Week 15 in the NFL is the 2015 debut of pro football on Saturday. After the Bucs and Rams kick off the week on Thursday Night Football, Dallas hosts the Jets on Saturday evening. Houston visiting Indianapolis and the Giants hosting Carolina highlight the early Sunday kickoffs, while Denver at Pittsburgh has big playoff implications in the second window. The Eagles host Arizona on Sunday night and Detroit visits New Orleans on Monday.
Let’s take a look at the full slate.
Tampa Bay (6-7) at St. Louis (5-8) – Spread: Rams -1
The Bucs travel to Houston having won two of their last three road games. Tampa Bay beat Atlanta, 23-20, crushed the Eagles in Philly, 45-17, and dropped a 25-12 battle with Indianapolis. Early in the season, they won at New Orleans and lost in Houston and Washington, making them 3-3 on the road SU (but 4-2 ATS). The Bucs lost at home to New Orleans, 24-17, on Sunday.
St. Louis is playing a third straight home game. The Rams fell to Arizona in Week 12, and got by Detroit in Week 13. St. Louis is 4-3 at home straight up and against the spread. Besides beating Seattle on opening day at home, the Rams have wins over the lowly Browns and 49ers.
New York Jets (8-5) at Dallas (4-9) – Spread: Jets -3
The Jets’ final regular season game outside of the AFC East is an important one in the playoff race. New York is in Wild Card contention while the Cowboys are still alive, but barely, in the horrendous NFC East. The Jets are 7-3 all-time against Dallas and beat the Cowboys, 27-24, during their last meeting (September 2011 in New Jersey).
Counting a Week 4 “road” win over Miami in London and a Week 12 “road” win in their home stadium over the Giants, New York is 3-3 away and 3-2-1 against the spread. They lost in Houston, 24-17, the last time they had to leave the metro area. New York dominated the Titans on Sunday.
The Cowboys are 1-5 at home straight up and versus the spread. They beat the Giants though not the spread to start the season, but did cover in a one-point loss to Seattle in Week 8. Green Bay put the Cowboys’ season on life support in a convincing win during Week 14.
Chicago (5-8) at Minnesota (8-5) – Spread: Vikings -5.5
Despite struggling at home (1-6 SU), the Bears have been terrific on the road this year. Chicago is 4-2 outside of the Windy City and 5-1 ATS. Their last three trips resulted in a three-point win at San Diego, a 37-13 victory in St. Louis, and a 17-13 upset at Green Bay. The Bears dropped a tight home game to the Vikings, 23-20, in Week 8. Last Sunday, they fell to Washington in the Windy City, 24-21.
Minnesota has extra time to prepare for this game after a Thursday night setback in Arizona. The rest will be more than welcome as the Vikes were missing four key defensive starters last week. Most of that group was lost during the Vikings’ embarrassing 38-7 home loss to Seattle in Week 12. Prior to the setback against the Seahawks, Minnesota was 4-1 at home straight up and against the number.
Atlanta (6-7) at Jacksonville (5-8) – Spread: Jaguars -3
Atlanta is 3-4 on the road and 2-5 against the spread after getting crushed by the Panthers in Week 14. They have lost six straight, overall, and aren’t even in the playoff conversation anymore. Other than Carolina, their most recent road setbacks came at San Francisco (17-16) and Tampa Bay (23-19). They won road games with the Titans, Cowboys, and Giants early in the season.
This is a second straight home game for the Jags, who dominated Indianapolis in Week 14. Jacksonville is 4-3 at home straight up and for betting purposes with wins over the Dolphins, Bills, and Titans and losses to the Panthers, Texans, and Chargers.
Houston (6-7) at Indianapolis (6-7) – Spread: TBA – Both teams with QB questions
The Colts have won the AFC South in back-to-back years and four times in the last six seasons. Houston won the division crown in 2011 and 2012. This game will go a long way towards determining which team takes it this year. When they played in Houston in Week 5, the Colts forced the game’s only two turnovers, got two touchdowns from Andre Johnson, and won 27-20. That win, Indy’s sixth straight against Houston, upped the Colts’ all-time record against the Texans to 23-4.
On the year, the Colts are 3-3 SU and ATS at home, but they’ve won two straight, handling the Broncos (27-24) and Bucs (25-12). Indianapolis laid an egg in Jacksonville on Sunday, getting lit up for 51 points (51-16). Houston is 2-4 on the road, both SU and ATS. They won at Cincinnati (10-6) and Jacksonville (31-20), but fell at Carolina, Atlanta, Miami, and Buffalo. The Texans were no match for New England on Sunday Night Football in Week 14.
