We only achieved a 3-2 record last week with the picks given in my shortened article. But I'm back with seven plays for a crucial Week 15 as fantasy playoffs begin and teams start their final pushes for a playoff spot. Our season record is 53-37, though the Lock of the Week failed last week to put it at 9-5 for the year. This Sunday, I'm looking to repeat the success of two weeks ago when I went 6-1. Let's get to it.
Detroit Lions +2.0 at New York Jets
Who would have believed that the Lions would be on the cusp of the playoff picture by Week 15? Especially after their 1-6 start. Since that point, they've won five of six games with their only loss coming to Buffalo by only a field goal. Their most recent appearances include a 40-14 stomping of the Jaguars and a very impressive 34-23 victory over the Vikings. The Lions have consistently been right there with chances to win over the last couple seasons, but couldn't figure out how to get into the win column often. That tide seems to be shifting now, as the whole squad must be teeming with confidence during their hot streak. I'm actually surprised the Lions are underdogs here, going up against a Jets team that may actually be worse with Zach Wilson than with Mike White. I think Detroit wins outright here to keep their streak and playoff hopes alive.
Dallas Cowboys at Jacksonville Jaguars Over 47.5
The Cowboys let me down last week when I bet on them to cover against the Texans (big mistake), but I'm quick to forgive and forget when it comes to betting. I like Dallas to bounce back in a nice way against the surprisingly competitive Jaguars, but I think the play here is the over. Dallas scores lots of points even when they aren't playing well, as evidenced by the aforementioned game against Houston last week. The Cowboys haven't scored fewer than 27 points since Dak Prescott's first game back against Detroit in Week 7. Since then, their offense has been purely explosive. If you combine that with Jacksonville's propensity to give up points to not that explosive teams (40 points allowed at Detroit and 27 vs. Baltimore), as well as the recent uptick in their own offensive performance, I think you get a shootout this week in Jacksonville. But really, I think the Jags might only need to score about 14 or 17 for the over to hit with the way Dallas has been playing.
Philadelphia Eagles at Chicago Bears Over 48.5
One of the few teams who has been hotter than the Cowboys in recent weeks and over the course of the entire season is Philadelphia. They've put up 40, 35, and 48 in their last three games and seem to get even better with each passing week. The Eagles are averaging 29.7 points and over 400 yards per game, and hardly any defense can seem to figure them out. And Chicago certainly will not be one of the defenses to figure them out, considering they rank 30th in the league in terms of points allowed. I do think Justin Fields can cause some problems for Philadelphia's defense as well and mount a few scoring drives himself, mitigating the amount of points the Eagles need to score on their own. Regardless, after putting up nearly a 50-piece in their last outing, Philly might not need any help to get to the point total again this week.
Carolina Panthers -2.5 vs. Pittsburgh Steelers
Two words: Mitch Trubisky. The guy can't be trusted to lead his team to a win at this point in the season. He's 2-4 in the games he's appeared in this year and has more interceptions than touchdowns, including three picks in his most recent game against the Ravens. Sam Darnold, who will get the start for Carolina, is actually 2-0 this year after sitting for most of the season with an ankle injury. I trust him a lot more and think he has a better supporting cast even sans Christian McCaffrey. Most importantly, the Panthers still have a realistic shot at the playoffs, sitting just a game back of the Buccaneers in the pathetic NFC South. As a result, I expect Carolina to come out with a purpose and beat the Steelers decisively on their home turf in Charlotte.
New York Giants +4.5 at Washington Commanders
These two teams are so tightly contested in almost every way that I'm curious as to why this number is so high. Both teams are 7-5-1 and averaging right at 350 yards per game, and they stalemated just two weeks ago for crying out loud. I get that the Giants got blown out by the Eagles last week, but the Commanders did the same thing just a couple weeks earlier. Washington is coming off a bye to recover from a grueling 12-game stretch, which is why I think they will pull off the win. But I see this coming down to the final seconds and ending on a field goal one way or the other. I'm rolling with the underdog in this one.
Los Angeles Rams at Green Bay Packers Over 39.5
I sure do have a lot of overs this week despite the propensity for the unders in the NFL this season. But when you look at how Baker Mayfield played last week with only 48 hours of preparation, Rams fans (all seven of them) should be excited with what he'll do after the 11 day rest to learn the offense better and familiarize himself with his pass catchers. Similarly on the other side, the Packers are coming off a much needed bye and Aaron Rodgers probably escaped to some tropical location to do ayahuasca with his week off. Rodgers will be in harmony with the universe and fueled by a sense of unselfishness that will go a long way in helping him spread the wealth among all his offensive weapons. Aaron Donald is out for the Rams, which will help Green Bay get their run game going and allow Rodgers more time to find open targets. I think the Packers will pull this one out at home, but I think both teams will do well enough to get over a very low point total.
Lock of the Week: Cincinnati Bengals -3.5 at Tampa Bay Buccaneers
I think sports books are giving the Buccaneers way too much credit most weeks, and this is one of them. We all just watched Tampa get trounced 35-7 by the 49ers and their third string quarterback. So how will they do against an offense with even bigger weapons and one of the league's best QBs? My guess: not well. The Bengals come in winning seven of their last eight, and they've done it all without a fully healthy offensive unit. Assuming Tee Higgins and Tyler Boyd, who are listed as questionable, do play, they'll only be without TE Hayden Hurst in Tampa on Sunday. And really, as long as Joe Mixon and Ja'Marr Chase are active (which they are), this Cincinnati offense is tough to stop. I don't think the Bucs can score nearly enough points to keep this one close, as they have been utterly pathetic on offense, even at home. Give me the Bengals by at least a touchdown. At least.
Written by Nick Swatson