Tag Archives: nfl

2017 Season: Super Bowl LII Preview

The Super Bowl is here and we have one team who is a perennial player in the game and another that has never won the big game.  It is also the classic defense (Eagles) versus offense (Patriots) match-up.  This is going to be a close game.  Who will win it all?

Well, the Patriots are obviously the favorites to take home the crown for a sixth time and that is primarily because of their Hall of Fame quarterback and coaching combo.  Gronk is going to be a go for this game, but the match-up to watch will be the slot position with Patrick Robinson versus Danny Amendola.  If Amendola is contained the Eagles will have a real shot at this.

Nick Foles might not have to play at the level he did in the NFC Championship game, but he will have to hang with Tom Brady and that is going to mean not turning the ball over.  Luckily he is generally very careful in that regard.  Philly will need to play to their strengths and turn this into a defensive battle because their “D” is much better than New England’s is.  Also, their offensive and defensive lines are above that of the Pats’.  That could be a difference.

Above all else if the Eagles can generate a good pass rush, that will be very helpful.  I can see Philadelphia taking a lead into the fourth quarter here but never count the Patriots and Tom Brady out.  Brady will lead the comeback train and it is going to come down to whether or not Nick Foles can make a late answer.  I think he can.

This should be another classic Super Bowl with the two best-coached teams in the league.  In the end, though, I am putting my faith in Foles (call me crazy) to get the job done in the end leading the Eagles to a last second field goal win.  Props to Jake Elliot, by the way.

Philadelphia 26, New England 24

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2017 Season: Championship Sunday Preview

We have reached the penultimate week of the NFL season (unless you are counting the Pro Bowl, of course).  This means the end of the road for two Super Bowl hopefuls and also a dream come true for two winners.  The major story-line is, of course, that three of the four remaining teams have never won a Super Bowl and then we have the Patriots who are gunning for their sixth.  Who will win this weekend?  Here are my picks.

Sunday, January 21st, 3:05 e.t.

#3 Jacksonville Jaguars (12-6) @ #1 New England Patriots (14-3)

Everybody thought this was going to be the Steelers/Patriots rematch but the Jags went and threw a wrench in that plan by defeating Pittsburgh on the road for the second time this year.  They did it with some timely play from their defense and a good offense shouldered, primarily, by Leonard Fournette.  They are going to need a whole lot more of that if they hope to take the Patriots down this Sunday.  The Pats’ offense was on the field for far too long against the Titans and were really able to do what they wanted by tiring Tennessee out.  Jacksonville will need to generate pressure in order to have a chance.  If New England can protect Tom Brady then I have confidence that he can move the ball even against this Jaguars’ defense.  I think that the Jags will give the Patriots a game but in the end Tom Brady will be too much for their “D” to slow down.

New England 27, Jacksonville 20

Sunday, January 21st, 6:40 e.t.

#2 Minnesota Vikings (14-3) @ #1 Philadelphia Eagles (14-3)

This is the championship game that nobody thought they’d see, but let’s be honest, it does pit the two best teams in the conference by record.  The Vikings pulled off a miracle win with a 61 yard touchdown as time expired to defeat the Saints.  That is probably good news for the Eagles because I would not have liked their chances going against New Orleans with another veteran quarterback.  As crazy and heart-pounding as the Vikings’ finish was, Philly had one of their own stopping the Falcons four times with about a minute left in the game inside of the 10 yard line.  Philadelphia has a great defense at home and that is going to be what brings this team to the Super Bowl.  Nick Foles was able to convert some third and longs last week and that was encouraging after he couldn’t do that at all in his three previous games.  This is going to be a close defensive battle and I think that the Eagles will be able to generate enough pass rush on Case Keenum to make a difference in this contest.

Philadelphia 16, Minnesota 13

2017 Season: Divisional Round Preview

Eight teams remain in the NFL right now and four games this weekend will determine who advances to the championship round.  There are some interesting tilts coming our way and I am going to pick the winner of all of them.  Let’s get into it!

Saturday, January 13th, 4:35 e.t.

