With only two games remaining in the NFL season there is plenty on the line not just for the Patriots, but for more than a dozen other teams. This weekend’s games are about an even split between what appears to be tossups or blowouts as 18 teams are still in contention for twelve playoff spots.
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12-2 Atlanta Falcons at 4-10 Detroit Lions
For more on this game check out Saturday Night Football: Atlanta Falcons at Detroit Lions
Prediction: Falcons 34, Lions 21 … √
Falcons -3½ (two units) … √
Over 50½ … X
– final score: Falcons 31, Lions 18
10-4 New England Patriots at 2-12 Jacksonville Jaguars
Early game on CBS, DTV ch 711
Any slim chance that Jacksonville had went out the window when the 49ers beat the Patriots last week. Had New England won maybe they would ease up with a bit of an emotional letdown; instead they’ll be out for blood.
A few things to watch out for: WR Cecil Shorts is 2nd in the NFL with 18.9 yards per catch, and has 925 yards receiving – despite being virtually unused in the first five games. He has four 100-yard games in the last seven weeks, and has seven touchdown receptions.
WR Justin Blackmon has been hot and cold, but overall has accumulated 51 receptions for 707 yards. He has shown some life late in the season (the change at quarterback from Blaine Gabbert to Chad Henne may have helped quite a bit too). He had 14 receptions for 236 yard at Houston five weeks ago and has 12 catches for 150 yards the last two weeks – but he also has games like the one at Buffalo three weeks ago, when he only caught one of the six passes thrown his way, for nine yards.
Jacksonville did get some much needed defensive help when the claimed defensive end Jason Babin. The former Eagle has two forced fumbles and 1.5 sacks in his three games since joining the Jags.
One last note: the Jaguars have been called for 15 personal fouls, which is 2nd most in the league this year. Before rejoicing though, consider this: six of those calls have been for roughing the passer. Hopefully the offensive line can keep these guys away from Tom Brady and out of harm’s way.
For more on this game, check out:
Ten things you have to know about the Patriots-Jaguars by Christopher Price
Patriots Fourth and Two: Patriots vs Jaguars Preview audio podcast
5 Questions With Jaguars Beat Writer Ryan O’Halloran by Greg Bedard
12 Thoughts Before the Patriots Match-Up Against Jacksonville by Ian Logue
Patriots – Jaguars Key, What To Watch For by Steve Balestrieri
Cool Stat Nuggets Previewing Patriots Jaguars by Gary Marbry
Patriots Trying to Avoid Trap Game in Jacksonville by Steve Grogan
Monster Keys To Pats Jags by Murph
Pats Need To Get Back On Track In Jacksonville by Christine Roy
Why Devin McCourty is the Key to the New England Patriots’ Playoff Success by Erik Frenz
Danny Woodhead, “Little Big Man”: A Valuable, Overlooked Cog in NE Offense by Steve Balestrieri
Prediction: Patriots 38, Jaguars 14 … √
Patriots -14½ (two units) … X
Over 50½ … X
– final score: Patriots 23, Jaguars 16
5-9 Tennessee Titans at 10-4 Green Bay Packers
Early game on CBS, DTV ch 710
Last year the Packers essentially gave Aaron Rodgers two weeks off before the playoffs, and they were bounced right out of the off-season despite winning 13 games in a row and finishing with a 15-1 record. Green Bay is just a half game behind San Francisco for the #2 seed, so a win combined with a 49ers loss at Seattle could vault them into position to have a first round bye. Tennessee may have won last week but they didn’t play particularly well, committing 14 penalties and scoring only 14 points. Today they go on the road and face the polar opposite of Mark Sanchez at quarterback.
Prediction: Packers 35, Titans 14 … √
Packers -12½ … √
Over 44½ … √
– final score: Packers 55, Titans 7
4-10 Oakland Raiders at 5-9 Carolina Panthers
Early game on CBS and DTV ch 709
Carolina is 3-5 after an abysmal start, and could have a three game winning streak for the first time since 2009. The Raiders are beat the Chiefs last week, big deal; before that they were allowing 36 points per game during a six-game losing streak. I’ve never liked the chances of west coast teams traveling across three time zones to play an early game; I like it even less when it’s a team as bad as Oakland is.
