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Week 15 NFL Picks

Cooper Kupp

Week 15 NFL Picks

This season, I’ll be providing my picks every week for you, our readers. I’ve been Gridiron Experts’ Pick ‘Em columnist for the past few seasons, and I’m glad to be back at it again! We’re hoping to have even more success this year! Each week, I’ll give you my picks for the game, and a short write-up centered around the key reason why I’m making the pick that I am. You can also click over to see all our Free NFL picks for the week with more than a dozen Gridiron Experts picking each game.

Carolina @ Buffalo (-10.5)

Last week, the Bills fought valiantly before falling in Overtime to the Bucs, while the Panthers continued their losing ways, dropping a game against Atlanta. Buffalo will be missing WR Emmanuel Sanders for this contest, so Gabriel Davis will need to fill a larger role alongside Stefon Diggs in the Bills’ receiving corps. To limit QB Josh Allen’s effectiveness, the Panthers will need to continue their success rushing the passer. Coming into this week, Carolina ranks 10th with 32 sacks on the season. If they aren’t able to, look for Allen to make the throws necessary to let Buffalo pull away. Whether it’s PJ Walker or Cam Newton under center, their top target, WR DJ Moore, is a bit hampered by a hamstring injury. Even with Moore, Walker and Newton haven’t been very effective offensively during their losing streak. RBs Ameer Abdullah and Chuba Hubbard will need to play their best games of the season and help control the time of possession battle to give the Panthers a chance here. I just don’t see it happening. With how ineffective Carolina’s offense has been recently, and the Bills’ overall defensive quality (3rd in scoring defense), I just don’t see the Panthers scoring enough points to keep this game close. I like Allen to post big numbers, and for the Bills to roll at home, covering -10.5 in the process. Bills 33-20.  

NY Jets @ Miami (-9.5)

The Jets continued their ugly season with a loss to the Saints, while the Dolphins are coming off of their bye after extending their magical winning streak to 5 wins. QB Tua Tagovailoa might be without his top weapon WR Jaylen Waddle, who is currently on the COVID-19 list along with the Dolphins’ entire RB room. Given the outbreak, it seems we’ll have Gerrid Doaks and Duke Johnson called up from the practice squad, unless Malcolm Brown is healthy enough to be activated off of IR, or if one of the 3 backs come off of the list before kickoff. In any event, Miami’s strength has been its defense recently, and the Jets haven’t taken care of the ball well at all this year. Additionally, QB Zach Wilson lost his top WR, Corey Davis, to IR last week, which makes matters even worse. I expect this to be an ugly, low-scoring game, but see Miami’s defense forcing a few turnovers and giving Tua a short field to work with. Look for Tagovailoa to target DeVante Parker to control the pace offensively, along with veteran Albert Wilson and a sprinkling of Isaiah Ford. Yes, Miami is decimated by COVID at the moment, but I still think they’ll do enough to win and cover against the lowly Jets. Dolphins 21-10.

Washington @ Philadelphia (-6.5)

The Washington Football Team currently has 17 players on the COVID-19 list, including DT Jonathan Allen, DB Kendall Fuller, QB Kyle Allen, and DE Montez Sweat among others. With starting QB Taylor Heinicke banged up at the moment as well, things could get sticky for the Football Team if their QB1 wasn’t’ healthy enough to go on Sunday. It does seem Heinicke will be healthy enough to go on Sunday, but in any event, this outbreak will hurt Washington’s chances. The Eagles also sit at 6-7 and are coming off of their Bye week. With Jalen Hurts likely returning from injury, the Eagles have their starting QB back, despite the amazing performance of Gardner Minshew in Week 13. Philadelphia will need to keep their RBs involved, and not only focus on Hurts’ legs to diversify their gameplan and keep Washington guessing. I expect this to be a typical grind-it-out NFC East Battle and feel that Washington will lean on the likes of RB Antonio Gibson and WR Terry McLaurin (trending upwards health-wise) to keep it close on the road. I like them with the points, but the Eagles money line. If Heinicke misses the game, however, I don’t think it bodes well for WFT at all. Eagles 27-22. 

