NFL Betting Predictions: Week 15 Opening Line Report and Picks
This writer has no love for the sports teams from the City of Brotherly Love, but wow do I feel bad for Eagles fans right now. Sunday was supposed to be a great day of celebration surrounding the team as it won a terrific game at the Los Angeles Rams in a potential playoff preview. Not only did the Eagles clinch the NFC East for the first time since 2013, but the Minnesota Vikings also lost - putting Philly back in the driver's seat for the No. 1 seed in the NFC playoffs.
However, here's guessing there wasn't a whole lot of celebrating in the Eagles locker room or on the flight back to Philadelphia. As I'm sure you know by now, second-year superstar quarterback Carson Wentz left the game in the third quarter after being hit low and high - but not dirty - by two Rams as Wentz dove into the end zone. The TD didn't even count due to penalty, but Wentz would throw a TD pass to Alshon Jeffery a couple of plays later to give his team the lead.
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That will be Wentz's final pass in 2017 as the team confirmed on Monday that he indeed to suffered a torn ACL, which obviously ends his season. Needless to say, that changes things quite a bit on the futures odds. The Eagles were clear favorites to win the NFC and right there with New England to win the first Super Bowl in franchise history. Sub in backup Nick Foles for Wentz and now the Eagles are Bovada second-favorites in the NFC at +300 (behind the Vikings at +275) and fourth on the Super Bowl futures at +900 (behind Patriots at +225, Steelers at +400 and Vikings at +800). Foles is probably one of the five-best backups in the league for what that's worth.
I guess it's possible that the Eagles could still win the conference if they have home-field advantage. I don't trust a Case Keenum or Jared Goff, for example, to win an NFC title game in Philadelphia. But I would trust someone like Aaron Rodgers, Cam Newton, Russell Wilson or Drew Brees. Really depends how the bracket plays out. The Eagles should still win this week as opening 9-point favorites at the Giants and then close with back-to-back home games against likely desperate teams in the Raiders and Cowboys.
This injury also probably means that Tom Brady will win his third NFL MVP Award. Wentz, who leads the NFL with 33 TD passes (already a franchise record), had been a favorite there but now Brady is -500 - assuming he's not hurt on Monday night to close Week 14 in Miami. The only other player below +2000 is Wilson at +750.
Here are some Week 15 early lines that caught my eye. I won't touch on Thursday night's terrible game (Broncos-Colts), my in-depth Sunday matchup (probably Rams-Seahawks) or the Monday night game (Falcons-Bucs) as I will be previewing them here individually.
Chargers at Chiefs (Pick'em, 45): We are at the point of the regular season where the NFL will have a couple of Saturday games the next two weeks, and this is the nightcap of two on the day this week. It's also for first place in the AFC West with the teams tied at 7-6, one game ahead of the Raiders, who are slight home dogs Sunday night vs. Dallas. The Chargers easily handled the visiting Redskins on Sunday are the seventh team in the Super Bowl era to start 0-4 and then go 6-2 or better their next eight. No team had done that since the 2004 Bills, who didn't make the playoffs. The Chargers usually are a good December team under Philip Rivers as he had guided the club to a 36-18 (67 percent) record in regular-season games played in that month in his Hall of Fame career. The Chargers haven't won in Kansas City since 2013 -- the last time the Bolts made the postseason. The Chiefs ended a four-game slide Sunday with a 26-15 win over the Raiders. Rookie Kareem Hunt looked like the guy he was early in the season with 116 yards and a TD on 25 carries. K.C. should win the division if it takes this game as it won at the Chargers 24-10 in Week 3. Hunt had 172 yards and a TD rushing that day. The Pick: Kansas City.
Packers at Panthers (-2.5, 45): I previewed this past Sunday's Packers-Browns game and warned readers that looked like a major trap for Green Bay ahead of presumably getting Rodgers back this week. I still took Green Bay, though, figuring it would do just enough to win and keep its playoff hopes alive. That's what happened as the Packers rallied from 21-7 fourth-quarter deficit to win 27-21 in overtime. Brett Hundley threw a 25-yard touchdown pass to Davante Adams in OT. Frankly, if Green Bay loses that game, there's no reason to let Rodgers return this season. As of this writing, it's still not guaranteed that Rodgers will play in Charlotte but there wouldn't be any opening lines as of yet if the oddsmakers weren't confident he would return from his broken collarbone. Carolina had a great Week 14 as not only did it end the Vikings' eight-game winning streak but New Orleans lost, meaning the Panthers and Saints are tied atop the NFC South. The Saints would win that head-to-head tiebreaker. The Falcons could still factor in as well. The Pick: Carolina.
Jets at Saints (-15, 47): The biggest spread on the board. Which quarterback will the Saints see? New York's Josh McCown, having a pretty darn good season at age 38, injured his back and broke his non-throwing hand in Sunday's shutout loss at the Broncos. McCown isn't under contract after 2018, so I don't know why the Jets would bother throwing him back out there even if he could play with some sort of cast on that hand. Coach Todd Bowles has said that Bryce Petty would start if McCown can't go. Petty was just 2-for-9 for 14 yards in place of McCown in Denver. The Jets had just 100 total yards, the second-lowest total in franchise history. The only worse game was Joe Namath's finale with the team on Dec. 12, 1976. Gang Green also had just one passing first down, the fewest of any team since 2010. Will the Saints have Offensive Rookie of the Year favorite Alvin Kamara? The tailback left last Thursday's loss in Atlanta with a concussion and that New Orleans offense simply wasn't the same without him. The Pick: New York.
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