Hello friends! Week 15 features quite a few mismatches on paper, which probably means we’re in for some close games this week. I’m kind of dreading it because it’s a Steelers Week for my Bengals and those rarely end well. Hopefully these picks will go better than the Bengals’ record against the team from Pittsburgh.
Saturday, December 17
Miami (-2.5) at NY Jets
Not exactly the type of Saturday night matchup that’s going to inspire a ton of casual fans to stay home, but this is one of those rivalry games that could be dicey. Even if it’s Matt Moore vs. Bryce Petty.
OK, let’s be fair, it’s not like Ryan Tannehill vs. Ryan Fitzpatrick would have set the world on fire either.
The Jets did manage to get the win against the sorry, no-account 49ers last week, but I can’t see them stopping the Dolphins here. Rivalries are rivalries, but Miami can’t afford to lose this one and they’ll be ready to go.
Sunday, December 18
Detroit at NY Giants (-4)
Metlife Stadium pulling double duty this week, which will be fun for their staff. I wonder if the Jets & Giants have different workers or if they just have the same crew do everything. The Lions are on top of the NFC North & the Giants just got a big win over the Cowboys to stand their ground over everybody in the wildcard hunt. This might be the game with the most on the line for each team this week.
The Lions are riding a five-game win streak, but they didn’t look like world-beaters last week against the Bears. Matt Stafford’s fighting through one of those pesky finger injuries and I think the Giants are primed to take advantage of it.
Philadelphia at Baltimore (-5.5)
The Ravens have to win this game. The Eagles have to get a high draft pick.
Green Bay (-5.5) at Chicago
Don’t look now, but the Packers are getting hot at just the right time. It’s a good thing too since it’s going to be super cold in Chicago, even by Chicago winter standards. The Bears have actually been pretty decent at home…they’re running into a buzzsaw this week but I actually think they keep it close due to the conditions & the fact it’s a division rivalry & they don’t want to lay down for these guys. I don’t think they win, but it’ll be a close one.
Indianapolis at Minnesota (-4)
This game could decide whether or not Adrian Peterson comes back this season. If Minnesota loses and enough of the other contending teams win, they’re pretty much out of the playoff hunt and there’s no real reason to bring him back. If they win and they’re still in the middle of the hunt, of course you bring in a fresh Adrian Peterson because even if he isn’t his usual self he’s still probably better than what you currently have.
I think we’ll see Adrian Peterson again in 2016. The Vikings have a good enough defense to give Andrew Luck fits, while the Colts’ defense isn’t stopping anybody that’s remotely competent. I don’t think Sam Bradford is as good as some experts say, but he’s at least remotely competent.
Cleveland at Buffalo (-10)
When was the last time these teams played each other and at least one of the teams was relevant? They face off most seasons because of the 4th place schedule, it’s always late in the season & nobody cares because they’re long out of the playoff race. The Bills are technically hanging on by a thread, but they don’t really have a chance and Rex Ryan is looking for anybody other than himself to blame for it. The Browns are heading towards 0-16 and hoping that tanking will pay off. I got the Bills winning, but I don’t think they score enough points to cover that spread. Browns lose 9-0.
Tennessee at Kansas City (-5.5)
Big week for Dustin James. His favorite college player of all time rolls into Kansas City to face his favorite professional team. What will he do if Dontari Poe hits Marcus Mariota so hard that the poor boy can never play football again? The Shit Clogger can get that done, no doubt about it. The Chiefs will be well-rested & ready to go, but I see the Titans keeping this one close as they claw & scratch for a playoff spot because they’re somehow tied for first place in their division.
Jacksonville at Houston (-6)
Nobody really thinks the Texans are good, but everybody pretty well agrees that the Jaguars are worse.
Pittsburgh (-3) at Cincinnati
It’s the Steelers‘ time of year. Don’t get fooled by the Bengals looking somewhat decent against the dregs of the league the last two weeks, they’re still nowhere near where we expected them to be this season. I got a bad feeling that Paul Brown Stadium is going to be even more full of Steelers fans than usual, and it’s going to be ugly. I mean, have you seen them?
It’s not good.
