There are two road favorites and one battle of epic underachievers bettors should beware of in Week 15 of the NFL schedule. Usually when a team is favored on the road, it owns a decided edge over the team it's facing.
That is the case in one of my showcase games, but not so much in the other. In the battle of underachievers, anything can happen, but a change at quarterback will alter things and stir the pot.
Enough with the code, here's a look at three teams who won't cover this weekend. Just beneath the analysis is a table that shows my straight-up predictions for every game on the schedule.
Atlanta Falcons (-6) over Washington Redskins
Are you ready for a full-fledged quarterback controversy in Washington? One is on the way as Kirk Cousins is set to replace Robert Griffin III as the Washington Redskins starter. Mike Shanahan made the decision to shut down RG3, and now Cousins is going to make some fans believe he's the man for the team moving forward.
His work begins against the Atlanta Falcons, who are seven-point favorites on Sunday at home, per Bovada.
Here's the problem with this matchup for the Falcons. The team is ranked 30th in the NFL against the run. With Cousins under center, the Redskins' play-calling is going to look a lot like Shanahan's schemes did when he was the head coach of the Denver Broncos.
Those Broncos teams ran the ball a ton using a healthy amount of traps and zone-blocking strategies. With RG3's gifts, it seemed Shanahan had gotten away from this a bit. With a more physically limited quarterback like Cousins, the Skins will play smash-mouth football against a defense in Atlanta that lacks physicality and presence upfront.
Falcons won't just fail to cover. They will lose outright.
Seattle Seahawks (-7) over New York Giants
Call me crazy, but this feels like a trap week for the Seahawks. The team is headed into MetLife Stadium to take on a veteran, underachieving New York Giants team that may be playing for it head coach's job. After being officially assured of missing the playoffs for the second straight season, Giants head coach Tom Coughlin could be on the hot seat.
Seattle is coming off a loss to the San Francisco 49ers, and the team simply isn't as good on the road—especially the offense. Russell Wilson and Co. have been held under 20 points three times this season—every instance has been away from CenturyLink Field. This will obviously put pressure on the Seahawks defense to shut down the Giants.
Eli Manning, Hakeem Nicks and Victor Cruz can still be a very dangerous trio. Nicks and Cruz are on pace to eclipse 2,000 combined receiving yards this season and despite leading the league in interceptions, Manning is still capable.
In an upset, I predict the Giants knock off the Seahawks.
Buffalo Bills (-3) over Jacksonville Jaguars
I never thought I'd say this, but I really like the way the Jags are playing right now. Jacksonville has won three games in a row and four of their last five. For once, this is clearly not the worst team in the NFL.
Playing at home against the struggling Bills, the Jags will keep their run going, and here's why.
The constant over the last three games has been Jacksonville's running game. Over the span of the winning streak, Jacksonville has averaged 126.3 yards per game on the ground. Maurice Jones-Drew is averaging 88 yards per game during that time, and he had 103 in the team's Week 14 win over Houston.
Buffalo's run defense has been slipping. Four straight opponents have eclipsed 130 yards rushing against it. Behind their solid run game, the Jags will make it four straight wins and hand the Bills a defeat.
|Thursday, Dec. 12||Time||TV||Prediction|
|San Diego at Denver||8:25 PM||NFL||Denver|
|Sunday, Dec. 15||TIME (ET)||TV||Prediction|
|Washington at Atlanta||1 p.m.||Fox||Atlanta|
|Chicago at Cleveland||1 p.m.||Fox||Chicago|
|Houston at Indianapolis||1 p.m.||CBS||Indianapolis|
|New England at Miami||1 p.m.||CBS||New England|
|Philadelphia at Minnesota||1 p.m.||Fox||Philadelphia|
|Seattle at NY Giants||1 p.m.||Fox||NY Giants|
|San Francisco at Tampa Bay||1 p.m.||Fox||San Francisco|
|Buffalo at Jacksonville||1 p.m.||CBS||Jacksonville|
|Kansas City at Oakland||4:05 p.m.||CBS||Kansas City|
|NY Jets at Carolina||4:05 p.m.||CBS||Carolina|
|Green Bay at Dallas||4:25 p.m.||Fox||Dallas|
|Arizona at Tennessee||4:25 p.m.||Fox||Arizona|
|New Orleans at St. Louis||4:25 p.m.||Fox||New Orleans|
|Cincinnati at Pittsburgh||8:30 p.m.||NBC||Cincinnati|
|Monday, Dec. 16||TIME (ET)||TV||Prediction|
|Baltimore at Detroit||8:30 p.m.||ESPN||Baltimore|