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Bleacher Report’s Expert Consensus Week 15 NFL Picks | Bleacher Report

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    Ron Jenkins/Associated Press

    The 2018 NFL season has been a ride. 

    Five double-digit underdogs have won straight-up this yearthe Oakland Raiders were the latest to do so in Week 14yet favorites are an even 13-13-1 against the spread under those circumstances. Granted, most spreads don’t come close to that range, which makes sense considering that 54 percent of games have been decided by one score (up from 47 percent in 2017). 

    As a result, picking hasn’t been easy for Bleacher Report NFL analysts Gary Davenport, Brad Gagnon and Brent Sobleski. However, the trio is at least above .500 against the spread, with a combined 306-300-18 record entering Week 15.

    Individually and as a crew, here’s where our predictors stand through 14 weeks (last week’s records in parentheses):

    1. Gary Davenport: 108-94-6 (7-9)

    T-2. Brad Gagnon: 99-103-6 (12-4)

    T-2. Brent Sobleski: 99-103-6 (10-6)

    Consensus picks: 101-101-6 (10-6)

    Here are 16 new shots at a moving target.


    Lines based on consensuses at OddsShark as of Wednesday.

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    Harry How/Getty Images

    Several trends are working against the Los Angeles Chargers Thursday night in Kansas City. 

  • The Bolts have lost nine consecutive meetings with the Chiefs and are just 2-7 against the spread in those games. 
  • Based on the Wednesday lines utilized in this weekly exercise, home teams are 13-3 straight up and against the spread in Thursday games this season.
  • Based on those same lines, favorites are 14-2 against the spread on Thursdays this year. 

So, facing the Chiefs on a Thursday at Arrowhead is far from ideal for the Chargers, especially with top running backs Melvin Gordon and Austin Ekeler dealing with significant injuries. 

But with a field goal and a hook in their back pockets, all three of our analysts are still siding with the Bolts. 

“The Chargers have yet to lose outside of Los Angeles this season,” Gagnon noted while pointing out that they have two home losses and a road loss to the L.A. Rams. “And while they’ll be a little shorthanded in K.C., so will the Chiefs. Kareem Hunt’s absence is bound to become a factor at some point, Tyreek Hill is dealing with a foot injury which he calls bad, Spencer Ware is doubtful with shoulder and hamstring injuries and key receiver Sammy Watkins remains out as well.”

It isn’t uncommon for the loser of the first game to get revenge in the second game of an in-season rematch, and the Chargers have had plenty of time to study Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs since falling 38-28 in their season opener. L.A. might have a better read on Mahomes and Co. now, and it didn’t have top pass-rusher Joey Bosa for that first game. 

Bosa, who has four sacks in three starts since his return from a foot injury, could be a difference-maker Thursday night. 

Davenport: Los Angeles (+3.5)
Gagnon: Los Angeles (+3.5)
Sobleski: Los Angeles (+3.5)
Consensus: Los Angeles (+3.5)

Score Prediction: Kansas City 28, Los Angeles 27

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    Winslow Townson/Associated Press

    The first-place Houston Texans suffered a disappointing loss last week, while the last-place New York Jets experienced an uplifting victory. That’s at least partly why our experts are unanimously laying six points with the former on the road. 

    It’s all about reversion to the mean, which—as we pointed out while telling you the New Orleans Saints would cover against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers last week—Nate Silver of FiveThirtyEight says “you should usually bet on.”

    The larger sample says the Jets are inconsistent and untrustworthy with a toothless defense and a mistake-prone offense, while the Texans are defensively stout and offensively steady. 

    “I might be tempted by the Jets if they were getting more than a touchdown,” Gagnon said. “But there’s no way I can get behind a 4-9 team getting just six points against a 9-4 team, especially considering that the 4-9 team is coming off a surprise win and the 9-4 team is coming off an upset loss.”

