With only three more weeks left in the regular season, Week 15 features a lot of important games with major playoff implications.
The San Diego Chargers already took down the Denver Broncos on Thursday Night Football, potentially opening up the race for the No. 1 seed in the AFC. While the Broncos are still the favorite to represent the conference in the Super Bowl, that loss made things a lot more interesting.
Below is a complete list of predictions for the rest of Week 15, followed by a breakdown of some of the most interesting games to watch for.
|Week 15 NFL Predictions|
|Washington Redskins||17-28||Atlanta Falcons|
|San Francisco 49ers||24-14||Tampa Bay Buccaneers|
|Seattle Seahawks||35-13||New York Giants|
|Philadelphia Eagles||31-17||Minnesota Vikings|
|New England Patriots||28-20||Miami Dolphins|
|Buffalo Bills||23-10||Jacksonville Jaguars|
|Houston Texans||23-28||Indianapolis Colts|
|Chicago Bears||27-20||Cleveland Browns|
|Kansas City Chiefs||28-13||Oakland Raiders|
|New York Jets||13-31||Carolina Panthers|
|Green Bay Packers||20-30||Dallas Cowboys|
|Arizona Cardinals||23-13||Tennessee Titans|
|New Orleans Saints||30-23||St. Louis Rams|
|Cincinnati Bengals||21-17||Pittsburgh Steelers|
|Baltimore Ravens||20-24||Detroit Lions|
Houston Texans (2-11) at Indianapolis Colts (8-5)
Date: Sunday, Dec. 15
Time: 1 p.m. ET
Prediction: 28-23, Colts
The AFC South is locked up, and with the way the Indianapolis Colts are playing right now, they're a likely lock for the No. 4 seed in the AFC playoff picture.
So, why is this game important? If the Colts want to make a deep playoff run, they're going to have to get hot now rather than later.
Offensively, the Colts are trying to find weapons for Andrew Luck. Reggie Wayne is hurt, and Darrius Heyward-Bey can't catch the football, forcing players like LaVon Brazill and Da'Rick Rogers to step up alongside T.Y. Hilton.
For as bad as the Houston Texans have been this season, they've still done a good job defending the pass, allowing just 183.6 passing yards per game. The Texans nearly beat the Colts earlier in the season but fell apart late in the second half, losing 27-24.
The Texans have never beaten the Colts in Indianapolis, even during the 2011 season, when the Colts went just 2-14. It would certainly be ironic to see the Texans get their first win in Indianapolis when they've lost 11 straight games, but I don't see that happening. The Texans offense will struggle, even against a weaker Colts defense, and Luck will find a way to pull out another win.
Green Bay Packers (6-6-1) at Dallas Cowboys (7-6)
Date: Sunday, Dec. 15
Time: 4:25 p.m. ET
Prediction: 30-20, Cowboys
Both of these teams are fighting for their lives in order to secure a spot in the playoffs, but one team is doing it without their star quarterback.
The Green Bay Packers have been playing for essentially the past six weeks without Aaron Rodgers, and in those six games, they've gone just 1-4-1. Still, if they can find a way to win out and have the Detroit Lions lose once, they'll be in the playoffs as the NFC North champions.
But that will be no easy task, as the Packers will be without Rodgers once again this week. ESPN's Rob Demovsky reported that Rodgers is listed as out on the team's injury report.
Matt Flynn will have to start, but he still has a shot to put up solid numbers. The Dallas Cowboys rank last in the NFL in pass defense, allowing 298.5 yards per game through the air, and they're coming off of a 45-28 loss where Josh McCown was able to torch them for 348 yards and four touchdowns.
However, even if Rodgers was healthy, the Packers would still struggle defensively against the Cowboys. Tony Romo is having a very impressive season with a 98.3 passer rating, and the supporting cast around him is capable of making big plays.
Considering how poorly the Packers have struggled on defense recently, I can't see them winning against the Cowboys, especially without Rodgers.
Baltimore Ravens (7-6) at Detroit Lions (7-6)
Date: Monday, Dec. 16
Time: 8:30 p.m. ET
Prediction: 24-20, Lions
The Baltimore Ravens currently hold the last playoff spot in the AFC, while the Lions have the lead in the NFC North, but either team could fall out of the postseason hunt with a loss on Monday Night Football.
After winning the Super Bowl last season, the Ravens have struggled this year but have turned things around over the past few weeks, winning three straight games.
They haven't been pretty wins, but the team as a whole is starting to get on the same page, and the defense has especially been good, although it's been fairly underrated. In fact, Pro Football Focus (subscription required) has the Ravens as the third-best defense behind the Kansas City Chiefs and Seattle Seahawks.
For the Lions, they've started to fall apart lately, going just 1-3 over the past four weeks. They've had a number of opportunities to essentially lock up the division title, but they keep falling. Still, they have one of the most high-powered offenses in the NFL, averaging 26.6 points and 409.6 yards per game.
For as good as the offense is, the defense for the Lions has been inconsistent, but I don't see that being a problem. The Ravens don't have enough playmakers on offense to keep up with the Lions, and Detroit should find a way to pull out a close win.