The NFL Week 15 late slate features four games on Sunday. Several sportsbooks including BetMGM are dealing the Denver Broncos as 2.5-point favorites over the visiting Cincinnati Bengals in a pivotal AFC matchup. PointsBet was offering Denver -3.
The Broncos opened this week as a 1.5-point favorite after being a 3-point dog on the look-ahead line posted the previous week in Vegas.
Cincinnati Bengals (7-6, 6-7 ATS) at Denver Broncos (7-6, 7-6 ATS)
Time: 4:05 p.m. EST
Line: Broncos -2.5 (44)
The skinny: These teams are in a virtual five-way tie for the final two wild-card spots, but also at stake for Cincinnati is a chance to earn a share of first place in the AFC North with a win and a loss by Baltimore to Green Bay.
Facts: Cincinnati RB Joe Mixon, who had 123 and 165 rushing yards in wins over Vegas and Pittsburgh in Weeks 11-12, has totaled 112 his past two outings at 3.2 yards a carry vs. the Chargers and 49ers. And now his starting ORT, Riley Reiff, has been placed on IR.
Denver RB Melvin Gordon returned to the lineup last Sunday after a week’s absence and had a season-best 111 yards out of Denver’s total of 184 in a 38-10 rout of Detroit. But he’s questionable this week (thumb, hip). And his tackle-busting backup, Javonte Williams, is nursing a knee injury.
Analysis: Over the past two weeks, eyes have been focused on the throwing hand of Bengals QB Joe Burrow, who dislocated his pinkie in Week 13 vs. the Chargers. Afterward, was he feeling as good as he said he was, or was he feeding us baloney?
Based on his play in last week’s 26-23 overtime loss to San Francisco, in which he threw for two scores and had his best passer rating since September, he’s doing fine.
Denver and QB Teddy Bridgewater, who’s averaged a measly 6.6 yards a throw his past four games, probably won’t be able to keep up. Especially if his RBs aren’t at full speed.
Bengals at Broncos Pick
Bengals 26, Broncos 19
The Packers opened as a 2-point favorite, but the line has climbed to 5.5 across the board.
Green Bay Packers (10-3, 11-2 ATS) at Baltimore Ravens (8-5, 6-7 ATS)
FanDuel Line: Packers -5.5 (43.5)
The skinny: It’s a matchup of first-place teams going in opposite directions, with the Packers just taking over the No. 1 seed in the NFC and the AFC North-leading Ravens having dropped two games in a row.
Facts: Baltimore QB Lamar Jackson, the league MVP in 2020, left last week’s game in Cleveland early with an ankle injury and hasn’t practiced all week. His backup, Tyler Huntley, will get the start if Jackson is held back.
In Green Bay’s 45-30 victory over Chicago last Sunday night, the over/under number was 43. The teams beat that in the second quarter alone, when the Bears outscored GB 24-21.
Green Bay, already without All-Pro OLT David Bakhtiari, also will be missing Pro Bowl guard Elgton Jenkins and center Josh Myers, both with knee injuries. Also, QB Aaron Rodgers said his injured toe is worse than the week before. But why would he advertise it if that is really the case?
Analysis: Under the assumption Jackson won’t play (and even if he does), the Packers should be able to take advantage of the Ravens’ beat-up secondary behind the league’s top-rated QB and favorite receiver Davante Adams.
As for Huntley, in two games in relief of Jackson he was sacked nine times, lost two fumbles and threw an interception. He’s not half the runner Jackson is, either.
Packers at Ravens Pick
Packers 35, Ravens 17
The Rams opened as a 7-point favorite over the Seahawks, but that number has dipped to L.A. -4 at most books. With news the game has been moved to Tuesday, 6 is the fresh number on oddsboards.
Seattle Seahawks (5-8, 7-6 ATS) at L.A. Rams (9-4, 6-7 ATS)
Time: 4:25 p.m. EST
Line: Rams -6 (45.5)
The skinny: Both teams are on two-game winning streaks after losing three in a row and making their way up the NFC playoff standings.
Facts: The Rams and Seahawks could be down a key wide receiver thanks to COVID protocols, with L.A.’s Odell Beckham Jr. and Seattle’s Tyler Lockett having tested positive early this week. Their status is uncertain two days before kickoff.
Lockett has been particularly effective in passing the 1,000-yard receiving mark for the third straight season.
The Rams were down six starters thanks to COVID on Monday night when they beat NFC front-runner Arizona in the desert, 30-23.
Seattle RB Rashaad Penny, who totaled 78 yards in his only rushing action this season, averaging 2.9 a carry, broke loose for 137 yards last week in Seattle’s 33-13 win at Houston.
Analysis: Penny’s outing was uplifting for the former No. 1 draft choice of Seattle in 2018, but it was against a Houston team that has by far the worst rushing defense in the league. And how did Seattle’s defense manage to give up 25 first downs to a Houston team with the league’s worst running offense and a rookie QB who’s now 0-7?
The Rams take advantage of the potential loss of Lockett and put a toe tag on Seattle’s playoff hopes.
Seahawks at Rams Pick
Rams 28, Seahawks 20
The money is following the 49ers, who opened as a 7.5-point choice. Now the number has gone as high at 9.5 at several books including Caesars Sportsbook.
Atlanta Falcons (6-7, 6-7 ATS) at San Francisco 49ers (7-6, 6-7 ATS)
Time: 4:05 p.m. EST
Caesars Sportsbook Line: 49ers -9.5 (46.5)
The skinny: The Falcons have a chance to leapfrog the 49ers in the NFC playoff standings in their only trip west of Dallas this season.
Facts: In their most recent meeting, in 2019 in San Francisco, the Falcons gave the 49ers their biggest upset loss of the past seven years with a 29-22 win as a 10-point underdog. The Falcons scored 12 points in the final 2 seconds. (Absolutely true.)
In the 49ers’ 26-23 win over the Bengals last week, they capitalized on two muffed punts deep in Cincinnati territory to score a field goal and TD.
Atlanta QB Matt Ryan has had only 33 completions of 20-plus yards this year, well shy of last year’s mark of 58. The absence of departed WR Julio Jones and the mental health break for fellow wideout Calvin Ridley are largely to blame.
Analysis: If the 49ers allow their minds to wander, they could be thinking about the upcoming Thursday night road matchup with AFC titan Tennessee.
Anyway, the return to health of WR Deebo Samuel will help the 49ers, but top RB Elijah Mitchell is dealing with the effects of a concussion and is questionable.
Atlanta should stay close thanks to a running game led by Cordarrelle Patterson and an offensive line that’s shown improvement in recent weeks.
Falcons at 49ers Pick
49ers 28, Falcons 26
Last week: 6-8 ATS, 10-4 SU
Season total: 97-108-3 (.473) ATS, 126-81-1 (.609) SU