Scott’s Seven NFL Picks: Week 15

By Scott Kacsmar

The NFL has a Week 15 schedule that features a Saturday tripleheader where we like the underdogs. We also have NFL picks for Sunday’s slate, which features an excellent matchup between the Bills and Cowboys in Buffalo.

In recapping our Week 14 NFL picks, it was frankly a disaster. Christian McCaffrey breaking a 70-yard run on the first play and getting taken out for the short touchdown almost hurt as much as Tyreek Hill’s ankle injury on Monday night in the upset of the year by Tennessee. We would have hit the Broncos-Chargers parlay if Justin Herbert had not suffered a season-ending finger injury before halftime. The Lions and Colts also chose to play one of their worst offensive games of the year, failing on multiple tries to get to the 20-point mark with one more touchdown. The Bills and Chiefs also played their worst offensive game in the Josh Allen-Patrick Mahomes era. It was a rough one we had to make up for this week.

Each Friday, we will share seven NFL picks that we are including in our bets for the weekend. These can be prop picks, spreads, totals, alternate lines, moneylines, teasers, same game parlays, etc. We like to think outside the box instead of just telling you to pick a 10-point favorite to win. You can play the picks separately or parlay your favorite choices together.

Note: Picks are ranked in order of confidence (highest to lowest).

  1. Eagles-Seahawks: Getting Back on Track for Philly

Lose a couple of games and things are going sour in Philadelphia in a hurry with reports of players being tired of a predictable offense. The offense was certainly poor in Dallas last week with no drives reaching the end zone, but your best players losing three fumbles certainly didn’t help there. Got any non-fumble plays to call, Nick?

But I think the Eagles will get back on track this week. Seattle is on its own 4-game losing slide, and the Seahawks are not as good as the 49ers and Cowboys. They’re not better than the Chiefs and Bills too, who the Eagles found ways to beat before this recent losing streak.

It sounds like Geno Smith is trending towards returning for the Seahawks, but he has not been sharp outside of that Dallas game, which the team still lost. The running game is inconsistent and the defense is poor.

The Eagles still have the most reliable play in the book with the Tush Push, and we expect Jalen Hurts to find the end zone again after getting blanked last week. But the Eagles also struggled to even get into the red zone, so Dallas was certainly ready for that game. The Eagles just have to play better as the No. 1 seed is still within reach should the 49ers lose to a team like Baltimore, and the Cowboys still have to play the Bills and Dolphins on the road. Still, a lot to play for with the Eagles.

Scott’s NFL Pick: Jalen Hurts Anytime Touchdown/Eagles ML (+138 at Caesars Sportsbook)

  1. Texans-Titans: Home Sweet Home for Tennessee

Tennessee’s amazing comeback win in Miami is still hard to believe. That was only the fourth time since 2001 that a team took possession in the final 5:00 with a 14-point deficit and won the game and the only time they won in regulation.

It was the second game in a row where the Titans scored 28 points, but it was also the first time all year they scored more than 16 points away from Nashville. The Titans have had a significant road-home scoring split this year, and they have been surprisingly good at home with totals of 17, 27, 27, 28, and 28 points in Nashville.

The Titans are home this week, coming off the huge upset win, and they are rocking throwback uniforms from the Houston Oilers days. What a slap in the face to the Houston Texans, who are coming off a rough 30-6 loss to the Jets. The shocker in that game was that it was scoreless at halftime, yet they gave up 30 in one half to Zach Wilson, who had 300 yards and 3 touchdown passes.

If Wilson can do that, then what can Will Levis do coming off his first 300-yard passing game? Derrick Henry is also fired up and has a history of huge games against Houston (four 200-yard rushing games), and Henry has scored multiple touchdowns in 3 straight games.

The quarterback situation is up in the air for Houston with C.J. Stroud leaving last week’s game with a concussion. But we will ignore that side of the ball and trust Tennessee to stay hot with over 20.5 points against a mediocre Houston defense.

Scott’s NFL Pick: Titans Over 20.5 Points (+100 at FanDuel)

  1. Vikings-Bengals: The Nick Mullens vs. Jake Browning Backup Masterclass

We have a 4-leg parlay for this battle of backup quarterbacks that will hopefully be less one-sided than last week’s game between the Bengals and Colts:

Nick Mullens 200+ Passing Yards
Jake Browning 200+ Passing Yards
Joe Mixon 3+ Receptions
Over 33.5 Points

Nick Mullens is taking over at quarterback for the Vikings after 7 rough quarters by Joshau Dobbs. Mullens entered the game last week in Vegas in the fourth quarter and was able to throw for 83 yards and lead a game-winning drive. Mullens has experience in the system and has made 17 starts in his career, most of them with Kyle Shanahan in San Francisco where he passed for 248.1 yards per game.

