NFL Power Rankings Week 15
Life isn't fair. If you still believe that Santa Claus is real, then you may not realize that. For the rest of us, it's just a fact of life. Life isn't fair, and no one ever said it would be. So, no one wants to hear it when things don't break your way.
That goes for the New Orleans Saints, who once again were completely screwed by poor officiating in a thrilling loss to San Francisco. New England - the black hat of the NFL - were victims of the unyielding incompetence of Jerome Boger and his officiating crew in an essential game against Kansas City.
Those weren't the only teams to get jobbed by the officials. Anyone with a Miami season win total ticket had to have been dumbfounded by the controversial ending to the New York Jets game. And anyone holding a Cincinnati ticket had to have been fuming after a game-changing pass interference review stole a win against the spread for the Bengals as well.
It wasn't right. None of those games should've ended the way that they did. History will show that the 49ers, Chiefs, Browns and Jets all won their games (with three of four covering the number). It won't show how. There are no asterisks for real life. And the teams, fans and bettors that got screwed over on the wrong end of those defeats will have nothing to show for it but another bleak story about the unwavering ambivalence of the universe.
To that I say: too bad. Suck it up.
A common platitude in the gambling industry is that "bad beats even out". They don't. But regardless, no one wants to hear your complaining. Anyone alive right now is already a winner in the cosmic lottery. To be born at this time in history - avoiding the barbarism of the past while missing out on the nihilism of the future - is a blessing and a gift. And no amount of unlucky football betting action will change that.
Keep your chin up. And win the next one.
Here is Doc's Sports NFL Power Rankings:
1. Baltimore Ravens (11-2) - That is now nine straight wins and a stellar 6-1 ATS run from the Ravens. How long can they keep it going? They have played four straight games - and six of their last seven games - against teams that currently have winning records and are in the playoff hunt. The last time they stepped down in class they hammered Cincinnati 49-13. But that wasn't on a short week.
2. San Francisco 49ers (11-2) - The only question about the 49ers this week is will they have a letdown? That's it. They should not have beaten the Saints. They should demolish the Falcons. But did the big games of the last two weeks (Ravens and Saints) take too much out of this group for them to cover a massive 11-point line ? The 49ers are just 4-17 ATS as a favorite and just 5-17 ATS as a home favorite.
3. New Orleans Saints (10-3) - I know I said in my lede that life isn't fair, and we shouldn't expect it to be. But how can you not feel for the Saints just a little bit? That was absolutely, 100 percent a missed defensive holding call on that crucial fake punt. And then immediately after two pathetic calls on third down extended a key San Francisco drive (that ended in a TD). At some point that type of officiating fatalism becomes too much for any team to deal with. The Saints are just 1-5 ATS on Monday Night Football , 3-8 ATS at home and 4-9 ATS as a favorite.
4. New England Patriots (10-3) - I will never defend the Patriots. They are known, rampant, unrepentant cheaters. However, it really doesn't make sense that they would choose to tape the Bengals, a team that they should be able to beat by 20 points with their eyes closed. The Patriots are on an 0-3 ATS slide. However, they haven't lost three straight games straight up since 2002. They are 41-17 ATS in their last 58 games after a loss.
5. Kansas City Chiefs (9-4) - If the Chiefs defense is improved, then it should be able to stonewall rookie quarterback Drew Lock this week. Houston double-teamed Courtland Sutton, Lock's top target, but forgot to cover the tight ends. It will be interesting to see what the Chiefs throw at him. The Chiefs are an outstanding 7-1 ATS in their last eight games against the Broncos. But they are just 3-7 ATS against Denver in Arrowhead.
6. Seattle Seahawks (10-3) - Losing Rashard Penny for the season is a clear blow. He was just starting to come into his own was becoming a nice compliment to fumble-prone Chris Carson. I'm a big fan of Carson's work. But if anything happens to him, then Seattle is in trouble. This is Seattle's 10th meeting with Carolina in the past nine years. Seattle has owned the Panthers, going 7-2 SU and 6-3 ATS in these games. Seattle won in Carolina last November, and five straight meetings have gone 'over'.
7. Minnesota Vikings (9-4) - Note the reverse line movement on this week's game in Los Angeles. Minnesota is favored and in the need-to-win situation. But the Chargers are extremely dangerous, and sharp early week money has forced the books to move this spread off the 3.0. The Vikings are 12-5 ATS as a favorite, but just 3-9 ATS after a game in which they covered the spread (0-4 ATS after a SU win).
