The stretch run of the 2018 NFL season certainly has not disappointed. While it’s been a bit chaotic, it’s at least brought us some clarity.
Specifically, the Chicago Bears can safely say they are now NFC North champions. The Los Angeles Chargers are also not afraid of taking chances and slowly but surely the NFL playoff picture is starting to take form.
Still, even though it appears all but two teams are locked into postseason play, the seedings aren’t remotely close to being finalized. And we have just two weeks to go.
There was a lot of craziness again in week 15 and I’m not sure it stops in week 16. Before we race ahead to next week, though, let’s recap another zany week in the NFL:
Week 15 NFL Results
|Matchup||SU Winner||ATS Winner||Total|
|LAC vs. KC||Chargers (29-28)||Chargers (+3.5)||Over 54.5|
|HOU vs. NYJ||Texans (29-22)||PUSH||Over 44.5|
|CLE vs. DEN||Browns (17-16)||Browns (+1.5)||Under 47|
|ARI vs. ATL||Falcons (40-14)||Falcons (-9)||Over 43.5|
|OAK vs. CIN||Bengals (30-16)||Bengals (-3)||Over 45.5|
|TEN vs. NYG||Titans (17-0)||Titans (-2.5)||Under 42|
|WAS vs. JAX||Redskins (16-13)||Redskins (+7.5)||Under 36.5|
|WAS vs. JAX||Redskins (16-13)||Redskins (+7.5)||Under 36.5|
|GB vs. CHI||Bears (17-14)||Bears (-5.5)||Under 46.5|
|DAL vs. IND||Colts (23-0)||Colts (-3)||Under 47|
|MIA vs. MIN||Vikings (41-17)||Vikings (-7.5)||Over 45|
|DET vs. BUF||Bills (14-13)||Lions (+2.5)||Under 39.5|
|TB vs. BAL||Ravens (20-12)||Buccaneers (+8.5)||Under 44.5|
|NE vs. PIT||Steelers (17-10)||Steelers (+2.5)||Under 55.5|
|PHI vs. LAR||Eagles (30-23)||Eagles (+13.5)||PUSH|
|SEA vs. SF||49ers (26-23)||49ers (+4)||Over 44|
|NO vs. CAR||Saints (12-9)||Panthers (+6)||Under 50.5|
A weird week 15 got started off in amazing fashion with that Chiefs vs. Chargers instant classic. It was trending toward a KC blowout, but Philip Rivers and company held firm and were in position to tie late.
Instead of settling for overtime, Anthony Lynn had the guts to go for two and win the dang thing.
Win it, they did. Suddenly those gutsy Chargers are in a real race, not just for the AFC West title, but (gulp) the top seed in the entire AFC.
Did the Bolts just become a sneaky Super Bowl 53 favorite?
I’m definitely into the Chargers right now and am slowly souring on the Texans. Sure, they scored a road win over the Jets last week and will probably win the AFC South, but their rather pedestrian wins are all starting to look the same.
It makes me wonder, just how good is this team? I’m starting to fear…not very.
Another interesting game went down in Denver, where the Broncos blew their only real shot at the final wild-card spot in the AFC. They lost at home to the Browns of all teams and now I have to think head coach Vance Joseph’s days are numbered.
Cleveland, meanwhile, has a bit of a baller in Baker Mayfield and this team might just win out. If they do that, the 6th seed in the AFC isn’t totally out of the question.
Another team that isn’t dead just yet are the Titans. They went into New York and completely iced the G-Men, which isn’t surprising on its own, but they did what needed to be done and saw running back Derrick Henry dominate for the second week in a row.
Nobody wants to see that battering ram in the playoffs, yet the white-hot Titans might be able to get there if they win the next two weeks.
Chicago took care of business at home against the Packers in week 15, cementing their return to the top of the NFC North. With a win over the Rams the week prior, they now have the inside track at a first-round bye and possibly even the top seed in the NFC.
In the same breath as the Los Angeles Chargers, Chicago looks like a very real title threat.
Dallas fell flat in the worst way possible in Indy, which admittedly told us more about how desperate the Colts were than where the Cowboys were at. The Cowboys are still probably winning the NFC East, though, while Indy needs to win out for even a shot at a playoff spot.
Baltimore has been an interesting team to monitor. They’ve certainly nabbed wins where they realistically had a chance, but they needed Lamar Jackson to run wild and their defense to be elite to do it.
The Ravens just don’t feel sustainable with how they’re playing. Over the next two weeks, they face two hot teams in the Chargers and Browns – both of which their bland style of offense may come up short against.
New England did not look good in a road loss to the Steelers. I get that Pittsburgh had to have that game, but so did the Patriots. In just two weeks they’ve lost their hold on a first-round bye and if they can’t avoid a late-season collapse, the AFC East perhaps isn’t even a lock.
The other keynote is the Rams looking awful in a bad home loss to a Carson Wentz-less Philly squad. Jared Goff has regressed sharply over the last few weeks and is clearly missing Cooper Kupp. If he can’t snap out of this funk, L.A. might quickly go from Super Bowl favorite to (once again) one-and-done.
Week 15 Stats – Year to Date
|Wager Type||Week 5||Year-to-Date|
|Underdogs vs. Favorites ATS||8-7-1||114-98-9|
|Home vs. Away ATS||8-7-1||110-102-9|
|Straight Up Underdog Wins||6||78|
It was another week for solid underdog action, and as I’ve warned over the last couple of weeks, it’s had a lot to do with bad teams relishing at the opportunity to play spoiler.
That, or they’re just trying to build momentum towards next season. That’s why wins by the 49ers, Bills, Bengals, Redskins, and Eagles shouldn’t be seen as that shocking.
Okay, I was pretty surprised about the last one, but the point is we’ve seen a decent amount of NFL upsets in 2018 and the number is going to hover around 5-7 down the stretch. It’s just a volatile setting for sports betting right now and it’s something bettors will have to embrace.
The beauty is you can also exploit it. You just need to pick your spots wisely.
The rest of the data didn’t turn up much. The numbers are right down the middle and on the year the only thing that is shocking is how well the underdog has done against the spread. However, given some of the gaudy spreads and how Vegas priced underachievers like the Packers, Eagles, and Patriots up all year, it actually isn’t that ridiculous.
If anything, the biggest takeaway is probably the worsening Over/Under record. Week 15 saw a losing record and the 2018 mark favors the Under. The reasoning remains the same; Vegas is demanding too much out of the marquee matchups and even the moderate showdowns are still around 45+.
Instead of worrying about 50+ Totals (boy, did that Steelers vs. Patriots game fail!), I’d try targeting lower Totals that just, well, feel too low.
Looking to Week 16
The obvious thing we learned in week 15 was how the playoff picture cleared up. The Green Bay Packers knocked themselves out of it with a loss in Chicago and you can say the same for Denver.
I don’t really believe in the Redskins, Dolphins, Eagles, Browns or Titans, but they’re all alive going into week 16. Because of that, you have to at least consider them all to keep it going as they fight for a playoff spot.
That gets a little tricky with the Redskins and Titans facing off, though, and with that matchup alone the picture gets clearer in a hurry on at least one side of the league.
Elsewhere, the Dolphins are a decent bet at home against the Jaguars and Cleveland could stay alive at home against the Bengals. I’m not so sure I’m ready to back the Eagles in a tense showdown with the Texans, however, especially if Nick Foles is still under center.
The toughest games to peg in week 16 are undeniably Chiefs vs. Seahawks and Steelers vs. Saints. I’m tentatively backing KC and New Orleans, however.
Good luck with your week 16 NFL wagers and hopefully this week’s betting recap helps you in your process in some way.