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Cam, Russ and Da Bears - Week 15 NFL Picks

I went 0-2 last week, which was my first losing week in a month. Theming a week around teasers was like beating it to Shyla Stylez or August Ames - it felt great at the time but when it was over I faced the sobering reality of mourning a loss. 

When you're halfway wrong on teasers, you're fully wrong on teasers. Last week, I hit teaser legs with CHI against HOU and KC against MIA, but whiffed on NYG against ARI and the MIN/TB Over. A one-legged Daniel Jones shouldn't have played (first NFL game in his career without a rushing attempt) and Minnesota kicker Dan Bailey couldn't stop bombing FG attempts to the sidelines. I'd tell Dan Bailey to kick rocks but that wouldn't end well for anybody.

At least he has a sympathetic coach to nurture his fragile psyche...

Alright, time to bounce back.

Pats (6-7) @ Dolphins (8-5); 12pm CT

Pick #1: Patriots +1.5

Action: 42% of bets on the Patriots

The public is on Miami here because the Pats got thoroughly dominated by the Rams last week while the Dolphins kept it tight against the Super Bowl favorite Kansas City Chiefs. Despite the majority of bets falling on Miami, a reverse line move from MIA -2.5 to MIA -1.5 is indicating sharp action on New England. 

Here's why the pros are taking the ugly side: Belichick has extra time to prepare off of a loss against a rookie QB, and as bad as the Pats just looked last Thursday night, they're actually a terrible matchup for the Dolphins. 

The Miami D leans heavily on their elite cornerback duo to shut down the pass (5th in defensive pass DVOA), but Cam can't throw the ball past 10 yards so he won't even look at the Miami CBs on the outside. Byron Jones and Xavien Howard's talents will be wasted on the likes of Jakobi Meyers and N'Keal Harry, who should just run decoy fly routes all game to clear space for other receiving options over the middle. 

Conversely, the Dolphins D is bottom-third against the run despite being untested, and it's all the New England offense can do. The Pats have a top-10 rushing attack, and they've achieved that standing despite opposing defenses stacking the box because they know Cam has a dead arm. Sure, the Pats offense did jack shit against the Rams, but they were doomed against that elite D as soon as L.A. got out to an early lead.

The New England defense is abysmal against the run, but Miami's bottom-third rushing offense can't exploit it. This game will fall on Tua, and he'll have to navigate through injuries/illness across the majority of his skill position players (RB Gaskin, WR Parker, TE Gesicki, WR Grant) against a well-prepared Belichick defense. Miami will fall behind early after a slow start, and that will play right into the hands of the Pats' grind-out style in a low-scoring affair (total 41.5). And of course, the New England lead will give us the "front-runner" version of Cam Newton, who will stay emotionally invested from start to finish as a change of pace from any game in which he falls behind. Prepare yourself for pearly whites and bonkers celebrations:

Look for Miami's turnover luck to regress as the Pats take the air out of the ball and conservatively pound the rock for 35+ carries. With an emotional lift from the return of psychopath Julian Edelman and an opportunity to repay the favor of spoiling Miami's playoff path (as the Dolphins did to the Pats in Week 17 last year), this is New England's game.

Pick #2, Teaser: NE +7.5 (teased from +1.5) and SEA -0.5 (teased from -6.5)

Seahawks (9-4) @ Football Team (6-7); 12pm CT

Action: 57% of bets on the Seahawks

The Washington D is viewed as top-tier, but they've surrendered 27+ against all opposing offenses in the top half of the league. They're undoubtedly good, but their defensive ranking is lifted by soft competition. The top-5 Seattle offense will be their biggest test of the season and they're gonna put up points.

The Seattle D has been trending up with improved health (Jamal Adams and Shaquill Griffin) and a key acquisition in DE Carlos Dunlap, but similarly to Washington, I'm not gonna overreact because they've also benefitted from weak offensive competition. This is all about the QB match-up: under no circumstances should Russell Wilson be favored by less than 7 against Dwayne Haskins.

With Antonio Gibson doubtful and Terry McLaurin producing at a lower level as he recovers from an ankle injury, this game rests entirely on Haskins. HC Ron Rivera and OC Scott Turner fuckin' hate this guy. They demoted him to third-string this year because he has pretty much said "nah, I'm good" to any work on pre-snap recognition, and it shows. He has enough talent to hit big plays against the brutal Seattle pass D, but he'll also fail to diagnose blitzes/coverages and that will yield some back-breaking turnovers resulting in short fields for Seattle.

The Seahawks won't need help, but Haskins will give it to them. Knowing that Washington's season hinges much more on their upcoming divisional games than today's match-up, this has serious potential for a "fuck it, let's get 'em next week" spot. Take the far-superior QB with the added teaser insurance.

Pick #3: SEA/WAS Over 43.5

Action: 58% of bets on the Over

At a low total of 43.5 (average total this year is roughly 49), the market is giving these two defenses far too much credit. For the reasons above, this one's going over.

Bears (6-7) @ Vikings (6-7); 12pm CT

Pick #4: Under 47

Action: 22% of bets on the Under

The public is smashing the Over because the Chicago offense is 6th in points per game (30.3) over the past three weeks since the return of Mitch, and the Vikings have scored 27+ in five of their last seven games. Despite all this action on the Over, the total isn't budging.

Oddsmakers have remained stubborn on the total because they know two things: Mitch hasn't played anybody and the Bears D is Dalvin Cook's kryptonite. 

Mitch's recent offensive outputs have come against the Packers in garbage time and two of the worst defenses in the league (Lions 31st and Texans 30th in defensive DVOA). Unfortunately as a Bears fan, today will serve as a reminder of Mitch's propensity for fuck-ups in a high-intensity game against a defense that will actually put up a fight.

Switching to the Bears D, they simply own Dalvin Cook. In his career against Chicago, he has rushed for 46 yards/game and 2.8 yards/carry. His least efficient performance this year came against the Bears in Week 10 (3.2 yards/carry), and it would've been worse if Akiem Hicks didn't get knocked out mid-game. Hicks is fully healthy this time around and ready to roll. But a more important note than Cook's inefficiency is Minnesota's blind commitment to Cook in the face of the inefficiency. If he's running into a brick wall, the Vikings just pile up carries and keep pounding him into that brick wall. It's a sick fetish for Zimmer and Kubiak. Minnesota coming with a run-first game plan last week against the elite Tampa Bay run D was a psycho move, and it was just as crazy as racking up 30 carries against the Bears D in their last meeting.

Ordinarily I'd go with the 1st half Under to mitigate against end-of-game desperation, but I just can't rob myself of the value that comes with the Bears' 3rd Quarter ineptitude. They're averaging 1.3 points per 3rd Quarter, which is less than half of the 31st-ranked team. Compliments to Matt Nagy - talk about halftime adjustments!

And let's not forget about Dan Bailey. I don't care if he continues to shank everything or the Vikings get stuffed on 4th downs in an attempt to avoid FGs, it's all good stuff. And if Cody Parkey's two missed kicks on Monday night are any indication, Chicagoans love nothing more than taking sadistic pleasure in other teams' kicking struggles.

I've bet on three games involving the Bears this year and they were all winners. I've got this team down pat, and I can tell you, this game will be disgusting. Grab the unpopular Under.

Alright, let's get nogged up and stuff some winnings in your stocking.