Week 15 has some great games that are of great interest to fans of the Patriots: Denver at Baltimore in particular, but also the Colts at Texans and Steelers at Cowboys. On top of that there are some great NFC games too, including Green Bay at Chicago and the Giants at Falcons. Sports bars should be packed on Sunday.
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9-4 Green Bay Packers at 8-5 Chicago Bears
Early game on Fox, DTV ch 705
The Packers have beaten the Bears five times in a row, and seven of the last eight times they have met since 2009. Jay Cutler was awful in the first meeting, and the Packers could be getting Clay Matthews and Charles Woodson back on the field.
Prediction: Packers 23, Bears 13 … √
Packers -2 (one unit) … √
Under 43½ (two units) … √
– final score: Packers 21, Bears 13
8-5 New York Giants at 11-2 Atlanta Falcons
Early game on Fox, DTV ch 704
The Giants have won four in a row against Atlanta and are averaging 132 rushing yards per game over the last four weeks. They’ll be without Ahmad Bradshaw but rookie David Wilson had an incredible game last week. Matt Ryan and the Falcons are very tough to beat at home, while the Giants are an excellent road team.
Prediction: Giants 27, Falcons 24 … X
Giants -1½ … X
Over 50½ … X
– final score: Falcons 34, Giants 0
6-7 Tampa Bay Buccaneers at 5-8 New Orleans Saints
Early game on Fox, DTV ch 707
The two teams have split their contest over the last four years and the Saints won the first meeting. Even though they are virtually eliminated I think the Bucs come out with a huge chip on their shoulder after losing to Philadelphia on the last play of the game last week.
Prediction: Bucs 24, Saints 21 … X
Bucs +4 … X
Under 54½ (two units) … √
– final score: Saints 41, Bucs 0
7-6 Minnesota Vikings at 6-6-1 St. Louis Rams
Early game on Fox and DTV ch 708
The Rams defense is not bad at all, while the Vikings defense is fading fast; on the other hand Adrian Peterson appears to be unstoppable, even with no quarterback or receivers to help him out.
Prediction: Rams 20, Vikings 13 … X
Rams -2½ (one unit) … X
Under 39 (two units) … X
– final score: Vikings 36, Rams 22
7-6 Washington Redskins at 5-8 Cleveland Browns
Early game on Fox and DTV ch 706
Between the status of RGIII, a tough Cleveland defense on the road, and being due for a letdown after big wins against the Giants and Ravens, Washington is due for a letdown.
Prediction: Browns 20, Redskins 16 … X
Browns +1½ … X
Under 37½ … X
– final score: Redskins 38, Browns 21
2-11 Jacksonville Jaguars at 5-8 Miami Dolphins
Early game on CBS and DTV ch 711
The Jaguars rank 31st on both offense and defense in yards per game. Tough to take them on the road, even if it is against the Dolphins. On the other hand Miami isn’t really deserving of being favored by more than a touchdown against anybody.
Prediction: Dolphins 20, Jaguars 10 … √
Dolphins -7½ (one unit) … √
Under 38 (two units) … √
– final score: Dolphins 24, Jaguars 3
10-3 Denver Broncos at 9-4 Baltimore Ravens
Early game on CBS and DTV ch 709
The Ravens seem to be fading fast. While all the attention is on Peyton Manning, the Denver defense is playing at a mile high level.
Prediction: Broncos 28, Ravens 17 … √
Broncos -3 (three units) … √
Under 48½ … √
– final score: Broncos 34, Ravens 17
9-4 Indianapolis Colts at 11-2 Houston Texans
Early game on CBS and DTV ch 710
Houston is going to come out with aggression and feeling like they have something to prove after losing 42-14 last week. The focus of their wrath will be a suspect Indy defense that ranks 23rd in points allowed (25.3). Expect the Texans to get after Andrew Luck, who has thrown a league-high interceptions, and force him to make some poor decisions.
Prediction: Texans 28, Colts 20 … √
Colts +9½ … X
Over 47½ … X
– final score: Texans 29, Colts 17
4-9 Carolina Panthers at 5-8 San Diego Chargers
Late game on CBS and DTV ch 714
While San Diego played exceptionally well at Pittsburgh last week, they are still one of the most inconsistent teams in the NFL. They have yet to face a mobile quarterback like Cam Newton, who could become just the third QB since 1970 to lead his team in rushing, joining Randall Cunningham and Bobby Douglas with that honor. For a bit of perspective Newton has rushed for just 45 fewer yards than the Chargers’ Ryan Mathews this year. Still, I’m a bit leery about picking a 4-win team to travel across three time zones and win.
