Week 15 Predictions for the 2014 NFL Season
The selection for the College Football Playoffs pretty much overshadowed what was happening on NFL Sunday. I'm fine with the teams that were selected but the committee didn't look like they knew what they were doing. It seemed like the rankings from October to last week weren't necessary. It will be fun though watching the chosen four teams duke it out to get to the Championship game. Moving on, this is a very important week for a few teams (i.e Bengals, Chargers, and Eagles) because a loss would likely eliminate them from playoff contention or fall down a spot from hosting a playoff game.
Cardinals @ Rams: Good for Arizona to stay on top of the NFC with a big win against the Chiefs. However, I don't think they will last very long holding on to that number one seed as the Packers and Seahawks are creeping up on them. A date with Seattle next week will most likely be for the NFC West crown. They do have to focus first on Thursday night when go up against the Rams, who has held teams scoreless in two consecutive games.
Steelers @ Falcons: The Falcons nearly squeaked one out at Lambeau. The offense made a run while the defense was able to hold the Packers to 12 points all in the second half. What to expect for this game is a little more of the same thing for both teams. The Steelers and Falcons are pretty susceptible to the pass but the Black and Gold can defend the run a bit better.
Redskins @ Giants: The last time these two teams met, it was Thursday night. Giants tight end Larry Donnell made a name for himself and Washington quarterback Kirk Cousins had himself a pic-nic. The Redskins have given up the second most sacks (46) in the league so it won't matter who will be starting at the quarterback position.
Dolphins @ Patriots: The Patriots are 8-1 in their last nine games making them one of the most consistent teams thus far in the NFL. The Dolphin's have won five out of their last nine games accompanied with a three-game winning streak in late October. The shakiness is there but minimal. Miami needs to get the running game going offensively if they want to be successful. That in turn will help ease the pressure off of Tannehill. Defensively, New England had themselves a day last week which I expect to continue moving forward for the next two games.
Raiders @ Chiefs: Promising news for safety Eric Berry as his diagnosis for Hodgkin Lymphoma is said to be treatable. At this point, Kansas City is desperate for a victory. The losses they've been dealt recently have put them in a bind that will be tough to get out of (playoff wise). The three game losing streak for the Chiefs started in Oakland and it will end against Oakland. At least they won't finish the season with a losing record.
Texans @ Colts: Quite a scare for Indianapolis last week when they faced Cleveland but credit to Andrew Luck and the rest of the team for not giving up and eventually coming back to get the victory. Defensively, the Browns did a good job up until the end of the third quarter. Will it be another close game as they face Houston? It is almost a given against MVP-candidate J.J. Watt. More late-game heroics by Luck will give them the victory.
Bengals @ Browns: Finally we'll get to see Johnny Manziel play in a full game. Who knows how he will do as the starter but hopefully we get to see something similar from what we saw at Texas A&M. For the Bengals, I do expect their defense to tighten up in preparation for the playoffs. They really blew it last week against Pittsburgh and laid an egg at home, about a month ago, against the Hoyer-led Browns. To prepare for January football, they have to start playing like it. The next two games won't be easier for Cincinnati so they really need this win.
Jaguars @ Ravens: A game that will help Baltimore get closer in clinching a playoff spot. No disrespect to the Jaguars but their run defense isn't going to help. They are allowing 132.5 rushing yards per game which is the fifth worst in the league and have allowed 14 total rushing touchdowns (also fifth worst in the league).
Packers @ Bills: Against a pretty potent passing attack, more than likely the Packers will be involved in a shoot out as they did on Monday night against Atlanta. Something to look at later on. Another thing to look at is how Aaron Rodgers will do against this pretty stingy defense. Buffalo leads the league in sacks and have given up the fewest touchdowns through the air. I don't expect any offensive fire works but I do trust that the Bills won't do much offensively.
Buccaneers @ Panthers: Hopefully Cam Newton is doing well after being involved in a car accident Tuesday afternoon. Prayers to him and his recovery. Quarterback Derek Anderson, in the meantime, will start in this game against Tampa Bay. He started the first game of this season in place of Newton, if you might recall, earning a win for Carolina over the Buccaneers. Since that game, the Buccaneers have played a bit better offensively, but I think the Panthers will have a bit more emotion and energy for this game for Cam and for a shot at the NFC South.
Jets @ Titans: Tough loss for the Jets last week. They played well for four straight quarters and nearly had it in overtime. That missed tackle on the screen pass must have been hard to watch. Still, despite the losing season somewhere there is something nice that can be dug up. Maybe a certain wide receiver or defensive player will be that buried treasure in the upcoming draft. A game against the Titans, who haven't won a game in two months, is probably the second best thing.
Broncos @ Chargers: Pretty close victory for Denver last week and an average day for them running the ball which is expected against a Bills defense that doesn't give up that many rushing yards. San Diego is not much better defending the run so I expect a better day for the Broncos in that category. On a side note, this will be a great test for the Chargers after facing the Patriots: two super bowl contenders back-to-back. After this game San Diego will be on the road for the last two games of the season which will be critical for their chances at the playoffs. Don't count Philip Rivers out just yet.
Vikings @ Lions: Should be a closer game this time around compared to their previous meeting in October. There's going to be some times where both offenses will swap points due to the way Detroit has been playing on offense; so it is key that the Vikings not turn the ball over. Minnesota hasn't done really well defending the run recently which will prove costly. The Lions will have a balanced attack in a win to sweep the Vikings as they inch closer at clinching a playoff spot.
49ers @ Seahawks: In short, San Francisco got beat down at their own stadium against Seattle a couple of weeks ago. The Seahawks are getting closer to playing defensively at a Super Bowl level and are looking to contend for home field advantage. Meanwhile, the 49ers are just looking to survive the season.
Cowboys @ Eagles: Probably the most important game of the season for both teams. The winner between these two division opponents will most likely take the NFC East. It's an easier road for Philadelphia if they lose this game due to meetings with the Giants and Redskins to end their season. Going on to the actual game, Tony Romo with six days of rest is a very different quarterback than when he has two days of rest as what we witnessed on Thanksgiving. It's going to be a different game with a different outcome.
Saints @ Bears: New Orleans shot themselves in the foot on Sunday and have their head just above water in the NFC South. Nothing can be taken for granted on what will happen for the last two weeks of the season which makes this game very important. It is a do-or-die situation to sort of raise the intensity level for the Saints. They did win a road game up north recently but it is going to be a bit different in the Windy City at night. A loss would put them in an uncomfortable position but luckily they face a Bears team who has management regretting the signing of Jay Cutler.