NFL Week 15 Picks: Road Teams That Will Pull out Ugly Victories

Jesse Reed@@JesseReed78Correspondent IDecember 13, 2013

LANDOVER, MD - NOVEMBER 25: Head coach Jim Harbaugh of the San Francisco 49ers celebrates with quarterback Colin Kaepernick #7  after the 49ers scored a third quarter touchdown against the Washington Redskins at FedExField on November 25, 2013 in Landover, Maryland.  (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
Rob Carr/Getty Images

There's no such thing as style points in the NFL—winning is the only thing that matters, whether it's pretty or not. As you're making your weekly NFL picks, you should know that some top teams on the road in Week 15 are guaranteed to grind out ugly victories on their way to the playoffs.

The NFL is unpredictable, and upsets occur every weekend.

However, a few laws prove true time and time again—one of which is this: Good teams find ways to win more often than not, while bad teams find ways to lose. 

With that in mind, here's a look at every game on the schedule, followed by a closer examination of the road teams that will gut out tough wins in Week 15.

NFL Week 15 Picks
San Diego ChargersDenver BroncosDenver Broncos
Washington RedskinsAtlanta FalconsAtlanta Falcons
Chicago BearsCleveland BrownsChicago Bears
Houston TexansIndianapolis ColtsIndianapolis Colts
New England PatriotsMiami DolphinsMiami Dolphins
Philadelphia EaglesMinnesota VikingsPhiladelphia Eagles
Seattle SeahawksNew York GiantsSeattle Seahawks
San Francisco 49ersTampa Bay BuccaneersSan Francisco 49ers
Buffalo BillsJacksonville JaguarsJacksonville Jaguars
Kansas City ChiefsOakland RaidersKansas City Chiefs
New York JetsCarolina PanthersCarolina Panthers
Green Bay PackersDallas CowboysDallas Cowboys
Arizona CardinalsTennessee TitansArizona Cardinals
New Orleans SaintsSt. Louis RamsNew Orleans Saints
Cincinnati BengalsPittsburgh SteelersCincinnati Bengals
Baltimore RavensDetroit LionsDetroit Lions
Jesse Reed


San Francisco at Tampa Bay

The San Francisco 49ers are engaged in a dogfight with the Carolina Panthers and Arizona Cardinals for one of two playoff spots. With a record of 9-4, San Francisco currently occupies the No. 6 seed, but it'll take nothing less than the team's best effort to take down Tampa Bay in Week 15.

Though Tampa Bay once fell into the "bad team" category, the Buccaneers have become a formidable opponent in the second half of the season. Greg Schiano's young squad has won four of its last five games.

TAMPA, FL - DECEMBER 8: Linebacker Lavonte David #54 of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers sacks quarterback E. J. Manuel #3 of the Buffalo Bills December 8, 2013 at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida. (Photo by Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images)
Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images

An interesting battle to watch will be San Francisco's No. 6-ranked rushing attack against Tampa Bay's No. 9-ranked run defense. The 49ers were able to pound out 163 yards against Seattle's imposing defensive front in Week 14, and Frank Gore has been hot of late.

Michael Crabtree could have a breakout game against Tampa Bay's middle-of-the-road pass defense. His presence in the lineup last weekend allowed Anquan Boldin to have a big game against the Seahawks. Boldin caught six passes for 93 yards.

The three-way combo of Crabtree, Boldin and tight end Vernon Davis will be more than the Bucs can handle. 

On the other side, rookie quarterback Mike Glennon will be harassed by Aldon Smith and Ahmad Brooks throughout the game, and he'll struggle to make plays against the 49ers' No. 4-ranked pass defense. 

Predicted Score: 49ers win, 24-14.


Arizona at Tennessee

GLENDALE, AZ - DECEMBER 08:  Head coach Bruce Arians of the Arizona Cardinals following the NFL game against the St. Louis Rams at the University of Phoenix Stadium on December 8, 2013 in Glendale, Arizona. The Cardinals defeated the Rams 30-10.  (Photo b
Christian Petersen/Getty Images

The Tennessee Titans are almost completely out of the playoff hunt, but they still have a mathematical chance to get in. 

This team hasn't been an easy out all year long, making opponents earn every inch of gridiron real estate. Unfortunately, injuries have taken a toll, and the roster is still short on talent at a few key positions.

The Cardinals enter Week 15 one game behind the 49ers and Panthers for a wild-card spot in the NFC. Arizona has won five of its last six games, but any lapse in focus this weekend will lead to a devastating loss. 

Have no fear, Cardinals fans. Your team won't fall to the Titans on the road.

GLENDALE, AZ - NOVEMBER 24:  Running back Andre Ellington #38 of the Arizona Cardinals rushes the football against the Indianapolis Colts during the NFL game at the University of Phoenix Stadium on November 24, 2013 in Glendale, Arizona. The Cardinals def
Christian Petersen/Getty Images

The duo of Andre Ellington and Rashard Mendenhall has been working wonders of late for Arizona, as the two running backs are starting to find their rhythms. With a running game behind him (finally), Carson Palmer has been finding his receivers with regularity.

Arizona's defense is dominant against the run, which means Chris Johnson and Shonn Greene won't find much running room. Ryan Fitzpatrick will make enough plays through the air to keep it interesting, but the Cardinals will find a way to win this game.

Predicted Score: Cardinals win, 27-17.


Cincinnati at Pittsburgh

CINCINNATI, OH - NOVEMBER 17:  Vontaze Burfict #55 of the Cincinnati Bengals celebrates during the NFL game against the Cleveland Browns at Paul Brown Stadium on November 17, 2013 in Cincinnati, Ohio.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
Andy Lyons/Getty Images

Nothing says "ugly" like an AFC North slugfest.

After losing two tight games in a row, the 5-8 Pittsburgh Steelers are one loss away from being eliminated from playoff contention. 

Interestingly enough, even though his team has struggled, Ben Roethlisberger has caught fire recently, throwing 16 touchdowns in his last six games after managing just eight in his first seven. Even more remarkably, he's thrown 11 in his last four starts without a single interception.

Antonio Brown, Emmanuel Sanders and Jerricho Cotchery have all played vital roles in Pittsburgh's offensive resurgence, and they'll get open with regularity against Cincinnati's injury-ravaged secondary.

The Steelers aren't the only hot offensive team in this game, however. Cincinnati's offense has been torrid in the past three games, scoring 100 points in those contests.

Both teams will put points on the scoreboard, and the contest will turn on a critical turnover. Unfortunately for the Steelers, when it comes to the give-and-take game, the Bengals have been superior in 2013.

Predicted Score: Bengals win, 31-24.


Follow me on Twitter @JesseReed78 


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