NFL Football Predictions: Week 15 Opening Line Report and Picks
by Alan Matthews - 12/9/2014
I have no statistical proof, but in my memory I can't recall a season that entered Week 15 without a single playoff spot clinched in the NFL. That's truly amazing. I do expect that to change this week when three of the four AFC divisions can be clinched with a win by favorites Indianapolis, New England and Denver (only road team among the trio) -- also the three-best teams in the conference, no doubt. However, and unfortunately, the big story in the NFL this week won't be huge divisional games between San Francisco-Seattle and Dallas-Philadelphia, but instead the Bengals-Browns matchup at 1 p.m. on Sunday afternoon. It's the first NFL start for Johnny Manziel. Let the hype begin.
This week I will preview Thursday's Arizona at St. Louis matchup, Sunday's Dallas-Philly NFC East showdown and Monday's New Orleans at Chicago game, so I won't touch on those here.
Miami at New England (-7.5, 48): The Dolphins (7-6) couldn't afford to lose at home last week against Baltimore, but the Fins were pretty outclassed by the Ravens. So now Miami obviously loses any head-to-head tiebreaker with Baltimore. Currently the Fins are ninth in the AFC, winning tiebreakers over only Kansas City, Buffalo and Cleveland (all also 7-6). Thus a loss here would be just about fatal. A New England win clinches the AFC East, and the Patriots want to make sure they stay at least tied with Denver for the best record in the conference so they could host the AFC title game. Miami actually has won two straight in this series, but those were both at home. The Fins opened the season with a 33-20 win over the Patriots, outscoring New England 23-0 after the half and holding the Pats to 67 yards. The pick: Patriots and "over."
Tampa Bay at Carolina (-6, 42.5): This line is going to be off the board by the time you read this. That's because Panthers quarterback Cam Newton was taken to a Charlotte hospital after being involved in a car accident in the city on Tuesday. Apparently Newton's truck flipped over. Early reports are that he suffered no serious injuries. Ironically, the Bucs opened the season against Carolina and didn't have to face Newton then, either (not ruling him out yet). Derek Anderson started and threw for 230 yards and two scores in a 20-14 win. He would go again. Anderson hasn't been in a game since Oct. 19 in mop-up duty. Josh McCown started that game for the Bucs, but expect it to be Mike Glennon here. The Panthers (4-8-1) are just a half game out of the NFC South lead and have a favorable schedule the rest of the way. The pick: TBA (but "under" for sure, especially if Newton is out).
Cincinnati at Cleveland ("pick'em," 44): I thought Coach Mike Pettine would go with Manziel last week against Indy, but he decided to give Brian Hoyer one more chance. It didn't go well as Hoyer was 14 of 31 for 140 yards with no TDs and two picks. He's the first Browns QB ever to have three straight games with no touchdowns and at least two interceptions. So there was no question Pettine would switch to Manziel here, and it's now official. I have no idea if Johnny Football will be a good NFL player, and neither do you. I do expect some designed QB runs going forward. Other than that your guess is as good as mine. I also expect the uninformed bettors to start backing the Browns big time simply because Manziel is starting. I have a feeling the Bengals would rather face him than Hoyer, who beat Cincinnati 24-3 on Nov. 6 (his last game with no interceptions). The pick: Bengals and under.
Green Bay at Buffalo (+5, 50.5): This looks like a huge trap game for the Packers as they are on a short week, and the Green Bay defense looked terrible in Monday night's shootout win over Atlanta. Here's a thought: Cover Julio Jones! Aaron Rodgers is your clear MVP right now, but the Buffalo defense is very good. It held Peyton Manning to 173 yards, no touchdowns and two interceptions last week in a close loss in Denver. Green Bay has played a complete game on the road only once this season: Week 4 in Chicago. I pray it snows in Buffalo on Sunday because there aren't two teams more used to playing in that type of stuff than these clubs. The pick: Pack win but Bills cover. Go under.
San Francisco at Seattle (-10, 38): I believe this is the lowest total of the season, and I certainly never expected back in August that the Niners would be 7-6 or 10-point underdogs this year. What is sad about this game is that it's probably the end of this rivalry as we know it. Pretty clear now that Jim Harbaugh won't be back with the Niners next season, and his personal rivalry with Seattle coach Pete Carroll was a big part of this. San Francisco looks like it has quit and is tired of the Harbaugh circus. Colin Kaepernick is regressing every week. Do you realize the Niners haven't scored more than 17 points since Week 10? Seattle's defense, meanwhile, is playing up to last year's level in the past three games. That includes a 19-3 win at the Niners on Thanksgiving. The pick: Desperate 49ers cover and over.
Doc's Sports is offering new clients free NFL picks from any handicapper on our Advisory Board. This special offer does not require a credit card, and you will never have to deal with a salesman. Click here to get your free $60 NFL picks credit today. Also, get three handicappers for the price of one when you sign up for a full-season football package! Click Here for details.
Read more articles by Alan Matthews
Most Recent NFL Handicapping
- NFL Betting Predictions: Week 14 Opening Line Report and Picks
- 2022 Super Bowl Predictions
- Basic Strategy Teasers: Best Week 13 NFL Betting Options
- NFL Betting Predictions: Week 13 Opening Line Report and Picks
- Basic Strategy Teasers: Best Week 12 NFL Betting Options
- Basic Strategy Teasers: Best Week 11 NFL Betting Options
- NFL Betting Predictions: Week 11 Opening Line Report and Picks
- Basic Strategy Teasers: Best Week 10 NFL Betting Options
- NFL Betting Predictions: Week 10 Opening Line Report and Picks
- Basic Strategy Teasers: Best Week 9 NFL Betting Options