#6 Atlanta Falcons (11-6) @ #1 Philadelphia Eagles (13-3)

It is not very often that the #6 seed is favored to win a playoff game, let alone over the #1 seed, but alas here we are.  The Eagles have struggled on offense lately although their defense has been great.  They will need to ride that in order to pull off the upset.  The Falcons have a good defense in their own right and have been using it to smother teams down the stretch.  I feel that Nick Foles will play much better in this game as the weather is not supposed to be bitterly cold.  Also, Matt Ryan struggles in Philly.  I say the Eagles live to play another week.

Philadelphia 21, Atlanta 16

Saturday, January 13th, 8:15 e.t.

#5 Tennessee Titans (10-7) @ #1 New England Patriots (13-3)

Nobody saw the Titans beating the Chiefs a week ago, but they were able to do so and that lied squarely on the shoulders of Marcus Mariota and the no-huddle attack from Tennessee and then Derrick Henry being able to close the game out.  They will likely need a miracle to pull off an upset in Foxboro though.  Tom Brady has not played exceptionally well down the stretch of the season, but his track record speaks for itself and I have full confidence that he will kick things into gear here in the post-season.  Barring a complete and utter collapse that would include a few turnovers, I don’t see the Patriots losing this game.

New England 37, Tennessee 17

Sunday, January 14th, 1:05 e.t.

#3 Jacksonville Jaguars (11-6) @ #2 Pittsburgh Steelers (13-3)

The Jaguars dominated the game last week on defense and they will have to bring that same effort and intensity if they want to stand a chance on the road against the Steelers.  Everybody is going to look back to the Week 5 30-9 bomb that the Jags dropped in Pittsburgh but that was a while ago.  The Steelers have found a rhythm on offense and they will get Antonio Brown back at 100% for this contest.  I think that Jacksonville will make things tough in the early going, but eventually Ben Roethlisberger and company will get things going and make it to the championship game for the rematch with New England that we all thought we’d see.

Pittsburgh 24, Jacksonville 9

Sunday, January 14th, 4:40 e.t.

#4 New Orleans Saints (12-5) @ #2 Minnesota Vikings (13-3)

This should be the best game of the week.  The Vikings will be playing at home which is going to favor them considerably but the one thing that I am not sure about is how their players, many of whom are inexperienced in the playoffs, will do coming off of a BYE versus a dangerous Saint team.  New Orleans was shut down on the ground last week but Drew Brees was able to make plays through the air to lead his team to the victory.  If the Vikes shut down Kamara and Ingram again, I do not like their chances here.  That said, I do think that the Saints will be able to cook up some things to surprise the Vikes that they will not be able to stop.  This one should be close throughout but in the end I trust Drew Brees over Case Keenum any day.

New Orleans 26, Minnesota 23

2017 Season: Wild Card Weekend Preview

The playoffs are here and there are a couple of surprise teams in the picture that nobody would have expected back in August (see the Saints, Rams, Jaguars, and Bills).  That is all the fun of what the NFL is, you never know what you’re gonna get.  In the spirit of the playoffs I will provide my insight as to how each team can win the game and my pick of who I think will win.  Let’s get it!

Last Week: 8-8

Regular Season: 163-93

Saturday, January 6th, 4:35 e.t.

#5 Tennessee Titans (9-7) @ #4 Kansas City Chiefs (10-6)

How the Titans can win: They will need to find an identity on offense and control the game.  I think putting the ball in Marcus Mariota’s hands in the no-huddle gives them the best chance of winning here since the Chiefs have been had in the air this season.

How the Chiefs can win: They can force some turnovers on defense and the Titans have been generous with the ball at times this season.  Also, if Kareem Hunt can get his legs churning that will open the door for play action and deep shots down the field.

Final: Kansas City 31, Tennessee 16

Saturday, January 6th, 8:15 e.t.

#6 Atlanta Falcons (10-6) @ #3 Los Angeles Rams (11-5)

How the Falcons can win: Being able to run the ball at this undersized Ram front is key.  The Atlanta defense has been playing well down the stretch also and they will have to continue that and turn this game into a dog-fight on the road.

How the Rams can win: Feed Todd Gurley.  The quick pass is something that the Falcons have not fared well against this year so that is another thing that L.A. should feature on Saturday, something they are good at.

Final: Los Angeles 27, Atlanta 19

Sunday, January 7th, 1:05 e.t.

#6 Buffalo Bills (9-7) @ #3 Jacksonville Jaguars (10-6)

How the Bills can win: First of all, it is paramount that LeSean McCoy is a go for this contest.  If he is not then the Buffalo defense will have to be special and Tyrod Taylor will need to do his best to be safe with the ball, which he is apt to do anyways.

