NFL Pick'em Week 15: Man vs. Machine

Written by John Ferguson
December 13, 2019
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NFL Picks Week 15

NFL Picks.jpgThe playoffs are really starting to take shape in the NFL this week and we will start focusing a lot of our attention on potential implications and what it means for betting purposes going forward. We had some wild games last week including the 49ers/Saints monstrous marquee shoot out and the Texans getting absolutely embarrassed by the Broncos.

As for my battle with the machine, we know that man clinched the weekly head-to-head victory for the season last week and man got the win again in Week 14 by a slim margin. There is still a close battle to monitor for overall season record and accuracy, however, where man has the slight edge at 50.8% on the season (183-177) while the machine sits at 49% (166-173). 

In case this is your first time reading this column, here is a quick recap of what we are doing with our weekly pick'em coverage. We have partnered up with the folks over at Betting Antelope who will be providing "the machine" aspect of our weekly pick'em. If you're unfamiliar with their product, Betting Antelope is an impressive machine learning model powered by SportsData.io and designed to predict moneyline, against the spread, over/under, and total team wins for NFL games. The model ingests data and trains itself each week as the season goes on, optimizing profitability by using a combination of regression and decision tree models to make picks. So this season, it's my research, opinions, and instincts vs. the machine.

Now that we have recapped everything and gotten everyone up to speed, let's get to our Week 15 picks!

For more info see FantasyData's Latest NFL Odds page here.


Denver Broncos at Kansas City Chiefs (-9.5) (O/U 45.5)

Matchup Notes:

  • Phillip Lindsay has carried the ball 372 times without a fumble since 2018 -- tied for best of 33 qualified NFL RBs.
  • Drew Lock has completed passes for 20+ yards on 3 of his 11 total passing attempts (27.3%) when under pressure since Week 11 -- best of 32 qualified NFL QBs; League Avg: 7.9%
  • Noah Fant has averaged 10.4 yards after the catch since Week 7 -- best of 44 qualified NFL TEs; League Avg: 4.7
  • Tyreek Hill has had an average separation of 2.13 yards per target -- second-most in NFL.
  • Travis Kelce has 658 air yards this season -- most amongst TEs.
  • Travis Kelce has 16 red-zone targets -- most amongst TEs.
  • The Chiefs defense has averaged 2.33 interceptions per game since Week 11 -- best in NFL.
  • The Chiefs defense has allowed a passer rating of just 60.9 (119 Pass Attempts) since Week 11 -- best in NFL; League Avg: 88.9
  • The Broncos are averaging 18.2 PPG this season.
  • The Chiefs have allowed 21.6 PPG overall this season but just 14 PPG over their last three games.
  • The Chiefs are averaging 28.5 PPG this season.
  • The Broncos have allowed 20.1 PPG this season.
  • The Broncos are 8-5 ATS this season. They're 4-3 ATS on the road and 7-3 ATS as the underdog. The OVER has hit in four of their last five games. The UNDER (49.5) hit when these teams met earlier this season.
  • The Chiefs are 8-5 ATS this season. They're 3-3 ATS at home and 6-4 ATS as the favorite. They're 6-3-1 ATS in their last 10 games against the Broncos. The UNDER has hit in each of their last three games.

Broncos are somehow not eliminated from the playoffs just yet and are playing like it after their tremendous upset against the Texans last week. Drew Lock still needs some polishing at QB, but he is quite possibly the best prospect the Broncos have come across in their seemingly never-ending search for a franchise QB. They'll be tasked with another tough road date this week against the Chiefs who are fighting for the top seed in the AFC. It could be the silver lining to an otherwise lost season for the Broncos if they could pull off back-to-back upsets and this time against their division rival who already sealed a first-place finish. The Broncos lost 6-30 when these teams met earlier this season.

The Chiefs are fighting for a first-round bye and clinched the AFC West for the fourth-straight season. This will mark their sixth playoff appearance in the seven seasons with Andy Reid as the head coach. They got their sweet revenge last week taking down the Patriots at home and will now have a home game of their own in two of their last three. They need to remain flawless and if they get some help from the Pats they could slide into a top seed still. Though the Broncos are coming in high off their thrashing of the Texans, you have to consider that a little flukey and I wouldn't expect a similar outcome against the Chiefs. This game opened with a line of Chiefs -12 but adjusted after the sentiment of the Broncos win over the Texans kicked in.

My Final Prediction: Chiefs win 27-17

My Pick: Chiefs -9.5, Under 45.5

Machine Pick: Chiefs -9.5, Over 45.5


Tampa Bay Buccaneers (-3.5) at Detroit Lions (O/U 46.5)

Matchup Notes:

  • Jameis Winston has thrown 37 interceptable passes this season -- most in NFL.
  • Buccaneers WRs have 19 receptions for 20+ yards since Week 11 -- most in NFL.
  • The Buccaneers defense has tackled opponents for a loss on 27 of 142 rushing attempts (19.0% TFL%) since Week 7 -- second-best in NFL.
  • The Buccaneers defense has forced 7 fumbles since Week 11 -- most in NFL.
  • The Buccaneers have committed 19 turnovers since Week 7 -- most in NFL.
  • Kenny Golladay has seen 14 end-zone targets this season -- tied for second-most amongst WRs.
  • Lions WRs have caught 15 touchdown passes since Week 7 -- most in NFL.
  • The Lions defense has allowed 20 TD passes since Week 7 -- most in NFL.
  • The Lions defense has five interceptions this season -- tied for fewest in NFL.
  • The Bucs are averaging 29.1 PPG -- third-most in NFL.
  • The Lions have allowed 25.8 PPG this season.
  • The Lions are averaging 22.1 PPG overall this season but just 14.3 PPG over their last three games.
  • The Bucs have allowed 29.3 PPG -- second-most in NFL.
  • The Bucs are 4-8-1 ATS this season. They're 4-3 ATS on the road and 1-3-1 ATS as the favorite. The OVER has hit in 10 of their 13 games this season.
  • The Lions are 5-8 ATS this season. They're 3-3 ATS at home and 5-5 ATS as the underdog. The UNDER has hit in three of their last five games.

