GLENDALE, AZ - DECEMBER 11: Head coach Jim Harbaugh of the San Francisco 49ers stands with quarterback Alex Smith #11 on the sidelines during the NFL game against the Arizona Cardinals at the University of Phoenix Stadium on December 11, 2011 in Glendale, Arizona. The Cardinals defeated the 49ers 21-19. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Two sets of predictions against the spread for Week 15 of the NFL season. Your best bet might be to bet the opposite. Check out SB Nation NFL for full week 15 coverage.
Week 15 of the NFL season is underway and James and I are both looking to rebound from subpar performances in Week 14. It was a crazy week of football with a variety of last second victories throwing everybody for a loop. It has been a crazy year for picks, which makes for fun football, but easily lost cash.
This week, James' Raiders host the Detroit Lions in a must-win game for Oakland. The Raiders are a game back in the divisional race and a game back in the wildcard. While they can hang around even if they lose, a win would put them in a position to potentially gain some ground, particularly with the Broncos hosting the always tough New England Patriots.
My 49ers are hosting the Pittsburgh Steelers on Monday Night Football, in a game that has plenty of question marks. Ben Roethlisberger and Maurkice Pouncey are both questionable at best for Monday, while the 49ers are unsure whether Patrick Willis or Joe Staley will be able to play on Sunday. It makes for a tough pick (unless you're a 49ers fan, like me).
David - ATLANTA FALCONS (-12.5) over Jacksonville Jaguars: Double digit lines are tough, but at home the Atlanta Falcons are tough and can put together a lot of points in a hurry. Wide receiver Julio Jones is quickly becoming must-see TV when he is healthy.
James - ATLANTA FALCONS (-12.5) over Jacksonville Jaguars: This is actually a pretty big line for this game. The Falcons are a much better team than the Jaguars, but they have been inconsistent this season. They definitely have the talent to make this a two touchdown game, and in the end, I am more comfortable betting on the better team even though I am not overly confident about this one.
David - TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS (+8) over Dallas Cowboys: The Bucs have been wildly inconsistent, and I could see the Cowboys bouncing back big after their meltdown against the Giants. And yet, something about this game has my gut thinking Bucs can cover. I think Dallas escapes just barely.
James - Dallas Cowboys (-8) over TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS: This line is not as bad as the Falcons line, but I'd be much more comfortable with a line under one touchdown. Both of these teams have issues with consistency and you never know how they will perform. This game could easily be a blowout, but also could easily come down to a late field goal. Again, in the end, I'll go with the better team.
David - OAKLAND RAIDERS (even) over Detroit Lions: Consider this based on the assumption that the Raiders get Denarius Moore back. If they can get any semblance of a deep threat on the field, it opens up the middle of the field for the rushing attack. I don't like where Oakland is headed, but I'm prepared to roll the dice (famous last words).
James - OAKLAND RAIDERS (even) over Detroit Lions: These teams are very similar. Both are trying to overcome years of losing cultures in their organizations. Both started the season strong and with lots of hope. Both have struggled recently and both have problems with mental mistakes and controlling their emotions. This will be a close game, but home field advantage coupled with strong playoff ambitions will get Oakland the win.
David - BUFFALO BILLS (even) over Miami Dolphins: Two months ago people potentially figured this game could be playoff crowner for the Bills. My how things changed. The Dolphins were on a roll before getting kicked to the curb this past week by the Eagles. I think the Bills get a nice little bounce from this game.
James - BUFFALO BILLS (even) over Miami Dolphins: These are two teams taking the opposite paths of each other. The Bills started the season strong and have since faded. The Dolphins started the season terribly and are now starting to come on. Neither of these teams are playoffs teams, but both are playing for pride and next season. I see the Bills taking it because they are at home and have less distractions since their coach did not just get fired.
David - Seattle Seahawks (+3.5) over CHICAGO BEARS: The Seahawks are inconsistent, but the Bears are just not that good without Cutler and Forte. Seattle is a roll of the dice on the road, but I'll go with that.
James - CHICAGO BEARS (-3.5) over Seattle Seahawks: As the Bears continue to try and get a win without both Jay Cutler and Matt Forte, they will be happy to see Seattle on their schedule. The Seahawks have turned out to be a better team than they first appeared early in the season, but their offense is still not very good and will not be able to play against this Bears defense, especially in Chicago.
James - Tennessee Titans (-7.5) over INDIANAPOLIS COLTS: This game could wind up being closer than it should due to both Matt Hassleback and Jack Locker dealing with beat up bodies after last week's game. One of them will be able to start and prevent the Titans from going with their third string, but we will see how they play. They are still much better than the Colts and should be able to pull off a two score win.