How the Jaguars can win: The easy answer is to get their offense playing better.  Blake Bortles needs to avoid making bad mistakes and it would certainly help if Leonard Fournette could get his legs churning.  Simply put though, the Jaguar defense should take this game over.

Final: Jacksonville 20, Buffalo 10

Sunday, January 7th, 4:40 e.t.

#5 Carolina Panthers (11-5) @ #4 New Orleans Saints (11-5)

How the Panthers can win: The Panthers have to stop the Saints rushing attack from New Orleans.  They will also have to control this game early and convert on third downs to quiet down what is sure to be a raucous crowd.  Cam Newton will need to be much better than he was last week as well.

How the Saints can win: The Saints should try to execute long drives to wind the Carolina defense.  The longer that unit is on the field, the more it wears on them and they could get pushed around down the stretch.  That is where the strong New Orleans rushing attack could pay dividends.

Final: New Orleans 31, Carolina 28

2017 Season: Week 17 Preview

We have finally reached the last week of the regular season, and mercifully so for some teams.  Either way, this season has gone by in a blink and there is a full slate of 16 games to be played.  Eleven of these games will have playoff implications and there are still a couple of things we have to sort out before getting to the playoffs.  Who will emerge from the final stanza victorious?  Here are my picks.

Last Week: 12-4

Season: 155-85

Locks: 7-9

Upsets: 4-12

Sunday, December 31st, 1:00 e.t.

Green Bay Packers (7-8) @ Detroit Lions (8-7)

This is one of the five games that does not have any playoff implications.  The Lions were stunned by the Bengals last week and now their season is over.  They draw Brett Hundley’s Packers on at home and Green Bay has been a surprisingly better road team than home by quite a large margin.  I think that will show up here as the Pack fights to even its record at 8-8.

Green Bay 20, Detroit 17 ***UPSET OF THE WEEK***

Chicago Bears (5-10) @ Minnesota Vikings (12-3)

The Vikings will lock up a first round BYE with a win over Chicago at home, which will happen.  The Minnesota defense has been dominant while the Bears on offense have nothing much in the way of a passing game.  That does not bode well for them on the road.

Minnesota 31, Chicago 7

Washington Redskins (7-8) @ New York Giants (2-13)

The Giants were shut out on the road in Arizona and will be thrilled once this game comes to an end as their nightmare season will finally be terminated.  Both teams are ravaged by injuries but I like the Redskins to go to 8-8 because they still have spurts where they look like a competent team and the Giants have a lot of controversy surrounding its team and players.

Washington 32, New York 12

New York Jets (5-10) @ New England Patriots (12-3)

The Patriots lock up the #1 seed with a win here and that will be the case over a Jet team that did overachieve this season.  They have done a good job playing competitive football this year but on the road against a Pats team that has a lot to play for, I don’t like those odds.

New England 29, New York 12

Cleveland Browns (0-15) @ Pittsburgh Steelers (12-3)

Will the Browns get a win this year?  I’ve been saying no for the past month and nothing about this game will change my mind because the Steelers need a win to maintain that #2 seed in the playoffs.  They will also want to win given the chance that they could slide up to the #1 seed with a New England loss.  Either way, there is no chance for a letdown at home here.  Sorry Browns, you’re joining the 2008 Lions in infamy.

Pittsburgh 30, Cleveland 9

Dallas Cowboys (8-7) @ Philadelphia Eagles (13-2)

The Eagles were lucky to defeat the Raiders last week and it took a great second half effort from their defense to do so.  Their offense looked lost and this game will serve as a chance for them to right the ship.  Even still it is likely that the backups will be playing a lot of this game and the Cowboys should be running their normal offense, fully healthy.  In the end that should line up for a meaningless Dallas win.

Dallas 21, Philadelphia 15

Houston Texans (4-11) @ Indianapolis Colts (3-12)

The loser of this game will finish in last place in the AFC South and the Texans look like a fish out of water.  Meanwhile, the Colts have been playing some competitive football against playoff hopeful teams lately.  That can show up at home against Houston in a game that means nothing for the playoff picture.

Indianapolis 21, Houston 17

Sunday, December 31st, 4:25 e.t.