This is somewhat of a meaningless game already for these teams unfortunately as they're both eliminated from the playoffs already. For the Bucs, there is definitely a level of concern with Jameis Winston still as the franchise QB here and you have to think the needs to tighten things up if he wants to keep his job here much longer. He may get an out though as he suffered a hand injury last week and could be looking at missing time. Bruce Arians will also likely look to make a statement that this team has more potential than it has shown this season in his first year as the head coach. The Bucs have been no stranger to putting up points, but I wouldn't bank on that if Winston can't go. The team will also be without stud WR Mike Evans for potentially the rest of the season. I wouldn't want to bet on a game like this with nothing to win for either team and if Winston can't go, there is no telling what could happen.

The Lions are obviously eliminated from the playoffs already as well and have nothing to play for except a draft spot. Matt Patricia could be on the hot seat with a 9-19-1 record so far as the head coach here. This team has now lost six in a row and nine of their last 10 games. Their only chance at a win here will be if Winston can't play and the Bucs would be forced to start either Ryan Griffin or a no-name QB off the streets under center. This game is a complete fade for betting.

My Final Prediction: Bucs win 28-16 (*Score assuming Winston plays, without Winston probably 21-16)

My Pick: Bucs -3.5, Under 46.5

Machine Pick: Bucs -3.5, Over 46.5


Houston Texans at Tennessee Titans (-3) (O/U 51)

Matchup Notes:

  • DeAndre Hopkins has broken 8 tackles this season -- tied for most among NFL WRs.
  • The Texans' secondary have missed 60 tackles on 298 opportunities (20.1%) this season -- highest in NFL.
  • The Texans defense has allowed 4.7 yards per attempt in the red zone this season -- highest in NFL.
  • The Texans defense allowed passes of 20+ yards on 7 of 27 attempts (25.9%) last week -- tied for highest in NFL.
  • Ryan Tannehill has a 53.1% pressured completion percentage this season -- highest in NFL.
  • Ryan Tannehill has a 69.2% red zone completion percentage this season -- highest in NFL.
  • Derrick Henry has created 538 yards this season -- most in NFL.
  • The Texans defense has allowed 169.0 rushing yards per game since Week 11 -- second-most in NFL.
  • Jonnu Smith has a 85.7% contested catch rate (six-of-seven targets) -- second-highest amongst TEs. 
  • The Texans are averaging 24.4 PPG this season.
  • The Titans have allowed 19.6 PPG this season.
  • The Titans are averaging 24.5 PPG overall this season and 38.3 PPG over their last three games (most in NFL).
  • The Texans have allowed 23.8 PPG this season.
  • The Texans are 6-7 ATS this season. They're 3-2 ATS on the road and 5-2 ATS as the underdog. They're 7-3 ATS in their last 10 games against the Titans. The OVER has hit in each of their last two games. The UNDER hit in four of their last six.
  • The Titans are 7-5-2 ATS this season. They're 3-2-1 ATS at home and 4-3-1 ATS as the favorite. The OVER has hit in each of their last seven games.

This is a big game with a lot of playoff implications intact. Though the Titans have been one of the hottest teams in the NFL as of late, they're fighting for their lives for a playoff berth. The Titans handed the Raiders a big loss last week. They were tied at halftime but threw it into another gear that apparently the Raiders didn't possess. Ryan Tannehill has continued to be nothing short of impressive under center and the team is looking at getting him extended as the future QB there. This is the first of two matchups between these teams over the final three weeks of the season and if the Titans can sweep the Texans, they're in good shape. They're catching them at a great time right now coming off that head-scratching loss to the Broncos.

Texans... what happened? That's all I can really say about last week's game. They were my lock of the week and turned around to get their asses handed to them 28-34 despite coming into the game as nine-point favorites. I guess you have to assume they were looking past the Broncos towards this week's matchup with the Titans, but it is a cause for concern regardless. This team now has two losses this season that are pretty understandable against the Saints and Ravens, but then have losses against the Panthers, Colts, and Broncos that just seem out of character. And they were at home last week to boot. Now they travel to Tennessee for one of the most important games of the season with zero momentum against a tougher defense. I think you have to like the Titans as the favorite at this point but I'm not touching the spread. 

My Final Prediction: Titans win 28-25

My Pick: Push, Over 51

Machine Pick: Titans -3, Under 51


Miami Dolphins at New York Giants (-3.5) (O/U 46.5)

Matchup Notes:

  • The Dolphins defense has allowed 11 TD passes since Week 11 -- second-most in NFL.
  • Dolphins RBs have averaged just 2.7 yards per carry since Week 7 -- lowest in NFL.
  • The Dolphins have allowed opponents to pressure their QB on 20.8% of dropbacks this season -- highest in NFL; League Avg: 14.3%
  • The Dolphins have allowed a QB hit on 14.9% of dropbacks this season -- highest in NFL; League Avg: 8.9%
  • Giants QBs have fumbled 13 times since Week 7-- most in NFL.
  • Giants RBs have 34 receiving yards since Week 11 -- fewest in NFL.
  • The Giants ran no plays in their opponent's territory in the second half last week.
  • The Dolphins are averaging 17 PPG overall this season (third-fewest) but are averaging 27.3 PPG over their last three games.
  • The Giants have allowed 27.8 PPG this season -- fifth-most.
  • The Giants are averaging 19 PPG overall this season but just 14.7 PPG over their last three games.
  • The Dolphins have allowed 30.7 PPG this season -- most in NFL.
  • The Dolphins are 7-6 ATS this season and have been the underdog in every game. They're 4-2 ATS on the road. The OVER has hit in four of their last six games.
  • The Giants are 5-8 ATS this season. They're 1-5 ATS at home and 1-2 ATS as the favorite. The OVER has hit in four of their last six games.