Prediction: Panthers 28, Chargers 24 … √
Panthers +3 … √
Over 45 … X
– final score: Panthers 31, Chargers 7
8-5 Seattle Seahawks at 5-8 Buffalo Bills
Late game on Fox and DTV ch 713
The Seahawks have proven that they can win on the road, and since this is a 5-8 team that shouldn’t be that big an issue. I don’t like teams traveling three time zones but at least this is not an early game for Seattle. Are the Seahawks motivated enough for their playoff run that they don’t look past the Bills, with upcoming games against the 49ers and Rams? I think with the recent loss at Miami that won’t be a problem; meanwhile Buffalo is mailing it in and is in turmoil. For the second time in the last month the Bills’ GM Buddy Nix has spoken about going after a ‘franchise’ quarterback, which must be doing wonders for the confidence and leadership ability of Ryan Fitzpatrick.
Prediction: Seahawks 27, Bills 10 … √
Seahawks -4½ (one unit) … √
Under 43 (one unit) … X
– final score: Seahawks 50, Bills 17
4-9 Detroit Lions at 4-9 Arizona Cardinals
Late game on Fox and DTV ch 712
How will Arizona respond after losing 58-0, for their ninth straight loss? That looked like a team that has given up, so I wouldn’t count on bounce-back game from them. Their offensive line, running game, and quarterback situation has been atrocious for a while. Now the one thing they could hang their hat on, their defense, is taking a beating too. The Cardinals now rank 20th in rushing yards allowed per carry (4.4), and are giving up an average of 141 yards per game on the ground (30th). Even the Lions, who have found unique ways to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory all season, shouldn’t be able to mess this game up.
Prediction: Lions 24, Cardinals 17 … X
Lions -6½ … X
Under 44 … X
– final score: Cardinals 38, Lions 10
7-6 Pittsburgh Steelers at 7-6 Dallas Cowboys
Late game on CBS and DTV ch 715
Pittsburgh is without OL Willie Colon once again, but at least this year he is a t guard rather than tackle. I’m sure the Steelers will be fired up after last week’s surprise loss. I would expect Ben Roethlisberger to shake off some of the rust he exhibited, and his receivers to not drop as many passes. While Dez Bryant may play he may not be particularly effective with his finger injury. The Cowboys have been inconsistent and their offensive line is a mess.
Prediction: Steelers 23, Cowboys 21 … X
Steelers -2 … X
Under 45 … X
– final score: Cowboys 27, Steelers 24 in OT
2-11 Kansas City Chiefs at 3-10 Oakland Raiders
Late game on CBS and DTV ch 716
This should make for some compelling television, if turnovers and missed assignments interest you.
Prediction: Chiefs 21, Raiders 17 … X
Chiefs +3 … X
Under 44 (one unit) … √
– final score: Raiders 15, Chiefs 0
9-3-1 San Francisco 49ers at 10-3 New England Patriots
Sunday night game on NBC
I am concerned about the Pats ability to keep Colin Kaepernick in the pocket; I would expect him to make a few plays with his feet that will leave Pats fans pulling their hair out. The Pats may go to the hurry up quite a bit. San Francisco does not substitute much, so although that means the no-huddle won’t help much, they could become gassed against an up-tempo offense.
Prediction: Pats 27, 49ers 17 … X
Pats -3½ … X
Under 47 (one unit) … X
– final score: 49ers 41, Patriots 34
5-8 New Jersey Jets at 4-9 Tennessee Titans
Monday night game on ESPN
The Titans can’t run the ball, and the Jets can’t stop the run. The Jets can’t pass the ball, and the Titans can’t defend against the pass. I guess I’ll just go with the home team that’s favored by fewer than three points.
Prediction: Titans 20, Jets 17 … √
Titans -1½ … √
Under 42½ (one unit) … √
– final score: Titans 14, Jets 10
Prediction: Bengals 27, Eagles 17 … √
Bengals -4½ (one unit) … √
Under 45 … X
– final score: Bengals 34, Eagles 13
Tale of the Tape
The three-team teaser had been very successful early this season, but not so much recently, returned in the plus column last week for three units (Bears-Vikings over 30; Falcons-Panthers over 38½; Saints-Giants over 43½). The other three unit play came out on the plus side as well (Jets-Jaguars under 38½ – almost too easy). Worst pick was two units on the Seahawks-Cardinals going under 38½; I certainly did not foresee Seattle scoring 58 points.