Buffalo Bills (8-7) @ Miami Dolphins (6-9)

The Bills, in order to make it into the playoffs, have to hope for a win here and a loss from the Chargers or the Ravens and Titans.  That should motivate them but something tells me the Dolphins are going to come out motivated to play spoiler here.  I think the Buffalo offense struggles to get going and costs the Bills their first playoff shot since 1999.

Miami 23, Buffalo 13

New Orleans Saints (11-4) @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers (4-11)

The Saints will take a win here (or a Panther loss) and that will give them the NFC South.  There should not be much trouble in putting the Buccaneers away with a secondary that struggles and a “D” that has been having trouble tackling lately.  That should mean for a big game out of Alvin Kamara and Mark Ingram.  Give me N’awlins.

New Orleans 34, Tampa Bay 20

Jacksonville Jaguars (10-5) @ Tennessee Titans (8-7)

The Titans will need a win here to edge their way into the postseason, but we are in the midst of a Titanic (pun somewhat intended) collapse at the end of the year here.  The Jacksonville defense was embarrassed by the Niners on the road last week so I think they will come out motivated to show up their division rivals here.  Marcus Mariota has been a turnover machine this year and that is not good news against the defense that leads the league in takeaways.

Jacksonville 24, Tennessee 14 ***LOCK OF THE WEEK***

Kansas City Chiefs (9-6) @ Denver Broncos (5-10)

The Chiefs have nothing to play for here because they are locked in as a #4 seed, so it stands to reason that they will rest their starters as per Andy Reid tradition.  That could mean a random win for the Broncos at home only their offense is really bad so that could thwart this pick.  Even still, I’ll take Denver because I do still like their defense, especially versus a lot of non-starters.

Denver 19, Kansas City 13

Oakland Raiders (6-9) @ Los Angeles Chargers (8-7)

The Chargers have a decent chance of getting into the playoffs.  All they are going to need to do is win this game and hope for a Tennessee loss to get in.  Both of these things I am predicting to happen.  The Raiders have a bad defense, even though Nick Foles and the Eagles struggled mightily against them last week.  L.A.’s offense is capable of putting together big days and I think they have the chance to do so here as they sneak into the playoffs.

Los Angeles 38, Oakland 21

San Francisco 49ers (5-10) @ Los Angeles Rams (11-4)

The 49ers still have not lost since naming Jimmy Garoppolo the starter and I think that trend will continue.  Sean McVay has come out already saying that there is not much of a difference in being the #3 seed or #4 seed so there is a good chance that some starters will be rested throughout.  Meanwhile, San Fran will try their best to win this game as they try to create some hope and excitement for the 2018 season.  I like the Niners on the road here.

San Francisco 30, Los Angeles 24

Arizona Cardinals (7-8) @ Seattle Seahawks (9-6)

The Seahawks are in need of a win here and an Atlanta loss to Carolina (which is possible) in order to sneak into the playoffs.  If they do get in they could be that sneaky team that puts a run together.  The Cardinals stand in their way and I think that they will put up a fight but in the end their offense won’t have enough to get the job done on the road against a Seattle “D” that was balling out last week against Dallas.

Seattle 22, Arizona 16

Cincinnati Bengals (6-9) @ Baltimore Ravens (9-6)

The formula for the Ravens is simple: win and you’re in.  That should not be a problem at home against a hapless Bengal team.  Yes, they did upset the Lions a week ago, but the Detroit defense is nowhere near the level that Baltimore’s is.  Cincy will want to get a win in Marvin Lewis’s last game with the team but it just will not happen.  Baltimore’s offense has been picking it up lately and it makes you think that maybe they could make some noise in January.

Baltimore 27, Cincinnati 10

Carolina Panthers (11-4) @ Atlanta Falcons (9-6)

This is the best game on the Week 17 slate.  Here is the scenario: the Panthers win the NFC South with a win and a Saint loss.  The Falcons will make it in the playoffs as the #6 seed with a win (or a Seattle loss).  Desperation will likely rear its head from Atlanta at home here and I think they will pull off a very close win against a Carolina team that has had an inconsistent offense this season.

