NFL Week 15 preview and picks: In The Pocket

Arizona Cardinals @ Carolina Panthers
Whilst In The Pocket has a tip for this game, there is no recommendation to get up early and watch it! Both teams have often been putrid this season. The Cardinals have only terrible options at QB, a fairly anaemic running game, and a 1-5 record away from home. So why would anyone back them here? Only because their opposition has a 1-6 home record, is 1-10 overall, has similar if not worse problems at QB, and if they know what’s good for them, will be actively tanking to get the #1 draft pick. As the Cards are still alive in their NFC West playoff race, and they still have a good receiving crew led by WR Larry Fitzgerald, they’re actually a decent play straight up here (2.25 at Sportingbet, Luxbet) or you can take the points. Cardinals +3 @ 2.05 (Sportingbet)

Washington Redskins @ Dallas Cowboys
Ever since the Cowboys fired coach Wade Phillips, they’ve been frisky against the spread, going 4-0 with a push last week against the Eagles. This includes two road wins against tough opponents. Here they’re at home to a Redskins side who are out of the running, and with a coach that appears to be trying to destabilise his own team with talk of changing the QB to the very shaky Rex Grossman. Their latest no-name running back is in doubt, as is their field goal kicker. There isn’t much to like about this Redskins team right now, and there is a bit of a whiff of a blowout about this game. Cowboys -6 @ 1.91 (multiple sites)

New Orleans Saints @ Baltimore Ravens
New Orleans is back on track after a shaky start to the season, and lie in wait to pounce in the NFC South if the Falcons stumble. They’ve been taking care of teams with less talent, and now have 6 wins in a row despite the lack of a quality rushing game. QB Drew Brees is back connecting with his receivers like it’s the 2009 playoff run, and opposition defenses have spinning heads as they watch the ball whizz past. The Ravens however got a very lucky win against a fast finishing Texans team last weekend, and their QB Joe Flacco is down on confidence and struggling to find open receivers when the pressure is on. An opportunistic side like the Saints thrive on the possibility of turnovers, and will also blitz and put a lot of pressure on Flacco to perform – pressure he may not be able to respond to. Saints straight up @ 2.05 (Centrebet)

Other games
There are a couple of games without odds right now due to questions at QB that will likely provide interesting opportunities. Firstly, The Patriots are on a serious roll right now and host the Green Bay Packers, who will likely be missing QB Aaron Rodgers with concussion. A line of around 6-7 is likely once Rodgers is announced out, but it’s hard to see how the Pack are going to score without Rodgers or a competent running game (see their performance last week against Detroit – a frisky side but nowhere near as strong as the Pats). New England looks a likely play, as do the Bears in their match against the Vikings. There’s even more turmoil in the lead up to this game – The Metrodome in Minnesota had it’s roof collapse due to snow, and they haven’t even sorted out a home field for the game, let alone whether Brett Favre will be fit to take the field. Expect the NFC North-leading Bears fans to turn up in numbers wherever it’s played, and to concentrate on shutting down gun Vikings RB Adrian Peterson. Hard to guess exactly where this line finishes up, but look to the Bears to win.

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