    Rookie Jets quarterback Sam Darnold is coming off a strong performance against the Bills, but this Houston defense packs a lot more punch than Buffalo’s. Look for the league’s interception leader (Darnold has 15 picks in only 10 games) to run into trouble against J.J. Watt and Co. 

    Davenport: Houston (-6)
    Gagnon: Houston (-6)
    Sobleski: Houston (-6)
    Consensus: Houston (-6)

    Score Prediction: Houston 26, New York 17

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    John Grieshop/Getty Images

    The Cleveland Browns needed a week to regroup following a major coaching shakeup at the end of October, but ever since losing to the Kansas City Chiefs in their first game sans Hue Jackson, they’ve been one of the best teams in the NFL. 

    While the Denver Broncos are almost never an easy out in Colorado, all three of our experts are backing the Browns with three points to play with Saturday night at Mile High. 

    “Cleveland has subtly become a dynamic offense since Freddie Kitchens took over as the team’s interim offensive coordinator,” Sobleski said. “His unit is tied for the league lead in yards per play since he started to design the offense, and they’ve allowed by far the fewest amount of quarterback hits since Week 9, aka the post-Hue Jackson era. The final point is crucial with Von Miller and Bradley Chubb chasing Baker Mayfield this week. Play design and a young signal-caller performing at a veteran level give the Browns an edge, though.”

    Bolstering that argument is the fact that the Broncos—who have lost three of their last four home games—struggled mightily without injured starters Emmanuel Sanders and Chris Harris Jr. in a demoralizing Week 14 loss to the San Francisco 49ers.

    Those guys won’t be back to save the day for a team that has been crushed by injuries and might be running out of gas. 

    Davenport: Cleveland (+3)
    Gagnon: Cleveland (+3)
    Sobleski: Cleveland (+3)
    Consensus: Cleveland (+3)

    Score Prediction: Cleveland 23, Denver 21

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    Dylan Buell/Getty Images

    There’ll also be games on Sunday this week, and one of the early headliners features the Green Bay Packers and Chicago Bears, who met in a Week 1 barnburner and might be in line for another closely contested duel Sunday at Soldier Field. 

    Two of our three panelists have the desperate Packers covering a six-point spread as an underdog in Chicago.

    While the Bears are clearly the better team right now, a six-point spread in the Packers’ favor is too tempting to pass up,” Sobleski said. “Green Bay found a way to win in Week 1. Even if the Pack can’t do the same, it isn’t hard to imagine this being another close contest. As good as the Bears defense is, Aaron Rodgers is still Aaron Rodgers and Chicago’s offense isn’t as reliable. Furthermore, Chicago suffered a major blow when cornerback Bryce Callahan suffered a broken foot in Sunday’s victory over the Los Angeles Rams.”

    The Packers showed signs of life in their first game post-Mike McCarthy last week, and they’ve been known to make late-season runs. They have little to lose and have that Rodgers guy at quarterback, while their opponent is coming off a somewhat shorter week and is dealing with the Callahan injury. 

    But we don’t have unanimity, as our top predictor is rolling with the still clearly superior Bears minus those six points at home.  

    “I was the only analyst last week who picked against Green Bay, which worked out about as well as Atlanta’s season has. But this isn’t the Falcons,” Davenport said in dissent. “This is a Bears team that just stomped a mudhole in the Rams, and the game is at Soldier Field. I’m well-aware of the Bears’ struggles against the Packers in the Aaron Rodgers era, including the Week 1 collapse at Lambeau. So are the Bears. All aboard the payback express.”

    For what it’s worth, those among this group who pick against the majority as lone wolves are 54-51-1 this season.

    Davenport: Chicago (-6)
    Gagnon: Green Bay (+6)
    Sobleski: Green Bay (+6)
    Consensus: Green Bay (+6)

    Score Prediction: Chicago 24, Green Bay 21

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    Hannah Foslien/Getty Images

    Is the seven-point spread for Sunday’s matchup between the home favorite Minnesota Vikings and road underdog Miami Dolphins the result of overreaction to extreme Week 14 performances from both sides? 

