With Week 15 here, there are now only three more weeks of the NFL regular season, in which teams can find a way to sneak into the playoff picture, or to make headway as a top seed with home field advantage.
The slate of games for Week 15 features a number of key matchups, including Jags and Colts for the division, Eagles and Giants fighting for the NFC East, Packers vs. Patriots, Saints vs. Ravens and the struggling Jets heading to Pittsburgh.
Note: These picks were submitted on time, but not posted to TWHS until today due to illness. Let’s see how these picks translate when making them with a heavy fever.
It’s once again time to “Pick Your Knows” – the only time it’s not a disgusting habit – and here are Week 15’s scheduled games (spreads as they appear through CBSSports.com).
Pick Your Knows: NFL Week 14 Picks Against the Spread
San Francisco 49ers at San Diego Chargers (-8.5)
Both teams head into the short week following commanding wins, and each still has a chance to win its respective division – so this game is key for both teams. But last week, the 49ers were hosting a Seahawks team that’s struggled on ‘D’, and this week, they get a Chargers team that’s top 5 on offense and defense. The Niners have also only won once on the road. San Diego covers at home easily.
KP’s Pick: San Diego
Houston Texans at Tennessee Titans (-1.5)
The Texans lose Mario Williams for the year, which should give its pass rush a hit, but the Tennessee pass game has been nothing special in recent weeks. Houston has suffered a number of heartbreaking losses, and its talented offense usually keeps them in games – and this week, that offense (6th in the NFL) boosts the Texans to a win against the Titans.
KP’s Pick: Houston
New Orleans Saints at Baltimore Ravens (-2.5)
The Saints – riding a 6-game win streak – are clearly hitting its stride. New Orleans has scored 30+ points in five straight games, and travel to Baltimore to take on a talented Ravens team that has had trouble holding leads in the second half. The Ravens escaped with a win last week in OT against Houston, but don’t expect the same luck against the Saints.
KP’s Pick: New Orleans
Cleveland Browns at Cincinnati Bengals (-1.5)
The first match between these two teams was a three-point win for the Browns at home, and this week, it appears that Cleveland will get rookie QB Colt McCoy back. But Cincinnati, losers of ten straight, are due for a win. Call it more a gut pick than anything, but the Bengals – who have given teams like New Orleans and Indianapolis a run for their money – break into the win column for the first time in months.
KP’s Pick: Cincinnati
Jacksonville Jaguars at Indianapolis Colts (-5.5)
This game most likely will decide the division, and therefore, there’s a lot on the line for these two teams. Both teams are battling a number of injuries, with Maurice Jones-Drew missing a few practices this week, and Indianapolis already having a number of players out. But MJD has been battling these injuries all year, and still running hard. The Colts haven’t been blowing a lot of people out, and with the Jags having a solid run game, this one should stay close thoughout.
KP’s Pick: Jacksonville
Washington Redskins at Dallas Cowboys (-6.5)
Reports are out there that Donovan McNabb will indeed be benched in favor of Rex Grossman. The Cowboys have been in every game against solid opponents since Jason Garrett took over. With those two facts alone – rivalry or not, it’s hard to pick against Dallas. Cowboys cover at home against the struggling ‘Skins.
KP’s Pick: Dallas
Arizona Cardinals at Carolina Panthers (-2.5)
Having a one-win team favored by nearly a field goal is a bit surprising, even with how bad the Cardinals have been at times this season. This game features the two worst pass offenses – and that’s surprising considering the weapons that the Cardinals have at the receiver position. But with Skelton at QB for Arizona and Carolina having a decent pass defense, this is as good a chance as ever for Carolina to get another win.
KP’s Pick: Carolina
Detroit Lions at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (-6.5)
The Lions are very solid against the run, and should be able to keep Blount and the run game in check. Tampa Bay has a pretty good pass defense, but have lost a player or two due to injury, and could be more vulnerable to a potent Lions passing attack. Drew Stanton has been decent at QB, and the Lions should keep this game inside a touchdown.
KP’s Pick: Detroit
Kansas City Chiefs at St. Louis Rams (-1.5)
The Rams are 4-2 at home, while the Chiefs are 2-5 on the road. Top that with Matt Cassel still being a bit of a question mark recovering from an appendectomy. St. Louis is in a position where a win can put them closer to a division title. The Rams have only allowed 5 rushing TD’s, and the run game is Kansas City’s strength. This one will be close, especially if Cassel plays.
KP’s Pick: St. Louis
Philadelphia Eagles at New York Giants (-2.5)
This is a tough call between the two top teams in the NFC East, but the Eagles have owned this series over the last few years. Plus, Michael Vick is still putting up MVP-like numbers. But the biggest news is that Asante Samuel has been practicing and could return against the Giants’ pass game that just lost Steve Smith for the year. With this in mind, the Eagles are the most logical pick, even while playing on the road.
KP’s Pick: Philadelphia
Buffalo Bills at Miami Dolphins (-5.5)
The Bills have the 4th best pass defense and the worst defense against the run, so the Dolphins should try and excel on the ground. But the Dolphins have an NFL low 5 rushing touchdowns, and the Bills should be able to keep this game close throughout. Take Buffalo and the points.
KP’s Pick: Buffalo
Atlanta Falcons at Seattle Seahawks (+6.5)
The Seahawks usually play better at home, but it should be a challenge against a very balanced and talented Falcons team that has a great chance to earn homefield advantage throughout the playoffs in the NFC. That should bring extra motivation for Atlanta, and facing a Seattle defense that’s 20th against the run and 30th against the pass means the Falcons should have a lot of success on this day. Falcons cover on the road.
KP’s Pick: Atlanta
Denver Broncos at Oakland Raiders (-6.5)
Both teams have been tough to read in regards to spreads over the last month, but the key stat to watch is the fact that the Raiders have the 3rd best rush offense and the Broncos are 31st against the run. That alone points to the fact that the Raiders should be able to move the ball efficiently and control time of possession, therefore covering at home in Oakland. Oh, and Tim Tebow may wind up starting for Denver. Oakland covers.
KP’s Pick: Oakland
New York Jets at Pittsburgh Steelers (-6.5)
The Jets have really struggled over the last few weeks, specifically Mark Sanchez and the offense. This game features 2 of the 3 best run defenses in football – and as mentioned before, the Steelers are vulnerable against the pass – especially with Polamalu potentially being out – so if Sanchez can react to threats of being benched, the Jets could see a boost in offense. New York has the talent to keep this game close, and the gut feeling is that they will.
KP’s Pick: New York Jets
Green Bay Packers at New England Patriots (-9.5)
The Patriots have been by far the best team in football over the last few weeks, but the biggest question mark on this game is not New England’s play, but the condition of Aaron Rodgers, who suffered another concussion last week against the Lions. The chances of Rodgers playing Sunday are slim, and therefore the chances of Green Bay handling the Patriots on the road are equally as slim. With Flynn at QB, New England covers at home.
KP’s Pick: New England
Chicago Bears at Minnesota Vikings (+1.5)
Due to the damage to the Metrodome, this game will be played at the home of the Minnesota Golden Gophers – an outdoor stadium that was buried in snow this week. It’ll be damn cold for this game, and Brett Favre seems to be a question mark again – so much that the Vikings brought in Patrick Ramsey as another QB option. With so many QB issues, the Vikings won’t have the weapons to handle the Bears. Chicago covers.
KP’s Pick: Chicago