NFL Picks Week 15: 7 Games Bettors Should Avoid
With three weeks left in the NFL’s regular season, the pressure is on for teams all over the country. Division championships, wild-card seeding and playoff revenue are at stake these last few weeks.
Speaking of revenue, with three weeks left in the regular season that means the American public is running out of time to make money (or lose it) on Sunday afternoons.
This week is going to be no exception; there are seven games that the average bettor should avoid at all costs if they want to come away from the weekend ahead.
Here are the seven games, in order of when they will be played.
1. Jaguars at Falcons (Falcons -11)
Either Jacksonville is being somewhat competent at all three aspects of the game or Tampa Bay needs to simultaneously fire Josh Freeman and Raheem Morris. How do you explain what happened Sunday?
At one point in the second quarter Tampa Bay was up 14-0 after the Jaguars' first four possessions resulted in three punts and an interception for a total of 30 yards. Someone somewhere must have flipped a switch at that point because the Jags went on a 41-0 run for the remainder of the game.
Atlanta on the other hand continues to sneak away with close wins against bad teams and regardless of Matt Ryan throwing four touchdowns Sunday, I still don’t trust him one bit. I can’t remember a single dominant Atlanta performance this season. Can you?
Despite Jacksonville having to go on the road on a short week, I think 11 is too high of a line given the inconsistencies of the Falcons defense and the consistencies of MJD running (and catching) the ball.
2. Redskins at Giants (Giants -6.5)
Who has a worse secondary, the Patriots or the Giants? If you say the Patriots, then you like this line but if you're like me and you say the Giants, then this line scares you too.
The Giants secondary is abysmal. Miles Austin apparently lost a game-winning pass in the lights Sunday night but it seemed like the Giants secondary lost Laurent Robinson and the Cowboys receiving corps in the lights all night long.
Washington, despite being 4-9, doesn't look all that bad on a weekly basis. Rex Grossman showed signs that he wasn't an extra on The Walking Dead again Sunday, passing for over 250 yards, and the Redskins receivers had fun out there against a nonexistent Pats secondary.
Those same receivers will be matched up against an equally poor secondary this Sunday and the 'Skins won't come away with a win, but they'll definitely keep it close.
3. Saints at Vikings (Saints -7.5)
Is Joe Webb better than Christian Ponder? Did the Vikings panic this April when drafting Ponder, creating a half-dozen issues this coming April (when they most likely have the second overall pick in the draft)? The answer, unequivocally, is yes.
The Vikings went down in Detroit 21-0 in the first quarter and after a mediocre run by Ponder (but another three interceptions), Webb went into the game and took over. He ran the ball, he threw the ball, he scored the ball (over and over) and minus a goal-line breakdown, looked really good.
New Orleans, on the other hand, are now 10-3 but have somehow not yet been called out for their dismal road performances this season. They’re 4-3 on the road and in Saints terms, got shut down in Tennessee Sunday.
Brees and Company will feel comfortable in Minnesota because it’s a road game in a dome, but the league’s best sack artist, Jared Allen, will be coming for Drew Brees and as bad as the Vikings secondary is, Joe Webb may somehow someway keep the Vikings in the game—especially if Adrian Peterson comes back.
4. Seahawks at Bears (Bears -4.5)
Granted we have not yet seen the Seahawks' Week 14 performance (they play tonight against the St. Louis Rams), I still think this line is trouble because I think Caleb Hanie is trouble.
He took a giant step in the right direction yesterday by not throwing three interceptions; as a matter of fact, he didn't throw any. But for a young quarterback who isn't quite up to speed, it really hurts him to not have the check-down to Forte as an option when all else fails.
The running game for the Bears is not quite optimal either. Despite running for over 150 yards and 4.2 a carry in Denver, Marion Barber showed his true colors yet again essentially costing his team the game (he ran out of bounds inside of two minutes as Chicago was trying to kill the clock).
On the other side of the field you have the Seahawks. They will be traveling to Chicago on a bit of a short week but with the playmaking ability they have on offense, I don't see them losing, let alone by more than 4.5.
5. Panthers at Texans (Texans -6.5)
This line is trouble for a few reasons.
Despite T.J. Yates showing his proficiency at the quarterback position the last couple of weeks, without Andre Johnson it is still pretty tough for the Texans to score. Yates may have a future in the NFL as a solid starter, but can he outscore Cam Newton by at least a touchdown?
The Panthers, on the other hand, are all over the place. They may have the NFL’s worst defense (they gave up 24 straight in the second half) and yet their offense manages to keep them in the majority of the games they play.
Sunday against the Falcons, Newton had another mediocre rookie performance but the running game was on point, netting 6.8 yards per carry.
Carolina going on the road to Houston is an interesting game on several levels. The Texans defense seems capable of slowing down the explosive pass game and consistent run game the Panthers bring to the table, but on the other side of the ball, is T.J. Yates good enough yet to pick apart a weak defense.
I don’t see a blowout, but I do see a Texans win.
6. Patriots at Broncos (Patriots -6)
How big of a lead do the Patriots need to have going into the fourth quarter Sunday for them to maintain their lead and come away with the win. Seventeen? Twenty-one?
For those of you that didn't see the Patriots-Redskins game yesterday, Washington marched up and down the field all day long against the Pats secondary (who now play two offensive players at safety).
Denver, on the other hand, had a typical Tebow-led game Sunday. He was atrocious through three quarters and when they were down in the fourth and John Fox simply said, "go get them, Tim," he did just that. Thanks to some serious Bears meltdowns and some improbable field goals on Denver's part, they won again.
As bad as Tebow looks sometimes, the Patriots secondary is always that bad. The Broncos feed off their home crowd and the vibe in the building, something Brady simply isn't ready for.
More than anything though, I'm done picking against Tim Tebow. Why would anyone put money on him losing?
7. Jets at Eagles (Eagles -3)
Is it me, or have the Jets possibly figured it out?
Mark Sanchez has now strung together three solid performances in a row as the Jets have won three straight games. Couple that with Shonn Greene's resurgence and the easy schedule they've had (until now) and the smash-mouth Jets of old may be back.
Philadelphia, on the other hand, is bad. Don't be fooled by Vince Young's few weeks of mediocre play and definitely don't be fooled by their win against the Dolphins Sunday. Once Jake Long left the game with an injury for Miami, they fell apart. It was a hollow Eagles win to say the least.
The Eagles have nothing to play for Sunday when the Jets come into town and the Jets still have everything to play for. The way their offense seems to now be clicking is trouble for Philadelphia and bettors.