Welcome to the Week 15 edition of our NFL Bets of the Week column. Here, I’ll strive to identify a handful of games I feel have profit potential at DraftKings Sportsbook, FanDuel Sportsbook, 888 Sports, and BetStars Sportsbook.
Depending on the circumstance, I’ll hone in on moneylines, point spreads, or projected totals. Sometimes I may even touch on multiple metrics for one game. We’ll strive for quality over quantity here as well — the focus will only be on spots that seem to truly be advantageous. Then, I’ll take you on a fairly deep dive as to why.
Please note we’ll be referencing only legal, regulated sportsbook betting odds and totals here at PlayPicks. A “pick” is a wager that, as of the time of this writing, we feel confident recommending. A “lean” is a wager that we favor over the other side. This play could end up on our card with the release of additional information.
Let’s take a quick look at how things went in Week 14 and follow that up with a leap into two interesting scenarios for Week 15.
Recapping Week 14
Week 14 winners: Browns +2
Week 14 losers: Bills -3.5 (lean), Bills moneyline
Season record to date:
ATS Picks: 19-10 (.655)
ATS Leans: 3-2 (.600)
Moneyline: 7-7 (.500)
Over/under: 1-1-1 (.500)
Week 15 NFL Betting Picks
Miami Dolphins (7-6) at Minnesota Vikings (6-6-1)
Over/Under Total: 44.5
How They Fared in Week 14
The Dolphins pulled off a legitimate miracle against one of their hated rivals. They upset the New England Patriots by a 34-33 score on the last play of the game. Miami was able to successfully pull off multiple laterals and saw Kenyan Drake knife through the Patriots secondary for a 69-yard touchdown. The final play propped up Ryan Tannehill‘s final line, who finished with 265 yards and a second consecutive three-touchdown performance. Tannehill notably did leave the game near the end of the first half with an ankle injury, and although he returned and played the entire second half, he’s one of four prominent Dolphins offensive pieces (along with Drake, DeVante Parker, and Danny Amendola) sporting questionable tags as of Thursday. Kenny Stills also enjoyed a productive day against New England, bringing in eight of nine targets for 135 yards and a touchdown.
The Seattle Seahawks handed the Vikings a 21-7 road defeat on Monday night. Kirk Cousins threw for 208 yards and a touchdown, but he averaged a modest 6.3 yards per attempt. Dalvin Cook rushed 13 times for 55 yards and added 28 yards and a touchdown on five receptions. The dynamic receiving duo of Stefon Diggs (4-76) and Adam Thielen (5-70) had solid-but-not-spectacular lines. On defense, Minnesota limited Russell Wilson to just 72 passing yards. However, they gave up 90 yards and a rushing touchdown to Chris Carson and also saw Justin Coleman return a fumble 29 yards for a touchdown late in the fourth quarter. The Vikings were shut out until Cousins’ six-yard scoring pass to Cook with 1:14 remaining.
Notable Matchups and Metrics
Every team enjoys home cookin’, the Dolphins especially. Miami scores a respectable 25.0 points per game at Hard Rock Stadium. They’re averaging a measly 17.2 per road contest. The Dolphins have yielded the fifth-most points per game on the road (29.5). That’s compared to a 22.3 home figure. Then, Miami is passing for just 170.8 yards per game on the road. That’s the fourth-lowest figure in the NFL. In turn, they’ve amassed 227.3 per game at home. The Dolphins are also allowing the eighth-most passing yards per away contest (263.5).
As some of those numbers might imply, the Dolphins have often lost big on the road. Miami has fallen by double-digit margins in four of their five road games. And their sole away win isn’t exactly a feather in their cap: they upended the lowly Jets by a 20-12 score in Week 2, a game in which they still allowed rookie Sam Darnold to throw for 334 yards. The Fins have actually seen plenty of quarterbacks light them up outside of South Florida. Andrew Luck and Tom Brady both threw for over 300 yards, while Deshaun Watson racked up five touchdown passes against the Miami secondary. The Dolphins also check in ranked in the bottom half of the league in receiving yards allowed (3,577), air yards allowed (3,863), yards after catch allowed (1,842), passing touchdowns allowed (27), and average depth of target surrendered (8.7).