Atlanta 27, Carolina 23

Projected Playoff Picture (based off of the above picks)

AFC:

#1 Seed- New England Patriots (13-3)

#2 Seed- Pittsburgh Steelers (13-3)

#3 Seed- Jacksonville Jaguars (11-5)

#4 Seed- Kansas City Chiefs (9-7)

#5 Seed- Baltimore Ravens (10-6)

#6 Seed- Los Angeles Chargers (9-7)

Wild Card Matchups:

Los Angeles Chargers @ Jacksonville Jaguars

Baltimore Ravens @ Kansas City Chiefs

NFC:

#1 Seed: Philadelphia Eagles (13-3)

#2 Seed: Minnesota Vikings (13-3)

#3 Seed: New Orleans Saints (12-4)

#4 Seed: Los Angeles Rams (11-5)

#5 Seed: Carolina Panthers (11-5)

#6 Seed: Atlanta Falcons (10-6)

Wild Card Matchups:

Atlanta Falcons @ New Orleans Saints

Carolina Panthers @ Los Angeles Rams

2017 Season: Week 16 Preview

It is Christmas weekend, and it is also the penultimate week of regular season NFL action and there is still a lot to be decided down the stretch.  There are a couple of nice NFC matchups this week as well as some more playoff-clinching opportunities.  Who will be eating “W’s” this time around?  Here are my Week 16 picks!

Last Week: 12-4

Season: 143-81

Locks: 6-9

Upsets: 4-11

Saturday, December 23rd, 4:30 e.t.

Indianapolis Colts (3-11) @ Baltimore Ravens (8-6)

The Ravens are looking like a team that is loading up to make a run at the AFC title and their offense is peaking at the right time.  The Colts should serve as nothing more than a speed bump for them here as they are going to be playing at home and have a decided advantage on defense.  Look for the Baltimore pass rush to give Jacoby Brissett nightmares as they romp over this hapless Indy team.

Baltimore 31, Indianapolis 7

Saturday, December 23rd, 8:30 e.t.

Minnesota Vikings (11-3) @ Green Bay Packers (7-7)

This game lost all intrigue the minute that the Packers lost to the Panthers last week.  Now Green Bay has put Aaron Rodgers back on injured reserve since there is no need to potentially complicate his injury as the Packers has been eliminated from playoff contention.  Minnesota is still fighting for a first round BYE, so there is no need for them to take their foot off the gas here.  They should smack the Pack on the road here.

Minnesota 37, Green Bay 16

Sunday, December 24th, 1:00 e.t.

Atlanta Falcons (9-5) @ New Orleans Saints (10-4)

This contest seems to be the best game on the Week 16 docket and it is a rematch of just two weeks ago when the Falcons stunned New Orleans at home with a thrilling win.  Atlanta does not have to win both games in order to qualify for the playoffs and that is lucky for them because I do not think they will win here.  I don’t trust that defense to make plays on the road against a Saint team that will be much healthier this go-round.

New Orleans 29, Atlanta 21

Los Angeles Chargers (7-7) @ New York Jets (5-9)

Bryce Petty and the Jets kept things close on the road in New Orleans surprisingly enough but in the end their offense could not keep up and they lost 31-19.  This time Petty will have to deliver some good balls under pressure, which I don’t think he will, and that does not bode well for New York.  The Chargers still have a good shot at the playoffs if they win out and that will start here on the road against the Jets.

Los Angeles 42, New York 20

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (4-10) @ Carolina Panthers (10-4)

The Buccaneers probably turned in their best effort of the season with their narrow home loss to Atlanta on Monday night but now they will hit the road against a Panther team that is clicking right now.  Cam Newton is on fire and I like this team to roll at home.  Easy final score prediction: Tampa has lost two straight games by the count of 24-21 while Carolina has won two straight of 31-24.  Thus the 31-21 final.

Carolina 31, Tampa Bay 21

Detroit Lions (8-6) @ Cincinatti Bengals (5-9)

No team has looked worse than the Bengals have over the past two weeks and now they have come to terms with the fact that these final two games of the season will be the last for Marvin Lewis.  The Lions will really need to find a running game if they want to go anywhere any time soon but the secondary of Cincy has been atrocious of late and that is not going to bode well at all here.

Detroit 33, Cincinnati 13

Miami Dolphins (6-8) @ Kansas City Chiefs (8-6)

Call me crazy but I really never fell of the Kansas City bandwagon and I think this is a fun team to watch at this point in time.  The same cannot be said for the Dolphins whose defining moment was a couple of weeks ago when they beat the Patriots.  KC’s offense is clicking right now and if it can get back to where it was at the beginning of this year then they are a scary bunch to handle.  That will start right here.

