NFL picks, predictions against the spread Week 15: Cowboys burn Bills; Steelers upset Colts; Chiefs hold off Patriots

Week 14 in the NFL was a mixed bag of results. There were some big upsets, for sure, across the board. They were some unexpected shootouts and inexplicable offensive deserts.

That made the picks and predictions against the spread a bit challenging, but a few teams came through with the right results. That provides a little more confidence going back to a full slate of 16 games.

Here’s how Sporting News sees the matchups of Week 15 playing out from Thursday and Saturday to Sunday and Monday with another fearless forecast to kick off the final month of the 2023 regular season:

(Odds courtesy of Caesars Sportsbook)

POWER RANKINGS: Cowboys overtake Eagles, Ravens; Steelers, Texans, Colts slip in crowded playoff picture

NFL picks against the spread for Week 15

  • Game of Midweek: Chargers at Raiders (-3, 33.5 o/u)

Thursday 8:15 p.m. ET, Amazon Prime Video

Justin Herbert has suffered another finger injury and on a short week, the Chargers are stuck with more of Easton Stick on the road. He’ll duel Aidan O’Connell, who failed to help the Raiders’ offense produce a point at home. But the Chargers’ defense showed more holes against the run and wide receivers last week and there’s enough support to win a low-scoring game with Maxx Crosby cleaning up on the other side.

Pick: Raiders win 17-13 and cover the spread.

  • Game of the Week: Ravens (-3, 43.5 o/u) at Jaguars 

Sunday 8:20 p.m. ET, NBC

The Jaguars didn’t come through in their long-awaited Monday night chance vs. the Bengals two weeks ago. They are on a two-game losing skid vs. the AFC North. But they have been waiting much longer for a true Sunday night game and will be pumped with a gritty Trevor Lawrence and an inspired playmaking defense to end the slump. The Ravens were pushed by the Rams into overtime and their defense showed more key cracks Lawrence can exploit. On the other side, Lamar Jackson gets contained with little help from the running game.

Pick: Jaguars win 23-20.

  • Upset of the Week: Steelers at Colts (-2.5, 42 o/u)

Saturday 4:30 p.m. ET, NFL Network

The Steelers have lost two brutal home games to bad teams in consecutive weeks, first the Cardinals and then the Patriots. Offense has become a big problem again and it’s uncertain if Kenny Pickett can return at QB. But this is when Mike Tomlin’s defense digs deep, hopeful that T.J. Watt has enough time to clear concussion protocol. It also helps the Colts’ offense is inconsistent and now mired in a rushing slump. The offense also will find some good success through running backs Najee Harris and Jaylen Warren to win a key wild-card battle.

Pick: Steelers win 20-17.

Jahmyr Gibbs

(Getty Images)

  • Lock of the Week: Lions (-4, 46.5 o/u) over Broncos 

Saturday 8:15 p.m. ET, NFL Network

The Lions are realizing their once strong hold on the NFC North is slipping away after losing to the Packers and Bears in recent weeks. The young defense is wiling against the pass but there’s one matchup here to think Detroit will rebound, despite Denver being a hot AFC wild-card contender. The Broncos have the worst run defense in the NFL. The Lions can be elite in that offensive strength with the 1-2 punch of Jahymr Gibbs and David Montgomery. That will help them correct to their ideal game script with Aidan Hutchinson teeing offf on Russell Wilson.

Pick: Lions win 27-20 and cover the spread.

  • Vikings at Bengals (-4, 39 o/u)

Saturday 1 p.m. ET, NFL Network

The Vikings have a quarterback crisis now without Kirk Cousins. Their offense also is set to be without Justin Jefferson (again) and Alexander Mattison. Nick Mullens is a gamer, but other than a lot of T.J. Hockenson, there’s not much else here. Meanwhile, the Bengals have a quarterback revelation without Joe Burrow thanks to Jake Browning balling in their system. The Bengals’ defense also is playing more inspired and the Vikings don’t have enough to slow down Browning’s skill players.

Pick: Bengals win 24-14 and cover the spread.

  • Bears at Browns (-3, 38 o/u) 

Sunday 1 p.m. ET, Fox

The Bears are feeling the future again with Justin Fields, whose locked into his running and go-to guy D.J. Moore. The Browns are feeling the present, however, with Joe Flacco. This is a tough spot against an improving Chicago defense, but then again Cleveland’s defense has been downright nasty and forces key turnovers with Myles Garrett at home.

Pick: Browns win 20-13 and cover the spread.

(Getty Images)

  • Buccaneers at Packers (-3.5, 43 o/u)

Sunday 1 p.m. ET, CBS

The Buccaneers are in first place in the NFC South but they can be inconsistent, especially defensively with all their injury issues. Baker Mayfield plays OK here and the Packers’ defense will be slowed a bit with their own injuries on a short week. But Jordan Love comes through again with his all his skill position players with key passes all over the field, down to the final game-winning drive.

Pick: Packers win 23-20 but fail to cover the spread.

