Heading into Week 15 of the 2014 NFL season, multiple teams find themselves in virtual “must-win" situations. Teams like the Bills, Texans, Browns, Dolphins and Chiefs, who are all one-game over .500, need to win or they’ll likely be out of playoff contention.
The betting odds at Las Vegas casinos have three teams favored by double-digits, and seven teams getting at least six points. The favorites got the better of the underdogs in Week 14, failing to cover just six betting lines. Below are picks against the spread for every game in Week 15.
Arizona Cardinals (+4.5) at St. Louis Rams
If the Rams didn’t have such a difficult schedule, they would be in the wild-card race. Still, they’ve managed to beat some of the league’s top teams, and could do so again on Thursday. The Cardinals are a much different team on the road, where they are just 3-3, having suffered each loss by at least 11 points.
Prediction ATS: St. Louis
Oakland Raiders (+10) at Kansas City Chiefs
The Raiders have already defeated the Chiefs once this year, and their play has improved greatly since losing their first 10 games. Surrounding their 52-0 loss to the Rams has been two victories over winning teams. Even if Oakland doesn’t win, they should be able to cover the spread, which they’ve done in 14 of their last 17 games as double-digit road underdogs, via Odds Shark.
Prediction ATS: Oakland
Jacksonville Jaguars (+13.5) at Baltimore Ravens
The Jaguars are probably the worst team in football. Heading into the contest at 2-11, they are 0-6 on the road, losing four of those games by at least 17 points. They’re likely to see a similar result in Baltimore, considering all four of the Ravens’ home victories have come by 14 points or more.
Prediction ATS: Baltimore
Pittsburgh Steelers (-2.5) at Atlanta Falcons
Whenever it looks like the Steelers could be a serious Super Bowl contender, they soon put up a poor performance. They’ve followed up two wins of 18 points or more with losses against bad teams, and the same might happen on Sunday. Not only is Pittsburgh 3-10 in their last 13 games as road favorites, but the Falcons have covered four straight betting lines as home underdogs.
Prediction ATS: Atlanta
Houston Texans (+6.5) at Indianapolis Colts
Last week was the only Indianapolis win of the season in which they didn’t cover the point spread, but it was a fluky game that saw the Browns score two defensive touchdowns. The Colts will be motivated because a win gives them an AFC South title, and they have proven to be at least seven points better than the Texans at home.
Prediction ATS: Indianapolis
Cincinnati Bengals (+1) at Cleveland Browns
Cleveland’s performance in Week 15 might be the most impossible to predict, because it’s unknown how Johnny Manziel will do in his first start. The Browns went into Cincinnati and won easily in Week 7, but the Bengals have just four losses in 2014 and rookie quarterbacks have struggled tremendously this year.
Prediction ATS: Cincinnati
Miami Dolphins (+7.5) at New England Patriots
The Dolphins got the better of the Patriots in the season opener, but this game won’t be like their Week 1 matchup. Following New England’s struggles in the first quarter of the year, they’ve become the most dominant team in the AFC. The Patriots have defeated three playoff teams by at least 22 points at home in 2014, and they’re unbeaten at Gillette Stadium since the start of last season.
Prediction ATS: New England
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (+3) at Carolina Panthers
Even though a car accident will keep Cam Newton off the field on Sunday, Carolina should still be able to win this game. The Panthers were in a similar situation in the season opener, and Derek Anderson led the team to a 20-14 win in Tampa Bay, in place of an injured Newton.
Prediction ATS: Carolina
Washington Redskins (+6.5) at New York Giants
Other than their embarrassing loss to the Jaguars, the Giants have handled non-playoff teams pretty easily, beating the Texans, Redskins, Falcons and Titans by double-digits. Washington is in a state of flux at the quarterback position, and they could be in for a long day on Sunday.
Prediction ATS: New York
Green Bay Packers (-5) at Buffalo Bills
The Packers are the best team in the NFL, and they shouldn’t have a problem with the Bills. Kyle Orton won’t be able to keep Buffalo in a shootout with Green Bay, and the team could see its playoff hopes completely disappear.
Prediction ATS: Green Bay
Minnesota Vikings (+7.5) at Detroit Lions
The Vikings have had a chance to win virtually every game with Teddy Bridgewater at quarterback. Their biggest loss came by 14 points against Detroit, but Minnesota continues to play well, covering six of the last seven point spreads. The Lions are just 3-11 against the spread in their last 14 games in December.
Prediction ATS: Detroit
New York Jets (-2.5) at Tennessee Titans
In a matchup of two of the worst NFL teams, taking a home team that’s getting points is the smart pick. New York’s last two losses have been close, but Geno Smith remains the worst quarterback in the league, and they shouldn’t be road favorites against any team.
Prediction ATS: Tennessee
Denver Broncos (-4) at San Diego Chargers
Only one of the Broncos’ 10 wins in 2014 has come by fewer than seven points. Denver beat San Diego by 14 points earlier in the season, and they should be victorious again.
Prediction ATS: Denver
San Francisco 49ers (+10) at Seattle Seahawks
A month ago, the point spread might have been cut in half, but Seattle is looking like they’ll have a good chance to repeat as Super Bowl champions. Winners in six of their last seven games, Seattle has beaten the Cardinals, 49ers and Eagles in the last three weeks, all by 10 points or more. The Seahawks’ home dominance, combined with the reported turmoil inside San Francisco’s locker room, could make this a big win for the defending champs.
Prediction ATS: Seattle
Dallas Cowboys (+3) at Philadelphia Eagles
Mark Sanchez and Philadelphia’s offense showed what they can do against Dallas’ defense on Thanksgiving, and they should have an equal amount of success at home. With the betting line moving down from 3.5 points, the Eagles are the smart pick.
Prediction ATS: Philadelphia
New Orleans Saints (-3) at Chicago Bears
The Saints are tied for first place, but they don’t have a chance to finish the season with a winning record. The Bears are 4-1 against teams that are under .500, and New Orleans could be in for their fifth loss in their last six games.
Prediction ATS: Chicago
Season Record: 104-102-2