Kansas City 39, Miami 14

Cleveland Browns (0-14) @ Chicago Bears (4-10)

Can the Browns win a game this season?  This is likely their last shot at it as they will draw the Steelers next week on the road.  I really wanted to pick them to win their first game for the second straight year on Christmas Eve, but I can’t.  Chicago’s defense is too good right now and this game will possibly see some snowfall.  The advantage there will go to the team with the better running game and that is definitely the Bears.

Chicago 17, Cleveland 13

Denver Broncos (5-9) @ Washington Redskins (6-8)

The Redskins held on for a tight home win over the Arizona Cardinals last week while the Broncos defense played well for their second straight contest en route to a 25-13 beatdown of the Colts.  On the road against a really beat up team I think the Broncos can pull off another win leaning heavily on their defense and that unit alone.  Although i don’t feel super confident with this pick, I do think Denver’s pass rush will be an issue.

Denver 20, Washington 16 ***UPSET OF THE WEEK***

Los Angeles Rams (10-4) @ Tennessee Titans (8-6)

On paper this should be a good game with two teams with solid records, however I really think that the Titans are a paper tiger and back-to-back road losses to inferior NFC West opponents proves this point.  Their offense has been bad and they still cannot get the running game going.  In comes the Rams who are on fire after destroying Seattle on the road.  There is nothing that has me thinking they won’t blow out the Titans on the road here.

Los Angeles 41, Tennessee 17 ***LOCK OF THE WEEK***

Buffalo Bills (8-6) @ New England Patriots (11-3)

Say what you want about the catch rule and how it is broken, but the Patriots did rally from 11 down to beat the Steelers on the road last week which is quite the impressive accomplishment.  In doing so they locked up the AFC East for the 9th straight season and have their sights set on yet another #1 seed.  There should be no let down at home against a Bills team that does not have the talent on offense to keep up.

New England 30, Buffalo 16

Sunday, December 24th, 4:05 e.t.

Jacksonville Jaguars (10-4) @ San Francisco 49ers (4-10)

This is actually one of the more intriguing games of the week and one of my favorites.  Let’s forget that the Niners are 4-10 and focus on the fact that they are 3-0 with Jimmy Garoppolo under center.  This game against the Jaguars is a real test and the team will play a road game for the first time in a while, but good defense tends to travel.  This one could be tight throughout but Blake Bortles has elevated his game lately and that could be a big reason why the Jags win this game on the road.

Jacksonvile 27, San Francisco 24

Sunday, December 24th, 4:25 e.t.

Seattle Seahawks (8-6) @ Dallas Cowboys (8-6)

The late afternoon slobberknocker between the Seahawks and Cowboys should be a good one and it is essentially a playoff game with the loser all but cooked.  Dallas gets Ezekiel Elliot back and that is really going to help them out against a Seattle team that is really crippled on defense.  Coupled with the fact that this will be a road game I really like the Cowboys to get the job done and continue hope for their 2017 season.

Dallas 31, Seattle 23

New York Giants (2-11) @ Arizona Cardinals (6-8)

The Giants nearly pulled off a massive upset of the Eagles at home last week but in the end they came up a bit short.  Their offense looked good as Sterling Shepard and Evan Engram had huge games but I do think that effort was a flash in the pan.  They now have to travel across country to face the Cardinals who have an opportunistic defense that can get after the QB.  The Giants won’t fare as well this time around as the revert back to their old selves.

Arizona 21, New York 3

Monday, December 25th, 4:30 e.t.

Pittsburgh Steelers (11-3) @ Houston Texans (4-10)

A little Christmas football is going to take place in Houston and for the second straight season the Steelers will be competing on the 25th of December.  They are coming off of a very frustrating loss last week against New England and should not have much trouble knocking off the Texans here even without Antonio Brown but Pittsburgh does tend to play down in these types of games.  That might happen, but they should still win.

Pittsburgh 24, Houston 14

Monday, December 25th, 8:30 e.t.

