NFL WEEK 15: We’ve entered the NFL’s stretch run: four more regular season weeks, no byes, everything on the line. Because we now have three Wild Card playoff teams from each conference in addition to the eight division winners, 30 of the league’s 32 teams still have a mathematical shot at the postseason, and 14 of the AFC’s 16 teams are within 2 games of a playoff spot. That means we’re in for some great football over the next month, starting this weekend, and we’ve reached that point in the season when we don’t have to wait until Sundays for the action, as we have three Saturday games this week in addition to an 11-game slate on Sunday and, of course, the Monday nighter.

Here are my favorite moneymakers this weekend, starting with a Saturday play:


Pittsburgh Steelers @ Indianapolis Colts (IND -1.5, 42.5) *SATURDAY*

Recommendation: Indianapolis -1.5 at 1.97

Incredibly, the Colts haven’t beaten the Steelers in over a decade, as Mike Tomlin just seems to have their number regardless of who is coaching or playing quarterback. Will Shane Steichen and Garner Minshew be the ones to end the misery for Indy? Steichen has done a masterful job in a difficult situation this year and has the Colts squarely in the playoff race at 7-6. Prior to last week’s loss at Cincinnati they had won 4 straight games, so they’ve been playing winning football, while the Steelers are coming off two ugly losses to basement-dwellers Arizona and New England. And with the execrable Mitch Trubisky at quarterback, there doesn’t seem to be much hope for an offense that simply can’t do anything well and hasn’t put up 20 points in over a month. For Pittsburgh to win this game it will have to be an ugly, low-scoring slugfest, but the Indianapolis offense has been balanced and difficult to stop, scoring 27 points or more in 3 of the team’s last 4 wins. Zack Moss should find some room to run against a Steelers defense that is allowing 4.2 yards per rush, and Minshew is an underrated passer who makes up for lack of arm strength with an exceptional sense of timing. The rapport he’s developed with his receiving corps over the course of the year is plain to anyone who’s been watching. He might just lead these Colts to the playoffs, but first he’ll lead them to victory over the struggling Steelers.


Houston Texans @ Tennessee Titans (TEN -3.5, 37)

Recommendation: Tennessee -3.5 at 2.03

This was supposed to be a battle of rookie quarterbacks, but with Houston’s C.J. Stroud in concussion protocol and officially listed as Doubtful for this one, it will be Davis Mills leading the Texans into Nashville to face the suddenly resurgent Titans. Tennessee’s playoff hopes are still alive after an improbable win over Miami last week, and Titans fans have to love what they’re starting to see out of rookie QB Will Levis, who is coming off a 327-yard outing in the come-from-behind victory over the Fins. The Texans are vulnerable in the secondary, ranking 26th in the NFL in pass yards allowed, so Levis and top target DeAndre Hopkins should have an opportunity to hook up for some big plays downfield. Defensively, the Titans have to be licking their chops at the thought of facing this wounded Houston offense, which, in addition to Stroud, will also be missing top playmaker Tank Dell and potentially explosive wideout Nico Collins as well. The Texans have exceeded expectations all season under first-year coach DeMeco Ryans, but the current rash of injuries is going to be too much to overcome. I have a hunch Tennessee will win this one in blowout fashion.


Chicago Bears @ Cleveland Browns (CLE -3, 37.5)

Recommendation: Chicago +3 at 1.91

Don’t look now, but the Chicago Bears– yes, the Bears– have been playing some good football lately, winning back-to-back games and 3 of 4. Quarterback Justin Fields has been very effective since returning from injury three games ago, completing nearly 70% of his passes, taking care of the ball, and using his legs to gash defenses when necessary, rushing for 221 combined yards over the last three contests. The Browns have an excellent defense, but they’ve struggled against running quarterbacks like Lamar Jackson and even Russell Wilson, and Fields is definitely closer to Jackson in terms of speed and explosiveness. Offensively, however, Cleveland is trying to keep it together with smoke, mirrors, and 38-year-old QB Joe Flacco, who was watching games from his couch a month ago. Flacco has thrown interceptions in both of his starts this season and lost a fumble last week, and he’ll be facing an opportunistic Bears defense that has forced 8 turnovers over the past three games. I don’t have much trust in the Flacco-led Browns offense in this spot, and the 3 points could really come in handy in what should be a defensive slugfest. Gimme the Bears and the points.


New York Giants @ New Orleans Saints (NO -5.5, 39.5)

Recommendation: New Orleans -5.5 at 1.99

The Giants, winners of three consecutive games, are a popular public bet this week as an underdog of nearly a touchdown against a Saints team that had been struggling mightily before pulling out a get-well win over the lowly Panthers last week. You can understand the sentiment– New Orleans has been anything but reliable this season, while the G-Men have been on a roll since New Jersey’s own Tommy DeVito took over at quarterback. Make no mistake, though– DeVito is not to be trusted (based on the offense they’re running it’s clear that his coaches don’t trust him), and the true secret to New York’s recent success has been solid defense and a friendly patch of the schedule. This will be DeVito’s toughest test yet, as the Saints have an excellent secondary that ranks 7th in the NFL in pass yards allowed and third in interceptions, with 14. I firmly expect New Orleans to crowd the line of scrimmage in an attempt to limit Saquon Barkley’s effectiveness and force DeVito to beat them, and I don’t think he’s capable of doing it in this environment. Remember, the Saints offense features the likes of Alvin Kamara, Chris Olave, and Taysom Hill, so they’re very capable of putting up points With Derek Carr, Jameis Winston, or even Hill himself at quarterback. This is more of a mismatch than recent results would lead us to believe… New Orleans should roll here.


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