NFL Week 15 Line Movement: COVID Causes Huge Moves Toward Raiders, Eagles

Written By Mo Nuwwarah on December 19, 2021
NFL Week 15 spreads

Each week during the 2021 NFL seasonTheLines will examine how the coming week’s NFL lines have changed relative to preseason or prior expectations. Often, early lines can give an objective look at teams’ relative talent levels, absent week-to-week recency bias when the weekend results take hold. Let’s take a look at NFL Week 15 spreads and see which numbers have changed and, potentially, why.

Tracked lines below come from FanDuel Sportsbook. Prices are -110, unless otherwise noted.

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The Big COVID-Induced Week 15 NFL Spread Moves

As game times draw nearer for Week 15, several teams have struggled to contain COVID-19 outbreaks. In a couple of cases, betting lines have moved drastically in response to droves of players put on ice for the week. TheLines is tracking all of this week’s NFL COVID outbreaks in a special article, so be sure to keep track of that.

GameLook-Ahead LineDec. 16, 1 p.m. ET
Las Vegas Raiders at Cleveland BrownsBrowns -5Raiders -1.5
Washington Football Team at Philadelphia EaglesEagles -2.5 (-115)Eagles -9.5
Seattle Seahawks at LA RamsRams -7 (-105)Rams -5.5 (-114)

Raiders At Browns

The Browns have been in the headlines all week. Each day, they seem to add more key players to the COVID-19 list.

The outbreak has hit the offense particularly hard. Three-fifths of their stellar offensive line are now out. Jack Conklin was already lost to IR, while Jedrick Wills Jr. and star guard Wyatt Teller have hit the COVID list. Baker Mayfield to Jarvis Landry has powered a lot of the passing game in recent weeks and both of them have entered the COVID list as well.

Additionally, several rotation defenders are out.

It was enough to shift the line pretty hugely, all the way to the Raiders as favorites.

The good news is as of Thursday, several big guns on defense remain intact for the Browns. They still have CB Denzel Ward, LB Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah and superstar pass rusher Myles Garrett. So, they aren’t completely toothless. And, Case Keenum probably rates as a top-five backup QB given his extensive — and not fruitless — starting experience.

Football Team At Eagles

Just like with the Browns, the Football Team seems to announce new cases daily. They reached an incredible 21 publicly reported cases as of Thursday, per Adam Schefter.

The defensive line has been particularly wrecked. They already had Chase Young out on IR and Montez Sweat on the list, so they had lost possibly their two most talented players. They added an incredible five more rotation linemen to the list. Da’Ron Payne is the only remaining player from their entire two-deep to start the season who looks set to play this week.

The Eagles bring the third-ranked rushing offense by DVOA. So, this looks like a major potential issue.

Amazingly, the QB situation might have even more impact. Backup Kyle Allen, who finished the last game because Taylor Heinicke got hurt, has been placed on the list. Original starter Ryan Fitzpatrick remains on IR. If Heinicke can’t go or gets hurt, practice squad player Pat Shurmur will get the start.

Seahawks At Rams

The Rams opened as surprisingly strong favorites considering Seattle has gotten back to at least somewhat resembling the fringe contender they were billed as entering the season.

However, COVID has hit them hard as well dating back to last week. They can probably paper over the losses of Odell Beckham Jr. and Darrell Henderson Jr. without too much trouble. But, RT Rob Havenstein and DBs Jalen Ramsey and Jordan Fuller look tougher to replace.

Indeed, the patchwork secondary allowed several huge plays to the Cardinals passing game on Monday.

While this article was being written, news broke that Seattle placed Tyler Lockett and backup RB Alex Collins on the COVID list. That mitigates the Rams’ losses slightly, but the line has still ticked down off a key number from the opener.

Other Notable NFL Week 15 Spread Moves

A few other lines moves were fairly significant in size, but don’t come with an easy COVID explanation.

GameLook-Ahead LineDec. 16, 1 p.m. ET
New England Patriots at Indianapolis ColtsPatriots -1Colts -2.5
Cincinnati Bengals at Denver BroncosBengals -3Broncos -2.5 (-120)
Green Bay Packers at Baltimore RavensPackers -3Packers -4.5 (-112)

Patriots At Colts

Probably the most interesting and hard to parse move of the week comes from the Patriots heading to Indy to play the Colts. The two solid AFC contenders both come off their byes, which makes it a bit mystifying that the line would shift more than three points here.

