Week 15 NFL capsules

CHARGERS at RAIDERS

This Thursday night matchup pits AFC West rivals with differing motivations. The Chargers (4-9 SU, 5-7-1 ATS) snapped a two-game losing streak Sunday with a 20-17 win over the Falcons, covering as 1-point home favorites. However, the Chargers have been eliminated from playoff contention. On the flip side, the Raiders (7-6 SU, 7-6 ATS) are still in the hunt for a playoff spot and desperately need a victory to stay in contention. Las Vegas is looking to bounce back after getting crushed by the Colts 44-27, failing to cover as 2.5-point home dogs. After the game, Vegas fired defensive coordinator Paul Guenther. This line opened with the Raiders as 3.5-point home favorites. The public is all over the Raiders, yet we’ve seen this line remain frozen at 3.5 or even dip to 3 at some shops. This signals some liability on the Chargers plus the points. They have value as a divisional dog (38-30 ATS, 56% this season), a short road dog + 6 or less (48-28 ATS, 63%) and a prime-time dog (25-15 ATS, 62%). We’ve also seen some respected money hit this Under, dropping the total from 54.5 to 53. The Under would match a profitable late-season divisional Under trend. Prime-time Unders are 25-15 (62%) this season.

BILLS at BRONCOS

This AFC matchup is the first of two Saturday games (4:30 p.m. ET) this week. The Bills (10-3 SU, 8-5 ATS) have won three straight and just took down the Steelers 26-15 on Sunday night, covering as 2-point home favorites. If the playoffs started today, Buffalo would be the No. 3 seed in the AFC. Meanwhile, the Broncos (5-8 SU, 8-5 ATS) aren't quite mathematically eliminated from playoff contention, but it would take a miracle for them to sneak in. Still, Denver is coming off an impressive 32-27 win over the Panthers, winning outright as 4-point road dogs. This line opened with Buffalo as a 6-point road favorite. Some lookahead lines were closer to Bills -4. The public is rushing to the window to back the Bills Mafia, which has pushed this line up to Bills -7. We’ve noticed some respected money buying low on Denver at the inflated number close to + 7, dropping some shops back to 6.5. The Broncos have value as a contrarian home dog in a heavily bet game. December home dogs + 6.5 or more are 4-1 ATS this season and roughly 55% over the last decade. Pros and Joes are both targeting this Over, which has increased the total from 48 to 50. The Bills are 9-4 to the Over this season. The Broncos are 7-6 to the Under. Weather shouldn't be an issue. The forecast calls for low 40s with little to no wind.

PANTHERS at PACKERS

This NFC game in Green Bay is the second of two Saturday games (8:15 p.m. ET). The Panthers (4-9 SU, 7-6 ATS) are out of the playoff race and have lost two straight and seven of their last eight, including a 32-27 loss to the Broncos on Sunday as 4-point home favorites. The Packers (10-3 SU, 8-5 ATS) have won three straight and now own the No. 1 seed in the NFC playoffs. They just beat Lions 31-24, though they failed to cover as 9-point road favorites. This line opened with the Packers as 9-point home favorites. The public has no issue laying the points with Aaron Rodgers, yet we’ve seen this line remain frozen at 9 and briefly 8.5 at some shops. This signals some respected liability on the Panthers plus the points. Carolina has value as a contrarian bet in a prime-time game. Road dogs off a loss are 36-29 ATS (55%) this season and Teddy Bridgewater is 6-3 ATS this season as a dog and 23-6 ATS (79%) in his career. The total has ticked up slightly from 51 to 51.5. Both teams have been profitable to the Over, with Carolina 7-5-1 and Green Bay 7-6. The forecast calls for cold weather (mid-20s). Believe it or not, cold-weather Overs have been a sneaky smart bet historically. 

TEXANS at COLTS

These AFC South rivals are meeting for the second time in three weeks. In Week 13, the Colts beat the Texans 26-20, covering as 3-point road favorites. The Texans (4-9 SU, 4-9 ATS) have dropped two straight and just got crushed by the Bears 36-7, losing outright as 1-point road favorites. Meanwhile, the Colts (9-4 SU, 8-5 ATS) have won two straight and four of their last five, most recently destroying the Raiders 44-27 and easily covering as 2.5-point road favorites on Sunday. The Colts are currently the No. 6 seed in the AFC, while the Texans have been eliminated from playoff contention. This line opened with Indianapolis as a 7-point home favorite. The public is hammering the surging Colts, yet this line hasn’t budged. This signals some reluctance to hand out the hook (+ 7.5) to contrarian Texans backers. Houston has value as a road divisional dog, a dog off a blowout loss of 20 points or more (17-12, 59% ATS this season) and a buy-low bad ATS team against a good ATS team. The next move is critical. If you see it fall to 6.5, that will signal some respected Texans action. If it rises to 7.5 or more, that will show some Colts money pouring in. We’ve also seen some wiseguy action hit the Under, dropping the total from 52 to 51. This would match a late-season divisional Under trend. Referee Bill Vinovich is 59% to the Under historically.

