Week 15 Review, TNF Preview

Posted: 12/24/2015 by levcohen in Football

It seems like we’re headed for a slate of games in the final two weeks that are rather meaningless. With the exception of the NFC East, which remains wide open heading into the final two weeks, the other playoff spots seem fairly resolved. The Texans’ win over the Colts gave them a commanding AFC South lead, while it would take a pretty big upset to shake up the AFC playoff picture (if either Pittsburgh or KC loses to an inferior team, the Jets would make the playoffs with consecutive wins. The only problem? The Steelers and Chiefs have two of the easiest remaining schedules, while the Jets have the fifth toughest). And the NFC playoff picture is also pretty much resolved, with the exception of the aforementioned NFC East. Unless the Vikings and Seahawks collapse down the stretch and lose their last two games, we know exactly which five teams the NFC East champion will be in the playoffs with. As for seeding, the Panthers and Patriots each need a single win to secure their respective #1 seeds. Two matchups this week, Cardinals-Packers and Broncos-Bengals, are likely to determine who is #2 and who is #3. The AFC South and NFC East winners will be the #4 seeds and probably first round home underdogs, while the Steelers, Chiefs, Vikings, and Seahawks seem likely to secure the wild cards. So these next two weeks will largely be about playoff teams maintaining their form as they get ready for the main event and non-playoff teams looking for something positive to head into the offseason with.

I’m not going to eliminate the Colts yet, but they, the Giants, the Jets, and the Eagles might be out of it after this week, which would make for a very quiet week 17.

Eliminated teams: Chicago, Tampa Bay, Cleveland, Detroit, San Francisco, Tennessee, Jacksonville, Dallas, Baltimore, San Diego, St. Louis, New Orleans, Miami, Oakland, Atlanta, Buffalo

  • Meet Case Keenum, St. Louis’s (LA’s?) new franchise quarterback. Keenum had his breakout game on Sunday, needing just 17 attempts to throw for 234 yards and two touchdowns in a near-perfect game, leading the Rams to a 31-23 win. Keenum has to be the Rams’ quarterback for years to come, now, right? All jokes aside, Keenum did have a great game last week. I just happen to think it’ll end as the best game of his career by a longshot. Keenum’s stats in his previous two starts: 26/48, 260 yards, one touchdown, one pick, not enough Todd Gurley handoffs. Those are the stats I expect going forward for the former University of Houston standout.
  • I loved the Odell Beckham-Josh Norman battle. You rarely see such intense and violent competition in today’s NFL, and it’s clear that OBJ and Norman, each one of the best at his position, are both very confident players. With that being said, the NFL had to suspend Beckham, and they didn’t drop the ball. Odell went too far, blindsiding Norman and being flagged for personal fouls four times. His reputation will take a hit, and hopefully he can rein in his temper, but that was a fun matchup, one that, despite Beckham’s 6-for-76 and a score, Norman won, as he’s done so often this season.
  • The Packers keep winning, and still have a slim chance of earning a first round BYE, but they still look extremely unimpressive. The offense often couldn’t capitalize on great field position against a poor Raiders defense, and it’s really struggled all season, at least compared to last season, when they had the best offense in football. They really, really, really miss Jordy Nelson, as Aaron Rodgers has had to work extremely hard to find open receivers this season. And the deep ball, which has so often been wide open for Rodgers, has been elusive this season. This is a team I’ll be picking against come playoffs.
  • I think the three best teams in football all reside in the NFC. The Panthers, Cardinals, and Seahawks all look really good, and I would love to see an NFC Championship matchup between any two of those three teams. Meanwhile, the AFC playoffs will probably feature star quarterbacks Tom Brady and Ben Roethlisberger… along with A.J. McCarron, Brock Oswiler, Alex Smith, and Brian Hoyer. Ouch.
  • Speaking of Roethlisberger… I’ve never seen a connection like the one Roethlisberger and Antonio Brown have. Big Ben’s injury probably has cost Brown the NFL yardage record; Project Brown’s average in games Roethlisberger played to a 16-game season, and you get 2,162 yards. Calvin Johnson’s NFL record is 1,964 yards. Last week, against Denver’s vaunted defense, Brown snatched 16 passes for 189 yards and two scores. Not bad.

11-5 straight up… 129-81
7-7-2 against the spread… 100-99-11
10-6 over/under… 110-96-6

Upset picks:
2-3… 24-31

Lock of the Week:
1-0… 12-3

San Diego Chargers (4-10, 6-8) at Oakland Raiders (6-8, 7-7):
Spread: Raiders favored by 5.5
Over/under: 46.5
My prediction: What a meaningless game this is. Neither team is in the playoff hunt, and neither is in the #1 pick hunt either, thanks to San Diego’s blowout win over Miami last week. I do think this will be a close and high-scoring game, though, so it might be worth tuning in. Raiders win 28-24.
Chargers cover


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