Expert NFL Picks for Week 15, Including Dolphins-Bills, Bengals-Bucs and Giants-Commanders
A trio of handicappers offer their insights on five of this week's best games
This is NFL Best Bets, a recurring series in which professional sports handicappers lend us their insights and picks for the most intriguing matchups for each week of the professional football season. Here are our top betting picks for Week 15 in the NFL.
You’ve got places to go, people to see and possibly some wagers to make, so let’s get right to it with some help from Thomas Gable, the director of race and sportsbook at the Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa in Atlantic City, sports betting reporter Josh Appelbaum of VSiN and Odds Assist CEO Dave Rathmanner.
Miami Dolphins (+7, O/U 44) at Buffalo Bills
Appelbaum’s Assessment: This line opened with the Bills listed as a 7.5-point home favorite. The public is split down the middle and doesn’t know which way to go. However, we’ve seen this line dip from 7.5 to 7, signaling some respected money leaning toward the Dolphins plus the points. Big dogs +7 or more are 28-18 ATS (61%) this season. Divisional dogs are 40-26 ATS (61%). Primetime dogs are 25-17 ATS (60%). Tua is 9-5-1 ATS (64%) as a dog in his career. With all these system matches, I have to go with Miami and the points.
Gable’s Guess: It’s supposed to be freezing with a chance of snow on Saturday. You have to bring that up because the Dolphins have only played in seven games where the temperature was below 40 degrees at kickoff since 2017. They are 0-7 straight-up and against the spread in those games. The Bills have really punished the Dolphins in Buffalo over the last few seasons and it seems that everything is setting up nicely here for a Buffalo blowout. Tua seems to be in a rut now. Meanwhile, the Bills hung on to beat the Jets with a nice showing there from their defense in Week 14. I’m not sure Miami is really in good head space right now, so I’m gonna lay the points with Buffalo.
Rathmanner’s Reckoning: The Dolphins return from a two-game West Coast swing. They lost both games. Now, they have to travel to Buffalo to face the Bills in less-than-ideal weather on Saturday night. The Dolphins are just 3-4 on the road this season, with three of those losses being by double digits. The Dolphins have had no luck in Buffalo in recent years, as well. They have lost five straight with the average margin of defeat being over 17 points. A cold snowy night in Buffalo against a Bills team that averages 397.1 yards and 27.2 points per game, both top four in the league, seems like an unlikely time for the Dolphins to turn things around. This is a revenge spot for the Bills who lost by 2 points in Miami earlier this season. I’ll lay the points with Buffalo on Saturday night.
Our Pick: Betting Buffalo wants revenge, and it’s too cold for Miami. Laying the points.
Dallas Cowboys (-4, O/U 47.5) at Jacksonville Jaguars
Appelbaum’s Assessment: This line opened with the Cowboys listed as a 6-point road favorite. The public is all over Dallas with roughly 75% of bettors laying the points. However, despite this lopsided betting, we’ve seen Dallas fall from -6 to -4. This signals sharp reverse line movement on the Jags. Sweet spot home dogs +3.5 or more are 30-14 ATS (68%) this season. Jacksonville also has buy-low value as a “bad” ATS team (5-8) against a sell-high “good” ATS team (8-5). I’ll follow the smart money and grab the Jags +4 at home.
Gable’s Guess: The Cowboys can’t afford any mistakes if they hope to have a chance to at the division crown in the NFC East and they’ll need the Eagles to stub their toe before their matchup on Christmas Eve to have any hope there. The Jags are coming off a dominant performance against Tennessee. Trevor Lawrence has possibly his best game to date with 368 yards and four total touchdowns. However, Jacksonville still has an offense that tends to turn the ball over and I wouldn’t be surprised to see the Dallas defense wake up and cause major issues for Lawrence. We saw what this Philly defense did against him. The Cowboys are in that same class, so I’m going to lay the points with Dallas.
Rathmanner’s Reckoning: The Dallas Cowboys came back and escaped with an ugly 27-23 win as 17-point favorites over the Houston Texans last week. Now they have to travel on the road for an out-of-conference game knowing the Philadelphia Eagles are up next for them at home Christmas Eve, making this a bad look-ahead spot for Dallas. Jacksonville may be 5-8, but they have been competitive in nearly all their games, especially in Jacksonville, where they have won three of five, with the two losses being one-score games. Dallas is just 2-3 in their last five as the favorite, while Jacksonville is 3-2 in their last five as an underdog. This line opened Dallas -6 and has since been bet down. Going to follow the line move and take the Jaguars to cover against a Cowboys team that will have a bigger game on their minds.
Our Pick: Playmakers make plays. Will lay the points with Dallas.
Tennessee Titans (+3, O/U 46.5) at Los Angeles Chargers
Appelbaum’s Assessment: This game opened with the Chargers listed as a 3-point home favorite. The public is all over Los Angeles at home, yet this line hasn’t moved off of 3. Some shops are even juicing up the Titans +3 to -115 signaling a possible dip down to 2.5. The Titans are in an ultimate buy-low spot having lost three straight, while the Chargers are in a sell-high spot having just upset the Dolphins in primetime. Dogs who failed to cover the previous week are 48-34 ATS (59%) this season. Mike Vrabel is 4-3 ATS as a dog this season and 22-14 ATS (61%) in his career. I’ll take the Titans and the points.