  • Texans at Titans (-2, 37.5 o/u)

Sunday 1 p.m. ET, CBS

The Texans may need to turn to Davis Mills again with C.J. Stroud (concussion) hurting after the loss to the Jets. But. here, their other high first-round pick, Will Anderson Jr., come through vs. a rookie QB to rebound from the tough game in Week 14. Houston can handle Tennessee’s limited offense around rookie QB Will Levis. Mills’ experience pays off with help from good fill-in receivers and tight ends.

Pick: Texans win 20-17.

  • Jets at Dolphins (-12.5, 45.5 o/u)

Sunday 1 p.m. ET, CBS

The Jets were ripped in the first matchup, 34-13. They played some more inspired and impressive offense last week, however, with a revived Zach Wilson relying on his primary playmakers. Tyreek Hill, Jaylen Waddle and the running backs continue to give Tua Tagovailoa more explosiveness around him in relation to Wilson. The Jets are a little more competitive in the rematch for a back-door cover.

Pick: Dolphins win 27-17 but fail to cover the spread.

  • Chiefs (-9.5, 37.5 o/u) at Patriots 

Sunday 1 p.m. ET, Fox

The Chiefs’ offense is out of sync without reliable wide receivers beyond Rashee Rice and likely won’t have hard-running Isiah Pacheco again for the rushing attack. The Patriots will stick with strong power running against the Chiefs can struggle with a red-hot Ezekiel Elliott on the road. Bill Belichick will scheme to contain Travis Kelce to keep his team in the game until Patrick Mahomes breaks through in the second half.

Pick: Chiefs win 24-17 but fail to cover the spread.

Patrick Mahomes, Matt Nagy

(Getty Images)

  • Giants at Saints (-6, 36.5 o/u)

Sunday 1 p.m. ET, Fox

The Saints didn’t play pretty offense last week with Derek Carr but still rolled to a big win on the Panthers. The Giants’ defense has too many holes in coverage to think Carr can’t heat up a little more with Alvin Kamara and the running game opening things up downfield. Tommy DeVito on a short week against a swarming defense with good coverage and capacity to contain the run doesn’t sound good.

Pick: Saints win 24-13 and cover the spread.

  • Falcons (-3, 35 o/u) at Panthers 

Sunday 1 p.m. ET, Fox

The Falcons know this is a trap game but their running game rolling and their defense rebounding will make sure they don’t stumble on the road in the NFC South after losing a heartbreaker at home to the Buccaneers. Bijan Robinson will once again be the best rookie on the field and get more help from other young skill players. Meanwhile, Bryce Young fares better but just doesn’t have enough pop around him to deliver on the upset.

Pick: Falcons win 24-17 and cover the spread.

  • Commanders at Rams (-6.5, 49 o/u)

Sunday 4:05 p.m. ET, CBS

The Commanders will come off a bye with a struggling pass defense facing a red-hot passing game with Matthew Stafford locked in again to Cooper Kupp and Puka Nacua. Stafford should light it up again all over the field back at home with no weather concerns in Los Angeles. Sam Howell will be game for the shootout, too, with the Rams having enough coverage holes. But in the end, Aaron Donald plays closer with the pass rush.

Pick: Rams win 34-27 and cover the spread.

  • 49ers (-13.5, 47 o/u) at Cardinals

Sunday 4:05 p.m. ET, CBS

The Cardinals’ defense also will be a in a brutal spot coming off a bye. The 49ers are crushing it around Brock Purdy with a ton of big plays and no Arizona player can cover either Deebo Samuel or Brandon Aiyuk well. That’s after Christian McCaffrey goes nuts with explosive runs to set up everything. Kyler Murray will do his best to run around and make plays with a limited one-dimensional pass-oriented attack.

Pick: 49ers win 35-17 and cover the spread.

  • Cowboys at Bills (-1.5, 48.5 o/u)

Sunday 4:25 p.m. ET, Fox

The Cowboys have a terrific playmaking defense in terms of getting key interceptions from Daron Bland and others. Micah Parsons can also provide some tough pressure on Josh Allen. Dak Prescott remains sizzling for Dallas and shouldn’t worry about any matchups for key players such as CeeDee Lamb, Brandin Cooks and Jake Ferguson. This also will be a chance to get Tony Pollard going on the ground to grind out a higher-scoring win on the road.

Pick: Cowboys win 27-24.

  • Eagles (-4.5, 47 o/u) at Seahawks

Monday 8:15 p.m. ET, ESPN/ABC

The Eagles’ offense is having issues. Running the ball and sticking with the run has been difficult with Jalen Hurts banged up, the backs and blocking being inconsistent and some negative game scripts set up by the pass defense. This is a tough spot for a bad secondary, regardless of opposing QB, given the Seahawks have wide receivers D.J. Metcalf, Tyler Lockett and Jaxon Smith-Njigba. The Seahawks can be tough but it can also allow some key big plays to help Hurts rebound from Dallas.

Pick: Eagles win 24-23 but fail to cover the spread.

Stats of the Week

Week 14 straight up: 8-5

Week 14 against the spread: 6-7

Season straight up: 138-68

Season against the spread: 109-93-1

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