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NFL Week 15 picks: Peaking Ravens will cover vs. Lions

By Josh Katzowitz | NFL Writer

Joe Flacco and the Ravens are trying to make the playoffs. (USATSI)
Joe Flacco and the Ravens are trying to make the playoffs. (USATSI)

Each week, we'll take the best -- and most clever -- odds collected by Bovada for the upcoming week and give our take. This is important stuff, perhaps the most important post you'll read all week. Because if you can't lose money while watching a game in which you have absolutely no effect, what's the point of watching sports at all?

Note: Home team is listed first in Against the Spread.

Game One: Lions -6.5 vs. Ravens
Monday, 8:40 p.m. ET, ESPN

2013 Against The Spread
Overall: 6-7Overall: 6-6-1
Home: 3-3Home: 5-2
Away: 3-4Away: 1-4-1
2013 Team Rankings
Pass offense: 3rdPass defense: 12th
Rush offense: 18thRush defense: 8th
Pass defense: 23rdPass offense: 20th
Rush defense: 6thRush offense: 28th

Verdict: The Lions, since I started writing about lines of these games, have always been one of those teams that I have no idea how to view on a week to week basis. The team seemingly should always be playing better than it does; invariably, there's always this undercurrent of disappointment surrounding the squad. I pick the Lions to win, I pick them to lose. I have confidence in neither pick. But in this case, I like Baltimore to cover because the Ravens seem to be peaking, winning four of their past five games (the only loss was in overtime at Chicago) and they're hungry for a postseason bid.

Game Two: Jaguars +2.5 vs. Bills
Sunday, 1 p.m. ET, CBS

2013 Against The Spread
Overall: 5-8Overall: 6-7
Home: 1-5Home: 5-2
Away: 4-3Away: 1-5
2013 Team Rankings
Pass offense: 25thPass defense: 6th
Rush offense: 31stRush defense: 25th
Pass defense: 24thPass offense: 28th
Rush defense: 26thRush offense: 5th

Verdict: For the life of me, I still can't figure out how the Bills are favorites going into a road game against the Jaguars, who are one of the hottest teams in the league. Every single CBSSports.com expert picker is going with Jacksonville, and I simply don't understand why anyone could confidently take Buffalo, losers in nine of its last 10 games on the road. Meanwhile, Jacksonville has won four of five, and coach Gus Bradley has the team playing better than we've seen since the middle of the 2010 season. It's not difficult to figure out you should go with Jacksonville here.

Game Three (largest spread of week): Panthers -11.5 vs. Jets
Sunday, 4:05 p.m. ET, CBS

2013 Against The Spread

Overall: 8-5Overall: 7-6
Home: 5-1Home: 5-2
Away: 3-4Away: 2-4
2013 Team Rankings
Pass offense: 29thPass defense: 22nd
Rush offense: 9thRush defense: 2nd
Pass defense: 5thPass offense: 30th
Rush defense: 1stRush offense: 11th

Verdict: I don't expect this to be a huge offensive shootout, because both teams' defenses are the superior units of their teams. Much of this game will be determined by how Jets quarterback Geno Smith plays. When he's bad, he's really bad and gives his team almost no chance to win. And sometimes, when he's decent or better, New York actually has a pretty good shot. He'll struggle against Carolina, but the Panthers won't score enough to blow out the Jets. I like the Jets to lose but also to cover.


Which team will be the sixth seed in the AFC playoffs?

Baltimore Ravens 1/1

Miami Dolphins 1/1

San Diego Chargers 15/1

New York Jets 15/1

Tennessee Titans 20/1

Pittsburgh Steelers 25/1

Jacksonville Jaguars 1000/1

It'll come down to the Ravens or the Dolphins. Both are 7-6 and actually have played well in the past few weeks. But the Dolphins have to get by the Patriots and the Bills on the road (remember, Buffalo beat Miami in Miami earlier this season), and both of those matchups would scare me. But I hate the Ravens final three games -- at Detroit, vs. the Patriots and at Cincinnati. Based partially on that, I'd go with the Dolphins. As an aside, I'd go ahead and put $10 on the Jaguars. Because why the hell not, and because that'd be a pretty good return on a small investment.

Kirk Cousins -- total passing yards Week 15 vs. Atlanta

Over/Under 240½

In his one and only start, he threw for 329 yards and beat the Browns 38-21 last season. The Falcons average more than 245 passing yards allowed per game. Cousins' trade value will rise again after he throws for at least 241 yards on Sunday.

Last week: 0-3 against the spread; 1-1 on prop bets. Overall this year: 21-21 against the spread, 14-15 on prop bets. Last two years: 47-56 against the spread; 48-32-1 on prop bets.

See my picks and all the CBSSports.com experts here.

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