With just three weeks left in the NFL season, one this is for sure: Fans should expect the unexpected. From Thursday's showdown all the way to Monday night, there are games in which the underdogs might make it closer than expected this week.
The NFL is a league of uncertainty. The Chicago Bears can beat the Dallas Cowboys with backup quarterback Josh McCown, Tom Brady and Joe Flacco can throw for two touchdowns in less than two minutes to win games, and LeSean McCoy can trudge through over six inches of snow for 217 yards.
But as unpredictable as the NFL can be, here are predictions for underdogs who will cover the spread in Week 15.
|San Diego Chargers||Denver Broncos||DEN -10.5||Chargers|
|Buffalo Bills||Jacksonville Jaguars||BUF -3||Jaguars|
|Chicago Bears||Cleveland Browns||CLE -2.5||Bears|
|Houston Texans||Indianapolis Colts||IND -6||Colts|
|New England Patriots||Miami Dolphins||NE -2.5||Dolphins|
|Philadelphia Eagles||Minnesota Vikings||PHI -4.5||Eagles|
|Seattle Seahawks||New York Giants||SEA -7||Seahawks|
|San Francisco 49ers||Tampa Bay Buccaneers||SF -5.5||49ers|
|Washington Redskins||Atlanta Falcons||ATL -6||Falcons|
|New York Jets||Carolina Panthers||CAR -11||Panthers|
|Kansas City Chiefs||Oakland Raiders||KC -4||Chiefs|
|Green Bay Packers||Dallas Cowboys||PK||Cowboys|
|New Orleans Saints||St. Louis Rams||NO -5.5||Saints|
|Arizona Cardinals||Tennessee Titans||ARI -3||Cardinals|
|Cincinnati Bengals||Pittsburgh Steelers||CIN -3||Bengals|
|Baltimore Ravens||Detroit Lions||DET -6||Ravens|
Spreads provided by Vegas Insider
San Diego Chargers (+10.5 at Denver Broncos)
The Chargers have traded wins and losses over the last four weeks to go 2-2, but they are still in the playoff race. In order to pull off a wild-card berth this season, San Diego will need games like this one against the Denver. While it might be unlikely they will down the Broncos, the Chargers will cover the 10.5-point spread.
The Chargers have one of the best quarterbacks in the league this year in Philip Rivers, who can spread the ball around to multiple weapons such as Keenan Allen, Danny Woodhead and the trusty Antonio Gates against nearly any defense.
On the other side, Peyton Manning is a one-man wrecking crew, but he could be without a reliable target in Wes Welker, who suffered his second concussion of the year in Week 14 against the Tennessee Titans. Despite the fact that Manning has several other targets, including Julius Thomas and Demaryius Thomas, being down a player for a Thursday night game is not a good thing.
The Chargers have lost seven games this year, but they have not been outscored by 10 or more points in any of them. In fact, over their last four losses, the Chargers have been beaten by an average of 6.25 points, including an eight-point loss to the Broncos in San Diego.
Prediction: Broncos 27, Chargers 23
Jacksonville Jaguars (+2 vs. Buffalo Bills)
After losing eight straight games, the Jaguars have won three straight and four of their last five. They are hardly playoff contenders, but they've been hot as of late.
The Bills will once again travel to the great state of Florida after being beaten 27-6 in Week 14 by none other than the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. That's right, Buffalo was just beaten by another Florida team that lost eight straight games and has won four of its last five.
Behind Chad Henne, Marcedes Lewis and a cast of playmakers that includes Maurice Jones-Drew—whose status is uncertain, according to Michael DiRocco of ESPN.com—the Jaguars should see similar results against the Bills if they can limit the rushing game like they did against Ben Tate and the Houston Texans.
Prediction: Jaguars 24, Bills 13
Baltimore Ravens (+6 at Detroit Lions)
The defending Super Bowl champions still have plenty of work to do if they plan to repeat, but the weapons are certainly there for a Monday night upset against the Detroit Lions.
The Ravens have shown glimpses of what they are capable of all season—in wins over the Cincinnati Bengals and Pittsburgh Steelers, for example—but their true determination was revealed when their backs were against the wall in Week 14 against the Minnesota Vikings.
The unbelievable comeback with just four seconds remaining on the clock showed not only that Baltimore is a playoff contender but also that the team has a blossoming star in Marlon Brown, who is nearing a team rookie record for touchdowns, according to Ryan Mink of BaltimoreRavens.com.
Against a porous pass defense that ranks 25th in the NFL, expect the Ravens to find enough holes to make this a close game against the Lions. But with Matthew Stafford and Calvin Johnson on the other side, the Lions will pull out the close win.
Prediction: Lions 35, Ravens 31