• Jake Klausner

NFL Week 15 Game Predictions & Previews

Get Up To Date Before The COVID Affected Round Begins


Well, as playoffs get even closer, COVID looms larger. Both the Rams and the Browns have more than seven cases of COVID and Washington has 21 players inactive as well. With that said, let's take a look at the games. Most of the cases this week are asymptomatic and the NFL just updated its rules regarding COVID-19.




 


Kansas City Chiefs (9-4) vs. Los Angeles Chargers (8-5)

Thursday 8:20 p.m. ET

TV: FOX/NFL NET Line: KC -3.0


WHAT TO WATCH FOR:

  • The Chiefs come into this game riding a six-game winning streak. Although the offense has struggled to find any consistency, their defense has stepped up significantly. The offense finally woke up last week against the Raiders, and Mahomes accounted for three TDs in the first half. This team is a different Chiefs team than the last time they played the Chargers. In their first meeting, Mahomes struggled and threw two INTs, while the defense had trouble containing Justin Herbert. This week's matchup is different because there is a lot on the line.



  • The Chargers are coming off a dominant offensive performance against the Giants. Justin Herbert continues to build off his rookie season by consistently throwing 70-yard bombs like it's nothing. The Chargers expect to get Keenan Allen back from the COVID-list, but they will be without OT Rashawn Slater due to COVID, and Austin Eckler (ankle) is questionable for Thursday's game. However, Eckler will play, giving Herbert a much-needed boost on offense. Not a lot has been said about their defense, specifically, Joey Bosa, who has forced a career-high five forced fumbles to go along with his 8.5 sacks.


PREDICTION:

You couldn't script this matchup any better: Justin Herbert vs. Patrick Mahomes, with the winner getting sole possession of the AFC West. The last time they faced each other, the Chargers edged it out, thanks to Herbert's four TD passes. I think this matchup could produce a slightly different outcome, and I think the Chiefs' offense will put together a solid performance. I think the Chiefs will pull out a win this time, but I expect it to be a high-scoring affair.

Pick: KC -3.0


Las Vegas Raiders (6-7) vs. Cleveland Browns (7-6)

Saturday 4:30 p.m. ET/Game has been rescheduled for Monday 5:00 ET

TV: NFL NET Line: CLE -3.0


WHAT TO WATCH FOR:

  • This game has playoff implications for both teams. The Raiders are coming off a blowout loss at the hands of the Kansas City Chiefs. Coming into this week's game, TEs Darren Waller (knee/back) and Foster Moreau (abdomen) are questionable for Saturday's contest. Expect WR Hunter Renfrow to continue his production on the offense. Most importantly, they will need Derek Carr to play an intelligent game because Myles Garrett wants to pounce.



  • It might as well be labeled as the "COVID Game" because more than ten Browns personnel are on the COVID list. WR Jarvis Landry, the entire offensive line, HC Kevin Stefanski, and QB Baker Mayfield are among those names. Also, RB Kareem Hunt is doubtful for Saturday's game due to an ankle injury. The news regarding Mayfield is that he is asymptomatic, so he will need two negative COVID tests leading up to the game to suit up. As of now, Case Keenum is in line to start with Nick Mullens serving as the backup.


PREDICTION:

This game is tricky to pick because, as of now, the Browns don't have a lot of healthy players. I'm not so sure that this game will take place. However, I still have to pick a winner, and I don't think the Browns will pull it off without their starting lineup. I like the Raiders to get the road win.

Pick: LV +3.0



New England Patriots (9-4) vs. Indianapolis Colts (7-6)

Saturday 8:15 p.m. ET

TV: NFL NET Line: IND -2.5


WHAT TO WATCH FOR:

  • The second of the Saturday doubleheaders features an old rivalry: the Colts versus the Patriots. The only thing different about this game is that instead of Manning vs. Brady, it's Wentz vs. Jones. Starting with the Patriots, they have seven-straight games and are currently the best team in the AFC. Mac Jones is beginning to develop into a young Tom Brady while the defense, led by Matthew Judon wreaks havoc on opposing QBs. Despite only throwing three passes last week, Jones leads all rookies with 2,869 passing yards and 16 TDs. Jones is on track to become the 15th rookie to throw for 3,000 yards and 20 TDs. Expect the Patriots to revolve more around the passing game than last week, but I still expect the Pats to run the football.


