NFL Picks Week 15: Underdogs Guaranteed to Get the Upset

Shehan PeirisCorrespondent IIIDecember 15, 2013

Nov 24, 2013; Baltimore, MD, USA; Baltimore Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco (5) looks on during the game against the New York Jets at M&T Bank Stadium. The Ravens won 19-3. Mandatory Credit: Evan Habeeb-USA TODAY Sports
Evan Habeeb-USA TODAY Sports

Each and every week of the 2013 NFL season has been impossible to predict, and that trend will continue in Week 15 with some surprising upsets. Here are the picks (both straight up and against the spread) and a breakdown of the upsets that are sure to happen this weekend.

Week 15 Picks
Away TeamHome TeamPickATS Pick
Washington RedskinsAtlanta FalconsAtlanta FalconsATL -6
San Francisco 49ersTampa Bay BuccaneersTampa Bay BuccaneersTB +5.5
Seattle SeahawksNew York GiantsSeattle SeahawksSEA -7
Chicago BearsCleveland BrownsCleveland BrownsCLE +1
Houston TexansIndianapolis ColtsIndianapolis ColtsHOU +5.5
Buffalo BillsJacksonville JaguarsJacksonville JaguarsJAC +2.5
New England PatriotsMiami DolphinsNew England PatriotsNE Pick
Philadelphia EaglesMinnesota VikingsPhiladelphia EaglesPHI -6.5
New York JetsCarolina PanthersCarolina PanthersNYJ -10
Kansas City ChiefsOakland RaidersKansas City ChiefsKC -5.5
Arizona CardinalsTennessee TitansArizona CardinalsTEN +3
New Orleans SaintsSt. Louis RamsNew Orleans SaintsNO -6.5
Green Bay PackersDallas CowboysDallas CowboysDAL -6.5
Cincinnati BengalsPittsburgh SteelersPittsburgh SteelersPIT +2.5
Baltimore RavensDetroit LionsBaltimore RavensBAL +6
All spreads courtesy of VegasInsider.com

 

Baltimore Ravens (+6.5) over Detroit Lions

Nov 24, 2013; Baltimore, MD, USA; Baltimore Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco (5) reacts after throwing a 66 yard touchdown pass in the third quarter against the New York Jets at M&T Bank Stadium. The Ravens won 19-3. Mandatory Credit: Evan Habeeb-USA TODAY S
Evan Habeeb-USA TODAY Sports

The Baltimore Ravens have struggled mightily as the defending Super Bowl champions, but they’ve quietly won three games in a row. Granted, those games were all at home, but the Ravens offense has been better in those games.

In addition, the return of tight end Dennis Pitta has given Joe Flacco a go-to target in tough situations. The running gameor lack thereofis still a problem, but the Detroit Lions secondary can be exposed.

The Lions are the 25th-ranked pass defense in the NFL, and Baltimore has an underrated receiving corps now that Pitta is back in the mix.

Detroit Lions Pass Defense
Passing Yards Allowed Per GameYards Per AttemptPasser Rating Allowed Per Game
2567.788.3
ESPN.com

This game is going to be a shootout, and a very good Ravens defense will carry Baltimore to a crucial road win.

Prediction: Baltimore 31, Detroit 27

 

Pittsburgh Steelers (+2) over Cincinnati Bengals

Dec 8, 2013; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger (7) celebrates a touchdown with wide receiver Antonio Brown (84) against the Miami Dolphins during the second half at Heinz Field. The Dolphins won the game, 34-27. Manda
Jason Bridge-USA TODAY Sports

The Cincinnati Bengals routed the Indianapolis Colts last week, but that was Andy Dalton’s first good performance in four games.

Andy Dalton's Last 5 Games
WeekPasser Rating
955.4
1052.3
1162.7
1383.6
14120.5
ESPN.com

Furthermore, Dalton’s struggles have largely come on the road.

Andy Dalton Home and Away
LocationTDsINTsRating
Home14598.9
Away111180.0
ESPN.com

In Week 15, Dalton and the Bengals travel to Heinz Field to play a Pittsburgh Steelers team looking to play spoiler.

Ben Roethlisberger has been in excellent form and leads a dangerous Steelers offense that is averaging 28 points per game in its last four contests. Pittsburgh has been relying on the passing game, and Roethlisberger has rewarded that faith due to better offensive line play.

Steelers Sacks Allowed
GamesSacks AllowedSacks Per Game
1-8354.4
9-1351.0
ESPN.com

Antonio Brown, the league’s leader in receptions, will create problems for a Bengals defense that is missing cornerback Leon Hall, and the Steelers will help out their archrival Ravens by beating Cincinnati at home.

Prediction: Pittsburgh 23, Cincinnati 20

 

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (+5) over San Francisco 49ers

Dec 8, 2013; Tampa, FL, USA; Tampa Bay Buccaneers tight end Timothy Wright (81) congratulates wide receiver Vincent Jackson (83) after he scored a touchdown during the second half of the game against the Buffalo Bills at Raymond James Stadium. Mandatory C
Rob Foldy-USA TODAY Sports

This is a classic trap game for the San Francisco 49ers. They’re flying across the country to play a game at 10 a.m. on their West Coast clocks. To make matters worse, they’re doing this after the most important game of their season last week when they beat their NFC West rival Seattle Seahawks.

In addition, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are actually playing pretty well right now. The Bucs are second in the league with a turnover differential of plus-13, and their defensive front (led by Gerald McCoy) will pose some problems for a Niners offensive line that could be without starting guard Mike Iupati.

Mike Glennon has been playing well recently, passing for 2,052 yards and 15 TDs since taking over as the starter.

With playmakers on both sides of the ball, Tampa Bay will be able to jump on the Niners early and pull off the upset.

Prediction: Tampa Bay 24, San Francisco 17