LIONS at TITANS

This nonconference matchup pits a hot team jockeying for playoff position against one on the outside looking in. The Lions (5-8 SU, 6-7 ATS) are 2-5 over the last seven games and just fell to the Packers 31-24 on Sunday, although they managed to cover as 9-point home dogs. Meanwhile, the Titans (9-4 SU, 6-7 ATS) are 3-1 over the last four games and just crushed the Jags 31-10, easily covering as 7.5-point road favorites. The Titans hold the No. 4 seed in the AFC playoffs but need to keep winning as the Colts are breathing down their neck in the division. This line opened with Tennessee as an 8.5-point favorite and has quickly moved to -10.5. Some shops have taken this game off the board because of the uncertain status of Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford, who is questionable with a rib injury. Expect this line to jump one way or the other depending on his status. Also keep an eye on the total of 51.5. Both teams have been great to the Over this season, with Detroit 8-5 and Tennessee 9-3-1. 

BUCCANEERS at FALCONS

When it comes to motivation, these NFC South rivals are polar opposites. The Buccaneers (8-5 SU, 7-6) just snapped a two-game skid with a 26-14 win over the Vikings, covering as 6.5-point home favorites. Tampa Bay is currently the No. 6 seed in the NFC playoffs and looking to better its position. Meanwhile, the Falcons (4-9 SU, 5-8 ATS) have dropped three of their last four, including a 20-17 loss to the Chargers on Sunday, failing to cover as 1-point road favorites. Atlanta doesn’t have much to play for as the Falcons already have been eliminated from playoff contention. This line opened with the Bucs as 4-point road favorites. Pros and Joes have both come in in the Bucs, driving this line up to -6. Road teams with a line move in their favor are 62-50 ATS (55%) this season. The Falcons have value as a contrarian home divisional dog with an inflated line. We’ve also seen some respected money hit this Under, dropping the total from 51.5 to 50.5. This matches a late-season divisional Under trend. The Falcons are 8-5 to the Under. The Bucs are 7-6 to the Over. The Under is 5-2 in Falcons home games. 

PATRIOTS at DOLPHINS

There is a lot on the line in this AFC East rivalry game. The Patriots (6-7 SU, 6-7 ATS) are still in the hunt for the playoffs but likely need to win their final three games (and get some help) in order to reach the postseason. New England just got smoked by the Rams 24-3, failing to cover as 5-point road dogs. The Dolphins (8-5 SU, 10-3 ATS) hold the seventh and final playoff seed but need to keep winning with several teams creeping up behind them. The Dolphins just fell to the Chiefs 33-27, though they managed to cover as 7-point home dogs. This line opened with the Dolphins as 2.5-point home favorites. The public has given up on New England and is rushing to the window to back Miami at home laying a short spread. However, despite this lopsided betting, we’ve seen the line remain frozen at -2.5 and even briefly dip to 2 at some shops, signaling some respected money backing the Pats plus the points. New England has value as a divisional dog (55% ATS this year), a short road dog + 6 or less (63% ATS) and a buy-low dog off a 20-point blowout loss or more (59% ATS). The Patriots also have a rest advantage, having last played on Thursday while the Dolphins played Sunday. Pros also have hit this Under, dropping the total from 42.5 to 41.5. This matches a late-season divisional Under trend. Both teams have been profitable to the Under, with the Pats 9-5 and Dolphins 8-5.

SEAHAWKS at WASHINGTON FOOTBALL TEAM

If the playoffs started today, both of these teams would be in. Washington holds the No. 4 seed while Seattle sits at No. 5. The Seahawks (9-4 SU, 7-6 ATS) have won three of their last four and just crushed the Jets 40-3, easily covering as 16.5-point home favorites. Similarly, Washington (6-7 SU, 7-5-1 ATS) has won four straight, including a 23-15 win over the 49ers on Sunday, winning outright as a 3-point road dog. This line opened with Seattle as a 4-point road favorite. The public (along with some early respected money) is backing the Seahawks, driving this line up to -6. But once the line reached the key number of 6, we saw a flood of wiseguy action hit Washington, dropping the line back to 5.5. Road teams with a line move in their favor, like the Seahawks, are 62-50 ATS (55%) this season. Washington has value as a contrarian home dog with an inflated line. Washington also has an advantage as Seattle is a West Coast team traveling east for a 1 p.m. ET game. We’ve also seen some sharp action hit this Under, dropping the total from 45.5 to 44.5. Both of these teams are profitable to the Under, with the Seahawks 7-6 and Washington 7-5-1. 

