In the age of instant information and deep-dive data, more and more bettors are turning to advanced analytics and computer modelling to point out their weekly NFL betting picks.
While those methods can make money, they’re not foolproof and can often struggle to account for the physiological aspects of sports. And as the 2021 NFL schedule grinds on, those unique situational angles hold more weight when it comes to handicapping your wagers.
We’re talking about spot bets — letdowns, lookaheads, and schedule spots — for NFL Week 15 odds.
Letdown spot: Minnesota Vikings (-3.5) at Chicago Bears
A win over the Steelers on Thursday night wasn’t a marquee victory for Minnesota but it did snap a two-game losing skid by the Vikings and saw this team giving up a big lead and battling in a tight game come the fourth quarter. What else is new?
The 36-28 win — which Minny can thank Steelers WR Chase Claypool for — was the 12th one-score game the Vikings have played this season and sets up for a long-running letdown trend to go against Mike Zimmer’s team in Week 15. Since 2018, when Kirk Cousins showed up, Minnesota is a dismal 10-18-1 ATS when coming off a win (36%), including a 2-3 ATS mark off a victory this season.
The Vikes now head to Soldier Field to face the Bears, who are 6-2 ATS in their last eight head-to-head meetings with Minnesota. The home side has also been the best bet in this NFC North rivalry, with the host going 25-12 ATS in their last 37 matchups. The extended forecast for the Monday nighter is calling for high winds, possible snow showers, and “feels like” temperatures around 20 degrees.
Look-ahead spot: Buffalo Bills (-12) vs Carolina Panthers
The Bills get a major shift in intensity in Week 15, coming off tight losses to New England and Tampa Bay the past two weeks before welcoming Carolina to Orchard Park this Sunday. That letdown looms large for Buffalo backers — but not as large as the revenge spot facing the Bills Mafia in Week 16.
Following this home date with the Panthers, Buffalo ships out to Boston for a rematch with New England in a game that will likely decide the fate of the AFC East. But before Josh Allen & Co. get another swing at Bill Belichick’s guys, they’ll be laying double figures to a 5-8 Carolina squad. Buffalo started 2021 on a 4-1 ATS tear but has since vurped out a 2-5-1 count against the spread.
The Panthers have lost three in a row but still possess one of the better stop units in the NFL. Carolina ranks fifth in Expected Points Added allowed per play in the league. The Bills defense has fallen off a cliff, ranked 18th in EPA allowed per play since Week 9 (-0.008) after sitting tops in this advanced metric through the first eight weeks of the schedule. Looking ahead to a heated rivalry on the road is rough when giving this many points.
Schedule spot: Dallas Cowboys (-10.5) at New York Giants
After playing a home-friendly start to the season, the Cowboys have been living out of their suitcases (and bringing their own benches) the past month. Week 15’s trip to MetLife Stadium will be the third straight away game for Dallas, which has won (and covered) in the past two road stops, but by no means in impressive fashion.
This time, America’s Team is laying the lumber as double-digit road chalk versus the Giants. Dallas is 10-3 ATS on the season but has a history of trouble in December contests, especially on the road, and the franchise is 3-7 ATS when laying 10 or more points in the final month of the schedule since 2000.
The 2021 Cowboys have some issues on offense right now and rank 24th in EPA per play (-0.079) since Week 9 — a drastic shift for a scoring attack that sat No. 4 in that stat through the first eight weeks of action (+0.132). If the highway life is wearing on Dallas, this could be too many points to hand over in a divisional rivalry.