Hear me out—I've been doing this betting thing for a while now as a sports betting consultant and a regular on CBS New York’s Fanalysis and on Twitter at @OldManWhoBets. I report for duty today in order to share my learnings. Let's get straight to the picks.
Here Are Your Best Bets for Week 15 in the NFL
Patriots -9.5 (81 percent of bets)
Shocker, but I’m back on the Patriots again. While I do put them on autopilot often, I feel better than ever this week in supporting both Tom and Bill to bring us to a gambling payday.
What do we like about the Patriots as a bet? First, the macro: Brady covers around 59 percent for his career. Combine that with New England starting hot ATS, but now 1-5 in their last five points to upward regression, getting us back in the ‘cover’ category.
Now, situationally, hearing that the Patriots are coming off a loss is always music to my ears. And not just any loss—one in which a rare coaching miscue (losing both challenges early) led to at least one touchdown coming off the board. Add in the fact that they lost two in a row? This is borderline uncharted territory.
After looking a touch deeper into that game, I did like what I saw over the Texans, where their plethora of no-name receivers were getting more targets. In classic New England form, once Brady stops over-targeting Edelman (and historically Gronk), there are some growing pains (for example, point totals for the last four weeks in which they went 2-2). Eventually, they start to bloom.
Next, let’s touch on the Bengals for just one second. The Bengals have shown a touch of life these last two weeks with Dalton back at the helm and their WR core coming back from injuries. Even so, some of the best offenses in the league are struggling to put up points against this suffocating defense, and I’m looking for the Patriots to grind out a win and cover.
Lastly, it’s important to mention some intangibles: Another camera “scandal” leaking, lots of media chatter about Brady being too old and about them being done. We’ve seen how the Patriots bounce back before, so why can’t they do it again on Sunday?
Titans -2.5 (48 percent of bets)
The return of Ryan Tannehill has been nothing short of remarkable. I’m taking the red hot Titans versus the Texans this week, at home and ready to fight.
Why? First, this looks like a letdown spot for the Texans. Coming off an emotional win at home against the Patriots, an in-division showdown with the Titans should be a barnburner, and the line reflects that.
Next, the line: Since opening at -1.5, it has since moved to -3 and back to -2.5, where I’m taking it. With only 48 percent of bets, it seems the sharps agree with me that this is a great spot for the Titans. Game on.
As for ATS trends, the Titans are 4-1 ATS last five, which is a bit concerning, but I equate this more to the lack of public support they’ve been receiving and the lack of Vegas respect.
On the flip side, I do think Houston is consistently overrated. Big names on both sides of the ball often grab people’s eyes, but of course, this is a team game.
Team game? Here is the team efficiency breakdown:
- Titans offense: 9th
- Texans offense (with Deshaun Watson! And Hopkins!): 12th
- Titans defense: 18th
- Texans defense (with JJ Watt!): 27th in the league
Bam. That’ll do it. Titans at -2.5 all day, willing to play it up to -3.
Buy low candidate of the week: Cowboys +1 (12 percent of bets)
Wow, just wow. One week off and the Rams are finally playing good football (note: at home is Goff’s specialty) and the public has seen enough. “Pound the Rams! The Cowboys stink!”
Maybe they do, but I’m not sold. The Cowboys (outside of losing to the Jets) have only lost to above-average teams. Yes, I’m including the Bears as an above-average team, especially with their defense (the Cowboys put up 24 points against them, second-most the Bears' defense allowed all year). Patriots, Bills and Bears—not a bad resumé of recent losses.
The slide stops here.
Dallas is currently ranked number two in offensive efficiency, with the Rams at 17. On the other side of the ball is the polar opposite: Dallas is 22 and the Rams are six. Looking at overall team efficiency, we get Dallas at seven and the Rams at eight.
So where does that leave us? With two evenly matched teams, one on a “slide” and one coming from a huge win. The public, of course, is expecting what happened last week to happen again this week.
After opening at -4 for the Cowboys, locking them in after this movement at +1, a home underdog in a pivotal game is where I’ll be placing my bet.
Leans: Chargers +3 (19 percent of bets)
The Chargers have been lackluster this year, to say the least. But in looking a little deeper, every loss of theirs (all eight of them) have been by one score or less. Something's got to give. Coming off their biggest point win of the season, I'm looking to ride that momentum back at home in a fade-the-public way. Let's break this one down:
The Chargers have been way better than their record indicates. Minnesota, of course, is a good team.
- Chargers rank tenth, Minnesota ranks seventh
- Chargers rank 21, Minnesota ranks eighth
The biggest delta here clearly is on the defensive side of the ball, but the Chargers defense has shown up in big games against good opponents, holding the loaded Chiefs offense to only 24 and the Packers to 11. Both of these examples were home games.
Looking at mutual opponents also indicates this should be a close game, and I’m betting on the home team.
Denver: MIN win by four, LAC lose by three, seven
KC: MIN lose by three, LAC lose by seven
CHI: MIN lose by ten, LAC win by one
The only common opponents where MIN has the upper hand is against poor teams where the Chargers didn't show up. But here we are, with the Chargers at home playing against a good team as a small underdog. I'm all for it.
49ers -10.5 (44 percent of bets)
The 49ers have taken the league by storm. After playing literally no one for the early part of the season, they have flexed hard, proving they are indeed a very strong team.
What I love about them is their versatility: Their run game has four NFL starting running backs who all eat up yardage (Breida and Mostert seem to get five-plus for every carry, Coleman and Wilson Jr. are talented in their own right), and Jimmy G, with the addition of Emmanuel Sanders and the maturation of Deebo, has stepped up big time. And then there’s George Kittle, and their defense can be categorized as "Beast Mode." I love it all.
The data backs up their greatness. Their defense is second in defensive efficiency, including number two against the pass, which has been the only way ATL has moved the ball this year.
On the other side of the field, ATL's defense has been porous outside of two weeks after their bye, and are 26 in DEF efficiency. That's not going to cut it this week. ATL's offense clocking in at 20 in efficiency also isn't doing them any favors.
In a lost season for ATL, I'm looking for the 49ers to keep the train moving with a massive victory at home.