This is another game this week where both teams are eliminated from playoffs. The Dolphins are definitely playing with some fire in their bellies though as head coach Brian Flores looked like he was about to kill somebody at the end of last week's one-point loss to the Jets. The team can still go on a mini winning streak here against the Giants this week and against the Bengals the following week. They really have more to gain by losing rather than winning though.

The Giants welcomed the triumphant return of everyone's favorite mouth breather, Eli Manning, on Monday Night Football. The Giants nearly pulled off a huge upset against their division rival Eagles by forcing overtime. Unfortunately, Eli never saw the field in OT as the Eagles scored with their first possession. Daniel Jones' timeline to return is unknown at the moment as he deals with a high-ankle sprain. So, we will get a clash of titans here between Ryan Fitzpatrick and Eli Manning for this bout. hold onto your hats for this wild ride! But in all honesty, there isn't much reason to watch or bet on this game outside of fantasy football purposes. 

My Final Prediction: Giants win 27-24

My Pick: Dolphins +3.5, Over 46.5

Machine Pick: Dolphins +3.5, Under 46.5


Seattle Seahawks (-6) at Carolina Panthers (O/U 48)

Matchup Notes:

  • D.K. Metcalf has 14 end-zone targets this season -- tied for second-most amongst WRs.
  • The Seahawks have allowed opponents to pressure their QB on 22.8% of dropbacks in the red zone this season -- highest in NFL; League Avg: 12.8%
  • Russell Wilson has targeted receivers at an average depth of 11.2 yards since Week 11 -- highest of 26 qualified NFL QBs; League Avg: 8.1
  • Christian McCaffrey has averaged 140.2 yards from scrimmage per game since Week 11 -- most amongst RBs.
  • Kyle Allen has a 19.1% deep ball completion percentage this season -- lowest in NFL.
  • The Panthers defense has allowed passes of 20+ yards on 6 of 23 attempts (26.1%) when they have pressured the QB since Week 11 -- highest in NFL; League Avg: 7.9%
  • The Panthers defense has allowed a passer rating of 108.7 when they have pressured the QB (32 Pass Attempts) since Week 7 -- highest in NFL; League Avg: 55.0
  • The Panthers defense has allowed 6.0 yards per carry since Week 7 -- highest in NFL.
  • The Seahawks are averaging 26.2 PPG overall this season but just 22 PPG over their last three games.
  • The Panthers have allowed 27.7 PPG overall this season and 34.3 PPG over their last three games.
  • The Panthers are averaging 23.1 PPG this season.
  • The Seahawks have allowed 24.7 PPG this season. 
  • The Seahawks are 7-6 ATS this season. They're 5-2 ATS on the road and 4-5 ATS as the favorite. They're 4-3 ATS in their last seven games against the Panthers. The UNDER has hit in two of their last three games. The OVER has hit in three of their last five. The OVER has hit in each of their last five games against the Panthers.
  • The Panthers are 6-7 ATS this season. They're 2-4 ATS at home and 3-4 ATS as the underdog. The OVER has hit in each of their last three games and nine of 13 games this season.

Seattle is in good shape for a playoff berth but their loss to the Rams on Sunday didn't do them any favors. They fell down the ranks and will now have an uphill battle to try and grab a higher seed. Their loss also made it possible for the Vikings to pass them in the seeding. With the 49ers playing red hot and even the Rams suddenly trying to make a move from the back of the pack, the Seahawks can't afford many slip-ups over the final three games. Luckily for them, they get a Panthers team this week that has thrown the towel in for the season.

The Panthers are officially eliminated from the playoffs and their season was thrown in the can as soon as they fired head coach Ron Rivera. Trade rumors are now circulating regarding former starting QB Cam Newton and it is hard to peg which direction this franchise wants to go going forward. Christian McCaffrey will continue his dominant run but that is about the only thing they have going for them right now. They can play spoiler here a little by upsetting the Seahawks, though that doesn't seem likely.

My Final Prediction: Seahawks win 28-21

My Pick: Seahawks -6, Over 48

Machine Pick: Seahawks -6, Under 48


Chicago Bears at Green Bay Packers (-4.5) (O/U 40.5)

Matchup Notes:

  • Allen Robinson has 19 contested catches this season -- most amongst WRs.
  • Bears WRs have been targeted 16 times in the red zone since Week 11 -- most in NFL.
  • Bears RBs have not rushed for any TDs on 84 carries since Week 11 -- tied for highest Carries Per TD rate in NFL; League Avg: 38.8
  • Kyle Fuller (CHI) has 802 receiving yards against him this season -- most among NFL defensive backs.
  • Aaron Rodgers has not been intercepted (222 pass attempts) since Week 7 -- best amongst QBs.
  • Blake Martinez (GB) has missed 18 tackles this season -- tied for second-most among NFL linebackers.
  • The Packers defense has tackled opponents for a loss on just 1 of 58 rushing attempts (1.7% TFL%) in the red zone this season. -- lowest in NFL; League Avg: 13.7%
  • Aaron Jones averaged 4.4 yards after contact per carry last week -- second-best of 34 qualified NFL RBs.
  • The Bears are averaging 18.7 PPG overall this season but have averaged 24.7 PPG over their last three games.
  • The Packers have allowed 20.8 PPG this season.
  • The Packers are averaging 23.8 PPG overall this season and 26.3 PPG at home.
  • The Bears have allowed 17.8 PPG this season -- fourth-fewest in NFL.
  • The Bears are 4-9 ATS this season (tied for worst in the league). They're 1-4 ATS on the road and 2-2 ATS as the underdog. The OVER has hit in each of their last two games. The UNDER has hit in five of their last seven games. The UNDER has hit in each of their last two games against the Packers.
  • The Packers are 8-5 ATS this season. They're 4-3 ATS at home and 6-4 ATS as the favorite. The UNDER has hit in four of their last five games.