  • Like New England, the Colts are known for their running game, specifically, Jonathan Taylor. The second-year running back leads the league in rushing yards (1348) and has scored at least one TD in his last ten games. I expect Matthew Judon and the Patriots' defense to zero in on Taylor, which means Carson Wentz will have to step up. As of right now, the Colts hold a Wildcard spot and are still in a decent position to take the AFC South. However, they have to keep winning games.


PREDICTION:

These two teams match up well on paper, and I believe this game will be highly physical. Both defenses know how to stop the run, and both QBs are good game managers. The Patriots are the best team in AFC, but I'm starting to think that maybe they peaked a little too soon, which is why I'm going to go with the Colts to edge out the home victory.

Pick: IND -2.5



Dallas Cowboys (9-4) vs. New York Giants (4-9)

Sunday 1 p.m. ET

TV: CBS Line: DAL -10.5


WHAT TO WATCH FOR:

  • The Cowboys have been inconsistent on offense, but their defense has been the main story like the Chiefs. LB Micah Parsons is starting to make a name for himself right now. Experts have begun comparing the rookie to guys like Lawrence Taylor and Von Miller, who completely dominated their position as a rookie. Not only will Parsons win Defensive Rookie of the Year, but he could also win Defensive Player of the Year. Another impressive feat has been his ability to get after the QB. As an OLB, Parson has recorded 12 sacks this season and is on pace to break Jevon Kearse's 1999 rookie sack record (14.5 sacks).


  • Technically, the Giants are still alive in the playoff, but one more loss should do it. Daniel Jones will likely miss his third-straight game due to a neck injury. Expect RB Saquon Barkley to see a lot of the workload, as Barkley is looking to get back to his old form.


PREDICTION:

The Cowboys should have no problems with the Giants on Sunday. I expect the defense to continue its stride, and I think Dak and the offense to get things going against a poor Giants' defense.

Pick: DAL -10.5



Houston Texans (2-11) vs. Jacksonville Jaguars (2-11)

Sunday 1 p.m. ET

TV: CBS Line: JAX -3.0




WHAT TO WATCH FOR:

  • I wish I could talk about the Texans and how bad they are, but they are playing a team on Sunday that might be even worse. Jacksonville decided to part ways with Urban Meyer midway into the season, which should tell you a lot about the hire, to begin with. I think the decision to bring Meyer into the fold was flawed, to begin with, and it only escalated from there. News began to surface regarding Meyer's antics off the field and his toxic relationships amongst his players and coaching staff. Oh, and there was that thing in the steakhouse.


PREDICTION:

I honestly feel bad not talking about the Texans in my preview, but I think Texans fans will forgive me when I say Houston will win this game. Even without Urban Meyer, Jacksonville is still a bad football team.

Pick: HOU +3.0



Tennessee Titans (9-4) vs. Pittsburgh Steelers (6-6-1)

Sunday 1 p.m. ET

TV: CBS Line: TEN -1.5


WHAT TO WATCH FOR:

  • Despite still being without Derrek Henry, the Titans sit at 9-4 and are the second-best team in the AFC South. Ryan Tannehill isn't the greatest quarterback, but he can scramble out of the pocket and create plays with his legs. It also helps to have Julio Jones back in the lineup, and A.J. Brown should be back fairly soon. The Steelers have had trouble protecting Big Ben on offense so look for the defense to exploit that on Sunday. OLB Harold Landry is having a fantastic season as he is on pace to break the Titans' franchise sack record held by Jevon Kearse.


  • The Steelers aren't in the best position now, but they seem to have found something in the past couple of weeks. After announcing that this would be his last season with Pittsburgh, Ben Roethlisberger has turned back time with his second-half heroics in back-to-back weeks. Even though they lost last week, Big Ben nearly brought them back. I expect rookie RB Najee Harris to shine in this one as he has pretty much carried the team all season. Also, look for Cam Heyward to impact the defensive side, which has seen countless injuries all season.