Arizona (-12.5) @ Detroit

With D’Andre Swift still out of practice, and Thursday’s news that TE TJ Hockenson was done for the season, the Lions are down to the bare bottom of their skill position depth. Now, they’ll rely on the likes of RB Craig Reynolds, and WRs Amon St. Brown & Josh Reynolds to keep up with the NFL’s 4th scoring offense. To make matters worse, Detroit’s defense ranks 28th in points allowed, 30th in sacks, and 21st in interceptions. Kyler Murray should be in for a big day against Detroit but will be without his best WR, DeAndre Hopkins, who is done for the regular season with a knee injury. Instead, Murray will key in on TE Zach Ertz, and WRs Christian Kirk and AJ Green to take the bulk of the targets on Sunday. With RB James Conner shaken up and Chase Edmonds’ return date still unconfirmed, Murray might have to put more on his shoulders this week. Making matters worse for Jared Goff, Arizona touts the 4th ranked scoring defense in football. Barring any injuries to major offensive pieces, I see Murray & Co. scoring early and often, guiding Arizona to the win and cover. Cardinals 34-20. 

Houston @ Jacksonville (-4.5)

With Urban Meyer out of town, the Jaguars just might stand a chance in this football game. A huge criticism of Meyer was his misuse of Jacksonville’s best players– mainly RB James Robinson, and WRs Laviska Shenault and Marvin Jones. Now, with a new regime taking over, I believe that the Jaguars will lean on the run during this chaotic and short week of preparation. Look for Robinson to touch the ball 25+ times, and for the Jags to attempt to control the clock. While QB Davis Mills played well for Houston last weekend, his full body of work leaves much to be desired. His only main threat is WR Brandin Cooks and to an extent young TE Brevin Jordan, making this Houston team rather easy to defend. Adding to the troubles for Houston, breakout LB Kamu Grugier-Hill will miss this game, as he’s on the COVID list. In the end, if the Jaguars can unleash & establish Robinson, maybe QB Trevor Lawrence will find some success in the play-action game. I think that Jacksonville will see this game as a fresh start, and will squeak out a win at home. With that said, I think a -4.5 line is just a bit too large, and like Houston with the points here. Jaguars 21-18.

Dallas (-10.5) @ NY Giants

The 9-4 Cowboys squeaked out a win in Washington last week, while the Giants fell out in Los Angeles at the hands of the Chargers. With QB Daniel Jones out of the fold, along with WRs Kadarius Toney and John Ross. Therefore, Kenny Golladay and Sterling Shepard will see the bulk of the targets from QBs Mike Glennon and Jake Fromm. While Fromm is widely unproven, Glennon has not impressed in his limited time as the Giants’ QB. To make matters worse, Dallas’ defense is playing at an elite level, with rookie LB/EDGE Micah Parsons garnering some Defensive Player of the Year chatter. They also lead the league in interceptions with 20 on the season so far. Dallas also boasts the league’s 2nd highest-scoring offense, anchored by QB Dak Prescott and the elite rushing duo of Ezekiel Elliott and Tony Pollard. Look for Dallas to mix things up between their RB tandem, and some play-action shots to Lamb and Cooper. I don’t see the Giants putting up a ton of points on Sunday, and I certainly don’t see the Giants defense stopping this Dallas offense. Give me the Cowboys to win and cover this lofty spread on the road. Cowboys 27-14. 

Tennessee (-1.5) @ Pittsburgh

Tennessee bounced back with a win over the lowly Jaguars on Sunday, but will now head to Pittsburgh for a much more challenging test. The Steelers are well-rested after a Thursday Night showdown last week. With QB Ryan Tannehill running a Derrick Henry-less offense, it certainly shifts the game plan. However, the combination of RBs D’Onta Foreman and Dontrell Hilliard has been serviceable enough to keep the Titans’ play-action game alive thus far. WR Julio Jones is also ramping up from his IR stint, as he returned last week and is undoubtedly the best option on this Titans offense. Also looking to return for Tennessee is LB Bud Dupree, who is on IR, but has a chance to play against his former team on Sunday. The Titans’ defense is vastly improved compared to last season and is especially effective with Dupree causing some disruption on the outside. Bud’s presence opens things up for Harold Landry III and Denico Autry, who have both had nice years and will look to get after the immobile Ben Roethlisberger. Big Ben has lost a step this year but still has some elite weapons at his disposal, between WRs Chase Claypool & Diontae Johnson, and RB Najee Harris. The key to the game for Tennessee will be containing Claypool & Johnson. DB Kristian Fulton will have to continue his quality play to limit the WRs’ effectiveness and give Tannehill & the offense a chance to pull away. In the end, I love what the Titans defense has done when healthy, and see Dupree’s presence as a huge boost in this revenge game for the LB. I’ll take Tennessee by a field goal. Titans 24-21.

