B/R Expert Consensus NFL Picks for Week 15

NFL StaffContributor IDecember 12, 2019

B/R Expert Consensus NFL Picks for Week 15

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    Justin K. Aller/Getty Images

    Better late than never for Bleacher Report NFL analysts Gary DavenportBrad Gagnon and Brent Sobleski, who, after a few rough months, have posted a combined record of 58-35-3 picking games against the spread the last two weeks. 

    All three of our predictors are over .500 during that stretch, with Gagnon at 21-10-1 and the consensus at 20-11-1. And now the majority of the panel is at or above .500 with 48 regular-season games remaining. 

    Through 14 weeks, here's the big picture (last week's records in parentheses):

    1. Brad Gagnon: 109-97-2 (10-5-1) 

    2. Brent Sobleski: 103-103-2 (11-4-1)

    3. Gary Davenport: 96-110-2 (9-6-1)

    Consensus picks: 99-107-2 (11-4-1)

    Moneyline consensus: 134-72-2 (12-4)

    And here's their attempt to stay hot with 16 fresh selections for Week 15.

                 

    Lines from Caesars as of 8 p.m. ET on Wednesday, Dec. 11.

New York Jets (5-8) at Baltimore Ravens (11-2)

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    Timothy T Ludwig/Getty Images

    Betting on a team laying more than two touchdowns is terrifying, and we don't recommend spending any of your holiday budget on the Baltimore Ravens as 16-point favorites. But if you have to go one way or the other, Baltimore still seems like the better bet than a depleted New York Jets team traveling on short rest for the final Thursday Night Football game of 2019. 

    "Yes, Lamar Jackson is nursing a quad injury," Davenport said. "And yes, this point spread is huge. But Jackson has already stated that he's playing Thursday night, and the Ravens can't afford to take their foot off the gas just yet. The Jets, on the other hand, aren't exactly firing on all cylinders—although I hear some of the players are really good at bowling. This feels like a blowout, although, given my record this season, that means the Jets will probably win outright." 

    The Jets got hot in November, but they were without defensive backs Jamal Adams, Brian Poole and Arthur Maulet on Sunday against the Miami Dolphins. Le'Veon Bell might return from an illness, but now back Bilal Powell is out with an ankle injury. It's a mess, which doesn't bode well for a team that has lost five of its six road games this season, with all four of those losses coming by 14-plus points (including a double-digit loss in Cincinnati). 

    So even though the Ravens are just 2-4 ATS at home this season, this feels like a cakewalk waiting to happen.

         

    Predictions
    Davenport: Baltimore (-16)
    Gagnon: Baltimore (-16)
    Sobleski: Baltimore (-16)
    Consensus: Baltimore (-16)

    Score Prediction: Ravens 34, Jets 13

Chicago Bears (7-6) at Green Bay Packers (10-3)

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    At some books, the Green Bay Packers opened as a seven-point favorite for their Week 15 matchup with the Chicago Bears. That arguably represented strong line value for a desperate Bears team that has performed pretty well during a three-game winning streak. But that spread has plummeted to 4.5 points, and now the majority of our crew is ready to pounce on the Packers at home. 

    "This is one of the tougher calls of the week," Davenport said. "The Packers look vulnerable, the Bears looked as good last week against Dallas as they have all season, and the Bears' backs are against the wall. But it's also Aaron Rodgers against Chicago at Lambeau Field. Rodgers is 17-5 in 22 starts against the Bears and has a winning percentage at home of .787. Rodgers will continue to torment the Bears, and the Pack will win by at least a touchdown."

    There's also a question as to whether the Bears can sustain this. With Akiem Hicks back, the defense can certainly keep anyone in check. But quarterback Mitchell Trubisky has never been consistent, and after back-to-back strong games, he could be in trouble against a good pass rush in a hostile environment. 

