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NFL Week 15 picks: Jets keep it close, Giants win again; Pats lock of week; Cowboys, Bears clinch

Underdogs had another winning week and are 15 games over .500 for the season. 

New York Jets strong safety Jamal Adams reacts

New York Jets strong safety Jamal Adams reacts after he breaks up a pass in the end zone meant for New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski during the second quarter of an NFL football game at MetLife Stadium on Sunday, Nov. 25, 2018. Photo Credit: Kathleen Malone-Van Dyke

The 2018 NFL season has been one of the best in recent memory, and Week 14 was the perfect example as we were treated to exciting finishes and surprise results. With the playoffs just three weeks away, expect more of the same.

Underdogs went 9-7 against the spread last week and are 105-90-8 for the season.

My most confident picks ATS are the Patriots, Seahawks, Browns, Rams and Giants. Avoid too-close-to-call Cowboys-Colts and too-bad-to-care Raiders-Bengals.

Remember, I pick every game but you don't have to.

SATURDAY'S GAMES

TEXANS (9-4) AT JETS (4-9)

TV: Ch. 4, NFL, 4:30 p.m.

Texans by 6.5; O/U: 41.5

This line suggests the Jets would be 12.5-point underdogs at Houston, and that is outrageous. The Texans have more talent and will be eager to regroup after their nine-game win streak was snapped, but you should never discount home underdogs. Five of six won last week and were 5-1 ATS, making them 32-24-2 for the season with 24 outright wins. Three of Houston's four road wins during their win streak were decided by a field goal or less. The Jets haven't won at MetLife Stadium in two months, and in what is likely the penultimate home game of Todd Bowles' tenure, I expect them to be pumped up to beat a division leader. A fiery effort from Jamal Adams and the defense keeps this inside the number.

The pick: Jets

BROWNS (5-7-1) AT BRONCOS (6-7)

TV: NFL, 8:20 p.m.

Broncos by 2.5; O/U: 45.5

Denver's playoff chances took a crushing hit with a loss at two-win San Francisco. Its mojo is gone, and the loss of Emmanuel Sanders and Chris Harris hurts. Enter Baker Mayfield and the hungry Brownies looking to finish strong. This is Mayfield's first prime-time start (he beat the Jets on TNF in a relief spot), and he wil shine under the bright lights. Mayfield and Myles Garrett, the last two No. 1 overall picks, deliver an upset win for the Browns (7-4-2 ATS).

The pick: Browns

1 P.M. GAMES

TITANS (7-6) AT GIANTS (5-8)

TV: Ch. 2

Giants by 1.5; O/U: 43.5

The way the Giants have been playing (4-1 overall and 5-0 ATS in their last five), NFC teams have to be happy they (almost certainly) won't be in the playoffs. Saquon Barkley and the Giants look like the most motivated 5-8 team you'll ever see and should stay hot against a solid yet inconsistent Titans team that is the league's biggest roller coaster: 3-1 to 3-4 to 5-4 to 5-6 to 7-6 (is your head spinning yet?). The Titans lost their last two road games by 28 and 17 points. The Giants should contain a limited offense (19.3 points per game)

The pick: Giants

COWBOYS (8-5) AT COLTS (7-6)

Colts by 3; O/U: 47.5

Dallas (5-0 ATS during its five-game win streak) clinches the NFC East with a win, and that's the main reason why I give it the slight edge in the most intriguing matchup of Week 15. Indy is fighting for a wild-card spot so expect a close finish. The Cowboys' defense should be able to corral Andrew Luck enough (remember what they did to Drew Brees?), and Ezekiel Elliott and Amari Cooper will lead the offense to a field-goal win.

The pick: Cowboys

PACKERS (5-7-1) AT BEARS (9-4)

Bears by 6; O/U: 45

Everything broke the Packers' way last week, the first of many breaks they need to sneak in as the 6 seed. Their plans will be derailed in Chicago, though, as the Bears will embrace clinching the NFC North by knocking out a rival that has had their number: five in a row, nine of 10 and 17 of 20. But this Bears team is different, led by a dominant defense that has an NFL-best 34 takeaways. Chicago just held the high-powered Rams to two field goals and should frustrate Aaron Rodgers, who is 0-for-6 on the road this season. Chicago is 6-1 straight up and ATS at home. The Bears make up for Week 1, when they blew a 20-0 lead at Lambeau.

The pick: Bears

DOLPHINS (7-6) AT VIKINGS (6-6-1)

Vikings by 7.5; O/U: 44.5

Both teams are in the wild-card hunt, so expect a competitive game. Sure, the Dolphins could experience a lateral letdown and Minnesota could get a boost from firing its offensive coordinator, but this line is too high for a Vikings team that is 0-5 against teams with winning records.

The pick: Dolphins

BUCS (5-8) AT RAVENS (7-6)

Ravens by 7.5; O/U: 46.5

Baltimore, which was some Patrick Mahomes' fourth-down magic away from winning at Kansas City, still has control of a wild card and could be leading the AFC North by Sunday night. Lamar Jackson and the run-heavy offense will jump out to an early lead and then the Ravens' ball-hawking defense will pick on Jameis Winston.