The Bears are somehow still alive when looking at the playoff picture but they would need a lot to go their way that is out of their hands at this point for that to happen. Mitch Trubisky is suddenly playing decent against teams not named the Detroit Lions as the Bears have won three in a row and four of their last five. They have an absolute gauntlet coming up starting this week at Green Bay. They'll then have a home game against the Chiefs before traveling to Minnesota to play the Vikings. Those two games against the Pack and Vikes would mean a lot for their playoff potential but I just don't see this team having it in them to pull it off with both being on the road in really tough stadiums. Their running game will be needed to step up again this week to beat the Packers who have virtually no run defense to speak of.

The Packers are somehow the second-seed in the NFC right now after the Saints lost to the 49ers last week. They snuck in a win against the Redskins last week by merely five points and continue to get gashed on the ground. Aaron Rodgers threw for just 195 yards and one TD in the game while taking four sacks. He has lived somewhere between elite and mediocre all season and this team as a whole just hasn't been dependable when you think they will be. They beat this Bears team all the way back in Week 1 by a score of just 10-3. They have only lost one game at home this season back in Week 4 against the Eagles. If they want to hang onto that first-round bye they need to start by knocking off the Bears this week and not look toward a daunting Week 16 road date against the Vikings.

My Final Prediction: Packers win 21-20

My Pick: Bears +4.5, Over 40.5

Machine Pick: Packers -4.5, Under 40.5


New England Patriots (-9) at Cincinnati Bengals (O/U 40.5)

Matchup Notes:

  • Tom Brady has 91 red-zone attempts this season -- most in NFL by 20 attempts.
  • Julian Edelman has seen 22 red-zone targets this season -- most amongst WRs.
  • James White has seen a light box on 84.7% of his carries this season -- highest in NFL.
  • The Patriots defense has allowed a passer rating of just 59.7 this season -- best in NFL; League Avg: 91.2
  • The Patriots defense has allowed a completion percentage of just 56.1% this season -- best in NFL; League Avg: 63.9%
  • Andy Dalton has completed just 47.4% of passes against the blitz this season -- lowest of 35 qualified NFL QBs; League Avg: 59.2%
  • The Bengals defense has allowed two touchdowns on 77 completions (38.5 Completions Per TD) since Week 11 -- best in NFL; League Avg: 13.2
  • The Bengals defense has allowed passes of 20+ yards on 34 of 213 attempts (16.0%) since Week 7 -- highest in NFL; League Avg: 9.4%
  • The Bengals defense has allowed 6.9 yards after the catch this season -- highest in NFL; League Avg: 5.3
  • The Patriots are averaging 26 PPG overall this season but just 17 PPG over their last three games.
  • The Bengals have allowed 25 PPG overall this season but just 16.3 PPG over their last three games.
  • The Bengals are averaging 15.2 PPG this season -- second-fewest in NFL.
  • The Patriots have allowed 12.9 PPG overall this season (fewest in NFL) but have allowed 20 PPG over their last three games.
  • The Patriots are 7-6 ATS this season and have been the favorite in every game. They're 4-3 ATS on the road and 0-3 ATS in their last three games. The UNDER has hit in three of their last four games and nine-of-13 games this season.
  • The Bengals are 5-8 ATS this season. They're 1-5 ATS at home, 5-6 ATS as the underdog, and 2-5 ATS in their last seven games. The UNDER has hit in six of their last eight games.

The Patriots didn't do much to silence their doubters last week as they dropped a crucial game against the Chiefs. The officials had a hand in this loss for the Pats but this offense just hasn't really looked right for a while now. They have fallen behind the Ravens for the top seed in the AFC right now and now have to deal with the Chiefs fighting them for a first-round bye and the Bills somehow fighting them for the division title still. Their cushy schedule will save them this week going up against the Bengals and in Week 17 against the Dolphins, but a Week 16 tilt at home against the Bills could decide a lot.

The Bengals season has obviously been over for quite some time. They're playing to keep the first overall pick in the draft right now and perhaps as an audition for Andy Dalton, if not as the starter for the Bengals, perhaps somewhere else. Joe Mixon has finally found his legs towards the end of the season but it's too little too late for a team that has been doomed. They don't get any mercy against what will surely be a pissed off Patriots team this week.

My Final Prediction: Patriots win 24-13

My Pick: Patriots -9, Under 40.5

Machine Pick: Patriots -9, Under 40.5


Philadelphia Eagles (-4) at Washington Redskins (O/U 39)

Matchup Notes:

  • Carson Wentz has not been intercepted in the red zone this season -- tied for best of 33 qualified NFL QBs.
  • Zach Ertz has eight contested catches this season -- second-most amongst TEs.
  • Ronald Darby (PHI) has 372 receiving yards against him since Week 11 -- most among NFL defensive backs.
  • The Eagles defense has forced three and outs on 28.8% of opponent drives this season -- best in NFL; League Avg: 20.9%
  • Redskins WRs have just one touchdown on 64 receptions since Week 7 -- highest receptions per TD rate in NFL.
  • The Redskins defense has sacked opposing QBs on 24.1% of pass attempts in the red zone since Week 7 -- best in NFL.
  • The Redskins have been sacked on 14.4% of pass attempts since Week 7 -- highest in NFL; League Avg: 7.2%
  • The Redskins have run 708 plays this season -- fewest in NFL.
  • The Eagles are averaging 22.8 PPG this season.
  • The Redskins have allowed 23.8 PPG overall this season but just 19 PPG over their last three games.
  • The Redskins are averaging 14.5 PPG overall this season (fewest in NFL) and 21 PPG over their last three games.
  • The Eagles have allowed 23.2 PPG overall this season and 29.3 PPG on the road (third-most in NFL).
  • The Eagles are 4-9 ATS this season (tied for worst in NFL). They're 2-4 ATS on the road, 2-5 ATS as the favorite, and 0-4 ATS in their last four games. The UNDER has hit in four of their last five games.
  • The Redskins are 6-7 ATS this season. They're 2-4 ATS at home, 6-5 ATS as the underdog, and 3-0 ATS in their last three games. They're 6-4 ATS in their last 10 games against the Eagles. The UNDER has hit in eight of their last 10 games.

