Here are my Week 15 picks with confidence level selections. The picks with a confidence level of 1-5 will be available for all NFL Pickwatch readers.
The picks with a 6+ confidence level, a group of selections that have netted a 134-50-1 record over the past two seasons (including a 51-22-1 mark this year), will be available exclusively to Pickwatch Pro subscribers.
Pickwatch Pro is a great service that allows subscribers to download the best expert data in the industry, see team-by-team winners for every expert, and provides access to Upset Watch, which has been the ultimate cheatcode to beat the sportsbooks over the last five years. Combine those elements with the top level of my weekly picks and it makes for a must-subscribe service for anyone serious about betting.
Kansas City Chiefs at Los Angeles Chargers
KC’s pick: Kansas City | Confidence level: 4
The Chiefs are known for their powerhouse offense, but Kansas City’s defense is largely responsible for the club’s six-game winning streak. Steve Spagnuolo’s group has allowed nine or fewer points in four of the past five games and 17 or fewer points in each of those six wins. That’s a problem for the Chargers, as Los Angeles prefers to get into high scoring games. The Chargers are 4-1 this year in shootouts (defined as games where each team scores 24+ points) and 4-4 in non-shootouts. Since the Chiefs defense has shown that it can prevent high scoring games, Kansas City is the pick in this one.
Las Vegas Raiders at Cleveland Browns
KC’s pick: Las Vegas | Confidence level: 1
This is a very difficult game to pick because the Browns are in the midst of a COVID breakout that includes head coach Kevin Stefanski, Baker Mayfield, Jarvis Landry, Austin Hooper, Wyatt Teller and Jedrick Wills. Cleveland will also likely be without Kareem Hunt and Anthony Schwartz due to injury. The Raiders have completely fallen apart, especially on defense, having given up 32+ points in four of the past five games and looking like they threw in the towel last week when the Chiefs contest got out of hand, but if the Browns are as short-handed as the current circumstances indicate, Las Vegas will be the pick. If Cleveland gets some of these players back, however, this selection could quickly move in their direction.
New England Patriots at Indianapolis Colts
KC’s pick: New England | Confidence level: 2
The Patriots are the most complete team in the NFL right now. Their offense is dominant and had led the team to eight straight games with 24+ points scored prior to running into a Lake Erie gale in the Monday night contest at Buffalo. Their defense is equally powerful, as New England has allowed 13 or fewer points in five straight games and racked up 2+ takeaways in six of the past eight games. The Patriots also have arguably the best special teams in the league. Indianapolis is no slouch, as the Colts have a top five offense and tallied 2+ takeaways in all but three games this year, but they aren’t quite as well rounded of a team as the Patriots, so New England is the choice here.
Carolina Panthers at Buffalo Bills
KC’s pick: Buffalo | Confidence level: 3
Buffalo’s season started to fall apart following the upset loss at Jacksonville in Week 9, as the Bills have now lost four of their last six and three of their last four. The ground game is key to their struggles, as Buffalo is getting very little rushing productivity from its running backs and allowed 623 combined rushing yards to Indianapolis, New England, and Tampa Bay. That might be a problem against a team with an effective power-based offense, but Carolina’s ground game has taken a massive backwards step now that Chuba Hubbard seems to have hit the rookie wall. That will keep the Panthers from taking full advantage of Buffalo’s weaknesses, and when that is combined with the big play ability of Josh Allen and Stefon Diggs, it should be enough to give the Bills the win.
Arizona Cardinals at Detroit Lions
KC’s pick: Arizona | Confidence level: 4
Arizona’s loss to the Rams on Monday night was just the latest in a downward spiral for them, as the Cardinals have lost three of their last six and two of their wins came against Seattle and Chicago. Arizona does get back Chase Edmonds for this matchup, but they may not have James Conner and will also be without DeAndre Hopkins for the rest of the season. This also has the makings of a trap game for the Cardinals, as they could be looking ahead to the Weeks 16-17 contests against Indianapolis and Dallas. Detroit has given more than a few teams trouble when they visit the Motor City, as the Vikings, Bears, Ravens, and 49ers all got out of Detroit with wins by a total of 14 points. This game will likely fall into that same close but no cigar category, so give the Cardinals this pick by less than a touchdown.
Houston Texans at Jacksonville Jaguars
KC’s pick: Jacksonville | Confidence level: 2
These are arguably the two worst teams in the NFL in large part because of their offenses. Jacksonville hasn’t scored more than 17 points since Week 6 and Houston has tallied a single-digit point total on six occasions. The main variable in this one is that the Jaguars fired head coach Urban Meyer on Thursday. Multiple reports about this team indicate that Meyer had plenty of issues inside the locker room and the Jacksonville players may react to his dismissal by wanting to show the world they are much better than what they displayed under his stewardship. That motivational factor should be enough to vault the Jaguars to a win in what might be the ugliest matchup of the year.
