DEN (4-9) @ IND (3-10) | THU 8:25 PM ET | NBC/NFL Network/Amazon
Those who are huge football fans that plan on seeing Star Wars: The Last Jedi tonight are lucky to have Broncos-Colts be the game they’ll miss, but the die-hard fans will watch the NFL while they can. There are only 67 games left this season, so even a matchup between two teams that were basically eliminated from playoff contention long ago is worth watching. Denver followed up a blowout loss to the Dolphins with a shutout victory over the Jets last week, and they will look to take that momentum on the road, where they haven’t won a game all season and are losing by 17.0 points per game. It’s difficult to predict what will happen when two bad teams faceoff—especially on Thursday Night Football—but I think Jacoby Brissett and the Colts will be ready in the dome after last week’s overtime loss in the Buffalo snow.
Winner: Indianapolis Colts
CHI (4-9) @ DET (7-6) | SAT 4:30 PM ET | NFL Network
You know it’s getting close to playoff time when we have NFL football on Saturday, and there are two good games in Week 15. Chargers-Chiefs will get most of the attention, but Detroit and Chicago have been in some battles recently, as their past five matchups have all been decided by four points or fewer, including a 27-24 victory for the Lions last month. If the Bears are able to successfully ride the running game with superstar back Jordan Howard, they might be able to dash Detroit’s playoff hopes in a competitive NFC. I think Matthew Stafford will be able to carry his squad, though, potentially setting up a Week 17 clash with Green Bay for the final wild-card spot if both team can win this week and next week.
Winner: Detroit Lions
LAC (7-6) @ KC (7-6) | SAT 8:30 PM ET | NFL Network
Things can change in an instant in the NFL, but if things play out as I expect over the final three weeks of the season, this primetime matchup could be for not only first place in the AFC West, but also one playoff spot. The Chiefs snapped their four-game losing skid in last week’s convincing win over Oakland, and Darrelle Revis helped the defense play significantly better than they did two weeks ago when they allowed 38 points to the Jets. They will have a difficult time containing the red-hot Chargers offense, but Philip Rivers has lost seven in a row to Andy Reid, throwing for just over 240 yards per game with a 5:10 touchdown-interception ratio. He’s also been held out of the end zone in four of those games, but I think LA’s younger, faster defense will help them get a close road win on Saturday night.
Winner: Los Angeles Chargers
HOU (4-9) @ JAC (9-4) | SUN 1:00 PM ET | FOX
Hopefully the Texans are able to make things closer this week than they did in the season opener against Jacksonville, as Tom Savage lasted just one half as the starting quarterback before Deshaun Watson took over in an eventual 29-7 defeat. It would have been cool to see what Watson could have done with a full game against the Jaguars’ elite defense, but it’ll be T.J. Yates under center on Sunday for Houston, so it’s hard to imagine an outcome other than Jacksonville coming out on top. That would mean they are headed to the postseason for the first time in a decade, and I don’t think teams will be eager to face their defense in January.
Winner: Jacksonville Jaguars
BAL (7-6) @ CLE (0-13) | SUN 1:00 PM ET | CBS
So, how many seconds will be left when recently-released wide receiver Kenny Britt catches the game-winning touchdown for New England in the Super Bowl? In all seriousness, I think it was a good move for new Browns general manager John Dorsey to release the veteran, but there’s a reason why the Patriots can bring in diverse personalities and make them buy in to be successful: culture. I’m not sure who made the decision to bring in Britt, but he wasn’t a good enough player to be a bad teammate and influence for the worst team in the NFL. I also don’t think Josh Gordon all but throwing DeShone Kizer and his team under the bus in a Twitter beef with Packers cornerback Demarious Randall is very good for the culture Dorsey wants to establish, so it’ll be interesting to see what kind of moves are made in the offseason. As for Sunday, this is a classic letdown spot for Baltimore after last week’s loss against the rival Steelers, but John Harbaugh should have his guys focused to win out and get in the playoffs.
