Tag Archives: week 15

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

Week 15 Recap: New England Patriots @ Denver Broncos

Final: New England 16, Denver 3

Patriots Broncos Football
Dion Lewis racked up nearly 100 yards on the ground Sunday versus Denver.

The Denver defense fought valiantly, but in the end they did not produce enough pass rush and were outplayed by the Patriots at Sports Authority in a 16-3 loss.  It is easy to draw comparisons between this game here and the AFC Championship contest a season ago, but we are not going to do that.  Let’s break down this contest as its own entity.

The Denver offense was stuck in the mud for most of the game, especially in the second half.  They managed only five first downs after the midpoint of the second quarter and the offensive line was not very good.  Trevor Siemian did not have a lot of time to scan the field, and it did not help that the Pats had excellent coverage throughout the game.  Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders were bottled up by Malcolm Butler, Logan Ryan, and Eric Rowe and did not have much of an impact in the game.  After a promising start in the first quarter, Justin Forsett was pretty silent for the second straight week.  Denver’s inability to run the ball really handicaps this offense, one that relies heavily on play action and bootlegs with the quarterback.  Siemian did try a couple of rollouts, but the New England pass rush and linebackers were quick to sniff them out and give him a tough time trying to find outlets.  Former Patriot A.J. Derby was probably the most consistent target in the game Demaryius Thomas finished with seven catches for 91 yards, but a lot of that came in garbage time.  A lack of a run game and decent pass protection really dragged down this Devner offense.

The New England offense was nothing special in this contest, but their offensive line was remarkable.  Facing the talented Denver “D”, the game plan was to run the ball and not allow the Broncos to hit Tom Brady all that much, and this worked.  They ran the ball 38 times and Dion Lewis nearly cranked out a 100 yard game.  LeGarrette Blount found the end zone for his 15th time this season, the most any back has this year and also in New England franchise history.  Marcus Cannon did a heck of a job containing Von Miller.  Miller was a virtual non-factor as he was chipped and double-teamed a majority of the game, but even the plays where he was not in two on one situations, Cannon was very good against him.  Tom Brady did tie a career worst start to a game missing on his first six passes, but he did eventually settle down and connect with Julian Edelman who was great against the man-coverage employed by Wade Philips’ “D”.  The Patriot offense was not spectacular, but it did not have to be since their defense was lights out.

Patriots Broncos Football
The Patriots passing game never got going until Julian Edelman got involved early in the second quarter snapping Tom Brady’s 0-6 mark to start the game.

Credit certainly has to go to the New England secondary in this game.  Eric Rowe made a couple of nice plays on PBUs.  Malcolm Butler completely blanketed Emmanuel Sanders as well.  Logan Ryan picked off a Trevor Siemian pass on the first play of the second quarter and brought it back 42 yards to thwart a Denver scoring chance.  The D-line of New England was pretty good as well.  They threw a lot of stunts at a struggling Broncos’ offensive line and were able to get home with three sacks, two of which went to the second year budding star, Trey Flowers who was a force in the middle of the field.  Not only did Logan Ryan have an excellent interception (with a fantastic read and break on the ball), but he also lead the team in tackles with seven unassisted.  The New England defense, which was very much the weak point of the team heading into this game, turned in their best effort of the season and really put a dagger in the Broncos’ playoff hopes.

Trevor Siemian
Trevor Siemian throwing the ball against the Patriots from 12/18/16.

The Denver defense did everything a fan could have wanted them to outside of getting significant pressure on Tom Brady and stopping the run.  That sounds like a lot of failure, but considering the way the Pats have been able to rip through opposing secondaries this season, the Broncos were great against the pass.  Aqib Talib and Chris Harris were solid in their coverage and the Denver “D” allowed just one play over 20 yards in this game, a 34 yard completion to Martellus Bennett in the fourth quarter.  Otherwise, they really limited the opportunities that New England had with some great zone coverage and a mix-in of the occasional press.  Jamming the Pats’ wide-outs was effective and the held Brady to a lowly 188 yards on a 50% completion clip.  Shane Ray accounted for one of the two Denver sacks and forced a fumble.  He and Todd Davis were the best players on defense after watching this game.  Davis did a great job filling in for Brandon Marshall at the Mike linebacker spot as he was in on 13 different tackles (seven unassisted).  Jared Crick was responsible for the other sack and really flourished with a lot of attention being focused on Von Miller.  DeMarcus Ware did not have a great game as he was unable to win a lot of his battles on the outside and failed to create much pressure against Tom Brady in this one.