Washington Football Team at Philadelphia Eagles
KC’s pick: Philadelphia | Confidence level: 4
To get an idea of just how dominant the Eagles rushing attack has been, consider this. Philadelphia has rushed for 175 or more yards in six straight games. That has only been done nine times since the AFL-NFL merger in 1970 and the last team to do it was the legendary 1985 Chicago Bears. If the Eagles can do it two more games in a row, they will tie the equally legendary 1972 Miami Dolphins and the 1972 Pittsburgh Steelers for the most games of that caliber since the merger. It won’t be easy against a Washington rush defense that has allowed an opponent to gain 100+ rush yards only three times in the past ten games, but the Football Team did just allow Dallas to gain 122 yards on the ground last week. In addition, Washington is dealing with injuries to Taylor Heinicke, Terry McLaurin, Curtis Samuel, and J.D. McKissic and have nine players on the COVID-19 list, so the Eagles are the selection.
Tennessee Titans at Pittsburgh Steelers
KC’s pick: Tennessee | Confidence level: 4
Pittsburgh has lost three of its last four because it no longer has the Steelers smashmouth mindset. Mike Tomlin’s defense has been abysmal against the run, allowing 159+ rushing yards in four of the past five games, but his team’s offense isn’t faring much better, having gained only 74.3 rush yards per game in its last four contests. The Titans powerhouse approach was drastically hindered when Derrick Henry got hurt, but Mike Vrabel’s defense has allowed more than 100 rushing yards only once since Week 5. Tennessee doesn’t have much to fear in terms of turnovers, as Pittsburgh has generated more than one takeaway on only two occasions this year. Since three of the Titans four losses occurred in games where they gave the ball away 3+ times, the Steelers will have limited paths to victory, so Tennessee is the choice.
Cincinnati Bengals at Denver Broncos
KC’s pick: Denver | Confidence level: 2
These teams are both faring quite well metrically of late but are getting different results from their quality play. Denver has won four of its last six in large part because of a dominant rushing attack that has racked up 147+ yards in four of those contests. By contrast, the Bengals have lost four of their last six despite posting 300+ offensive yards in all but one of those contests. The saving grace for Cincinnati could be that three of their losses in this span occurred when the opponent scored 34+ points and Denver has scored that many points only one time this year, but that loses a bit of its edge when noting that the Broncos tallied 38 points against Detroit last week. Denver is winning more of its games of late and is hosting this contest, so those two tiebreakers seem to be enough to push this selection into the Broncos column.
Green Bay Packers at Baltimore Ravens
KC’s pick: Green Bay | Confidence level: 5
Green Bay’s defense had been playing at a very strong pace through Week 10, but that platoon has fallen well short since then, as the Packers have allowed 92 points over the past three games. The good news is the Green and Gold offense has held its own, as the Packers have posted 112 points in those games. Baltimore’s offense kept up in shootouts earlier this year, as the Ravens have a 3-1 mark in those types of contests, but that isn’t the case now, as Baltimore has scored 22 or fewer points in five straight weeks. That may not change since Lamar Jackson is on track to potentially miss this game, so Green Bay is the preferred choice.
Seattle Seahawks at Los Angeles Rams
KC’s pick: Los Angeles | Confidence level: 1
The Week 13 win over Jacksonville helped Los Angeles find its way following a three-game losing streak and helped propel the Rams to the Monday night win over Arizona. Seattle is starting to get back to its earlier season form now that Russell Wilson’s finger has fully healed, and that has led the Seahawks to score 63 points in back-to-back wins over San Francisco and Houston. Even with Seattle’s recent improvement, on paper the Rams are hands down the better team in this one, but Los Angeles is also dealing with a huge COVID-19 breakout that forced the team to close its training facility this week. That uncertainty lowers the confidence level and could move the pick over to Seattle depending on how this situation plays out.
New Orleans Saints at Tampa Bay Buccaneers
KC’s pick: Tampa Bay | Confidence level: 4
Sean Payton seems to have the Buccaneers number, as the Saints have won six out of the past seven against Tampa Bay, a streak that includes a 36-27 Week 8 victory. The problem in leaning on that type of history is that New Orleans lost five straight games after that triumph and only ended the losing skid because they faced the lowly Jets. Tampa Bay’s offense is firing on all cylinders of late and that has led the Buccaneers to score 30+ points in four straight games. It’s possible the Saints can keep up in a shootout, as New Orleans has scored 29+ points twice in the past four games, but it’s a low percentage play to expect any offense to keep up with Tampa Bay’s, so the Bucs are the pick here.
Minnesota Vikings at Chicago Bears
KC’s pick: Minnesota | Confidence level: 3
Mike Zimmer certainly doesn’t want his team to get into shootouts, but they can’t seem to help themselves, as five of their last six games fall into this category. It hasn’t gone as poorly as might be expected for the Vikings, as they have won three of those contests while also registering a 27-20 win over the Chargers in Week 10 that fell just a few points short of shootout status. The Bears offense just hasn’t been good enough to get Chicago into that type of contest very often and it hasn’t kept on the rare occasions that it happened, as the Bears are 0-2 in shootouts. Since one of those games was the 45-30 loss to Green Bay last week, there is a good chance that this contest follows the high scoring suit, but if that happens as expected, the Vikings are the selection because they have proven to fare better in that situation.
KC’s 6+ confidence level picks, a group of selections that have gone 134-50-1 over the past two seasons (including a 51-22-1 mark this year), are available exclusively to Pickwatch Pro subscribers.