    Two of our three experts are betting on it. 

    The Dolphins beat the New England Patriots with one of the most buzzed-about plays of the year Sunday, while the Vikings offense spent most of Monday night’s nationally televised loss to the Seattle Seahawks in a coma. But with their playoff position hanging by a thread, the more talented Vikes need this badly, while the Dolphins feel like a team destined to fall back to earth. 

    “I’m not taking Minnesota here because of some great belief in the Vikings—they looked awful in a big game Monday night against the Seahawks and then responded with the classic panic move of scapegoating an assistant,” Davenport said. “By the time Kirk Cousins is finished, he’ll have $84 million and Mike Zimmer will have fond memories of that time he was an NFL head coach. But this spread is falling. Which means people are betting on the Dolphins. With actual money. On the road. On purpose. It’s hard to find a worse idea than giving Cousins a fully guaranteed windfall…but it isn’t impossible.”

    Minnesota has won three of its last four home games by at least seven points, while Miami has lost five consecutive road games by an average margin of 16.4 points. While this might seem like a no-brainer, the oddsmakers know what they’re doing, and Sobleski sees holes in the Minnesota blowout narrative.

    “Upheaval in Minnesota with John DeFilippo’s firing makes this a rather interesting matchup,” he said. “Zimmer wasn’t happy with the offense’s lopsided run-pass ratio. He wants to be more physical and balanced overall. That approach often leads to much tighter contests. The Dolphins, meanwhile, have scored 21 or more points in each of their last three contests. The Vikings have only done so once since their Week 10 bye.”

    As such, you might want to exercise caution here.

    Davenport: Minnesota (-7)
    Gagnon: Minnesota (-7)
    Sobleski: Miami (+7)
    Consensus: Minnesota (-7)

    Score Prediction: Minnesota 27, Miami 17

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    Brett Carlsen/Getty Images

    Don’t run to your nearest legal sports-betting vendor and drop all of your holiday money set aside for Sophia’s Hatchimal Mystery and/or Aiden’s Air Hogs Supernova on either the Buffalo Bills or the Detroit Lions.

    This game in particular is one to avoid.

    Two of our three analysts are on board with the hometown Buffalo Bills with just 2.5 points in Detroit’s back pocket, but neither Gagnon nor Davenport feel good about it.

    “Detroit gained only 218 yards and scored just 10 offensive points in Arizona,” Gagnon said, “but the Bills just lost to the freakin’ Jets at home. In a matchup between two untrustworthy teams, I’ll take the home squad by a field goal, especially if that team is coming off a loss and its opponent is coming off a win. But this is a game to avoid.”

    “Every moment I spent thinking about this game is one I’ll never get back,” Davenport added, “which is profoundly depressing. I’d call it a toss-up, but it’s difficult to tell heads from tails when you flip a turd. My gut says cold weather and defense will (good God I’m laying points with Buffalo) overcome an offense that got outgained indoors last week by Arizona.”

    The Bills have the better run defense and a more opportunistic D as a whole, which could be advantageous in a matchup between two mistake-prone teams in the cold. But you’ve been warned, so don’t complain if our majority is wrong.

    Davenport: Buffalo (-2.5)
    Gagnon: Buffalo (-2.5)
    Sobleski: Detroit (+2.5)
    Consensus: Buffalo (-2.5)

    Score Prediction: Buffalo 20, Detroit 17

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    Gail Burton/Associated Press

    The Tampa Bay Buccaneers haven’t won on the road since they beat the Saints despite giving up 40 points back in Week 1, while the Baltimore Ravens have three home victories by double-digit margins this season. 

    Coming off what some might consider a moral victory on the road against the high-powered Chiefs, the majority of our crew thinks the motivated Ravens have another one-sided win in their sights Sunday against the deeply flawed, out-of-contention Bucs. 

