NFL Week 15: Best Bets

By John Kaufman NFL Betting Analyst @ClevelandSpyder


That’s the only way to describe last week. Meh.

I went 2-2 in week 14. After going a combined 6-2 in weeks 12 and 13, I fell back to earth last week. No bueno.

Time to regroup and get in the black again. But before we look ahead, like we always do around these parts, let’s quickly recap week 14 and see what went right and what went wrong.

Week 14 Postmortem Results: 2-2 2019 Record: 23-24-1 2019 Teaser Record: 5-8 Overall win rate: 49%

Week 14 Picks: NE -3 (-110) vs KC Result: LOSS (KC 23-NE 16)

I don’t want to complain about the atrocious officiating in this game…

I have to.

Why in the hell are the referees still blowing these close fumbles dead?!? It is baffling to me that they continue to get this wrong. Just let the damn return play out! When it’s that close, let the play happen so that you can allow the replay to determine whether or not the fumble was legit. All turnovers are reviewed automatically, so if you just let the play happen, you cannot get it wrong. This isn’t difficult, and yet they continue to mess this up!

In case you didn’t watch this game, here’s what happened:

On the last play of the third quarter with the Patriots trailing 23-13, Patrick Mahomes completed a pass to Travis Kelce. While Kelce was being tackled, he appeared to have fumbled the ball. Stephon Gilmore scooped it up and started returning the fumble. The return was going to be a long one and may even have gone for a touchdown. But even if it didn’t it would have been a massive flip in field position for the Patriots. Instead, the refs blew the play dead, negating the long return. The replay clearly showed that Kelce did fumble the ball, so the Patriots challenged the play and were correctly given the ball. No big deal, right? I mean, Kelce fumbled the ball and New England did recover it, and Belichick’s challenge fixed that. A long return and a possible defensive touchdown would have been nice, but the Patriots got the ball back and that’s what matters.

Except that it was a big deal. Because the referees incorrectly blew the play dead, the Patriots had to use a challenge to fix the blown call. Had the referees just let the fumble return play out, New England would have kept their last challenge, a fact that would turn out to be immensely important later in the game.

On the ensuing drive, New England drove down to the Chiefs’ 15-yard line. Tom Brady completed a pass to rookie wide receiver, N’Keal Harry. Harry somehow tiptoed up the sideline, lunged forward from about the three-yard line to stretch the ball out over the goal line, doing so just inside the pylon. Touchdown.

But it wasn’t a touchdown. At least, not according to these refs. They incorrectly said that Harry stepped out of bounds at the three-yard line. Replay showed that he did not step out of bounds. The Patriots, however, were out of challenges because they had to waste one on the Kelce fumble that the referees screwed up. Thus, they could not fix this mistake and ended up settling for a field goal, making the score 23-16 with the Chiefs out front.

Both officiating mistakes ended up having a huge impact on the game. The Patriots got the ball back with 5:04 left in the game, time enough for one last drive. But because of the two prior referee errors, the Patriots needed to score seven points to tie the game, instead of just three. Their final drive came up just short, as Brady’s fourth-down pass attempt to Julian Edelman was batted away by Kansas City’s Bashaud Breeland. Yes, the Patriots had their chances to score the game-tying touchdown. But, if the referees had gotten either of those two blown calls correct, New England would have had to kick a field goal on that last drive to tie the game. And if that happens, who knows how the game plays out? Maybe the Patriots win by three in overtime and this bet pushes. Maybe Kansas City ends up winning the game anyways. I’m not saying that this bet would have won had the referees not made two ridiculous mistakes. But it would have been nice to have a chance to win this bet. Nobody is crying for New England, or for me and my silly bet on the Patriots. I get that. That’s not really the point of all this. The point is that these kind of huge officiating mistakes are happening way too often, and they need to stop. Like right now. The refs are impacting the outcomes of some NFL games, and that is not a good thing. Not at all.

TEN -3 (-105) at OAK Result: WIN (TEN 42-OAK 21)

Slam dunk win here. The game was tied 21-21 at the half, and then Tennessee exploded for 21 more points in the second half and put the Raiders out of their misery. I have no idea how this line was only Tennessee -3, but I was happy to lay such a short number with the much better team in this one.

TEN at OAK, 1st HALF OVER 23.5 (-110) Result: WIN (TEN 21-OAK 21)

This was another easy win. Both the Raiders and the Titans have below-average defenses so I thought there would be a lot of scoring in this one. Additionally, with Ryan Tannehill at quarterback, the Titans have the most efficient red zone offense in the NFL. Not only can they move the ball down the field, but when they get inside the 20-yard line, they score touchdowns. This over hit with 10:43 remaining in the second quarter. We love the easy ones, and this was definitely that.

Six Point Teaser of The Week: + 6 points, -110 Result: LOSS SF +8 at NO – Result: WIN (SF 48-NO 46) JAX +9 vs LAC – Result: LOSS (LAC 45-JAX 10)

Man, these teasers are killing me. I just cannot put two good bets together.