Winner: Baltimore Ravens
GB (7-6) @ CAR (9-4) | SUN 1:00 PM ET | FOX
It took two-straight overtime wins, but Brett Hundley was able to beat the Browns and Bucs to get the Packers over .500 and in a probable win-and-in (i.e. win out) scenario with Aaron Rodgers returning this week. It won’t be easy, but having one of the best players in the NFL leading the way should give Green Bay plenty of hope in knocking off the Panthers, Vikings, and Lions over the next three weeks to finish 10-6. They’ll need to take things one week at a time, though, and that starts with a confident Carolina team that just snapped Minnesota’s eight-game winning streak. Look for Cam Newton to continue making plays with his legs against a team that he’s historically had success against as a runner, but I think the now 34-year-old Aaron Rodgers will be laser-focused with the postseason in his sights. Big win for Green Bay.
Winner: Green Bay Packers
MIA (6-7) @ BUF (7-6) | SUN 1:00 PM ET | CBS
Last season, Miami was able to sweep the Bills on their way to the playoffs, and former Dolphins running back Jay Ajayi was a big reason why, as he rushed for 200 yards in each game. I would say the returning Buffalo defenders are likely happy to see Ajayi no longer around, but his replacement Kenyan Drake has been phenomenal over the past two weeks in wins over the Broncos and Patriots, and he’s shown the ability to handle heavy workloads in the structure of Adam Gase’s offense with at least 26 touches in both games. The former Alabama standout has shown an uncanny ability to make would-be tacklers miss in the backfield, so Sean McDermott needs to have his guys playing under control this week. Jay Cutler should be careful throwing at Tre’Davious White, but I loved what I saw out of him and the defense in Monday night’s shocking win, and they have a chance to establish themselves as serious wild-card contenders heading into Week 16.
Winner: Miami Dolphins
CIN (5-8) @ MIN (10-3) | SUN 1:00 PM ET | CBS
The Vikings showed great fight in last week’s loss to the Panthers, and while there are no moral victories in this game, it was impressive to see them tie things up in the fourth quarter, especially considering they were unable to establish a running game with three starters on the offensive line out after left tackle Riley Reiff’s in-game injury. They should have at least four-of-five starters in there this week, so Cincinnati will have a difficult time pulling off an upset and avoiding their second-straight losing season. If the Bengals are to stay alive, the offensive players besides A.J. Green need to step up with Xaiver Rhodes set to shadow the star receiver, and even that might not be enough barring a Case Keenum meltdown, which I highly doubt will happen because of how poised he’s been.
Winner: Minneosta Vikings
ARI (6-7) @ WAS (5-8) | SUN 1:00 PM ET | FOX
Washington was eliminated from playoff contention after last week’s loss to the Chargers, but Arizona is still technically alive; they just need to win out, have the Seahawks lose out, and have Dallas, Green Bay, Detroit, and Atlanta all finish 8-8. There are also other extreme longshot scenarios, but a chance is a chance. They might also be eliminated before even stepping foot on the field, though, as Detroit just needs to beat Chicago on Saturday for the Cardinals to be officially out, and I think things will get simple either way, as I’m picking the Redskins at home where they’re 3-3 so far. I wouldn’t have been surprised to see this be a playoff matchup this season, and both Arizona and Washington have the people in place to make that a reality in 2018.
Winner: Washington Redskins
PHI (11-2) @ NYG (2-11) | SUN 1:00 PM ET | FOX
No matter what team you’re a fan of, it’s hard not to feel bad for Carson Wentz after he tore his ACL with a legitimate opportunity to lead the Eagles to their first Super Bowl since 2004. That said, there’s no reason Philadelphia can’t still represent the NFC with Nick Foles at quarterback, as the 28-year-old has proven himself in the league and played in big games, including the franchise’s most recent playoff appearance four years ago. This week, look for the Eagles to rely on their three-headed monster at running back to hopefully open up play-action passes to get Foles comfortable. They should also get the ball in Nelson Agholor’s hands more with quick passes. I don’t see the Giants stopping Philadelphia from earning a first-round bye in this one.
Winner: Philadelphia Eagles
NYJ (5-8) @ NO (9-4) | SUN 1:00 PM ET | CBS
I would be really surprised if the New York teams weren’t 0-for-2 on Sunday, as the Jets will be without Josh McCown—who deserves to start for someone in 2018 if he wants to continue playing—and head south to face Drew Brees and the contending Saints. Bryce Petty getting a win against New Orleans might be the upset of the year if it were to happen, but Sean Payton isn’t going to have his guys come out flat after losing a close one to Atlanta last Thursday night in a heated contest. I just hope a poor finish to the season doesn’t have an impact on Todd Bowles’ job status.