Gable’s Guess: The Titans have lost three straight and have been blown out in their last two. Their defensive weakness has been exposed and really exploited. They’re terrific against the run but they surrender the second-most passing yards per game of any defense in the league and teams have figured out they can beat them through the air. Defensively, they haven’t been able to get pressure on the quarterback and they’re not recording any sacks. They haven’t forced a turnover since mid-November. Now, they face a healthy Chargers team with both Mike Williams and Keenan Allen back as options for Justin Herbert. Herbert looked fantastic on Sunday. That said, I have confidence in Tennesse coach Mike Vrabel to get the defense straightened out. I’m going to take the points with Tennessee.
Rathmanner’s Reckoning: Both teams enter this game at 7-6 but are trending in different directions. The Titans have lost three in a row, while the Chargers have won two of three. The Titans pass defense ranks 31st in the league allowing 283.7 yards against per game. That is bad news as they will face a Chargers team finally healthy at the WR position with Keenan Allen and Mike Williams both back from injury. The Titans pass offense is fourth worst in the league, averaging only 175.7 yards per game. The Titans will try to rely on Derrick Henry carrying them in this one, but they simply don’t have dynamic enough of an offense to score points and keep up with the Chargers. These teams don’t play frequently, but when they do it, the Chargers have been dominant, winning eight of the last 10 games. Give me the Chargers.
Our Pick: This seems like a choke spot for someone. Taking the under.
Cincinnati Bengals (-3.5, O/U 44) at Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Appelbaum’s Assessment: This line opened with the Bengals listed as a 2.5-point road favorite. The public is hammering Cincinnati, which has driven this line all the way to Bengals -3.5. Now that we’ve passed through the key number of 3, much of the value on Cincinnati is now gone. The Bucs are your top contrarian play of the week, only receiving 20% of bets, and also enjoy an inflated line from the the opener. Cincinnati is also 10-3 ATS, the best in the NFL, while the Bucs are 3-9-1 ATS, the worst in the NFL. Do I have much faith in the Bucs covering? Not really. But I have to stay true to my blueprint, hold my nose and take Brady +3.5.
Gable’s Guess: The Bengals are really rounding into form nicely before the playoffs after a slow start the season. They’ve dealt with some key injuries and the defense continues to play well. Tom Brady commented that he thinks they’re only fairly tough. With the Tampa offense struggling week after week, it may not have been the best idea to give the Bengal defense extra motivation. They’re only allowing 20.4 points per game this year. Tampa is in a division no one seems to want to win and they’re still favored to win the NFC South. But, at this point, nobody really wants to see Tampa in the playoffs. Their offense is not great and I don’t expect them to put up much of a fight in this one. I’m taking the under.
Rathmanner’s Reckoning: This is a meeting between two of the better defenses in the league. The Bucs allow just 19.5 points per game and the Bengals are right behind them allowing only 20.4 points per game. The offensive struggles for Tampa have been well-documented this season and they have the fifth-worst scoring offense in the league, putting up just 17.2 points per game. The Bengals have some injury issues of their own on offense as receivers Tyler Boyd and Tee Higgins are questionable to play. Tight end Hayden Hurst is also dealing with a calf injury and seems unlikely to play. Not having a fully healthy passing offense will cause the Bengals some problems as Tampa has the sixth-best pass defense in the league, allowing only 195.3 yards per game. Playing the under on Sunday.
Our Pick: Last stand. Tampa with the points.
New York Giants (+4.5, O/U 40) at Washington Commanders
Appelbaum’s Assessment: This line opened with the Commanders listed as a 3.5-point home favorite. The public sees two evenly matched teams who just tied a few weeks ago and says “take the points” with the Giants. However, we’ve actually seen this line move further to the Commanders -3.5 to -4.5. This signals a sharp fade-the-trendy dog play on the Commanders with pros laying the points with the fishy contrarian favorite. Favorites off a bye, like the Commanders, are 9-7 ATS this season and 57% ATS over the past decade. This line seems fishy for a reason. I’ll lay the points with Washington -4.5.
Gable’s Guess: These teams have been heading in opposite directions for weeks now. The Giants started off 6-1, but no one really thought they were that good. Their playoff hopes really rest on this game, so this is a big one for the Giants. For Washington, Taylor Heinicke has been the guy who’s played them in the playoff contention. He has five wins in seven starts. The Commanders are coming in rested off their bye week and Chase Young is expected to make his debut, which adds to a defense that’s been playing very well. The issue for Washington has been their pass protection. I expect another low-scoring affair fair between these two, so I’ll take the under.
Rathmanner’s Reckoning: These teams played to a 20-20 tie two weeks ago. The Commanders were the better team in the first game between these two, outgaining the Giants by nearly 100 yards and picking up five more first downs and enjoying an over 10-minute advantage in time of possession. Now the Commanders have had a week off to rest and further prepare for an immediate rematch. The Giants have struggled recently going 0-3-1 in their last four, while the Commanders are 6-1-1 in their last eight games. Look for the Commanders to stay hot and get the cover at -4.5 Sunday night.
Our Pick: End of the road for the Giants. Laying the points.
Last Week: 3-2; This Season: 30-36-2
Editor’s note: Betting lines fluctuate throughout the week based on injuries, the weather and other factors. Make sure to double-check the odds before making your own Week 15 NFL bets.
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