Tuesday, December 13, 2016

NFL 2016-17 Week 15 Preview

Thursday Night Football - L.A. Rams at Seattle - Not much of a game here, most likely.  True, the Seahawks just got blown out, but if anything, that should fuel their desire and intensity all the more. Plus, the Rams really just are not that good. They looked halfway decent maybe one month into the season, but that is a long time ago now, as far as this season is concerned. This game is in Seattle, the Rams are ice cold, and the Seahawks have a shot to clinch the NFC West for the third time in four season. The 12th Man will be intense, and Seattle could and probably should make short work of Los Angeles. My pick: Seattle

Saturday - Miami at N.Y. Jets - Remember these Saturday games? Back in the 1980's and 1990's, these used to be regular staples of the NFL season, and they had some charm. Then, for a while, it seemed that the NFL moved away from this, but luckily, they seem to be bringing them back. Makes sense for football fans, when college football takes a long break between the end of the regular season and the playoffs and bowl games. Here, the Dolphins will try to stay very relevant in the AFC playoff picture, while the Jets are just trying to play spoilers. It took everything that the Jets had to avoid losing to San Francisco, and ending their 11-game losing streak. Now, they face a quality Miami team that is coming in with determination, and it is hard to see how Gang Green wins this game. My pick: Miami

Philadelphia at Baltimore - The Eagles have faded fast this season, but despite the disappointing loss up at New England, the Ravens are still fighting for something. At home, against the Eagles, there just is not much reason to believe that Philly will be able to do much of anything against a determined Baltimore team. The Ravens have come alive, played the Pats tough up at Foxboro, and with an impending winner takes all showdown against Pittsburgh, the Ravens need to keep up and keep winning. They should be able to do so easily against the reeling Eagles in this one. My pick: Baltimore

Cleveland at Buffalo - The Bills are likely out of the playoffs, but they are still a tough team, and Buffalo is a tough town to have to visit in December, evne if you are from a cold weather city yourself. Plus, the Browns are not really good, as the only remaining winless team at 0-13. The opportunity is running out on Cleveland to try and win a game, but I just do not see them winning this one, either. The Bills most likely cannot seriously contend for the playoffs, but they will try to keep their very slim hopes alive and, at the very least, want to avoid the dubious distinction of handing the Browns their first win. They should be able to do that much. My pick: Buffalo

Green Bay at Chicago - Yes, the Bears have home field advantage, as this one will be played at Soldier Field. And yes, Da Bears have been coming on as of late. However, Green Bay is absolutely on fire, and fighting for all that they are worth to qualify for the postseason yet again. They just dismantled a tough Seattle team, and so it is hard to expect that they will suddenly have a letdown and drop this contest. Aaron Rodgers should have a big day, and the Pack defense will give Chicago headaches and heartaches all day long. My pick: Green Bay

Tampa Bay at Dallas - Another tough game for the Cowboys. Tampa Bay is hot, and this is not the team that you want to play right now. Dallas saw their franchise record 11-game winning streak end at the Meadowlands, but this will be a very difficult one for them to win, as well. The Bucs can play tough defense, and their offense can be explosive, if need be. Plus, they are at home. Still, the 'Boys are arguably the best team in the NFL for a reason, and they are four points removed from sporting a perfect 13-0 record, and they should prove tough themselves. This could be either team's game, but I will go with Dallas winning to take a step closer to clinching the NFC East before things get very scary for them, as the Giants can remain right on their heels. My pick: Dallas

Jacksonville at Houston - The Texans just enjoyed their biggest win of the season up at Indianapolis, while the Jaguars are suffering through yet another truly miserable and forgetabble season. Plus, this game is in Houston, where the Texans are especially tough. Don't expect fireworks in this one, but Houston should be able to wear the Jaguars down and earn themselves an important division win to inch their way closer to a division title. My pick: Houston

Tennessee at Kansas City - Two red hot teams square off in this one! The Chiefs just took over first place in the AFC West with that big win over Oakland, and they now host the rising Tennessee Titans, who are themselves very much in the race for the AFC South division title. However, Arrowhead Stadium is a really tough place to play, and the Chiefs are a very good team right now. Very hard to see how the Titans can do much of anything, despite how improved they are, as KC seems to be taking it to another level right now. The Chiefs have a solid defense, an offense that gets the job done when they need to, and every incentive in the world to win this game. All of that should prove just a bit too much for the visitors in this contest. My pick: Kansas City

