2018 NFL Picks Week 15: Rising Like a Phoenix
Last Week: 5-11
Our picks looked good through the first half of last week’s morning slate, but then suddenly transformed into a dumpster full of tires and burst into a crimson conflagration. Not everything that burns remains ash, though, and the Week 15 slate gives us a great opportunity to rise like a phoenix and be reborn! To the picks!
Kansas City Chiefs -3.5 vs. Los Angeles Chargers
Andy Reid really had the Chargers’ number until last night, when a phantom pass interference call cost the Chiefs what could have been a 7-point victory. Phoenix status: still very much ashes.
Houston Texans -6.5 at New York Jets
I was right about the Colts beating the Texans last week, but Houston hung in there tighter than I expected. The Jets are a far cry from the Colts, and Deshaun Watson has the Texans looking like a legitimate division champ. Add in a top-10 defense, and there’s no reason the Texans can’t cover a touchdown.
Denver Broncos -3 vs. Cleveland Browns
I’m definitely worried about the depleted Broncos’ roster coming into this game. They traded away Demaryius Thomas, Emmanuel Sanders and Chris Harris are now hurt, and they’re leaning hard on rookies Bradley Chubb and Courtland Sutton. Still, Denver’s 4th-ranked defense should survive well enough against Baker Mayfield and the Browns on the road. The impacts of the altitude and the Denver crowd for a night game should be enough to push the Broncos to their 7th win.
Arizona Cardinals +9 at Atlanta Falcons
Arizona’s offense is undeniably atrocious, but the Falcons have looked just as bad over the past few weeks. Since they scored 38 in Washington in Week 9, the Atlanta offense has scored 16, 19, 17, 16, and 20 points. I’m not exactly sure what’s wrong; the offensive line has taken a step back, but they still have a ton of talent at the skill positions, so failing to reach 21 points is a real disappointment. Between their underachieving offense and their 32nd-ranked defense, I can’t see them winning this game by two scores. Give me those nine points!
Oakland Raiders +3 at Cincinnati Bengals
Step 1 of Jon Gruden’s plan to make 2018 a disaster for the Raiders was trading Khalil Mack and including a 2nd round pick for no apparent reason. Step 2 was trading Amari Cooper for a first round pick and then watching the Cowboys go on a tear, making the return less valuable each week. Step 3 is winning as many games as possible now to really drop the value of their own pick; after starting 1-8, Oakland has won two of their last four games. To really round the plan out, he can go into Cincinnati and beat a reeling Bengals’ team starting Jeff Driskill at quarterback. I’ll take the three points along with the team heading up.
Minnesota Vikings -7 vs. Miami Dolphins
Miami had a wonderfully entertaining last-second victory over the Patriots last week, but none of the numbers suggest they’re ready to go on the road and beat an average-or-above team. They don’t match up particularly well with the Vikings, where their 29th-ranked pass rush will struggle to expose Minnesota’s achilles heel and their offense won’t make headway against Mike Zimmer’s still-imposing defense. The Vikings also need this game to stay in the playoff hunt, so they’ll cover easily if they’re a playoff team.
Indianapolis Colts -3 vs. Dallas Cowboys
I love the idea of Andrew Luck and the Colts’ newfound “let’s-not-have-our-quarterback-get-killed” offense going against the Dallas defense in Indianapolis. If they can mitigate the Cowboys’ greatest strength on defense, they shouldn’t have any trouble staying ahead of a Dallas offense whose recent “resurgence” has seen them break 30 points once since their Week 8 bye week. If the Colts get ahead early and do what Philadelphia couldn’t (remember to guard Amari Cooper), they’ll make themselves look like a strong contender for an AFC Wild Card.
Baltimore Ravens -8 vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
If anyone can help Lamar Jackson and the Ravens score points, it’s Tampa Bay’s 30th-ranked rush defense. On the other side of the ball, Baltimore’s defense won’t give up the easy points Jameis Winston seems to score each week, and with the Buccaneers traveling north to Baltimore, 8 points won’t be enough. I see a statement win for the Ravens following a tough loss on the road in Kansas City.
Detroit Lions +2.5 at Buffalo Bills
I’m getting points against Josh Allen? Gimme gimme gimme!
Green Bay Packers +5.5 at Chicago Bears
The last time Aaron Rodgers lost in Chicago, I was graduating college. The last time he lost by more than 3 points in Chicago…never happened. I know my Rogers’ paranoia can get the best of me, but this was a close matchup in Week 1 and I expect nothing different this time around. Also, for as much as I love MItch Trubisky’s Twitter history, he can’t throw the ball very accurately.
Jacksonville Jaguars -7 vs. Washington Redskins
Josh Johnson is the starting quarterback for the Washington idiots this week. He was great in his previous career, when he started 5 games from 2009-2011, throwing 5 touchdowns against 10 interceptions. I’m sure he’ll fare well in Jacksonville against a Jaguars defense ranked 5th in DVOA. And look, Cody Kessler also sucks, but I think he can get to 14 points against a Washington defense with nothing left to play for…right?
New York Giants +1 vs. Tennessee Titans
Odell Beckham Jr. is out, meaning the entire Giants offense might come down to Saquon Barkley. I actually think he’ll be enough at home, where the Giants’ advantages in special teams and defense will get them another win. Tennessee has really struggled in their last two road games, losing 38-10 in Indianapolis and 34-17 in Houston. As an added bonus, another win might convince the Giants to bring Eli Manning back for another year!
Seattle Seahawks -3.5 at San Francisco 49ers
I have no explanation for this line; when I saw it, I immediately started looking for Seattle’s injury report thinking Russell Wilson must be injured. They just won by 27 points two weeks ago! The 49ers aren’t actually good at anything! The Seahawks are oddly kind of good at everything! This is by far my favorite pick of the week.
Pittsburgh Steelers +2 vs. New England Patriots
New England has absolutely owned Pittsburgh through the years, but getting two points at home was too much for me to pass up. The Patriots’ defense looks slow even when they don’t add Gronkowski in as a safety, and the Steelers’ offense is the exact opposite. I don’t know if they can pull out a win, but I have no doubt Pittsburgh will stay in this game to the end and give their fans a chance to swing the game in their favor.
Los Angeles Rams -13 vs. Philadelphia Eagles
This was a 9-point spread before Carson Wentz’s injury was announced. The drop-off from Carson Wentz to 2018 Nick Foles is worth more than 4 points, and Sean McVay is going to have a field day calling plays against the banged-up Eagles’ secondary. I think this one will resemble Philadelphia’s trip to New Orleans a few weeks ago and get out of hand fast.
New Orleans Saints -6.5 at Carolina Panthers
Cam Newton is banged up, the Panthers’ defense is mediocre, and the Saints need to lay down a beating to re-position themselves as the team to beat in the NFC. I don’t know what happened to Carolina, but I can’t trust them with less than a touchdown after watching them blow games against the Browns, Buccaneers, Seahawks, and Lions.
That's all for this week! Kick back, grab a drink, and feel free to blame me if you put money on these picks and come out behind. I won't compensate you, but maybe your significant others will send their wrath in my direction instead of yours.