The Patriots improve to 12-2 after a healthy 13 point win in Denver where their defense dominated.  This is important because earlier in the year it was easy to point out the New England defense as a major flaw and the reason why this team would not win the Super Bowl.  Now with this game, and their effort over the past couple of weeks, it is easy to see that they have turned the corner and could be a force against any team if their secondary is able to shut down their opposing receivers the way they did in this contest.  For the Broncos, this is their second straight game where their defense was solid but the offense failed.  Last year when they made their run to the Super Bowl, their offense wasn’t the greatest, but they were at least able to run the ball.  This year, that is not something this team can lean on and hence why they are now 8-6 and fighting for their playoff life.  Denver will hit the road and take on Kansas City in a must-win game next week on Christmas day.  The Patriots, in the meantime, have locked up the AFC East and a first round playoff BYE and will host the Jets next week with a chance to lock up homefield advantage throughout the playoffs.  This was a dominant win for the Pats, and one they can build on as they hope for yet another Super Bowl run.

Tom Brady
The Patriots secure the AFC East as well as a first round BYE in the playoffs with a 16-3 win over Denver on Sunday.

The Skinny:

  • The New England offensive line holds up well as Tom Brady is only sacked twice in 32 dropbacks.  The running game for the Patriots really got cranking as well as the team ran it 37 times for 137 yards.
  • The Patriots corners were terrific in coverage completely shutting down both Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders in this game.  Denver’s greatest output in the passing game came from their tight ends.
  • LeGarrette Blount hammered his way into the end zone for his 15th time this season, a New England franchise record.  The Patriots were also able to secure a first round BYE and another win of the AFC East title with this victory.
  • The Bronco offensive line was pushed around in this contest.  Denver was unable to run the ball yet again and that really took away from the play action pass opportunities that a Gary Kubiak offense is predicated on.
  • The Denver pass rush was not much of a factor in this game which was a shame because the coverage on the back end was fantastic.  The Broncos’ secondary was very good in this game.
  • A Jordan Norwood muffed punt in the first quarter as well as a Trevor Siemian interception really hampered the Broncos as they contributed to a (potential) 10 point swing.  The Patriots were +3 in the turnover battle.

2016 Season: Week 15 Preview

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.

Von Miller

Last Week: 10-6

Season: 115-88

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

2015 Season: Week 15 Preview

Last Week: 11-5

Season: 122-86

Thursday, December 17th, 8:25 e.t.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (6-7) @ St. Louis Rams (5-8)

Tampa Bay 24, St. Louis 9

Saturday, December 19th, 8:25 e.t.

New York Jets (8-5) @ Dallas Cowboys (4-9)

New York 23, Dallas 19

Sunday, December 20th, 1:00 e.t.

Atlanta Falcons (6-7) @ Jacksonville Jaguars (5-8)

Jacksonville 31, Atlanta 21

Kansas City Chiefs (8-5) @ Baltimore Ravens (4-9)

Kansas City 29, Baltimore 12

Houston Texans (6-7) @ Indianapolis Colts (6-7)

Houston 17, Indianapolis 10

Carolina Panthers (13-0) @ New York Giants (6-7)

Carolina 20, New York 17

Chicago Bears (5-9) @ Minnesota Vikings (8-5)

Chicago 27, Minnesota 17

Tennessee Titans (3-10) @ New England Patriots (11-2)

New England 38, Tennessee 14


Buffalo Bills (6-7) @ Washington Redskins (6-7)

Buffalo 37, Washington 20

Sunday, December 20th, 4:05 e.t.

