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Week Fifteen Picks

December 12th, 2019

Ah, whatever. I can live with 10-6 straight up. And 8-7-1 against the spread? So it goes.

See how relaxed I am about this?

I’m also totally mellow about 139-68-1 (.668) straight up, 104-100-4 (.510) against the spread on the season.

So, yeah, let’s see how mellow I can be as I watch this weeks picks fizzle.

Here’s what not to expect.

NY Jets (+14.5) at Baltimore
I don’t know about you, but I kind of feel like Lamar Jackson could play this game in a full body cast and the Ravens would still clobber the Jets. I do think the Ravens are likely to pull their slightly hobbled QB once the game is in hand, as a result of which I think they might only win by 24 or so.

Tampa Bay (-3.5) at Detroit
I don’t know what to do with this game. Recent success aside, the Bucs really aren’t a good football team. But neither are the Lions. And at least Tampa seems to be trying (a bit too hard sometimes). If the game were being played in Florida, I think I’d give twice the spread. In Detroit, I’m just not so sure. Let’s say Bucs by a field goal.

New England (-9.5) at Cincinnati
You know what? I’m gonna hit you with the big three predictive stats even though I’m confident they barely matter. Passer rating differential, Patriots +23.8; scoring differential, Patriots +11.5; takeaway-giveaway differential, Patriots +30. It almost seems like I have to be making that last one up, right? I mean +30? Turnovers? But, yeah. New England leads the league in takeaway-giveaway (by no small margin) at +19. Cincinnati is the league’s third worst at -11. That’s a tough pairing on any field at any point in time. Add a need for the Patriots to get right after a couple of tough losses (including a home game the officials stole from them) and a bit of a “snitches get stitches” factor, and I think you have a formula for a blowout. Patriots by 30.

Philadelphia (-4.5) at Washington
The Eagles may yet be the team that fails to lose the NFC East title. And from there … well, you know, they get to lose to suffer a humiliating loss to the five seed. That sounds like fun, doesn’t it? Philly by three.

Chicago (+4.5) at Green Bay
Even if they weren’t on an apparent mission to prove something late in the season (if perhaps only to themselves) the Bears aren’t likely to have made things easy for the Packers. Still and all … Green Bay by two.

Houston (+3) at Tennessee
The Texans and Titans meet twice over the final three weeks of the season, and possibly a third time in the first weekend of the postseason. I think it’s heading for a home-home split, which means next week’s games against the Bucs and Saints will probably end up deciding the division. Titans by four.

Seattle (-6) at Carolina
To ensure that their week 17 home game with the 49ers decides the NFC West, the Seahawks need to take care of the Panthers this week and the Cardinals next. Step one in that process shouldn’t prove much of a challenge. Seattle by 10.

Denver (+10.5) at Kansas City
The Chiefs probably won’t need the refs to hand them this one. Kansas City by a mostly legit 14.

Miami (+3.5) at NY Giants
This is a much more interesting game than the competitors’ positions at the bottom of the standings suggests. Neither offense can score. But neither defense can stop opponents from scoring. You almost have to watch just to see if the two squads somehow manage to disappear into some kind of tear in the space-time continuum. Barring that, the Giants win by six.

Jacksonville (+6.5) at Oakland
I don’t know. Home team by four, I guess.

Cleveland (-2.5) at Arizona
Something, something, something. Baker Mayfield’s revenge. For something. I don’t care. The Browns are less awful than the Cardinals. I think. Probably. But maybe not that much better. Cleveland by a point.

Atlanta (+11) at San Francisco
The Niners have something to play for. A big something. San Francisco by 17.

LA Rams (-1) at Dallas
The 6-7 Cowboys might yet “win” the NFC East. The 8-5 Rams have no chance of making the playoffs. That’s got to burn. Rams by three.

Minnesota (-2.5) at LA Chargers
If the Vikings want next week’s home game against the Packers to matter, they’ve got to take care of business in L.A. I expect they’ll do that. Vikings by seven.

Buffalo (+2) at Pittsburgh
The Bills are unquestionably the better team here. Which may be some consolation to them when it’s done. Or maybe not. Steelers by three.

Indianapolis (+9) at New Orleans
The Colts are done. Saints by 13.

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