Carson Wentz 2019.jpgThe Eagles and Cowboys don't deserve to be in playoff contention the way they have been playing, but both are still alive and fighting for the dumpster fire NFC East title. The Eagles needed overtime on Monday Night Football to beat the corpse of Eli Manning, ending their three-game skid. Their offense has been decimated by injuries this season, especially in their receiver corps, but they just aren't the dominant team they once were and their secondary continues to be a glaring problem. A Week 16 tilt against the Cowboys will do a lot to decide the fate of these teams and if the Eagles can win out their other two games against the Redskins and Giants again, they're in and ready to get eliminated in the first round.

The Redskins are eliminated from the playoffs but have been showing a lot of heart as of late and kept it close against the Packers last week, losing by just five points. This team is a ship without a captain and the same could be said for the franchise as a whole. They can get some satisfaction out of playing spoiler still though either this week against the Eagles or in Week 17 against the Cowboys as both of those teams are fighting each other for the top in this ugly division. 

My Final Prediction: Eagles win 20-17

My Pick: Redskins +4, Under 39

Machine Pick: Eagles -4, Over 39


Cleveland Browns (-3) at Arizona Cardinals (O/U 48)

Matchup Notes:

  • Nick Chubb has evaded 80 tackles this season -- most in NFL.
  • Baker Mayfield has completed just 39.0% of passes in the red zone this season -- lowest of 33 qualified NFL QBs; League Avg: 55.0%
  • The Browns defense has eight interceptions since Week 11 -- tied for most in NFL.
  • The Browns' secondary has missed 57 tackles this season -- second-most in NFL.
  • The Cardinals defense has allowed opponents to catch 83 of 105 passes (79.0% Reception Pct) since Week 11 -- highest in NFL; League Avg: 65.3%
  • The Cardinals defense has allowed a Completion Pct of 93.3% (14 completions/15 attempts) on 3rd and long since Week 11 -- highest in NFL; League Avg: 54.3%
  • The Cardinals defense has allowed a passer rating of 113.9 this season -- highest in NFL; League Avg: 91.2
  • The Cardinals defense has allowed 32 TD passes this season -- most in NFL.
  • Cardinals WRs have been targeted 5.0 times per game in the red zone since Week 11 -- highest in NFL; League Avg: 2.4
  • Kyler Murray has not thrown any TDs on 50 pass attempts when scrambling this season -- tied for highest pass attempts per TD rate of 33 qualified NFL QBs; League Avg: 23.5 attempts per TD
  • The Browns are averaging 21 PPG overall this season and 27 PPG over their last three games.
  • The Cardinals have allowed 28.8 PPG this season -- third-most in NFL.
  • The Cardinals are averaging 20.9 PPG overall this season but just 16.7 PPG over their last three games.
  • The Browns have allowed 22.4 PPG this season.
  • The Browns are 5-7-1 ATS this season. They're 2-4 ATS on the road, 4-4-1 ATS as the favorite, and 3-1 ATS in their last four games. The OVER has hit in two of their last three games.
  • The Cardinals are 7-5-1 ATS this season. They're 3-4 ATS at home, 7-4-1 ATS as the underdog, and 0-3 ATS in their last three games. The UNDER has hit in each of their last two games.

The Browns aren't officially eliminated from the playoffs yet but they certainly have one foot in the grave. The same could be said for this would-be dynasty that just never transpired this season. Odell Beckham Jr. is apparently back at his antics of being a distraction, fishing for teams to come and save him from Cleveland. They have still made a push as of late though winning four of their last five games and could still finish out the season 8-8. First, they'll have to get past the Cards this week who have nothing left to play for this season. They'll get a tough date against the Ravens after that and then another cake matchup against the Bengals to finish things out. 

The Cardinals are eliminated from the playoffs already after dropping their last six games. They showed some potential in the middle of the season but just couldn't keep it together and their defense consistently let people walk all over them. I think Kyler Murray has some promise as a QB in this league still and he will be an interesting player to watch grow in this league, but as a huge Oakland A's fan, I would be happy to welcome him back to the MLB with open arms. It's tough to see the Cards getting another win this season with the Browns, Seahawks, and Rams all on deck. This week might be their best chance. 

My Final Prediction: Browns win 26-20

My Pick: Browns -3, Under 48

Machine Pick: Cardinals +3, Under 48


Jacksonville Jaguars at Oakland Raiders (-6.5) (O/U 45)

Matchup Notes:

  • The Jaguars defense has allowed 14.7 yards per completion since Week 11 -- highest in NFL; League Avg: 11.4
  • The Jaguars defense has allowed 16.7 yards after the catch on 3rd and long since Week 11 -- highest in NFL; League Avg: 6.3
  • The Jaguars defense has allowed 190.0 rushing yards per game since Week 11 -- highest in NFL; League Avg: 113.4
  • Leonard Fournette has averaged 3.1 yards after contact per carry this season -- second-best of 35 qualified NFL RBs; League Avg: 2.2
  • Derek Carr has an 89.9% protection rate this season -- highest in NFL.
  • Darren Waller has nine contested catches this season -- most amongst TEs.
  • The Raiders defense has allowed 14.1 yards per completion since Week 7 -- tied for highest in NFL.
  • The Raiders defense has allowed 40 receptions for 20+ yards since Week 7 -- most in NFL.
  • The Raiders defensive line has missed 13 tackles on 26 opportunities (50.0%) in the red zone this season -- tied for 2nd highest in NFL; League Avg: 20.9%
  • The Jaguars are averaging 17.7 PPG overall this season (fifth-fewest) but just 13.7 PPG over their last three games (second-fewest).
  • The Raiders have allowed 28.2 PPG overall this season (fourth-most) and 38.7 PPG over their last three games (most in NFL).
  • The Raiders are averaging 19.8 PPG overall this season but just 11 PPG over their last three games (fewest in NFL).
  • The Jaguars have allowed 25.9 PPG overall this season and 38.3 PPG over their last three games (second-most).
  • The Jaguars are 5-8 ATS this season. They're 3-3 ATS on the road, 3-6 ATS as the underdog, and 0-5 ATS in their last five games. The OVER has hit in four of their last six games.
  • The Raiders are 6-7 ATS this season. They're 3-3 ATS at home, 1-2 ATS as the favorite, and 0-4 ATS in their last four games. The UNDER has hit in three of their last four games.