Indianapolis at Minnesota - The Vikings won a necessary game at Jacksonville last week to keep their slim playoff hopes alive, although they are still teetering on the brink. They need this win. Then again, both teams do, as the Colts also need this win to keep their own flickering playoff hopes illuminated. But Minnesota is at home, they are probably the better team anyway, and their level of urgency has to be extremely amplified right now. All that leads to a likely Vikings win. My pick; Minnesota

Detroit at N.Y. Giants - Ah, the G-Men won the big showdown against the 'Boys! So far, they are the only team to manage to have beat Dallas this season, and with the win, they are now 9-4, and control their own destiny for at least the Wild Card berth. But the Lions are a dangerous and hot team, with a tendency to make the big and necessary plays when needed. Matthew Stafford is a serious contender for MVP honors this season, and the Lions have a real chance to take the NFC North division. This should be a good game between two quality teams. However, the Giants are at home, and have won seven of their last eight, and so I cannot go against them right now. My pick: NY Giants

New Orleans at Arizona - For the Cardinals, a season that seemed promising to the point that many expected them to be serious Super Bowl contenders this season spiraled out of control early. They were consistently inconsistent, but lost most of the key road games that they would have needed to win to seriously contend for the playoffs. The most recent loss, at Miami, was probably the final nail in the coffin of any serious hopes that this club had for qualifying for the playoffs. Now, they need to play for pride, and they have the Saints coming in for a visit. New Orleans also had an up and down season, although the expectations were not quite as high as it was for the Cardinals. In this home game, it is hard to imagine the Cardinals not showing up and playing well, if only for pride, and getting a win for their home fans. My pick: Arizona

San Francisco at Atlanta - The 49ers had a good chance last week to snap their massive losing streak, although they ultimately fell in a tight contest to the Jets, in what proved to be a good game, actually. In the meantime, the Falcons played with a level of dominance that few road teams ever show, and that reveals just how determined they are to make this season a success. Now, at home against a weak opponent, you can look to the Falcons to make a statement, to highlight just what they are capable of. If Atlanta plays as well as they are capable of, they can score a ton of points and bury San Francisco in an avalanche of points in the first half. Hard to see how the 49ers can win this one. My pick: Atlanta

New England at Denver - The Patriots are on the verge of clinching yet another AFC East division title, while the Broncos are stinging after a disappointing defeat at Tennessee. Still, these two teams have a rich history together, especially in recent seasons, where they met twice in recent AFC title games - both hosted and won by Denver. The Broncos also ended New England's hopes for an undefeated season following a 10-0 start last year, although that is not at issue this season. Denver has not looked anywhere near as good as they did last season, and they will need to pick it up at least a couple of notches if they hope to win against Brady and the Pats. Yet, somehow, I think they just might, although Brady and Belichik will approach this game with caution, and are probably overdue for a win at Mile High. My pick: New England

Oakland at San Diego - The Raiders have everything to play for in this one. If they win, they assuredly will be in the playoffs. San Diego, meanwhile, had been playing quite well, until their recent short losing streak. They have been realistically out of the playoff picture for some time now, but still can fight for pride. Not sure how far that will take them against an Oakland team that should be determined to win, and in fact, needs this game. My pick: Oakland

Sunday Night Football - Pittsburgh at Cincinnati - This game means everything for both teams. The Bengals playoff chances are extremely thin, and they cannot afford to lose anything. Pittsburgh, in the meantime, have won four straight, and are in sole possession of first place in the AFC North. Obviously, the Steelers want to stay on top in the division, with a big showdown against Baltimore looming. They can get closer to at least a playoff berth with a win at Cincinnati, although the Bengals could prove tough, also, and want revenge for the playoff loss last season. It could go either way, but I have to go with the team that enjoys the hot hand (evne if I am tited of them a bit). My pick: Pittsburgh

Monday Night Football - Carolina at Washington - Carolina has suffered through a terribly disappointing season, and now, they are thrust in the role of spoilers. Washington is trying to keep their own playoff hopes alive, and they cannot afford to lose this one. The Panthers are probably overdue for a big road win against a notable opponent, and this is just such an opportunity for them. Washington is tough and playing with determination, though. Cousins can play lights out when he is at his best. Carolina has the talent to beat them, but this season, you might never know that, which makes it hard to believe that they can win this one. Still, someone will play spoiler this year at some point, right? My pick: Carolina

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