Chuck’s Choices: NFL Week 15

Blake BortlesLast Week: 2-3

Season: 34-29-2 (.540)

The Best Laid Plans…

Week 14 was a long, strange trip. Our two winners were fairly comfortable victories, with the Browns winning by 14 points as 1.5-point favorites and never really being threatened, and the Jaguars coasting to a lop-sided 51-16 win over the Colts. The first two losses were lost causes almost from the start. The Bengals never seemed to threaten the Steelers after losing QB Andy Dalton to a broken thumb in the first half, ultimately losing by 13. The Buccaneers fell behind the Saints 14-0 and never recovered in a 24-17 loss. The Monday night win we were hoping for with the Dolphins never really had a chance against a hot Eli Manning/Odell Beckham Jr. combo as the Giants finished off Miami 31-24 in a game which was not as close as the final score.

The good news is that there are still three weeks left in the regular season, and all sorts of opportunities await us in our quest to end up in the black. Before we get to this weeks picks, here are a few others we like this week–just not enough to make the final cut as one of the five best Chuck’s Choices: Kennedy, my 8-year old neighbor, almost talked me into the Falcons (+3 at Jacksonville). In the end, it was just nonsensical to ask a team who has lost six games in a row to cover a spread on the road. It was all I could do to lay off the Browns this week (+15 at Seattle). You’d have to be a nitwit to pick against the Seahawks at home, but sometimes the nit-wittiest picks are the wisest. Another of our staff, Steve the Desert Tortoise, liked the 49ers at home (+5.5 vs. Cincinnati) and this could have very well made the cut for Week 15. It was a simple case of having five other picks in which we were more confident. And here they are:

Chuck’s Choices for Week 15

(Home team in ALL CAPS. Chuck’s Choice is first team named. Point spreads courtesy of Westgate Las Vegas via SportsMemo as of Friday night.)

Jay Cutler

Bears QB Jay Cutler

Bears (+5.5) over VIKINGS  Since 2010 these two teams have played 12 times, with the Bears holding an 8-4 advantage. In games Chicago has lost to the Vikings in that time span, they have lost only once by more than five points (21-14 in 2012). In fact, their last 10 games this season, the Bears have lost by more than five points only once, and that was a 26-20 overtime loss to the 49ers. The point is, even though the Bears have a poor record, they are playing good football. After having their playoff hopes pretty much dashed last week, you might expect a letdown. But this is a game with a division foe against whom Chicago has had success. John Fox will keep them playing hard, and the Vikings still have enough key injuries on defense to allow the Bears to stay in the game and give K Robbie Gould a chance to redeem himself. Bears 27, Vikings 26

RAVENS (+7) over Chiefs Yes, the Chiefs have won seven games in a row and, yes, the Ravens were humiliated by the Seahawks 38-6 at home last week. Kansas City, however, is not Seattle. The Chiefs are not a team with the offensive firepower nor the mentality to cover a 7-point spread on the road. Coach John Harbaugh, like Chicago’s John Fox, will not let his team give up at the end of the season. The Chiefs have not played an early game in the Eastern time zone since week 4, and may not score until they wake up at halftime. Chiefs 20, Ravens 17

Phillip Rivers

Rivers is still playing hard

CHARGERS (-2) over Dolphins  This could be the last game for the Chargers on their home field in San Diego, as the most experts see them moving to Los Angeles next season. Maybe that has something to do with this game, and maybe it doesn’t. What makes a difference is that the Chargers are still playing hard, and the Dolphins seem to have left early for the off-season. How motivated can they be, making a cross-country trek after getting beaten by the Giants on Monday night? San Diego is 5th in the league against the pass. They are 29th vs. RBs in fantasy on the year, but have been very good in the past three games, limiting opposing runners to around 13 points per game. Though they probably will be in the lineup, Miami standouts WR Jarvis Landry and RB Lamar Miller are both nursing injuries. Chargers 37, Dolphins 20

Broncos (+7) over STEELERS  It is always wise to take a team with a good defense who is getting points. The Broncos have a great defense and they are getting spotted a touchdown. The Steelers have a fabulous passing game with Ben Roethlisberger and a fleet of great WRs, but Denver has given up only two touchdowns to wide receivers all season. On the other side of the ball, the Steelers are 27th in the league in surrendering points to WRs. The loss to Oakland was not on QB Brock Osweiler, as his WRs had the dropsies all afternoon. That won’t happen again. Coach Gary Kubiak will probably try to run the ball against the Steel Curtain, but will have to let Osweiler take some shots downfield eventually. Broncos 24, Steelers 21

Drew Brees

Saints QB Drew Brees

SAINTS (-3) over Lions  There are several trends, spelled out on R.J. Bell’s Pregame.comthat make the Saints a good proposition here. In their last 14 prime time home games, the Saints are 13-1 against the spread (ATS). In the Lions’ last 22 games played in December or later, they are 4-18 ATS. As a road underdog, Detroit is 4-13-1 ATS. The Saints love playing in New Orleans, and QB Drew Brees loves showing off for the home crowd. His time with coach Sean Payton looks like it may end after this season, and Brees looks like he is making the most of it. The defense has been the Achilles’ Heel for the Saints, but has improved much under new coordinator Dennis Allen. This may be a very entertaining Monday Night Football game, indeed. Saints 45, Lions 37

*Follow me on Twitter: @Chuck_Pod

*Hear all the picks each week on the Fantasy Pulse Podcast with Josh Johnson and Nick Wagner on Dynasty Football Warehouse



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