    But there's no unanimous consensus here, as Gagnon thinks the talented Chicago defense can keep things close after extra time off following a Thursday night game. Considering that the Packers beat the lowly Washington Redskins by only five points in Week 14, that's entirely possible. 

         

    Predictions
    Davenport: Green Bay (-4.5)
    Gagnon: Chicago (+4.5)
    Sobleski: Green Bay (-4.5)
    Consensus: Green Bay (-4.5)

    Score Prediction: Packers 23, Bears 17

Denver Broncos (5-8) at Kansas City Chiefs (9-4)

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    It's too late for the Denver Broncos to make a run now, but a young Broncos team is playing hard for first-year head coach Vic Fangio. And while Arrowhead is a tough road environment, these Broncos just hammered the AFC South-leading Houston Texans away from home, and that came just a few weeks after they held a 20-0 halftime lead over the Vikings in Minnesota. 

    That spunk combined with a new injury to star Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes has the majority of our analysts backing the Broncos with 9.5 points in their back pocket Sunday in K.C. 

    Plus, there's the whole Drew Lock phenomenon. 

    "Lock's inclusion to the lineup created a spark within the entire Broncos organization," Sobleski said. "Does this mean Denver is better than the Chiefs and will go into Kansas City to secure a victory? Absolutely not. But a significant point spread shouldn't be overlooked considering the Broncos are scoring 30.5 points per game since Lock took over the offense."

    Lock has completed 72.7 percent of his passes and has a 111.4 passer rating, while the Denver defense has generated five takeaways in back-to-back wins. Meanwhile, the Chiefs offense generated just three second-half points after Mahomes injured his throwing hand against the New England Patriots in Week 14. He looks as though he'll be good to go Sunday, but it's fair to say he's far from 100 percent. 

    Gagnon doesn't care. He thinks the Broncos are destined to come back to earth against a team that is 4-0 with a scoring margin of 122-42 against divisional opponents this season. And it's worth noting that those picking against the majority as lone wolves are 64-53-2 this season.

         

    Predictions
    Davenport: Denver (+9.5)
    Gagnon: Kansas City (-9.5)
    Sobleski: Denver (+9.5)
    Consensus: Denver (+9.5)

    Score Prediction: Chiefs 27, Broncos 20

Houston Texans (8-5) at Tennessee Titans (8-5)

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    Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images

    You might not trust the streaking Tennessee Titans just yet, but after a blowout home loss to Denver, the Houston Texans aren't any more trustworthy. Houston's vulnerable defense was embarrassed by Lock, and now it'll have to deal with the hottest offense in football on the road. 

    Under those circumstances, our experts are unanimously willing to lay a field goal. 

    "The Titans are simply the better team at this point in time, as the Texans continue to provide inconsistent efforts since their bye," Sobleski said. "Tennessee, meanwhile, has found its offensive groove with four straight victories in which the offense scored at least 31 points. The Texans haven't scored 31 points since Week 6."

    The Texans rarely get blown out, but they were smoked in their last game at home as well as their last game on the road. And while laying points with notoriously unpredictable Tennessee is always a little risky, we're talking about just three points with a team that has the league's top-rated passer and second-leading rusher. 

    During the Titans' four-game winning streak, Ryan Tannehill has completed 75.6 percent of his passes for 1,013 yards, nine touchdowns and one interception, and his passer rating is an unreal 144.2. Meanwhile, Derrick Henry has rushed for 599 yards and averaged 7.0 yards per carry during the same stretch. 

    Those two might eventually slow down, but our guys wouldn't bet on that happening against a Houston D that ranks 27th in DVOA (defense-adjusted value over average) at Football Outsiders

         

    Predictions
    Davenport: Tennessee (-3)
    Gagnon: Tennessee (-3)
    Sobleski: Tennessee (-3)
    Consensus: Tennessee (-3)

    Score Prediction: Titans 30, Texans 24

Miami Dolphins (3-10) at New York Giants (2-11)

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    Sarah Stier/Getty Images

    The New York Giants undoubtedly have a lot more talent than the Miami Dolphins, who have essentially been using a skeleton roster all season. But the Giants have lost nine consecutive games, while the Dolphins have covered seven of their last nine spreads

    The majority of our analysts can't justify backing the G-Men on short rest after a deflating overtime divisional loss, especially with Miami getting 3.5 points at MetLife Stadium. 