Mullens’ passing line is 248.5 in this game, impressively high for a backup making his first start of the season. But given his history and the way Kevin O’Connell usually likes to run his offense through the air, it makes sense. The Bengals also have been giving up a lot of yards on defense this year. Justin Jefferson is also back in the lineup after leaving last week’s game with a chest injury.

Browning has been very impressive for the Bengals and has thrown for 227, 354, and 275 yards in his 3 starts with the team. We may be shortchanging him here, but it’s a safe pick to go with 200 yards.

Part of Browning’s success has been throwing to his running backs, and Joe Mixon is enjoying one of the best receiving seasons of his career. He has at least 3 catches in 9-of-13 games this year. The Vikings blitz at the highest rate of any defense (47%) this year, and they have allowed 70 receptions to running backs, the 7th-highest total in 2023. So, Mixon could be a good outlet receiver on screens and checkdowns for Browning.

Finally, we think both teams could get to 17-plus points, but instead of playing a prop like that again, we’ll just go with an alternate line of over 33.5 points. The Vikings usually score 17 under O’Connell prior to these last two awful weeks of offense. The Bengals have scored 34 by themselves in back-to-back games with Browning.

Scott’s NFL Pick: Same Game Parlay – Nick Mullens 200+ Passing Yards & Jake Browning 200+ Passing Yards & Joe Mixon 3+ Receptions & Over 33.5 Points (+177 at FanDuel)

  1. Giants-Saints: The Tommy DeVito Show

In a season where so many veteran quarterbacks are struggling, and No. 1 overall pick Bryce Young has been awful in Carolina, a story like undrafted rookie Tommy DeVito is fascinating in New York.

DeVito has won his last 3 starts, the third undrafted rookie quarterback since 1950 to do so, and while he may not be playing elite football, he has not thrown a pick in those games, he has shown solid mobility, and he is completing 72.2% of his passes with a 119.8 passer rating.

Basically, this is the offense coach Brian Daboll wanted to see with Daniel Jones, but they are getting it for pennies on the dollar with DeVito’s super-cheap contract. He also cut down his abysmal sack rate by not taking any sacks against Green Bay on Monday night. In fact, it was the first game in NFL history where a quarterback completed 80% of his passes, rushed for 70 yards and didn’t take a sack or throw a pick. Tommy DeVito, the Paisan is 1-of-1 at something.

While the Giants are enjoying the DeVito story, the Saints are having buyer’s remorse with Derek Carr, who has struggled all season to put points on the board. Last week it was a 28-6 win over Carolina, but that’s misleading as it was 14-6 in the fourth quarter with half of those points coming on a special teams play for the Saints. Carr completed 12-of-18 passes for 37 yards and a pick to start that game, which is unfathomably bad.

Carr has been a checkdown merchant at the expense of the offense at many points this year, and with the way the Giants love to blitz quarterbacks, this could be another game where he falls in love with insignificant gains.

Saquon Barkley has rushed for over 80 yards in 2-of-3 games coming in, so if you can combine a decent run attack with DeVito making quick decisions and not turning the ball over, I actually think the Giants have a real shot at upsetting the Saints in this one. New Orleans has not impressed this season, and with those comebacks Carr was supposed to lead, the Saints are a league-worst 0-5 at fourth-quarter comeback opportunities this year.

Even DeVito has one now after the Green Bay win. Let’s go nuts and bank on another. Take the Giants with the points (+6) if you want to play it safe, but we are rolling with the Goodfella at quarterback.

Scott’s NFL Pick: Giants ML (+225 at FanDuel)

  1. Commanders-Rams: Matthew Stafford Playoff Run Coming?

We have a 4-leg parlay that is very favorable for another strong game by Matthew Stafford that should lead to a victory for the Rams:

Matthew Stafford Over 1.5 Passing Touchdowns
Matthew Stafford 225+ Passing Yards
Cooper Kupp Anytime Touchdown Scorer
Rams ML

Stafford has been on fire over the last 3 games with 10 touchdowns to 1 interception and a 111.0 passer rating. The Rams have scored at least 31 points in each game, and this is the best things have looked for them since the Super Bowl run two seasons ago.

Now you give Stafford a home game against the No. 32 scoring defense from Washington, and it is hard to imagine he doesn’t throw another game with multiple touchdowns and 225-plus yards.

Cooper Kupp also looks to be back on track with touchdowns in back-to-back games. The Washington defense has been terrible against No. 1 receivers this year, and we know Kupp can score from long distance in addition to the red zone plays. He should be one of Stafford’s scoring targets again this week.

Throw it all together and the Rams should be able to post a big score in this one while the Commanders have recently struggled to break 20 points with Sam Howell at quarterback. Maybe Aaron Donald can notch some sacks in this one as Howell continues to lead all players in sacks taken.

