Week 15 Review, TNF Preivew

Posted: 12/22/2016 by levcohen in Football

If you picked a road team last week to cover the spread, you’re probably sitting pretty right now. Road teams went 9-7 straight up and 12-4 against the spread in Week 15, with only Los Angeles, San Francisco, Cleveland, and Detroit (you’re in great company there, Lions) failing to cover the spread as the road team. It’s a further reminder that home teams don’t have as much of an advantage as they used to. There was a lot of bad weather last week, and that would normally be a good time to pick the team that is more acclimated to the weather — the home team. The success of road teams is just something to keep in mind going forward, especially with two giant divisional battles coming on Christmas.

I’m keeping the same five teams in the top tier. We’re at the point of the season that a loss, even the home loss the Chiefs just suffered against the Titans, shouldn’t really change that much for the top teams. I considered restoring Atlanta, but I don’t know how much credit they should get for blowing out the Rams and Niners in consecutive weeks. And maybe I should think about putting the 10-4 Giants in the top tier. It’s time to eliminate the Vikings, who need two straight wins to close the season and a whole lot more to make the playoffs. Even after the Colts demolished the Vikings last week, they still saw their playoff hopes nearly evaporate when both Tennessee and Houston came back to win. We’re left with 15 teams for 12 spots, although both Miami and Tampa have legitimate chances to make the playoffs after I eliminated them very early in the season. So there are really 17 teams fighting for the 12 playoff spots, which kind of feels like a lot given that there are only two weeks left. Per DVOA, seven teams have at least a 94.8% chance of making the playoffs, but only one additional team has better than a 71.1% chance. So a lot of things can still change before the playoffs start.

Top tier: New England, Dallas, Seattle, Kansas City, Oakland
Eliminated teams: Cleveland, Chicago, Buffalo, New Orleans, San Francisco, Miami, New York Jets, Jacksonville, Los Angeles, Tampa Bay, San Diego, Cincinnati, Carolina, Arizona, Philadelphia, Minnesota, Indianapolis

  • This is kind of obvious, but I still feel that it needs to be said: there are four teams who, at this point in the season, are just so bad that it’s stupid to expect them to do anything. Those teams are Cleveland, the Jets, San Francisco, and the Rams, four of the five teams to lose by 20+ last week. Of course, I picked the Jets to upset the Dolphins and the Browns and Niners to cover, so what do I know. I don’t think I’ll be making that mistake again. The four are a combined 15-39-2 against the spread this year and have been even worse recently.
  • The Buccaneers are good. I don’t know if they’re going to make the playoffs, because they have two difficult divisional games to close the season and might need to win both to make it, but their last six games have given me enough evidence to say that they’re good. They pretty much fought Dallas to a draw last week. If Jameis Winston had had a couple of more ticks to throw the ball down the field, we could be talking about a 27-26 win right now after a long Mike Evans touchdown. They ended up losing 26-20, but they acquitted themselves well, just as they had done in their previous five games, all wins.
  • Brock Osweiler got benched, and everybody should be happy (besides the front office). The $72 million man is just really bad at football, or at least has been this season. You know you’re bad when you make DeAndre Hopkins, the guy who might be best at making bad quarterbacks look good, look bad. Tom Savage isn’t the second coming, but is it a coincidence that Hopkins had his best game since Week 2 despite catching zero passes from Osweiler, who played the first third of the game? Of course not. It’s also no coincidence that the Texans were down 13-0 when Osweiler got benched (against Jacksonville!) and ended up winning 21-20. Might this be what they need to win out and make the playoffs? I wouldn’t be shocked.

12-4 straight up… 135-87-2 for the season
9-7 against the spread… 114-102-8
10-6 over/under… 116-105-3

2-2 on upset picks… 22-29-1
1-0 on lock… 10-5

Best picks of the week:
Cowboys 23, Buccaneers 20… Actual result: Cowboys 26, Buccaneers 20
Seahawks 26, Rams 9… Actual result: Seahawks 24, Rams 3
Raiders 24, Chargers 20… Actual result: Raiders 19, Chargers 16

Worst picks of the week:
Jets 17, Dolphins 14… Actual result: Dolphins 34, Jets 13
Redskins 34, Panthers 24… Actual result: Panthers 26, Redskins 15
Bills 26, Browns 21… Actual result: Bills 33, Browns 13

New York Giants (10-4, 8-5-1 against the spread) at Philadelphia Eagles (5-9, 6-8):*
Spread: Giants favored by 1
Over/under: 42.5
My prediction: It’s kind of gone unnoticed, but the Eagles have been kind of frisky these past two weeks. Playing against playoff contenders, they lost by a combined six points against the Redskins and Ravens and had legitimate chances to win both games. They’ve now lost nine of their last 11 games, but I think Vegas is right to give them a little credit and respect. They’re also getting Lane Johnson back from suspension and Alan Barbre healthy, so the offensive line that powered their surprising 3-0 start is back. Darren Sproles also returns, which should give the Eagles the opportunity to move the ball at least a little against the now-mighty Giants defense. Unfortunately, Carson Wentz has a 6:12 TD:INT ratio since Week 7 and has been under five yards per attempt four times in that span. The Giants just held the Lions and Cowboys to a combined 13 points while constantly harassing Matthew Stafford and Dak Prescott, so this isn’t a great matchup for the Eagles.

On the other side of the ball, it’s worth mentioning again that the Giants are not very good offensively. It’s also worth mentioning again that, however obvious it is that Odell Beckham is their only weapon, it seems impossible to shut OBJ down. He’s fourth in the NFL with 1,173 receiving yards and tied for third with 10 scores. This week, he gets a plum matchup against the same secondary he torched for two touchdowns in the first matchup between these teams. This game really comes down to how much the Eagles give up to Odell. I’m pretty confident that Philly will get its 13-20 points now that the line is back, so the question is whether the Giants can top that. My gut feeling is that the Eagles will play all-out on defense and that New York will have a tough time moving the ball. This is going to be another ugly TNF game. I know that the better team usually wins on TNF, but I can’t shake the feeling that the Giants are far worse than people think and that all of these close games are going to come back to haunt them sooner rather than later. It might not be this week, but I’d be mad at myself if it is and I miss it. I’m not going to let that happen. Do we even know that the Giants are better? Give me the Eagles 19-17.
Eagles cover


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