| Special to the Courier & Press
NFL power rankings 15.0: Ravens rise after winning ‘Game of the Year’
SportsPulse: The Baltimore Ravens won in an instant classic and ‘Game of the Year’ over the Cleveland Browns in Week 14. See how far they rose our weekly risers and fallers.
SportsPulse, USA TODAY
Week 15 of the NFL season provides the sports betting community with an early holiday gift, as there are two Saturday games.
The final push for teams to qualify for the playoffs is in full swing. Take note of each of the playoff races and factor those scenarios into your wagers when looking at specific matchups. Teams with no playoff aspirations tend to not be reliable when it comes to trends and performance predictors.
Point totals continued to fall short of projections in Week 14. If you took the “over” in all 15 games, you would have finished a dismal 4-11. For the entire 2020 season, the “under” is now 101-95-6.
Last week was a great opportunity to get lucrative returns on a few select underdog money-line selections. Straight-up victories by the Football Team (+130), the Broncos (+170) and the Eagles (+290) provided bettors with a rock-solid return on their investments.
Last week’s picks
OVER (52) Titans @ Jaguars: The Titans did their part in the scoring column by racking up 454 yards of total offense and tallying 31 points. But the Jaguars failed to put points on the board, despite 354 yards of their own. The huge deficit forced Jacksonville to change the game script, resulting in multiple turnovers on downs when touchdown attempts were necessary. Titans 31, Jaguars 10 – LOSS
OVER (42 ½) Cowboys @ Bengals: The Bengals were a dumpster fire on offense and fumbled on their first three offensive possessions. Cowboys’ quarterback Andy Dalton returned to his former home and played mistake-free football. Dallas did more than enough to have a chance to eclipse this low point total, but the Bengals had just one touchdown. Cowboys 30, Bengals 7 – LOSS
COLTS (-3) @ Raiders: This pick appeared to be in jeopardy as the Raiders took a 14-10 lead in the second quarter. But the Colts took complete control with a punishing rushing attack and finished on a 34-13 run. The Colts showed why they are a legitimate threat to at least challenge the Chiefs in the AFC. Colts 44, Raiders 27 – WIN
RAVENS (-2) @ Browns: This game provided amazing Monday night entertainment. Cleveland had a ton of success on offense but had no answer for Baltimore quarterback Lamar Jackson. The Ravens led by two touchdowns at two different points, but the game changed dramatically when Jackson headed to the locker room to receive treatment for cramps. The Browns took advantage and scored touchdowns on two straight possessions to take a 35-34 lead with six minutes left. Jackson returned to convert a crucial fourth-down and lead his team to a go-ahead score. Cleveland then tied the game at 42, but a 55-yard game-winning field goal kick by Justin Tucker and a safety on the final play sealed the win and the cover for the Ravens. Ravens 47, Browns 42 – WIN
This week’s picks
UNDER (49 ½) Bills @ Broncos: Denver’s offense has been operating at a snail’s pace for much of the season. It’s 26th in total offensive plays and dead last in the league in that category since Week 12. The Broncos love to run the ball and will have to do so successfully in order to eat clock. Look for the Bills to build up a modest early lead and ride their own rushing attack to secure the win. The under is 4-2 in Denver this season and the point total hasn’t reached 50 points.
PANTHERS (+8 ½) @ Packers: It’s a dicey situation any time you are picking against Aaron Rodgers, especially at Lambeau Field. And on the surface, it may seem foolish to take the Panthers after they just lost to the Broncos. But the Panthers are 5-0 against the spread in their last five games as a road underdog, and they are 7-3 against the spread as an underdog overall. Look for the Packers to build up a commanding lead, but Carolina quarterback Teddy Bridgewater will put together a couple of fourth-quarter drives to earn the back-door cover.
UNDER (49 ½) Buccaneers @ Falcons: This game opened at 51 ½ but has been bet down to the current point total. Tampa Bay has been trending to more of a run-first offense and had more rushes than passes last week. Plus, the Falcons continue to struggle offensively and have virtually no rushing attack. The under has gone 4-0 in the last four games for Atlanta and is 8-2 in the last ten.
RAMS (-17 ½) vs. Jets: Signing up for a three-score deficit to start a game usually doesn’t sound like a good idea. And when you think back to a couple of weeks ago, when the Jets should have won their matchup against the Raiders, it makes you instinctively gravitate toward taking the points and hoping for the best. The Rams are a legitimate Super Bowl contender and the Jets are now in the discussion as one of the worst non-expansion teams in NFL history. Look for the Rams to have this game well under control by halftime with a big enough lead to not be threatened by a backdoor cover.
7-point Teaser Parlay (+255):
Chiefs -3 (+4)
Bears +3 (+10)
Browns -6 (+1)
Steelers -12.5 (-5.5)
Week 15 Prop bets:
UNDER (5 ½) Receptions by Cole Beasley – Bills @ Broncos (-112): Beasley has eclipsed 100 receiving yards in four games and has developed into a valuable safety valve for quarterback Josh Allen. But Beasley has recorded six or more receptions in only five of his 13 games.
OVER (3 ½) Receptions by Robert Tonyan – Panthers @ Packers (+108): Robert Tonyan has become a lethal target of Aaron Rodgers and now has nine touchdowns on the season after scoring last week. Tonyan has recorded at least five receptions in each of his last four games.