NFL Thoughts and Predictions: Week 15
Week 14 Record: 10-6
New York Jets at Baltimore Ravens
Come on. Do you really expect the Ravens to lose to the Jets?
If they do, it's because Lamar Jackson gets injured and can't play, or it's just the biggest fluke game of the season.
Score: Ravens 32, Jets 13
Chicago Bears at Green Bay Packers
A few weeks ago I would have said the Packers would roll in this one, but now I'm not too sure.
The Bears offense, while not the most potent unit, has been gaining a little momentum the past few weeks.
This does not bode well for a Packers defense that is 22nd in the league for total defense.
I think the Packers pull this one out, but it could be close for a while.
Score: Packers 24, Bears, 18
New England Patriots at Cincinnati Bengals
Another game that should not be close, and not because of any possible Spygate sequel.
The Patriots are coming off of two games where they were kind of embarrassed on national television. They know that, and they are not letting that happen again.
Now they go up against a Bengals offense that is 31st in points per game, 25th in yards per game, and 28th in yards per play.
Not only that, but the Bengals defense allows the second-most yards per game, and allows the most yards per play in the league.
Score: Patriots 35, Bengals 16
Seattle Seahawks at Carolina Panthers
Similarly to the Patriots, the Seahawks will bounce back from a big loss in week 14.
For one, Russell Wilson is hands-down the best road quarterback in the league.
Also, the Panthers have allowed the most rushing touchdowns and rushing yards per attempt in the league, so Chris Carson should be able to relieve some of the burden on Wilson.
Score: Seahawks 27, Panthers 21
Houston Texans at Tennessee Titans
This is a huge game for both teams, with the winner being in the driver's seat in the AFC South.
The Titans have been the hottest team in the league in the past month. More than 30 points in their last five games, 6-1 in the last seven games, Ryan Tannehill has been absurdly efficient with a 130+ passer rating in the past four games, and Derrick Henry is steamrolling the competition.
The Texans on the other hand followed up an emotional victory over New England with receiving a spanking from the Denver Broncos. Still, the Texans are not short of talent.
This one will come down to how quarterbacks perform under pressure. Here, this favors the Titans. The stats show the Titans are top ten in the league in quarterback hurries, while the Texans are down toward the bottom.
I think Deshaun Watson will make some miscues under pressure, which is the last thing you want against a hot defense.
Score: Titans 28, Texans 24
Miami Dolphins at New York Giants
This is such a stinky game. With Eli Manning expected to start, it's not getting better for the Giants.
The Dolphins have actually been (relatively) impressive as of late, being eighth in points per game over their last three games, while the Giants chill out toward the bottom.
Miami is gaining some momentum, and I don't have any reason to believe the Giants will stop that from continuing.
Score: Dolphins 21, Giants 18
Philadelphia Eagles at Washington Redskins
Another likely stinky game.
I feel so bad for Carson Wentz. He likely will be unfairly criticized for this underwhelming season, but none of this is his fault. In fact has has kept the team in most of the games. He just has gotten no help from the weapons around him.
Despite Alshon Jeffery done for the year, I'll go with the Eagles. The Redskins are out of the playoff race and have nothing to play for. The Eagles on the other hand are (somehow) still in the playoff race, and will honestly just fight more than Washington.
As long as Wentz still has Zach Ertz, that's all he needs.
Denver Broncos at Kansas City Chiefs
This one could be closer than many may think.
The Chiefs, despite beating New England, did not look impressive, especially in the second half, where they only scored three points and got some big help from an odd pass interference no-call.
They will also be coming off a big, emotional victory over the Patriots. Teams often dip coming off emotional victories.
Just look at the Texans, who one week after a similar big victory over New England, were absolutely spanked in week 14. Who did they play in that game? The Broncos.
The Broncos face a Patriots-killer for the second straight week, and this team has a chance against the Cheifs.
Drew Lock has been stellar in his first two starts, completing 72 percent of his passes, and is eighth in the league in yards per pass over that span.
We could see a repeat of the Texans game. I'll go with the Chiefs, but I'm just saying it could happen.
