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The weekend before Christmas will bring division titles to some NFL teams and a long offseason to others.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers at St. Louis Rams
The best thing about this stand alone game is that the country gets to see Jameis Winston as an NFL Quarterback. The rookie has put together a strong season and out-performed expectations. Tampa still has an outside chance at the playoffs. St. Louis, which got an unexpected win last week, continues to play for pride. The Rams defense is still formidable and could pose a problem for Winston. St. Louis wins at home.
New York Jets at Dallas Cowboys
New York currently holds down one of the AFC wildcard spots. Dallas, two games behind the trio of teams atop the NFC East, still has an outside chance at the division title. That being said, the Cowboys are nowhere near being a contender. The Jets defense continues to develop and quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick continues to make plays. The Jets drive a stake into the heart of Dallas in Jerry’s house.
Kansas City Chiefs at Baltimore Ravens
Kansas City faces the decimated Ravens, who are on life support. The Chiefs are in firm control of their own destiny for a wildcard slot, and an outside shot at the AFC West title, should Denver falter. It’s tough to say anything about the Ravens at this point, so I won’t. The Chiefs extend their consecutive win streak to eight, with a win over Baltimore.
Houston Texans at Indianapolis Colts
This game is the fight for supremacy in the AFC South. Each team comes in off a loss on the field and at quarterback. Matt Hasselbek and Brian Hoyer were both banged up and may not start. Houston’s defense should fare much better versus a Colts team that looks and plays old. The Texans move to .500 on the season and take a one-game lead in the division with the win.
Atlanta Falcons at Jacksonville Jaguars
Atlanta lost their sixth consecutive game, a 38-0 rout by Carolina. The falcons are having a hard time getting motivated and they certainly are playing that way. Jacksonville is one game behind in the AFC South with a game against Houston remaining. Blake Bortles is putting together quite a season. Bortles threw his 30 touchdown pass last week, only Tom Brady and Carson Palmer have more. I give the edge to Jacksonville; the Jaguars still have something to play for.
Chicago Bears at Minnesota Vikings
Chicago’s loss at home to Washington was a surprise. Kicker Robbie Gould missed a field goal to send the game to overtime. It was Gould’s second clutch miss inn as many weeks. Minnesota played well against Arizona in the loss. Teddy Bridgewater kept the Vikings in the game to the end. A traditional rivalry should bring out the best in both teams. Chicago upsets the Vikings in Minnesota.
Tennessee Titans at New England Patriots
New England returns home and looks to take a stranglehold on the top seed in the AFC. Tennessee won’t pose much of a threat to the Patriots, who are looking toward their matchup with the New York Jets next week. Brady and the boys have this game in hand by halftime.
Carolina Panthers at New York Giants
Carolina looks invincible at 13-0 and they’re having fun doing it. Cam Newton is a lock for the MVP and Ted Ginn Jr. is playing like the leagues’ best receiver. Combined with that defense, who can beat the Panthers? The New York Giants can, and will. New York’s unusual season has been well chronicled, what can’t be denied is their talent on both sides of the ball. The Giants are in a must win situation while the Panthers are playoff bound. The Giants slay the dragon on their way to .500.
Arizona Cardinals at Philadelphia Eagles
Arizona heads to the East Coast, where they’ve only won 36% of the time. The Cardinals continue to live on the resurgent arm of Carson Palmer; the defense however, is struggling. Philadelphia is in the middle of a title chase and in the middle of team turmoil. Chip Kelly continues to march to a different beat and the Eagles find ways to win. I like Philadelphia at home.
Buffalo Bills at Washington Redskins
Buffalo rallied against the Eagles but was unable to upend Philadelphia. The loss dealt the Bills playoff hopes a serious blow. The Bills get another shot at an NFC East contender in Washington. The Redskins got their first road win of the season in Chicago. The Victory kept them in the division lead. Buffalo regroups and hands the Redskins a crucial loss at home.
Green Bay Packers at Oakland Raiders
Green Bay rallied late in the game to wallop Dallas and regain the lead in the NFC North. The packers hit the road for the first of two critical games prior to the season finale at home against t6he Vikings. Oakland sacked their way past the Broncos for their sixth win of the season. Oakland’s Khalil Mack recorded five second-half sacks against the Broncos and he looks to do the same against the Packers thin offensive line. Oakland sets the packers playoff hopes back a week or two.
Cleveland Browns at Seattle Seahawks
Johnny Manziel showed some promise in the Browns win over San Francisco. Let’s not forget that it was against San Francisco, which is allowing over 400 yards per game. Cleveland will have its hands full with the Seahawks, who are the latest NFL team “no one wants to play right now.” Seattle is looking for its fifth win in a row against the Browns. Despite plethora of injuries the Seahawks continue to rack up points. The “Legion of Boom” is fairly healthy and should have no problem disposing of the Browns at home.
Denver Broncos at Pittsburgh Steelers
Serious playoff implications loom in Pittsburgh. Denver is trying to hold off Kansas City in the AFC West, while Pittsburgh is hoping to catch the suddenly limping Bengals. A classic offense versus defense matchup; Denver is the league’s best defense and Pittsburgh is the league’s second best offense. This should be a very physical game that entertains the fans. Denver holds off the Steelers.
Miami Dolphins at San Diego Chargers
Both teams continue to compete and that should make this game very attractive to die-hards. Unfortunately that’s all that will be watching this contest between two teams headed nowhere. San Diego wins because a tie very rare anymore.
Cincinnati Bengals at San Francisco 49ers
Cincinnati backup, turned starting quarterback, AJ McCarron hopes to use this as a tune up for the showdown with Denver next weekend. The young QB has enough weapons to thwart any effort from the hapless 49ers. San Francisco was gashed for 230 yards rushing by a Cleveland offense that is averaging 85 yards per game on the ground – after the game against the 49ers. Cincinnati will play it safe and ease McCarron into the role he must fill for the remainder of the regular season. Bengals hand the 49ers a loss at home.
Detroit Lions at New Orleans Saints
What makes this Monday Night game interesting is the offensive talent on both teams, and the fact that both teams may have new head coaches next season. Detroit was playing better before St. Louis beat them last weekend and New Orleans snapped a four game losing streak with a win against Tampa Bay. Two talented offenses against two bad defenses should provide an entertaining game to end week 15. New Orleans wins at home.