David - Green Bay Packers (-15) over KANSAS CITY CHIEFS: Can't pick against the Packers....just can't do it.
James - Green Bay Packers (-15) over KANSAS CITY CHIEFS: The Chiefs are in turmoil. They fired Todd Hailey and Romeo Crennel is already talking about how he wants the job. Their first string quarterback last week is now their third string quarterback. After looking like a good team again for a few weeks, the Chiefs are back to being a bad team. Green Bay just keeps rolling.
James - Cincinnati Bengals (-7) over ST. LOUIS RAMS: The Bengals have been struggling as of late, going 1-5 in their last 6 games. This should be the perfect game to get them back on the right track. The Rams have regressed massively this season and are not playing well at all.
David - New Orleans Saints (-7) over MINNESOTA VIKINGS: I suppose the line is a bit lower than expected because it is a road game for the Saints, but they get to play this game inside. In fact, the Saints remaining games are all indoors with their final two games in the Superdome. They will likely win out, forcing the 49ers into a position where they too need to win out.
James - New Orleans Saints (-7) over MINNESOTA VIKINGS: This is an easy pick. The Saints are clearly more than one touchdown better than the Vikings. The Saints do not play as well on the road as they do at home in the dome, but they should still beat a bad Vikings team by more than a touchdown.
David - NEW YORK GIANTS (-7.5) over Washington Redskins: It is a rivalry game, but I don't trust Washington on the road. I think the Giants win by 10.
James - NEW YORK GIANTS (-7.5) over Washington Redskins: Eli Manning is having one hell of a year. If not for the fact that Aaron Rodgers, Drew Brees and Tom Brady are all having monster years, Manning would easily be in the discussion for MVP. The Giants can feel the playoffs coming and will dispose of the Redskins easily.
James - HOUSTON TEXANS (-7) over Carolina Panthers: I was very very close to picking the Panthers in this one. The problem is, the Texans have really not fallen off very much despite starting TJ Yates at quarterback. Playing at home against a one man Panthers team should not be too much for the Texans to handle.
David - DENVER BRONCOS (+7.5) over New England Patriots: I dared roll the dice against the Fightin' Tim Tebows last week and won thanks to that key 1/2 point. I'm not prepared to pick the opposition to cover against Tebow two weeks in a row. I think Denver either wins this game outright or gets the crap kicked out of them. I'll bet on Tebow.
James - New England Patriots (-7.5) over DENVER BRONCOS: The terrible reign of Tebow will finally come to an end this weekend. No longer will we be forced to endure hour long ESPN specials and constant diagnosis of whether or not Tim Tebow is in fact Jesus incarnate. The Pats are just too good for the cinderella Broncos to take down.
David - New York Jets (+1.5) over PHILADELPHIA EAGLES: It is tempting to grab the Eagles after their win over Miami last week, but I'm going to go the other way given their inconsistency.
James - New York Jets (+1.5) over PHILADELPHIA EAGLES: I am pretty surprised to see the Eagles as the favorite in this game. The Jets have not had a stellar season, but they are still playing much better than the Eagles are. This is definitely a game that either team can win, but I think with the Jets playing for more than just pride, the Eagles are destined for yet another loss.
David - ARIZONA CARDINALS (-7) over Cleveland Browns: This isn't a huge line, but it is pretty significant. The Cardinals could blow this one, but they are on a very solid roll lately. I'll stick with the streaking Cardinals.
James - ARIZONA CARDINALS (-7) over Cleveland Browns: Can the Cardinals make it three in a row? I think they can. The Browns are having a very poor season, and with the Colt McCoy concussion issues, they are not going to be able to compete with the streaking Cards in Arizona.
James - Baltimore Ravens (-1.5) over SAN DIEGO CHARGERS: The Chargers are finally playing pretty well. It is too late for them to make a playoff run, but they will be able to put up a good fight against the Ravens. That, however, is all they will be able to do. Ravens win this one somewhat easily, likely by two scores.
David - SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS (-2.5) over Pittsburgh Steelers: This game is off most boards because of Ben Roethlisberger's questionable status. I don't pick against my 49ers (also why I normally don't bet on them).
James - Pittsburgh Steelers (+2.5) over SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS: Big Ben is going to play, anyone who thinks otherwise has not followed his career very closely. In fact, not only will Big Ben play, I think he has a real good day throwing the football. For whatever reason, he is one of those guys who plays better when he is hurt. Sorry Niners fans, Pittsburgh doesn't just cover, they get the win here.
Last Week: 6-10-0
Last Week: 8-8-0