Prediction: Panthers 35, Raiders 13 … √
Panthers -8½ (two units) … √
Over 45½ … X
– final score: Panthers 17, Raiders 6
5-9 Buffalo Bills at 6-8 Miami Dolphins
Early game on CBS and DTV ch 713
Believe it or not the Dolphins are still alive for a playoff spot. All they have to do is beat the Bills this week and the Patriots next week, plus have the Bengals lose to both the Ravens and Steelers, then have the Steelers lose to the Browns, and have the Jets lose to either the Chargers or Bills. The last part is a given, and most everything else seems plausible other than winning in Foxboro. If after this weekend the Pats are locked into the three seed then they may want to rest some of their players since the game would be meaningless … so maybe it isn’t as crazy a scenario as it looks at first glance. Problem is that when Miami is favored to win, they usually fold.
Prediction: Dolphins 21, Bills 20 … √
Bills +4½ (one unit) … X
Under 41½ … √
– final score: Dolphins 24, Bills 10
8-6 Cincinnati Bengals at 7-7 Pittsburgh Steelers
Early game on CBS and DTV ch 714
How can you believe in the Bengals, given Marvin Lewis’ coaching history? Cincinnati has lost nine straight games against Pittsburgh and Baltimore, but on the other hand the Steelers are limping, literally and figuratively into the end of the season. Pittsburgh has turned the ball over 27 times – only the Eagles and Chiefs have turned it over more often – and leads the league with 18 interceptions. On top of that though their defense puts up impressive yardage stats, they once again rank near the bottom, with only 13 takeaways. If this was in Cincy I would probably go the other way, but I can’t picture the Bengals winning a crucial game like this on the road.
Prediction: Steelers 20, Bengals 17 … X
Bengals +3½ … √
Under 42½ … √
– final score: Bengals 13, Steelers 10
9-5 Indianapolis Colts at 2-12 Kansas City Chiefs
Early game on CBS and DTV ch 712
The Colts can clinch a playoff spot with a win. The Chiefs just got spanked by the Raiders. It won’t matter how many interceptions Andrew Luck throws because Kansas City will just give the ball right back.
Prediction: Colts 31, Chiefs 10 … √
Colts -7 (three units) … push
Under 41½ … √
– final score: Colts 20, Chiefs 13
6-8 New Orleans Saints at 8-6 Dallas Cowboys
Early game on FOX and DTV ch 705
The Saints are technically still alive, in a situation similar to Miami’s where they have to win both of their games and have eight other games go their way, including the Bears and Giants to both lose out, and then they would be 8-8 and win a tiebreaker over the Giants, Cowboys, Bears and Vikings. Problem is that Drew Brees is throwing way too many interceptions, while the Cowboys’ Brandon Carr has a pick in each of the last two games. Dallas is like the Bengals though, not playing well when expected to win. This could be a bit of a trap game for them, coming off a big win against Pittsburgh while looking ahead to the Redskins next week. If nothing else this should be a very entertaining game.
Prediction: Saints 31, Cowboys 27 … √
Saints +2½ … √
Over 52 (one unit) … √
– final score: Saints 34, Cowboys 31 in OT
8-6 Washington Redskins at 4-10 Philadelphia Eagles
Early game on FOX and DTV ch 707
Washington gets Robert Griffin back after a nice game by Kirk Cousins, although they will be without tackle Jordan Black (four-game drug suspension). The Eagles get LeSean McCoy back but their offensive line is still a mess and they still turn the ball over way too often; last week they had five turnovers, including three in consecutive possessions, plus had a punt blocked.
Prediction: Redskins 31, Eagles 17 … √
Redskins -6½ (one unit) … √
Over 45½ … √
– final score: Redskins 27, Eagles 20
6-7-1 St. Louis Rams at 6-8 Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Early game on FOX and DTV ch 704
Tampa Bay had done an excellent job with their run defense all year prior to last week, when the Saints ran for 149 yards – though much of that was in garbage time of 41-0 shellacking. Josh Freeman has been subpar the last three weeks and he needs to snap out of his funk for the Bucs to have a chance. Meanwhile Danny Amendola is healthy again, giving Sam Bradford another target against a porous pass defense.
