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NFL Predictions Week 15: Top Odds, Picks, Projections for Every Game on Schedule

Kristopher Knox@@kris_knoxFeatured ColumnistDecember 10, 2019

Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson (4) passes against the Denver Broncos during the first half of an NFL football game Sunday, Dec. 8, 2019, in Houston. (AP Photo/Eric Christian Smith)
Eric Christian Smith/Associated Press

The 2019 NFL season has brought with it one of the most thrilling playoff races in recent memory. The league has seemed top-heavy—12 teams have already been eliminated—but very little has actually been settled.

Only the Kansas City Chiefs, New Orleans Saints and Baltimore Ravens have clinched playoff spots, and no team has yet secured a first-round bye.

With several notable games on the slate, the playoff race isn't just going to heat up in Week 15—it's going to get white-hot. Here's a look at some of the week's most important matchups, the latest odds and over/unders from Caesars, and predictions for every contest.

    

NFL Week 15 Lines, Over/Unders and Predictions

New York Jets (+14.5, 45.5) at Baltimore Ravens: Baltimore 31-20

Chicago Bears (+4.5, 41) at Green Bay Packers: Green Bay 24-22

Houston Texans (+3, 50) at Tennessee Titans: Tennessee 27-24

New England Patriots (-9.5, 40.5) at Cincinnati Bengals: New England 23-16

Denver Broncos (no line) at Kansas City Chiefs: Kansas City 31-23

Seattle Seahawks (-5.5, 48) at Carolina Panthers: Seattle 27-20

Philadelphia Eagles (no line) at Washington Redskins: Washington 26-20

Miami Dolphins (no line) at New York Giants: New York 28-23

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (-3.5, 47.5) at Detroit Lions: Tampa Bay 28-22

Cleveland Browns (-2.5, 48) at Arizona Cardinals: Cleveland 26-20

Jacksonville Jaguars (+6.5, 46) at Oakland Raiders: Oakland 26-21

Minnesota Vikings (-2.5, 45) at Los Angeles Chargers: Minnesota 24-22

Atlanta Falcons (+11, 47.5) at San Francisco 49ers: San Francisco 31-20

Los Angeles Rams (even, 49) at Dallas Cowboys: Los Angeles 30-26

Buffalo Bills (+2, 36.5) at Pittsburgh Steelers: Buffalo 25-18

Indianapolis Colts (+9, 46) at New Orleans Saints: New Orleans 30-18

    

Buffalo Bills at Pittsburgh Steelers

Adrian Kraus/Associated Press

Perhaps the most important game of the week as it relates to the AFC wild-card race is Sunday's matchup between the Buffalo Bills and the Pittsburgh Steelers. If the Bills win, they're in the postseason. If the hosts win, they'll all but slam the door on the likes of the Cleveland Browns, Indianapolis Colts and Oakland Raiders.

The Steelers have won three in a row, thanks largely to the insertion of Devlin Hodges at quarterback. Pittsburgh may also see the return of star wideout JuJu Smith-Schuster, according to ESPN's Adam Schefter:

Adam Schefter @AdamSchefter

Steelers’ WR JuJu Smith-Schuster, who has missed the past three games with a knee injury, is eyeing a return on Sunday night against the Buffalo Bills, per source.

However, Pittsburgh's season-long lack of offensive cohesion could be a major issue against Buffalo's defense. Buffalo has allowed an average of just 16.3 points per game this season, second-fewest in the NFL. They limited Lamar Jackson and the Ravens to 24 points in Week 14.

Hodges is an upgrade over Mason Rudolph, but he isn't likely to lead the sort of offensive explosion that the Ravens have regularly gotten out of Jackson.

Buffalo also has a strong rushing attack that ranks fifth, averaging 135.3 yards per game, which could prove problematic for Pittsburgh. The Steelers have been winning largely by forcing turnovers and capitalizing on opponents' mistakes. The Bills can limit their mistakes and control the tempo of the game by leaning on their defense and the ground game.

    

Houston Texans at Tennessee Titans

D. Ross Cameron/Associated Press

Another important game in the AFC wild-card race is the matchup between the Houston Texans and the Tennessee Titans. Both teams are sitting at 8-5 and can take control of the division with a win here. This leaves the loser sitting at 8-6 and potentially tied with the Steelers in the wild-card race.

These two will also face off in Week 17.

This game will feature an interesting clash of styles. The Texans' biggest asset is Deshaun Watson and the special things he can do at the quarterback position.

"We all expect him to go out and make something happen," teammate Justin Reid said, per Brian T. Smith of the Houston Chronicle.

The problem with that is when teams can limit Watson and star receiver DeAndre Hopkins—as the Denver Broncos did in Week 14—the team's 25th-ranked defense can be a major liability.

The Titans are a more balanced team—they rank 10th in scoring offense, ninth in scoring defense—that can survive when struggling in one phase or another. 

Tennessee has won six of seven games since making the switch to Ryan Tannehill as the starting quarterback. It's riding momentum and should have a good chance of laying claim to the division here.

    

Indianapolis Colts at New Orleans Saints

Butch Dill/Associated Press

If the Indianapolis Colts are going to cling onto their slim playoff hopes, they're going to have to pull off a major upset Monday night. They're going to have to knock off the New Orleans Saints in the Superdome, which even the San Francisco 49ers struggled to do in Week 14.

The Saints are looking to rebound and to stay in the hunt for a first-round bye. New Orleans has already clinched the NFC South but sits behind the Green Bay Packers for the No. 2 seed because of the tiebreakers.

New Orleans should also look to get its defense back on track in this game. After playing solidly for most of 2019—the Saints rank 13th on total defense, allowing 338.3 yards per game—it was decimated by the 49ers. San Francisco racked up 516 yards of offense and 48 points.

This won't be a cakewalk for the Saints, but it can be a confidence-builder. Expect New Orleans to treat this as they would a playoff game. The potential for a blowout is high.

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