Cleveland Browns (3-10) @ Seattle Seahawks (8-5)

Seattle 37, Cleveland 13

Green Bay Packers (9-4) @ Oakland Raiders (6-7)

Green Bay 28, Oakland 24

Sunday, December 20th, 4:25 e.t.

Miami Dolphins (5-9) @ San Diego Chargers (3-10)

Miami 16, San Diego 13

Cincinnati Bengals (10-3) @ San Francisco 49ers (4-9)

Cincinnati 13, San Francisco 10

Denver Broncos (10-3) @ Pittsburgh Steelers (8-5)

Pittsburgh 43, Denver 19

Sunday, December 20th, 8:30 e.t.

Arizona Cardinals (11-2) @ Philadelphia Eagles (6-7)

Arizona 33, Philadelphia 21

Monday, December 21st, 8:30 e.t.

Detroit Lions (4-9) @ New Orleans Saints (5-8)

New Orleans 29, Detroit 27

Week 15 Bonus Predictions

Upset of the Week: Chicago over Minnesota

Sure Bet of the Week (10-2): Seattle over Cleveland

Rookie of the Week: Amari Cooper, WR, Raiders

Offensive Player of the Week: Ben Roethlisberger, QB, Steelers

Defensive Player of the Week: Adam Jones, CB, Bengals

Best Overall Offense: Pittsburgh Steelers

Best Overall Defense: Cincinnati Bengals

Feel free to leave a comment stating what you think will happen in this weekend’s games!

2014 Season: Week 15 Predictions

Now that we are entering the fifteenth weekend in the 2014 season, it’s do or die time for the Texans, Chiefs, Browns, Dolphins, Bills, Panthers, Cowboys, and 49ers.  Losses for these teams would be devastating, so we can expect to see their best shots on Sunday.  For other squads, playoff spots are easily within reach.  The Colts can close out the AFC South with a win over Houston, the Pats can clinch the East with a victory over Miami, and the Broncos can become AFC West champs by defeating San Diego.  In the NFC, Philadelphia can really put the Cowboys in a bad spot with a win, while the Seahawks can all but eliminate San Fran with a “W” at home.  It’s a race to the finish, and Week 15 will go a long, long way in determining who gets into the post-season.  Here are my picks.

Last Week: 12-4

Thursday, December 11th, 12:30 e.t.

Arizona Cardinals (10-3) @ St. Louis Rams (6-7)

The ship was sinking fast for Arizona until last week when they gutted out a close 17-14 victory at home against the Kansas City Chiefs.  The Cards are now 7-0 at home, but 3-3 on the road.  They will travel to St. Louis to take on a Rams team that isn’t letting anybody score these days.  They have not allowed a single point since the fourth quarter in Week 12 as they have shut out both Oakland and Washington; two offensively challenged teams.  Ever since Carson Palmer went down, the Cardinals have not exactly been dynamic on that side of the ball.  I say the Rams take advantage of this in order to score a huge home win and pull to .500.  They should be able to put pressure on Drew Stanton, and since Arizona has struggled to run the ball all year, that will not be much of an option for them in this one.  Advantage: St. Louis.

St. Louis 20, Arizona 14

Sunday, December 14th, 1:00 e.t.

Washington Redskins (3-10) @ New York Giants (4-9)

Unless you are a hardcore fan of either of these teams, is there any reason to watch this game other than Odell Beckham Jr.?  In all seriousness, can you remember a player garnering so much attention for pre-game warm-ups?  People want to see what this youngster will do next, and I think he can shred the Washington defense in this contest.  Jim Haslett’s unit has been passable this season against the run, but teams have been able to throw it on them.  The Giants shall take advantage of this and score 35 points.  Is Robert Griffin III starting this game?  Is any competent quarterback going to suit up for the Redskins?  Yes, and no.  G-Men win.

