Fade Material: NFL Week 15 Predictions

New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady scrambles for two yards on a keeper in the first quarter against the Indianapolis Colts at Gillette Stadium in Foxboro, Massachusetts on December 4, 2011. The Patriots defeated the Colts UPI/Matthew Healey

A personal thank you goes out to the Bengals and Panthers for blowing decent leads at home versus the Texans and Falcons last week, and to the Bucs and Raiders as well, who never bothered to get off their respective planes in Jacksonville and Green Bay. With their powers combined, the Bengals, Panthers, Bucs and Raiders contributed to my 0-4 Sunday in Week 15. That hideousness dropped my season record to 24-29-2 with just three weeks to go to try and get over .500. The true season starts now, folks. It’s time for me to make my own version of a playoff run…

Redskins @ Giants, 1:00PM ET
September 11, 2011, the Giants walk into FedEx Field and walk out with a 28-14 loss to the Rex Grossman-led Redskins. October 9, 2011, the Giants host the Seahawks after nearly losing to the Cardinals in Arizona the week before and are crushed by Seattle, 36-25. October 30, 2011, the Giants barely squeak by the then-winless Dolphins, 20-17. November 20, 2011, the Giants lose 17-10 as a 6-point favorite to the Vince Young-lead Eagles. Whenever you think the Giants should win, run the other way. They’ve played down to their competition all year and while I realize the NFC East is on the line for NY, the Skins have already proven that they can beat the Giants and have nothing to lose. They’ve also been more competitive with Grossman at the controls than John Beck so while I don’t think Washington will win, I like the Skins to keep things close.
THE PICK: REDSKINS +6.5

Saints @ Vikings, 1:00PM ET
The Vikings nearly knocked off the Lions last Sunday thanks to Joe Webb and they’ll have Adrian Peterson back this week against a New Orleans team that hasn’t looked sharp on the road this year. But unless Peterson transformed into the second coming of Deion Sanders over these past couple of weeks, then Minnesota will have a hard time keeping up with Drew Brees today. The Saints’ passing game versus the Vikings’ pass defense is one of the biggest mismatches of Week 15. I’m hesitant to lay 7.5 points on the Saints when they’ve been pretty average on the road this year but they should open up things today at the Metrodome.
THE PICK: SAINTS –7.5

Jets @ Eagles, 4:15PM ET
The Jets would be the sixth and final seed in the AFC if the playoffs were to start today but the problem is that the playoffs don’t start today. And with Tennessee, Cincinnati and San Diego still nipping at New York’s heels, Rex Ryan and Co. need to play their best football today in Philly. While I don’t trust Mark Sanchez as far as I can heave him, the Jets’ running game looks like it’s finally starting to take shape and Ryan’s defense should give Michael Vick fits. Given how inconsistent the Eagles have been this season, three points seems like a gift.
THE PICK: JETS +3

Patriots @ Broncos, 4:15PM ET
I fully expect Denver’s defense to play well again this week but eventually the Patriots will figure things out and score their 20-plus points. The question is whether or not Tim Tebow and the Broncos will be able to keep pace. At this point it’s probably foolish to doubt Denver’s ability to pull off the upset but I think the Pats will serve the Broncos a very rude awakening today.
THE PICK: PATRIOTS –7.5

Follow the Scores Report editors on Twitter @clevelandteams and @bullzeyedotcom.

2011 NFL Week 15 Primer

New York Jets head coach Rex Ryan works on the sideline during the first half of their NFL football game against the Washington Redskins in Landover, Maryland, December 4, 2011. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst (UNITED STATES – Tags: SPORT FOOTBALL)

MARQUE MATCHUP: Patriots vs. Broncos, 4:15PM ET, Sunday
For the Broncos, this matchup with the Patriots is more than just about this game. It’s about seeing how well they stack up against one of the best in the AFC. Granted, during the Broncos’ current six-game winning streak they’ve beaten the Raiders, Jets, and Chargers, who are three teams still vying for a playoff berth in the conference. But Tom Brady and Co. is obviously a different animal. If Denver’s defense can’t keep guys like Brady and Rob Gronkowski in check, will Tim Tebow and the Bronco offense step up? Will Tebow be able to make plays through the air? Will his receivers win their individual matchups and actually catch the ball? Even though Denver now has the inside track to a playoff berth, doubts still remain about Tebow’s ability to win when he usually doesn’t even warm up until the fourth quarter. This will be a great test for a Denver team that still has plenty to prove.

THE POTENITAL (NOTEWORTHY) UPSET: Redskins over Giants, 1:00PM ET, Sunday
While the victory did come at home, Washington has already beaten New York once this season. Eli Manning threw one interception and no touchdowns while Rex Grossman completed 21-of-34 passes for 305 yards and two scores in the Redskins’ 28-14 victory in Week 1. The Skins have lost two in a row and eight of their last nine but they’re clearly a more competitive team with Grossman under center than John Beck. The Giants are currently the owners of first place in the NFC East by virtue of their win over the Cowboys last Sunday night. But the Giants have made a habit out of playing down to their competition all season. Even with a playoff berth on the line, Tom Coughlin’s squad always seems primed for an upset.