PREDICTION:

The Titans are the better team, but I think the Steelers can pull it out at home. It depends on if T.J. Watt is healthy or not, but I think Big Ben and the offense will put together another second-half charger, and the Steelers will pull off the home upset.

Pick: PIT +1.5



New York Jets (3-10) vs. Miami Dolphins (6-7)

Sunday 1 p.m. ET

TV: CBS Line: MIA -6.5


WHAT TO WATCH FOR:

  • You would think this game would be a Tank Bowl, but the Dolphins are good. On the other hand, the Jets are not, and they will probably get destroyed. Zach Wilson is not a good QB, but unlike Trevor Lawrence, he has shown signs of development, so we shall see.



  • The Dolphins are in the midst of a five-game winning streak and are trying to make it to .500 after starting the season 1-7. It will be difficult as Tua Tagovailoa will likely be without his favorite target Jalen Waddle, who is on the Reserve/Covid list. Expect Davonte Parker to get the majority of looks on offense.


PREDICTION:

Even without Waddle, the Dolphins are still the better team. I think Zach Wilson will put up some points, but I think Miami will have no trouble.

Pick: MIA -6.5



Washington Football Team (6-7) vs. Philadelphia Eagles (6-7)

Sunday 1 p.m. ET/Game Rescheduled for Tuesday 7:00 p.m. ET

TV: FOX Line: PHI -4.5



WHAT TO WATCH FOR:

  • This game is also on the chopping block as 21 players on the Washington Football Team are on the Reserve/Covid list. Nine of those players were on the starting lineup, which means Washington will be thin come Sunday. Covid has taken over the NFL this week with over 60 cases around the league. The league takes all necessary precautions to ensure everyone is safe and that all games go on as planned.

  • Washington is nursing injuries on top of that. TE Logan Thomas will miss the remainder of the season after tearing his ACL, while Terry McLaurin is questionable for Sunday's game with a concussion.



  • The Eagles, on the other hand, will be getting Jalen Hurts back after missing their last game due to an ankle. Despite Hurts' absence, Garnder Minshew filled in nicely and led the Eagles to a victory over the Jets. Philly comes into this game with the edge as they are the healthier team, but Washington is well-versed with overcoming adversity.


PREDICTION:

I'm expecting TE Dallas Goedert to have a solid game for the Eagles, and I believe he will be the difference-maker in this game. I'm taking the Eagles to beat a battered Washington team in another game with playoff implications.

Pick: PHI -4.5



Arizona Cardinals (10-3) vs. Detroit Lions (1-11-1)

Sunday 1 p.m. ET

TV: FOX Line: ARI -13.5


WHAT TO WATCH FOR:



  • The Arizona Cardinals will be without their star-wideout DeAndre Hopkins for the remainder of the season, but I don't think that will stop this offense. Kyler Murray has been solid all season but had a rough game on Monday Night. With Hopkins out for the rest of the year, expect guys like A.J. Green, Christian Kirk, and Zach Ertz to see an increase in production.


  • I'm not expecting much out of the Lions this week. They are still missing a lot of personnel on the offensive side, including T.J. Hockensen. Without Hockenson, Jared Goff will have difficulty navigating through a solid Arizona pass rush.


PREDICTION:

I expect the Cardinals to run Detroit out of their stadium, but don't underestimate the power of Dan Campbell and his desire to bite those knee caps. In all seriousness, the Cardinals should have no trouble with the Lions.

Pick: ARI -13.5



Carolina Panthers (5-8) vs. Buffalo Bills (7-6)

Sunday 1 p.m. ET

TV: FOX Line: BUF -10.5


WHAT TO WATCH FOR:

  • I don't know what to say about the Carolina Panthers other than Cam Newton is most certainly not back.


  • After two heartbreaking losses in a row, the Bills find themselves in a precarious position. However, I believe the Bills might've seen something on offense. Josh Allen was firing on all cylinders in the second half last week against Tampa. Buffalo was this close to getting the much-needed road victory, but they ran into a roadblock in the form of Tom Brady. Despite the heartbreaking, I believe the Bills are still well on their way to making a possible playoff run. They have to figure out how to run the ball with somebody other than Josh Allen.


