NFL Week 15 Sharp Report
Another 1-2 week for the Sharp Report as we drop to 7-5 over the last four weeks. The sense of urgency really picked up for a lot of teams over the weekend as some showed they were not ready for the primetime. Looking at you, Raiders and Giants. Meanwhile, this is the first weekend that Saturday football will resume; we also get the rare Friday Christmas Day game next week. Since 2003, road teams on Saturday during Weeks 15 through 17 are covering at a 62% clip, which is fitting since both underdogs show some value this Saturday with the Broncos and Panthers. One of them more than the other as we kick off this week’s report at Lambeau Field.
Carolina Panthers vs. Green Bay Packers
No surprise, we see over 80% of the action on Green Bay in this spot as the Packers are coming off a win but no cover against the Lions last week. Despite all that public love, this line has come down from the opening number of nine and moved towards Carolina. Green Bay’s offense has been in sync all season and leads the NFL in points, is second in total offense and third in net yards per play. However, the defense has lagged behind, ranking 20th in DVOA. Meanwhile, the Panthers are 7-6 ATS this season despite a 4-9 SU record. The defense has really struggled, allowing 30.5 points over their last seven losses. Expect both teams to move the ball in this game, but the line movement points me to the underdog here as the backdoor will be open at Lambeau Field.
PICK: Panthers +8
New England Patriots vs. Miami Dolphins
This is my favorite play on the board this week as it not only contains significant sharp reverse line movement but the trend and handicap back it up. Miami has emerged from the shadows as a public betting darling and are receiving over 80% of the handle in this spot as a short home favorite despite the line significantly crossing over the key threshold of three.
The Dolphins are a statistical anomaly this season, winning eight games despite ranking 28th in the very important metric of net yards per play. New England controlled this game in the trenches back in Week 1, rushing for 217 yards in a 21-11 Patriots victory. Granted, that was with Fitzpatrick, not Tua, under center, but Miami has been outgained on the ground in six of its last nine games and will be at a disadvantage on offense with significant skill position players forced to miss the game with an injury. Throw in Bill Belichick’s dominant 19-5 record against rookie quarterbacks, including nine straight wins, and you’ve got a receipt for disaster with the Dolphins.
PICK: Patriots +1.5
Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Cincinnati Bengals
This is a rare situation where a double-digit favorite catches our eye on the board, but it’s truly a great buy-low spot for a Steelers team that everyone is ready to write off after two straight subpar performances. However, the numbers just don’t match up in this game, and Pittsburgh should be able to bully this Cincinnati team that is 29th in DVOA and has lost four of its last five against the number.
Big Ben holds a 25-7 record all-time against the Bengals, and I expect the Steelers’ offense to rev their engines in this game. Meanwhile, on the other side of the ball third-stringer, Ryan Finley is in for a rough game against the top-flight Steelers defense. Swallow the points and enjoy a Monday night blowout.
PICK: Steelers -12.5