New York 35, Washington 15

 Houston Texans (7-6) @ Indianapolis Colts (9-4)

Like I said in the beginning, the Colts will clinch a playoff berth and win the AFC South if they can defeat the Texans at home.  I think they will be able to do so, but barely.  Listen, Arian Foster is probably the most underrated player in football right now.  It is going largely unnoticed what he is doing for Houston, with his 1,028 rushing yards and eight touchdowns (to go along with his four receiving touchdowns) have really helped the Texans stay relevant this season.  I think he goes nuts in this game with 160 yards and two scores.  However, when it comes down to it, do I really trust Ryan Fitzpatrick to out-duel the dynamic Andrew Luck at Lucas Oil Stadium.  No, no I don’t.

Indianapolis 30, Houston 28

Oakland Raiders (2-11) @ Kansas City Chiefs (7-6)

The Raiders were able to king the Chiefs in the “Black Hole” just two weeks ago, but now business is serious for Kansas City, having dropped three straight with their playoff hopes fading faster than Brian Hoyer’s effectiveness (too soon?).  After seeing the egg that Oakland laid on the road against the other team from Missouri two weeks back, I can’t put much confidence in them here.  Yes, they did beat the 49ers last week, but we all know that the Raiders specialize in losing games and that they don’t win back-to-back contests.  As long as the Chiefs don’t turn the ball over more than twice and Jamaal Charles rushes for 75 yards and a TD, the home team should be fine here.

Kansas City 27, Oakland 13

Pittsburgh Steelers (8-5) @ Atlanta Falcons (5-8)

I looked at this game and thought that it seemed like a game that the Falcons should win.  Think about it: just when you think the Steelers will roll for a win, they get trampled by an opponent from the NFC South.  It is trends like this that makes Pittsburgh a frustrating team to predict.  However, this is a trap.  It seems like we should roll with the Steelers after their dominating fourth quarter win in Cincinnati, but then again the Falcons produced some late game magic in Lambeau to make the Packers sweat a little bit on Monday night.   I think Pittsburgh turns it on against a defense that cant sack a QB if they bring a ten-man rush.  Le’Veon Bell doesn’t make it four straight weeks with 200+ yards from scrimmage, but 130 with a TD seems reasonable.  For viewers of this game, if you have some housework to do, maybe knock some of that out before sitting down for this one.  The score will probably be 10-7 at half.  But, as you can see from the final score prediction, the two will save most of the action for the second half again and turn this one into an exciting shootout.

Pittsburgh 35, Atlanta 33

Miami Dolphins (7-6) @ New England Patriots (10-3)

The Dolphins are in desperate need of a win after being outscored 28-3 in the final three quarters of last week’s contest at home against the Ravens.  Good luck getting it.  The Pats don’t lose at home to AFC teams in December.  In fact, they just don’t lose at home in general.  They have not lost a regular season home game since Week 15 of the 2012 season.  Tom Brady was less than impressive when he played the ‘Phins in Week 1 this year, but now he is playing on a different level.  He’s really forming good chemistry with all of his receivers and the defense is playing great.  The Dolphins’ only chance in this game is to run the ball and control the clock.  Even then, I think they will struggle to score points.  Pats should roll here.

New England 35, Miami 10

Green Bay Packers (10-3) @ Buffalo Bills (7-6)

This game just feels like a trap game for Green Bay.  They are traveling on the road to Buffalo to go up against the vicious front-seven of the Bills.  Seriously, how good would that defense be if Kiko Alonso were healthy?  Anyways, Aaron Rodgers will be tested in this one.  He will have to get the ball out quick or become a punching bag for the NFL’s leading defense in terms of sacks; they have 48 of them.  They also just snapped Peyton Manning’s consecutive games with a touchdown streak at 53, in Denver no less.  Don’t take Buffalo lightly.  I don’t think that Green Bay will, and since the Seahawks are now putting pressure on the Packers for that #1 seed (and with Arizona currently sitting atop the standings in the NFC) Mike McCarthy’s team cannot afford to stumble.  They pick up a win in a very interesting game.

