Last Updated Aug 30, 2021, 9:52 AM
Hot & Not Report - Week 15
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Straight Up - SU, Against the Spread - ATS, Over-Under - O/U
Week 15 NFL Betting Angles
Fifteen weeks into the NFL season and I'm getting excited for this regular season to conclude, if for no other reason then it's getting harder and harder to find significant and actionable patterns in all the raw data each week to craft this piece.
Streaks and runs that I've brought up in the recent past all eventually come to an end – fading the highest-scoring team over their past three games and backing the lowest-scoring team in their past three games went 0-2 ATS on Sunday (fade Tennessee, back Cincinnati) – which was to be expected from someone like me who believes riding streaks in this industry is flawed to begin with.
Those same two teams – Tennessee and Cincinnati – enter Week 15 in those same roles (fade Tennessee, play on Cincinnati) in the PPG over the last three situations.
But riding streaks is still a popular way to approach handicapping games, so this week's piece is for all the streak chasers out there that may prefer to use this year's data only.
It's actionable enough for this week for a few specific games, but as always, should only be used as support – if they so choose - for one's overall argument in why to back a team.
The following information also suggests the limitations there are with riding streaks from a pure numbers standpoint in oddsmakers adjusting spreads (and totals), so keep that in mind as well.
Hopefully I can continue to find the patterns in the raw data these next two weeks, but for Week 15, let's go with this:
-- The Philadelphia Eagles have never won two straight games ATS in 2020
-- The New York Giants and Miami Dolphins have not lost two straight games ATS in 2020
Thanks to the Dolphins late comeback and squeaking through the back door against Kansas City on Sunday, they actually aren't applicable in Week 15, but after the Eagles won and covered against New Orleans, and the Giants lost both SU and ATS to Arizona, we've now got those two NFC East teams in roles of fade and play on in Week 15.
Fading the Eagles means that backing the Arizona Cardinals – the team to just beat NYG – as favorites of around a TD currently would make the card.
Who Could You Follow in Week 15?
- New York Giants
- Arizona Cardinals
Based on what we've seen last, going against the underdog Eagles will be tough for some to stomach given they looked like a team that was completely rejuvenated with the quarterback switch they made handing things over to rookie Jalen Hurts.
Hurts and the Eagles offense did a lot of things that worked against one of the league's top defenses on Sunday, and now they get to face a Cardinals team that's got a defense that's a huge step back (statistically) then what the Eagles saw from New Orleans.
Interestingly enough, another Hurts start this week pits the last two Oklahoma Sooners QB's against one another, the second time in their young careers that Hurts and Kyler Murray will share a field with one another.
The first came back in the 2018 College Football Playoff semifinal game between Oklahoma and Alabama, when Hurts was the backup QB for Alabama in a 45-34 win by the Crimson Tide.
Hurts will throw more than one pass attempt this time around though, but at the same time, you can't take a whole lot away from Arizona and how thoroughly they dominated the Giants. That same New York team that is 1-1 SU (2-0 ATS) and probably should have swept the season series with Philadelphia.
The Eagles are a different team now with the QB switch, but it's still a rookie QB making his first career road start, historically a bad situation for backing said rookies.
But as has been the case in 2020, rookie QB's making their first road start has completely flipped (4-0 ATS) - thanks to no screaming fans - as there has been a 35-30 loss (but ATS win) for Joe Burrow in Cincinnati @ Cleveland, a 34-31 SU win (and ATS win) for Tua Tagovailoa and Miami @ this same Arizona Cardinals team, a 38-31 SU loss (but ATS win) for Justin Herbert and LAC @ Tampa Bay, and a 24-20 SU loss (but ATS win) for Jake Luton and Jacksonville vs Green Bay.
So pick which streak you want to side with there.
Backing the New York Giants this week means that you'll be taking points with them at home vs Cleveland on Sunday Night Football, a line that will undoubtedly react to whatever the Browns performance on Monday Night Football turns out to be. As of this writing – three hours before MNF – New York is catching +3.5 most places as the home 'dog there, a number that likely won't drop too much further should Cleveland put up a stinker vs Baltimore, but one that will surely grow should the Browns go out and win convincingly on MNF.
It's the second straight week in this piece that the suggestion has been to go against Cleveland, so it will be interesting to see how that plays out. The Cleveland Browns as a “hunted” team is such a new concept to wrap your head around this year after so many years of futility, and yet, even in situations that have nothing to directly do with Cleveland, we can still find positive situations for their opponent to suggest fading Cleveland like the popular choice has been for years. That's got to feel like par for the course for Browns fans.
No NFL team this year has had an ATS winning streak of longer than 5 games
So you want to subscribe to riding ATS streaks huh?
Well, what if I told you that only 10 of the 32 teams this year have had losing ATS streaks of more than three games?
What about winning ATS streaks of more than three games only happening for 10 of the 32 NFL teams as well?
Sure, every game and team should be taken under their own consideration and merits, but this year in the NFL, good and bad ATS runs seem to get capped out at three games. The worst of those was Dallas starting 0-8 ATS, with a six-game losing streak against the number for the L.A. Chargers and N.Y. Jets coming in a close 2nd.
The other two teams to go on five-game losing ATS runs – Arizona and Jacksonville – each covered the number the following week (Arizona was this past week vs Giants), and interestingly enough, it's the Kansas City Chiefs who are next up in Week 15 having dropped their last five against the number.
Who Could You Fade in Week 15?
- Buffalo Bills
The Chiefs visit New Orleans on SNF which you know will be hyped up in those awful ways I mentioned last week, but this is not about finding an outside-of-the-box reason to back a KC team that looks to be the best in football.
It's about fading the one team that comes into Week 15 on a 5-0 ATS run currently; the Buffalo Bills.
Only WWE commissioner Vince McMahon has a bigger annual budget for breakable tables than "Bills Mafia" members do, although that could have changed with how flush Bills backers bankrolls are right now having gone 4-1 SU and 5-0 ATS their last five games, the lone loss coming on Kyler Murray's walk-off Hail Mary a few weeks back in the desert.
Buffalo's got a quicker turnaround this week with a Saturday date in Denver against the Broncos, and off their SNF win over Pittsburgh, an opening number of Buffalo -5.5 has already jumped a full point. Buffalo is also the 4th NFL team this year to have a shot at covering the spread in six consecutive games, with Pittsburgh (-14 chalk vs Dallas), Miami (-4 chalk vs Denver), and New Orleans (-7.5 chalk vs Philadelphia) all failing in their previous bids to cover six in a row.
Finally, it's interesting to see the Denver Broncos already responsible for stopping one of those previous five-game ATS streaks as a home underdog against another AFC East franchise.
Hard not to have the saying “history always repeats itself” come to mind there. Four of the five Bills games during this streak have had them close in the +/- 3 range, with the home game against the Chargers seeing Buffalo close at -4.5.
So how many points is too many here?
One more note, Washington enters Week 15 on a four-game ATS run, so keep an eye on what they do in Week 15 as home dogs vs Seattle.
Another ATS victory there would put Washington in this fade role in Week 16 when they host Carolina.