At times, home-field advantage seems to be the deciding factor in a game.
Look at Week 14. Of the 16 games on the slate, only two featured games where the team playing in a hostile environment came away with a victory. An alarming 14 teams took care of business in front of their fans.
Maybe the advantage is better than most thought. Perhaps it is due to the time of year, when fans of losers want to play the spoiler and hopefuls want to make a postseason push. A noisy environment paired with inclement cold weather certainly plays a factor.
These trends will continue in Week 15. A minimum of three teams are guaranteed wins at home for a variety of factors.
|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.
Atlanta Falcons Dismantle Washington Redskins
The Atlanta Falcons and Washington Redskins are perfect examples of how not to handle certain situations.
Atlanta failed to assemble a roster that was somewhat injury-proof and has paid the price this year. It also has the look of a team that has simply quit.
Washington clearly has internal issues surrounding quarterback Robert Griffin III and has also failed to build a quality roster, although it did not need the help of injuries to stink.
Speaking of stink, there is a lot of it in Washington, where controversy has engulfed the three-win team to the point where Mark Maske and Mike Jones of the Washington Post are reporting that coach Mike Shanahah's job could be in question and RGIII might be benched.
No matter. Atlanta would roll in this one anyway.
Quarterback Matt Ryan has receiver Roddy White back to form (18 catches, 217 yards in last two games), which will allow him to torch the NFL's No. 27-ranked pass defense. Running back Steven Jackson has come on in the same span, with three touchdowns in as many games.
There is simply too much negativity and inadequacy in Washington both on and off the field to make the trip to a loud dome and play well. Washington's losing streak extends to six.
Prediction: Falcons 27, Redskins 13
Indianapolis Colts Survive Houston Texans
It is easy to label this one as trap game—it is.
After all, Houston has lost 11 straight, but five of its last seven losses have been decided by a touchdown or less. That includes Week 9, when the Texans welcomed Indianapolis to town and the visitor escaped with a 27-24 win.
Which team wins?
Not much has changed since then. The Texans have kept losing and the Colts have failed to garner a winning or losing streak. If there has been one constant, it is that the Colts' only wins since beating the Texans have come against teams under .500.
Colts quarterback Andrew Luck threw three touchdowns last time these two met, which should be about right for this bout. The emergence of young receivers Da'Rick Rogers (6 catches, 107 yards, 2 TDs) and LaVon Brazill (3 catches, 53 yards, 2 TDs) last week against Cincinnati means Luck will once more find success.
Add in a noisy environment at Lucas Oil Stadium, where Houston has never won, and this has the makings of a big win for the Colts as they attempt to grab better playoff seeding.
Prediction: Colts 28, Texans 20
Carolina Panthers Destroy New York Jets
Get ready—this is going to be brutal.
If there is such a thing as a team entering a contest angry and looking embarrass an opponent, this is it. Carolina was humbled last week in New Orleans by a 31-13 differential to have its eight-game winning streak snapped.
Now the Panthers, still owners of the NFL's No. 1 scoring defense at an average of 14.5 points allowed per game, return home to welcome the hapless New York Jets to town—where the Panthers' only loss this year came in the opener against 11-2 Seattle.
The Jets are led by rookie quarterback Geno Smith, who has thrown seven interceptions to one touchdown in his last five games and has 20 total picks on the year to tie for the league lead.
Smith leads an offense that averages just 17.4 points per game. Only one team scores less and, yes, it's Jacksonville.
This is a mismatch any way it is sliced. Jets fans can only pray that the Panthers sit their starters by the start of the fourth.
Prediction: Panthers 34, Jets 3