 14. San Diego shut out Eli Manning and the New York Giants in the first half of a 37-14 triumph to improve to 6-7.

Then again, Peyton is playing absolutely sensational football, as he set another record in Denver's 51-28 rout of Tennessee on Sunday:

Although the Chargers may come up short, this should be an exciting shootout between Manning and Rivers that comes down to the final possession.

Prediction: Broncos 41, Chargers 34

Houston Texans (+6.5) over Indianapolis Colts

HOUSTON, TX - DECEMBER 01:  J.J. Watt #99 of Houston Texans enters the field before the game against the New England Patriots at Reliant Stadium on December 1, 2013 in Houston, Texas.  (Photo by Scott Halleran/Getty Images)
Scott Halleran/Getty Images

Last year's AFC South champions have really had a rough go of it in the midst of an 11-game losing streak that got coach Gary Kubiak fired this past Friday.

But the Texans have been knocking on the door to get off their slide for weeks now, with each of their past seven losses coming by seven points or fewer. That may be a sign of a talented team not executing down the stretch, but there is no way this Houston bunch is going to lay down with pride still to play for.

What better way to keep the season interesting than to knock the division-leading Colts off their perch? And who better to catalyze the effort than reigning Defensive Player of the Year J.J. Watt?

Colts quarterback Andrew Luck bounced back after a string of underwhelming performances with four touchdown passes in Week 14. The problem was that Indianapolis yielded 42 in the loss to the Cincinnati Bengals.

This spread is too big based on the suspect Colts defense, a nonexistent running game to complement Luck and the trend of the Texans playing in close contests.

With a bit of extra time to prepare following Thursday's loss to Jacksonville, all the elements are in place for Houston to pull the upset at Lucas Oil Stadium in winning outright.

Prediction: Texans 27, Colts 24

Baltimore Ravens (+5) over Detroit Lions

The wacky end to the Ravens' monumental win over the Minnesota Vikings immensely boosts the defending Super Bowl winners' prospects of returning to the postseason.

Baltimore is clinging to the No. 6 seed in the AFC at 7-6 thanks to a defense that has improved throughout the year and, really, in spite of an inept offense.

Super Bowl MVP quarterback Joe Flacco has not played up to his billing, with 17 interceptions, a yards-per-attempt average of 6.64 and a completion rate under 60 percent. Flacco has had shoddy protection and not much of a backfield to rely on, but he must cut down the mistakes down the stretch.

B/R's Matt Miller doesn't believe Flacco is worth such a lucrative contract:

Meanwhile, Detroit returns home after facing a difficult, snow-struck field in Philadelphia, where it fell to the Eagles and got chewed up on the ground—something the Ravens aren't as capable of doing, thankfully.

But with the way Baltimore is competing and how error-prone the Lions seem to be in their inability to play consistent, winning football from week to week, this has all the makings of an upset special.

Although it is wise to trust the Lions' combination of cannon-armed QB Matthew Stafford and star receiver Calvin Johnson, Flacco did just pull out an improbable win late in Week 14 on a last-second touchdown strike.

That's the type of clutch Stafford has rarely displayed in his young career. Unless that changes on Sunday at Ford Field, look for the Ravens to cover and emerge victorious in this penultimate edition of Monday Night Football.

Prediction: Ravens 23, Lions 20


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