    “The Tampa Bay defense wasn’t atrocious from start to finish against the Saints last week, and it gave up only 26 points in back-to-back victories prior to that,” Gagnon said. “But the Bucs aren’t the same outside of Tampa, where they’ve surrendered a silly 39.8 points per game this season. I’m not sure they’ll have an answer for the problems Lamar Jackson has been presenting, and Baltimore’s strong pass defense should have a field day against the Bucs’ one-dimensional attack.”

    But again, lone wolves have excelled throughout the season here, and Sobleski isn’t taking a big risk with the underdog. The backdoor will likely at least be open for one of the league’s highest-scoring teams to cover a 7.5-point spread in what could certainly be a defensive battle. 

    Davenport: Baltimore (-7.5)
    Gagnon: Baltimore (-7.5)
    Sobleski: Tampa Bay (+7.5)
    Consensus: Baltimore (-7.5)

    Score Prediction: Baltimore 30, Tampa Bay 17

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    Scott Cunningham/Getty Images

    The Atlanta Falcons have failed to cover the spread in a league-worst 10 of their 13 games this season, per Only two other teams have failed to cover on more than seven occasions. 

    But two of our three panelists figure the Falcons are due while laying nine points at home against the struggling Arizona Cardinals. 

    “It’s hard to quit the Falcons,” Sobleski admitted, “because the offense can still be so dynamic. Granted, it hasn’t been as of late, but the Cardinals offense is far worse off with a rookie quarterback and a completely rebuilt offensive line due to injuries. Plus, Arizona is making the dreaded cross-country trip for a 1 p.m. ET start, which rarely plays in a Western team’s favor. Big spreads tend to be tantalizing, but not in this case.”

    Gagnon—who is 7-2 when picking as a lone wolf the last two weeks—disagrees, citing Arizona’s Week 13 victory in Green Bay and half-decent road performances in San Francisco, Minnesota and Kansas City (the team covered in all three games). The Cards have surrendered only 34 total points in back-to-back games, while Atlanta seems to be dreaming of the offseason following five consecutive games with 20 or fewer points. 

    The Falcons could finally explode Sunday against a bad team, but they themselves are also a bad team. Our guys are leaning in Atlanta’s direction, but this one also requires discretion. 


    Davenport: Atlanta (-9)
    Gagnon: Arizona (+9)
    Sobleski: Atlanta (-9)
    Consensus: Atlanta (-9)

    Score Prediction: Atlanta 27, Arizona 16

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    Jack Dempsey/Associated Press

    You might have noticed that it’s particularly difficult getting a read on games between teams that are either eliminated from contention or nearly out. That’s again the case with Sunday’s matchup between the Oakland Raiders and Cincinnati Bengals in Southwest Ohio.

    “Midway through the process of trying to make this pick, I stopped and took a shower,” Gagnon said. “After all, shower thoughts are our best thoughts. And my prevailing thought was that it’s been quite some time since we had a chance to laugh at the Raiders. I mean, I guess we laugh at them every time Khalil Mack records a sack or Amari Cooper scores a touchdown, but the Raiders have generally avoided embarrassment on the field ever since the San Francisco 49ers crushed them in Week 9.

    “That starts with quarterback Derek Carr, who hasn’t thrown an interception since Week 5 and is coming off consecutive strong performances. But beyond that, Oakland played strong defense in a Week 14 victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers, and those guys appear to be playing hard for Jon Gruden. I wish they were getting a full three points, but I still think they win outright against a Bengals team that has lost three straight home games by at least 14 points each.”

    Cincinnati has indeed been terrible at home, and the Bengals appear to be playing out the string sans Andy Dalton and A.J. Green. They did hang with the Chargers in L.A. last week, but that isn’t enough to justify laying points with them against a hard-playing, well-quarterbacked Raiders team Sunday. 

