NFL Game Picks: Week 15
With only three weeks left, the end of the 2018 NFL season is fast approaching. The playoff picture is taking shape, as the Chiefs and Saints have joined the Rams as the only teams to clinch postseason berths, with the latter winning the NFC South outright. On the other end of the spectrum, the Jaguars, Bills, Jets and Cardinals have all joined the 49ers and Raiders in elimination. Now, here’s a preview of what week 15 could have in store.
Los Angeles Chargers (10-3) @ Kansas City Chiefs (11-2)
Finally, a Thursday night game with massive playoff implications. A home victory guarantees a first-round bye and AFC West title for Kansas City, while a road upset clinches at least a wild card berth for the Chargers, as well as an opportunity to overtake the AFC West from the Chiefs.
It’s not often that Thursday night is the game of the week to watch, but here we are.
The pick: LA Chargers 33, Kansas City 30
Houston Texans (9-4) @ New York Jets (4-9)
All good things must come to an end, as Houston’s nine-game win streak was snapped by Indianapolis last week. The Jets also broke a streak last week, as their six-game skid ended with a victory in Buffalo. But perhaps it’s time for those streaks to start up again. All things considered, the Texans are still red hot, and it’s unlikely that the Jets will be able to stop them.
The pick: Houston 29, NY Jets 13
Cleveland Browns (5-7-1) @ Denver Broncos (6-7)
It’s odd to think, but we finally have a December in which the Browns are playing meaningful games. Believe it or not, the playoffs are not too far out of reach for Cleveland. With Denver, Cincinnati and Baltimore on the schedule, an 8-7-1 record is possible. It would all start with over the Broncos, who just lost to the slumping 49ers. Browns pick up a big road win.
The pick: Cleveland 30, Denver 22
Arizona Cardinals (3-10) @ Atlanta Falcons (4-9)
As a season that initially began with hope but has turned to disaster, 2018 has not been kind to the Falcons, as they have lost their last five games. There’s still a chance to end the season on a high note though, as their final three tests, the Cardinals, Panthers and Buccaneers, are a combined 14-25. Atlanta gets the finish it wants with a home win over Arizona.
The pick: Atlanta 29, Arizona 16
Detroit Lions (5-8) @ Buffalo Bills (4-9)
Just when you think everything is going right for the Bills, they become the Bills again and lose at home to the Jets. Detroit certainly hasn’t been spectacular, though they took care of business in Glendale last week. In a game that really has nothing on the line in terms of playoff possibilities, let’s go with the team with the more experienced quarterback.
The pick: Detroit 22, Buffalo 13.
Green Bay Packers (5-7-1) @ Chicago Bears (9-4)
When these teams last met in September, Aaron Rodgers pulled out some magic to win, like he often does, but the way this season has gone, there’s no reason to think he’ll do it again. Sure, last week’s win over Atlanta was a morale booster, but Chicago just shut down one of the best offense’s in the league last Sunday night. Surely, the Bears can do it again against a big rival.
The pick: Chicago 26, Green Bay 14
Oakland Raiders (3-10) @ Cincinnati Bengals (5-8)
No, the Raiders are not a very good team, but this is easily their best chance all season long to grab back-to-back wins. The Bengals have gone completely limp, as they haven’t won a game since late October. Oakland’s home win over Pittsburgh last week might have been fluky, but here’s a chance to grab a legitimate win by putting the nail in the coffin of Cincinnati’s season.
The pick: Oakland 20, Cincinnati 17
Dallas Cowboys (8-5) @ Indianapolis Colts (7-6)
Playoff implications run high in this one, as the Cowboys try to close in on an NFC East title, while the Colts keep fighting for a chance to snag that final wild card spot in the AFC. As this match boasts two of the hottest teams in the football, with Dallas winning its last five and Indy winning five of its last six, we may be looking at Sunday’s game to watch.
The pick: Indianapolis 27, Dallas 23
Tennessee Titans (7-6) @ New York Giants (5-8)
As it’s been mentioned before, the Titans are the easily the most “hot-and-cold” team in the NFL. Right now, they’re hot with back-to-back home wins over the Jets and Jaguars. As the playoffs loom closer, it’s probably time for the Titans to go cold again, especially with the Giants looking very impressive since the start of November.
The pick: NY Giants 35, Tennessee 16
Miami Dolphins (7-6) @ Minnesota Vikings (6-6-1)
The Dolphins don’t seem like a 7-6 team, but as circumstance would have it, here they are, just on the edge of the playoffs. The Vikings are in the same spot, though there’s an added sense of urgency as they’ve lost three of their last four and are in danger of missing the postseason just one year removed from a run to the NFC title game. Vikings win a close one.
The pick: Minnesota 20, Miami 17
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (5-8) @ Baltimore Ravens (7-6)
At this point, all it seems like the Buccaneers can do is play spoiler. They did it two weeks ago against Carolina, then went on to give the Saints all they could handle until New Orleans pulled away late. They’ll get a chance to do it again in Baltimore, but John Harbaugh’s squad is looking good following a close overtime loss to Kansas City. The Ravens win, but just by a hair.
The pick: Baltimore 29, Tampa Bay 27
Washington Redskins (6-7) @ Jacksonville Jaguars (4-9)
Perhaps no team has fallen from grace faster than the Redskins. It all began with a 23-21 loss against Houston when Alex Smith broke his leg, and it’s all been downhill from there, with three straight divisional losses. Now, we get the illustrious quarterback matchup of Josh Johnson vs. Cody Kessler. There are no real winners here, but Jacksonville has the slight edge.
The pick: Jacksonville 17, Washington 9
Seattle Seahawks (8-5) @ San Francisco 49ers (3-10)
Many people thought this was a rebuilding year for the Seahawks, but the opposite has been true. Russell Wilson hasn’t needed to be a one-man show thanks an improved offensive line and run game, and the defense has looked just fine without the likes of Richard Sherman, Michael Bennett and Earl Thomas. They grab another win in the bay on the way to the postseason.
The pick: Seattle 29, San Francisco 17
New England Patriots (9-4) @ Pittsburgh Steelers (7-5-1)
It’s panic time in Pittsburgh. The Steelers were 7-2-1 at one point. Now, with three straight losses and two insanely difficult games up next with New England and New Orleans, the Steelers are in serious danger of falling to 7-7-1. New England is angry coming off a road loss to Miami, and Pittsburgh realizes it’s do-or-die time. It should be a dandy in Pittsburgh.
The pick: Pittsburgh 31, New England 28
Philadelphia Eagles (6-7) @ Los Angeles Rams (11-2)
A painful season refuses to get any better for the Eagles. The defending champions are in serious danger of missing the postseason, and with a difficult road test in Los Angeles this week, the nail could very soon be in the coffin. Add the fact that Carson Wentz may not be healthy enough to play in this one, and you’ve got a recipe for disaster. The Rams should take care of business.
The pick: LA Rams 40, Philadelphia 24
New Orleans Saints (11-2) @ Carolina Panthers (6-7)
This is almost a repeat of Sunday night’s game. One team is riding high and likely to earn a first-round bye in playoffs, and the other is struggling to stay afloat after tall expectations. Carolina’s collapse has been like nothing else, as the previously 6-2 team continues to fall flat week after week. There’s no reason to expect the Panthers to start a late-season turnaround on Monday.
The pick: New Orleans 33, Carolina 20
DJ Bauer is a sophomore majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email email@example.com.