    "There's no way I'm laying a field goal plus a hook with a team that hasn't won since September," Gagnon said. "The Giants are probably emotionally and physically exhausted after choking on Monday Night Football, and now they have to go up against a fiery Miami team that is giving head coach Brian Flores everything it has on a weekly basis."

    The Giants do have more actual professional-caliber football players than the Dolphins, and a player like Saquon Barkley could hijack this game. But Miami's run defense has actually held it together with a middle-of-the-pack 4.3 opposing yards-per-attempt average since Week 9, and the banged-up Barkley hasn't been himself all season anyway. Plus, Dolphins quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick has the ability to go off on the Giants' 28th-ranked pass defense in terms of DVOA.

    Still, Davenport isn't on board. He saw signs of life Monday night from a Giants team that just might be due, and nobody can be faulted for picking against the talent-starved Dolphins. It's probably for the best that there's no unanimous consensus here. 

               

    Predictions
    Davenport: New York (-3.5)
    Gagnon: Miami (+3.5)
    Sobleski: Miami (+3.5)
    Consensus: Miami (+3.5)

    Score Prediction: Dolphins 24, Giants 23

New England Patriots (10-3) at Cincinnati Bengals (1-12)

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    Last time the New England Patriots faced this much scrutiny, they had just lost to the Chiefs in 2014 to fall to 2-2, and Bill Belichick famously kept telling the media that they were "on to Cincinnati." They smashed the Bengals by 26 points the following weekend and never looked back en route to the Super Bowl. 

    Are the Bengals once again in the wrong place at the wrong time? 

    The Pats rarely lose three consecutive games. In fact, they haven't done so since 2002. In the last 17 years, they're 7-0 with an average margin of victory of 22.0 points when coming off back-to-back losses. 

    All seven of those wins have come by 10-plus points, which is why it's a little bit odd that a 1-12 Bengals team is getting only 9.5 points here. 

    "It's obvious that the Patriots are going to blow Cincinnati out, because as a result of their nefarious espionage they now know all the secrets to Cincinnati's success," Davenport joked. "Sarcasm aside, the Bengals have gotten better on offense, but they aren't good. The Cincinnati defense is terrible. The Patriots are trying to halt a two-game skid and hang onto the No. 2 seed in the AFC. And I can already hear Tom Brady telling his teammates how no one believes in them and it's them against the world and all that nonsense. New England by 14 is a conservative estimate."

    It's a consensus. Maybe Brady and the Patriots are declining, but we're still talking about a likely-pissed-off Belichick against a bad team led by a rookie head coach. 

    Against teams that currently have five or fewer wins this season, the Patriots are 5-0 with an average scoring margin of 35-7. Don't overthink this. 

         

    Predictions
    Davenport: New England (-9.5)
    Gagnon: New England (-9.5)
    Sobleski: New England (-9.5)
    Consensus: New England (-9.5)

    Score Prediction: Patriots 27, Bengals 14

Philadelphia Eagles (6-7) at Washington Redskins (3-10)

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    Quinn Harris/Getty Images

    What's left of the Philadelphia Eagles? 

    That's the question the majority of our analysts are asking as they try to determine whether the depleted, potentially run-down Eagles can even cover a 4.5-point road spread on the road against a feisty division rival on Sunday in Washington. 

    "Philly had to scratch and claw to beat the Giants at home," Gagnon said, "and it lost offensive starters Alshon Jeffery and Lane Johnson in the process. On short rest coming off an overtime game, an injury-ravaged team that has just once convincing win dating back to Week 6 can't possibly be laying more than a field goal on the road. I know the Redskins aren't good, but they've actually managed to outscore their last three points by an average of 2.0 points per outing. They'll hang in here, and they might even pull off the upset."