The pick: Ravens

REDSKINS (6-7) AT JAGUARS (4-9)

Jaguars by 7.5; O/U: 36

Whenever a team gets embarrassed on national TV the way Jacksonville did at Tennessee, I always like to back them the next week. Yes, this is a big number to lay in a battle of backup QBs, but the Jags' defense held the Colts to zero points in their last home game and could post another shutout here.

The pick: Jaguars

LIONS (5-8) AT BILLS (4-9)

Bills by 2.5; O/U: 39.5

Matt Patricia's decision to have his dome team practice outside in the cold and snow makes sense now with trips to Buffalo and Green Bay on tap. Detroit is off a win at Arizona despite Matthew Stafford throwing for only 101 yards. That isn't going to cut it against the Bills' defense, which will be motivated after failing to close out the Jets.

The pick: Bills

CARDINALS (3-10) AT FALCONS (4-9)

Falcons by 10; O/U: 44

Arizona followed up its shocking win at Green Bay with a dud in the desert against Detroit. To paraphrase John Sterling, "That's football, Suzyn." Still, every week is a new week and this is just too many points to lay with a Falcons team that hasn't covered in five straight losses and is an NFL-worst 3-10 ATS.

The pick: Cardinals

RAIDERS (3-10) AT BENGALS (5-8)

Bengals by 3; O/U: 46

Oakland has looked like a different team the last month, going 2-2 straight up and 3-1 ATS. After playing the Chiefs close and upsetting the Steelers, Derek Carr & Co.will have a little mojo against a Bengals team that has gone 1-7 after a 4-1 start and allows an NFL-worst 421.9 yards and 30.5 points per game.

The pick: Raiders

4 P.M. GAMES

LOCK OF THE WEEK

PATRIOTS (9-4) AT STEELERS (7-5-1)

TV: Ch. 2

Patriots by 2.5; O/U: 52

Three straight losses to AFC West teams has the Steelers' division lead slipping away faster than their last-second field-goal attempt did at Oakland. I can't pick against the Patriots here, not after the way they lost last week. They won't lose two in a row with a first-round bye on the line. Tom Brady and Bill Belichick own the Steelers, having won five in a row and nine of 11. Expect Brady and Rob Gronkowski (the tight end, not the defensive back) to have big days as the Steelers' slide continues.

The pick: Patriots

SEAHAWKS (8-5) AT 49ERS (3-10)

TV: Ch. 5

Seahawks by 3.5; O/U: 44

I was all set to take the points after the 49ers reveled in the spoiler role last week. Then I read an article in which Seahawks defensive end Frank Clark was fired up over Richard Sherman's negative comments. That extra motivation for the defense plus Seattle being too well-coached and experienced to let up the way Denver did is why the surging Seahawks are the pick. It also helps that Seattle has beaten San Francisco 10 straight times, including a 43-16 win just two weeks ago.

The pick: Seahawks

SUNDAY NIGHT

EAGLES (6-7) AT RAMS (11-2)

TV: Ch. 4, 8:20 p.m.

Rams by 11.5; O/U: 52.5

This already was a tough spot for Philly before the Carson Wentz injury news. The high-scoring Rams will be motivated to light up the scoreboard in prime time a week after being held to six points at Chicago. L.A. is 5-0 after a loss under Sean McVay. Jared Goff follows up his four-INT game on SNF last week with a four-TD performance for a Rams team that averages 37.7 points per game at home.

The pick: Rams

MONDAY NIGHT

SAINTS (11-2) AT PANTHERS (6-7)

TV: ESPN, 8:15 p.m.

Saints by 6.5; O/U: 52

New Orleans beat Carolina three times last season, including in the wild-card round. Now, after the Saints reclaimed the top seed in the NFC, look for them to essentially end the Panthers' season again. Carolina has lost five in a row (0-5 ATS) and everything points to another win and cover for the Saints (10-3 ATS).

The pick: Saints

STAFF STANDINGS AND PICKS

(best bets in bold)

JOE MANNIELLO

92-108-8 overall, 8-6 best bets

Last week: 11-5

Jets Browns Giants Cowboys

Bears Dolphins Ravens Bills

Jaguars Cardinals Raiders Patriots

Seahawks Rams Saints

BOB GLAUBER

91-109-8, 4-10

Last week: 6-10

Texans Broncos Titans Colts

Bears Vikings Ravens Bills

Jaguars  Falcons Raiders Steelers 

Seahawks Rams Panthers 

TOM ROCK

103-97-8, 5-9

Last week: 9-7

Texans Broncos Titans Cowboys

Bears Vikings Ravens Lions

Jaguars Cardinals Raiders Patriots 

Seahawks Rams Saints

AL IANNAZZONE

103-97-8, 8-6

Last week: 10-6

Texans Broncos Titans Colts

Bears Vikings Bucs Lions

Jaguars Falcons Bengals Steelers

Seahawks Eagles Saints

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