NFL Results for Week 14 Thursday and Sunday (and the season):
Straight Up: 9-7 (56%) last week, 135-72-1 (65%) for the season
Against The Spread: 9-7 (56%) / 96-109-3 (47%)
Over/Under: 8-8 (50%) / 115-89-4 (56%)
1 Unit Plays: 4-4 (-40) / 48-37 (56%)
2 Unit Plays: 1-1 (-20) / 35-31-4 (53%)
3 Unit Plays: 2-0 (+600) / 23-21-2 (52%)
4 Unit Plays: 0-0 / 2-2 (50%)
5 Unit Plays: 0-0 / 2-1 (67%)
Weekly Total: 6-5 regular; 1-0 teasers
All Confidence Picks: 7-5 (58%) / 116-92-6 (56%)
Week 14 Total: +540
Season Total: +5590
Previous College Games
13-6, +7 Units, +610
Last Week’s College Games
0-0, +0 Units, +0
Season College Total
13-6, +7 Units, +610
Season Grand Total
This Day In Patriots History
December 16, 1962:
Oakland Raiders 20, Boston Patriots 0 at Frank Youell Field
With nothing to play for the Pats came out flat, and the Raiders won their first game of the year on the final game of the season. Earlier in the day the Oilers had defeated the New York Titans 44-10 to clinch the AFL East title; the Pats finished in second place with a 9-4-1 record.
December 16, 1973:
Baltimore Colts 18, New England Patriots 13 at Memorial Stadium
Jim Plunkett threw touchdown passes of 25 yards to Randy Vataha and 15 yards to Mack Herron, but the Colts came from behind in the 4th quarter for the win. Herron had 25 yards rushing, 95 yards receiving, and 90 yards on returns to finish the year with 1,839 all-purpose yards, which was 2nd-best in the NFL for the season. The Patriots finished in third place in the AFC East in Chuck Fairbanks’ first season as head coach.
December 16, 1979:
New England Patriots 27, Minnesota Vikings 23 at Schaefer Stadium
Harold Jackson had five receptions for 147 yards, including a 40-yard touchdown from Steve Grogan that gave the Pats the lead in the 4th quarter in the season finale; for Jackson that was a career high for receiving yards in a single game as a member of the Patriots. The Pats finished in 2nd place with a 9-7 record in Ron Erhardt‘s first season as head coach, but missed the playoffs as they were one game behind the Dolphins in the AFC East.
December 16, 1984:
New England Patriots 16, Indianapolis Colts 10 at Sullivan Stadium
Craig James ran for 138 yards as the Pats ran over and wore down the Colts in Foxboro. Collectively the Patriots ran the ball 49 times for 175 yards, while the Pats D limited the Colts to 65 yards on the ground while forcing a pair of turnovers. Andre Tippett had two sacks, Ronnie Lippett had an interception, Tony Franklin kicked two field goals, and Lin Dawson caught a touchdown pass from Tony Eason. The Pats finished in second place in the AFC east in a year where Raymond Berry replaced Ron Meyer midway through the season.
December 16, 1985:
Miami Dolphins 30, Miami Dolphins 27 at the Orange Bowl
The Patriots scored 17 points in the 4th quarter to overcome a 10-point deficit, but Fuad Reveiz kicked his third field goal of the game, this one from 47 yards out, to win the game for Miami. The Monday Night Football victory put the Dolphins one game up in the AFC East over the Pats with just one game remaining in the regular season.
After a Mosi Tatupu touchdown run cut the 4th quarter deficit to 27-20, the Pats tied the score when Cedric Jones picked up a fumble on the ensuing kickoff and ran it in 15 yards to tie the score. However Dan Marino get the Dolphins close enough for a field goal – Reveiz’ kicks were of 49, 49, and 47 yards that night – and time was running out. The Pats drove to the Miami 34 yard line with time for one more play, but Tony Eason’s pass was high and he was picked off for the third time that evening.
December 16, 1995:
Pittsburgh Steelers 41, New England Patriots 27 at Three Rivers Stadium
Carlos Yancy and Terry Ray collided in the secondary, allowing Neil O’Donnell to complete a 62-yard touchdown pass to Ernie Mills with 1:28 left to play that broke a 27-27 tie for the Steelers win. The loss put the Patriots at 6-9 and eliminated them from playoff contention. Drew Bledsoe went 36-for-60 for 336 yards and three touchdowns, but also had a costly fumble to go with an interception. Curtis Martin ran for 120 yards on 20 carries and added 62 yards on 8 receptions. Ben Coates had 11 receptions for 83 yards and two touchdowns, and Vincent Brisby had 7 catches for 99 yards.