    Washington's defense is quietly one of just nine in the league that have surrendered fewer than 20.0 points per game since Week 6. They generate takeaways, and they often keep games close by grinding out yardage on the ground. 

    But Sobleski stands in dissent. He's backing an Eagles team that is well-coached, mentally strong and resilient with its back against the wall. The Eagles went on a three-game winning streak in December 2017 despite losing quarterback Carson Wentz, and they also finished last season on a three-game winning streak to sneak into the playoffs. They need this one badly, and they might not mess around against an inferior opponent. 

    They could be fired up after last week's comeback, and the Redskins are also far from healthy after losing running back Derrius Guice to a knee injury in Week 14. So be careful with this one. 

         

    Predictions
    Davenport: Washington (+4.5)
    Gagnon: Washington (+4.5)
    Sobleski: Philadelphia (-4.5)
    Consensus: Washington (+4.5)

    Score Prediction: Eagles 21, Redskins 20

Seattle Seahawks (10-3) at Carolina Panthers (5-8)

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    Few teams this week have received a larger share of the bets in their favor than the Seattle Seahawks, who are laying six points for a Sunday road matchup with the free-falling Carolina Panthers. And while it's always tempting to fade the public in these situations, none of our panelists can get behind the home underdog in this spot. 

    "The only reason anyone would bet against Seattle this weekend is due to a cross-country trip while playing during the 1 p.m. ET slate of games," Sobleski said. "Don't let that deter you, though. The Seahawks are a far superior team compared to Carolina, especially after the Panthers didn't respond with a renewed vigor after their head coach's firing a week ago."

    Indeed, the Panthers fired Ron Rivera and then got blown out in Atlanta. And while they're back at home now, the Seahawks present a bad matchup. Carolina has the league's worst run defense in terms of DVOA, and Seattle has been doing a great job controlling games on the ground with back Chris Carson. Kyle Allen and the Panthers have also become a turnover machine during their five-game losing streak, while the Seahawks have generated 13 takeaways in the last four games. 

    In fact, the Panthers are tied for the league lead in turnovers since Week 11, while Seattle leads the league in takeaways per game during the same stretch

    Throw in that Seattle is 6-1 on the road and hasn't lost back-to-back games in over a calendar year, and this appears to be a no-brainer. 

         

    Predictions
    Davenport: Seattle (-6)
    Gagnon: Seattle (-6)
    Sobleski: Seattle (-6)
    Consensus: Seattle (-6)

    Score Prediction: Seahawks 30, Panthers 20

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (6-7) at Detroit Lions (3-9-1)

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    Phelan M. Ebenhack/Associated Press

    The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have won three straight games—a stretch which includes two one-sided road victories over the Atlanta Falcons and Jacksonville Jaguars. They beat the Panthers and Rams on the road earlier this year, and they should have defeated the Titans and Seahawks away from home. 

    Bruce Arians is a good coach, and he always has his team prepared to face challenges outside of Tampa. Sunday's trip to Detroit might not even qualify as a challenge, which is why our entire gang is laying three points with the Buccaneers against the slumping Lions. 

    "This isn't an easy selection now knowing Mike Evans is expected to miss the rest of the season with a hamstring injury," Sobleski admitted. "However, Chris Godwin can pick up the slack. After all, Tampa Bay's 'second' receiver ranks second leaguewide with 1,212 receiving yards. The Bucs can't replace Evans, but they still have other offensive threats, particularly at tight end."

    While the Bucs will miss Evans, that loss is almost canceled out by Detroit's loss of receiver Marvin Jones Jr., who led the team with 62 catches before suffering a season-ending ankle injury in Week 14. The Lions have almost no depth now at the offensive skill positions, which only makes life harder for third-string quarterback David Blough. And because nobody has been able to run on the Bucs defense this season, Blough could face an impossible task Sunday.  