Winner: New Orleans Saints
LAR (9-4) @ SEA (8-5) | SUN 4:05 PM ET | FOX
This is a huge game for the landscape of the NFC West and NFC in general, as a Rams win would essentially give them the division and open the door for teams looking to earn a wild-card spot over the Seahawks, while a Seattle win would give them control of the NFC West and put them in better standing as a wild-card contender with two weeks to go. Jared Goff didn’t play his best game earlier this season against the Legion of Boom, but Earl Thomas is the only LOB member left (not including Byron Maxwell), and Los Angeles should have Robert Woods back in the lineup after a three-game absence. I think the biggest threat for Seattle will be Sammy Watkins getting behind a defense that allowed Jacksonville to get deep in last week’s loss, and Sean McVay will likely scheme Todd Gurley more touches in space against their stout front. Also, it’s worth noting that Russell Wilson has struggled against the Rams more than any other team throughout his career, including being held under 200 yards in Week 5.
Winner: Los Angeles Rams
TEN (8-5) @ SF (3-10) | SUN 4:25 PM ET | CBS
Jimmy Garoppolo is 2-0 as the starter for San Francisco, but Marcus Mariota is simply too talented to not figure things out eventually on the field. He’s already got the off-field stuff taken care of:
Watch @Titans QB Marcus Mariota apologize to the media for being short with us after the game on Sunday #titanon2 @WKRN pic.twitter.com/srz50v9V8E
— Cal Baxter (@CalBaxter) December 14, 2017
Winner: Tennessee Titans
NE (10-3) @ PIT (11-2) | SUN 4:25 PM ET | CBS
In a weird way, this almost feels like a must-win for Pittsburgh, as I just don’t see them winning a playoff game in Foxborough if that’s what it comes down to. Including the postseason, Tom Brady is 10-2 in his career against the Steelers, and he’s never lost in November, December, or January to them. The passing statistics are just as impressive for the five-time Super Bowl champion when facing Pittsburgh, as he’s thrown for 29 touchdowns and just three interceptions. Big Ben and company are coming off four-straight primetime wins where they threw the ball all over the place, but they might need to score every possession to keep up with an angry Brady after he threw for no scores and two interceptions in a MNF loss. Mike Tomlin has been talking about this game for a month, but I think he and the Steelers will be disappointed with the result come Sunday night.
Winner: New England Patriots
DAL (7-6) @ OAK (6-7) | SUN 8:30 PM ET | NBC
It’s a shame that this couldn’t be flexed into Patriots-Steelers, Rams-Seahawks, or Packers-Panthers, but at least Dallas and Oakland are both still alive in their respective wild-card races, and this could be a potential elimination game depending on the other outcomes in Week 15. This and the Saturday night game are the biggest tossups of the week in my opinion, but I’m leaning towards Dallas because they have the momentum coming off two-straight blowout wins. The Cowboys offensive line has been dominant this month, and they’ve helped Alfred Morris place among the league leaders in yards per carry with almost 500 yards on less than 100 attempts. Entering free agency this offseason, Morris should run determined in his final start of the year, and just looking from the outside, the Raiders as a team haven’t shown that enough players even care for me to pick them this week.
Winner: Dallas Cowboys
ATL (8-5) @ TB (4-9) | MON 8:30 PM ET | ESPN
It wasn’t looking good at all for the Falcons last week when Drew Brees was in field goal range down three points last Thursday night, but a clutch interception by star linebacker Deion Jones sealed the game and kept the Falcons in control of their own destiny in the competitive NFC South. They should be fresh with the longest non-bye-week rest possible when they take on Tampa Bay, but Dan Quinn’s squad needs to be careful about Jameis Winston playing spoiler, as Winston is 3-1 and has had great success against the Falcons so far in his career. Remember, Ryan Fitzpatrick started in place for the injured Jameis at the end of November in a 34-20 loss. Still, I don’t think the Bucs will be able to score enough, especially with Gerald McCoy likely out.
Winner: Atlanta Falcons
Noooo. Lets go Chiefs!
Saturday night game should be exciting
Going to be huge. I think the Chiefs take it though
Foles isn’t good Giants will take this W
Smh Osweiler really came in and lit it up like this
i take it you bet on the game rofl
Brady is gonna be locked t in believe that