NFL Week 15 Predictions: Home Teams That Will Shine in Must-Win Games

Rick WeinerFeatured ColumnistDecember 13, 2012

NEW ORLEANS, LA - NOVEMBER 25:   Drew Brees #9 of the New Orleans Saints reacts during a timeout against the San Francisco 49ers at The Mercedes-Benz Superdome on November 25, 2012 in New Orleans, Louisiana. The 49ers defeated the Saints 31-21. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
Chris Graythen/Getty Images

While it seems like the season only started a few weeks ago, we have already reached Week 15, meaning that only three weeks of the NFL regular season remain.

With the late date on the NFL calendar comes a handful of teams waging battle for their playoff lives, knowing that one loss could be the difference between having a shot at playing in the Super Bowl or watching it on TV.

The good news, for some of those teams, is that their travels find them in the comfort of their own homes this week, and like Dorothy taught us long ago: "There's no place like home."

Let's take a look at which teams will be echoing her sentiments when Week 15 action kicks off.


Houston Texans (11-2) vs. Indianapolis Colts (9-4)

Despite having the best record in the AFC, the Texans just haven't been able to shake the resurgent Indianapolis Colts and clinch the AFC South division.

They'll get their chance on Sunday afternoon at Reliant Stadium, a place the Texans have lost only once all season long, a 42-24 beating at the hands of the Green Bay Packers in Week 6.

Indianapolis, led by Offensive Rookie of the Year award candidate Andrew Luck, has won seven of its last eight games. However, the Colts have struggled on the road, posting a 3-3 away record on the season.

These two teams meet twice over the last three weeks of the season, and Houston does not want to have to travel to Indianapolis in Week 17 with the division hanging in the balance.

Houston will be playing with a newfound sense of urgency as it gets out to an early lead against the Colts, feeding them a heavy dose of Arian Foster all game long.

Pick: Houston


Chicago Bears (8-5) vs. Green Bay Packers (9-4)

Chicago welcomes its NFC North rivals into Soldier Field on Sunday afternoon with the division hanging in the balance.

Green Bay took care of business against Chicago in a Week 2 matchup at Lambeau Field, winning 23-10, but both teams are dealing with injuries to key players in this one.

According to USA TodayChicago LB Brian Urlacher has already been ruled out while CB Tim Jennings remains questionable. For Green Bay, S Charles Woodson remains out and WR Jordy Nelson, Aaron Rodgers' favorite target, is doubtful for this crucial divisional matchup.

Jay Cutler will have just enough time in the pocket to find Brandon Marshall and the Bears' receivers downfield, while Matt Forte will find success against a Packers defense that is allowing nearly 120 rushing yards per game.

Pick: Chicago


New Orleans Saints (5-8) vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (6-7)

The Saints erased a 14-point second-quarter deficit to the Bucs in their Week 7 game at Raymond James Stadium, winning 35-28.

This one is in the Superdome, where the Saints have picked up three of their five wins on the season.

New Orleans' playoff hopes are slim, and it will need to win out and get help from other teams to have a chance, but it can only worry about what it has control over.

Tampa Bay's pass defense is the worst in the NFL, allowing more than 310 passing yards per game. While Drew Brees isn't exactly having a Drew Brees-like season in 2012, he remains one of the elite quarterbacks in the league and he's going to have a field day against Tampa Bay's secondary.

Brees will buck the trend of his recent play, which has seen him throw only one touchdown pass while tossing seven interceptions and not turn the ball over in this one, giving the Saints enough of a cushion to overcome their defensive issues and keep those slim playoff hopes alive for another week.

Pick: New Orleans