THE GOLDEN OPPORTUNITY: DALLAS COWBOYS
The Cowboys have a chance to beat the Bucs on Saturday night and then sit back on Sunday and hope the Redskins can upset the Giants to give them a one-game lead again in the NFC East. There’s simply no excuse for Dallas to lose to Tampa Bay. The Bucs have lost seven in a row and are coming off a defeat in which they allowed 41 points to a horrendous Jacksonville offense. Raheem Morris is now on the hot seat and the Bucs don’t have the weapons to slow the Cowboys down on either side of the ball. True, Tampa will have home field advantage but how many Bucs fans will show up to Raymond James on Saturday night to root on a 4-9 team? The Bucs have a hard enough time filling their stadium when the team is good, nevertheless spiraling out of control. If Dallas can win, it puts all the pressure on New York to produce a victory at home the following day against a Washington team that’s slightly better than its record would indicate.

PUT UP OR SHUT UP: NEW YORK JETS
Some were ready to write the Jets off when they lost 17-13 to the Broncos back on that Thursday night in mid-November. But they’ve quietly rattled off three straight wins against inferior opponents in Buffalo, Washington and Kansas City, respectively. Their latest victory (a 37-10 shellacking of the Chiefs) has allowed them to take control of their own destiny in the AFC. If the playoffs were to start today, the Jets would own the sixth and final seed in the conference. But with Tennessee (7-6), Cincinnati (7-6), Oakland (7-6) and even San Diego (6-7) still very much alive, New York can ill-afford to suffer any losses. They’ll travel to Philadelphia this Sunday to take on an Eagles team that has been a mixed bag all season. You don’t know whether or not they’ll come out completely flat and disinterested or focused and inspired. That’s why if Rex Ryan wants people to start believing in “Gang Green” again, the Jets better come out this Sunday and beat a Philadelphia squad that for all intents and purposes is just riding out the rest of its schedule. Given how poorly the Eagles have defended the run this year, this is a great opportunity for Shonn Greene and the Jets to establish the run, play great defense and walk out of Philly with a victory.

NFL Week 15 Point Spreads & Odds

Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Michael Vick (7) looks to pass against the Washington Redskins before pulling the ball down and running during the second half of their NFL football game in Landover, Maryland, October 16, 2011. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst (UNITED STATES – Tags: SPORT FOOTBALL)

Four spreads of note:

Seahawks +3.5 @ Bears, 1:00PM ET
The Seahawks, winners of two in a row and four of their last five, are a 3.5-point underdog versus a Bears team that has lost three straight and has scored just 13 points in their last two games? Something smells like baby diapers here. Oddsmakers are probably basing this line on the fact that the Seahawks haven’t been a strong road team this year (or in year’s past, for that matter) but the Bears have been a mess with Caleb Hanie under center the past three weeks. One would think that the 3.5 points are a gift but then again, if it looks too good to be true then it probably is.

Panthers +6.5 @ Texans, 1:00PM ET
Carolina choked away a potential victory last Sunday versus the Falcons and Houston is on a seven-game winning streak but 6.5 points seems like a lot. Granted, the Texans beat the Falcons by seven at home two weeks ago but Atlanta had two defensive touchdowns wiped away due to penalties in that game. The Panthers have the capability of scoring points in bunches thanks to Cam Newton, who could lead Carolina to an upset victory if he would bother to play four quarters instead of just two or three. I don’t doubt that Houston will win this game but again, 6.5 points seems a little high.

Lions –1 @ Raiders, 4:05PM ET
This feels like a trap. The Lions moved into the sixth spot in the NFC with their win over the Vikings last Sunday (plus a Chicago loss to Denver), while the Raiders have looked hideous the past two weeks. The line is probably set right given how Oakland is at home and Detroit is the better team at the moment, but the Lions seem like too easy of a pick. Granted, the Lions will have Ndamukong Suh back from suspension, which certainly helps along the defensive line. But their secondary is still banged up and the Raiders are now fighting for their postseason lives. Call it a hunch but I think the Raiders may pull off the small upset.

Jets +3 @ Eagles, 4:15PM ET
The Eagles haven’t been mathematically eliminated from the playoffs (yet) but there’s no doubt that this game means more to the Jets, who are the current owners of the sixth and final seed in the AFC. Thus, it wouldn’t be surprising to see New York win this game outright given how much trouble Rex Ryan’s defense could cause for Michael Vick. In his first game back since suffering a rib injury in a loss to the Seahawks a couple of weeks back, Vick was shaky against the Dolphins last Sunday. Granted, he did pick up the win but he faces an uphill climb against the best secondary in the league this weekend. The three points seem like a gimmie.

NFL Week 15 Odds:

Read the rest of this entry »

Related Posts