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NFL Week 15 Picks: Odds, Prop Bets and Predictions Before Thursday Night

Zach Buckley@@ZachBuckleyNBANational NBA Featured ColumnistDecember 12, 2019

Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson (4) passes against the Denver Broncos during the first half of an NFL football game Sunday, Dec. 8, 2019, in Houston. (AP Photo/Eric Christian Smith)
Eric Christian Smith/Associated Press

Week 14 of the 2019 NFL season might've spoiled us.

Looking at the Week 15 slate, there isn't a matchup that jumps off the page the way San Francisco 49ers-New Orleans Saints, New England Patriots-Kansas City Chiefs or even Seattle Seahawks-Los Angeles Rams did.

But there should be some goodies. The Houston Texans and Tennessee Titans are fighting for control of the AFC South. The Buffalo Bills and Pittsburgh Steelers are waging war in the Better Than You Think Bowl. Or down in Texas, it's the Don't Count Us Out Yet Bowl featuring the Rams and Dallas Cowboys.

The slate looks like a fun one, but it can always be more entertaining with money on the line. So, we'll examine the schedule through that lens by laying out the latest point spreads from Caesars Sportsbook and predicting how they'll play out.

                      

Week 15 Point Spreads, Picks

New York Jets at Baltimore Ravens (-15.5)

New England Patriots (-9.5) at Cincinnati Bengals

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (-3.0) at Detroit Lions

Chicago Bears at Green Bay Packers (-4.0)

Houston Texans at Tennessee Titans (-3.0)

Denver Broncos at Kansas City Chiefs (-9.5)

Miami Dolphins at New York Giants (-3.5)

Philadelphia Eagles (-4.5) at Washington Redskins

Seattle Seahawks (-6.0) at Carolina Panthers

Jacksonville Jaguars at Oakland Raiders (-6.5)

Cleveland Browns (-2.5) at Arizona Cardinals

Minnesota Vikings (-2.5) at Los Angeles Chargers

Los Angeles Rams (-1.0) at Dallas Cowboys

Atlanta Falcons at San Francisco 49ers (-11.0)

Buffalo Bills at Pittsburgh Steelers (-2.0)

Indianapolis Colts at New Orleans Saints (-9.0)

                  

Houston Texans at Tennessee Titans

Those who believe in the force of momentum will be all over the Titans.

They've won four in a row and six of their seven games since making Ryan Tannehill their starting quarterback. Derrick Henry already has a career-high rushing output after clearing 100 yards each of his last four times out. Rookie wideout A.J. Brown is maturing at a rapid rate, totaling 333 receiving yards and three scores in just the last three weeks.

Those who trust talent, like yours truly, will in turn trust the Texans.

Tennessee doesn't have Deshaun Watson, he of the 3,425 passing yards and 31 touchdowns (seven rushing), Houston does. Tennessee doesn't have a weapon like DeAndre Hopkins, who's a top-10 receiver overall in catches (second), yards (sixth) and touchdowns (tied for eighth), Houston does.

The Texans will have the two most electric players on the field. When that's true of an underdog, it's hard not to pounce on the points.

Prediction: Texans 31, Titans 28

                   

Los Angeles Rams at Dallas Cowboys

Statistically, the Cowboys have been a lot better than their 6-7 record suggests.

Dallas is the only team with a player among the top five in total passing yards (Dak Prescott), rushing yards (Ezekiel Elliott) and receiving yards (Amari Cooper). The Cowboys have the ninth-best scoring offense, and their defense allows the 12th-fewest points. Add it all together, and this team has the NFL's sixth-best point differential (plus-6.7).

But at some point, you are what your record says. And according to the standings, the Cowboys are a sub-.500 club without a single signature victory.

The Rams are somewhat similar. They're more talented than your typical 8-5 team, and their plus-49 point differential ranks ahead of three different 10-win teams (Saints, Packers and Seahawks).

The difference with L.A., though, is this group has proved itself on the gridiron. Remember, this was the NFC's Super Bowl representative in February. If you don't want to go back that far, you don't have to. Just this season, the Rams have victories over the Saints, Bears and Seahawks.

Dallas has entered games with a talent advantage and lost them. It could have a talent deficit here, and there's no evidence suggesting the Cowboys can overcome that. The Rams are heating up (three wins in four weeks), and they need this game to move a step closer toward clinching their playoff berth.

Prediction: Rams 30, Cowboys 24

                 

Buffalo Bills at Pittsburgh Steelers

Fans of high-scoring football can sit this one out. Oddsmakers have tagged this tilt with a minuscule 36.5-point over/under, and given how dominant these defenses are, that might be a generous number.

Buffalo sits second overall with just 16.3 points per game. For context, that would've been last season's lowest mark—by 1.4 points. Not to be outdone, Pittsburgh sits sixth in the category at 18.6 per contest, and that figure is falling. Only one of the Steelers' last five opponents has topped 17 points, and they've allowed an average of only 14.6 during this stretch.

Bills quarterback Josh Allen will have his hands full, much like he did last week when he managed just 146 yards on 43.6 percent passing against the Ravens. The Steelers surrender the fifth-fewest passing yards per game, lead the NFL in sacks and rank second in interceptions.

But Buffalo's defense is even stingier in yards per game and attempts. Not to mention, this unit has allowed nine fewer touchdown passes than Pittsburgh. All that adds up to a long day at the office for undrafted rookie quarterback Devlin Hodges, who just played the worst pass defense in football (Arizona) and only went for 152 yards and one score against it.

The Steelers have enough stoppers to control this contest, but so do the Bills. Solving these puzzles won't be easy for either quarterback, but Allen's experience gives him the edge—especially when his team is getting points.

Prediction: Bills 20, Steelers 13

                       

Prop Bet (via OddsChecker): Derrick Henry Over 121.5 Rushing Yards (+110)

It's wild to think that just another day at the office would carry anyone to 122 rushing yards, but if Henry's total Week 15 tally ended there, it'd be his second-lowest output in five games.

The volume alone is absurd, but the efficiency is just as impressive. He has carried the ball 86 times over the last four contests and still produced at a rate of seven yards per clip.

His hot streak alone makes the over tempting, and adding the Texans rush defense to the mix only increases its appeal.

While Houston hovers around mediocrity overall, it's been backtracking in recent weeks. Two weeks back, the Texans allowed the Patriots to total 145 yards on 29 carries. The week before, Colts' spot starter Jonathan Williams had 104 rushing yards on 26 attempts. The week prior to that, the Ravens exploded for 256 yards on 37 carries.

There's little doubt Henry can move the ball against this defense. The only question is whether Tennessee contains Watson enough that it's not forced to get throw-heavy while playing catch-up. While our crystal ball sees the Texans winning, the margin is close enough for Henry to keep his wild ride alive with another huge number

Prediction: Henry rushes for 134 yards.