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Home / frontnfl / Week 15 NFL Game Picks 2019
Evan Siegle/Green Bay Packers

Week 15 NFL Game Picks 2019


Last week: 9-7

Overall: 117-90-1

 

NYJ (5-8) @ BAL (11-2) | THU 8:20 PM ET | FOX/NFL Network/Prime

Winners of nine games in a row since a 2-2 start, the Ravens are easily the hottest team in football, but they need to be wary of an upset on Thursday night, as the Jets—at least defensively—are a physical opponent that would embrace a potential slugfest. That said, Lamar Jackson has shown he can beat teams with his arm, so if Gregg Williams wants to consistently stack the box, rookie receiver Marquise Brown should be able to get behind the defense in one-on-one coverage. Plus, the bigger issue for New York will be moving the ball on the road against a stingy defensive unit that’s allowed just 12.0 points per game in the second half of the season, and Sam Darnold has really struggled in primetime to start his career (2:7 touchdown-interception ratio in three games). Assuming Baltimore defends Robby Anderson and the deep ball better after allowing some Buffalo wideouts to get behind them in Week 14, it could be a very long night for Darnold and the Jets. Perhaps Le’Veon Bell and Adam Gase can put any disagreements in the gutter to give the former Steeler a featured workload against a Baltimore defense he’s stung for seven total touchdowns in the past three meetings, but I wouldn’t get my hopes up.

Winner: Baltimore Ravens

 

NE (10-3) @ CIN (1-12) | SUN 1:00 PM ET | CBS

Tom Brady and the Patriots are “on to Cincinnati” after back-to-back losses, and that could mean bad news for the Bengals. In the original “on to Cincinnati” game, New England dominated with over 200 rushing yards and 185 combined yards from their tight ends in a 43-17 victory, and if a flip is going to be switched before January, I think this is the time for the offense to get rolling. Offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels said this week that first-round pick N’Keal Harry may get more opportunities after he showed what he can do with the ball in his hands on last week’s should-have-been touchdown, and I actually thought the unique run-after-catch ability for the Arizona State product was perhaps his best trait entering the league. Harry becoming a significant factor while rotating with Mohamed Sanu and Phillip Dorsett is probably the best chance the Pats have to unlock the full potential of their passing attack. In general, though, Sony Michel should be fed all game (he didn’t even receive a touch after the first quarter in last week’s loss), which would put less pressure on Brady and the young weapons. Even another valiant effort by Joe Mixon is unlikely to be enough for the Bengals to pull off an upset.

Winner: New England Patriots

 

TB (6-7) @ DET (3-9-1) | SUN 1:00 PM ET | FOX

Tampa Bay was able to overcome three Jameis Winston interceptions last week (including a pick-six) to beat the Colts in a shootout, but it came at a cost, as Mike Evans (hamstring) is reportedly done for the year, and Winston himself is dealing with a thumb injury that could force him to miss Week 15. No matter who is under center for the Buccaneers (now and in the future), Evans missing the final three weeks could end up being a good thing for the future if it means O.J. Howard finally gets featured for an extended stretch, as the 2020 offense would be really difficult to stop with the trio of Evans, Howard, and Chris Godwin all being weekly factors. For this week, 2015 first-round pick Breshad Perriman getting an opportunity to showcase his talent will be good to see, and it’s worth noting that he has the prototypical skillset for a downfield role in Bruce Arians’ system. The Lions may have a good shot to snap their losing streak by forcing turnovers at home, but David Blough isn’t in an easy spot versus an aggressive Tampa Bay defense, especially since Detroit is now missing their top running back (Kerryon Johnson), starting receiver (Marvin Jones), and standout rookie tight end (T.J. Hockenson).

Winner: Tampa Bay Buccaneers

 

HOU (8-5) @ TEN (8-5) | SUN 1:00 PM ET | CBS

Houston and Tennessee will square off two times over the final three weeks to potentially decide the AFC South, but neither team can afford to come in sluggish like the Texans did last week against Denver. I would hope that getting blown out at home will have humbled Bill O’Brien’s squad following their big win over New England, but if they allow Derrick Henry to come out and punch them in the mouth, it could be a long game based on how efficient Ryan Tannehill has been at throwing big-play “haymakers” to A.J. Brown and others. The Titans basically have a superhuman at running back with Henry—who is playing through a hamstring injury and has said his “leg would have to be halfway off” for him to sit out—and an undersized secondary for Houston could be in trouble if Tennessee is able to spring the former Heisman winner to the second level. On the other hand, there is no way Brown should surprise Romeo Crennel’s defense after all the highlight plays he has made in recent weeks, and it will be interesting to see how they balance shading coverage in the rookie’s direction with throwing resources at stopping Henry. Offensively, Deshaun Watson has shredded the Titans on the ground with 7.7 yards per carry and two touchdowns in three meetings, so Mike Vrabel needs to make sure his guys keep him contained. This is a toss-up, but I’m going with the home team.

