You may have noticed that Week 14 didn’t exactly go as planned, but I hope to turn that trend around with my NFL Week 15 predictions. As we get closer to the end of the regular season, a whole new set of variables enters the discussion. Some teams are fighting for their playoff lives, some are mathematically eliminated from the post-season, and some really have nothing to gain or to lose.
For example, no matter what happens from here on out, the 12-1 Tennessee Titans have already clinched their division title and there’s a pretty good chance that they’ll be enjoying a first week bye. On the other hand, a team like the New Orleans Saints (who just narrowly lost to the Chicago Bears last night) has quite the uphill battle if they hope to make the post-season. It’ll certainly be interesting to see how things turn out on Sunday.
As always, these point spreads come from the Caesar’s Vegas Line. Place your wagers at your own risk and reward.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Atlanta Falcons (-2.5)
Another battle in the highly competitive NFC South, this game could make or break Atlanta’s chance at making the playoffs. Tampa is fresh off a loss to Carolina last week, so expect Jeff Garcia and his crew to come back more motivated than ever.
Pick: Tampa Bay
Washington Redskins (-6.5) at Cincinnati Bengals
Don’t pick the
Bungles Bengals. Jason Campbell and the Redskins are fighting for their playoff lives and should have no trouble trampling the little cats.
Tennessee Titans (-2.5) at Houston Texans
I realize that the Titans have very little to gain at this point, since the prospect of an undefeated season has already been thrown out the window. Even so, even if they play second-string players, the Titans should prevail over the Texans.
Green Bay Packers (-1.5) at Jacksonville Jaguars
Jacksonville has been absolutely abysmal this year, but the Packers haven’t exactly been stellar either. Look for a close game, but nothing too exciting here to watch.
Pick: Green Bay
San Francisco 49ers at Miami Dolphins (-6.5)
The Niners have no chance of making the playoffs and they have a reputation of playing spoiler as the season draws to a close. The Dolphins are on quite the streak and that should continue with this home game.
Seattle Seahawks (-2.5) at St. Louis Rams
This game doesn’t matter. Neither team has any hopes of making the playoffs, so I’ll just lean toward the home team for kicks and giggles.
Pick: St. Louis
Buffalo Bills at New York Jets (-7.5)
Can Brett Favre and the Jets return to the form that saw an impressive victory over the (almost undefeated) Tennessee Titans? I hope so, if only for the possibility of a Subway Super Bowl.
Pick: New York
San Diego Chargers (-5.5) at Kansas City Chiefs
The Chargers are a shadow of their former selves and their playoff hopes are hanging by a thread. They should be motivated to minimize mistakes and capitalize on opportunities here.
Pick: San Diego
Detroit Lions at Indianapolis Colts (-16.5)
Peyton Manning is leading the charge, guiding his Colts into the post-season despite quite the struggle earlier on in the season. I have no doubt that the Lions will continue with their winless ways, but the huge spread has me concerned. Bah, the Colts’ll cover.
Minnesota Vikings at Arizona Cardinals (-2.5)
Kurt Warner’s name is coming up with discussions of a league MVP and for good reason. The Cardinals have been stinking it up in recent years, but they’ve clinched the NFC West title. Good job. Now you’ve got to keep it up against Adrian Peterson and the Vikes.
Pittsburgh Steelers at Baltimore Ravens (-2.5)
It pains me to say this, but even though the Ravens are favored in this matchup, I’m expecting Big Ben to prevail for Pittsburgh. Bob will be happy.
Denver Broncos at Carolina Panthers (-7.5)
Despite an impressive win over the Bucs last week, the NFC South-leading Carolina Panthers may not be able to hold up against an impressive Broncos squad. At the same time, the crappy Broncos may show up instead. You can never know with that team. I’ll err on the side of caution.
New England Patriots (-6.5) at Oakland Raiders
If Matt Cassel and the Patriots want to be playing football next month, they’ll need to triumph over the hapless Raider Nation. The AFC Wild Card race is a tight one.
Pick: New England
New York Giants at Dallas Cowboys (-2.5)
Well, it turns out that I was wrong. The Giants were definitely distracted by Plaxico Burress last week. While I hope that they have moved beyond that, Tony Romo and the Cowboys are pumped about making the playoffs. How ’bout ‘dem Cowboys?!
Cleveland Browns at Philadelphia Eagles (-13.5)
I don’t care what anyone says. Donovan McNabb is overrated and even if Philly wins this game, they won’t cover the spread. It’ll pain me if they win by two TDs.