December 16, 2001:
New England Patriots 12, Buffalo Bills 9 in OT at the Ralph
David Patten caught a pass while knocked unconscious, and Adam Vinatieri’s fourth field goal of the game won it in overtime as the Pats improved to 9-5. This was the third straight game that the New England defense did not allow a touchdown, and set up a game the following week against the 9-4 Dolphins in Foxboro that would determine winner of the AFC East.
The Pats D held the Bills to a field goal and interception in two trips to the red zone; that marked five consecutive trips to the red zone by opponents without a touchdown being scored. All of Buffalo’s points came on field goals by rookie Shayne Graham.
In overtime Patten caught a pass from Tom Brady at the Buffalo 41-yard line. Bills’ defender Keion Carpenter hit him and knocked him out cold, and Nate Clements recovered the fumble for Buffalo. The play went to video review and rather than a catch and fumble, referee Mike Carey determined that after Patten made the catch and fumbled the ball his head went out of bounds with the ball between his legs, causing the play to be dead at that point.
On the next play Antowain Smith bounced outside and ran the ball 38 yards to the three yard line to set up the winning field goal; Smith finished the game with 95 yards rushing against his old team.
December 16, 2002:
Tennessee Titans 24, New England Patriots 7 at The Coliseum
In a Monday Night Football matchup of 8-5 division leaders the Titans pounded the Patriots, rushing for 239 yards while controlling the ball for 41 minutes. The loss put the Pats one game behind Miami with two games left to play, while the Titans took control of the AFC South. Troy Brown had eight catches for 73 yards for the Patriots.
Down 7-0 in the second quarter Antowain Smith caught a screen pass and ran it 35 yards to the Tennesee 43, but Tom Brady was sacked on third down and the Pats were forced to punt. On the next possession Terrell Buckley intercepted a Steve McNair pass at the Tennessee 42, but fumbled just as his knee hit the ground. The net result was a 17-yard gain for the Titans, and McNair rushed for his second touchdown on a 4th down at the one.
The Pats opened the second half with the no huddle, and scored on a 10-yard rush by Brady on the opening drive. The Pats forced Tennessee to punt and took over on their own 10 yard line. However a Brady pass intended for David Patten was tipped and deflected into the hand of Tennessee’s Rich Coady, who ran it in from 24 yards out to put the Titans up 21-7. From there Tennessee ground it out, with Eddie George rushing for 101 yards and Robert Holcombe running for 85 yards.
December 16, 2007:
New England Patriots 20, New York Jets 10 at Gillette Stadium
A Patriots offense that had focused on the passing game all season rushed for 131 yards on 35 carries as the Pats improved to 14-0; Laurence Maroney had 26 carries for 104 yards and one touchdown. Meanwhile all the talking heads focused on the fact Bill Belichick smiled and spoke to Jets head coach Eric Mangini, while others scrutinized their handshake. The victory clinched the top seed in the playoffs for the Pats, securing them home field throughout.
On the second play of the game Richard Seymour hit Kellen Clemens at the goal line as he was attempting to pass the ball; it was intercepted and returned five yards for a touchdown by Eugene Wilson. With that play Wilson became the 21st Patriot player to score a touchdown in ’07, tying an NFL record.
In the second quarter the Pats added a Stephen Gostkowski field goal, but when punter Chris Hanson bobbled a snap the Jets blocked his punt and returned it for a touchdown to make it 10-7. A few minutes later the roles reversed as Kelley Washington blocked a punt which was recovered at the 3-yard line, setting up Maroney’s touchdown.
Beyond that there wasn’t much offense as both teams battled the snow, sleet and rain. Near the end of the game the officials called time out to tell the festive crowd to stop throwing snowballs; on the next play Gostkowski booted another field goal and the snow balls flew once again.
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December 16, 1950:
Billy Gibbons (ZZ Top) was born in Houston
December 16, 1974:
Mick Taylor announced he was leaving the Rolling Stones
December 16, 1997:
Nicolette Larson (‘Lotta’ Love’) died at the age of 45
December 16, 2007:
Dan Fogelberg (‘Leader of the Band’, ‘Run for the Roses’) died at the age of 56
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