“He sees you when you’re sleeping, he knows when you’re awake…”
Guys, I used to think that song was about Santa, but now I’m starting to think that it might actually be about the Patriots, because apparently, they’re always watching. I mean, just ask the Bengals about that. No one does spying controversies quite like the Patriots and it seems they were at it again over the weekend. I won’t go into details, because details are boring, but if want to read more about how the Patriots “inappropriately filmed” the Bengals sideline Sunday and then offered to delete the footage, you can .
The best part of this new controversy is that the Bengals and Patriots are playing each other this week. Under normal circumstances, watching a 1-12 team play is usually pretty low on my priority list for a Sunday, but I think I’m actually going to suck it up and watch the Bengals this week, and just so you know, the entire time I’m watching, I’m going to keep my fingers crossed that Joe Mixon scores a touchdown and then celebrates by holding an imaginary camcorder aimed at the Patriots sideline. That’s all I want for Christmas, Joe. Can you or one of your teammates please do that?
I would tell you who I think is going to win that game, but I can’t do that quite yet, because we haven’t gotten to the picks, so let’s get to the picks.
Actually, before we get to the picks, here’s a quick reminder that you can check out the weekly picks from every CBSSports.com NFL expert by clicking here. If you click over, you’ll notice that I’m still in the season lead for straight-up picks. However, I am not in the season lead for picks against the spread. That honor belongs to Will Brinson, and I know that, because Brinson brings it up every time I join him on the Pick Six Podcast, which is our daily NFL podcast here at CBSSports.com that’s hosted by Brinson.
During the regular season, I join Brinson three days each week (Monday, Tuesday and Friday) on the podcast to talk football and anything else we can think of. On Tuesday’s episode, which you can listen to below, we spent 20 solid minutes talking about how bad the NFC East is (Spoiler alert: It’s really bad). We also spent another 10 minutes talking about Spygate II, because how could we not.
Alright, let’s get to the picks, and remember, this is a safe space. I promise not to spy on you guys.
NFL Week 15 Picks
Houston (8-5) at Tennessee (8-5)
1 p.m. ET (CBS)
Point spread: Titans -3
As someone who lives in Nashville, I can tell you that attending Titans games generally ranks no higher than fifth on the list of things that people like to do in this city, and that’s because it ranks behind listening to country music, eating hot chicken, going to country bars and crashing bachelorette parties, and I should definitely know, because I’ve done all four of those things since moving here two years ago. Hot tip: If you’re ever thinking about crashing a bachelorette party, it definitely helps to have a camera crew with you.
Although the Titans aren’t usually the talk of the town, they are now, and it’s all thanks to Ryan Tannehill. If the MVP award was only based on how you’ve played since Week 7 — I don’t know why that would ever happen — but if it did, Tannehill would probably win it this year. Since taking over as Tennessee’s starter back in Week 7, the Titans have been nearly unstoppable. Not only have they gone 6-1 with Tannehill as their starter, the Titans are also averaging 31.4 points per game with him, which ranks second in the NFL since Week 7. Oh, and Tannehill also leads the entire league with a QB rating of 118.5. I promise you, that is not a typo: Ryan Tannehill has the highest QB rating in the NFL.
As for the Texans, the last time we saw them, they were getting torched by a rookie quarterback (Drew Lock), who was making his first career road start. If you can’t stop a rookie in his first career road start, then you can’t stop anyone, which is actually pretty true about the Texans. Their defense is giving up 265.8 passing yards per game, which is the second worst number in the AFC. Tannehill is going to go have a huge game on Sunday, and just for the record, I’m not just predicting that, I’m also trying to speak it into existence since he’s the quarterback of my fantasy team, which is playing in the semifinals this week.
The pick: Titans 30-23 over Texans
Chicago (7-6) at Green Bay (10-3)
1 p.m. ET (Fox)
Point spread: Packers -4.5
As someone whothis year back in the preseason, I’m not feeling so comfortable with my pick, which is weird, because the Packers are 10-3, they lead their division and they currently hold the second seed in the NFC. If anything, I should be gloating, but I can’t, because I’m way too concerned about Green Bay’s offense. I know Matt LaFleur’s new system was supposed to change things for the better, but after 14 weeks, it looks like he actually just stole Mike McCarthy’s playbook, changed a few things and then crossed his fingers and hoped no one would notice.
The thing is, I’m not the only one who’s noticed this. Packers fans are also noticing that their offense doesn’t seem to be very good and they’ve been letting the team know on Twitter.
I don’t know if the Packers are the worst 10-3 team ever, but Coach Thomas is definitely right with the second part of his tweet: The Packers need some help. The problem for Green Bay is that there’s not really any place to find any help at this point in the season.
So what we have this week is a bad offense that’s going up against a defense that has given up the fourth-fewest points in the NFL this year. Normally, I pick against the Bears because I have no faith in Mitchell Trubisky, but the sad thing this week is that I actually have more faith in him right now than I do in the Packers offense.
The prediction here: Da’ Bears are going to win the game to stay in the Da’ playoff race.
