By Bill Speros | | 7 mins
Most Bet On Week 15 Games: Packers-Ravens, COVID Share Spotlight
The Green Bay Packers-Baltimore Ravens game Sunday carries the biggest liability for sportsbooks and should be the most-bet game in Week 15. But COVID-19 has returned as the ultimate wagering wildcard across the sports and NFL betting spectrum.
The NFL schedule this week features nine games in which both teams are either currently in position to reach the postseason or are one game out of a playoff spot.
Four teams – the Packers, Buccaneers, Cowboys and Titans – can clinch division titles this weekend. The Buccaneers, who play host to NFC South division rival New Orleans, need a win or tie Sunday night to win Tampa Bay’s first division title since 2002. Green Bay will be the NFC North champs with a win or tie as well.
The featured national game on FOX and the candidate to receive the most action on the Sunday schedule at top sportsbooks and on betting apps has the Packers visiting Baltimore. The Packers are the best team in the NFL against the spread this season at 11-2, which is one game better than their outright record.
Green Bay’s ATS mark is stellar considering it has been the favorite eight times this season. Green Bay covered lines of 12 points last week against Chicago and 11.5 points over Detroit in Week 2.
About 100 players league-wide have been placed on the NFL’s reserve/COVID-19 list. Washington, Cleveland and the LA Rams have been hardest hit in terms of numbers. The Browns have seen both QBs Baker Mayfield and Case Keenum sacked by the virus – at least for now.
The Packers have been spared the carnage suffered by other teams. But Thursday, they learned Pro Bowl DL Kenny Clark was added to the list.
The biggest challenge facing the Ravens has nothing to do with COVID-19. Quarterback Lamar Jackson sprained his ankle in the second quarter of Baltimore’s 24-22 loss to the Browns in Week 14. Tyler Huntley finished the game for the 2018 NFL MVP. Jackson has never missed a pro start due to a non-Covid-19 injury. Jackson missed the team’s practice on Thursday and his status remains day-to-day.
The NFL line in this game has moved 3.5 points in favor of the Packers at DraftKings since last week. The Packers are now 5.5-point favorites with the total resting at 43.5.
In the “Time Is A Flat Circle Department,” it was a little more than a year ago when the COVID-ravaged Ravens played the Pittsburgh Steelers on a Wednesday afternoon after it was postponed three times. The Ravens were without 16 players in that game – including Jackson. The Ravens would lose that game 19-14.
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COVID Remains X-Factor For Bettors, Oddsmakers
Risk is at the core of sports betting. Assessing it correctly and reacting to new information in real time is the difference between profitability and insolvency for betters and oddsmakers alike. Given the spike in positive COVID-19 cases, especially among players who are vaccinated, assessing this type of risk is nearly impossible.
The best bet on all sides when making NFL picks is to simply wait.
“COVID is starting to impact NFL games at the same level we saw last year. Handicapping games in this environment is difficult as we do not know which players will be available. Bettors are being more cautious as well and waiting to place bets until more information is available,” BetMGM Sports Trader Tristan Davis told Bookies.com.
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The NFL decision on Thursday to soften the rules to make it easier for asymptomatic, vaccinated players to return to their teams appears to be a win for both science and common sense. That’s an all-too rare occurrence in 2021.
The biggest difference thus far in this outbreak compared to the flareups last season is that the league is fully committed – at least as of this writing – to play all of its games as originally scheduled (save for those flexed for TV purposes). Shifting games was the move of first resort last season. As the Ravens can attest, it did not really serve in the best interests of anyone involved.
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Week 15 NFL Betting Trends
Books Coming Off Worst Week Of Year
The betting public scored its biggest betting victory of the season in Week 14, as the favorites went 11-3, and parlays and props were awash in chalk. Across the nation’s betting sites, underdogs have seen their significant edge fade throughout the second half of the season.
After 206 games in 2021, underdogs have a 110-95-1 (53.4%) edge ATS.
Week 15 Biggest Liabilities
Five games carry significant spread exposure in Week 15 based on our consensus analysis of multiple sportsbooks:
|GB at BAL||GB -5.5||91%|
|CAR at BUF||BUF -10.5||81%|
|SEA at LAR||LAR -5.5||75%|
|MIN at CHI||MIN -5.5||74%|
|ATL at SF||SF -9.5||71%|
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Titans, Patriots Can Clinch AFC Playoff Spots
The road to Super Bowl 56 remains clogged with traffic. Not a single NFL team has clinched a playoff berth, much to the thrill of the powers that be on Park Avenue. That run is all but certain to end this week.
The list of Week 15 NFL playoff scenarios is something to behold. There are six separate scenarios listed for the New England Patriots to clinch their ticket to the postseason this week, according to the league, plus “other complex scenarios” not listed that include “multiple ties and strength-of-victory permutations.”
Should making the playoffs count if you do it via a “strength-of-victory permutation?” We don’t think so, either.
All six playoff scenarios for New England this weekend start with the Patriots winning and the Dolphins either losing or ending in a tie against the Jets. Unlikely.
The Titans clinch the AFC South with a win at Pittsburgh and an Indianapolis loss to New England on Saturday.
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The Cowboys need a win over the Giants and a Philadelphia-Washington tie to win the NFC East. Dallas also wins the division if Washington loses and the Cowboys clinch the strength-of-victory tiebreaker over Philly. There are five settings in which the Cowboys clinch a playoff spot with a win. They include a Cowboys win and a 49ers loss, or a Cowboys win and a Saints loss or tie against the Buccaneers.
If the Cardinals beat or tie Detroit Sunday, they, too, will clinch a playoff berth. The Cardinals are 13-point favorites at FanDuel, the largest line of the week at that site. Arizona (10-3) is -770 on the moneyline, while Detroit (1-10-1) +540. The total is 47. There are eight situations in which Arizona could earn a playoff berth this week if it loses to Detroit.
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There are five paths this week for the Packers to clinch a playoff berth with a loss to the Ravens.
The Rams can reach the playoffs this week with a win or tie against the Seahawks, plus four other combinations involving the Saints, Vikings, Falcons, Eagles and Washington Football Team.
In addition to icing the division with a win or tie over New Orleans, Tampa Bay has three paths to the playoffs with a loss Sunday night. The simplest involves a Minnesota win or tie against Chicago and a 49ers loss.
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All odds are current as of publication. Check out our DraftKings vs FanDuel comparison of the two books.