We’ve had several months to process the signings and the shape of the rosters across the NFL so it’s time to take a look the teams that conspicuously standout in our regular season NFL odds. In continuation to our weekly free NFL picks for the upcoming season, here are some top NFL Week 15 free picks.
Analyzing The 2016 NFL Week 15 Winning Predictions
Miami Dolphins at New York Jets (-5)
NFL Week 15 Free Pick: Miami (+5)
Okay, this one is me going out on a limb, but trust me, I have good reasons for it. For starters, Miami Dolphins is impressively 3-1 in its last 4 trips to New York, underlining the team’s pedigree to do well against the Jets on the road. History aside, Ryan Tannehill will have plenty of weapons to work with in the offense (DeVante Parker, Jay Ajayi, Kenny Stills, Jarvis Landry et al.) while he will equally be getting tons of support from what could be the league’s best pass-rushing unit (Mario Williams, Cameron Wake, Ndamukong Suh and gang). Meanwhile, the likes of Kiko Alonso and Byron Maxwell will help solve some of Miami’s defensive problems, giving Tannehill virtually everything he needs to succeed. Should the QB clean up his act, stay true to Adam Gase’s playbook and take advantage of the talent he’s been surrounded with; the Dolphins will surprise many teams in 2015, including the Jets, who are somewhat in disarray right now with several questions at the QB position ahead of the training camps. FYI, I am not saying the Fins will win this game outright (though they actually can), I am saying Miami will be competitive enough to at least cover the spread.
Cleveland Browns at Buffalo Bills (-9)
NFL Week 15 Free Pick: Cleveland (+9)
While I am in agreement with most of you that Buffalo is a better team than Cleveland ahead of the 2016 season, I think the NFL betting line for this game has been a little bit exaggerated in favor of Buffalo. The Browns, despite their struggles last season (or the couple of years before that, as well), invested wisely in some decent offseason moves. Most notable of these moves is the hiring of an excellent coach in Hue Jackson, who brought in some useful pieces like Robert Griffin III in the free agency and drafted high-potential players like Corey Coleman. Admittedly, it will definitely take a bit of some time for the changes to have an effect, and that should bode well with this Week 15 fixture that will most likely see the Browns play with more familiarity as a unit. With that, covering the 9-point spread should be within the strong realms of possibility for Cleveland, right? I thought so, too.
New England Patriots (-1) at Denver Broncos
NFL Week 15 Free Pick: New England (-1)
It is common NFL betting knowledge that the Mile High is arguably the toughest venue for Tom Brady, with a good number of his painful career losses coming at this Denver venue. Things should, however, be different in 2016, given that he won’t be having the pressure of facing his retired archrival in Peyton Manning. Also, Brady is set to miss the first four games of 2016, so the Patriots will be looking to collect every win possible from Week 5 to 17, assuming things don’t work well for backup QB Jimmy Garoppolo between Week 1 and 4. And even if things go well for Garoppolo, the race to secure homefield advantage throughout the AFC playoffs promises to be tough, involving several top-tier teams, so the urgency of getting as many wins as possible until Week 17 will be paramount. Simply put, this game at Denver will come with big repercussions, and after the Pats regrettably failed to secure the top seed in the AFC last season (something that later haunted them in the AFC Championship game at Denver); I can bet my last damn dollar that Brady and Bill Belichick won’t be making the same mistake this year against a much-softer Denver team. So, if you asked me for my recommended pick, I’ll confidently point at the Pats, who I expect to win this game rather comfortably now that Denver doesn’t have a trustworthy QB to match Brady.
Pittsburgh Steelers at Cincinnati Bengals (PK)
Week 15 NFL ATS Pick: Cincinnati (PK)
I really don’t understand where all these talks about Cincinnati having a bad 2016 campaign are coming from. Prior to his injury, Andy Dalton had a magnificent season, with Cam Newton and Tom Brady being the only QBs who probably had better seasons than him at the time. So good was Dalton’s contribution that, even when the Bengals struggled without him down the stretch, the team still finished with a 12-4 record, best mark in the AFC North and tied with New England and Denver for the best record in the entire AFC Conference. Fast-forward to the offseason, the Bengals weren’t splashy, but they did address most key positional needs and even went ahead to make six coaching changes—that have reportedly made the team better in the OTAs. Conversely, Pittsburgh has also had a fairly good offseason in terms of getting depth in the roster and keeping its players healthy. But then again, the Steelers will be dealing with the losses of two key players for the season in Heath Miller and star receiver Martavis Bryant, which could have a bit of a negative effect. Then, of course, these two teams split their two regular season meetings in 2015, with the Bengals winning in Pittsburgh and the Steelers winning in Cincinnati. So, in short, Cincinnati is just as capable of holding its own like Pittsburgh, if not doing better. Provided Dalton and company can stay healthy, the edge in this crucial AFC North fixture—which will surely come with divisional title and postseason implications—is highly likely to be with the underrated Bengals, who should have at least been favored by a point or two in the early betting lines.