It's Week 15 of the NFL season, and ESPN Chalk's Vegas experts (Phil Steele, Warren Sharp, Erin Rynning and Mike Clay) have you covered with comprehensive betting previews for all of Sunday's games (except the Sunday nighter).
Note: All odds courtesy of the Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook as of Friday morning.
Los Angeles Rams at Seattle Seahawks (-2.5)
PickCenter public consensus pick: 62 percent Seattle
Phil Steele's take: Statistically these two teams are almost dead even, with the Seahawks plus-33 yards per game and the Rams plus-25 yards per game. I love to play on top-notch teams coming off a loss, but both come in following a defeat, so there is no value here. My eyeball test tells me that the Rams are the stronger team, and the Seahawks' mystique factor dropped a few notches last week with their road loss to upstart Jacksonville. While a game down in the standings and having five losses this season, all Seattle has to do is win its final three games, and the NFC West title belongs to them. If the Seahawks lose, they could end up missing the playoffs altogether, so I will take Pete Carroll at home in a must-win situation with a playoff atmosphere.
ATS pick: Seattle
Warren Sharp's take: The most intriguing matchup in this game will be the Rams offense, with the infusion of Robert Woods, against this banged-up Seahawks defense. The Seahawks are already without two of the three "Legion of Boom" in the secondary, and saw both LBs Bobby Wagner and K.J. Wright go down last week with injuries, and neither has practiced yet this week. Offensively the Rams line is dealing with injuries to LT Andrew Whitworth and RG Rob Havenstein, but Havenstein did practice on Thursday, and beat reporters believe Whitworth is on track to play. The reason why this side of the ball is so huge is the Rams offense has struggled in hostile territory this year, putting up just 7 points in Minnesota, and Goff has certainly showed regression in matchups against marquee defenses. There is a very good chance the Rams could control time of possession in this game, which would be huge to their chances of winning this game. The Rams run defense is noticeably worse than their pass defense, but the Seahawks struggle immensely to run the ball. The Rams lost starting CB Kayvon Webster last week and since week 8 they are allowing TEs to record a 57 percent success rate on red zone targets. This game will come down to big plays from Russell Wilson and targets to Jimmy Graham in the red zone.
Pick: Pass (due to unknown status of Wagner and Wright)
Prediction: Seattle 24, Los Angeles Rams 23
The pick: Los Angeles Rams +1.5
New England Patriots (-3) at Pittsburgh Steelers
PickCenter public consensus pick: 52 percent New England
Phil Steele's take: Both teams got caught looking ahead to this game, but the Steelers rallied back from a 38-29 fourth quarter deficit to get past Baltimore at home. The Patriots not only lost at Miami, but were outgained by 114 yards (trailed 27-10 at one point). If Pittsburgh wins, it knocks New England out of contention for the No. 1 seed, while a Patriots win gives them the upper hand, as they go into the season's final two weeks. New England rates the edge on offense, and surprisingly even with Le'Veon Bell leading the league in rushing, the Steelers have failed to top 92 yards rushing in five of their past six games. New England has won five of its past seven trips to Heinz Field, and Tom Brady has a 22-0 ratio in the last seven meetings between the two. This figures to be a high-scoring shootout with the Steelers missing LB Ryan Shazier, and I will call for New England to win yet another high-stakes game.
ATS pick: Lean on New England
Erin Rynning's take: Look for a major bounce back for the Patriots' offense that floundered Monday night with a season-low 248 yards. Of course, the return of Rob Gronkowski is vital, as more cohesion can be expected from the unit. The Steelers are still weakened with the loss of Shazier and can break down in the secondary. The Steelers' offense is finally flashing the potential of their offense of late, averaging more than 450 yards of offense in their past three games. The Patriots' defensive numbers are poor. However, their bend-but-don't-break style has kept points off the board. Still, with the Steelers' vast array of playmaker touchdowns will be in order.
Warren Sharp's take: The most efficient strategy for the Steelers to upset the Patriots will likely be the one they choose to avoid, and that is rely heavily on rushes from Bell. Over the past month, the Steelers have gone 72 percent passes, the most pass-heavy offense in the NFL. Since Week 8 the Patriots have allowed a 40 percent success rate on passes, the fourth best in the league, while their run defense ranks worst in the league, allowing a 57 percent success rate. Focusing more on third down, the Patriots pass defense is allowing an incredible 27 percent success rate on third-down passes since Week 8, but a 72 percent success rate on third-down runs, the worst in the NFL.