Winner: Tennessee Titans

 

DEN (5-8) @ KC (9-4) | SUN 1:00 PM ET | CBS

The Broncos have not been shy about letting Drew Lock throw to start his career, and instilling confidence in the rookie passer has been a big reason for his 2-0 start (against two teams that made the playoffs last year, no less). Just as importantly, Denver’s pass protection has improved this month by allowing Lock to be sacked just once, and his mobility helps open up an offense that wants to get the quarterback on the move. However, the biggest test of Lock’s young career will come this week against an improving Kansas City defense, and Steve Spagnuolo’s unit will surely want to make a strong first impression on a quarterback they may see twice per year over the next decade. In the first matchup this season, the Chiefs were able to sack Joe Flacco nine times, so this weekend could be telling when it comes to the strides made by the Broncos since then. Patrick Mahomes has been given some battles versus Denver, but Tyreek Hill has been quiet for too long, and the offense could be in for an explosion if Damien Williams (rib) can return to finally get everyone on the field together for an extended period of time before January.

Winner: Kansas City Chiefs

 

MIA (3-10) @ NYG (2-11) | SUN 1:00 PM ET | CBS

Anyone saying the Dolphins “won” by losing last week on a last-second field goal because it gives them a better draft pick is clueless, and Brian Flores’ reaction to the pass interference reversal that cost his team the game is more evidence of him being the perfect coach to get the most out of a roster lacking talent/depth. Franchises always have the ability to move up in the draft via trade, but teams will never be able to get back losses they’ve compiled due to “tanking”—which could create a losing culture that is tough to break (just look at the Browns). Even if Flores ends up finishing 3-13 in his first year, players have already brought in and will continue to fight. This week, a trip to New York seems like a spot where Miami can pick up another victory, but the Giants simply have more talent, and Saquon Barkley is bound to have a monster game at least once over the final three weeks. While the loss to the Eagles on Monday night was a major disappointment, New York should be determined to get Eli Manning back to .500 as a starter (currently 116-117) before Daniel Jones (ankle) returns to the lineup; Evan Engram (foot) returning would give Manning the firepower needed to go out with a bang.

Winner: New York Giants

 

PHI (6-7) @ WAS (3-10) | SUN 1:00 PM ET | FOX

If they end up missing the playoffs, flaws in the construction of Philadelphia’s roster will be the biggest thing to point to, as general manager Howie Roseman has built an old, injury-prone team—and there doesn’t seem to be an easy fix for 2020 and beyond. Aside from Roseman proving to be an ineffective talent evaluator when it comes to the draft (the most important part of a GM’s job), the Eagles are stuck with soon-to-be 30-year-old Alshon Jeffery (foot) for two more seasons, are led by aging defensive stars, and don’t have the same cap number or “spark” from Carson Wentz that they did in 2017. Now, a four-game winning streak heading into January would certainly have Philly primed for another run, but based on how Washington has played in recent weeks, the Birds better not be looking ahead to Week 16. Expect to see a heavy dose of Adrian Peterson as he nears his second 1,000-yard season in a row (282 yards away with three games to go), but the Eagles should be able to contain the Redskins’ offense if the Ohio State connection between Dwayne Haskins and Terry McLaurin doesn’t connect on a deep ball.

Winner: Philadelphia Eagles

 

SEA (10-3) @ CAR (5-8) | SUN 1:00 PM ET | FOX

While the regular season finale against the 49ers may decide the NFC West (and home-field advantage throughout the playoffs), Seattle went from a first-round bye to No. 5 seed following a 28-12 loss to the Rams last week, and they will be prepared for a rebound performance in Carolina on Sunday. Russell Wilson has surprisingly tossed an interception in each of the past four games, but pass protection hasn’t been great (18 sacks over that span), and I doubt the turnover streak continues against the Panthers, who may not be able to generate much pressure if top pass rusher Mario Addison (chest) is ruled out. Also, unlike last year’s meeting when Carolina lost, 30-27, on a last-second field goal, the Seahawks should have more eyes on Christian McCaffrey (28 touches for 237 yards and two touchdowns in 2018) to make sure he isn’t able to single-handedly beat them. Ideally, the Panthers will get Greg Olsen (concussion) back in the lineup to pair with promising youngster Ian Thomas and possibly replicate some of the success Los Angeles had using 12 personnel, but Kyle Allen needs to take care of ball versus an opportunistic defense. Look for Seattle to ride Chris Carson to a win.