    Davenport: Oakland (+2.5)
    Gagnon: Oakland (+2.5)
    Sobleski: Oakland (+2.5)
    Consensus: Oakland (+2.5)

    Score Prediction: Oakland 24, Cincinnati 21

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    Seth Wenig/Associated Press

    The Tennessee Titans are playoff contenders with a 7-6 record and four wins in their last six games, but they’re actually getting points against the 5-8 New York Giants. That might seem odd on the surface, but the majority of our panelists are siding with the G-Men at home. 

    “The Giants are good, plain and simple,” Gagnon said. “And the Titans are vulnerable, particularly on the road. New York has won four of five since its Week 9 bye and just put up 40 points on the Washington Redskins despite not having top receiver Odell Beckham Jr. The Giants are killing it with basically nothing to lose, and that should continue with Beckham likely to return Sunday against Tennessee.

    “The Titans are certainly as talented on paper and might even be a better all-around team, but you have to consider how inconsistent they’ve been. They got hot early before going on a three-game losing streak, and even this recent run was interrupted by two embarrassing road losses to the Indianapolis Colts and Texans. Following two big wins, Tennessee’s Week 15 crash feels inevitable.”

    Throw in that Tennessee lost starting right tackle Jack Conklin and tight end Jonnu Smith last week against Jacksonville, and it’s easy to see why the Giants are the pick for Gagnon and Davenport. However, Sobleski’s gut tells him the Titans pull this one out, so we lack unanimity. 

    Davenport: New York (-2.5)
    Gagnon: New York (-2.5)
    Sobleski: Tennessee (+2.5)
    Consensus: New York (-2.5)

    Score Prediction: New York 27, Tennessee 23

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    Gary McCullough/Associated Press

    Our gang is unanimously siding with another AFC South team in Sunday’s matchup between the Washington Redskins and Jacksonville Jaguars, mainly because Washington is a hot mess that might have given up on the 2018 season. 

    “It isn’t easy to get behind laying seven points on Jacksonville following its 21-point loss to Tennessee,” Gagnon said, “especially since the Jags haven’t won by more than six points since Week 4. But this is the week that changes, because the Redskins might be the worst team in the NFL right now. Essentially down to a fourth-string quarterback, the ‘Skins trailed the Giants 40-0 through three quarters last week. That was at home, and the four-win Giants didn’t have superstar receiver Odell Beckham Jr.”

    It isn’t just the Mark Sanchez/Josh Johnson effect for the Redskins, who have surrendered 33 points per game over the last three weeks. Washington’s roster is badly depleted. And while the Jaguars aren’t exactly a scoring machine, they might not have to ask for much from quarterback Cody Kessler against a run defense that has been hammered on the ground throughout the second half of the season. 

    Jags running back Leonard Fournette should be energized with extra time off following a Thursday game, and he should be in for his first 100-yard performance of the year against a run D that has surrendered 5.0 yards per carry since Week 9. 

    “Just remember,” Gagnon added. “You aren’t betting on the Jaguars, you’re betting against the Redskins. That’ll make it easier to swallow those seven points.”

    Davenport: Jacksonville (-7)
    Gagnon: Jacksonville (-7)
    Sobleski: Jacksonville (-7)
    Consensus: Jacksonville (-7)

    Score Prediction: Jacksonville 24, Washington 13

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    Eric Christian Smith/Associated Press

    Davenport and Sobleski are trying to not overthink the fact that the streaking, NFC East-leading Dallas Cowboys are getting a full field goal from the Indianapolis Colts on Sunday. 

    “Just to be clear, we’re getting a field goal for taking arguably the NFC’s hottest team headed to the impossible-to-win-in confines of (giggle) Indianapolis?” Davenport joked. “Yes, the Colts just knocked off the Texans on the road, one week after getting shut out by the withered husk of what used to be the Jaguars. Meanwhile, the Cowboys are rolling en route to the NFC East title. Taking the better team (and the points) isn’t rocket science.”

