Dec. 21, 2017
NFL Week 15 Preview and Predictions
Week 15 Headlines
Wentz Tears ACL: Philadelphia Eagles star quarterback Carson Wentz has a torn ACL in his left knee and will miss the rest of the regular season and the postseason, coach Doug Pederson confirmed Monday.
McCown Breaks Hand: Jets Quarterback Josh McCown broke his left hand in the Jets’ 23-0 loss to the Broncos on Sunday, the team announced, which will end his season.
Rodgers Returns?: Aaron Rodgers has been medically cleared to return from a broken right collarbone.
Fantasy Football Start Em/Sit Em
Starting Quarterbacks: Cam Newton, Ben Roethlisberger, Matthew Stafford, Dak Prescott, Nick Foles
Sitting Quarterbacks: Derek Carr, Andy Dalton, Alex Smith, DeShone Kizer
Starting Running Backs: Kenyan Drake, Rex Burkhead, Alex Collins, Derrick Henry
Sitting Running Backs: Doug Martin, Matt Forte, Frank Gore, Tevin Coleman
Starting Receivers: Josh Gordon, Devin Funchess, Golden Tate, Michael Crabtree
Sitting Receivers: Sterling Shepard, DeVante Parker, DeSean Jackson, T.Y. Hilton
Starting Tight Ends: Jack Doyle, Jason Witten, Jared Cook, Kyle Rudolph
Sitting Tight Ends: O.J. Howard, Eric Ebron, Austin Hooper, Greg Olsen
Starting Defenses: Saints, Broncos, Ravens, Eagles
Sitting Defenses: Steelers, Chiefs, Texans, Bears
Broncos vs. Colts: This game will ultimately come down to the turnover battle. Denver showed they can play through their defense when their offense isn’t shooting themselves in the foot. While the Colts are too be respected, I don’t trust the weapons they have on offense to be able to have a huge impact on the Denver defense. Their only saving grace is that the Broncos passing attack is just as bad as the Colts pass defense. So long as the Broncos can limit the mistakes, they should be able to win the game.
Bears vs. Lions: Detroit’s playoff hopes are barely alive, so they cannot afford a loss here. Matthew Stafford should be able to buy time in the pocket and shred the Bears zone defense. The level of difficulty is even less with the Bears missing Leonard Floyd and Eddie Goldman. What may keep this game close is the Lions lack of defense. Chicago should be able to get the run game going, and that could skew time of possession in their favor. But in that case, it would come down to a few drives and I trust Stafford to get the job done. The Lions will win and keep their playoff hopes alive.
Chargers vs. Chiefs: Over the last two weeks, the Chiefs offense has improved in their scoring output. Their defense also improved last week, but that was against a Raiders team with no identity and prone to underachievement. The Chargers have been one of the hottest teams in the AFC but really have feasted on bad teams for the most part. This game will be huge for LA’s other team. If KC wins, they’ll hold the tiebreaker and a one-game lead with two weeks to play. Right now, I believe the Chargers are too hot for the Chiefs to compete with. The Chargers offense should have no trouble scoring against the KC defense while their defense shuts down the KC offense. Look for the Chargers to keep rolling.
Eagles vs. Giants: With their dream season up in smoke, the Eagles will try their best to salvage it. Nick Foles isn’t a bad player, but he’s no Carson Wentz. I expect the Eagles to become a run dominant team while relying on Foles to make sound decisions. This also means the defense in Philly will have to take a bigger role. They have the potential to be dominant on a weekly basis and will need to be for Eagles to make the Super Bowl. Against the Giants, the Eagles pass rush will hound Eli all day while the offense scores enough to win. The Eagles will win and inch closer to home-field advantage.
Bengals vs. Vikings: Speaking of home field advantage, the Vikings will win to keep pace in that race. After an embarrassing performance a week ago, I have nothing good to say about the Bengals.
Ravens vs. Browns: Time is running out for the Browns. They should’ve won last week. but ultimately blew a 14-point lead. I don’t think they win this week. Next week will be their final opportunity to avoid 0-16.
Cardinals vs. Redskins: It’s clear that the Redskins are out of gas and beaten-down at this point of the season. At least the Cardinals have some momentum. Blaine Gabbert is doing some good things for the Cards while Kerwynn Williams has added a needed shot of adrenaline to the run game. They should have no trouble beating a depleted Washington team.
