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NFL Week 15 Picks Straight Up – Predicted Upsets and Underdogs Showing Value

Eric Thompson

by Eric Thompson in NFL Football

Updated Dec 18, 2021 · 6:18 AM PST

Patriots players celebrate dancing on the field
New England Patriots players Kyle Van Noy, left, Ja'Whaun Bentley (8), and Matt Judon (9) celebrate a defensive play during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Nov. 28, 2021, in Foxborough, Mass. (AP Photo/Mary Schwalm)
  • The underdog New England Patriots and Indianapolis Colts meet in an electric Saturday night showdown
  • Can the Houston Texans upset the Jacksonville Jaguars without Urban Meyer there to drag them down?
  • Last week’s picks went 0-3,  sending our season total back down to +8.92 (16-21 record)

Well that didn’t last long. Sure enough, Week 14 kicked upset bettors square in the teeth, as only two dogs won outright across the entire slate. (And one of those was Atlanta: who in the world wanted to back them?) But this week offers a chance to bounce back, especially for those who backed certain dogs at the start of the week.

As COVID-19 cases sweep through the league, it’s impacting NFL Week 15 lines significantly. For example, the Browns opened as six-point favorites over the Raiders but after a string of positive cases, they’re now underdogs at home. There’s also been notable line movements in Washington-Philadelphia and Seahawks-Rams and the league was forced to reschedule all three games.

None of those contests will be featured below. Instead, here’s the upsets we like… barring any more COVID-positive announcements from now until kickoff.

NFL Week 15 Upset Picks

Matchup Spread Moneyline Pick Units
New England Patriots vs Indianapolis Colts IND -2.5 +118 Patriots 1
Houston Texans vs Jacksonville Jaguars JAX -5 +184 Texans 1

Odds as of December 17th at DraftKings and FanDuel

Pats Pound Colts

A thrilling Saturday night showdown will see two stylistically similar teams duke it out for seeding in the AFC. The Indianapolis Colts are 2.5 point favorites over the visiting New England Patriots, who currently hold the top seed in the conference.

The Pats and Colts would both prefer the run game carry their offense. Jonathan Taylor has been a beast this year, claiming the running back crown in Derrick Henry’s absence. Meanwhile, New England boasts a stable of capable backs, so even though they’ll be short Damien Harris, their power run game shouldn’t change.

Though the perception is that these teams run often so that their QBs can’t screw things up, in reality, both Carson Wentz and rookie Mac Jones have been leading effective passing attacks without putting the ball in danger.

The Colts’ defense is strong, ranking top 10 in points allowed and first in takeaways. But they don’t stack up to this Patriots unit, because Indianapolis isn’t capable of applying pressure with the same consistency. New England is fifth in pressure rate, helping them rank fifth in takeaways and first in points allowed.

Overall, New England ranks first in weighted DVOA. They’re also unbeaten on the road this year. This might be the last time Bill Belichick’s squad are underdogs all season, so don’t miss out on this opportunity.

Jags Still a Joke

The Jacksonville Jaguars did the thinkable this week, firing their absolute clown of a head coach. Bettors must be expecting a post-Urban Meyer bump with this team, as the Jags are now five-point favorites over the Houston Texans.

While it has to be good news for Jacksonville’s psyche to have Meyer out of kicking range, this is still a 2-11 team that is averaging a little over nine points a game since their Week 7 bye. Now the architect of that offense is head coach. Are things really going to get better?

So far, the Texans have put third round QB Davis Mills in a better position to succeed than the Jags with first overall pick Trevor Lawrence. Houston has no run game to speak of either, but by leaning on Brandin Cooks and hitting his checkdowns often, Mills hasn’t been terrible despite playing for an awful squad.

Neither of these defenses are worth analyzing, but at least the Texans have a penchant for generating takeaways, ranking top-10 in the league. Jacksonville is dead-last with a measly six.

These are two bad teams, but the one that has played better football this season is the five-point underdog. Hold your nose and back Houston.

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