    It’s fair to mock Indy’s home-field advantage, because the Colts barely got past Jacksonville and Miami at Lucas Oil Stadium in November and lost to the Bengals and Texans there in September. But in defense of Gagnon’s dissent, the Cowboys are only 2-4 on the road and are dealing with fresh injuries to star offensive players Ezekiel Elliott (who missed Wednesday’s practice with a shoulder injury) and Zack Martin (who is dealing with a sprained left MCL). With center Travis Frederick already out and left tackle Tyron Smith less than 100 percent, that’s far from ideal. 

    But Elliott and Martin should have green lights Sunday, and the Colts have had trouble all season long with strong defensive opponents. The Cowboys have become exactly that, having surrendered only 19 points per game during their current five-game winning streak. 

    Davenport: Dallas (+3)
    Gagnon: Indianapolis (-3)
    Sobleski: Dallas (+3)
    Consensus: Dallas (+3)

    Score Prediction: Dallas 26, Indianapolis 21

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    John Hefti/Associated Press

    Only three teams this season have covered the spread against the Seattle Seahawks, who continue to exceed the expectations of oddsmakers and the public with an 8-5 record and the fourth-best scoring differential in the NFC. 

    So, why are the Seahawks laying less than a handful of points Sunday against a team that they spanked 43-16 just two weeks ago?

    “There’s something to be said for first-meeting losers improving in in-season rematches, the San Francisco 49ers are at home and coming off a solid win, the Seahawks could be tired following a Monday night game against Minnesota, and Seattle’s offense struggled mightily in Week 14,” Gagnon said. “But add all that together and do you get from a 27-point margin to four? No way in hell. This might not be a blowout like it was in San Francisco, but Seattle is the obvious pick with less than a touchdown on the line.”

    On the road this season, the Seahawks have crushed the Lions, beat a Panthers team that hadn’t lost at home in a year, nearly beat the first-place Rams and hammered the Raiders at a neutral site. 

    Sure, San Francisco is coming off a somewhat impressive home victory over Denver, but the Broncos were without two key players for that game. The 49ers are a lot more like the team that Tampa Bay and Seattle trounced in consecutive weeks prior to that, and depleted teams like the 49ers don’t typically string together consecutive decent outings. 

    Plus, Wilson is likely to bounce back following the lowest-rated game of his seven-year career. He is, after all, the fourth-highest-rated passer in the NFL this season, the second-highest-rated qualified passer in NFL history and an MVP candidate. He also might have top receiver Doug Baldwin back from injury, and he’s going up against a defense that is on pace to set a single-season record for futility when it comes to takeaways. 

    Davenport: Seattle (-4.5)
    Gagnon: Seattle (-4.5)
    Sobleski: Seattle (-4.5)
    Consensus: Seattle (-4.5)

    Score Prediction: Seattle 30, San Francisco 14

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    Justin Berl/Getty Images

    Unanimous picks haven’t been sure things here this season, and Davenport knows that’s trouble with our team of experts siding with the New England Patriots as a small favorite in Pittsburgh. But considering the way both teams have dealt with adversity as of late, there’s no breaking from the consensus here.

    “This pick is doomed,” Davenport said, “because we all agree, and every time that happens, the Titanic crashes into the Hindenburg and Leonardo DiCaprio winds up without a burning blimp door to cling to. But there’s no way I’m picking against the Patriots after what happened in Miami last week. Not with a first-round bye on the line. Not after Darth Hoodie just spent an entire week Force-choking strangers and Tom Brady could barely bring himself to enjoy a tofu jerky and kale protein pastewich. And certainly not after the Steelers just decided the best way to get stoked for this game was to lose a third straight game against (I kid you not) the  Raiders. You’d have to triple this spread for me to consider the Steelers.

    The Patriots look like a Super Bowl contender that has hit a pair of divisional speed bumps during the stretch run, while the Steelers look like—to stay on theme—a sinking ship. New England has lost back-to-back games only once in the last three years, and it should be fired up following a wild loss to Miami.

