Back at it again for the fifteenth week of NFL action. There were a lot of good games last weekend and this slate of games should not disappoint either. Here are my picks for the sixteen matchups on the docket.
Last Week: 10-6
Thursday, December 15th, 8:25 e.t.
Los Angeles Rams (4-9) @ Seattle Seahawks (8-4-1)
The Seahawks got crushed last week in Lambeau against a suddenly hot Packer team and it looked like the absence of Earl Thomas really affected them. However, they draw an easy out on Thursday night at home (being the only team in the league undefeated in their own stadium) with the Rams coming to town after just having fired Jeff Fisher. Going into a hornets nest is LA, I do not like their odds at even keeping this one close.
Seattle 29, Los Angeles 10
Saturday, December 17th, 8:25 e.t.
Miami Dolphins (8-5) @ New York Jets (4-9)
The Jets looked like they quit early on the road in San Fran, but Bryce Petty made some plays and got his team the W over a crummy Niner’s squad. Now they will be hosting the Ryan Tannehill-less ‘Phins who are hit or miss on the road. This is a tough matchup to pick because we don’t know what the quarterbacks are going to do. In the end I actually like the Jets because I think that their run defense will play much better than they did last week against Carlos Hyde and really make things tough on Miami.
New York 20, Miami 14
Sunday, December 18th, 1:00 e.t.
Philadelphia Eagles (5-8) @ Baltimore Ravens (7-6)
The Ravens defense got blasted in New England Monday night, but they should have no trouble rebounding at home against an Eagle team that is in a tailspin. Aside from what I thought was a great performance from Carson Wentz against Washington, nobody on the Eagles was all that great a week ago and a 1-6 road record is no mistake. Plus, for whatever reason, Joe Flacco gets it done at home against NFC teams. I’m taking Baltimore here.
Baltimore 26, Philadelphia 14
Jacksonville Jaguars (2-11) @ Houston Texans (7-6)
A week ago, everyone was talking about how bad the Texans were, but now they have a sweep of the Colts under their belts and a 4-0 record in their division. Playing at home against a Jaguar team should be an easy win for them. The Jacksonville defense was humbled by Minnesota last week and will probably bounce back here, but I just don’t like their offense against a Houston “D” that usually dominates at home.
Houston 20, Jacksonville 9
Tennessee Titans (7-6) @ Kansas City Chiefs (10-3)
Can you believe that the Titans are 7-6? They have been one of the more fun teams to watch this season and have a good shot at getting into the playoffs. The Chiefs essentially ensured themselves of a playoff spot by completing the sweep of the Oakland Raiders last week. Their defense was great in that contest and should be the key in this game. Their pass rush should give Marcus Mariota headaches and they will not make mistakes on offense en route to a nice win.
Kansas City 30, Tennessee 19
Cleveland Browns (0-13) @ Buffalo Bills (6-7)
The Bills defense got ripped apart by Le’Veon Bell and the Steelers last week and are in desperate need of a win this time out. Luckily they get the Browns who continue to find new ways to blow games. Buffalo will likely end up feeding LeSean McCoy 25 times and also get the ball in the gut of Mike Gilislee, a very underrated back himself, and cram the running game down Cleveland’s throat here. The Browns still have difficulties stopping the run which just so happens to be the Bills’ specialty.
Buffalo 27, Cleveland 17
Green Bay Packers (7-6) @ Chicago Bears (3-10)
Matt Barkley has been solid over the past couple of weeks, but I don’t see the Bears slowing down the Packers this week. Green Bay has been in win or go home mode for a couple of weeks now and after crushing the Seahawks at home, going on the road to take on a three-win team should not be that difficult of a task. Dom Capers’ defense deserves a lot of credit for their play lately and that should continue on Sunday.
Green Bay 41, Chicago 17
Pittsburgh Steelers (8-5) @ Cincinnati Bengals (5-7-1)
Don’t look now, but the Steelers are peaking. They have only three divisional games remaining and winning two will probably get them into the postseason (as long as one of those wins comes against Baltimore). The Bengals have a cute little two game winning streak going but that comes to an end here. Their secondary has some real problems and I can see Ben Roethlisberger picking them apart giving Le’Veon Bell’s legs a rest after he rolled up nearly 300 yards from scrimmage against Buffalo a week ago.
