NFL Week 15 Predictions: Breaking Down Biggest Locks Against the Spread

Rob Goldberg@TheRobGoldbergFeatured ColumnistDecember 13, 2013

CHARLOTTE, NC - DECEMBER 01:  Cam Newton #1 of the Carolina Panthers drops back to pass against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers during their game at Bank of America Stadium on December 1, 2013 in Charlotte, North Carolina.  (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

In a week that features a lot of one-sided matchups, fans might have to look toward point spreads to keep things interesting. Fortunately, a few safe picks could lead to success in Week 15.

NFL Pickwatch has compiled the predictions from close to 100 experts, and they are in agreement about most of the schedule. Only one game (New England Patriots vs. Miami Dolphins) features a confidence rating of less than 79 percent.

On the other hand, it is much tougher to pick games against the spread. This is especially true at the end of the season when teams are no longer capable of sneaking up on anyone.

Still, the oddsmakers have left a few easy lines that could be considered locks heading into Sunday. Here is a look at every pick against the spread, followed by the safest picks of the week.

Note: All spread info courtesy of Vegas Insider as of Dec. 13.

NFL Week 15 Picks Against the Spread
AwayHomeSpreadPick (ATS)
Washington RedskinsAtlanta FalconsATL -7Redskins
San Francisco 49ersTampa Bay BuccaneersSF -549ers
Arizona CardinalsTennessee TitansARI -3Titans
New Orleans SaintsSt. Louis RamsNO -6Saints
Seattle SeahawksNew York GiantsSEA -7Seahawks
Chicago BearsCleveland BrownsCHI -1Bears
Houston TexansIndianapolis ColtsIND -5.5Colts
Buffalo BillsJacksonville JaguarsBUF -2Jaguars
New England PatriotsMiami DolphinsNE -1Dolphins
Philadelphia EaglesMinnesota VikingsPHI -5Eagles
New York JetsCarolina PanthersCAR -11Panthers
Kansas City ChiefsOakland RaidersKC -4.5Chiefs
Green Bay PackersDallas CowboysDAL -7Packers
Cincinnati BengalsPittsburgh SteelersCIN -2.5Bengals
Baltimore RavensDetroit LionsDET -6Lions
Spread info via Vegas Insider


Carolina Panthers (-11) vs. New York Jets

Rex Ryan did not seem to have a lot of confidence when talking about stopping Cam Newton. According to Rich Cimini of ESPN, the Jets head coach had this to say about the opposing quarterback:

This guy's a scary athlete. And when you meet him, he's scary because it's like, 'Oh, my gosh.' I just remember that when we were in the preseason. I'm like, 'Who's going to tackle that guy?' He's about as good looking an athlete at quarterback as I've ever seen, and he can throw. He's got a bazooka for an arm. The kid's just ridiculous. It's Calvin Pace back there.

Despite a poor performance in Week 14, everything said about Newton is true. Even with a good defense, the Jets will have a hard time "tackling that guy" or even slowing him down through the air. 

Meanwhile, the Panthers still have the No. 1 scoring defense in the NFL and are going against a quarterback in Geno Smith who has an embarrassing 53.7 quarterback rating on the road.

While this spread is a large one, New York has a tendency to go down hard when it loses. The team's seven losses have been by an average margin of 20 points, and the only single-digit loss came in Week 2.

The Panthers will set out to redeem themselves after losing to the New Orleans Saints in their last game. The Jets will pay for this and lose in a blowout.


Kansas City Chiefs (-4.5) at Oakland Raiders

After three losses in a row, the Chiefs got back on track with a blowout win over the Washington Redskins. In that game, they scored touchdowns off passes, runs, punt returns and kick returns to complete a dominant all-around effort.

This is bad news for opponents who are hoping that they had fallen off after a 9-0 start.

Even if Justin Houston is unable to return from his elbow injury, the Chiefs should still put a lot of pressure on young quarterback Matt McGloin and force him into plenty of mistakes.

Meanwhile, the Raiders defense should inspire no confidence this week after allowing a big game out of Geno Smith in Week 14. In fact, only three teams have allowed a better passer rating to opposing quarterbacks than Oakland this season.

The efficient Alex Smith should put up big numbers against this struggling unit and help the Chiefs move to 6-1 on the road this season.


Chicago Bears (-1) at Cleveland Browns

Adam Schefter of ESPN reported that Jay Cutler—not Josh McCown—will get the start at quarterback on Sunday:

This caused plenty of debate, as McCown has been performing well in relief, throwing 13 touchdown passes to only one interception. However, Cutler has more natural talent and should be able to utilize the weapons around him.

As NFL on ESPN points out, the Bears had the best wide receiver duo in the league entering the week:

While Cleveland Browns cornerback Joe Haden can shut down many players, he will not be able to stick with both Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery.

On the other side of the ball, the Bears have had a real problem stopping the run. However, the Browns cannot take advantage of this with the league's No. 28 rushing offense.

The Bears should remain in the division race with a big road win in Week 15.


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