Tuesday, December 15, 2015

NFL 2015-16 Week 15 Preview & Giants/Miami MNF Review

It was a tough Monday Night Football game in Miami. The Dolphins, sporting their throwback uniforms, were hosting the Giants. Both teams needed to win this game to keep what playoff hopes they have alive, although neither team controls their own destiny. But the Giants are tied for first in the NFC East, while the Dolphins are teetering on the brink.

The game went back and forth for a while, with the Dolphins seeming to enjoy momentum in the first half, with a touchdown lead and time running out. But the Giants responded with a touchdown to pull the game even just before the half.

The second half went back and forth again, although once again, Eli Manning was able to come up big, hitting Odell Beckham for a long touchdown pass that gave the Giants a 31-24 lead fairly late in the fourth quarter. It was Manning's fourth touchdown toss of the evening, as he enjoyed perhaps the finest all around game of his career, completing 27 of 31 passes for 337 yards in addition to the four touchdown passes.

Throughout the season, the Giants have shown an inability to close out opponents, and they were, once again, flirting with that same thing again this time around. But this time, they did finally manage to close the game out, earning a victory to keep even with the Eagles and Washington in a three-way tie for first in the NFC East.

Solid win for the G-Men!

(TNF) Tampa Bay at St. Louis - Tampa Bay has very slim hopes for the playoffs, while St. Louis essentially has no real hopes left. Still, the Rams played well last week, and Tampa Bay has lost some bad games. I figure the Rams, with home field advantage, should sneak out a win.

(Sat.) NY Jets at Dallas - The Jets are red hot, with a tough defense, and they are so close to the playoffs, they can smell it. Dallas, in the meantime, is out of the NFC East race after a tease with the victory at Washington. So, I see New York wearing down Dallas with a mostly mistake free performance, and coming up big with a win.

Houston at Indianapolis - Huge game! This might very well be for the division. Home field advantage in this one is huge, and that clearly favors the Colts. But they have played badly at times this season, and never worse than last week's blowout loss at Jacksonville. So, the real question is how determined they will be to recover, or if they will be haunted by last weeks, and will get psyched out with mistakes in this one. It could go either way, but I suspect the Colts will be tough to beat here.

Carolina at NY Giants - The Giants have a history of beating unbeaten teams, and they now have another chance against 13-0 Carolina. It means everything for the Giants, who need to keep pace with Washington and Philadelphia. The Panthers have a playoff bye locked up, and are on the verge of gaining home field advantage. I suspect that this just might be the weak that the Panthers finally lose.

Kansas City at Baltimore - The Chiefs have everything on the line here, as their seven game winning streak is on the line. Baltimore wants to win, but Kansas City needs to win, and I expect that is exactly what they will do. They might not make it look as easy as Seattle did, but they should be able to win nevertheless.

Chicago at Minnesota - The Vikings want a solid win to settle down a bit, and establish themselves as a clear playoff caliber team. The Bears have struggled to devastating losses in two consecutive weekends. They might pull off another stunning division road win, as they did at Green Bay on Thanksgiving, but I doubt it. Vikings should take this one.

Buffalo at Washington - Tough game! The Bills playoffs hopes are fading fast, and this could be the knock out punch that puts them away. Washington is playing extremely well lately, and they should be able to win this contest to stay atop the division, or at least remain in the three-way tie.

Tennessee at New England - Wow! This is a mismatch. Perhaps an even bigger mismatch than the Browns at Seattle. The Patriots have Gronk back, and they want to stay ahead in the AFC race. That leads me to believe that there is no way that the Titans have a shot here in this one.

Atlanta at Jacksonville - It is not over officially for the Falcons yet, although it has been over for some time now in reality. This team seems to have no fight left in them, seems to have given up. And they are on the road against a rejuvenated Jaguars team. Lights out, possibly early, if the Jags can pull off another blowout win, and the Falcons suffer through another blowout loss.

Green Bay at Oakland - The Packers are once again hot, although the Raiders are a dangerous team right now, clearly. The Packers have everything to fight for, although they seem to struggle at times. Still, the Raiders have proven to be far from invincible at home, and so I will pick the Packers in a tight one.

Cincinnati at San Francisco - The Bengals absolutely need a win, with or without Dalton. They do not want to reach the point where they are about to give up the division - a division that they were leading all season, and which they enjoyed a comfortable four game lead in after sprinting to an 8-0 start. So, the 'Niners might be tough at home, but the Bengals will find a way to win this contest nevertheless.

Miami at San Diego - Two teams going nowhere. The Dolphins just lost a disappointing contest on Monday Night Football that effectively ended what slim playoff hopes they had, while the Chargers have had a miserable season and were never really in contention. Still, San Diego has played surprisingly tough, and with home field, they might just pull this one out.

Cleveland at Seattle - The Seahawks are red hot, while the Browns, let's face it, are not. No reason why Seattle will not roll over the hopelessly overmatched Browns in this one. Cleveland might surprise and put up a fight, while Seattle might have a letdown. And still, I suspect that the Seahawks would find a way to win that kind of a contest.

Denver at Pittsburgh - Tough game, with a ton of playoff implications. Playing in Pittsburgh is tough, and the Broncos have to be reeling from the costly loss to the Raiders last week. In the meantime, the Steelers are riding high, and will likely bring their A game. That should mean that they beat Denver in the end, likely in the fourth quarter.

(SNF) Arizona at Philadelphia - Big game! Huge playoff ramifications. The Cardinals are hot, on a massive win streak, while the Eagles are also hot, and fighting for the division title. Plus, Philly has home field advantage. As tough as the Cardinals are, they always seem to end their seasons with incredibly tough games. and this season is no different. They just got past likely playoff bound team with their victory over Minnesota, but now have to go to Philly, then host the Packers and the Seahawks. One more victory gives them the division title and, most likely, a playoff bye. But they have to win one of these games, before it gets very scary with a winner takes all division showdown in the final week.

(MNF) Detroit at New Orleans - Neither of these teams will be going anywhere after the final week of the regular season, having been eliminated from the playoffs long ago. Both of them have also shown signs of life lately, but the Saints have shown toughness in recent weeks. That, coupled with home field advantage, should propel them to a victory.

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