This game features two teams on an exact similar trajectory right now when looking at their points for/against and their total yardage allowed recently. The Jags struggles continued last week as they barely managed to put up 10 points against the Chargers. They have been held to 13 points or less in four of their last five games and not even the great Gardner Minshew could save them in this one. Not only has their offense continued to struggle, but their defense got absolutely shredded again giving up 45 points and a season-high 525 total yards. This is the second time in the last three weeks where they have allowed over 40 points. Needless to say, their playoff hopes are far from over, but maybe a matchup against an equally-struggling defense can get them right.

The Raiders are somehow still alive in the playoff hunt but are definitely on the outside looking in. Their loss to the Titans likely sealed the deal for them. The Raiders have also allowed 40 points or more in two of their last games and are riding a losing streak into this game while their offense has struggled to find its footing. They were without stud rookie RB Josh Jacobs last week who has been a catalyst for this offense's success. Someone is going to get a win here and get right, but I wouldn't bet on either team in all honesty. With both defenses giving up a ton of yardage and points recently we could see an ugly shootout here.

My Final Prediction: Raiders win 27-24

My Pick: Jaguars +6.5, Over 45

Machine Pick: Jaguars +6.5, Over 45


Minnesota Vikings (-3) at Los Angeles Chargers (O/U 45.5)

Matchup Notes:

  • Kirk Cousins' targets have had an average separation of 1.96 yards per target -- second-most in NFL.
  • Dalvin Cook has evaded 79 tackles this season -- second-most in NFL.
  • Vikings RBs have averaged 10.5 yards after the catch this season -- best in NFL.
  • Vikings WRs have averaged 10.5 yards per target this season -- best in NFL; League Avg: 8.1
  • Mike Williams has averaged nine air yards per target -- most in NFL.
  • Mike Williams has averaged 25.6 yards per reception since Week 7 -- best of 67 qualified NFL WRs; League Avg: 13.4
  • Hunter Henry has seen 7.5 air yards per target this season -- most amongst TEs.
  • Austin Ekeler has averaged 16.9 yards per reception since Week 11 -- best of 38 qualified NFL RBs
  • Chargers RBs have gained 988 yards after the catch this season -- most in NFL.
  • The Chargers defense has allowed just 7.9 yards per completion since Week 11 -- best in NFL; League Avg: 11.4
  • The Vikings are averaging 26.1 PPG this season.
  • The Chargers have allowed 19.3 PPG this season.
  • The Chargers are averaging 22.2 PPG overall this season and 27.3 PPG over their last three games.
  • The Vikings have allowed 19.2 PPG overall this season and 23.4 PPG on the road.
  • The Vikings are 7-6 ATS this season. They're 3-4 ATS on the road, 6-4 ATS as the favorite, and 2-4 ATS in their last six games. The OVER has hit in six of their last eight games.
  • The Chargers are 4-7-2 ATS this season. They're 1-3-1 ATS at home, 2-1-1 ATS as the underdog, and 1-3 ATS in their last four games. The OVER has hit in three of their last four games.

Kirk Cousins.jpgThe Vikings haven't clinched a playoff berth just yet but their win against the Lions last week and the Seahawks loss did them a lot of favors as they're now even poised to jump the Seahawks in the seeding. The Vikes could also snatch the division title from the Packers as the teams are set for a Week 16 matchup in Minnesota. The Vikes also get two of their last three games at home where they have been undefeated this season. 

The Chargers are officially eliminated from playoff contention and now we are left to wonder what the team will do with Philip Rivers under center. They had already threatened to start Tyrod Taylor over him recently and with this being the final year of Rivers' contract, it is fair to wonder if these could be his last games with the franchise in general. He is certainly making the most of them if they are as the Chargers dismantled the Jags 45-10 last week while putting up over 500 yards of total offense. As we know, there is no such thing as a home-field advantage for the Chargers, and they're basically just looking to play spoiler against the Vikes this week. I like them to keep it close with momentum on their side but also wouldn't be surprised if they revert against a much tougher defense and get blown out, making this another game that isn't a trustworthy bet.

My Final Prediction: Vikings win 27-23

My Pick: Vikings -3, Over 45.5

Machine Pick: Push, Under 45.5


Atlanta Falcons at San Francisco 49ers (-10.5) (O/U 47.5)

Matchup Notes:

  • Austin Hooper has averaged 2.1 yards of separation per target -- second-most amongst TEs.
  • Falcons WRs have averaged 256.8 receiving yards per game since Week 11 -- best in NFL; League Avg: 155.3
  • The Falcons defense has pressured opposing QBs 87 times this season -- second-fewest in NFL.
  • Matt Ryan has been sacked 19 times since Week 11 -- second-most among NFL QBs.
  • Jimmy Garoppolo has a 53.3% deep ball completion percentage this season -- highest in NFL.
  • Jimmy Garoppolo's targets have dropped 31 passes this season -- most in NFL.
  • Raheem Mostert has averaged 4.7 yards before contact per carry since Week 11 -- best of 34 qualified NFL RBs; League Avg: 2.0
  • Raheem Mostert has averaged 6.3 yards per carry since Week 7 -- best of 34 qualified NFL RBs.
  • The 49ers defense has allowed -2.3 yards per attempt (-160 yards/70 attempts) on plays where they have pressured the QB this season -- best in NFL.
  • The 49ers defense has allowed 150.8 passing yards per game this season -- best in NFL; League Avg: 235.7
  • The Falcons are averaging 23.1 PPG overall this season and 26 PPG on the road.
  • The 49ers have allowed 17.6 PPG overall this season -- third-fewest in NFL.
  • The 49ers are averaging 30.5 PPG overall this season (second-most) and 34 PPG over their last three games.
  • The Falcons have allowed 26.4 PPG this season. 
  • The Falcons are 5-8 ATS this season. They're 2-4 ATS on the road, 4-5 ATS as the underdog, and 4-2 ATS in their last six games. The UNDER has hit in five of their last seven games.
  • The 49ers are 8-4-1 ATS this season. They're 3-2-1 ATS at home, 3-4-1 ATS as the favorite, and 3-0 ATS in their last three games. The OVER has hit in five of their last seven games.

The Falcons took out their aggressions on a folding Panthers team last week as they put up a season-high 40 points in their victory. The Falcons are eliminated from the playoffs but are still playing with purpose as coach Dan Quinn could be on the hot seat after back-to-back sub-.500 seasons. The Falcons have actually performed better on the road this season but that won't matter much as they're about to get tossed to the wolves that are the 49ers pass rush. Matt Ryan was only sacked once last week but was sacked 15 times in the two games prior against the Bucs and Saints ravenous pass rush. It could be a long day for Matty Ice in this one.

The 49ers are sitting pretty as the top seed in the NFC right now and are pushing for a first-round bye and locking in home-field advantage for the playoffs as well. Their game with the Saints last week was an instant classic with a combined 94 points scored. The Niners can't hit cruise control just yet though as the Seahawks are still lurking behind them and awaiting a Week 17 date. The Niners also have a divisional tilt against the Rams in Week 16 who are suddenly surging and pushing for a playoff berth of their own. First up, the 49ers have to make sure they don't overlook this Falcons team that has nothing to win anymore this season but would probably love to play spoiler a little and try and knock off a top team on their way out.

My Final Prediction: 49ers win 35-17

My Pick: 49ers -10.5, Over 47.5

Machine Pick: Falcons +10.5, Under 47.5


Los Angeles Rams (-1.5) at Dallas Cowboys (O/U 49)

Matchup Notes:

  • Tyler Higbee has 13 red-zone targets -- tied for third-most amongst TEs.
  • The Rams defense has hurried opposing QBs on 14.6% of dropbacks this season -- best in NFL; League Avg: 10.1%
  • Rams RBs have gained 213 yards after the catch this season -- fewest in NFL.
  • Jared Goff has completed passes for 20+ yards on 23 of his 129 total passing attempts (17.8%) since Week 11 -- best of 26 qualified NFL QBs; League Avg: 9.2%
  • The Cowboys secondary has missed 20 tackles on 73 opportunities (27.4%) since Week 11 -- highest in NFL; League Avg: 15.2%
  • Michael Gallup has dropped 8 balls this season -- tied for second-most among NFL WRs
  • The Cowboys defense has stuffed 28 rushing attempts since Week 11 -- most in NFL.
  • Cowboys WRs have 26 receptions for 20+ yards since Week 7 -- tied for second-most in NFL.
  • The Rams are averaging 23.9 PPG overall this season and 26.6 PPG on the road.
  • The Cowboys have allowed 20.5 PPG this season.
  • The Cowboys are averaging 25.7 PPG overall this season but just 16 PPG over their last three games.
  • The Rams have allowed 20.2 PPG overall this season but just 16.3 PPG on the road.
  • The Rams are 9-4 ATS this season (tied for best in NFL). They're 5-1 ATS on the road, 8-3 ATS as the favorite, and 3-1 ATS in their last four games. The UNDER has hit in seven of their last eight games.
  • The Cowboys are 7-6 ATS this season. They're 3-3 ATS at home, 1-0 ATS as the underdog, and 1-2 ATS in their last three games. The OVER has hit in four of their last six games.

There is a lot on the line for both of these teams as they are fighting for their lives to stay in the playoff hunt. The Rams have found new life recently and are starting to resemble the team we saw in the Super Bowl just last season. Their win against the Seahawks last week was the type of statement needed to show that they are still a contender and though a win against the Cowboys won't do much to directly help their chances to make the playoffs, it will be yet another statement. If this team can stay hot and win two of their last three, assuming they lose to the 49ers, they can still make a case for the playoffs with help from the Seahawks. I like their chances this week against the Cowboys who have lost three in a row and seem to be tail spinning all around as a franchise. The Rams have also been a better team on the road this season on both offense and defense when it comes to points for and against. 

Tensions are high for the Cowboys right now as they just can't seem to find a way to win after dropping their last three games. The timing couldn't be worse but luckily for them, they're only fighting a similarly struggling Eagles team for the top spot in the NFC East. The last thing they need right now to hurt their chances more is a suddenly-surging Rams team that just got done knocking off the Seahawks. Their eyes are likely set on that Week 16 matchup against Philly, but if they can find a way to get past the Rams this week it would be a huge momentum-builder heading into that matchup and could rebuild their morale. Home-field advantage is on their side in this one but you can't rely on the Cowboys at all for betting purposes right now. This matchup actually opened with the Cowboys as the favorite and swung to the Rams as favorites after last week's performances were factored in.

