Breaking Down NFL Week 15 Matchups

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(Photo taken by Mark Leffingwell of Reuters)

Curses!!! 9-7 again!!!

Both my pride and my fantasy teams took a real shot this weekend.  Andy Dalton going down with his fractured thumb without getting me any points single-handedly knocked me out of the playoffs in a league that has more than pride riding on the line.

But enough of my fantasy woes…I am sure we all have enough of those.

Lot of upsets and surprises this past week.  The Lions forgot they had Calvin Johnson and lost to the Rams, the Raiders beat the Broncos behind Khalil Mack’s 5 sacks (that’s right 5!!!), and all the teams in the NFC East keep their pathetic playoff chances alive by sweeping the week.

And one last thought…during the week the commissioner announced that he would be forming a committee to look into the “catch rule” this off season. When I saw this news bulletin, I was sitting in a bar in an airport.  I think over the next 15 minutes the three of us in a inebriated state were able to fulfill the goals of that committee….still waiting for the check from the NFL

Now for the picks:

Tampa Bay Buccaneers @ St. Louis Rams

Before this weeks loss to the Saints, the Bucs had won 3 of their last 4.  Jameis Winston is playing like a first round pick, seemingly willing his team to several victories with both his arm and his feet.

The Rams have been an offensive joke most of this season.  Behind the inconsistent arms of Nick Foles and Case Keenam, the Rams have been solely dependent on the legs of Todd Gurley.

Unfortunately for the Rams, the Bucs only allow 94.1 rushing yards per game as to the 115.9 allowed by the Rams.  In a matchup featuring two run-first teams, I like the Bucs to come out ahead.

New York Jets @ Dallas Cowboys

The Jets may not have the most elite secondary in the league, but they are certainly good enough to hold the Cowboys in check who are the 4th worst in the NFL in passing yards per game.

The Jets are top 10 in both offensive yardage and defensive yardage allowed and I think that they are more than a match for the hobbled Cowboys.  Jets get the W.

Carolina Panthers @ New York Giants

The Giants have exactly one weapon.  And unfortunately, that weapon is about to go one-on-one with the best corner back in the league: Josh Norman.  Norman has been dominating receivers all year and even if Beckem is able to break one for a big play, it will not be enough to defeat the Panthers.

Panthers win.

Tennessee Titans @ New England Patriots

Could the Patriots possibly lose 3 games in a row? No.  Especially not against a 3-10 Titans team that has lost 4 of its last 5.  With Gronkowski back and possibly even Edelman, the Patriots are going to steam roll the Titans.

Buffalo Bills @ Washington Redskins

Who do you pick when both teams continue to lose big games? I am going with the only one that actually has something to fight for.  The Bills are out of the playoffs for all intents and purposes, and Tyrod Taylor has only been able to sparingly duplicate the magic he had early in the year.

The Redskins are still in the thick of the NFC East playoff race and are currently sitting first due to various tie-breakers.  At the end of the day I like Kirk Cousins over Tyrod Taylor and I like Jay Gruden over Rex Ryan.

Redskins get a necessary win over a lesser opponent.

Kansas City Chiefs @ Baltimore Ravens

The Chiefs are 4th in the league in points allowed with 18.7/game, whereas the Ravens rank 23rd with 25.1/game.  So basically the Chiefs will be spotted a touchdown against the Ravens.  The Ravens simply do not have the talent to compete.  They have a lot of complimentary players and no superstars.

For that simple reason, the Chiefs will win.

Houston Texans @ Indianapolis Colts

The Colts are 29th in the league in points allowed, they have no semblance of a run game, and their best player is out and being replaced by the oldest player in the league.  I do not like the Colts chances in this one.

Houston has been playing much better and even with an injured J.J. Watt I expect them to bounce back this week and take control of the AFC South and make a late push towards the playoffs.

Atlanta Falcons @ Jacksonville Jaguars

This is the matchup where push meet shove.  Matt Ryan is having one of the worst years of his career so far, throwing 14 interceptions and fumbling 10 times.  But the Jaguars are one of the worst teams in the league in forcing turnovers and capitalizing on them.

So will the Falcons make a mistake and can the Jaguars take advantage? I do not know, but as of right now the Jags have a sniff at the playoffs and I think we are going to get a big time effort out of that team.

I like the Jaguars to pick up the victory.

Chicago Bears @ Minnesota Vikings

The Bears can’t get in the end zone and now Robbie Gould can’t make field goals.  So how the hell are they going to score? They have also had trouble stopping the run.  They are ranked 26th allowing an obscene 125.7 yards/game.

And in case you didn’t know, the Vikings have the league’s leading rusher.  This game will not be a mystery.  The Vikings are going to keep handing the ball to Adrian Peterson and I do not think the Bears will be able to stop them.

Vikings win.

Green Bay Packers @ Oakland Raiders

Which Packer team are we going to get? MVP Aaron Rodgers and an Eddy Lacy that runs like a mack truck gone wild? Or are we going to get the dysfunctional unit that can’t score and can’t stop?

The stats may not support this, but I have a really good feeling about the Raiders.  I like Derek Carr with Crabtree and Cooper and Khalil Mack is showing why he is going to be a perennial all pro for years to come.

I like the Raiders to pull this one out and give aid to the Vikings and their quest to win the NFC North.

Cleveland Browns @ Seattle Seahawks

The Seahawks are the hottest team in football right now and they are at home.  Despite the Browns nice victory over the 49ers, they are about to get smoked by Seattle.

Cincinnati Bengals @ San Francisco 49ers

I do not know what to do with this game.  We Andy Dalton is out and Tyler Eifert is questionable; but the 49ers just lost to a very mediocre Browns team.  When it comes down to it, the Bengals allow 17 points/game and the 49ers allow 24.  I like the Bengals sans Dalton to pick up the victory against a team in the midst of a rebuild.

Miami Dolphins @ San Diego Chargers

Another matchup of mediocre teams.  The Dolphins are a more well-rounded team, but that’s not saying much since they do not excel at anything.  The Chargers are a one-trick pony that live and die on the shoulder of Philip Rivers and unfortunately for them he has not been playing well as of late.

I am going with the Dolphins merely because I have yet to see Philip Rivers and the Chargers get the job done.

Denver Broncos @ Pittsburgh Steelers

Strength against strength.  The league’s number one defense versus the league’s number two offense.  i think Ben Roethlisberger can score on any defense in the league.  I also think that the league is starting to figure out Brock Osweiler.

The Steelers may not score 40, but I do think they will score more than the Broncos in this game.

Arizona Cardinals @ Philadelphia Eagles

The Cardinals have the best offense in football and the Eagles would struggle to stop a team manned by mannequins.  That is the long and the short of it.  As long as the Cardinals get one stop, I think they will win.

Detroit Lions @ New Orleans Saints

Does anyone really care? two teams that have been truly awful for most of the year.  The Saints have had a historically bad defense for the past several years and the Lions have failed to show the discipline and consistency expected when Jim Caldwell was hired.

The Lions have more pure talent, but this season has shown that does not mean much; whereas the Saints have a much better quarterback…but again that has not meant much this year either.

I am going with the Saints for the simple reason that they have the better quarterback and that they are at home.