Scott’s NFL Pick: Same Game Parlay – Matthew Stafford Over 1.5 Passing Touchdowns & Matthew Stafford 225+ Passing Yards & Cooper Kupp Anytime Touchdown Scorer & Rams ML (+268 at FanDuel)

  1. Saturday Underdogs: Steelers and Broncos

After a great week for NFL underdogs, we are backing a couple of road dogs this Saturday with the Steelers (+1.5) and Broncos (+4.5).

Steelers (+1.5) at Colts

Mike Tomlin has always been a better underdog than favorite. The numbers back it up too. Since 2007, Tomlin’s Steelers are a league-best 55-33-5 ATS (62.5%), the only team above 60%. As a favorite, the Steelers cover 47.3% of the time, ranked 19th in that time.

But people are piling on Tomlin more than ever this week after back-to-back losses at home to 2-win teams. The Steelers lost both games legitimately too, and they looked bad on both sides of the ball.

But I think this is an ideal matchup for the road Steelers to get back on track and pull off an upset win, though we are just going with the spread. T.J. Watt and Alex Highsmith are back from the concussion protocol, and they can cause havoc for Gardner Minshew, who has struggled with strip-sacks this year. The Colts also have not run the ball well with Zack Moss these last few weeks.

Mitch Trubisky starts another game for Kenny Pickett (ankle), but he should have more success against this defense than he had against a Bill Belichick-coached defense that baits you into mistakes. The Steelers are able to run the ball against most opponents. They beat the Colts in a 24-17 game last year in Indy around this time of year.

This is what Tomlin does. Every time you think his non-losing streak is going to end, he finds a way to win a key game as an underdog. The Colts, who have not looked sharp for weeks, are the right opponent for this to happen.

Broncos (+4.5) at Lions

I know, picking Tomlin and Sean Payton to cover as road dogs is a bit boring, isn’t it? But there’s a reason they will likely end up in Canton one day and these other coaches won’t. The Broncos are trying to make the turnaround from 1-5 to the playoffs, and they have been doing it with an incredible run of takeaways on defense.

You might say that’s not sustainable, which it usually isn’t. But you know who has been struggling to protect the ball lately? The Lions have 10 giveaways in their last 4 games for a minus-7 turnover differential – music to Denver’s ears as the short fields have been key to their wins.

The Detroit defense has also fallen apart, allowing at least 26 points to all 5 opponents since the bye week. Since Week 7, the Lions have allowed the second-most points in the league, looking more like the team that started 2022 with a 1-6 record than the team that started this year with promise on that side of the ball.

Russell Wilson in prime time is usually good for some close-game shenanigans, and Courtland Sutton has been on a tear with a touchdown catch almost every week. I think the Broncos can win the turnover battle again and get the cover, if not the upset win on the road in this one.

Scott’s NFL Pick: Parlay – Steelers +1.5 & Broncos +4.5 (+256 at FanDuel)

  1. Cowboys-Bills: Fun Shootout (Fingers Crossed)

Last but not least, we have a 3-leg parlay for the big showdown between the Bills and Cowboys, a game that has implications for the playoffs in both conferences:

Josh Allen Anytime Touchdown Scorer
Dak Prescott Over 2.5 Passing Touchdowns
CeeDee Lamb 6+ Receptions

In a big game, the Bills always want the ball in Josh Allen’s hands often, and he has been at his best as a rusher this season with a rushing touchdown in 9 of his last 11 games. He has 10 of the team’s 15 rushing touchdowns this year, and it is hard to argue with the strategy as Buffalo ranks No. 2 in touchdown rate in the red zone (66.7%). I’d bet on him to get another one in this game.

Meanwhile, the only passer with more passing touchdowns than Allen this year is Dak Prescott, who has 28. He is riding a 7-game streak with multiple touchdown passes, but we think he can get to 3 in this game. You can tease it down to 2 if you want to be safe (still +337 odds), but I think Dak is ready for a big road game to show why he’s an MVP favorite. The Buffalo defense has been solid this year, but it has suffered some key injuries and can be vulnerable against an elite offense like Dallas, the No. 1 scoring team in the league.

Finally, CeeDee Lamb’s increased targets and usage have been key to Dallas’ strong run on offense that started after the San Francisco loss. Lamb has had at least 6 catches in 7-of-8 games since then. The Bills lost corner Tre’Davious White for the season and lack a shutdown corner to take on Lamb.

Scott’s NFL Pick: Same Game Parlay – Josh Allen Anytime Touchdown Scorer & Dak Prescott Over 2.5 Passing Touchdowns & CeeDee Lamb 6+ Receptions (+726 at FanDuel)

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