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DraftKings is offering up a new free-to-enter pool for the 2022 NFL season. It runs for the first 17 weeks of the season, and users are allowed to pick their five favorite spreads each week. You’re also allowed one self-appointed bye week, meaning each player will pick 80 games by the end of Week 17. The players who do the best will have a chance to take home part of a $100,000 prize pool, plus millions in bonus prizes.
Let’s take a look at my five favorite picks for NFL Week 15.
The Pick: Colts +4.5
As long as the Vikings are taking the field, there’s a good chance I’m going to be picking against them most weeks. They continue to stand out as one of the most overvalued teams in football at 10-3. They have a Pythagorean Win Expectation of just 6.5-6.5, and they own a negative points differential for the year overall. They’ve also been outgained by the fourth-most yards this season, so this is simply not a very good football team.
On the other side, the Colts are a team that stands out as undervalued. Their record is obviously very poor, but you can throw out the two games that were started by Sam Ehlinger. He’s not an NFL-caliber quarterback, so it’s not surprising that the team lost both games with him under center.
They’re only 1-3 since switching back to Matt Ryan, but their results have been much more impressive. They suffered a one-point loss to the Eagles, and they played a game against the Steelers that went right down to the wire. They also trailed the Cowboys by just two points in the fourth quarter of their last contest before imploding down the stretch.
The Colts ultimately lost their last game by 35 points, and buying low on teams coming off a blowout loss has historically been a good investment. Teams have posted a 73-41-5 record against the spread following a loss of at least 35 points, so this feels like an awesome opportunity to back them.
The Pick: Steelers +2.5
The Panthers have put themselves right into the thick of the NFC South race. They’ve won three of their past four games, and they actually control their own destiny for making the playoffs. If they manage to win out, they will win the division. That’s improbable, but it would’ve sounded impossible just a few weeks ago.
The Panthers have relied on their ground game recently. They’ve racked up at least 185 rushing yards in each of their past three wins, which have come against the Falcons, Broncos and Seahawks. Each of those teams has struggled against the run this season, so it’s not surprising that the Panthers were able to take advantage.
I’d be much more surprised if they’re able to do the same thing against the Steelers. Pittsburgh has been tough to run on this season, and they allowed just 65 yards to the Ravens last week. I have no confidence that Sam Darnold can win a game with his arm at this point, especially with D.J. Moore banged up. If the Steelers can slow down the Panthers’ rushing attack, they should be able to pull off the upset.
The Pick: Lions +0.5
It feels a bit square to hop on the Lions at this point, but I’m a believer. Their offense has been fantastic all year, especially with Amon-Ra St. Brown and D’Andre Swift at close to full strength. They’re only getting better at this point, with D.J. Chark and Jameson Williams joining the rotation at receiver in recent weeks.
The Lions are going to face a stiff test this week vs. the Jets, who possess one of the best pass defenses in the league. However, I’ll take a good offense over a good defense any day of the week. The Lions have racked up at least 25 points in six straight games, and they’ve gotten to at least 31 points in five of them.
If they can do that against the Jets, I’m not sure how New York can keep up. I didn’t think they could keep up with Mike White at quarterback, and I certainly don’t think they can do it with Zach Wilson. Wilson is probably a more talented quarterback than White all things considered – there’s a reason he was the No. 2 pick in the draft – but White clearly has the support of the Jets’ locker room. It has to be a bit deflating for the rest of the team to have Wilson back under center, so I’m not expecting to see their best effort.
The Pick: Jaguars +4.5
The Jaguars are another team with a mediocre record that is much better than people realize. They’ve lost by double-digits just twice this season: a 10-point loss to the Chiefs and a blowout loss against the Lions. There’s certainly no shame in losing to Kansas City, and the Lions’ offense was simply too good for Jacksonville to keep up with. The Jags put together arguably their best game of the season last week vs. the Titans, racking up 36 points and 428 yards against a capable opponent.
The Cowboys are a step up in weight class but don’t be surprised if Dallas isn’t fully focused on this matchup. They have a massive showdown with the Eagles on tap next week, and the two teams are already taking shots at each other in the media. It’s only natural for them to slightly overlook the 5-8 Jaguars with such a massive contest on the horizon.
The Cowboys clearly overlooked the Texans last week, and they nearly got caught with their pants down. If they make the same mistake against Jacksonville, Trevor Lawrence and company can take advantage.
The Pick: Commanders -4.5
This line doesn’t make a ton of sense to me. The Commanders were listed as 2.5-point favorites when these two teams met in New York, but now they’re favored by just 4.5 in Washington? Homefield advantage doesn’t matter nearly as much as it used to, but it has to be worth more than just one point. That is essentially what the current point spread is suggesting.
The Giants also continue to deal with multiple injuries at multiple positions. They’ve been decimated at receiver all year, but the team is also dealing with key absences along the offensive line and in the secondary. There’s also a chance that Leonard Williams could miss his second straight game, which would be a huge blow for the Giants’ defense.
It also seems like the Commanders might get back their best player. Chase Young has yet to suit up this season, and he’s officially questionable. If he’s able to go, Washington will boast arguably the most intimating front four in the entire league. Jonathan Allen and Daron Payne are two of the best interior defensive linemen in football, so they’re going to be nearly impossible to block with Young wreaking havoc on the outside.
Year-to-Date Results: 51-19 (4-1 last week)
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I am a promoter at DraftKings and am also an avid fan and user (my username is mlamarca) and may sometimes play on my personal account in the games that I offer advice on. Although I have expressed my personal view on the games and strategies above, they do not necessarily reflect the view(s) of DraftKings and do not constitute a representation that any particular strategy will guarantee success. All customers should use their own skill and judgment in building lineups. I may also deploy different players and strategies than what I recommend above. I am not an employee of DraftKings and do not have access to any non-public information.