Eli’s NFL Week 15 Best Bets: Bears To Cover, Plus Low-Scoring NFC Affair?

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Written By Eli Hershkovich | Last Updated
NFL Week 15 Best Bets

With NFL Week 15 odds nearing kickoff, this article will hopefully aid sports bettors with price discovery and handicapping point spreads, moneyline odds, and totals while shopping on NFL betting sites. In particular, the Bears at Browns and Buccaneers at Packers stand out — juxtaposed with my betting model. With that in mind, let’s break down my NFL Week 15 best bets.

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Bet: bears to lose by three points or fewer (or win outright)

Some bettors may be unfamiliar with the aforementioned term, price discovery. The process commences when wagers are made on the opening spread or total. Early action is used to adjust the number. Shops may also follow the same script of operators that are considered “market makers,” tinkering with pricing because a competitor altered its own. Needless to say, liability tolerance (or lack thereof) could be enough to reshape the odds at other sportsbooks.

Regarding the Bears’ odds, they’ve climbed above the key number of a field goal at various operators. The look-ahead line had the Browns’ odds as a 2.5-point home favorite. Here’s why I’m betting on Chicago for a fourth straight game.

Laundry List Of Wounds

While the Browns have held their ground at 8-5 in a crowded AFC wild-card race, they’ve suffered 11 season-ending injuries. Most recently, offensive linemen Jedrick Wills Jr. and Dawand Jones joined the party on injured reserve. There’s center Ethan Pocic, too, who was absent from Wednesday’s practice with a shoulder stinger.

A thin group in the trenches is already difficult to overcome against the Bears’ much-improved defense. Couple that with Cleveland tallying a 68% pass rate in neutral situations — a rise of 13 percentage points — with the aging Joe Flacco during first two starts. Kevin Stefanski’s newfound script doesn’t appear sustainable.

Then again, the Browns can’t necessarily rely on their ground game. Jerome Ford, their most explosive option in the backfield, is hampered by a wrist injury. Not only is his backup Kareem Hunt dealing with a nagging groin issue himself, but Hunt is also a steady downgrade from Ford as a playmaker.

Despite losing edge rusher Yannick Ngakoue (ankle) midweek, Chicago possesses adequate depth along its defensive front, thanks to the trade deadline acquisition of Montez Sweat. As noted, they’ve completely flipped the switch since Sweat arrived in Week 9, surrendering the sixth-fewest EPA per play. Bears head coach Matt Eberflus has also diversified their looks at the line of scrimmage after taking over as the play-caller for Alan Williams, a vanilla defensive schemer, who was fired midseason.

With future All-Pro Jaylon Johnson, the league’s highest-graded cornerback (via Pro Football Focus), capable of limiting Cleveland wideout Amari Cooper, Chicago is well-positioned to make life difficult for Flacco & Co.

Run Fields, Run!

The Browns’ injury plague doesn’t end there. On the other side of the ball, safety Grant Delpit (groin) and lineman Ogbo Okoronkwo (pec) are on the shelf. Moreover, safety Juan Thornhill (calf) didn’t practice, and nose tackle Jordan Elliott is in concussion protocol. If that’s not enough, perennial stat-stuffer Myles Garrett is playing through a shoulder injury.

Hence, Cleveland’s top-rated defense isn’t as dominant as its season-long ranking suggests. In particular, it’s let up the 10th-most EPA per carry over its last six contests. That’s exactly where the duel-threat Justin Fields and the Bears’ rushing attack can take advantage, guided by an offensive line with the NFL’s second-highest run block win rate.

Stylistically, this clock-draining script plays to the underdog. Chicago utilizes the third-slowest adjusted pace across the NFL.

Bears logo Bears CHI
Browns logo Browns CLE
Offense Ranking OFF RNK N/A N/A
Defense Ranking DEF RNK N/A N/A
Offense Net Yards Per Game OFF NET YPG
Defense Net Yards Per Game DEF NET YPG
Passing Yards Per Game PASS YPG
Turnovers Committed Per Game TOC PG

Final Thoughts

As you’ll see below, I wagered on Bears +3.5 (-115) on Wednesday. I’d bet them down to +3 (-105). Join TheLines.com’s free sports betting Discord to get an immediate alert whenever I place a wager. Head over to the #roles server to enroll in the push notifications.

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Bet: Bucs vs. Packers combine for under 41 total points

Generally speaking, bettors aren’t overly anxious to play an under when the teams have exceeded the total in each of their previous three matchups. Similar to the last handicap, there are also many substantial injuries to account for. However, the potential for a ground-driven game provides some allure, as it’s projected for the sixth-slowest pace in Week 15.

If It Ain’t Broke, Don’t Fix It

What’s the knock on both of these defensive coordinators? Using a two-deep safety look with soft zone coverage, along with a defensive line prioritizing penetration over gap integrity. Although that limits explosive plays, it also opens up rushing lanes underneath.

Additionally, the Bucs are coming off a win in which they compiled a handful of sustainable drives by prioritizing the run. Of course, this flawed foundation has failed them in the past, accruing the lowest early-down rushing efficiency in the league. But after it worked against the Falcons’ banged-up front, don’t be surprised if Tampa Bay offensive coordinator Dave Canales goes back to well.

Meanwhile, Packers defensive coordinator Joe Barry has seen his unit allow the ninth-highest rushing success rate. For context, a play is deemed successful if it produces at least 50% of the requisite yards on first down, 70% on second down, or 100% on third or fourth down. 

It doesn’t hurt that Buccaneers quarterback Baker Mayfield has amassed a below-average passer rating against zone looks. Wholistically, I’m also unwilling to upgrade an offense that has mostly excelled indoors while often appearing out-classed versus non-divisional foes.

Money Can’t Buy Love

As well as signal-caller Jordan Love has fared of late for bettors, the Packers finally endured a dose of adversity against Giants defensive coordinator Don “Wink” Martindale. Love’s -9.3 total EPA illustrated that. Expect Todd Bowles to creatively apply heat on Love throughout, as Tampa Bay is already dialing up the 10th-highest pressure rate.

To negate this concern, Matt LaFleur will likely call upon his own ground attack, especially up against a comparable defense that might remain without nose tackle Vita Vea (toe). Plus, Love’s receiving core is still on the mend — highlighted by Christian Watson’s (hamstring) potential absence for a second straight week.

Buccaneers logo Buccaneers TB
Packers logo Packers GB
Offense Ranking OFF RNK N/A N/A
Defense Ranking DEF RNK N/A N/A
Offense Net Yards Per Game OFF NET YPG
Defense Net Yards Per Game DEF NET YPG
Passing Yards Per Game PASS YPG
Turnovers Committed Per Game TOC PG

Final Thoughts

Given the “trend” that I alluded to off the bat, I wouldn’t expect this total to move much. If it gravitates toward the under, I’d play it down to 41. Good luck with your NFL Week 15 bets.

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