BEARS at VIKINGS

These NFC North rivals are fighting for their playoff lives and are desperate for a win. The Bears (6-7 SU, 6-7 ATS) snapped their six-game skid on Sunday, beating the Texans 36-7 and winning outright as 1-point home dogs. Meanwhile, the Vikings (6-7 SU, 6-7 ATS) fell to the Bucs 26-14, failing to cover as 6.5-point road dogs. This line opened with Minnesota as a 3.5-point home favorite. The public doesn’t know whether to take the points or lay them. However, despite this even ticket count, we’ve seen the line drop from Vikings -3.5 to -3. This signals some wiseguy money gravitating to the Bears. Chicago has value as a road divisional dog and a short road dog + 6 or less (63% ATS this season). We’ve also seen some Under money show up, dropping the total from 47 to 46. This would match a late-season divisional Under trend. The Vikings have been an Over team this season (8-4-1), while the Bears have been profitable to the Under (8-5). Minnesota beat Chicago 19-13 in Week 10, covering as 3-point road favorites.

JAGUARS at RAVENS

This is an AFC non-division mismatch. The Jaguars (1-12 SU, 6-7 ATS) have dropped 12 straight games and just got crushed by the Titans 31-10, failing to cover as 7.5-point home dogs. Jacksonville is battling for the top pick in the draft and has nothing to play for. Meanwhile, the Ravens (8-5 SU, 7-5-1 ATS) have won two straight, including a thrilling 47-42 victory over the Browns on Monday night, covering as 3-point road favorites. The Ravens have a lot to play for as they are just a game out from the final playoff spot. This line opened with Baltimore as a 13-point home favorite. Some lookahead lines were closer to Ravens -11. We’ve seen a steady diet of Ravens money show up, driving this line up to -13.5 or even -14. Jacksonville will be the top contrarian play of the week as they are the most unpopular bet of the Week 15 slate. The Jags will start Gardner Minshew at quarterback. We’ve also seen a bit of Over money show up, increasing the total from 46 to 46.5. The forecast calls for low 40s with little to no wind, ideal conditions for an Over. 

49ERS at COWBOYS

This once-bitter rivalry has lost its luster as both teams have struggled mightily this season, posting a combined record of 9-17. Still, despite their poor records, neither has been mathematically eliminated from playoff contention. The 49ers (5-8 SU, 5-8 ATS) have dropped two straight and are just 1-5 over their last six games. On Sunday, San Francisco fell to Washington 23-15, failing to cover as a 3-point home favorite. Similarly, the Cowboys (4-9 SU, 3-10 ATS) are just 2-6 over their last eight games, although they posted a 30-7 win over the Bengals on Sunday, covering as 3-point road favorites. This line opened with the 49ers as 2.5-point road favorites. Some shops had an early lookahead of 49ers -1. We’ve seen both pro and Joe money back the 49ers, driving this line up to 49ers -3. San Francisco has value as a road team with a line move in their favor (62-50 ATS, 55% this season). The Cowboys now have value as a contrarian home dog with an inflated line getting the key number of 3. The next move is critical. If you see this line fall back down to 2.5, that will signal some respected money grabbing Dallas. If it rises to -3.5, that will be further evidence of wiseguy confidence in San Francisco. 

JETS at RAMS

This nonconference matchup looks like David vs. Goliath on paper. The Jets (0-13 SU, 4-9 ATS) are the only winless team in the NFL and are fighting for the No. 1 pick in the draft. They just got blasted by the Seahawks 40-3, failing to cover as hefty 16.5-point road dogs. On the flip side, the Rams (9-4 SU, 8-5 ATS) have won two straight and just crushed the Patriots 24-3 on Thursday night, easily covering as 5-point home favorites. They hold the No. 3 seed in the NFC playoffs but need to keep winning in order to fend off the Seahawks. This line opened with the Rams as 17-point home favorites. Some shops opened closer to Rams -13.5 or -14.5 and immediately got hammered with pro money, pushing the line to -17. The Jets will have value as one of the top contrarian plays of the weekend and a road double-digit dog in a low total game. However, the Rams enjoy a rest advantage as they last played on Thursday compared with the Jets playing on Sunday. Historically, favorites have been a smart bet in nonconference games as the lack of familiarity benefits the better team. The total has dipped slightly from 44.5 to 44. Both teams are profitable to the Under, with the Jets 7-6 and Rams 9-4. 