PREDICTION:

I think Buffalo knows that they can't afford to lose any more games, which is why I think we will see a more determined Bills squad on Sunday.

Pick: BUF -10.5



Atlanta Falcons (6-7) vs. San Francisco 49ers (7-6)

Sunday 4:05 p.m. ET

TV: FOX Line: SF -9.0


WHAT TO WATCH FOR:

  • The Atlanta Falcons might be the worst 6-7 team in the NFL. Despite being on the cusp of making the playoffs, the Falcons possess a -108 point differential, which isn't great. They can keep their playoff hopes alive with a win against the Niners on Sunday despite all of that. For the Falcons to pull it off, they need to give Kyle Pitts the ball. Since week nine, the rookie TE hasn't had a single red-zone target and only has one touchdown on the year. Another critical offensive weapon is Cordarrelle Patterson. They will need him to produce against a stingy Niners front. I'm just happy to be fighting for a playoff spot at this point in the year.


  • The Niners are a team to watch out for moving forward. Kyle Shanahan's offense is starting to click with all of their weapons back and healthy. Deebo Samuel has turned into one of the most versatile players in the league, while TE George Kittle has racked up back-to-back 100-yard games. QB Jimmy Garoppolo is also starting to find his rhythm. Look for Shanahan to continue to run his balanced offense on Sunday.


PREDICTION:

I hope the Falcons can make it a competitive game, but I think the Niners are too talented on offense. I like the Niners to pull away late.

Pick: SF -9.0



Cincinnati Bengals (7-6) vs. Denver Broncos (7-6)

Sunday 4:05 p.m. ET

TV: CBS Line: DEN -1.5

WHAT TO WATCH FOR:

  • You guessed it; another game with playoff implications. Starting with the Bengals, they are facing a bit of an uphill battle. It didn't help that they lost last week at home, but QB Joe Burrow flipped a switch in that second half. After a mid-season surge, the Bengals haven't played the best football, and they face a formidable opponent in the Denver Broncos. I expect Joe Mixon to continue to produce on the ground while Burrow continues to do his thing in the air.


  • The Broncos don't have a particularly dominant defense, but they've forced a lot of great QBs to make horrible decisions. Pat Surtain is putting together a solid rookie campaign while guys Jonathan Cooper is putting in the work on the interior. Their two running backs lead them on the offensive side: Melvin Gordon and Javante Williams. Both Williams and Gordon are coming off two-touchdown performances in last week's win over the Lions.


PREDICTION:

The Bengals are the better team in terms of talent, but I like the Broncos to win low-scoring games at home because this game is in Denver.

Pick: DEN -1.5



Seattle Seahawks (5-8) vs. Los Angeles Rams (9-4)

Sunday 4:25 p.m. ET/ Game Rescheduled for Tuesday 7:00 p.m. ET

TV: FOX Line: LAR -4.5



WHAT TO WATCH FOR:

  • If the Seahawks still want to make the playoffs, they must continue to win their games. The Seahawks have racked up two wins in a row, and Russell Wilson has been playing his best football since returning from finger surgery a few weeks back. Rashad Penny is coming to a career-best 137 rushing yards and two TDs, while WR Tyler Lockett produces in the deep passing game. Even though Lockett has been the main attraction of the offense, look for DK Metcalf to find some action this week. On second thought, Metcalf will have to step up because Lockett has the 'rona.


  • After we were quick to write off the Rams after not beating any good teams this year, they finally broke through with a win against the Arizona Cardinals on MNF. Matthew Stafford looked like himself again, throwing for 287 yards and three TDs. However, despite the strong performance, the Rams are without many personnel due to Covid. Among those players is Odell Beckham Jr., who has scored in his last three games as a Ram. They will also be without CB Jalen Ramsay and RB Darrell Henderson Jr. TE Tyler Higbee was taken off the Covid list after receiving a false positive.


PREDICTION:

  • Even though the Rams are missing a lot of personnel, I expect the Rams to pull out the victory.