    You might want to monitor the status of Bucs quarterback Jameis Winston before pulling the trigger here, because Winston is dealing with a thumb injury. But as long as he's good to go, Tampa Bay looks like a great play minus three points against a Lions team that might lack the teeth to take advantage of Winston's bad habits sans Evans. 

         

    Predictions
    Davenport: Tampa Bay (-3)
    Gagnon: Tampa Bay (-3)
    Sobleski: Tampa Bay (-3)
    Consensus: Tampa Bay (-3)

    Score Prediction: Buccaneers 28, Lions 17

Cleveland Browns (6-7) at Arizona Cardinals (3-9-1)

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    Christian Petersen/Getty Images

    Against opponents that currently own losing records this season, the Arizona Cardinals are 3-2-1 straight-up and 5-1 against the spread. They've struggled mightily against quality opponents with fierce defenses, but the Cleveland Browns aren't a quality opponent (they haven't won on the road since September) and they don't have a fierce defense (they have only four takeaways and seven sacks since losing top pass-rusher Myles Garrett three games ago). 

    With that in mind, the majority of our predictors are happy to take 2.5 points with the Cardinals at home against the now-virtually-eliminated Browns on Sunday. 

    "There's a lot of negativity surrounding the Browns right now," Gagnon said. "They beat the terrible Bengals without covering and are now traveling amid more Odell Beckham Jr.-related controversy. Both Beckham and quarterback Baker Mayfield are also dealing with injuries, which could make it hard to take advantage of Arizona's horrible pass defense. The Cardinals run defense isn't bad at all, so they should contain Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt. And I'm not sure the Browns will be able to fluster Kyler Murray without Garrett. Arizona should win outright." 

    But we again lack a unanimous consensus. Sobleski isn't giving up on the Browns, who still have a talent edge over a Cards team that has scored only 24 total points in its last two home games. Tread carefully here. 

         

    Predictions
    Davenport: Arizona (+2.5)
    Gagnon: Arizona (+2.5)
    Sobleski: Browns (-2.5)
    Consensus: Arizona (+2.5)

    Score Prediction: Cardinals 24, Browns 23

Jacksonville Jaguars (4-9) at Oakland Raiders (6-7)

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    Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images

    Neither is often classified as terrible, but the Jacksonville Jaguars and Oakland Raiders have been two of the worst teams in the NFL this season. Only four teams have worse scoring margins, and they each rank in the bottom 10 in DVOA

    But the Raiders have won three of their home games by seven or more points as they complete their final season in Oakland. And Sunday's matchup with the slumping Jaguars is their final game there.   

    The Raiders' emotional motivation alone should be enough for them to cover a 6.5-point spread against the first team since 1986 to lose five consecutive games by three-plus scores in one season. 

    "The Raiders have fallen completely apart on defense, and running back Josh Jacobs is probably still far from 100 percent," Davenport said. "But my confidence in this pick is as high as my confidence gets in any pick at this point—which is to say four inches off the ground because I suck this year. The Jags have been blown out in five straight games, and this is the last home game at the Black Hole. Even I can't screw this up. Raiders win big."

    It's unanimous, but neither team is trustworthy right now, and that's admittedly a lot of points. This isn't a game on which you should break the bank. 

         

    Predictions
    Davenport: Oakland (-6.5)
    Gagnon: Oakland (-6.5)
    Sobleski: Oakland (-6.5)
    Consensus: Oakland (-6.5)

    Score Prediction: Raiders 30, Jaguars 17

Minnesota Vikings (9-4) at Los Angeles Chargers (5-8)

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    Sam Greenwood/Getty Images

    The vast majority of the public is backing the Minnesota Vikings minus-2.5 points on the road Sunday against the enigmatic Los Angeles Chargers. Our experts are fading that, but with admittedly low confidence. 