EAGLES at CARDINALS

This NFC non-division matchup is huge for both teams. Philadelphia is living on a playoff prayer but hasn’t been eliminated yet. Arizona would be the No. 7 seed if the playoffs started today but needs to keep winning to fend off competitors in their rearview mirror. The Eagles (4-8-1 SU, 5-8 ATS), behind new starting quarterback Jalen Hurts, snapped a four-game skid Sunday with a huge 24-21 upset win over the Saints, winning outright as 7.5-point home dogs. Similarly, the Cardinals (7-6 SU, 6-7 ATS) snapped a three-game losing streak with a convincing 26-7 win over the Giants, covering as 3-point road favorites. This line opened with the Cardinals as 5.5-point home favorites. We’ve seen some respected money show up early on Arizona, pushing the line to -6.5. But now that the hook has become available, some buyback has hit the Eagles + 6.5, which has dropped the line back to 6 at some shops. The Eagles have value as a short road dog catching less than a touchdown. Also, referee Craig Wrolstad has historically favored road teams (58% ATS). We’ve also seen some sharp Over money hit the total, driving the line up from 47.5 to 49.5. 

CHIEFS at SAINTS

Bettors are in for a treat with this possible Super Bowl preview. The Chiefs (12-1 SU, 6-7 SU) have won eight straight and just took down the Dolphins 33-27, although they failed to cover as 7-point road favorites. The Chiefs are 5-0 straight up but 0-5 ATS over their last five games. Meanwhile, the Saints (10-3 SU, 7-6 ATS) just saw their nine-game winning streak come to an end with Sunday’s 24-21 loss to the Eagles as they lost straight up as 7.5-point road favorites. This line opened with the Chiefs listed anywhere between a 3-point and 4-point road favorite. The public has no issue laying this number as Patrick Mahomes and company are an auto bet for recreational bettors every week. However, respected money has come in on the Saints at + 4 and + 3.5, dropping this line to the key number of 3. New Orleans has value as a short home dog off a loss. The Saints also have elevated contrarian value as they are receiving a clear minority of bets in what will be an incredibly heavily bet game. Keep an eye on the status of Saints quarterback Drew Brees. There is an outside shot he could return for this game. If he can’t, New Orleans will once again turn to Taysom Hill.

BROWNS at GIANTS

This Sunday night nonconference matchup features teams looking to rebound from disappointing losses. The Browns (9-4 SU, 5-8 ATS) saw their four-game winning streak come to an end Monday night, losing a 47-42 heartbreaker to the Ravens and failing to cover as 3-point home dogs. The Giants (5-8 SU, 8-5 ATS) also saw their four-game winning streak end last week, losing to the Cardinals 26-7 and failing to cover as 3-point home dogs. This game is big for both teams as the Browns hold the fifth seed in the AFC playoffs and the Giants are a game behind Washington in the NFC East. This line opened with the Browns listed as either a 3-point or 3.5-point road favorite. The line has either stayed the same or touched 4 at some shops, signaling some respected money laying the points with Cleveland. The Giants have value as a prime-time dog (25-16, 61% ATS this season) and also have a rest advantage as New York played on Sunday and Cleveland has a short turnaround and must travel after playing Monday night. Teams with this kind of short-week advantage over their opponent have gone 11-5 ATS (69%) this season. The total is 45.5. Cleveland has been a big Over team (8-5) while the Giants have been profitable to the Under (9-3-1). 

STEELERS at BENGALS

This Monday night divisional matchup looks heavily lopsided on paper. The Steelers (11-2 SU, 8-5 ATS) own the No. 2 seed in the AFC playoffs but have stumbled lately, losing two straight games. On Sunday, Pittsburgh fell to Buffalo 26-15, failing to cover as a 2-point road dog. A date with lowly Cincinnati might be just what the doctor ordered for the Steelers to get back on track. The Bengals (2-10-1 SU, 7-5-1 ATS) have been long eliminated from playoff contention and are fighting for a top pick in the draft. They have lost five straight and just got crushed by the Cowboys 30-7, failing to cover as 3-point home dogs. This line opened with Pittsburgh listed as an 11.5-point or 12-point road favorite. Pros and Joes seem in lockstep with laying the points as we’ve seen the Steelers balloon to -12.5 or even touch -13. The Bengals will have value as a divisional dog and a super contrarian play in a heavily bet prime-time game. “Monday Night Football” double-digit dogs are roughly 65% ATS over the last decade. The total has fallen from 41.5 to 40.5. Both teams are profitable to the Under with the Steelers 7-5-1 and Bengals 7-6. Prime-time Unders are 25-16 (61%) this season.

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