Things aren’t any better on the ground. Miami has been sieve against running backs the majority of the season. They’re yielding 4.8 yards per rush overall. They’ve surrendered the fourth-most rushing yards to running backs (1,471), as well as a 70-644-3 line through the air to RBs. Those numbers bode well for the duo of Cook and Latavius Murray. Cook, in particular, has finally started showing signs of his early rookie-season form of the last two games. He’s rushed 22 times for 139 yards during that span while adding 13 receptions and a score through the air. And it’s worth noting that while Minnesota has been one of the worst teams in the league on the ground (85.4 yards per game), the majority of the futility has come on the road (NFL-low 68.7 yards per contest). They’ve been much more respectable at U.S. Bank Stadium with a 104.8-yard average.
The Vikings also have the horses in the air attack to take advantage of the Dolphins’ vulnerabilities. Plus, they’ll undoubtedly have a renewed focus this week in the wake of the dismissal of offensive coordinator John DeFilippo, who took the fall from their recent struggles on that side of the ball. Cousins, in particular, expressed remorse this week over the firing, lamenting the role his own play may have had. The veteran quarterback certainly has the talent to bounce back in this spot, especially if Dolphins star corner Xavien Howard (knee) misses a second straight game. Diggs and Thielen will be heavily involved and have the talent to maximize their targets.
Meanwhile, new coordinator Kevin Stefanski was most recently the team’s quarterback coach, but he was in charge of tight ends during the 2014 and 2015 seasons. He worked with a younger Kyle Rudolph then, helping him to a 49-495-5 line in ’15. The veteran could certainly begin reemerging as a red-zone weapon under Stefanski. A matchup against a Miami defense that’s tied with the Raiders for most touchdowns allowed to the position (nine) seems like a good game to start.
Finally, it’s worth noting that both the Vikings’ pass rush and run defense present as particularly bad matchups for the Dolphins. Miami ranks in the bottom half of the NFL with 36 sacks allowed; Minnesota has racked up the fifth-most sacks (38). Then, the Vikings allow the fourth-lowest yards per carry (3.9) and the seventh-lowest rush yards per game at home (88.7).
By the Numbers
The Dolphins are 2-4 (33.3 percent) against the spread as road underdogs this season. They also have a 1-2 mark (33.3 percent) versus the number in non-conference games.
The Vikings are 3-1-1 (75.0 percent) against the spread as home favorites this season. Minnesota is also 4-1 (80.0 percent) versus the number after a loss this season.
The Final Word
The Dolphins have encountered much of their trouble on the road this season. They’ll be entering a particularly unfriendly environment in every sense Sunday and against an opponent they’re not familiar with. The Vikings have much to play for and will be looking for some redemption in front of the home crowd after last week’s embarrassment and three road defeats in their last four. I look for the Vikes to get at least a one-game surge from the change at offensive coordinator and for the defense to tee off against Tannehill and company enough to cover the near-touchdown spread.
The Pick: Vikings -6.5, Vikings moneyline
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (5-8) at Baltimore Ravens (7-6)
Over/Under Total: 46.5
How They Fared in Week 14
The Buccaneers hung tough in the first half against the division-rival Saints, but they eventually fell to New Orleans by a 28-14 score. Tampa did a reasonably good job against Drew Brees, holding the future Hall of Famer to 201 yards passing and one touchdown while picking him off once. However, they gave up 11 receptions to Michael Thomas and a rushing touchdown to Mark Ingram. On the offensive side of the ball, Jameis Winston had his most inaccurate game of the season with a 47.4 completion percentage. He did manage to find TE Cameron Brate for a pair of scores. Mike Evans led the receivers with a 4-86 line. Fellow wideout DeSean Jackson missed his second straight game with a thumb injury.
Meanwhile, the Ravens came out on the wrong end of a 27-24 overtime decision against the Chiefs. Lamar Jackson lost his first game as a starter, but he performed decently as a passer once again. The dynamic rookie threw for 147 yards and two touchdowns, although he exited the game late in overtime with an ankle injury. He also drew even with running back Gus Edwards for the team lead in rushing with 67 yards. Edwards’ backfield mate Kenneth Dixon continued expanding his role in his second game back from injured reserve, rushing eight times for 59 yards and a touchdown. Even the mighty Baltimore defense succumbed to the Kansas City offensive machine, allowing 377 yards and two touchdowns to Patrick Mahomes and an 8-139 line to Tyreek Hill.
Notable Matchups and Metrics
The Ravens are increasingly a team built on the run and defense. The latter has been true all season. The former has become the new normal since Jackson took over under center for Joe Flacco four games ago. While the veteran is reportedly recovered from the hip injury that first opened the door for Jackson, the starting job remains the rookie’s for at least Week 15. Jackson has earned it despite still being very much a work in progress as a passer. He’s completed between 54.2 and 68.4 percent of his throws over his four starts. However, he’s complemented his so-so work through the air with 332 rushing yards and two touchdowns on a whopping 68 carries.