Oakland Raiders (6-8) @ Philadelphia Eagles (12-2)

Week 16 concludes at Lincoln Financial Field as the Eagles host the Raiders.  Philly has a first round BYE wrapped up and they can clinch the #1 seed in the playoffs with a win here over Oakland, which they will.  Nick Foles played well filling in for Carson Wentz last week but the defense did not.  Returning home will really help that out here.  Also, the Raiders will likely not be too inspired to play here seeing as how their season was essentially ended when Derek Carr fumbled the ball through the end zone at the end of last week’s game against the Cowboys.

Philadelphia 34, Oakland 16

2017 Season: Week 15 Preview

Week 15 is here and we have two teams from Pennsylvania already ticketed for the playoffs with their division crowns.  The Patriots, Jaguars, Vikings, Saints, Rams can join them this week if things break their way (the easiest being wins by New England and Minnesota giving them their respective divisions or the Jaguars only having to win to at least secure a wild card spot).  Will that happen?  Here are some Week 15 picks!

Last Week: 10-6

Season: 131-77

Locks: 6-8

Upsets: 4-10

Thursday, December 14th, 8:26 e.t.

Denver Broncos (4-9) @ Indianapolis Colts (3-10)

We open the 15th week with a stinker of a game in Indy.  The Colts just got done playing in a blizzard in a losing effort (albeit in overtime) while the Broncos dominated the Jets by pitching a shutout with their defense getting its mojo back.  I think that will carry into this week as Denver does have some playmakers on that side of the ball that can make life tough on Jacoby Brissett and company.

Denver 18, Indianapolis 10

Saturday, December 16th, 4:30 e.t.

Chicago Bears (4-9) @ Detroit Lions (7-6)

The Lions are fighting for their playoff lives right now and they almost let a 14-point second half lead slip away against a poor Buccaneer squad but nevertheless they are still alive.  They will have to win at home over Chicago to keep the dream going, which I think they will, but it wop’t be easy.  Detroit’s weakness right now is passing defense, something that the Bears do not specialize in taking advantage of , and that is the difference.

Detroit 27, Chicago 21

Saturday, December 16th, 8:30 e.t.

Los Angeles Chargers (7-6) @ Kansas City Chiefs (7-6)

This is a massive AFC West tilt with the winner of this game in prime position to take the AFC West.  In fact, I’d say the winner is pretty much assured of it.  There aren’t many teams hotter than the Chargers right now and I can see them taking out the Chiefs in KC, but I like the home team here.  They are finding big plays on offense and a lot of that was a byproduct of them being able to run the ball.  LA is not good at stopping the run, so that could prove to be their downfall.

Kansas City 30, Los Angeles 27

Sunday, December 17th, 1:00 e.t.

New York Jets (5-8) @ New Orleans Saints (9-4)

The Saints were clipped by the Falcons last week on Thursday night and now things are tight in the NFC South.  I think New Orleans is the best team in that division still and they will need to prove it by taking advantage of a Jet team without its starting quarterback at home.  They will, handily in fact.

New Orleans 40, New York 17

Houston Texans (4-9) @ Jacksonville Jaguars (9-4)

The Jaguars will clinch a playoff berth with a win over Houston and I think it will.  They are playing in front of a home crowd that is suddenly making Jacksonville a tougher place for opposing teams to play.  The Jaguar defense is number one in the NFL in total yards, turnovers, and sacks.  They are dominant and the Texans offense leaves a lot to be desired at this point.  The Jags get into the post-season for the first time since 2007.

Jacksonville 26, Houston 7

Arizona Cardinals (6-7) @ Washington Redskins (5-8)

The Redskins, once upon a time, were a frisky team that was capable of beating anybody on their best day.  Now, they have suffered far too many injuries to remain relevant and have been eliminated from playoff contention as a result.  The air has come out of the balloon and normally it is not right to pick the Cardinals traveling to the east coast, but I’m doing it here.  Washington hasn’t much to play for and that is a depressing scene.

Arizona 28, Washington 19

Miami Dolphins (6-7) @ Buffalo Bills (7-6)

The Bills gutted out a tough victory in the snow over the Colts and now they will remain home to take on a Dolphin team that upset the Patriots on Monday night.  Tyrod Taylor is slated to start this game and I think that will help against a Miami team that has a very inconsistent offense.  In the end I still don’t trust that unit to go into what might be another snowy game and get the job done.