Score: Chiefs 28, Broncos 20
Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs. Detroit Lions
This is the battle of two teams with no defense whatsoever. Both these teams should put up yards and points.
Who do I trust more? The undrafted rookie who, while decent the past few weeks, has a ceiling, or Jameis Winston, who puts up loads of yards and touchdowns, but also gives the ball away like he's handing out travel brochures?
I will go with Tampa Bay since they have a much better ability to put up points in a hurry, but Winston still makes me nervous.
Score: Buccaneers 28, Lions 27
Cleveland Browns at Arizona Cardinals
The Browns are going to lose. That's blunt, but its how I feel.
Cleveland made a victory over the Bengals look like a slug-fest. It just looks like they've given up.
Baker Mayfield is struggling, OBJ is dealing with injury, and the team just does not pop.
I just don't trust the Browns right now. The Cardinals are not amazing by any means, but at least they show more fight.
Score: Cardinals 23, Browns 18
Jacksonville Jaguars at Oakland Raiders
Neither of these defenses can stop teams from moving the ball. That's well-documented.
As for the offenses, the edge is definitely with Oakland.
The Jacksonville offense has been abysmal the past few weeks. They may be able to get something moving against the Raiders, but I still don't see either Nick Foles or Gardner Minshew all of a sudden throwing for 300 yards.
I trust Oakland more with this matchup, even if they don't have Josh Jacobs back.
Score: Oakland 21, Jaguars 16
Minnesota Vikings at Los Angeles Chargers
The Chargers suddenly have found a pulse the past couple weeks, which has just so happened to coincide with Phillip Rivers' uptick in production.
He won't have it do easy with the Minnesota defense. Of course though, you could say the same of Kirk Cousins vs. the Chargers.
Ulimately, I see Rivers as the worse quarterback under pressure than Cousins.
Danielle Hunter had four sacks last week, and if he gets lose again, Rivers simply does not have the mobility at this point in his career to extend plays.
Score: Vikings 23, Chargers 21
Los Angeles Rams at Dallas Cowboys
I'm a little hung up on this game. The Cowboys put up yards in spades and they have weapons, but they can't stop teams and can't win games lately.
The Rams are very inconsistent, but they did just beat one of the top teams in the NFC last week, and when they're on, they're on.
I think the Rams defense has a better chance at limiting big plays than the Cowboys. Stick Jalen Ramsey on Amari Cooper, and their goes Dallas' best receiving option. We all know how good Aaron Donald is at getting interior quarterback pressure.
I also like Sean McVay's ability to out-coach Jason Garrett.
The Cowboys, and mainly Garrett, will be in hot water after this.
Score: Rams 27, Cowboys 20
Atlanta Falcons at San Francisco 49ers
Know what I said above about the game after emotional victories? Yeah. Look out for this game.
I think the 49ers win, but again, it may be closer than you think.
The 49ers narrowly won an instant classic against the Saints. Now they face a Falcons team that is gaining momentum, not just on offense, but on defense too.
If Vic Beasley has a game like he did last week, Jimmy Garoppolo will not have much time to throw.
Again, 49ers win, but the Falcons will hang around.
Score: 49ers 27, Falcons 23
Buffalo Bills at Pittsburgh Steelers
Another big game for the AFC playoff picture. Bills win, and they're in. Steelers lose, and their path to the playoffs becomes a little tougher.
This will be a low-scoring game. Josh Allen has struggled when he actually plays against tough teams, and Devlin Hodges has been a decent surprise, but really who have the Steelers played?
This one could honestly go either way. Ultimately, I trust Josh Allen a little more to lead a team late in a close game to victory. I could also see him overthrowing his receiver by a mile in a crucial drive, but he could also make plays with his legs.
Score: Bills 17, Steelers 15
Indianapolis Colts at New Orleans Saints
The Colts just don't pop. They are a decent team, but that is their ceiling.
The Saints are trying to lock up the top seed in the NFC, and just have too many weapons for the Colts to handle.
They don't need to bomb the ball deep. Drew Brees can chip away at drive bit by bit. They can run the ball. They can beat you in a variety of ways. I'll go with the Saints.
Score: Saints 24, Colts 18