Winner: Seattle Seahawks

 

CHI (7-6) @ GB (10-3) | SUN 1:00 PM ET | FOX

People complained that it was “boring,” but Chicago and Green Bay had a rare defensive battle back in Week 1 to kick off the league’s 100th season, and I wouldn’t mind another throwback game with temperatures in the teens at Lambeau Field this weekend. The Bears have figured things out offensively by finally featuring Allen Robinson in a variety of ways (including in scoring territory), so while everyone should obviously hope Taylor Gabriel (concussion) can get cleared after a two-week absence, it shouldn’t really change much about how the passing attack has functioned recently. In the opener, Robinson had a 100-yard game, but it could have been a much bigger night if Mitchell Trubisky didn’t miss him for two potential long touchdowns, so we’ll see what kind of adjustments were made on both sides. For Green Bay’s offense, Davante Adams faced constant double teams earlier this year, but guys like Allen Lazard stepping up and the running backs doing damage in the passing game should free up the No. 1 wideout, who had double-digit targets in five-straight games before last week and should line up all over the formation. If Khalil Mack (3.0 sacks since Week 5) doesn’t come alive, I like the Packers to get one step closer to clinching the NFC North.

Winner: Green Bay Packers

 

MIN (9-4) @ LAC (5-8) | SUN 4:05 PM ET | CBS

The Vikings took care of business last week with a 20-7 win over the Lions, but they should be on upset alert for a west coast trip ahead of their big Monday Night Football matchup against Green Bay in Week 16. The Packers (on the road) and Bears (at home) have both been upset by the Chargers already this year, and we’d likely be viewing them as a legitimate contender if not for being cursed with an unbelievable combination of injuries and late-game heartbreak. You are what your record says you are, but Los Angeles has lost every game this season by seven or fewer points, and Philip Rivers seems like he would love to play spoiler over the final three weeks. As most know by now, the secondary for Minnesota isn’t what it used to be, and there are plenty of ways that the Chargers can attack them—from jump balls for Mike Williams to screen passes for Austin Ekeler. On defense, LA has significantly improved against the run over the past five games (3.4 yards per carry), and stopping Dalvin Cook needs to be the priority whether or not Adam Thielen (hamstring) returns alongside Stefon Diggs. The Vikings have overcome doubters so far, but Sunday feels like a trap waiting to happen.

Winner: Los Angeles Chargers

 

JAX (4-9) @ OAK (6-7) | SUN 4:05 PM ET | CBS

There have been multiple instances of Jon Gruden celebrating with The Black Hole following a victory over the past two years (including last Christmas Eve for what was believed to be the final game there), but Sunday will definitively be the final appearance for the Raiders in Oakland, which is sure to be emotional for Gruden, the players, and the fans. Nothing would beat a last-second nail-bitter, but the next best outcome would be complete domination—and I think we could get just that based on how Jacksonville has played during their five-game losing streak (-117 point differential and every loss by 17+ points). Josh Jacobs (shoulder) returning sets the tone for the entire roster to come out determined, but to take full advantage of a struggling defense, Derek Carr needs to be more aggressive and pull the trigger when there are holes in intermediate/deep areas of the field; in particular, tight end Darren Waller should be able to gain chunk yardage down the seams. The defense needs to play better, but I expect the energy at the Coliseum will provide a boost to everyone, and Sunday evening should be a memorable sendoff before the franchise moves to Las Vegas.

Winner: Oakland Raiders

 

CLE (6-7) @ ARI (3-9-1) | SUN 4:05 PM ET | CBS

A matchup between the last two Heisman Trophy winners could turn into a shootout this weekend, as former Oklahoma teammates Baker Mayfield and Kyler Murray will try to outduel one another in their first career meeting. The other layer to this game—even though they are now on good terms—is that Mayfield will want to prove Kliff Kingsbury (who coached him at Texas A&M) made a mistake in basically overlooking back a few years ago. Now, there won’t be any staredowns like we saw with Hue Jackson last year or anything else that will draw headlines (partly because Baker has matured), but there is undoubtedly still a chip on the shoulder of Cleveland’s quarterback, and he should have added motivation following a sub-par showing in Week 14. If you told me Nick Chubb was guaranteed 20-25 carries, I’d really like the chances for the Browns, but he had just three carries at the half last week, and the play-calling for Freddie Kitchens has been highly questionable all year. Instead, the Cardinals may be able to snap their losing streak if the connection between Murray and Christian Kirk continues along with increased usage for David Johnson. I’m going with Arizona in a close one.