Pick: Rams



Green Bay Packers (10-3) vs. Baltimore Ravens (9-4)

Sunday 4:25 p.m. ET

TV: FOX Line: GB -4.5

WHAT TO WATCH FOR:

  • Despite him saying that his toe hasn't gotten better, Aaron Rodgers shows why he is a baaaaad man. Last week, he owned the city of Chicago, yet again, and has played on an injured toe for more than a few weeks. Despite not being able to practice this week, I still expect Rodgers to suit up. RB Aaron is also nursing a knee injury, but he should continue to split his time with AJ Dillon.



  • The Ravens, on the other hand, are no stranger to the injury as they have dealt with it all season. Baltimore fans were quick to write the season off when QB Lamar Jackson left last week's game early with an ankle injury. The injury, however, doesn't appear to be severe as initially thought, as Jackson suffered a right ankle sprain in Sunday's loss to the Browns. If he's unable to go, Tyler Huntley will get the start, and he has proven to be more than capable of filling in for Jackson at times. It gets worse on the defensive side as DE Calais Campbell (thigh) was a non-participant in Wednesday's practice and is questionable for Sunday's game.


PREDICTION:

If both Jackson and Rodgers suit up for Sunday's game, I see it being an exciting contest, but ultimately, the Ravens are too beat up on defense to stop Aaron Rodgers. I like the Packers to pull away in this game.

Pick: GB -4.5



New Orleans Saints (6-7) vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (10-3)

Sunday 8:20 p.m. ET

TV: NBC Line: TB -11.0



WHAT TO WATCH FOR:

  • The Saints are a different team when Alvin Kamara is healthy. After missing three games due to an injury, Kamara made his much-anticipated return and didn't disappoint. The running back scored on their opening drive, and the Saints dominated the Jets. Taysom Hill has proven himself to be more than capable at running, but he still needs to develop a little bit more as a passer. Despite their 6-7 record, a win against the Bucs on Sunday night would come a long way.


  • I've had my doubts about the Bucs all season, but if you should know one thing, it's that you can never bet against Tom Brady. Brady (44) is the only QB with at least 4,000 passing yards on the year, and he is my pick to win the NFL MVP. Brady isn't the only one on that offense, as Leonard Fournette is putting together his best year running the football. The running back has 778 yards rushing and eight TDs. Look for Fournette to add to the ground game and the passing game in Sunday's divisional contest.


PREDICTION:

The Saints are looking for their fourth-straight regular-season win over the Bucs, but I don't think they will win with this team. I think the Saints' defense will hold the passing to a minimum, which could open it up a little bit for Fournette and Ronald Jones. The Saints will keep it close for a half, but the Bucs will start to open it up in the second half, and the Bucs will pull away.

Pick: TB -11.0



Minnesota Vikings (6-7) vs. Chicago Bears (4-9)

Monday 8:15 p.m. ET

TV: ESPN Line: MIN -3.5

WHAT TO WATCH FOR:

  • I've always found the Minnesota Vikings to be an entertaining team to watch because they accumulate these big leads in games but find a way to let the other team back into the game. In other words, the Vikings make it hard for them to win. Despite putting up good numbers, QB Kirk Cousins isn't worth all that money he's getting, and their defense continues to piss away games. The one thing helping Cousins is his supporting cast. Dalvin Cook is one of the best RBs in the game, and Justin Jefferson is quickly becoming one of the most explosive receivers in the NFL.


  • Before Urban Meyer got fired, I thought Matt Nagy would be the first one to go. Bears fans have called for Nagy's head for about three years now, but this year has to be the year it happens for Bears fans. Heading into the game this, Justin Fields is still the starting quarterback for the team, as he showed a lot of potential in last week's loss at the hands of Aaron Rodgers.

PREDICTION:

I think the Vikings will find a way to let Justin Fields and the Bears into this game, but ultimately, I think the Vikings will pull out the victory.

Pick: MIN -3.5



Jake Klausner covers all things sports for ThePyrrhic.com. Keep your eyes peeled for NFL Analysis, World Series Recaps, and more from Jake.


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