What does the market know today that it didn’t know last week?

Perhaps sharps always had this game circled with the Colts looking undervalued as home underdogs. They do appear to match up pretty well with the Patriots, since the Pats run the ball more than anyone besides the Eagles. The Colts defense has a pretty sizable split between its work against the pass (17th in DVOA) and the run (fifth).

The market might doubt Mac Jones’ ability to punish this mediocre secondary.

Bengals At Broncos

The Bengals and Broncos appear a closely matched pair of teams. They have the same record and similar point differentials. They’re back-to-back in DVOA rankings at 19th and 18th, respectively.

Thus, we can’t be surprised that the market quickly corrected a line that indicated the Bengals had a significantly stronger team. Joe Burrow and Co. being -3 road favorites was tough to square given what we’ve seen so far.

What might count as a surprise is how strongly the market corrected here. The Broncos have now neared being field goal favorites themselves. Certainly, they had a better Week 14 than Cincy, getting a very easy win against the Lions while Cincinnati fell way behind the 49ers and wound up dropping an OT decision.

Is that enough to warrant a move this heavy?

Packers At Ravens

Green Bay put some early struggles to bed against the Bears and wound up with another dominating win and cover.

Meanwhile, the Ravens doubled up on misery. Not only did they play poorly and lose to a division rival for the second week in a row, but this time, Lamar Jackson went down with a sprained ankle. He remains day-to-day, which can partially explain this move.

Even with Jackson at full strength, though, evidence has mounted that this team just isn’t very good. Since Week 10, they rank 25th in offensive EPA/play. That’s an incredible stat for a team featuring a recent MVP winner at QB.

A slew of injuries can certainly shoulder some of the blame for that, but bettors must handicap for the players out there and not the rosters that began the season. The Packers look like a potential juggernaut right now and the Ravens, with a brutal closing schedule, look like a fringe playoff team.

NFL Week 15 Spreads, Movement Tracker

GameLook-Ahead LineDec. 16, 1 p.m. ETDec. 19, 10 a.m. ET
Kansas City Chiefs at LA ChargersChiefs -3 (-105)Chiefs -3 (-115)Chiefs -3 (-115)
Las Vegas Raiders at Cleveland BrownsBrowns -5Raiders -1.5Browns -3
New England Patriots at Indianapolis ColtsPatriots -1Colts -2.5Colts -2.5
Washington Football Team at Philadelphia EaglesEagles -2.5 (-115)Eagles -9.5Eagles -6.5
Carolina Panthers at Buffalo BillsBills -9.5 (-115)Bills -10.5Bills -14.5
NY Jets at Miami DolphinsOTBDolphins -9.5Dolphins -10
Dallas Cowboys at NY GiantsCowboys -9.5 (-115)Cowboys -10.5Cowboys -11.5
Tennessee Titans at Pittsburgh SteelersOTBTitans -1 (-108)Steelers -1
Houston Texans at Jacksonville JaguarsOTBJaguars -5 (-112)Jaguars -5 .5
Arizona Cardinals at Detroit LionsCardinals -12.5Cardinals -12.5 (-114)Cardinals -13
Atlanta Falcons at San Francisco 49ers49ers -7.549ers -9.549ers -8.5
Cincinnati Bengals at Denver BroncosBengals -3Broncos -2.5 (-120)Broncos -3
Green Bay Packers at Baltimore RavensPackers -3Packers -4.5 (-112)Packers -7 (-106)
Seattle Seahawks at LA RamsRams -7 (-105)Rams -4 (-114)Rams -6 (-114)
New Orleans Saints at Tampa Bay BuccaneersBucs -11.5Bucs -11Bucs -11.5
Minnesota Vikings at Chicago BearsVikings -4Vikings -4.5Vikings -6
Mo Nuwwarah Avatar
Written by
Mo Nuwwarah

Mo Nuwwarah got his start in gambling early, making his first sports bet on his beloved Fab Five against the UNC Tar Heels in the 1993 NCAA tournament. He lost $5 to his dad and got back into sports betting years later during a 15-year run in the poker industry. A 2011 journalism graduate from Nebraska-Omaha, he combines those skills with his love of sports and statistics to help bettors make more informed decisions with a focus on pro football, baseball and basketball.

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