    "I'm not gonna lie," Gagnon said, "I stared at this one for a while. At first glance, the Vikings seem like the logical pick. They're the much better team in the standings, they're laying only 2.5 points, and they should essentially feel at home against a team that has no home-field advantage. They also should have starting receiver Adam Thielen back from injury, which is why I wouldn't bet on the Chargers here. 

    "But I also wouldn't bet on the Vikes, who face a bad matchup in this spot. Minnesota's secondary is a mess, and Philip Rivers has the weapons to take advantage of that. The Chargers run defense has also been lights-out now that they're healthier on that side of the ball. That could enable them to limit Dalvin Cook and use Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram III to dial up pressure against Kirk Cousins. Minnesota could be walking into a trap against a Bolts team that is suddenly healthy and clearly not giving up."

    The Chargers are fresh off a 45-10 road victory over the Jaguars. They're much better than their record might suggest, especially now that they have guys like Derwin James, Adrian Phillips, Brandon Mebane Ingram, Russell Okung and Hunter Henry healthy. 

    Still, it's fitting that there isn't a unanimous consensus here. 

         

    Predictions
    Davenport: Los Angeles (+2.5)
    Gagnon: Los Angeles (+2.5)
    Sobleski: Minnesota (-2.5)
    Consensus: Los Angeles (+2.5)

    Score Prediction: Chargers 26, Vikings 24

Atlanta Falcons (4-9) at San Francisco 49ers (11-2)

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    Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images

    After playing four teams currently slated to make the playoffs in a five-week stretch, the San Francisco 49ers are finally free. Back at home following two close games against Baltimore and the New Orleans Saints, San Francisco should get a chance to feast on an Atlanta Falcons team that just lost key starters Calvin Ridley and Desmond Trufant to season-ending injuries. 

    Under those circumstances, two of our three analysts are willing to lay 11 points and back San Francisco. 

    "A two-score spread should give everyone pause since the Falcons are playing much better in recent weeks," Sobleski cautioned. "With that said, the 49ers front will hound Matt Ryan all afternoon long. Ryan has been sacked 16 times in the last three weeks and is now facing the league's best defensive line."

    It is indeed a scary matchup for Ryan, especially without Ridley. Meanwhile, the suddenly smoking-hot Jimmy Garoppolo should have plenty of opportunities to attack a shorthanded secondary, particularly if Atlanta's inconsistent pass rush doesn't show up. 

    Yet Gagnon is happy to take 11 points with Ryan, who lit up the Panthers last week and won't have to deal with Dee Ford or Richard Sherman, both of whom have hamstring injuries. Throw in that center Weston Richburg's season-ending injury could also present problems for the 49ers offense, and this isn't an easy bet. 

         

    Predictions
    Davenport: San Francisco (-11)
    Gagnon: Atlanta (+11)
    Sobleski: San Francisco (-11)
    Consensus: San Francisco (-11)

    Score Prediction: 49ers 31, Falcons 17

Los Angeles Rams (8-5) at Dallas Cowboys (6-7)

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    Kyusung Gong/Associated Press

    "I could try to say something marginally clever here," Davenport said about his take on this week's matchup between the Los Angeles Rams and Dallas Cowboys in Texas. "Maybe make fun of the Dallas losing streak. Throw in a Jason Garrett unemployment joke. Or some more self-flagellation about my abysmal record this year. (Which is Gagnon's fault. I haven't figured out how yet, but it totally is.)

    "Or I could just point out that these teams are barreling in opposite directions and you'd be hard-pressed to find an unbiased observer who doesn't think the Rams are a better football team."

    That would explain why the Rams aren't just favored on the road against a team that has had extra time to prepare, but why nearly 90 percent of the public is backing L.A. That's often something worth fading, but our guys can't get behind the Cowboys with only a single point in their back pocket. 

    This is essentially a pick'em, but the Rams are healthier and hotter, and the Cowboys are 0-6 this season against teams that currently have winning records. 