Carolina (13-0) at New York Giants (6-7) – Spread: Panthers -5.5
The Panthers and Giants have met nine times before with Carolina holding a 5-4 all-time edge. This is their first meeting in New York since the Giants beat Carolina, 31-18, in 2010. Interesting side note: the Panthers hired GM Dave Gettleman in 2013 after he spent almost 15 years in the Giants organization.
Carolina, the last remaining undefeated, is 6-0 on the road and 5-1 against the spread (only failing to cover in a 41-38 Week 12 shootout with New Orleans). They rolled to victories in Jacksonville, Tampa Bay, Tennessee, and Dallas while edging Seattle (27-23). The Panthers kept right on rolling last weekend with a 38-0 shutout of Atlanta.
New York is 3-3 at home overall and ATS. In their last three at MetLife, they coughed up a ten-point fourth-quarter lead to the Jets, fell by a point to the Pats, and edged the Cowboys by a touchdown. New York has a short week to prep for this game after beating the Dolphins in Miami on Monday night.
Tennessee (3-10) at New England (11-2) – Spread: Patriots -14
The Titans are 2-4 straight up and against the spread on the road following a blowout loss to the Jets in Week 14.. They won at Tampa Bay to begin the season (41-14), and tripped up New Orleans (34-28) in the middle of the year. Their losses came at Cleveland, Houston, and Jacksonville.
New England is 6-1 at home but only 3-1-3 against the number. They lost to Philadelphia at home (35-28) in Week 13. Before that, they earned decisive victories over Miami, Jacksonville, and Washington while playing one-score contests with Pittsburgh, New York (Jets), and Buffalo. The Pats moved back atop the AFC standings with a convincing win over Houston on Sunday.
Buffalo (6-7) at Washington (6-7) – Spread: Pick’em
The Bills visit an NFC East opponent for the second straight game after falling to Philadelphia in Week 14. Buffalo is 3-4 on the road and 3-3-1 against the spread, winning at Miami and Tennessee early in the year and holding off the Jets (22-17) a month ago. Their road losses came in New England, Kansas City, and Tampa Bay.
Before beating the Bears on Sunday, Washington had struggled on the road (1-5 SU, 2-4 ATS this year) but been a tough customer at home (5-2 SU, 4-3 ATS). They lost at home to Dallas in Week 13, though, as both teams failed to produce a touchdown until late in the fourth quarter. Washington also lost at home to Miami in Week 1, but scored victories over the Rams, Eagles, Bucs, Saints, and Giants thereafter.
Kansas City (8-5) at Baltimore (4-9) – Spread: Chiefs -7.5
The Chiefs and Ravens meet for the eighth time with Baltimore holding a 4-3 edge. Kansas City won the first three, while Baltimore has taken four straight dating back to 2004. The Chiefs, who are in a dogfight for an AFC Wild Card spot, are in desperate need of a win, while the decimated Ravens are playing out the season.
The Chiefs are 4-3 SU and ATS on the road with this being their final game outside of KC. They have won three straight away from home (over the Broncos, Chargers, and Raiders). The Ravens got slaughtered by the Seahawks at home on Sunday and are 2-4 in the Charm City and 0-5-1 against the number. They have wins over San Diego (29-26) and St. Louis (16-13).
Miami (5-8) at San Diego (3-10) – Spread: Chargers -1.5
It has been a long season for these two franchises. The Dolphins started 1-3 and dismissed coach Joe Philbin after a Week 4 loss to the Jets. The Chargers have been injury-plagued for much of the year and coach Mike McCoy is hoping to win a couple of games down the stretch just to keep his job. The Chargers could be playing their final home game in San Diego with a potential move to Los Angeles looming.
The Fins are 3-4 straight up and against the number on the road with wins at Washington, Tennessee, and Philadelphia. This is a short week for Miami who lost at home to the Giants on Monday night.
San Diego is 2-5 at home and 1-6 against the number; they beat the Lions (33-28) in Week 1 and Cleveland (30-27) in Week 4. Since then, they’ve lost at home to Pittsburgh, Oakland, Chicago, Kansas City, and Denver. They also lost at Kansas City (10-3) in Week 14.
Cleveland (3-10) at Seattle (8-5) – Spread: Seahawks -14
The Browns find themselves in a(n unfortunately) familiar situation: out of contention, in need of a QB, and playing out the string. Cleveland is 1-5 on the road and 2-4 against the spread; their lone road win came in Baltimore in Week 6. Cleveland has fallen on the road to the Jets, Chargers, Rams, Bengals, and Steelers. The Browns were able to beat San Francisco at home on Sunday, though (24-10), with Johnny Manziel back at the helm.