Packers vs. Panthers: With Aaron Rodgers being medically cleared, this is no longer an easy win for the Panthers. Without Rodgers, the Packers flirted with losing to the Browns. With him, they’re a dangerous team that no one wants to see. Carolina will likely test the health of the Packers QB with physicality. Also, I expect a rusty Rodgers should he play against a good Panthers defense. Cam Newton will have a chance to make plays against an average Packers defense and that should be enough for the Panthers to win.
Jets vs. Saints: New Orleans basically gave away last weeks loss to the Falcons. Now is a perfect time to get a Jets team down to their second second-string QB. The Saints will win big at home.
Dolphins vs. Bills: Buffalo is holding onto their playoff spot by their fingernails, and are getting banged-up at the wrong time. We might see Tyrod Taylor back if he’s healthy, but there’s no telling what to expect either way. One thing that we do know is that the Dolphins are quietly getting hot at the right time. Jay Cutler and Kenyan Drake are both playing well while the Miami defense has played exceptionally recently. The Bills greatest strength is their ability to stay out of their own way. They won’t beat themselves too often. But right now with the injuries and the level, the Dolphins are playing at, it’s hard to pick against Miami.
Texans vs. Jaguars: Jacksonville made a statement last week against Seattle and are in perfect position to win their division for the first time since they won the AFC Central in 1999. They’ll beat whatever is left of the Texans to inch closer to that goal.
Rams vs. Seahawks: Both teams cannot afford to lose this game. If the Rams lose, the Seahawks will own the tiebreaker between the two teams. But if they win the Rams will take a two-game lead with two weeks to go. So this is basically another challenge week for the Rams. The challenge is to rip the division away from Seattle. Last time these two teams played, the Rams controlled the game only to lose thanks to mistakes made by Jared Goff. With the injured secondary in Seattle, I believe Goff is in for a good game on the road. Meanwhile, Russell Wilson to be up to his old tricks. His mobility will give the Rams problems, but I believe the Rams defense will ruin few of those plays with players like Aaron Donald and Mark Barron. In another close game between these two, I’m picking the Rams to win and put the NFC West in a stranglehold.
Titans vs. 49ers: The Titans are fighting for a playoff spot with a tough schedule to close the season. They need to beat the Niners, but it won’t be easy. Marcus Mariota is turning the ball over too much and the Tennessee offense hasn’t been great. With Jimmy Garoppolo under center, the Niners are a downfield threat to be respected. But thanks to the state of the Niners defense, I expect the Titans to run a lot to possess the ball. And if Mariota can keep the turnovers to a minimum, I’m picking the Titans to win.
Patriots vs. Steelers: This is the big game of the week that will essentially determine home-field advantage in the AFC. Coming off of a big loss, the Patriots will likely be back to their razor-sharp selves. Most importantly, Gronk will be back on the field and the Steelers have no answer for him. Fortunately for the Steelers, the Patriots defense isn’t good enough to stop what they want to do on offense. So I see it coming down to whether or not the Steelers get off to a slow start. They’ve allowed too many teams to stick around when they should’ve blown those teams out. Letting the Patriots hang around is a recipe for defeat. The Patriots have dominated the Steelers so much over the years, but I’ll pick Pittsburgh to finally beat Brady in a shootout.
Cowboys vs. Raiders: Both of these teams looked like Super Bowl contenders last season. Now, they’re both sitting here with their playoff hopes on life support. Their problems are similar as well. Both teams have seen regression at quarterback and regression on the offensive line. Also, Oakland’s defense is simply awful. Dak Prescott should have no trouble moving the ball any way he sees fit. Plus, Dallas should have no trouble running the ball at all. The Raiders offense has regressed so much that they’re not even worthy of a mention. The Cowboys have the momentum, the superior team, and a better shot at the playoffs. They’ll dispatch of the Raiders, keep their playoff hopes alive, while ending the Raiders hopes for the postseason.
Falcons vs. Buccaneers: The Falcons did everything they could to lose the game last week, but ultimately won in the end. Atlanta sits in a perfect position in the playoff picture. They hold the tiebreaker over the Lions, Packers, Cowboys, and Seahawks. Also, they play the Panthers in Week 17 should it come down to it. All they have to do is take care of business. That means beating a Buccaneers team that has no business competing in this game. And that’s what I believe will happen. The Falcons should have no trouble moving the ball on offense while their defense should be able to take advantage of the eventual turnovers from Jameis Winston.