Prediction: Rams 24, Bucs 14 … √
Rams +3½ … √
Under 44½ … √
– final score: Rams 28, Bucs 13
8-6 Minnesota Vikings at 12-2 Houston Texans
Early game on Fox and DTV ch 706
If you like to watch running backs do their thing, then you’ll love this game as Adrian Peterson and Arian Foster take turns making opposing defenders look silly. The Texans still have some motivation as they can clinch home field throughout the playoffs with a victory, so the Vikings – who I had written off a few weeks ago – don’t get any favors in their quest for a playoff spot. Beside the running backs, keep an eye on Houston LT Duane Brown vs Minnesota DE Jared Allen. I think the Vikings can at minimum make this an interesting game to watch.
Prediction: Texans 24, Vikings 20 … X
Vikings +7½ (one unit) … √
Under 45½ … √
– final score: Vikings 23, Texans 6
5-9 San Diego Chargers at 6-8 New York Jets
Early game on CBS and DTV ch 708
Everybody wants out, or wants someone else out in Jersey. A couple seasons over .500, a collapse, rebuild … rinse, lather, repeat.
Prediction: Chargers 24, Jets 10 … √
Chargers +2½ (one unit) … √
Under 37½ (one unit) … X
– final score: Chargers 27, Jets 17
5-9 Cleveland Browns at 11-3 Denver Broncos
Late game on CBS and DTV ch 715
While we will all be Browns fans at 4:00 Sunday, does Cleveland really have a chance? Based on how they looked last week against the Redskins I would say no.
Prediction: Broncos 27, Browns 17 … √
Browns +13½ … X
Under 44½ … X
– final score: Broncos 34, Browns 12
8-6 New York Giants at 9-5 Baltimore Ravens
Late game on FOX and DTV ch 717
The Giants were awful last week, look for them to bounce back. The Ravens defense without any linebackers is a shell of its former self. However since I have been wrong about the Giants straight up, against the spread, over/under and in teasers every week for about four weeks in a row, I’m not going to back my selection at all.
Prediction: Giants 30, Ravens 17 … X
Giants -2½ … X
Under 47½ … X
– final score: Ravens 33, Giants 17
8-6 Chicago Bears at 5-9 Arizona Cardinals
Late game on FOX and DTV ch 716
Good teams fight through injuries; Chicago has once again been unable to do that. On the other hand the Bear’s defense should be able to feast on Arizona’s combination of a makeshift offensive line, no running game, and no quarterback.
Prediction: Bears 17, Cardinals 13 … √
Cardinals +5½ … X
Under 36½ (one unit) … X
– final score: Bears 28, Cardinals 13
10-3-1 San Francisco 49ers at 9-5 Seattle Seahawks
Sunday night game on NBC
I’m guessing that the 49ers will have a bit of an emotional letdown after the roller coaster win in Foxboro. Seattle has been on a roll on both sides of the ball, and having their 12th man behind them won’t hurt.
Prediction: Seahawks 20, 49ers 16 … √
Seahawks (PK) … √
Under 39 … X
– final score: Seahawks 42, 49ers 13
Three-team Teaser: Colts (+2)(√) at Chiefs; Pats (-5½)(√) at Jaguars; Panthers (+½)(√) vs Raiders (three units) … √
Tale of the Tape
Last week the top play was Denver minus three at Baltimore and that covered easily as the Broncos beat the Ravens 28-17. The Dolphins-Jaguars game was a nice winner too, as Miami (-7½, under 38) won 20-10. Overall I continue to be very when it comes to all picks, but not bad with the top picks I am confident in – which is really all that matters.
NFL Results for Week 15 (and the season):
Straight Up: 8-8 (50%) last week, 143-80-1 (64%) for the season
Against The Spread: 7-9 (44%) / 103-118-3 (47%)
Over/Under: 7-9 (44%) / 122-98-4 (55%)
1 Unit Plays: 6-2 (+380) / 54-39 (58%)
2 Unit Plays: 3-0 (+600) / 38-31-4 (55%)
3 Unit Plays: 2-0 (+600) / 25-21-2 (54%)
4 Unit Plays: 0-0 / 2-2 (50%)
5 Unit Plays: 0-0 / 2-1 (67%)
Weekly Total: 10-2 regular (83%); 1-0 teasers
All Confidence Picks: 11-2 (85%) / 127-94-6 (57%)
Week 15 Total: +1580
Season Total: +7170
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
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