8. Green Bay Packers (10-3) - The Packers left a lot of points on the board against Washington. But that's become a trend for this group. Green Bay has averaged just 18.8 points per game in their last four games after managing 32.5 per game in the previous four. Green Bay has dominated this series with the rival Bears, winning eight of 10 straight up and going 13-5 ATS in their last 18 meetings.
9. Los Angeles Rams (8-5) - Robert Woods has 19 catches for 270 yards while Tyler Higbee has posted 13 catches for 232 receiving yards over the past two games. Higbee's reemergence has been particularly critical to stabilizing the Rams offense. The Rams are 5-2 SU and ATS in their last seven games and hopefully getting hot at the right time.
10. Buffalo Bills (9-4) - I have been more impressed with Buffalo in their losses than I have been in any one of their wins. This team is going to be a handful for whomever it faces in the first round because the Bills have a rock-solid system and identity, as well as a chip on their shoulders. The Bills are 7-0 ATS in their last seven road games, and they are 6-1 ATS as an underdog. Buffalo is 8-3 ATS in their last 11 conference games.
11. Houston Texans (8-5) - That game last week was exactly why Bill O'Brien needs to go. This team has too much talent to simply not show up in a December game. This team is completely undisciplined, and they looked lost on Sunday. Will they rebound? Houston is 6-1 ATS after a double-digit home loss. But they are just 4-11 ATS after a loss and 3-9 ATS against a team that is above .500.
12. Tennessee Titans (8-5) - The Titans got physically beat up by the Texans in the last meeting on Nov. 26. The Titans allowed 281 rushing yards on just 34 carries in that game. And I expect a much better effort from the front seven this week. The home team has won six straight SU and ATS and eight of the last nine in the Texans series, and the favorite is 8-2 ATS in the last 10.
13. Los Angeles Chargers (5-8) - That right there is why I had the Chargers ranked so high on this last week. This team is still no joke, and they are much better than their record. The Ekeler-Gordon duo is the best in football and is a lot to handle (as long as Philip Rivers isn't turning the ball over). The Chargers are just 7-19 ATS at home, but they are 8-2 ATS as an underdog.
14. Chicago Bears (7-6) - That's now four of five wins for Chicago, and it is pretty obvious that the MVP of this team is Allen Robinson. That guy is quietly one of the best 10-15 receivers in football. The Bears are just 2-7 ATS in their last nine overall but 9-2 ATS in their last 11 divisional games.
15. Pittsburgh Steelers (8-5) - This team has been the best bet in football this year. The Steelers are 5-1 ATS in their last six games and an outstanding 8-2 ATS in their last 10. Only two of Pittsburgh's last eight opponents have managed more than 17 points against this defense. The 'under' is 5-0 in their last five games and 8-2 in their last 10.
16. Indianapolis Colts (6-7) - That Tampa Bay game was kind of a microcosm of Indianapolis' season. They shockingly overachieved early before injuries and lack of high-end talent led to their collapse. The Colts are 11-2 ATS against a team with a winning record and 11-5 ATS in their last 16 games on Monday Night Football.
17. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (6-7) - Jameis Winston may not play this weekend. He's got a fractured thumb on his throwing hand. He has been cleared to play. But how much can you really trust this guy when he's healthy, much less battling injury? Mike Evans will not play, so look for some downward pressure on the total in this week's betting.
18. Denver Broncos (5-8) - Let's all slow down on Drew Lock a bit. The thing that stuck out to me on Sunday is how many times he was bailing out when he threw the ball. Instead of a confident stride forward, he threw a lot of balls off his back foot. That's usually a bad sign. And right now, I can't distinguish between his first few starts and Kyle Allen's, so let's take a wait-and-see approach. Denver is 4-10 ATS in its last 14 divisional games.
19. Dallas Cowboys (6-7) - I honestly cannot believe that Jason Garrett didn't get fired after another embarrassing prime time loss for the Cowboys. It is obvious that Garrett isn't the long-term answer. So why not fire him and hope that a late-season change can give the team a jolt? Instead, they will sink with Garrett as an anchor around the team's neck.
20. Philadelphia Eagles (6-7) - The NFC East is two losses away from the worst combined record of any four teams since the league went to its current format. The Eagles nearly lost to the Redskins in the first meeting, clawing back from a 17-0 deficit. Philadelphia is 4-1 ATS in its last five against the Redskins, and the favorite is 5-1 ATS in the series. Philly is just 2-5 ATS as a favorite and 1-4 ATS in divisional games.