    Meanwhile, the Steelers’ running game has disappeared without Le’Veon Bell and James Conner, quarterback Ben Roethlisberger isn’t 100 percent and wasn’t playing well when he was, and the defense has only one takeaway during the team’s current three-game losing streak. 

    That doesn’t mean Pittsburgh won’t wake up in time to make a statement in front of its home crowd, because the Pats are more vulnerable now than they’ve been in years. But that isn’t something our analysts feel comfortable betting on, especially considering that you merely need to give up two points with New England. 

    Davenport: New England (-2)
    Gagnon: New England (-2)
    Sobleski: New England (-2)
    Consensus: New England (-2)

    Score Prediction: New England 28, Pittsburgh 24

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    Matt Marton/Associated Press

    Is Carson Wentz worth only 1.5 points over Nick Foles

    “Wentz is the only reason I had reservations about taking the Los Angeles Rams when they were laying nine points earlier in the week,” Gagnon said. “Now we find out from NFL Network’s  Ian Rapoport that a back issue could keep Wentz out of this game, and the line only moves up to 10.5? I get it: Foles was the Super Bowl MVP only 10 months ago, but the dude hasn’t thrown a pass in three months. In his first three starts in relief of an injured Wentz last December, Foles completed only 54 percent of his passes and posted a measly 77.7 passer rating.

    “Besides, an argument could be made that the Philadelphia Eagles are toast regardless of who’s at quarterback following that deflating Week 14 loss to Dallas. Philly doesn’t have enough healthy talent on defense to keep up with a Rams team that will be happy to be home from ice-cold Chicago and at the L.A. Coliseum for the first time since they scored 54 points there in Week 11.”

    The Rams are averaging 37.7 points per game at home, while the Eagles have surrendered 77 points in their last two road games. The only way to beat the Rams is to establish the run to limit Aaron Donald and Co. and avoid explosive plays on defense, and Philadelphia failed to do either of those things in Dallas. In fact, only five teams have allowed more 20-yard gains this season than the Eagles, who haven’t been able to recapture their 2017 mojo. 

    There’s also a chance they’ve lost hope, which could turn this into a laugher. 

    Davenport: Los Angeles (-10.5)
    Gagnon: Los Angeles (-10.5)
    Sobleski: Los Angeles (-10.5)
    Consensus: Los Angeles (-10.5)

    Score Prediction: Los Angeles 33, Philadelphia 17

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    Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images

    After six uncharacteristic quarters, it appears the New Orleans Saints rediscovered their offensive mojo with a 25-point second half last week against the Buccaneers. And their defense, which has surrendered a league-low 14 points per game since Week 10, hasn’t lost its groove. 

    That has the majority of our analysts backing New Orleans as a six-point road favorite Monday night in Carolina against a Panthers team that has lost five straight to fall out of the playoff picture. 

    “The Cowboys provided a template of how to beat the Saints by playing fundamentally sound defense coupled with a strong ground attack,” Sobleski said. “Unfortunately, the Panthers can’t replicate that approach. During Carolina’s current five-game losing streak, the Panthers have allowed 30.4 points per game. Running back Christian McCaffrey is a problem for any opposing defense, but Cam Newton‘s right shoulder is clearly giving him problems, which limits Carolina’s offense.”

    Even in a good year, the Panthers were smoked by the Saints in both of their 2017 meetings, so this consensus pick makes a lot of sense. But it isn’t foolproof, because the Panthers might be desperate enough to find some magic against a familiar opponent. Carolina has won 10 of its last 11 home games, which is enough for Gagnon to get behind the Panthers with six points on his side. 

    Davenport: New Orleans (-6)
    Gagnon: Carolina (+6)
    Sobleski: New Orleans (-6)
    Consensus: New Orleans (-6)

    Score Prediction: New Orleans 31, Carolina 24

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