NFL Power Rankings Week 15
I love futures betting. But I am not at all a fan of betting on teams to win the Super Bowl. It is really such an arbitrary thing, when you think about it, and the odds for teams to hoist the Lombardi Trophy never come close to reflecting how difficult the task really is.
For instance, New Orleans is currently the team with the best odds to win the Super Bowl. This team hasn't even secured home-field advantage in the NFC. They will have to win at least one game at home, perhaps against physical, defensive-oriented teams like Chicago, Seattle or Minnesota. After that they would likely have to beat the Los Angeles Rams for a second time. And after that they would have to match up with and beat the AFC's representative in the Super Bowl, which will likely be explosive Kansas City or experienced New England.
The Saints could have to beat the Bears, Rams and Chiefs in three straight weeks. And the payout on that bet is just +350? Are you kidding me?
Super Bowl odds are excellent fodder for bar debates and bobblehead media segments on ESPN or Fox. For gamblers, though, they offer one of the lowest-value wagers that you could possibly make. I say it every year, so this is my yearly reminder: don't make these bets. There are a lot better ways to make money betting on the NFL.
With that in mind, here is Doc's Sports NFL Power Rankings:
1. New Orleans Saints (11-2) - The Saints have beaten the Panthers three straight times. Despite that, this series has generally been close. The average margin of victory over the last seven games is 7.2 points. But only two of those five contests were actually decided by more than a touchdown.
2. Los Angeles Rams (11-2) - Jared Goff is taking most of the heat for the Rams' pathetic effort in Chicago last Sunday. I think that the offensive line bears most of the responsibility, though. Goff was running for his life most of the game, and the Bears front four dominated.
3. Kansas City Chiefs (11-2) - I think Drew Brees is going to win the MVP award. But I don't think there is any doubt that Patrick Mahomes has been the best player in the league this year. Some of the throws he made against the Ravens were astounding, and that fourth-and-nine completion to Tyreek Hill is one of the plays of the year.
4. New England Patriots (9-4) - The Patriots have beaten the Steelers five straight times, and they are 5-1 ATS in their last six meetings in Pittsburgh. New England is 45-19 ATS in its last 64 games after a loss, and they are 17-7 ATS in their last 24 road games.
5. Los Angeles Chargers (10-3) - Los Angeles has been playing up and down to its level of competition all season long. That's not the sign of a great team. The Chargers have lost to the Chiefs nine straight times, and they are 0-4 ATS in their last four meetings. Phil Rivers is 5-1 ATS in his last six starts on Thursdays, but he hasn't been able to crack the code of the Chiefs.
6. Chicago Bears (9-4) - This week is a revenge game for Chicago. Not just because they should've beaten the Packers in the opener. But also because the Bears have only beaten Green Bay three times this decade. If the Bears are the new power in the North, they will prove it by dominating this flailing Packers squad.
7. Houston Texans (9-4) - The Texans defensive line continues to dominate and is now No. 5 in the league in rushing defense. Over the last five games they have surrendered 365 yards on 104 attempts. That 3.5 yards per carry would be No. 1 in the NFL. Houston continues to focus on its own rush offense, though. They remain committed - 162 attempts in five games - for 794 yards. If they continue that dominance up front, they will continue to win games.
8. Seattle Seahawks (8-5) - Home field paid off for Seattle again on Monday, as two game-changing calls gave them the win over Minnesota. The first was the questionable pass interference that set up their second field goal. The second, and most important, was the missed call on Bobby Wagner's obviously illegal field goal block. Regardless, Seattle is now on an 8-1 ATS streak and has covered the spread in five straight. They are also 8-2 ATS in their last 10 games against the 49ers.
9. Pittsburgh Steelers (7-5-1) - I cashed my futures play on Pittsburgh 'under' 10.5 wins pretty easily, scoring the victory with three games yet to play. Ben Roethlisberger is one of the biggest drama queens in the NFL. He is 100 percent going to play this week. But it might not matter. He hasn't been all that good this year, and even with him the Steelers have dumped three straight. This team isn't as good as it thinks that it is.
10. Dallas Cowboys (8-5) - The residual loserness of the Cowboys almost poked through on Sunday as they nearly lost a game in which they held the ball for 45 minutes and outgained their opponent by 320 yards. Dallas has covered five straight games, and they are 3-1 ATS in their last four road games.
11. Baltimore Ravens (7-6) - I don't say this often, but that was a really, really bad game by Eric Weddle. He missed tackles, he missed reads, and he was more than a little responsible for several of the Chiefs' biggest third- and fourth-down conversions. Weddle and the Ravens better bounce back quickly because they are playing for their season this week.
12. Minnesota Vikings (6-6-1) - Criticizing play calling is the trademark of armchair quarterbacks from sea to shining sea. But John DeFilippo absolutely deserved to be fired based solely on his horrendous work during that critical goal line stand early in the fourth quarter. Expect to see a lot more of the running game from new coordinator Kevin Stefanski.
13. Tennessee Titans (7-6) - Teams coming off Thursday night wins have been duds the following Sunday. And the Titans have struggled on the road all season long. Tennessee is 12-25 ATS in its last 37 road games, and they are just 17-35 ATS in their last 52 games after a win.
14. Indianapolis Colts (7-6) - Indianapolis' defense as able to contain DeAndre Hopkins last week, limiting him to four catches for 36 yards (and a touchdown) on 10 targets. They will need to do the same to resurgent Amari Cooper this week. The Colts are 4-0 ATS in their last four games against teams with a winning record, though they are just 6-13 ATS following a win.