21. Cleveland Browns (6-7) - I absolutely cannot believe the officials in New York overturned that Bengals interception late in the fourth quarter due to pass interference. It wasn't as high profile as some of the other misses, but that was one of the worst calls of the weekend and papered over another potentially crippling Baker Mayfield mistake. Don't buy into these losers at all.
22. Oakland Raiders (6-7) - It's kind of bizarre to see a team get blown out by 31 points, 31 points and 21 points in three straight weeks installed as a 6.5-point favorite. Injuries, as Jon Gruden discussed after the game, have simply decimated this roster, and right now I don't know that Oakland is healthy enough to lay the wood, even against an opponent that's all but quit on the season.
23. Atlanta Falcons (4-9) - The Falcons will be going up against former offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan this week out in San Francisco. Atlanta may be catching the 49ers in a good spot after San Francisco played brutal back-to-back games against the Ravens and Saints. However, the Falcons are just 4-11 ATS on the road and a terrible 6-13 ATS in their last 19 games as an underdog.
24. Carolina Panthers (5-8) - I think it is pretty clear by Donte Jackson's critical comments of interim head coach Perry Fewell that no one in this locker room respects Fewell. I mean, Jackson is a nobody. But he obviously felt confident enough to call out the head coach, who is making the defensive play calls. Fewell was a failure as a DC in New York with the Giants, so it won't be a surprise when he fails over these next three weeks with Carolina.
25. New York Jets (5-8) - We are going to find out more about Sam Darnold in these next three weeks than we have over the previous six months. The Jets close the season against three of the league's Top 7 defenses. So, while it is one thing to put up big games against sad sacks like the Dolphins, Raiders and Giants, we will see if Darnold and the Jets offense has any potential moving forward. The Jets are just 3-5 ATS in their last eight games, and I think the Ravens can pick their score on Thursday.
26. Jacksonville Jaguars (4-9) - Last week the Jaguars became the first team since 1987 to lose five straight games by 17 or more points. This team has completely quit on Doug Marrone, and now they have to fly west to continue playing out the string under their lame duck head coach. Beyond that, they just lost their best player (D.J. Chark) to injury. He was one of the few things worth watching on this team.
27. Arizona Cardinals (3-9-1) - It was hilarious to watch Arizona get overwhelmed by Steelers fans on Sunday, as it felt like a road game for the Cardinals. Arizona is just 2-13-1 SU at home over the last two years, and they are 3-7 ATS in their last 10 games at University of Phoenix Stadium.
28. Detroit Lions (3-9-1) - That is now six straight losses and nine of 10. Matt Patricia is now 9-19-1 in his two years in Detroit, and general manager Bob Quinn - who fired the competent Jim Caldwell for the sloppy Patricia - is 27-33-1 in his four years as general manager. The Lions are 1-7 ATS in their last eight games overall, 1-5 ATS as an underdog and 1-4 ATS against a team with a losing record.
29. Miami Dolphins (3-10) - The Dolphins dropped from No. 4 in the NFL in red zone production to No. 16 thanks to their historically bad day against the Jets. They went 0-for-6 inside the 20 and nearly won the game thanks to seven - SEVEN! - made field goals by Jason Sanders. This is what happens when you cannot run the ball at all.
30. Washington Redskins (3-10) - Bill Callahan is ensuring that absolutely no one will consider him for a head coaching gig ever again. No one expects him to do much with this bad Redskins roster. However, his play calling and game planning are so plain, so vanilla, and so absolutely lackluster and lacking creativity that there is almost no point for Callahan to bother. He got this job as an interim coach. He was given 10 games of house money! Instead of playing like he has nothing to lose, he has been playing as if he is too bored to bother. His loser status is cemented.
31. New York Giants (2-11) - I really hope that Eli Manning plays well enough over these last few games to convince some franchise that he could be their starter next year. That would be the easiest 'under' season win total futures bet I could possibly make. Manning, after fluking his way to a couple early touchdown passes, went 4-for-11 for 24 yards in the second half as the Giants inept offense gave that game to the Eagles.
32. Cincinnati Bengals (1-12) - The Bengals definitely should have covered the number against Cleveland on Sunday. They went a ridiculous 1-for-5 in the red zone, including getting just three points out of two trips inside the 5-yard-line in the fourth quarter.
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