Green Bay 27, Buffalo 24

Jacksonville Jaguars (2-11) @ Baltimore Ravens (8-5)

The Ravens have had a lot of success against the teams from Florida this year.  They are 2-0, outscoring them 73-30 on the season.  Joe Flacco has been good as of late, as has the Baltimore running game.  Remember, if this team had been better in the red zone two weeks ago against San Diego, they could be 9-4 and sitting atop the AFC North.  Instead, they are in a second place tie with Pittsburgh and in the thick of things for a wild card spot.  Their game next week against Houston will be big, but they won’t overlook the Jags here.  Gary Kubiak should limit Joe Cool to just 25 throws in this game as Jacksonville is actually very good at getting after the opposing quarterback (3rd in the NFL with 39 of ’em).  This is a game that the Ravens can win with their defense and running game.  It will happen.

Baltimore 24, Jacksonville 13

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2-11) @ Carolina Panthers (4-8-1)

Of course, our prayers go out to Cam Newton after he fractured his transverse process in a car accident.  He should not be suiting up for this game.  Does that change how this one plays out?  I don’t think so.  Derek Anderson has been pretty good in relief of Cam this season, and remember he helped them pick up the win in Week 1 against these same Bucs, on the road.  Well, Tampa Bay doesn’t win at home as they are 0-6 there on the season.  So maybe they have a better chance at this one since it is being played in Carolina.  I don’t think so, because the Panthers have shown some signs of recovery lately.  Despite losing 31-13 to Minnesota, I didn’t think that they played all that badly in that game (especially on defense).  Furthermore, they just blew out the Saints in New Orleans.  Maybe they are ready to make a serious run at the division crown.  That is a scary thought, but not because I think this team is formidable, but rather because it is scary to think that a team with only 3 wins going into December has a chance to win a division.  Yup, that’s the NFC South for ya!

Carolina 29, Tampa Bay 19

Cincinnati Bengals (8-4-1) @ Cleveland Browns (7-6)

After a month of inadequate football, the Browns and Mike Pettine have finally decided to yank Brian Hoyer and replace him with Johnny Manziel.  I agree with this decision.  With Cleveland’s playoff chances fading fast, it’s worth a shot; maybe Johnny Football gives these guys a spark.  This contest is very unpredictable because we don’t know how Manziel will play, and it is tough to predict Bengals games.  Andy Dalton runs hot and cold, and since Cincy is coming off of a game where their offense wasn’t terrible, it may be time for them to go down the tubes again.  Cleveland made Dalton look like Tim Tebow with an eye infection and a broken arm in Week 10, and they have the goods to do it again.  I’m gonna take the Browns here only because it just seems like they should win.  It would complicate things majorly in the AFC North, and I’m all for seeing that happen.

Cleveland 31, Cincinnati 24

Sunday, December 14th, 4:05 e.t.

Denver Broncos (10-3) @ San Diego Chargers (8-5)

The Chargers defense played pretty well against the Patriots a week ago, until the fourth quarter where they surrendered 10 points and then could not score any of their own on offense.  Now they take on a similar team in the Broncos at home.  Denver was held down a bit last week through the air, but C.J. Anderson’s legs were enough for them to notch the “W” over Buffalo.  The now two-dimensional offense that the Broncos sport should scare teams, and if their defense plays like it did two weeks ago against Kansas City, this squad will be a tough out no matter where they play.  The Chargers should find that out this week.  Philip Rivers might play the game of his life, but I don;t trust the San Diego defense to stop both the passing attack from Peyton Manning and the Denver ground game.  It will be too much for them to handle.

Denver 32, San Diego 24

New York Jets (2-11) @ Tennessee Titans (2-11)

If you like watching teams fight for coveted prizes, then this game is for you.  After all, the loser might land the #1 overall pick in the 2015 draft.  Either squad could use Marcus Mariota on their team, so a loss here could be key for both.  Will the Jets or Titans lie down in this one just to gun for that #1 pick?  I don’t think New York will.  These guys are playing hard for Rex Ryan and will do so again on Sunday.  The Titans, meanwhile, have really struggled on offense this season.  Converting third downs has become a nearly impossible task for them.  I think the Jets will be able to run the ball enough in this game to protect Geno Smith and close it down with their defense late to pick up the win.

New York 17, Tennessee 12

Sunday, December 14th, 4:25 e.t.