    Aside from what appears to be an aberration against the Ravens, the Rams defense has been one of the most dominant units in the league dating back to the middle of October. They're superb against both the pass and the run, which could have the banged-up Dallas offense picking its poison. 

    Jared Goff could have a nightmare game, or Dak Prescott or Ezekiel Elliott might carry Dallas to a much-needed victory at home. But the rest of the Rams offense has done a much better job supporting Goff as of late, and Prescott's hand injury could be problematic as well. 

    Keep it simple, stupid. 

         

    Predictions
    Davenport: Los Angeles (-1.5)
    Gagnon: Los Angeles (-1.5)
    Sobleski: Los Angeles (-1.5)
    Consensus: Los Angeles (-1.5)

    Score Prediction: Rams 27, Cowboys 20

Buffalo Bills (9-4) at Pittsburgh Steelers (8-5)

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    Gene J. Puskar/Associated Press

    Left for dead by most observers when they were without Ben Roethlisberger and sitting at 0-3, the Pittsburgh Steelers have lost only one game in regulation since Week 4. Thanks mainly to the league's most opportunistic defensethey lead the NFL with 33 takeawaysthe Steelers have surprisingly remained competitive despite a slew of offensive injuries. 

    Now, just as they appear to be peaking, it looks as though they'll get key offensive players JuJu Smith-Schuster and James Conner back for a Week 15 prime-time home game against the offensively challenged Buffalo Bills. 

    So why are they laying only two points? The majority of our experts are puzzled, including the picks leader. 

    "This spread suggests the Bills are the better team, which is nonsensical," Gagnon said. "The Bills still can't be trusted on offense, whereas the Pittsburgh offense has improved every week with rookie quarterback Devlin Hodges under center. Now Hodges should finally have Smith-Schuster and Conner, which should give Pittsburgh a chance against a D that is certainly stout but doesn't make a lot of splash plays.

    "The Steelers defense, on the other hand, is the king of splash. And it should be able to make some plays against the inconsistent and unreliable Josh Allen, who has taken 10 sacks in the last two weeks."

    Davenport is rolling with the Bills, though, and it's entirely possible that No. 2-ranked scoring defense will put Hodges in his place. Still, Pittsburgh looks like the safer pick here. 

         

    Predictions
    Davenport: Buffalo (+2)
    Gagnon: Pittsburgh (-2)
    Sobleski: Pittsburgh (-2)
    Consensus: Pittsburgh (-2)

    Score Prediction: Steelers 20, Bills 14

                


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Indianapolis Colts (6-7) at New Orleans Saints (10-3)

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    Julio Aguilar/Getty Images

    The Indianapolis Colts' only victory since the start of November came against the Jaguars, who are currently mired in one of the worst stretches in recent memory. They've succumbed to a rash of injuries on both sides of the ball, which explains to an extent why they're getting nine points from the New Orleans Saints at the Superdome on Monday night. 

    But Indy battles. The well-coached, mentally tough Colts have lost by a double-digit margin only once this season, and that 31-17 loss to Tennessee was closer than the score indicates. Considering the fact that the Saints are also hurting with key trench players Terron Armstead (ankle), Marcus Davenport (foot) and Sheldon Rankins (Achilles) all injured, the majority of our predictors are taking the points. 

    "The Saints are the obvious choice if you're betting straight-up instead of against the spread," Sobleski said. "But a two-score spread shifts to the Colts' favor for two reasons. First, New Orleans is coming off an emotionally draining loss to the 49ers. Second, the Colts have lost their last three contests by less than a touchdown on average."

    Alas, because it's one of those weeks, our panelists disagree again. Davenport is rolling with the Saints, who could definitely come out rocking in front of a loud crowd in prime time. So don't get carried away here. 

         

    Predictions
    Davenport: New Orleans (-9)
    Gagnon: Indianapolis (+9)
    Sobleski: Indianapolis (+9)
    Consensus: Indianapolis (+9)

    Score Prediction: Saints 27, Colts 20