December 9, 2012; Cincinnati, OH, USA; Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton (14) directs his blockers against the Dallas Cowboys at Paul Brown Stadium. Dallas won the game 20-19. Mandatory Credit: Greg Bartram-USA TODAY Sports
NFL Week 15 is set to kickoff tonight as the Cincinnati Bengals (7-9) travel to Philadelphia to take on the Eagles (4-9) on Thursday Night Football. The Bengals are still fighting for a playoff spot in the AFC, while the Eagles are kicking the tires on rookie quarterback Nick Foles. Last weekend the Bengals dropped a last second heart breaker to the Dallas Cowboys while the Philadelphia Eagles went into Tampa Bay and upset the Bucs behind some late game heroics from Nick Foles. Should be a good opportunity to see how the Bengals respond to their last second loss to Dallas, and if Nick Foles can continue to impress in Philadelphia. Last weekend all of the last second victories cost me with my picks, all except the Rams game of course. I barely broke even going 8-8 with my picks last weekend in what was another wild weekend of football. The games I took a gamble on the upset didn’t pan out (Jaguars) while some of the surefire picks ended in upset (Steelers). I need to do much better this weekend to make up for last weekends debacle so lets get to it.
Bengals @ Eagles. The Eagles broke their 8 game losing streak last weekend against the “in the hunt” Bucs. The Bengals have been playing better football than the Bucs lately and should provide a tougher test to Nick Foles than the Bucs last place pass defense. Bengals win 27-23.
Packers @ Bears. The Bears and Packers each have mile long injury reports, the difference is that Packers players are starting to return from injury while the Bears players are just starting to miss time. Also don’t look now but the Packers appear to have a running game. Packers win 24-13.
Colts @ Texans. The Colts and Texans are both headed to the playoffs this season, and technically this game has division title implications. The Texans were emberassed by the Patriots on Monday Night and should be looking to re-establish themselves as an AFC power. Texans win 31-28.
Broncos @ Ravens. The Ravens have been slowly regressing this season while the Broncos have been steadily improving. Peyton Manning is playing MVP caliber football as the Broncos have won 8 straight. Look for Manning and Co. to continue to fight for playoff positioning. Broncos win 24-16.
Jaguars @ Dolphins. I picked the Jaguars last weekend to spring the upset at home against the Jets. I wont make the same mistake this week as they hit the road to take on the Dolphins. Neither of these teams is going to the playoffs this year, but the Dolphins are a step ahead in their quest for post season play. Dolphins win 20-13.
Redskins @ Browns. Here is the crazy upset pick of the week. The Browns have reached their first three game winning streak since 2009, the Redskins are currently riding a 4 game winning streak and pushing for the playoffs. Part of why I am going with the Browns is the uncertainty around RGIII, and part of it is just because I want them to lose to improve the Rams draft choice. Browns win 24-20.
Vikings @ Rams. Stop Adrian Peterson and win right? No one stops AD, you can only hope to contain him. If the Rams can keep him from controlling the game and allowing the Vikings to avoid passing they will be in good shape. Rams rookies will have to step up in a big way this weekend, especially Michael Brockers and Janoris Jenkins. Brockers needs to hold firm in the middle of the line, while Jenkins needs to be able to blanket his man so the Rams can commit more people to stopping the run. I predict Jenkins and Brockers come through in a big way yet again, and rookie Chris Givens gets back to his 50+ yard play ways. Rams win 31 – 20.
Bucs @ Saints. The Bucs have been sliding lately, while the Saints have been fairly inconsistent. It is hard to go against the Saints at home against a team that just doesn’t have the defense to slow down Drew Brees. The Bucs are on pace to be the first team in NFL history to allow 300+ passing yards per game so Brees should have a huge day. Saints win 35 – 17.
Giants @ Falcons. The Giants picked up a huge win against the Saints getting a massive contribution from rookie David Wilson on offense and special teams. The Falcons somehow lost to the Panthers last weekend and could be looking to bounce back at home where they are always tough to beat. I just trust Eli Manning and the defending super bowl champs more than I trust Matty Ice and the Falcons right now. Giants win 31 – 28.
Seahawks @ Bills. Second crazy upset of the week. If this game were in Buffalo it may not be as much of a crazy upset but since its in Toronto the Bills may lose some of the home crowd advantage. The Seahawks have gotten better on the road lately, but still traveling from Seattle to Toronto to take on a tough Bills defense may be a tall order for a team that is bound to be feeling bulletproof after everything broke their way against the Cardinals. Bills win 24 – 21.
Panthers @ Chargers. The Chargers are the type of team that could play spoiler down the stretch for potential playoff teams. Of course the Panthers aren’t heading to the playoffs but the Chargers are a team that should have been in the mix, if Philip Rivers can avoid turning the ball over the Chargers should come away with a win. Chargers win 28-26.
Lions @ Cardinals. Neither of these teams has had a very good 2012 season. The Lions went from 10-6 and the playoffs last year to a 4-9 disappointment. The Cardinals started out 4-0 but a whole slew of injuries has put their offense in neutral as they have lost 9 straight games including a 58-0 whooping in Seattle last weekend. The Cardinals defense is good, but the Cardinals offense will make the Lions defense look great. Lions win 23 – 13.
Chiefs @ Raiders. This AFC West rivalry game lacks excitement as both teams have failed to perform to expectations this season. This game is in Oakland so we will go with the Raiders here. I am not very confident in the Raiders ability to score touchdowns but with Janikowski they are almost always in scoring range. Raiders win 19 – 10.
Steelers @ Cowboys. Both of these teams ended up surprising me last weekend as the Steelers were blown out by the Chargers and the Cowboys eeked out a win against the Bengals. I expect Big Ben to play better this weekend, and Jerry’s World hasn’t exactly provided a home field advantage to the Cowboys. Steelers win 28-21.
49ers @ Patriots. Only a crazy person would pick against Tom Brady at home in Primetime after seeing him dissect the Texans last week right? Well call me crazy I guess because I am going with the underdog in this one. The Texans defense had been showing major flaws prior to the game against the Patriots, so far this season there are no flaws for the 49ers defense. This is hands down the most consistent defense in the NFL and they do pretty much everything well. Aldon Smith may not collect any sacks against Tom Brady but I do expect him to make him less comfortable than he has been in a while. 49ers win 30-24.
Jets @ Titans. Here is a Monday Night game that practically no one wants to watch. Neither of these teams is going to be making the playoffs, and yet it almost has to be more entertaining than last Monday Nights game. I will go with the home team in this game as I expect Chris Johnson to have a nice day against the Jets defense. Titans win 20 – 13.
Week 15 Matchups
Bengals @ Eagles
Packers @ Bears
Colts @ Texans
Broncos @ Ravens
Jaguars @ Dolphins
Redskins @ Browns
Vikings @ Rams
Bucs @ Saints
Giants @ Falcons
Seahawks @ Bills
Panthers @ Chargers
Lions @ Cardinals
Chiefs @ Raiders
Steelers @ Cowboys
49ers @ Patriots
Jets @ Titans