We’re finally to Week 15 – in most leagues the penultimate week of the fantasy football season. I’m in two league semifinals out of the five that play the head-to-head format…including my own league (which I’ve never won in 20 years). Is this my time? If Dolphins RB Kenyan Drake continues to be a poor man’s Le’Veon Bell, I may meet the end of this period of futility.
Aside from fantasy football though, I’ve done pretty well picking NFL games this season…to the tune of 66% straight up and 56% against the spread. Looking for this week’s winners? You’ve come to the right place!
Week 15 NFL Picks
Last Week: 10-6 Straight Up (SU), 10-6 Against the Spread (ATS)
Overall: 137-71 SU, 116-91-1 ATS
(Picks against the spread in parentheses; home teams in caps)
INDIANAPOLIS 23, Denver 20 (ATS: Colts +2.5)
How the heck can anyone make an accurate prediction on a 4 win team vs. a 3 win team in Week 15 of the NFL season? I flipped a coin and it came up heads 3 out of 5, so give me the home team Colts for that reason.
DETROIT 23, Chicago 13 (ATS: Lions -5.5)
The Lions continue to stay alive somehow…but sooner than later the bottom will fall out. Won’t happen this week against the Bears, however. I like the improvement I’ve seen from Mitchell Trubisky so there is some hope Chicago fans! Just not this Saturday as the Lions take care of business at home.
Los Angeles Chargers, 27, KANSAS CITY 24 (ATS: Chargers -1.5)
Am I confident in this pick? No. But the Chargers’ only two losses since Week 4 have come at New England and at Jacksonville, the 2nd and 3rd seeds in the AFC. LA is primed to win the AFC West in coach Anthony Lynn’s first season.
BUFFALO 17, Miami 14 (ATS: Dolphins +3.5)
Well hey at least the weather won’t be nearly as bad in Buffalo as it was last Sunday…but as of now, snow is within the realm of possibility. Miami is playing good football of late but is coming off an emotional win over New England on a short week and traveling to a division rival. Dolphins barely cover but don’t win outright.
Baltimore 23, Cleveland 10 (ATS: Ravens -6.5)
The Ravens are in the hunt for a spot in the AFC playoffs. The Browns, on the other hand, are staring a potential 0-16 season square in the face. Baltimore wins and it won’t be close.
MINNESOTA 27, Cincinnati 14 (ATS: Vikings -10.5)
Have the Bengals quit on coach Marvin Lewis? Maybe, maybe not. But to think they’re going to beat the Vikings, coming off a loss, in Minnesota isn’t likely. With Carson Wentz out for the season for Philly, the Vikings’ path to the #1 seed in the NFC is reasonable (minus a trip to Green Bay next week).
NEW ORLEANS 38, New York Jets 22 (ATS: Saints -15.5)
The Saints are coming off a really tough loss to division rival Atlanta…while the Jets played in Denver last week as I expected them to perform all season, punchless. Saints win without much resistance.
Philadelphia 26, NEW YORK GIANTS 10 (ATS: Eagles -7.5)
The Giants’ offense is so bad at this point that I can’t even pick them with the points. Philly won’t be great with Nick Foles under center but their running game will pound New York into submission.
WASHINGTON 27, Arizona 21 (ATS: Redskins -4.5)
Well the Cardinals aren’t mathematically eliminated from the playoffs just yet but the Redskins are. Washington’s QB Kirk Cousins is still playing for a big offseason contract (likely somewhere else) so I’ll give him the nod to beat a fairly punchless Cards team in Week 15.
Green Bay 31, CAROLINA 27 (ATS: Packers +2.5)
Yes I’m biased, yes I think Aaron Rodgers will play and be 100%, and yes I’m still taking the Packers to win out and make the playoffs. Any questions? And if he doesn’t play, Carolina will most likely win and I’ll be eating crow…
JACKSONVILLE 27, Houston 10 (ATS: Jaguars -11.5)
It’s an odd week and the Jaguars have won and covered in all 7 odd weeks beforehand. Think I’m going to buck the trend…at home…against T.J. Yates and the Texans? No thank you.
Los Angeles Rams 24, SEATTLE 20 (ATS: Rams +1.5)
I’m picking the upset here…just because I can’t see the Rams falling out of the division lead and much less the NFC playoffs if they lose. Very interesting game here…but Seattle has been too hit and miss for my liking recently. The Rams all but clinch the NFC West with a win in dreary Seattle.
New England 31, PITTSBURGH 24 (ATS: Patriots -2.5)
Biggest game of the weekend and it takes on added importance with the Patriots shockingly losing on Monday night to the Dolphins. But with Rob Gronkowski back after suspension for the Pats, I expect them to carve up the depleted Steelers defense. Can New England slow down Le’Veon Bell and Antonio Brown though? If not, Pittsburgh will clinch home field in the AFC playoffs.
Tennessee 24, SAN FRANCISCO 22 (ATS: Titans +1.5)
The Titans can’t be as bad as they played in Arizona. The 49ers can’t be as good as they played in Houston. Tennessee is a playoff team in the AFC…the 49ers have 3 wins. Now someone tell me please why SF is favored?
OAKLAND 27, Dallas 23 (ATS: Raiders +2.5)
Every week I predict the downfall of the Cowboys…and recently that hasn’t happened. But Oakland needs this game possibly to save coach Jack Del Rio’s job. I look for an inspired performance in front of the home fans by the Raiders…and a 300 yard passing night from Derek Carr in a close victory.
Atlanta 23, TAMPA BAY 17 (ATS: Buccaneers +6.5)
Beware of the home dog on Monday Night Football. Cincinnati blew the game last week while Miami shocked New England as an 11.5 point underdog this week. Can the Bucs ruin Atlanta’s playoff hopes? Probably not considering Jameis Winston has been as inconsistent as any QB in the league lately.
NFL Week 15 Best Bets
Last Week: 4-1
Ravens -6.5 vs. Browns
Jaguars -10.5 vs. Texans
Patriots -2.5 at Steelers
Titans +2 at 49ers
Jets / Saints Over 47 Total Points
Earlier than usual this week, here are my weekly fantasy football predictions:
PPR HERO (an underrated player who will finish in the top-10 at his position this week):
Season Record: 4-10
Week 14: Josh Gordon (WR, Browns) (LOSS)
Week 15: Jordy Nelson (WR, Packers)
PPR ZERO (a top-15 player who will finish outside of the top-20 at his position this week):
Season Record: 10-4
Week 14: Marcus Mariota (QB, Titans) (WIN)
Week 15: Doug Baldwin (WR, Seahawks)
KICK IT TO WIN IT (A likely waiver wire kicker who will end up in the top-10):
Season Record: 5-9
Week 14: Phil Dawson (Cardinals) (WIN)
Week 15: Josh Lambo (Jaguars)
PUNT OF THE WEEK (the team I think will punt most frequently therefore upgrading the other team’s fantasy defense…aka turning them into a top-10 fantasy D for the week):
Season Record: 11-3
Week 14: Indianapolis Colts (vs. Buffalo Bills) (LOSS)
Week 15: Houston Texans (vs. Jacksonville Jaguars)
Friday’s column will be dedicated to my bowl confidence picks + the postseason predictions challenge!