When the NFL’s 32 teams take the field for Week 15 action, exactly half of them will enter the game knowing a playoff appearance is either in the bag or legitimately possible.
The stacked AFC has narrowed its roster of legit postseason contenders to seven teams (Baltimore, New England, Kansas City, Houston, Buffalo, Pittsburgh, and Tennessee).
And over in the NFC, the struggles of a lackluster East division have expanded the field of potential playoff teams to nine (San Francisco, Green Bay, New Orleans, Dallas, Seattle, Minnesota, Los Angeles, Chicago, and Philadelphia).
With one half of the league already looking forward to the offseason – and the half listed above competing for a shot at the Super Bowl – we’ll obviously focus on the playoff chase for this Week 15 betting preview based on the latest odds from online sportsbook Bovada.
Texans and Titans Tangle with AFC South Title Up for Grabs
In a game featuring Sunday’s most pivotal postseason implications, two AFC South teams sporting identical records square off with the division lead on the line. When the resurgent Tennessee Titans (8-5) take on the Houston Texans (8-5) in Nashville, former backup quarterback turned likely 2020 long-term contract winner Ryan Tannehill will look to guide the team to his seventh win in eight starts since taking the reins from a struggling Marcus Mariota. Tannehill – the former Miami Dolphins (3-10) starter forced to take a second-string role in Tennessee – has led the league in many major passing categories during his Music City revival.
And if he can continue to turn the Titans’ formerly moribund offense into a surprising juggernaut – Tennessee has averaged 37.5 points per game during its four-game win streak – Tannehill can take his new team from 2-4 to the division lead. A former wide receiver during his college days, Tannehill has meshed well with running back Derrick Henry to form a formidable offensive “stack” for fans of NFL daily fantasy football.
As for Houston, the high of finally beating the New England Patriots (10-3) in Week 13 quickly faded away last Sunday, as the Texans were absolutely destroyed at home as (-9) favorites against a bad Denver Broncos (5-8) team. One week after shutting down Tom Brady and the Pats’ offense, Houston allowed rookie QB Drew Lock to shred their defense in a 38-24 laugher that wasn’t nearly as close as the final score indicates.
The Texans may have been caught looking ahead to this all-important contest, one which sees the Titans slotted as slim (-3) home favorites.
AFC Wild Card Spots and NFC East Title Could be Decided
Sticking with the AFC, the conference’s two current Wild Card entrants meet up when the #5 seed Buffalo Bills (9-4) visit the #6 seed Pittsburgh Steelers (8-5).
The Steelers only hold an edge over the Titans based on overall intra-conference win percentage, so a loss on Sunday would be devastating if coupled with a Tennessee victory.
Meanwhile, fans in Buffalo have their eyes on much more than the franchise’s second playoff berth in a whopping 19 seasons. If the Bills can escape Steel Town with a win, they’ll be set up nicely for a crucial Week 16 road trip to New England which very well may decide the next AFC East champion.
All things considered, a surging Steelers team that has won seven of its last eight games despite massive injury attrition gets the nod here as (-1.5) home faves.
Over in the NFC, four double-digit winners and the nine-win Vikings are in line be joined in the postseason by one of two 6-7 “contenders” – the Dallas Cowboys and Philadelphia Eagles. The pair of disappointing teams will play each other in Week 16, but neither can afford to slip up before that massively important meeting.
Dallas has struggled mightily since starting the season at a scorching 3-0, three-blowout pace, but the Cowboys still sit atop the NFC East based on their earlier win over the Eagles. This week, they’ll host a Los Angeles Rams (8-5) team that has notched two straight cruise-control triumphs in a bid to chase down the Vikings for the NFC’s final Wild Card spot.
In an unusual spot for the betting public darlings, Dallas is listed as a (+1.5) home underdog in this one.
The Eagles are facing a much better spot as (-4.5) road favorites visiting the Washington Redskins (3-0), but Philly hasn’t fared well when laying points.
Just two weeks back, they lost outright as (-10) road faves to the perplexing Miami Dolphins (3-10), and last Sunday’s comeback win in overtime over the Giants (2-11) wasn’t nearly enough to cover a (-9.5) number.