New England Patriots players Kyle Van Noy, left, Ja’Whaun Bentley (8), and Matt Judon (9) celebrate a defensive play during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Nov. 28, 2021, in Foxborough, Mass. (AP Photo/Mary Schwalm)
- The underdog New England Patriots and Indianapolis Colts meet in an electric Saturday night showdown
- Can the Houston Texans upset the Jacksonville Jaguars without Urban Meyer there to drag them down?
- Last week’s picks went 0-3, sending our season total back down to +8.92 (16-21 record)
Well that didn’t last long. Sure enough, Week 14 kicked upset bettors square in the teeth, as only two dogs won outright across the entire slate. (And one of those was Atlanta: who in the world wanted to back them?) But this week offers a chance to bounce back, especially for those who backed certain dogs at the start of the week.
As COVID-19 cases sweep through the league, it’s impacting NFL Week 15 lines significantly. For example, the Browns opened as six-point favorites over the Raiders but after a string of positive cases, they’re now underdogs at home. There’s also been notable line movements in Washington-Philadelphia and Seahawks-Rams and the league was forced to reschedule all three games.
None of those contests will be featured below. Instead, here’s the upsets we like… barring any more COVID-positive announcements from now until kickoff.
NFL Week 15 Upset Picks
|New England Patriots vs Indianapolis Colts||IND -2.5||+118||Patriots||1|
|Houston Texans vs Jacksonville Jaguars||JAX -5||+184||Texans||1|
Pats Pound Colts
A thrilling Saturday night showdown will see two stylistically similar teams duke it out for seeding in the AFC. The Indianapolis Colts are 2.5 point favorites over the visiting New England Patriots, who currently hold the top seed in the conference.
The Pats and Colts would both prefer the run game carry their offense. Jonathan Taylor has been a beast this year, claiming the running back crown in Derrick Henry’s absence. Meanwhile, New England boasts a stable of capable backs, so even though they’ll be short Damien Harris, their power run game shouldn’t change.
Rhamondre Stevenson is so fun to watch.
— Pats Buzz (@PatsBuzz) November 28, 2021
Though the perception is that these teams run often so that their QBs can’t screw things up, in reality, both Carson Wentz and rookie Mac Jones have been leading effective passing attacks without putting the ball in danger.
Big-time throw rate vs. turnover-worthy play rate (PFF, minimum 100 dropbacks)
Kyler Murray is good. pic.twitter.com/Gz0uiIuVkX
— Ian Hartitz (@Ihartitz) December 13, 2021
The Colts’ defense is strong, ranking top 10 in points allowed and first in takeaways. But they don’t stack up to this Patriots unit, because Indianapolis isn’t capable of applying pressure with the same consistency. New England is fifth in pressure rate, helping them rank fifth in takeaways and first in points allowed.
Patriots Red Zone pass defense
If you are looking for where an edge might be gained in Indy/Pats
Red Zone pass defense
Pats are 1st – 61.6 rate
Colts are 31st – 118.5 rate
we will see pic.twitter.com/2y45soMHxc
— Boston Sports Info (@bostonsportsinf) December 16, 2021
Overall, New England ranks first in weighted DVOA. They’re also unbeaten on the road this year. This might be the last time Bill Belichick’s squad are underdogs all season, so don’t miss out on this opportunity.
Jags Still a Joke
The Jacksonville Jaguars did the thinkable this week, firing their absolute clown of a head coach. Bettors must be expecting a post-Urban Meyer bump with this team, as the Jags are now five-point favorites over the Houston Texans.
While it has to be good news for Jacksonville’s psyche to have Meyer out of kicking range, this is still a 2-11 team that is averaging a little over nine points a game since their Week 7 bye. Now the architect of that offense is head coach. Are things really going to get better?
This Jaguars offense deserves to be fired into the sun, what in the world is this🤦🏼♂️ pic.twitter.com/vfKUZYl9XZ
— Owen Kidd (@OKiddVT) December 13, 2021
So far, the Texans have put third round QB Davis Mills in a better position to succeed than the Jags with first overall pick Trevor Lawrence. Houston has no run game to speak of either, but by leaning on Brandin Cooks and hitting his checkdowns often, Mills hasn’t been terrible despite playing for an awful squad.
QBs with 0 INT and 50+ Attempts over the last 2 weeks:
– Matthew Stafford
– Matt Ryan
– Davis Mills pic.twitter.com/qGohmMHRPY
— NFL on CBS 🏈 (@NFLonCBS) December 15, 2021
Neither of these defenses are worth analyzing, but at least the Texans have a penchant for generating takeaways, ranking top-10 in the league. Jacksonville is dead-last with a measly six.
These are two bad teams, but the one that has played better football this season is the five-point underdog. Hold your nose and back Houston.
Eric Thompson has been with SBD since 2015, serving as a sports betting expert in NFL, NHL, NBA, and MLB. If you want someone who eats, sleeps, and breathes sports news and betting, Eric is your man. Having studied economics at university, he understands what value is and how to spot it.