Minnesota Vikings (6-7) @ Detroit Lions (9-4)

It really doesn’t seem like the Vikings are just one game under .500, but here they are sitting at 6-7.  Of course, they haven’t played the most difficult of schedules down the stretch with their last four wins coming over Tampa Bay, Washington, Carolina, and the New York Jets; three of them coming late (with two in overtime).  So methinks that this 6-7 mark is a bit misleading.  Either way, they will try to claw back to .500 on the road in Detroit.  The Lions are a team that normally struggles in December, but this year is a bit different.  The offense seems to be getting better week-by-week and the defense has been playing well all year.  Jim Caldwell has this Lion team believing and I think that this is important.  It is likely that at least one 10-11 win team in the NFC will miss the playoffs and Detroit doesn’t want it to be them.  Therefore they will come out and play well this weekend against the Vikings and score the home win.

Detroit 30, Minnesota 16

San Francisco 49ers (7-6) @ Seattle Seahawks (9-4)

Does anybody have any faith in the 49ers anymore?  Furthermore, does anybody give them a shot on the road in Seattle that has regained the swagger they had heading into last year’s Super Bowl?  I know I don’t.  Seattle would be my “sure bet of the week” but the Niners do seem to rally right when they seem cooked.  So there is a slight chance that they come out and play inspired football this week, but even if they do I don’t think they are good enough to beat the Seahawks.  Seattle has wins over Green Bay, Denver, Arizona, and Philadelphia this year.  I think they suffered their mid-season hiccup and are now on their way to a strong finish.  I they win out and Green Bay stumbles just once down the stretch, the ‘Hawks will be the #1 seed in the NFC.  Nobody wants to play them on the road.  San Fran will tell you that themselves after they lose this one.

Seattle 29, San Francisco 15

Sunday, December 14th, 8:30 e.t.

Dallas Cowboys (9-4) @ Philadelphia Eagles (9-4)

The Eagles and Cowboys meet for the second time in three with the division lead up for grabs again.  Dallas was able to rebound with a nice win over Chicago on Thursday night last week and they should be well rested for this contest, unlike they were the first time around when they were going on four days rest.  Here they will have had nine days to prepare, and I think that makes a difference.  On the other hand, Philadelphia was just shut down by the Seahawks in Philly last week; being held to just 139 total yards of offense.  Even with that low mark, the Eagles had their chances to keep that game close and had Malcolm Jenkins not dropped that sure-fire pick-six in the fourth quarter they could have made it interesting.  Anyways, it’s Week 15 now and the division is in question.  These are the games that Dallas does not seem to win.  I see them dropping this contest, but not because of their history in these situations.  I just think that the Philly front-seven has been playing very well lately and the Cowboy defense has been exposed by the Eagles offense already this year.  “America’s Team” is 6-0 on the road, but they will see that streak snapped this week.  DeMarco Murray will run for 121 yards, but it won’t be enough.  Give me the Eagles.

Philadelphia 34, Dallas 24

Monday, December 15th, 8:30 e.t.

New Orleans Saints (5-8) @ Chicago Bears (5-8)

The Saints used to struggle on the road and play lights out at home.  However, ever since losing to the Bengals 27-10 in N’awleans, that script has flipped.  The Saints have been okay away from the dome and I think they will be just fine in Chicago this week.  The Bears will really miss Brandon Marshall in this game (who is out for the season with broken ribs and a collapsed lung).  Alshon Jeffery has been playing at less than 100% this season, and he will be matched up with Keenan Lewis in this one.  Lewis is probably the most underrated corner in the league and I see him having a good game in this one.  Matt Forte can’t do it all on his own, so because of this I give the Saints the edge.  That said, this one should be a good game.  I see Jay Cutler playing well and throwing three touchdowns; two to Martellus Bennett.  Jimmy Graham will be a factor in this one though.  He ate the Chicago secondary alive in Week 5 last season and will do it again.  He explodes for 136 yards and a score helping the Saints to a narrow victory.