In our Week 14 Best Bets/DFS podcast, I talked about liking New Orleans -2.5 in this game. But the more I thought about it, the more I realized that teasing the 49ers up to eight points was the better value. Mind you, I did not think that these two teams would combine for 94 points. But I did think the game would be tight and would most likely come down to one possession. Taking eight points with San Francisco was smarter than laying 2.5 with the Saints.

Okay, so the Jaguars have officially quit playing football. They got thumped at home by a Chargers team that has nothing to play for. This half of the teaser was never even close to cashing. Jacksonville is impossible to trust, a fact that I should have realized ahead of time. Bad job by me.

It's all about process over results. And the Benjamins. It's about them, too.

NFL Week 15 – Best Bets

Again, we have 15 games of NFL action ahead of us this week. This past Thursday night, the Baltimore Ravens whipped the New York Jets by a score of 42-21. The game was over almost immediately after it started. Man, Lamar Jackson is fun to watch, isn’t he?

Okay, it’s time for week 15 Best Bets. Let’s make some money, y’all. Here we go.

SEA -6 (-110) at CAR – 1:00 PM

Jacksonville isn’t the only team that has quit on the 2019 season. The Carolina Panthers have done so as well. They fired their head coach, Ron Rivera, and it appears that the players are not very happy about that. They loved Rivera, and they are – how shall I put this – rather nonplussed about playing for someone else. Throw in the fact that Carolina has the worst rushing defense in the NFL and Seattle loves to run the ball like Italians love pasta and wine. (I am Italian and I can confirm that this is 100% true.) The Seahawks need this game to stay in the playoff hunt. Carolina just wants the season to end. This is a lot of points to lay on the road, but Seattle is going to win this game for sure. Now, if you do place this bet with me, understand that Seattle is the slowest-starting team in the NFL. This game will probably be tight in the first half. But, by the start of the fourth quarter you and I will be thrilled with the score in this contest.

CLE -3 (-105) at ARZ – 4:05 PM

Backing the Browns after they barely beat the hapless Bengals seems suspect. But Arizona cannot play defense at all. They have been bad all year, but they’ve been really bad since their week 12 bye. The Browns’ offense is going to have no issues moving up and down the field in this game. Lay the short number here with Cleveland.

LAR -1.5 (-110) at DAL – 4:25 PM

Dallas is a bad football team. True, their offense is explosive and Dak Prescott is having a great season. But they just cannot beat good teams, and the Rams have been playing better and better each week. Their offense looks a lot better; they’re finally giving Todd Gurley plenty of touches which is helping them immensely. And, their defense is incredibly fierce up front and stout in coverage. The Rams are the better team, plain and simple. They will win this game.

Six Point Teaser of the Week: +6 points, -110

HOU +9 at TEN – 1:00 PM BUF +7 vs PIT – 8:20 PM

(There is a teaser bet explanation below if you need it.)

Although Tennessee is the hottest team in the league right now, I really like Houston in this game. They are a goofy team for sure. They beat New England but lost to Carolina this year. They are as up and down as a team can be. I think this is going to be an “up” game. Tennessee’s defense is average at best, and Houston can put up points on bad teams. The real clincher for me is that Will Fuller is going to play in this game. That will help Deshaun Watson out a ton. Watson is averaging 8.56 yards per attempt when Fuller plays, and only 6.9 YPA when he doesn’t. Fuller’s presence on the field matters a lot for Watson, and that should give the Texans the edge in this game. I won’t be the least bit surprised if Tennessee wins this game, so that’s why I’m teasing the Texans up to nine points. I’m playing it a little safe here. But if I were forced to pick the winner of this game straight up, I’d take the Texans.

When you see a low NFL total, teasing the underdog up to seven or eight points is a very smart bet. The over/under in this game is only 37 points. When points are at a premium, taking a touchdown has a lot of value. Buffalo could easily win this game, but it is on the road and Pittsburgh has been a very good team this year, especially on defense. I expect this game to be very tight all throughout, so teasing the Bills up to seven just makes way too much sense.

Alright y’all, that’s it for week 15. Good luck to us all this weekend!! Let’s cash some tickets!!

(TEASER BET EXPLANATION: In case you’re not familiar with a teaser, it’s a bet in which you get six points to manipulate the point spread and/or game total in a favorable direction. For example, in week two this year Denver was underdog against Chicago, as the Broncos were getting +2 points. In a teaser, you get to add six points to Denver’s line and increase it from +2 to +8. Or instead, if you liked Chicago in that game you could have taken the six points and teased their line from -2 to +4. Teasers are great ways to manipulate lines so that they’re more favorable to you. Last, just like a parlay, teasers must include two bets or more, and you must win all the legs in the teaser to win the bet. If you lose one leg of the teaser your whole bet is busted.)

John Kaufman

Across the Board Sports