It took the Seahawks a bit of time this year to get rolling, but after cruising by Baltimore in Week 14, they’ve won four straight. Seattle is 4-2 at home and 3-3 ATS. After a tight loss to Arizona, they rallied to dominate the 49ers and nip the Steelers in Seattle. Their other setback at home came against Carolina.
Green Bay (9-4) at Oakland (6-7) – Spread: Packers -3
The Packers have won six straight against the Raiders dating back to 1987. The last time the Raiders beat Green Bay at home, the franchise was located in Los Angeles (1984).
Green Bay is 4-2 straight up and against the number on the road. They make a second straight west coast trip next week in a match-up against Arizona. Their last two road games were wins over Minnesota (30-13) and Detroit (27-23 on a Hail Mary). The Packers beat Dallas, 28-7, in Week 14.
Oakland is 2-4 SU and ATS at home. The Raiders beat Baltimore and the Jets in Oakland with losses against Cincinnati, Denver, Minnesota, and Kansas City. The Raiders won in Denver on Sunday to keep their faint playoff hopes alive.
Denver (10-3) at Pittsburgh (8-5) – Spread: Steelers -6
The Broncos and Steelers collide in a potential playoff preview. Denver’s won four of the last five in the series, but each of the last four has been at Mile High. Denver is 6-1 on the road and 4-1-2 against the spread. Their lone setback came at Indianapolis. They have wins in Kansas City, Detroit, Oakland, Cleveland, Chicago, and San Diego. The Broncos lost at home to Oakland on Sunday, though, falling to third in the AFC for the moment.
The Steelers are 5-2 at home and 4-2-1 against the number. They dropped home games against Baltimore and Cincinnati while beating Indianapolis, Cleveland, Oakland, Arizona, and San Francisco. Pittsburgh won in Cincinnati in Week 14, preventing the Bengals from clinching the AFC North.
Cincinnati (10-3) at San Francisco (4-9) – Spread: Bengals -4.5
This will be the first of two western road games in as many weeks for the Bengals, who travel to Denver for a pivotal AFC playoff clash in Week 16. Cincinnati is the only team with a perfect ATS road record, covering all six of their contests to date (while going 5-1 straight up). Their lone loss came in Arizona, 34-31, in Week 11. The Bengals lost quarterback Andy Dalton in Sunday’s setback against Pittsburgh. AJ McCarron will be at the helm against San Fran.
The 49ers, who own the unfortunate title of lowest-scoring team in the NFL, are 3-3 at home and 4-2 for betting purposes. They have wins over the Vikings, Ravens, and Falcons, and losses to Green Bay, Seattle, and Arizona. San Francisco fell at Cleveland on Sunday.
Arizona (11-2) at Philadelphia (6-7) – Spread: Cardinals -3.5
The Cardinals will be playing their final regular season road game and, with some luck (i.e Panther losses), could earn home-field advantage in the NFC. But it’s not the end of the world if they have to travel; the Cards are 6-1 overall and 5-2 for betting purposes away from home. Their only loss came at Pittsburgh in Week 6; they own road wins over Chicago, Detroit, Cleveland, Seattle, St. Louis, and San Francisco. Arizona held off Minnesota at home on Thursday Night Football in Week 14.
This is the second of three straight at home for the Eagles, who beat Buffalo in Week 14. Philly stands at 3-3 straight up and against the spread at home. They lost to the Dolphins, Bucs, and Cowboys while beating the Saints and Giants. The Eagles face division rivals Washington and New York to end the regular season in games that will determine the fate of the horrid NFC East.
Detroit (4-9) at New Orleans (5-8) – Spread: Saints -3
This is a second straight road game for the Lions, who lost in St. Louis during Week 14. The Lions are 1-5 on the road and 2-4 against the spread. They beat the Packers in Green Bay, but fell in San Diego, Minnesota, and Seattle, and got dominated in London by the Chiefs. They had been playing better of late, winning three of four heading into Week 14, but they laid an egg in St. Louis on Sunday, falling 21-14.
The Saints snapped a four-game skid with a victory at Tampa Bay in Week 14. The Saints are 3-3 at home and 3-2-1 against the spread but have lost two straight at the Superdome (to Tennessee and Carolina).
(Photo credit: Arvee5.0 [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons. Photo has been cropped.)