The pick: Bears 19-16 over Packers
L.A. Rams (8-5) at Dallas (6-7)
4:25 p.m. ET (Fox)
Point spread: Cowboys -1
At this point in the season, I didn’t think it was possible for the Cowboys to be favored over a team with a winning record, but somehow, here we are. The oddsmakers in Vegas have made the Cowboys a 1-point favorite over the Rams this week, which sounds crazy to me because THE COWBOYS ARE 0-6 THIS SEASON AGAINST TEAMS THAT CURRENTLY HAVE A WINNING RECORD. This would be like making me the favorite in a cage match to the death against a bear. It makes no sense. The bear would maul me to death in five seconds, which the Rams might do to the Cowboys.
To put the Cowboys’ record in perspective, the Denver FRICKING Broncos, who have started three different quarterbacks this season, have more wins against teams that currently have a winning record than the Cowboys do, and now, Dallas gets to go up against a Rams team that has suddenly turned into the most explosive offense in the NFL. I have no idea how it happened, but over the past two weeks, the Rams have basically been unstoppable. My theory here is that Sean McVay started putting up his Christmas decorations recently, and while rummaging through a closet, he found a Rams playbook from last year that I’m guessing he lost, because the Rams have spent most of the 2019 season running an offense that looked nothing like the one they were running last year.
After stumbling through the first 12 weeks of the season, the Rams suddenly look like the 2018 version of themselves, which is bad news for the Cowboys, because they actually got steamrolled by the 2018 Rams back in January. The biggest positive in this game for the Cowboys is that once it’s over, they don’t have any games left against teams that currently have a winning record, which means I might actually pick them to win one, but not this one.
The pick: Rams 30-20 over Cowboys
Buffalo (9-4) at Pittsburgh (8-5)
8:20 p.m. ET (NBC))
Point spread: Steelers -2
I was watching “Jaws” the other day, which I’m only mentioning because it came out in 1975 and that’s pertinent here because that was the LAST TIME the Bills won a regular season game in Pittsburgh. That was so long ago that O.J. Simpson was the star of the game for Buffalo, rushing for 227 yards, which is also kind of pertinent here, because I have a feeling that the team that rushes for the most yards is going to win this game.
The reason rushing yards are going to be important is because I don’t really think either quarterback is going to be able to throw the ball. The Steelers are only giving up 209.8 pass yards per game, which currently ranks fifth in the NFL, and although that’s impressive, the Bills are actually better, surrendering 191.5 passing yards per game, which ranks third in the NFL. As good as Josh Allen has been this season, he’s not exactly known for his accuracy, so I won’t be surprised if he struggles through the air against the Steelers. As for Devlin Hodges, although he’s mastered the art of making the perfect duck call, he hasn’t quite mastered the art of throwing the forward pass, so I’m not exactly expecting a big game out of him, especially against the Bills defense.
Since I think this game is going to come down to who runs the ball better, I’m going to take the team that’s second in the AFC in rushing with 135.3 yards per game (Spoiler alert: That team is the Bills). This is Buffalo’s first Sunday night game since 2007, and I have a feeling they’re going to be hyped. I also have a feeling that everyone in Buffalo is going to smash their best friend through a folding table after this game to celebrate the Bills clinching a spot in the playoffs (Did I mention that the Bills would clinch a playoff berth with a win? If I didn’t then let me mention it now: The Bills would clinch a playoff berth with a win).
The pick: Bills 19-16 over Steelers
Double Lock of the Week
N.Y. Jets (5-8) at Baltimore (11-2)
Thursday, 7:20 p.m. ET (Fox)
Point spread: Ravens -14.5
This week marks the final Thursday game of the NFL season, so to celebrate, not only am I giving you the first ever “Double Lock of the Week,” but I’m going to put my money where my mouth is by flying to Las Vegas to bet on it. Actually, the real reason I’ll be in Vegas this week is to celebrate my sister’s 21st birthday — and no, that’s not her real age, she’s older, but I can’t tell you how old, because I don’t want to get uninvited to the party before it actually happens (Happy Birthday, Ruth!). As we all know, nothing screams “I’m celebrating my sister’s birthday in Vegas” like drinking an entire bottle of tequila and betting on football, so that’s what I’ll be doing.
As for this game, that point spread might seem a little big, but this is the Jets we’re talking about, and if I’ve learned one thing about them this year, it’s that they can lose to any team by any amount on the road. I mean, this is the team that fell flat on their face twice against winless teams this year, giving both the 0-7 Dolphins and 0-11 Bengals their first wins, and both of those games came on the road for the Jets. The Jets actually lost to the Bengals by 16, which is how much they might be down by the time the first quarter ends on Thursday.
The Ravens are the highest scoring team in the NFL, which I’m guessing is going to be a problem for the Jets, because they don’t really score at all. I’m so confident in Baltimore in this spot that the Ravens are going to be part of a three-team parlay that I’ll be making in Vegas, which I’ll reveal after we get to our next lock of the week.