New Orleans 26, Chicago 23

Week 15 Bonus Predictions

Upset of the Week: Cleveland over Cincinnati*

Sure Bet of the Week: Kansas City over Oakland

Rookie of the Week: Jordan Matthews

Offensive Player of the Week: Arian Foster

Defensive Player of the Week: Brandon Browner

Best Overall Offense: Pittsburgh Steelers

Best Overall Defense: St. Louis Rams

*PK on the Vegas Line

Feel free to leave a comment stating what you think will happen in this weekend’s games!

Week 15: Baltimore Ravens 18, Detroit Lions 16- Post Game Thoughts

The Detroit Lions’ turnover troubles continue as Matthew Stafford is intercepted three times in a loss at home to the defending Super Bowl champs.  Justin Tucker, kicker for the Ravens, was accountable for all of the Baltimore scoring in this game including a 61 yard field goal with 38 ticks left on the clock in the fourth quarter.  This second year player is coming on strong and has now made 33 straight kicks.  Now that is impressive.  The offensive line did a decent job protecting Joe Flacco in this game, he was able to scan the field for a majority of the game.  When he was unable to do so, he would toss the ball deep down the field and did not pay for it at all.  While he did not throw a touchdown in the game, he also did not turn the ball over which was key in this victory.  Now the Ravens are back in the 2nd wild card slot and have a shot at winning the AFC North.  It will take victories over the Patriots at home and the Bengals in Cincy to do so, but if they are able to win out they will likely be the #4 seed in the AFC.  If not, they are still in good position to lock down that wild card spot.  The Lions on the other hand are in a tricky situation.  They will need to win out and seek help if they are to win the NFC North (which is the only way they can get into the tournament).  Their remaining schedule sees them hosting the 5-9 Giants and closing the season in Minnesota against the 4-9-1 Vikings.  It is doable, but they are also going to have to count on the Bears and Packers stumbling down the road.  However, this team really needs to work on their turnover issues.  That, above anything else, is the biggest reason why they have fallen out of first place in the NFC North.

Week 15: Arizona Cardinals 37, Tennessee Titans 34 (OT)- Post Game Thoughts

After surrendering a 17-point fourth quarter lead, the Arizona Cardinals survive the late Titan surge in overtime by the final count of 37-34.  The Arizona defense did a good job slowing the Tennessee offense early on in this game, but the meltdown that they went through late was cause for concern.  It did take a successful onside kick to make it possible, but the Titans were able to come all the way back after Ryan Fitzpatrick had thrown a pick-six late in the fourth quarter to put his team down 34-17.  The heart that Mike Munchak’s team showed was admirable, and it is unfortunate that they could not seal the deal.  You would have thought for all the world that they were going to win the game when they got the ball first in overtime.  However, one Ryan Fitzpatrick interception later and the shoe is on the other foot.  So I do have to tip my cap to the Cardinals for finding out a way to win the game.  You won’t always dominate a game in this league, and sometimes you have meltdowns, but the good teams in this league are able to overcome them, and that is what Bruce Arians’ club was able to do.  Now they are 9-5 and still in the conversation for the NFC playoffs.  It will take them winning out and some help to accomplish, but at least they have a shot (I bet Arizona wishes they played in the AFC).  The Titans are now eliminated from the playoffs with this loss, but at least they didn’t lie down in this game when they were down by three scores late in the fourth quarter.  As a fan, I can always appreciate a team playing hard until the final whistle.  You never know what could happen, sometimes you can get lucky and force an overtime.  This really was a wacky game, and the Cards are in a better position because of the win.  They need to continue this trend next week when they take on the Seahawks up in Seattle.  A loss there would kill their playoff aspirations.

