By Josh Satler – www.profootball101.org
Week 15 is usually when things begin to get very interesting in the NFL. The pretenders fall by the wayside while the contenders begin to separate themselves from the pack and solidify their playoff standing.
After racking up victories in our best bets section to the tune of a 67% clip vs the spread over the past three weeks, here’s who we like for Week 15.
1. Carolina Panthers (-7.5) vs. Denver Broncos. At a different point in the season, this might be considered a trap game for the Carolina Panthers. Coming off a huge win vs. the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Monday Night, and having to head up north to face the Defending Champion New York Giants, this game sandwiched in between, might have been overlooked, but with an NFC South title (and possibly home field advantage throughout) still in reach, you don’t have to worry about that. The two-headed monster (Williams/Stewart) will run the football all over Denver and Peppers and Co. will make life miserable for Cutler. Easy win for Carolina.
Next in Line:
2. Pittsburgh Steelers (+2) vs. Baltimore Ravens. These teams are nearly identical with the exception of the QB position. And in this contest, which will go a long way towards deciding the AFC North, look for the running games from both teams to be non-existent and the passing game to be the difference. And under that scenario, we like Roethlisberger out gunning Flacco.
3. New York Giants (+3) vs. Dallas Cowboys. This by no means will be an easy football game. The Cowboys are coming off a demoralizing loss and the Giants are looking to bounce back from an uncharacteristic effort vs. the Eagles. Even though New York has won the NFC East and has a home game, they can earn a 1st round bye with a win on Sunday and can also severely damage the Cowboys playoff prospects. So look for the Giants to look more like the team that won seven straight (prior to the loss) and make a few more plays than the Romo led Cowboys.
4. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (+3) vs Atlanta Falcons. See money line analysis.
Others we like:
1. Philadelphia Eagles (-14) vs. Cleveland Browns. The Eagles have new found playoff hopes after huge victories over the Cardinals on Thanksgiving Night and the Giants last weekend, and look for that trend to continue when the depleted Browns come to town. Philly should put a minimum 30 on the board while we don’t see Ken Dorsey and his teammates reaching double digits.
2. Tennessee Titans (-3.5) vs. Houston Texans. This game was one that we could go either way on, but considering that Tennessee still needs to win in order to have home field throughout in the AFC, we see a spirited effort. They don’t want to fall to the Texans and then have to beat Pittsburgh and Indy to win the top seed.
3. San Francisco 49ers (+6.5) vs. Miami Dolphins. It’s been a great season for Miami and no one thought they’d be sitting tied atop the AFC East after Week 14, but here they are. While we think the Fins will win this game, Singletary has his 49ers playing hard for him and he’s playing to win a head coaching job himself, so look for a much closer game than Vegas anticipates down in South Beach.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (+140) vs. Atlanta Falcons. The Buccaneers took quite a beating when they went into Charlotte last Monday Night. Williams/Stewart combined for over 300 yards and 4 TDs against their stellar defense, and you know Gruden, Kiffin and the team are none too happy about that. Look for Tampa to get after QB Matt Ryan, something that hasn’t been too easy to do, and force him into a mistake that turns the game. And offensively, look for a steady diet of Dunn and (Cadillac) Williams to set up the play action to Bryant and the other outside play makers. It’ll be close, but we see Tampa’s experience winning out in this crucial game.