Look Ahead into NFL Week 15

By Michael LoCoco
PSDC NFL Beat Writer

Jingle Bells and Merry Christmas everyone! This is the last week of NFL football before one of the best holidays of the year. Christmas day itself is devoted to NBA basketball because the NFL decided to let another league have a holiday all to itself. As such, this weekend and next weekend are days of merriment for football fans.

Week 14 Against the Spread 9-7 (107-89 Overall)

After a weak week in Week 13, the home stretch is looking promising. I felt somewhat undone by Andy Dalton’s tragic broken thumb (to say nothing of what his injury did to my fantasy team). Ultimately, I have to feel pretty good about my season. Picking against the spread can be daunting, even for analysts more experienced than I. With three weeks to go, and I may not count Week 17 due to the rather typical benching of star players. Let’s take a look at the games this week.

MUST WATCH GAMES

New York Giants vs. Carolina (New York +4.5)

Technically this probably isn’t the most competitive matchup this week, but the secondary storylines are what makes this the top game of the week. Aside from the fact that Carolina is chasing history and the potential perfect season, we also have storylines regarding Tom Coughlin’s future and the Giants’ playoff run. Aside from all that, the Giants are a team that is really pushing to make the playoffs and they have the look of a team that is starting to get hot. The Panthers are looking for perfection and to set themselves up for a history making 19-0 run.

Ultimately, I have concerns about the difficulty of a team getting a mental focus lapse between now and 16-0 to say nothing of 19-0. The Giants are well-quarterbacked and well coached too. Unfortunately, the Panthers are just so solid. I think Coughlin’s run starts to end here.

(Carolina Covers the Spread)

Pittsburgh vs. Denver (Pittsburgh -7.0)

What was looking like a marquee matchup from top to bottom in the middle of the season has become more of a second feature. The departures of Le’veon Bell and Peyton Manning removes a lot of star power from this game and Denver’s massive collapse against Oakland makes it much much harder for them to win the number one seed. Still, Denver has everything in front of them and can still win a precious first round bye. Pittsburgh for their own part looks like the most powerful offensive attack in the league right now. Their aerial show cannot be denied.

Denver did not look convincing against Oakland, at all. There isn’t any way of sugarcoating that. On the other side, Pittsburgh is one of the most dangerous teams in the league. Still, even on the road, seven points is a lot for a team of Denver’s talent. I’m not sure if they have a chance to win the game, but I do think they’ll beat the spread.

(Denver Beats the Spread)

Oakland vs. Green Bay (Oakland +3.0)

After what was clearly a marquee win against Denver, a game in which Khalil Mack nearly murdered poor Brock Osweiler, the Raiders are looking to stay alive in the playoff hunt. They pack some offensive weapons and one of the game’s hottest young quarterbacks. This is all to say nothing of league Iron Man Charles Woodson having a chance to get revenge on the team that cut him years ago. Green Bay, for their part, is looking to build off a dominant win against Dallas. Coach Mike McCarthy is calling plays for the second week in a row and the offense is looking more old-school. This could be fun.

Oakland is definitely a team on the rise, but for they’ve had enough downs this year to suggest that the team isn’t quite there yet. Green Bay still has Rodgers and Lacy is looking better than earlier this year.

(Green Bay Covers the Spread)

COULD BE GOOD

Photo Credit: Wesley Hitt/Getty Images

Indianapolis vs. Houston (Indianapolis -2.0)

It’s disappointing that this game isn’t higher up the list, but when your quarterbacks are TJ Yates and Matt Hasselbeck you can’t expect a true marquee matchup. This game suffers for that as well because functionally, it could be for the division. The AFC South has been almost as bad as the NFC East, but the winner of the division still gets to host a playoff game. Here, Hasselbeck is simply the better quarterback. Houston, we have a problem.

(Indianapolis Covers the Spread)

Philadelphia vs. Arizona (Philadelphia +3.5)

After a monster win against New England (albeit sans Gronk), the Eagles performed only adequately against the Bills. Right now, every game is precious against the other NFC teams and the NFC East is still definitely up for grabs. Arizona needs to keep winning to prevent their game against Green Bay from being for the number two overall seed. The Cardinals are one of the most dangerous looking teams in the league right now and you have to wish nothing but success for Larry Fitzgerald. I do think Arizona simply has the talent to win a game like this and I think that 3.5 points might be a little low.

(Arizona Covers the Spread)

Minnesota vs. Chicago (Minnesota -5.5)

Chicago really isn’t in the division race anymore, but you have to think the feisty Bears would love to deal a killer blow to any team that tries to succeed in the NFC North. This week that’s the Vikings. Jay Cutler and John Fox have really started to gel as the season has gone on and it will definitely raise hopes for next season. This season though the Bears are trying to knock the Vikings down a peg. For Minnesota, another loss combined with a Green Bay win puts them two games back and makes the Week 17 matchup meaningless. For me the deciding factor is that the Vikings have more to play for. Oh and I think they’re more talented.

(Minnesota Covers the Spread)

AND THE REST

Dallas vs. New York Jets (Dallas +3.5)

(New York Covers the Spread)

New England vs. Tennessee (New England -14.0)

(New England Covers the Spread)

Washington vs. Buffalo (Washington +2.0)

(Buffalo Beats the Spread)

Baltimore vs. Kansas City (Baltimore +7.0)

(Kansas City Covers the Spread)

Seattle vs. Cleveland (Seattle -15.0)

(Seattle Covers the Spread)

San Francisco vs. Cincinnati (San Francisco +5.5)

(Cincinnati Covers the Spread)

Jacksonville vs. Atlanta (Jacksonville -3.5)

(Jacksonville Covers the Spread)

San Diego vs. Miami (San Diego -1.5)

(Miami Beats the Spread)

New Orleans vs. Detroit (New Orleans -3.0)

(Detroit Beats the Spread)

Follow Mike on Twitter: @MichaelLoCocoWI

Speak Your Mind

*