15. Denver Broncos (6-7) - It is insane that Philip Lindsay isn't getting more touches. During Denver's three-game winning streak, he had 44 carries and averaged 7.8 yards per attempt. Last week: 14 carries for 2.1 yards per. The Broncos need to force-feed Lindsay the ball as he is obviously their best player on that side of the ball.
16. Carolina Panthers (6-7) - This team has been exceedingly frustrating this year. I was absolutely selling Carolina heading into the year . And I was right. But naturally, when I was betting against them early on they went 5-3 ATS and got off to a 6-2 SU start. And when I finally got on the bandwagon they tanked, going on an 0-5 ATS slide. You just gotta love the NFL.
17. Philadelphia Eagles (6-7) - What a difference a year makes. Last season the Eagles rolled into Los Angeles, shot the Rams full of holes for 43 points, and earned a rock-solid road win. The Eagles are 5-0 ATS in their last five games against the Rams but just 1-4 ATS in their last four games overall.
18. Miami Dolphins (7-6) - It's easy to predict a massive letdown here for Miami. But they are actually catching the Vikings in a tough spot - off a brutal Monday night loss on the road - as well. The Dolphins are playing with house money and are on a solid 4-1 ATS run.
19. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (5-8) - I don't think that this team is as bad as its record suggests. And there is no denying that the defense has been playing much better since firing Mike Smith. The 18 points per game allowed in their last three games is nearly half the 34 per game they had allowed in the previous seven contests.
20. Green Bay Packers (5-7-1) - Let's not go too crazy about Green Bay's dominating win over Atlanta last week. The Falcons stink. The Packers were playing with a ton of emotion, and they had the home field and the weather advantages. They have dominated the Bears, going 12-4 ATS in the last 16 meetings and 16-5 ATS in their last 21 meetings in Chicago. But the Packers are also just 1-5 ATS in divisional games and 1-6 ATS on the road.
21. Cleveland Browns (5-7-1) - I'm not exactly sure why the Browns are getting the majority of the public action this week in their trip out to Denver. Cleveland is 5-13 ATS in its last 18 road games and 17-37 ATS in their last 54 games overall. The Browns were a trendy pick two weeks ago in Houston and got bombed.
22. Washington Redskins (6-7) - Injuries have crippled this roster each of the past three seasons. But it is impossible to justify keeping Jay Gruden when it looks like the Redskins are going to end the season with a worse record for the third straight season. This team is done. And I will be absolutely shocked if they win another game this year.
23. Jacksonville Jaguars (4-9) - That was an absolutely awful miss by Cody Kessler on his third-and-goal pass to fullback Tommy Bohanon. The guy was literally three yards in front of him. I don't know if that touchdown, which would've put the Jags up 9-7, would've made a difference. But the next play was a 99-yard touchdown run for the Titans, and that whole sequence - the Jaguars getting stuffed at the goal line then run over for a long touchdown - epitomized this joke of a season for the Jaguars.
24. Atlanta Falcons (4-9) - I think it is awful optimistic for the Falcons to be nearly a double-digit favorite over Arizona this week, no matter how weak the Cardinals are. The home team is 9-0 SU in the last nine meetings and 5-1 ATS in the last six.
25. Detroit Lions (5-8) - Tough situation for the Lions this week. They traveled West to Arizona to face the Cardinals in a dome last week. Now they have to travel East to take on the Bills in freezing Buffalo. We will see if Matt Patricia's hokey outdoor practices in Detroit pay any dividends for this group this week.
26. New York Giants (5-8) - Don't be fooled by the Giants' blowout win over the Redskins last week. New York was able to pillage a beaten-up, overmatched rival. I don't know if that justifies them to be favored here against a playoff-caliber opponent.
27. Buffalo Bills (4-9) - Josh Allen's running has been making waves, with him breaking Mike Vick's record for most rushing yards by a quarterback over a three-game period. Yet if you are the Bills, playing out the string at the end of another lost season, do you really want your franchise quarterback exposing himself to hits in the open field while running the ball?
28. Cincinnati Bengals (5-8) - Much like the Redskins, the Bengals are a dead stick right now. This roster is an absolute mess. Frankly, it is incredible that they are favored in this week's matchup, even if it is against the putrid Raiders. Anyone that bets on that game is a masochist.
29. New York Jets (4-9) - Sam Darnold's return and his comeback victory gave this whole franchise of jolt of hope. I don't see it making much of a difference in the short term, though, as this team is still on a 1-6 SU and 2-5 ATS slide. New York is 7-1 ATS at home against a team with a winning road record but just 1-4 ATS after a win.
30. Arizona Cardinals (3-10) - The Cardinals are currently packing one of worst offenses in NFL history. They are on pace for the fewest yards per game (242) of any team in over a decade. When you adjust for the rule changes and corresponding increase in total offense, then Arizona's ineptitude is truly historic. They have scored over 21 points just once this season, and I don't see it happening again.
31. San Francisco 49ers (3-10) - The 49ers were not competitive in their first meeting with the Seahawks this year, losing 43-16. In fact, they have barely been competitive in this series, losing 10 straight to the Seahawks. Seven of those 10 losses have come by 10 or more points.
32. Oakland Raiders (3-10) - It is hilarious that Jon Gruden was praising his young players after their win over Pittsburgh last week. Why the hell did Gruden build one of the oldest rosters in the NFL coming into this season? Reggie McKenzie took the fall. But it is clear that he made those moves at Gruden's behest. With the Browns improving, this team is now the biggest joke in the league.
Throughout the season I will have my NFL Power Rankings every Tuesday. My next ones will be released on Tuesday, Dec. 18.
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