Winner: Arizona Cardinals

 

LAR (8-5) @ DAL (6-7) | SUN 4:25 PM ET | FOX

The Cowboys were already featured on Amazon’s All or Nothing series (Philadelphia is the subject for this season), but how interesting would it be to see their 2019 season unfold? Jason Garrett is said to be a coach that takes things day by day, but based on how flat the Cowboys have been in back-to-back losses, it’s fair to wonder if the players have been looking forward to next week against the Eagles instead of focusing on the task at hand. If that’s the case, Sunday could be another ugly showing against a Rams team that has their eyes on January football but their minds on beating Dallas, and the Big D defense—which has allowed 32.5 points per game in two matchups versus Sean McVay—really doesn’t know how they’ll be attacked. Last week, it was Robert Woods and Tyler Higbee leading the way, but no one should be surprised if Cooper Kupp and Brandin Cooks are suddenly featured with Todd Gurley as the centerpiece either way. There are too many good players on the roster for Dallas to be a below-.500 team, and like Troy Aikman said last week during the TNF broadcast, no one on the coaching staff would really deserve to take over on an interim basis if Jerry Jones had a change of heart about letting Garrett finish the year. Personally, I’ve never gotten the Kris Richard hype because even dating back to last season when the defense was lauded, it still appeared to be an underachieving unit compared to their talent level; I doubt this week can be a turning point, and Dak Prescott may struggle against a defense that’s limited Kyler Murray and Russell Wilson over the past two weeks.

Winner: Los Angeles Rams

 

ATL (4-9) @ SF (11-2) | SUN 4:25 PM ET | FOX

I didn’t know until seeing he was a Walter Payton Man of the Year nominee, but Allen seems like one of the most underrated leaders in the NFL.

 

 

Winner: San Francisco 49ers

 

BUF (9-4) @ PIT (8-5) | SUN 8:20 PM ET | NBC

Bills-Steelers is a crucial AFC matchup on Sunday night, and as teams around the league lock up playoff positions and division crowns this time of the year, the scenario is simple for Buffalo: win any of the final three games and they’re in. While most seem to overlook the Bills as a legitimate threat in the conference, I would say the down-to-the-wire loss last week to the Ravens feeling like a true defeat and not a “moral victory” is evidence of them being a contender, and the offense should be ready for the challenge at Heinz Field after saying they let the defense down in Week 14. There are undoubtedly flaws in his game, but Josh Allen has showed up in big moments more often than not to start his career (Thanksgiving being the latest example), and it’s flat-out disrespectful for an allegedly unbiased analytics website to matter-of-factly state Pittsburgh has the “better quarterback” in Sunday night’s matchup simply because they had a low grade on Allen coming out of Wyoming. Making a big throw or run late (which Devlin Hodges is also capable of doing) could be the difference, and Buffalo needs to be on alert for a timely blitz/disguised coverage combination that creates a turnover. The Steelers getting their offensive star power back with James Conner (shoulder) and JuJu Smith-Schuster (knee) should make Sunday night a game of the year candidate, and I’m going with the Bills to win in their first SNF appearance since 2007.

Winner: Buffalo Bills

 

IND (6-7) @ NO (10-3) | MON 8:15 PM ET | ESPN

Sean Payton acting like a 90s movie villain has been an annoying transformation in recent years, so it was admittedly funny to me when his decision to attempt a two-point conversion early in the game (leading to a harmless confrontation with a butcher) ended up costing New Orleans last week in their 48-46 loss to San Francisco—and it could be the difference between the No. 1 seed and having to play on wild-card weekend. The Colts will try to be more physical than the Saints on Monday night to keep their own playoff hopes alive, and losses on the defensive line for New Orleans (Sheldon Rankins and Marcus Davenport) will likely be a significant weakness not only this week, but also into January when opponents want to keep the ball on the ground. I anticipate Marlon Mack and Indy’s offensive line having success if the score remains close, but at some point, Drew Brees—who has owned Monday Night Football—might catch fire for a potential record-breaking night (he needs three scores to pass Peyton Manning’s all-time mark of 539 touchdowns). With Tom Brady (536) right on Brees’ heels, it could be a fun back-and-forth over the final three weeks of the regular season.

Winner: New Orleans Saints

 

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