My Final Prediction: Rams win 24-21

My Pick: Rams -1.5, Under 49

Machine Pick: Rams -1.5, Under 49


Buffalo Bills at Pittsburgh Steelers (-2) (O/U 36)

Matchup Notes:

  • Josh Allen has a 73.7% protection rate this season -- second-lowest in NFL.
  • Josh Allen has a 17.2% pressured completion percentage this season -- lowest in NFL.
  • Devin Singletary has created 1.87 yards per attempt this season -- second-most in NFL.
  • John Brown has a 75% contested catch rate this season (six-of-eight targets) -- highest in NFL.
  • Diontae Johnson has had an average separation of 2.61 yards per target -- most in NFL.
  • The Steelers defense has allowed five rushing TDs this season -- tied for fewest in NFL.
  • The Steelers defense has forced 32 turnovers this season -- most in NFL.
  • The Bills are averaging 21.1 PPG this season.
  • The Steelers have allowed 18.6 PPG overall this season and just 13.3 PPG over their last three games.
  • The Steelers are averaging 19.9 PPG overall this season and 23.7 PPG at home.
  • The Bills have allowed 16.3 PPG this season -- second-fewest in NFL.
  • The Bills are 8-4-1 ATS this season. They're 5-0-1 ATS on the road, 4-1-1 ATS as the underdog, and 3-1 ATS in their last four games. The UNDER has hit in each of their last three games and five of their last six.
  • The Steelers are 9-4 ATS this season (tied for best in NFL). They're 5-2 ATS at home, 4-2 ATS as the favorite, and 5-1 ATS in their last six games. The UNDER has hit in each of their last five games. 
  • This is the lowest O/U total of the season for both teams.

The Bills just won't go away and though they lost to the Ravens last week, you have to give them credit for at least keeping it interesting. Their offense got nowhere with a season-low 209 total yards of offense and this will be their Achilles heel if they can make it into the playoffs. They're currently the fifth seed right now just above the Steelers they're about to face, but you have to imagine they have their sites set on trying to knock off the Pats for the division title. They're only one game behind them right now and have a Week 16 date to look forward to. Unfortunately, the prospects of that game being held at New England doesn't bode well for the Bills, but they can do a lot for themselves by continuing to grind and getting past the Steelers this week.

As mentioned, the Steelers have somehow found ways to win this season and remain with one foot in the playoff race. They have won three in a row and seven of their last eight games despite being a complete shell of their former selves on offense. Their defense should get a lot of credit for their success and perhaps a dash of luck as well. The remaining games won't be easy with this matchup against the Bills and a Week 17 date against the Ravens as well. The Steelers need to continue their grind as well making this a highliy-competitive matchup with a lot on the line for both teams trying to prove their worth.

My Final Prediction: Bills win 21-17

My Pick: Bills +2, Over 36

Machine Pick: Steelers -2, Under 36


Indianapolis Colts at New Orleans Saints (-8.5) (O/U 46.5)

Matchup Notes:

  • Colts RBs have carried the ball 335 times without a fumble this season -- tied for best in NFL.
  • Colts WRs have caught 14 touchdown passes in the red zone this season -- most in NFL.
  • Jacoby Brissett has completed passes for 20+ yards on just 20 of his 288 total passing attempts (6.9%) when not under pressure this season -- tied for lowest of 26 qualified NFL QBs.
  • Jacoby Brissett has been pressured on 28.4% of dropbacks since Week 7 -- highest of 26 qualified NFL QBs
  • Drew Brees' targets have had an average separation of 1.18 yards per target -- lowest in NFL.
  • Michael Thomas has seen 20 red-zone targets this season -- second-most amongst WRs.
  • The Saints defense has allowed 12 TD passes since Week 11 -- most in NFL.
  • Alvin Kamara has 6.2 receptions per game this season -- second-best of 38 qualified NFL RBs.
  • The Colts are averaging 22.8 PPG this season.
  • The Saints have allowed 22.8 PPG this season.
  • The Saints are averaging 26.5 PPG overall this season and 35.3 PPG over their last three games.
  • The Colts have allowed 22.7 PPG overall this season and 29.7 PPG over their last three games.
  • The Colts are 6-5-2 ATS this season. They-re 3-1-2 ATS on the road, 3-2-2 ATS as the underdog, and 1-2 ATS in their last three games. The OVER has hit in three of their last four games.
  • The Saints are 8-5 ATS this season. They're 3-4 ATS at home, 4-4 ATS as the favorite, and 2-2 ATS in their last four games. The OVER has hit in three of their last four games.

The Colts aren't officially eliminated from playoffs just yet but have one foot in the grace after their loss to the already-eliminated Bucs last week. An inevitable loss to the Saints this week will do them in. You have to give this team credit for soldiering on without Andrew Luck all season, but at the end of the day, Jacoby Brissett just ain't it. They don't have an elite defense to hide behind with a risk-averse, game management type QB behind center and expect to win games. Their injury luck also didn't help things as they're about to enter this week with three undrafted free agents as their top receivers as T.Y. Hilton will undoubtedly miss this week as well and probably will just be shut down for the season at this point. I don't like the Colts chances of even covering in this matchup.

The Saints lost a heartbreaker last week against the 49ers. It's not often you can put up 46 points in a game and lose, but when your defense also allows 48 points you should probably expect it. The Saints have already clinched their division and will be seeded no lower than third given their record over both the Cowboys and Eagles, depending on who wins that division. So while they don't have as much to worry about, I am sure they would like to finish the season strong and still push for that first-round bye. I love their chances to cover at home this week.

My Final Prediction: Saints win 28-21

My Pick: Colts +8.5, Over 46.5

Machine Pick: Push, Over 46.5


John Ferguson

John Ferguson is an avid Fantasy Football fanatic with 10+ years of experience in friends and family leagues, paying public leagues, and DFS Tournaments. Ferguson specializes in draft strategies, trade negotiations (Buy Low/Sell High) and DFS value picks amongst other parts of fantasy football analysis. When Ferguson isn’t spending time skimming over stats while at the beach, he follows the Oakland Athletics closely as a diehard fan and enjoys spending quality time with his beautiful wife and three children. A native of Monterey, California, Ferguson now calls Quintana Roo, Mexico home.