Staying on the field, converting first downs and scoring points while keeping Tom Brady on the sideline should be a goal, and it will be achieved easiest if Pittsburgh commits to a more balanced strategy, with far more rushing plays than have been called recently. But because I'm uncertain the Steelers employ the most efficient strategy, I cannot ignore the 22 TDs to 0 INTs and 128 passer rating from Tom Brady against the Steelers since 2007.
Prediction: New England 26, Pittsburgh 25
The pick: Pittsburgh and the under -- PIT +3, 53.5
Tennessee Titans at San Francisco 49ers (-1.5)
PickCenter public consensus pick: 61 percent San Francisco
Phil Steele's take: The 49ers have now won three of their past four games and are not doing it with smoke and mirrors. San Francisco is top-five on both offense and defense and plus-102 yards per game during that span. Jimmy Garoppolo has played in three games and has completed 67 percent of his passes with 314 yards per game in his two starts. I went against Tennessee last week with a 5-7 Arizona team, and the Cardinals had a 261-204 yardage edge and pulled off the upset. Despite their 8-5 record, the Titans are being outgained by seven yards per game. Marcus Mariota barely runs the ball anymore, and he has a 10:14 TD:INT ratio this season. The Titans have won just four of their 13 games by more than four points.
Since the Titans are playing with playoff needs, I was surprised that they're an underdog to a 3-10 San Francisco squad. The guys in Las Vegas are pretty smart, as the 49ers deserve to be favored. There is not much difference between being an underdog of less than three or a favorite of less than three, so the line won't affect me. The hometown 49ers are the stronger team here.
ATS pick: San Francisco
Erin Rynning's take: As noted last week, Garopplo is making all the difference for the 49ers with the offense averaging more than 400 yards the past two weeks. No question the offense is moving forward, but still this is a team loaded with flaws. There's a huge difference in value this week in dealing with this 49ers team, while facing a team's that has won six of their past eight. The 49ers were more than a field goal underdog two weeks ago against the Bears, while a month ago this team was actually a field goal underdog on their home turf against the Giants. Now, it is favored against a Titans team that is fighting for the playoffs seems too much. The Titans lost last week in Arizona and note they stayed on the West Coast all week much like the Eagles, who responded in a similar situation last week. The Titans still possess a potent ground game to eventually open the passing game against the decimated and weak San Francisco secondary.
Pick: Titans and over
Warren Sharp's take: Playing in back to back road games against West Coast opponents, the Titans are hoping to rebound after a 12-7 loss against the Cardinals last week, while the 49ers are hoping to push Garoppolo's record to 3-0 with a win in his first home game. I said last week the Titans were the most overrated 8-4 teams and took the Cardinals, who won outright. This week, the game truly comes down to how much Marcus Mariota has been depleted with injuries. His hamstring isn't 100 percent and he tweaked his knee against the Cardinals. Now he must face a somewhat resurgent 49ers defense. It's amazing how much an improved offense can help a defense, but the 49ers defense went from 26th against the pass to 14th in the last three weeks, and against the run, they went from 20th up to first. They also shifted from 29th in explosive run defense to fourth best. The Titans defense does a great job at limiting explosive plays but is struggling tremendously against the pass, and is the weakest defense Garoppolo has faced this year.
ATS pick: 49ers -1
Prediction: San Francisco 24, Tennessee 22
The pick: San Francisco and the over -- SF -2, 44.5
Miami Dolphins at Buffalo Bills (-3.5)
PickCenter public consensus pick: 54 percent Miami
Phil Steele's take: The Miami players must have cringed a little looking at the highlights of the Bills game last week, knowing they had to travel there this week. The early forecast is just cloudy with a 20 percent chance of snow and temperatures in the high 20s. The Dolphins are coming off a huge effort on Monday night against New England, when they dominated the game, leading 27-10 with a 362-248 yardage edge. Miami is 1-5 ATS in its past six road trips with the five losses coming by an average of 23.2 points per game.