Free NFL Picks: What the Bookies Missed for Week 15

Nikki Adams

Friday, December 12, 2014 9:50 PM GMT

Bias, overreaction to previous results and overvaluing or undervaluing teams are just some of the many things that cloud our judgement when it comes making our NFL picks. So in this week's instalment of this column we look at some matchups that could be influenced by those behaviours.

Cincinnati Bengals vs. Cleveland Browns -1.0
Analysis: Following the 24-3 beat down the Bengals received at the hands of the Cleveland Browns in week 10, the Bengals proved the laughing stock of the NFL all while the Browns appeared impressive. That result had an impact on both teams and their subsequent games. Bengals went to New Orleans as the massive road underdogs in week 11, trading as high as 8.5-points against the spread, while the Browns hosted the Texans as the 4-point home favourites in the same week.

In the former's case (last season's AFC North champions, mind), it was a clear overreaction to the loss against Cleveland, especially when it involved a matchup with a Saints side that leaves much to be desired this season. In the latter's case it was the opposite, an excessive overestimation of the Browns against a Texans team that shouldn't be underestimated, not to mention as well because prior to their win over the Bengals, the Browns struggled against the Bucs and lost to the Jaguars, two of the worst teams in the league this season. Both market evaluations proved well off the mark at the close of week 11 as the Bengals went on to beat the Saints 27-10 and the Browns succumbed to the Texans 23-7.

Since week 11 NFL betting, the Bengals have gone 3-1 SU and 2-2 ATS; most recently, they lost to divisional rivals Pittsburgh at home 42-21. The Browns, meanwhile, have gone 1-3 SU and 2-2 ATS; the only team they beat during this stretch were the inconsistent Falcons 26-24, and last week they let a lead slip through their fingers in a 25-24 loss to the Colts. On the heels of that loss, the Browns have opted for a change at quarterback, benching Brian Hoyer, who has carried them to a 7-6 SU start on the season (10-6 SU since last year), in favour of unknown entity Johnny "Football" Manziel. Unknown in that it's his first career NFL start and we've yet to see what the promising rookie has to offer through four full quarters of a top-tier league.

Somehow, despite the contrasting fortunes of both teams, their overall seasonal output and the recent ins and outs of the Browns starting line-up, the Browns emerge as the marginal 1-point favourites. Consider home advantage equals 3-points, this NFL betting line suggests the Browns are a full 4-points (3+1) better than the Bengals. Does that sound right?

It simply can't be. You must agree the depreciation of the Bengals in the face of the Browns seems wrong. A team is the sum total of their season and not the outcome of one game. What's more, we're not comfortable giving Johnny Manziel four points. End of.

NFL Picks: Bengals +1.0 at BetOnline

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Pittsburgh Steelers -1.5 vs. Atlanta Falcons +1.5
Analysis: Although the 8-5 SU Pittsburgh Steelers are the favourites on the road this week, they look slightly underrated as the 1.5-point road favourites against the 5-8 SU Atlanta Falcons. Looking back at some of the previous games, for example the Lions vs. Falcons in Atlanta in week 8. The Lions were matched as the 3.5-point road chalk. The Saints even opened the season in Atlanta as the 3-point road chalk.

Given current form: Steelers have won five of their last seven games and covered four of those as well, one would think they deserved to be priced slightly higher. Maybe because of the topsy-turvy nature of the NFC South division, in which the Atlanta Falcons are sat lotus at the top, are the hosts slightly overrated. Playoff berths are on the line for both teams. In any event, this presents a value NFL betting opportunity in our opinion, especially at this late stage of the season for backers of both teams really. For our money we feel the Steelers are slightly more underrated than the Falcons are overrated in this matchup and that's why for our NFL picks this week we're hanging our hat on the Steelers to cover as the 1.5-point road chalk on NFL odds.

NFL Picks: Steelers -1.5 at The Greek

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