NFL Picks Week 15: Breaking Down Top Bets Against the Spread

Mike Chiari@mikechiariFeatured ColumnistDecember 12, 2013

Dec 1, 2013; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Chicago Bears wide receiver Alshon Jeffery (17) catches a pass against the Minnesota Vikings for an 80 yard touchdown catch in the third quarter at Mall of America Field at H.H.H. Metrodome. Vikings win 23-20 in overtime. Mandatory Credit: Bruce Kluckhohn-USA TODAY Sports
Bruce Kluckhohn-USA TODAY Sports

The NFL oddsmakers are generally very good at their craft, and that rings even truer as the season progresses. Despite the fact that they seemingly have a great read on the league right now, though, there are some lines that can potentially be exploited in Week 15.

With so many teams fighting for playoff positioning, almost every game on the Week 15 slate is of some importance. Not only will that make them fun to watch from a fan's perspective, but it will also make them quite exciting to bet on.

Here are three picks against the spread that figure to pay off in a big way thanks to betting lines that appear to be a little bit off:

NFL Week 15 Picks Against the Spread
Away TeamHome TeamSpreadPick ATS
San Diego ChargersDenver BroncosDEN (-10.5)DEN
Washington RedskinsAtlanta FalconsATL (-6.5)WAS
San Francisco 49ersTampa Bay BuccaneersSF (-5.5)SF
Seattle SeahawksNew York GiantsSEA (-6.5)SEA
Chicago BearsCleveland BrownsPKCHI
Houston TexansIndianapolis ColtsIND (-5.5)IND
Buffalo BillsJacksonville JaguarsBUF (-2.5)JAC
New England PatriotsMiami DolphinsNE (-2.5)NE
Philadelphia EaglesMinnesota VikingsPHI (-4.5)MIN
New York JetsCarolina PanthersCAR (-11)CAR
Kansas City ChiefsOakland RaidersKC (-4.5)KC
Arizona CardinalsTennessee TitansARI (-2.5)TEN
New Orleans SaintsSt. Louis RamsNO (-5.5)NO
Green Bay PackersDallas CowboysN/ADAL
Cincinnati BengalsPittsburgh SteelersCIN (-3)CIN
Baltimore RavensDetroit LionsDET (-6)BAL
Spreads courtesy of Vegas Insider

 

Chicago Bears (PK @ CLE)

Things were looking bleak for the Chicago Bears, but after blasting the Dallas Cowboys on Monday night, they are now tied with the Detroit Lions for the NFC North lead. Detroit holds the advantage since it defeated Chicago twice already, but the Bears suddenly have the momentum.

Despite that, Chicago is locked in a pick 'em game with the Cleveland Browns as far as the oddsmakers are concerned. Cleveland is at home and coming off a good showing against the New England Patriots, but it seems like a strange spread nonetheless.

After all, the Browns are just 4-9, and they have played their way out of playoff contention. They would have beaten the Pats last week if not for a miraculous recovery of an onside kick, and while it can be argued that it makes them very dangerous, they may still be disheartened by such a tough loss.

For the Bears, however, this is a game they absolutely must win. Josh McCown has been fantastic at quarterback in the absence of Jay Cutler, but according to the Bears' official website, head coach Marc Trestman expects Cutler to return this week.

There has been a lot of talk about keeping McCown in the lineup because of how well he has played, but Cutler remains the franchise quarterback. He also happens to have an impressive complement of weapons to help him out in the form of wide receivers Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery as well as running back Matt Forte.

The Browns have an offensive dynamo in the form of wide receiver Josh Gordon in their own right, but the Bears are more susceptible to the run. Since Cleveland ranks No. 28 in the league when it comes to running the ball, Chicago should be in good shape.

 

Tennessee Titans (+2.5 vs. ARI)

The Tennessee Titans probably won't be heading to the playoffs this season, but that doesn't take away from the fact that they are a very dangerous team. In recent weeks, the Titans have come dangerously close to knocking off the Indianapolis Colts twice, and they even held a halftime lead over the Denver Broncos in Week 14. They ended up getting blown out by the Broncos in the second half, but that doesn't mean that the Arizona Cardinals are fond of traveling east to challenge the Titans this week.

Tennessee isn't dominant in any one area, but it has a lot of strengths. It boasts one of the best pass defenses in the league, so quarterback Carson Palmer will have his work cut out for him. The Titans are also capable of having a great running game with running back Chris Johnson and a solid offensive line.

The passing game is somewhat of a question mark with Ryan Fitzpatrick under center; however, it will receive a boost this week now that tight end Delanie Walker has returned from injury, according to Jim Wyatt of The Tennessean.

Make no mistake that Bruce Arians' Arizona squad is having an impressive season at 8-5, but there is reason to believe that they could lose this one. Although the Cardinals are a fantastic home team, they haven't proven capable of winning on the road with regularity. The Cards are 2-4 away from home this season, and Tennessee is no pushover. It's understandable that Arizona has to be installed as the favorite, but take the Titans and the points all day.

 

New Orleans Saints (-5.5 @ STL)

There was plenty of concern surrounding the New Orleans Saints following their embarrassing loss to the Seattle Seahawks in Week 13, but it didn't take them long to turn things around. The Saints rose up in a must-win situation by defeating the Carolina Panthers 31-13 in order to take sole control of the NFC South.

This week's game against the St. Louis Rams probably won't be as emotionally charged, but it's a big game nonetheless due to the fact that New Orleans will clinch a playoff spot if it wins, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com:

The 5-8 Rams are essentially out of it, but they have been very tough on some good teams this season. St. Louis has defeated the Bears and Colts, and it pushed the Seattle Seahawks to the limit several weeks ago as well.

Rookies Zac Stacy and Tavon Austin have developed into dangerous offensive weapons, and the Saints will have to be mindful of them. With that said, though, the talent gap between the two teams is wide enough that New Orleans shouldn't have much trouble winning this one by at least a touchdown.

The Saints are a perfect 7-0 at home, but they are only 3-3 on the road, so that may give some people pause when it comes to betting on them.

The environment may not seem so hostile for the Saints in Week 15, though, since they are so comfortable playing in domes. There is no weather factor to slow down quarterback Drew Brees, tight end Jimmy Graham and the New Orleans offense, which means this isn't a typical road game. The Rams are a pesky team that the Saints must be mindful of, but this game really shouldn't be all that close.

 

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