The pick: Ravens 30-13 over Jets
Note: Lamar Jackson (quad) popped up on the Ravens injury report Monday, and if for some reason he can’t play, then I’ll be changing my prediction to a slightly smaller Ravens win: 20-13. I mean, even RG3 can beat the Jets).
Bonus lock: New England (10-3) at Cincinnati (1-12)
1 p.m. ET (CBS)
Point spread: Patriots -9.5
When the week started, this looked like one of the worst games on the Week 15 schedule, but now, with Spygate II suddenly upon us, this is arguably the juiciest game to ever involve a 1-12 team in NFL history. I know I kind of covered the situation up top, but here’s a few more details on what’s happening between the Bengals and Patriots: The Bengals are convinced that New England was filming Cincinnati’s sideline on Sunday in a potential effort to steal signals. Although the Patriots have admitted that they “inappropriately filmed” part of the game, they’re insisting that their video crew was only there to film a “Day in the Life” video about one of their scouts.
So what does this all mean?
It means the Patriots are going to win by 100. If the Patriots didn’t actually mean to break any rules here, then there’s a 100% chance that Bill Belichick is going to be irate about this entire situation, which means he’s going to run up the score and beat the Bengals into submission. Of course, the Patriots offense has been so bad this year that even if they’re “running up the score,” they still probably won’t hit the 30-point mark.
The other possibility in this game is that the Patriots were filming the Bengals illegally. If that’s the case, that means they know all of Cincinnati’s signals, which means the Patriots defense is going to eat the Bengals alive on Sunday. Either way, I’m pretty sure this has Patriots blowout written all over it.
Bonus pick: Patriots 27-10 over Bengals
Lock of the week record: 12-2 straight up, 4-9-1 against the spread
Vegas parlay: For the drunken Vegas parlay, I’ll actually be throwing three teams in. Not only will I be taking the Ravens and Patriots, but I’ll also be taking the 49ers. Since Lamar Jackson is battling an injury, the Ravens will be a money line bet in the parlay while I’ll be picking the Patriots to cover the spread. As for the 49ers, since they’re kind of playing a trap game, they’ll also be a money line bet. Using the odds that came out on Monday, the parlay of those three teams would pay out roughly 1.5-to-1, so a $100 bet would net $150.
Of course, even if I win this parlay, I’ll probably lose all my winnings an hour later at the blackjack table, because that’s how Vegas works. I hate how Vegas works.
NFL Week 15 picks: All the rest
Buccaneers 27-17 over Lions
Chiefs 27-20 over Broncos
Giants 27-24 over Dolphins
Eagles 23-16 over Redskins
Seahawks 20-17 over Panthers
Raiders 31-20 over Jaguars
Browns 23-20 over Cardinals
Vikings 31-24 over Chargers
49ers 34-20 over Falcons
Saints 30-23 over Colts
Best pick: Last week, Ias an underdog and upset the Patriots, and GUESS WHAT HAPPENED? The Chiefs did exactly that. Now, did I know that the the officiating crew in the game was going to completely turn on the Patriots in the second half. Of course, I did. Nearly every controversial call for the past 20 years has worked out in the Patriots favor, so it was only a matter of time before a few calls went against them, and unfortunately, all those calls just happened to come in the same game.
One of the worst calls came on a play where N’Keal Harry was called out of bounds even though he wasn’t actually out of bounds.
The call ended up costing the Patriots a touchdown and New England couldn’t fix it, because they were out of challenges. I’m guessing Bill Belichick is going to make sure the officiating crew from that game never works another Patriots game for the rest of time.
Worst pick: Going into Week 14, the Jaguars had lost four straight games by 17 or more points, and yet, I still picked them to beat the Chargers last week. Not only did I pick the Chargers to lose, but I picked them to lose ON PHILIP RIVERS‘ BIRTHDAY. If I had done any research, I would have known that Rivers was turning 38 on Sunday, and as we all know, the first rule of making NFL picks is “never pick against someone on their birthday, especially if that someone is playing the Jaguars.”
One cool thing about this game is that Chargers fans in Jacksonville actually sang “Happy Birthday” to Rivers after the win.
You can hear it much better in another video from the game, but that video has a curse word, so you’ll have to click here to see it. Anyway, if all those “Happy Birthday” singers could meet me in Vegas this week to serenade my sister, that would be amazing. You can even curse if you want. I don’t think she’d be offended.
Finally, if you guys have ever wondered if I actually know what I’m doing with these picks, here’s what my best and worst individual team picks look like heading into Week 15 (All records listed are straight-up).
Teams I’m 11-2 picking this year: Patriots, Dolphins, Ravens, Bills, Packers, Lions (10-2-1)
Teams I’m 10-3 picking this year: Redskins, Falcons, Vikings
Team I’m 5-8 picking this year, which is my worst record picking any team: 49ers, Chargers, Texans
Every other team is somewhere in-between.
Straight up in Week 14: 11-5
SU overall: 134-73-1 (Tied for 12th overall among all media members on Pickwatch)
Against the spread in Week 14: 7-7-2
ATS overall: 101-103-4 (Not tied for 12th overall)