NFL Week 15 Upset Alert: Road Dogs Ready to Bark Again

For the second week in a row, the NFL schedule in Week 15 is peppered with games where one team is favored solely due to home field advantage.

The sportsbooks traditionally set the value of playing at home at three points in the spread. That means any home team favored by three points or fewer is not actually the better team, on paper.

There are a half dozen such games this week, and another where the spread is 3.5 in favor of the home team. We look at our favorite upset picks among the road dogs in name only.

Baltimore Ravens vs. Cleveland Browns

Saturday, 17 December 2022 – 04:30 PM EST at FirstEnergy Stadium

Teams Analysis

The Ravens are getting less respect than any other good team in the NFL. Baltimore is tied for the AFC North lead at 9-4 and has won two straight and six of the last seven games. They’ve also held four of their last five opponents to two touchdowns or less.

And yet, the Ravens are underdogs for the second straight week. That’s largely due to the absence of star quarterback Lamar Jackson, expected to miss his second straight game with a knee injury.

Backup Tyler Huntley will start after clearing the concussion protocol. So the Baltimore quarterback picture is not the best. They’ll be facing Deshaun Watson, who makes his first start in front of his new hometown Cleveland fans.

Cleveland is tied for last in the division at 5-8.

The Pick

Look for the Ravens to run the ball, and they received good injury news on that front, with J.K. Dobbins returning with 120 yards last week. He’d been out eight weeks, and it’s the first time Baltimore had its top two running backs together since 2020.

Look for Baltimore’s defense to make it a rough welcoming to Cleveland for Watson.

NFL Pick: Ravens ML (+136) at SBK

Detroit Lions vs. New York Jets

Sunday, 18 December 2022 – 01:00 PM EST at MetLife Stadium

Teams Analysis

This might be a case of expecting regression to the mean. Detroit appears to be playing its best football of the season, coming off back-to-back wins, including an upset of the first-place Vikings last week. The Lions have won five of six and have scored over 30 in four of their last five.

The Jets, meanwhile, have lost two in a row and three of the last four, yet are still favored by a point and a half.

The Lions have a top-five offense in both yards and scoring, while the Jets defense is nearly as good. New York will likely be without defensive tackle Quinnen Williams, however. He left last week’s game with a leg injury.

The Pick

While Lions O vs. Jets D is the matchup on the marquee, the other side of the ball could be what decides things. Quarterback Mike White is nursing a rib injury. He, and coach Robert Saleh, both say he’ll play. He, or backup Joe Flacco, will face a Lions defense that was the league’s worst at the end of October.

Changes to coaches, schemes and personnel have resulted in a remarkable turnaround over the last five weeks, however.

Look for the Lions to shut down the Jets and score enough on the other side of the ball to pull away.

NFL Pick: Lions ML (+110) at BetMGM

Arizona Cardinals vs. Denver Broncos

Sunday, 18 December 2022 – 04:00 PM EST at Empower Field at Mile High

Teams Analysis

This game began the week as a pick ’em and has been bet into a three-point edge for the Broncos. The Cardinals have looked bad in losing their last three, and five of six, plus they’ll be playing without starting quarterback Kyler Murray.

Meanwhile, Russell Wilson was a limited participant in practice on Thursday, as he works his way through the NFL concussion protocol. The fact that he’s back on the field and a possibility to play on Sunday is likely behind the late money on Denver.

The Pick

The thing is, that money is still picking the Broncos, who have been a clown car all season. They are 3-10, have lost five straight and have scored the fewest points in the NFL, 17 points behind the next most inept offense. And most of that was done with Wilson taking the snaps.

Look for the Cardinals to get well again with capable veteran Colt McCoy leading them past the truly terrible Broncos.

NFL Pick: Cardinals ML (+142) at SBK