Pittsburgh 36, Cincinnati 20
Detroit Lions (9-4) @ New York Giants (9-4)
This is a nice little game in the Meadowlands pitting two playoff hopeful teams. This is a litmus test for both squads because they will know if they are ready for January football based on their performance in this one. The Lions have not played a game outside since Week 4, which is insane, and we will have to see how Matthew Stafford’s finger holds up in the cold. The Giants’ defense has been great lately and thy just held the Cowboys to 7 points. They should find some more success against the Lions who have struggled to protect Stafford lately.
Power Pick of the Week: New York 20, Detroit 16
Indianapolis Colts (6-7) @ Minnesota Vikings (7-6)
You don’t get any lollipops for beating the Jaguars, but the Vikings offense had one of its best efforts of the year against a pretty decent defense. The Colts were unable to take control of the AFC South last week and now their offensive line has to stand up to a Vikings pass rush that can be brutal at home. But the Colts have played some good football following losses this year and I can see them stealing a road win in Indy on the right arm of Andrew Luck.
Indianapolis 23, Minnesota 16
Sunday, December 18th, 4:05 e.t.
New Orleans Saints (5-8) @ Arizona Cardinals (5-7-1)
The Saints and Cardinals have been disappointments this year, and any hope that the Cards had at the playoffs was dashed with a loss on the road to Miami. It is entirely possible that you see an uninspired team on Sunday at home, but I still think that their defense will make some plays. Drew Brees has thrown no touchdown passes and six picks over the last two weeks. He’s had it rough. It will continue on the road in Arizona.
Arizona 25, New Orleans 16
San Francisco 49ers (1-12) @ Atlanta Falcons (8-5)
Ok, I’ll say it: the 49ers are the worst team in football. How you choke away a 17 point lead at home to the Jets is beyond me, and they have a serious lack of talent up and down the roster. The Falcons have no such problem in their corner and also have an excellent chance to go up by a game in the division with two to play. Atlanta’s offense is going to be a nightmare for a poor Niners’ “D” to handle.
Atlanta 38, San Francisco 17
Sunday, December 18th, 4:25 e.t.
Oakland Raiders (10-3) @ San Diego Chargers (5-8)
The Raiders were handed their first loss on the road this year last week in Kansas City. They will get a crack at their eleventh win a second time against the Chargers, a team that was held at bay in Carolina. San Diego has been turning the ball over a lot lately and could have real problems on offense without Melvin Gordon. The Raiders should be able to come to town and throw the ball on them. Derek Carr usually plays well against the Bolts.
Oakland 34, San Diego 27
New England Patriots (11-2) @ Denver Broncos (8-5)
The Broncos have had a tough go of it lately having an impossible time running the ball. Their defense has fallen from where it was last year and the beginning of this one. However, they can erase a lot of woes with a win at home over the Patriots. Denver is the only team in football that Tom Brady does not have a winning record against and that will continue this week. Call me crazy but I think that the Broncos will get their offense going this week against a New England “D” that has not been that great this season.
Denver 19, New England 17
Sunday, December 18th, 8:30 e.t.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (8-5) @ Dallas Cowboys (11-2)
The Dallas offense has been pretty bad over the last two weeks and they draw a Tampa Bay opponent who has been balling out on “D” lately. Teams have had a tough time throwing the ball against the Bucs, but after Dak Prescott struggled the way he did last Sunday night, I can see Dallas protecting him some this game by running the ball. They won’t lose twice in a row in prime time. They should be able to control the clock and win this game.
Dallas 26, Tampa Bay 17
Monday, December 19th, 8:30 e.t.
Carolina Panthers (5-8) @ Washington Redskins (7-5-1)
Kirk Cousins is getting better and better as a pro quarterback and the Redskins really need to pay this man, but that is a different story. This week Washington could really use a win to keep pace in the Wild Card race. The Panthers were able to run the ball a bit against the Chargers and that could serve them well here. I was going to pick Carolina in an upset, but I don’t know if I can given the weapons that the ‘Skins have on offense and the injuries the Panthers of to their “D”. Kirk Cousins could be in for another good game.
Washington 32, Carolina 24
Week 15 Bonus Predictions
Sure Bet of the Week (11-2): Atlanta over San Francisco
Upset of the Week: Denver over New England
Offensive Player of the Week: LeSean McCoy, RB, Bills
Defensive Player of the Week: DeMarcus Ware, LB, Broncos
Rookie of the Week: Tyreek Hill, WR, Chiefs
Best Quarterback: Kirk Cousins, Redskins
Best Running Back: LeSean McCoy, Bills