Atlanta @ San Francisco (-9.5)

Atlanta has been better than expected this year on its way to a 6-7 record, while San Francisco has widely underwhelmed at 7-6. RB Elijah Mitchell hasn’t practiced in a while and might miss another game on Sunday. If Mitchell can’t go, it’ll yet again be Jeff Wilson as the lead back in Kyle Shanahan’s ground attack. However, WR Deebo Samuel has also provided some backfield success this year, logging 240 yards on 33 rushes and 6 TDs to boot. Samuel should be the biggest X-Factor on the field yet again on Sunday, as he looks to lead Jimmy Garoppolo’s offense. TE George Kittle has also been phenomenal, as he’ll look to continue his hot streak against this lackluster Atlanta defense. The Falcons’ ability to keep up in this one will hinge on the play of RB Cordarrelle Patterson, as he is the heartbeat of this attack. Patterson’s ability to gain yards will open up the passing game for Matt Ryan, and then the likes of Russell Gage & rookie TE Kyle Pitts can be at their best as well. With that said, I have concerns that Atlanta will be able to make the big defensive stops at the end of the game. I do like San Fran to take this game at home, but find the 9.5-point spread a bit too lofty. I’ll take Atlanta with the points, but SF on the money line. 49ers 31-25.

Green Bay (-5.5) @ Baltimore

QB Lamar Jackson looks highly questionable to play. Despite the performances of Tyler Huntley so far this season, it’s hard to get excited about the Ravens without Lamar. Without Jackson, Huntley will need to force the ball to the likes of TE Mark Andrews, WR Marquise Brown, and rookie Rashod Bateman. In the meantime, the rushing attack isn’t nearly as effective when it’s not centered around Jackson. While Devonta Freeman has flashes of his former self, he’s not quite a player that a defensive coordinator fears. QB Aaron Rodgers is hampered by a foot injury but should find his groove as he usually does running this Packers offense. I expect Rodgers to shred this underwhelming Baltimore secondary, connecting with WR Davante Adams at will, and mixing in the likes of RB Aaron Jones through the air, along with WR Allen Lazard. With RB AJ Dillon pacing the rushing attack, I just don’t see how the Ravens can keep up with Matt LaFleur’s offense. I’ll take Green Bay to knock off a Jackson-less Baltimore and to cover in the process. Packers 27-20.

Seattle @ Los Angeles Rams (-4.5)

The Rams are going to be missing a lot of firepower for this contest. DB Jalen Ramsey, WR Odell Beckham, RB Darrell Henderson, and LB Von Miller are all on the COVID list at the time of writing. With so many starters on the sideline, LA will need their other studs to step up and compensate for the missing pieces. Sony Michel might see the bulk of the carries at RB whether Henderson plays or not. Michel was generally effective last week and is certainly a viable veteran substitution for the breakout Henderson. With Beckham out, Matthew Stafford will need to hone in on WR Cooper Kupp and the young Van Jefferson with most of his targets. Kupp has been unbelievable this year and should feast on the Seattle secondary. With WR Tyler Lockett on the COVID list, and WRs DK Metcalf, Freddie Swain, and Dee Eskridge missing practice this week, Russell Wilson cold be very strapped for options come Sunday. Should all or some of these WRs miss time, it looks like the Seahawks will deploy a strong dose of Rashad Penny, DeeJay Dallas, and others. In any event, Michel, Kupp, and Jefferson are far more fearsome than what the Seahawks will trot out. Combine that with the better defensive team overall, and I’ll pick the Rams to win and cover, amidst all of this chaos. Rams 31-25.

New Orleans @ Tampa Bay (-10.5)

The Saints got back in the win column last week, while the Buccaneers stayed there with an overtime triumph over the Bills. That was Tampa Bay’s 4th consecutive win, and Tom Brady is doing all he can to make it another big year for the Bucs. Tampa might be without RB Leonard Fournette, who hasn’t practiced this week. If he can’t go, it’ll likely be Ronald Jones in the backfield for the Bucs. Not only does Tampa Bay have the league’s top-scoring offense, but they’re solid defensively as well. They rank 6th with 35 sacks and 4th with 15 interceptions. However, they do tend to allow some yardage to opposing QBs through the air. Luckily, Taysom Hill isn’t the type to sling the ball 45 times per game. Hill has been up-and-down as New Orleans’ starter but will need to get the ball into the hands of his best player, Alvin Kamara to give the Saints a chance. New Orleans’ defense is also solid, but I’m not quite convinced they’ll be able to keep Brady off the board on Sunday. Look for the all-time great QB to turn in a workmanlike performance, pepper Chris Godwin and Rob Gronkowski with targets, and lead Tampa to a win and cover on Sunday Night. Buccaneers 29-17.

Enjoy the games! Until next week…

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