Week 15: St. Louis Rams 27, New Orleans Saints 16- Post Game Thoughts

In a battle of the Saints, it is the Rams who come out on top with the “dubya”.  Drew Brees was off his game in this one, and protection broke down in front of him, as he was sacked four times and pressured on other occasions.  His two first quarter interceptions proved to be the difference in this game, they each resulted in Ram touchdowns.  Zac Stacy had an outstanding game; he ran the rock 28 times for 133 yards and a touchdown.  Kellen Clemens also played a nice game, throwing two touchdowns and no interceptions.  The Rams, as a team, won the turnover battle.  They did not turn it over once while the Saints coughed it up three times.  Garrett Hartley’s two missed field goals did not help New Orleans’ cause either.  So all and all, it was a sloppy effort from Sean Peyton’s team, and one that they could have done without.  Because of this slip-up, they will be forced to play Carolina for all of the NFC South marbles next week.  The game will be played in Charlotte, and the Saints have lost their last two road games and four out of their five previous contests outside of the Superdome.  There really is no denying that these guys are not nearly as effective on the road as they are at home.  That is why a win next week would be huge for them.  Whoever wins the NFC South will have a first round BYE and at least one home game in the playoffs.  The loser may not last long if they are forced to take their show on the road.  So the bottom line is that this game is humongous.  I do have to give props to Jeff Fisher and company for responding the way they did in this game.  They got blown out at the hands of the Cardinals last week, and to come back and play well against a top-echelon opponent is pretty impressive.  I like the way this Ram team looks and they will be competitive in many of their games next year, make no mistake about it.

Week 15: Carolina Panthers 30, New York Jets 20- Post Game Thoughts

The Panthers pick up their tenth win of the season at home over the Jets and now pull even in the NFC South with the Saints (given New Orleans’ recent loss to St. Louis).  The defense played pretty well and was highlighted by a strong showing from Captain Munnerlyn.  Munnerlyn recorded two sacks and a pick-six in this game for the Panthers.  This pick-six is the fourth one that Geno Smith has thrown this season, by the way.  Cam Newton was pretty efficient throwing the ball in this one, as he played his best game since the team defeated the Patriots a few weeks back.  He hit 16 of his 24 passes (with one of them being a 76-yard touchdown on a screen pass to DeAngelo Williams) and was not intercepted.  The Jets did a nice job running the ball in this game in their own right.  The team carried it 28 times for 157 yards (5.6 yards per carry).  Sheldon Richardson, the defensive tackle, actually recorded a rushing touchdown in this game.  Talk about being versatile!  Geno Smith did not play horribly, but once again, he didn’t do anything special to help his team win the game.  Now the Jets are cooked in terms of the playoff race, and they will get to see teams like these Panthers compete from their couches this January.  Oh yeah, and don’t look now but the NFC South is up for grabs next week when the Saints and Panthers play once again.  The winner of this game will almost certainly take home the division crown.  How is that for a Week 16 primer?  That one should be fun.

Week 15: Kansas City Chiefs 56, Oakland Raiders 31- Post Game Thoughts

Holy cow, Jamaal Charles went off in this game!  He accounted for five touchdowns and was just the third player this season to record four receiving touchdowns.  His eight catches tied his career high from earlier this season (against Dallas) and his 195 yards receiving was a career high.  Fantasy owners have to be salivating at #25’s beast performance from this Sunday.  Alex Smith also posted a perfect passer rating in this game, becoming the second quarterback to do so against the Raiders this year.  What does that tell you?  I tells you that Oakland needs to play better defense.  They have been picked apart twice now, and because of it their defensive numbers don’t look good.  I have watched the Raiders play a few games this season and I can say that they are better on defense than this game (and the one against Nick Foles) would lead you to believe they were.  You could say they are bad, but I think it would be more appropriate to call them inconsistent.  Elevating the level of play and keeping it there on a weekly basis is going to be key for Oakland as we go forward.  The Chiefs, on the other hand, have clinched a playoff berth (after finishing just 2-14 last year) with this win and are tied atop the AFC West with the Broncos yet again.  It will take a lot for them to become the division champs though as they have to win out and hope for Denver to lose one of their next two games.  Instead of focusing on the division crown, I would do what I could to play well against playoff (and playoff calibur) teams.  The Colts will come to Kansas City next week to play a game that will serve as a measuring stick for both teams (and a possible preview for a wild-card weekend match-up).  The Chiefs will then draw a rematch with the Chargers on the final week of the season.  Let’s see if these guys can finish the year off in a strong way.  These final two games will help us all determine if Kansas City is a contender or a pretender.