New Orleans at Arizona (-2.5)
Sometimes quarterbacks get old overnight. Peyton Manning was plugging along at an excellent level until the last half of the 2014 season, then he looked like a shell of his former self until his retirement at the end of the 2015 season. Drew Brees was great for most of this season, and the last couple of weeks he’s thrown zero touchdowns & six interceptions resulting two Saints losses. The Lions & Buccaneers are playoff contenders and don’t suck as much as previously advertised, but if you’ve watched the games you’ve seen a QB that’s more than just a little off.
Is he just tired after a long season at thirty-seven years of age? Is there a physical problem going on that the Saints aren’t telling people about? Or do quarterbacks only have so many passes in them and Brees has reached his limit? Whatever the issue is, Drew Brees isn’t the quarterback he was at the beginning of this season.
Neither is Carson Palmer. He hasn’t had the ups & downs that Brees has this season, he’s just mostly been pretty blah. So it comes down to the other pieces on the chessboard. The Cardinals have David Johnson and a pretty solid secondary while the Saints have…not much. When you skimp on other positions & put all of your faith & hope in one player, this is what happens.
San Francisco at Atlanta (-14)
The 49ers are a complete disaster. Maybe Willie Taggart will hire Chip Kelly as OC at Oregon? Another easy week for the Falcons.
New England (-3) at Denver
The Broncos definitely seem like a team heading in the wrong direction. They can’t figure out who their running back is, and whether it’s Trevor Siemian or Paxton Lynch at quarterback doesn’t seem to matter…neither is particularly effective at this point. The defense is still pretty good and should give Tom Brady and the Patriots fits, but I can’t see the offense scoring enough points to keep up.
Oakland (-3) at San Diego
You know who I feel bad for? The city of Los Angeles. They’ve gone over two decades without a professional football team and haven’t really complained too much about it. They mind their own business and don’t cause any problems. Last year the NFL decided they absolutely had to have football in LA again. Three teams emerged as candidates: the Chargers, the Raiders & the Rams. The Chargers & Raiders were planning on a stadium in a landfill in Carson while the Rams wanted one in Inglewood. The Rams won the battle, and current indications are it’ll be the Rams & Chargers in the Inglewood stadium while the Raiders either go to Las Vegas or keep playing in that dump in Oakland.
So why do I feel sorry for Los Angeles? It’s pretty obvious: they’re getting the two worst and least interesting franchises out of the deal. The Raiders are contenders again with a lot of good young talent. The Chargers have some talent but it’s all injured. The Rams are a complete mess and they’re already killing the territory with their ineptitude. If you wanted one of these teams to move to your town, you’d pick the Raiders. And if you wanted to pick an NFL team never to see again, the Rams & Chargers would be pretty high on the list.
The Chargers are way too decimated by injury to trust here. Take the Raiders in what might be a home game for them crowd-wise.
Tampa Bay at Dallas (-7)
The Cowboys were bound to lose another game, and of course it’d be to the same team they lost to in Week 1. Now we’re back in a quagmire of Dak Prescott/Tony Romo discussion that we hoped we had gotten out of a few weeks ago when Romo made a speech acknowledging his demotion and NFL media splooged over it like college football media used to whenever Tim Tebow said anything. Something I’ve noticed about Dallas over the years…when they find success it builds and builds and builds. But when they face adversity and things get tough, the Cowboys go downhill real quick. The losses start to pile up. With 11 wins they’re already in the playoffs, but if they keep losing and the chatter surrounding Dak/Tony starts to build, they won’t be around long.
Tampa Bay doesn’t have to worry about the hype. They’ve done a great job of flying under the radar, getting to eight wins without too many people noticing. Playing on SUNDAY NIGHT IS FOOTBALL NIGHT in Dallas could be a bit more than they’re used to, but I think the Buccaneers will at least keep things close against a Dallas team that might be teetering on the brink of disaster.
Monday, December 19
Carolina at Washington (-4.5)
Cam Newton vs. Josh Norman? Oh goodness. If Norman gets a pick you know we won’t hear the end of it any time soon. Washington managed to end a two-game losing streak last week in Philadelphia and are hanging in the playoff picture by a thread. Carolina’s season is basically over and they’re playing for pride. There isn’t much pride to be found in Washington D.C. these days, and there will be even less pretty soon I’m afraid. Either way I think their football team wins this week. The Panthers have won one road game this season, and I’m not even sure that should count since it was against the Rams.