Buffalo 17, Miami 10

Cincinnati Bengals (5-8) @ Minnesota Vikings (10-3)

The Vikings are home with a chance to win their division by getting a victory over a downtrodden Bengal team that just got waxed at home by the Bears of all teams.  That will not bod well for them.  The Vikes have a great team and an awesome home field advantage.  That will help them overwhelm the Bengals.

Minnesota 38, Cincinnati 14

Baltimore Ravens (7-6) @ Cleveland Browns (0-13)

The clock is ticking on the Browns.  Will they get a win in 2017?  I’m not so sure they will, certainly not here against the Ravens.  Baltimore did lose to the Steelers last week but the one sign of encouragement was that the offense came to play for the second straight week.  If this team can get that unit going then they will be a tough out for any team.  I like them to keep it rolling on offense against the Browns on Sunday.

Baltimore 27, Cleveland 17

Philadelphia Eagles (11-2) @ New York Giants (2-11)

The good news for the Eagles is they can clinch a first round bye with a win over the Giants here.  The bad news is they will be doing it without Carson Wentz.  I’m not sure how far the team can go in January without #11, but I do know they can get by the Giants who appear to be in full-on tank mode here.  Give me Philly on the road.

Philadelphia 22, New York 13

Green Bay Packers (7-6) @ Carolina Panthers (9-4)

Here is a fun NFC battle.  The Panthers just notched their biggest win of the season beating the Vikings 31-24.  Now they will host a Packer team that is still on the fringe of the playoffs and they get Aaron Rodgers back.  The timing could not be more perfect for the Pack either as they will have to win out to even have a shot.  That road begins here.  I like Rodgers to pick up where he left off and bring more hope to Green Bay with a close win.

Green Bay 26, Carolina 24

Sunday, December 17th, 4:05 e.t.

Los Angeles Rams (9-4) @ Seattle Seahawks (8-5)

Another big contest in the NFC takes place up in Seattle as the West is likely going to be decided with the outcome of this game.  With a Seahawk win they will sweep the Rams and put all the pressure on them while a Ram win would really put the ‘Hawks in a precarious position.  I’m taking Seattle here because they just don’t lose big home games like these.  Also, the Eagles ripped apart the LA secondary in the passing game.  Look for Russell Wilson to do the same.

Seattle 31, Los Angeles 27 ***LOCK OF THE WEEK***

Sunday, December 17th, 4:25 e.t.

New England Patriots (10-3) @ Pittsburgh Steelers (11-2)

Finally we have a massive AFC match-up and this one is a doozy.  The winner will, more likely than not, be the number one seed on the season and thus making them clear favorites to make it to the Super Bowl.  The Steelers offense really got it going against the Ravens late last week while New England’s was stuck in the mud against the Dolphins.  I really hate picking against the Patriots late in the year but I think I am going to.  It is time for the Steelers to finally step up and win that big game against Tom Brady and Bill Belichick.

Pittsburgh 36, New England 33 ***UPSET OF THE WEEK***

Tennessee Titans (8-5) @ San Francisco 49ers (3-10)

It is very easy to jump on the Jimmy G train as he has opened up his Niner career with a 2-0 record.  The Titans are the better team record-wise but I’m not sure how much better of a team they actually are than San Fran and that is really telling.  I don’t trust the Titans or Mariota at this point so I am going to pick the 49ers to pull off their third straight win.

San Francisco 24, Tennessee 20

Sunday, December 17th, 8:30 e.t.

Dallas Cowboys (7-6) @ Oakland Raiders (6-7)

The Raiders were a no-show on the road in Kansas City last week and they have not been a good offense this season.  That all starts with the protection being provided by the offensive line.  That is a huge reason why there has been such a drop-off from last year to this.  The Cowboys have been playing the football we all had become accustomed to seeing over the past year and that should continue here in their last game without Ezekiel Elliot.

Dallas 31, Oakland 21

Monday, December 18th, 8:30 e.t.

Atlanta Falcons (8-5) @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers (4-9)

Week 15 wraps up with a divisional game in Tampa.  The Falcons just notched a massive win over the Saints last week and will be able to keep that train rolling against one of the worst secondaries in the league.  The most encouraging thing from Atlanta is that their defense finally made some big plays and that will need to continue if this team hopes to make any noise past January this year.

Atlanta 35, Tampa Bay 17