The tough overtime loss to the Chiefs notwithstanding, the Baltimore defense has been elite. They boast no shortage of superior metrics on that side of the ball. Let’s start with their work against the pass. Baltimore is allowing the lowest completion percentage (58.7, including 55.1 at home), the third-lowest passing yards per game (206.2, including 186.5 per contest at home) and is recording the eighth-most sacks per game (2.9). Then, they’ve been about as stingy on the ground. The Ravens are yielding the fourth-fewest rushing yards per game (87.8), including the third lowest over the last three (65.0). The 3.8 yards per carry they surrender is the third lowest in the NFL. Plus, their figure in that category is 3.2 over the last three games. That’s the lowest in the league over that stretch.
In essence, the Bucs are left with nowhere to turn on offense. And the one-dimensional nature of their attack is likely to be exacerbated in this matchup. Tampa may not even try more than a handful of runs before waving the white flag. They’re already averaging the sixth-lowest rushing yards (98.7) and third-lowest yards per carry (4.0). Those numbers don’t bode well against Baltimore’s previously cited metrics versus the run. Additionally, the Bucs’ 36 sacks allowed are almost an exact match to the 38 the Ravens’ aggressive pass rush has racked up.
The combination of the Ravens’ propensity for getting to the quarterback and their suffocating secondary could also spell plenty of trouble for the mistake-prone Winston. The 2015 first overall pick has thrown multiple interceptions in four different games and has fumbled five times overall. He’s also generated two sub-52 percent completion percentages in eight appearances. His inconsistency is particularly relevant in light of how miserly Baltimore has been when it’s come to catch rate allowed (NFL-low 59.0 percent).
Finally, the matchup is also enticing for the home squad on the other side of the ball. The Bucs have gotten increasingly vulnerable to the run following the season-ending knee injury to Kwon Alexander. Tampa is now allowing 119.4 rushing yards per game. That includes a figure of 122.0 on the road and 138.7 over the last three contests. Then through the air, the Bucs have yielded the third-most passing yards per contest (301.8) and the highest completion percentage (76.2) on the road.
By the Numbers
The Buccaneers are 5-7-1 (41.7 percent) versus the spread overall this season. That includes a 2-3-1 (40.0 percent) record versus the number as away underdogs. Tampa Bay is also 6-8-1 (42.9 percent) against the spread in non-conference games during the Jameis Winston era (2015-present), including 1-2 this season. And the Buccaneers are 1-5-1 (16.7 percent) versus the number after a loss this season.
The Ravens are 7-6 (53.8 percent) against the spread overall this season. That includes a 3-3 mark (50.0 percent) versus the number as home favorites when they’ve covered by an average of 5.4 points.
The Final Word
The Buccaneers are essentially done as far as postseason aspirations are concerned. Meanwhile, the Ravens are in the thick of the AFC playoff hunt and are playing at home. Then, the home/road splits for both squads favor Baltimore heavily, and Tampa will be walking into temperatures in the mid-40s with a 50-50 chance of rain. That will help negate the strength of their offense, the passing attack, which will already be facing one of the stingiest secondaries in the NFL. Although the spread is elevated, I see the above circumstances conspiring for a Ravens cover.
The Pick: Ravens -7.5, Ravens moneyline
Bonus “Lean” of the Week:
Tennessee Titans (7-6) at New York Giants (5-8)
Over/Under total: 43.5
By the Numbers
The Titans are 7-6 (53.8 percent) against the spread overall this season. That includes a 2-2 mark (.500) versus the number as road underdogs. Tennessee is also 2-0 against the spread in non-conference games and 4-2 (66.7 percent) against the number following a win.
The Giants are an NFL-worst 1-4-1 (20.0 percent) against the spread as a home team this season. They achieved a push in their only game as a home favorite thus far.
Summing It Up
Sure, the Giants are sporting a more aesthetically pleasing record than earlier in the season. However, this is still a team with plenty of holes. A likely Odell Beckham (thigh) absence weakens them considerably. The Titans have been a difficult team to figure out, but with a run-centric philosophy, they can perform competitively in a cold-weather, late-season environment. That’s especially true considering the Giants allow the third-most rushing yards per home game (144.3) at a clip of 5.2 yards per carry, second highest in the NFL.
I see a recently improved Marcus Mariota and the Derrick Henry-Dion Lewis duo likely being enough to allow Tennessee to come in under the number, at minimum.
The Lean: Titans +2.5