NFL Week 15 Predictions: Playoff Hopefuls That Will Score Major Victories

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NFL Week 15 Predictions: Playoff Hopefuls That Will Score Major Victories
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Whether fans want to call the NFL mediocre or dress it up with something sexy like "parity" does not matter—we enter Week 15 with plenty of games featuring playoff implications.

For better or worse, the NFL is top-heavy, and a variety of teams with iffy records remain in the hunt.

Three games in particular stick out as perhaps the most important of the week. Whether it is a division leader in danger of losing its standing or a hopeful looking to sneak in with a wild-card spot, Week 15 has plenty of drama for fans of any allegiance.

 

NFL Week 15 Predictions
Away Home Prediction
San Diego Chargers Denver Broncos Denver Broncos
Washington Redskins Atlanta Falcons Atlanta Falcons
Chicago Bears Cleveland Browns Chicago Bears
Houston Texans Indianapolis Colts Indianapolis Colts
New England Patriots Miami Dolphins Miami Dolphins
Philadelphia Eagles Minnesota Vikings Philadelphia Eagles
Seattle Seahawks New York Giants Seattle Seahawks
San Francisco 49ers Tampa Bay Buccaneers San Francisco 49ers
Buffalo Bills Jacksonville Jaguars Jacksonville Jaguars
Kansas City Chiefs Oakland Raiders Kansas City Chiefs
New York Jets Carolina Panthers Carolina Panthers
Green Bay Packers Dallas Cowboys Dallas Cowboys
Arizona Cardinals Tennessee Titans Tennessee Titans
New Orleans Saints St. Louis Rams New Orleans Saints
Cincinnati Bengals Pittsburgh Steelers Cincinnati Bengals
Baltimore Ravens Detroit Lions Detroit Lions

Chris Roling's predictions.

 

Miami Dolphins Stun New England Patriots

The New England Patriots have all but wrapped up the AFC East at 10-3, but the Miami Dolphins are right in the thick of things for a wild-card spot at 7-6.

These two met in Week 8 in Foxborough, where the Patriots picked up a 27-17 win. Much has changed since then.

Jared Wickerham/Getty Images

For one, the Dolphins have done a better job of protecting quarterback Ryan Tannehill in recent weeks. The sophomore quarterback has only been sacked four times in his past two games. Better chemistry along the line means it may be difficult for New England to replicate its six-sack performance from Week 8.

Three primary factors work against the Patriots here. For one, it is a road game. Two, the Patriots needed a late comeback in Week 14 to beat 4-9 Cleveland by one point. Three, they will be without tight end Rob Gronkowski, who is lost for the season, per NFL Network's Ian Rapoport:

With so much at stake for the Dolphins, expect them to pull through in a close one.

Prediction: Dolphins 17, Patriots 14

 

Philadelphia Eagles Run Past Minnesota Vikings

First things first—Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson is reportedly fine after being carted from the field during the team's 29-26 loss to Baltimore in Week 14:

It may not matter.

The Philadelphia Eagles are on fire. Led by quarterback Nick Foles, the team has won five straight. In that stretch, Foles has 14 touchdowns to one interception.

That is horrific news for a Minnesota defense that ranks among the bottom two in pass defense with an average of 282.5 yards allowed per game.

Larry French/Getty Images

While there is something to be said for the presence of Peterson and home-field advantage, those are weak arguments. All-Day is hobbled and faces a Philadelphia defense that ranks in the top half of the league with an average of 112.8 yards allowed. The Eagles have lost just one game on the road this year (in Denver, of all places).

Philadelphia is doing all it can to hold off Dallas in the NFC East. The Eagles get a massive boost from the schedule here.

Prediction: Eagles 27, Vikings 20

 

San Francisco 49ers Escape Tampa Bay Buccaneers

The San Francisco 49ers now sit at 9-4 after a major 19-17 win over the Seattle Seahawks in Week 14, but it was simply not enough to propel the team to the top of the NFC West.

Even worse, the 8-5 Arizona Cardinals are nipping right at their heels.

At first glance, a matchup with 4-9 Tampa Bay looks favorable.

Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images

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But it truly is not. First of all, there is letdown potential here for San Francisco. Second, the Buccaneers have won four of their last five and tout a top-10 run defense that allows an average of 103.7 yards.

Considering rushing the football is what San Francisco does best (it ranks dead last in passing yards per game), this may turn out to be a major issue on the road.

The saving grace is quarterback Colin Kaepernick. He has turned things around in recent weeks and has five touchdowns to one interception over the course of the 49ers' three consecutive wins.

The combo of air efficiency and power running will be enough to will San Francisco to a win here, especially with so much at stake.

Prediction: 49ers 17, Buccaneers 14

 

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