The playoff picture is beginning to come together now that Week 15 of the 2013 NFL season has rolled around. With so much on the line for many teams and weather affecting many games, contests usually begin to get closer at this time of year.
However, that will not be the case for every game this week. Some teams are rolling right along and look poised to make that final push into the playoffs. Others are struggling due to inconsistency or injuries.
When two teams that find themselves in these situations face off, it could get ugly fast. There are a few examples of such games slated for Week 15.
Let's take a look at the three biggest blowouts that this week has to offer, followed by predictions for the remaining games.
Seattle Seahawks Will Mow Over New York Giants
The Seahawks continue to be one of the most balanced teams in the NFL. Offensively, they are able to create problems for opposing defenses due to their efficiency in the passing game and dominance in the running game.
Quarterback Russell Wilson has been fantastic this season, posting passer ratings of at least 100.0 seven times this season. He has been able to throw 23 touchdowns against just seven interceptions for a 106.5 passer rating in 2013.
Marshawn Lynch continues to dominate on the ground, rushing for 1,042 yards and scoring 10 times this season while averaging 4.3 yards per carry.
On the defensive side of the ball, the Seahawks have been equally as dominant. They are first in the league in total yards allowed and second in points scored, allowing an average of just 15.8 per game.
This team is coming off of a disappointing Week 14 loss to the San Francisco 49ers, and it will certainly have a chip on its shoulder when it faces off against the Giants this week.
Eli Manning: 10 interceptions thrown within 10 yards of line of scrimmage, most in NFL; Seahawks tied for most Int on those passes (9)— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) December 13, 2013
Eli Manning has not been able to get it together this season. He has thrown 16 touchdown passes and 20 interceptions. Now, he faces off against the top-ranked pass defense in the NFL.
The Giants have been able to run the ball with increased efficiency lately; however, the Seahawks will force New York's offense into a one-dimensional state.
Simply put, the Seahawks are firing on all cylinders, and the Giants are facing them at the wrong time.
Prediction: Seahawks 34, Giants 13
Indianapolis Colts Get Back on Track Against Houston Texans
Despite taking a loss against the Cincinnati Bengals last week, Andrew Luck improved in dramatic fashion against the league's seventh-ranked pass defense.
Luck was able to find a new weapon in rookie wide receiver Da'Rick Rogers, as they connected for two touchdowns on the day. Luck completed 29-of-46 passing attempts for 326 yards, four touchdowns and zero interceptions for a passer rating of 113.1.
Colts' Pagano on WRs Da’Rick Rogers and LaVon Brazill earning more playing time: "Obvious answer. Yeah they have" http://t.co/sGbw6mYwcz— NFL: AroundTheLeague (@NFL_ATL) December 10, 2013
The confidence is back on the offensive side of the ball for Indianapolis, and now it is set to face a Texans team that is giving up an average of 26.9 points per game.
Houston is in a great deal of turmoil right now after the firing of head coach Gary Kubiak. General manager Rick Smith explained the decision to part ways with the coach during an interview with Doug Farrar of Sports Illustrated:
We felt that a change was needed at the head coach position, so Gary Kubiak is no longer the head coach. We've been together almost 18 years, and there’s a lot of history with Gary. I have tremendous respect for him. We've got to right the ship. We’ve got to move forward. We have three more games to evaluate every player, coach and process.
While these evaluations are ongoing, this team has failed to remain competitive. In a Week 14 loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars, the Texans used two quarterbacks—Case Keenum and Matt Schaub—with dismal results. Both players threw an interception and each finished with a poor passer rating.
This week gives the Colts a perfect chance to take advantage of a reeling Texans team and solidify themselves as legitimate contenders in this year's playoffs.
Prediction: Colts 28, Texans 10
Kansas City Chiefs Show Dominance Against Oakland Raiders
The Chiefs are another team that is capable of creating a tremendous amount of balance on both sides of the football. With a revamped offense and a defense that is only allowing an average of 17.2 points per game, Kansas City is poised to dominate this week.
During an interview with Blair Kerkhoff of The Kansas City Star, head coach Andy Reid does not seem to be letting up, as he explained that he will continue to work star running back Jamaal Charles. Said Reid:
I thought it was the right time to take him out of the game. I've gone both ways, I've held people from games, and I've played people, just depending on what I feel we need to get ourselves ready, if we have that opportunity to continue to play (in the playoffs). We're not there yet. I wasn’t thinking about that in this game.
It appears as though the Chiefs will continue to run at full strength this week. That's not good news for the Raiders, who are giving up an average of 25.9 points per game.
Offensively, the Raiders have been toying with different ideas—especially at the quarterback position. That kind of tinkering is generally not a good way to remain competitive this late in the season—especially against a defense as talented as Kansas City's.
The Raiders have now lost five of their last six games, and that downward trend will continue this week against the Chiefs.
Prediction: Chiefs 31, Raiders 17
Here's a look at predictions for this week's remaining games:
|Washington Redskins||Atlanta Falcons||Redskins|
|San Francisco 49ers||Tampa Bay Buccaneers||49ers|
|Arizona Cardinals||Tennessee Titans||Cardinals|
|New Orleans Saints||St. Louis Rams||Saints|
|Seattle Seahawks||New York Giants||Seahawks|
|Chicago Bears||Cleveland Browns||Bears|
|Houston Texans||Indianapolis Colts||Colts|
|Buffalo Bills||Jacksonville Jaguars||Jaguars|
|New England Patriots||Miami Dolphins||Dolphins|
|Philadelphia Eagles||Minnesota Vikings||Eagles|
|New York Jets||Carolina Panthers||Panthers|
|Kansas City Chiefs||Oakland Raiders||Chiefs|
|Green Bay Packers||Dallas Cowboys||Cowboys|
|Cincinnati Bengals||Pittsburgh Steelers||Steelers|
|Baltimore Ravens||Detroit Lions||Lions|
Sean O'Donnell's Picks