The game of the week in the NFL and the most exciting one among our list of 2015 NFL Predictions is without a doubt the Green Bay Packers at the Denver Broncos. Here are two of the remaining five unbeaten teams in a potential Super Bowl showdown (remember when they met way back in Super Bowl XXXII?) featuring two all-time quarterbacks. Games like this one are why Sunday Night Football exists and remind us of why we love football.
Not to be outdone, there are a couple more intriguing matchups on the slate this week as teams continue to jockey for playoff position or stay out of the cellar. So with that, let’s get to our picks with the regular reminder that lines come courtesy of Bovada LV and home teams are in ALL CAPS.
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Lions (+4) over Chiefs: Last London game of the year just in time do introduce a dude named Jim Bob Cooter to the Brits. In all seriousness, the coaching changes should give the Lions’ offense a boost and it still remains to be seen whether Kansas City can operate with enough efficiency to do more than kick a bunch of field goals on a week-to-week basis.
STEELERS (+1) over Bengals: The Steelers get Ben Roethlisberger back this week and still are getting a point at home against the unbeaten Bengals. Cincy’s good fortune has to end some time and a division game on the road against another probable playoff team should be it.
Vikings (-1.5) over BEARS: Chicago seems to be finding itself a little which is a testament to new coach John Fox. Fox is a good coach who can make the most out of seemingly not so good situations for a little while anyway (see Tebow, Tim circa 2011) and the Bears were much better in their last couple of games before their bye. Unfortunately for them, they have to deal with the ferocious Minnesota defense this week and even though Alshon Jeffery is now healthy, that won’t be enough.
SAINTS (-3) over Giants: Could the Saints finally be figuring it out? Forget for a moment that their win last week came indoors, they went on the road and whomped the Colts and that’s an accomplishment even against a team with as much inner and outer turmoil as Indy. If the Giants were even remotely consistent in any way, this would be a tougher call but it looks like New Orleans might be on a bit of a roll.
RAVENS (-3) over Chargers: Baltimore still has but one win since John Harbaugh decided to run out onto the field in the middle of a play during last year’s Divisional Round loss to the Patriots. But the San Diego defense is so abjectly horrible (37 points allowed at home to the Raiders? Really??) that the Ravens should get off the skids on Sunday.
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49ers (+9) over RAMS: If you want to ignore this one and take the Rams anyway, who can blame you? It’s difficult to think any teams in the NFL can be worse than the Niners on the heels of the last time we saw them, which was being embarrassed on Thursday Night Football against Seattle last week. Meanwhile, the Rams have a truly dynamic player on offense in Todd Gurley to go with their fearsome defense. Still, they’ve been known to lose to lesser opponents when folks start jumping on their bandwagon of late so we’ll go out on a limb and take the points.
Bucs (+7.5) over FALCONS: Atlanta emerged from its extra time off after losing to the Saints with one of the ugliest wins you’ll ever see against the lowly Titans. Being able to win those kinds of slobberknockers against bad teams is important for contenders but something still seems off with Matt Ryan and company. The Bucs, not nearly as bad as they looked early on (last week’s collapse against Washington notwithstanding), will make a game of this.
Cardinals (-6) over BROWNS: Provided their quarterback doesn’t run into any more walls, the Browns should continue to improve on offense. They just haven’t had much luck from the schedule gods as of yet. Considering Arizona will be operating on a short week and making a long trip, Cleveland may well give ‘em a game. But this still feels like a 30-20 type final.
Titans (+3.5) over TEXANS: Hey kids, it’s the GGOTW (that’s Gross Game of the Week for you newcomers)! Really, your guess is as good as anyone’s on this slopfest. These are two terrible teams playing terrible football. Forced to choose one, we’ll take Tennessee simply because it’s not a franchise that appears to be a complete trash fire.
Jets (-3) over RAIDERS: Both these teams showed quite a bit last week despite the fact that only one of them won. The Raiders are a confident, explosive bunch and look as competent and threatening as they have in years. Meanwhile, the Jets are stout, disciplined and really made the Patriots sweat. Their defense is likely to confuse Oakland quarterback Derek Carr just enough to post another win.
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Seahawks (-6) over COWBOYS: Dallas may well have Dez Bryant back for this game but they still don’t have anyone to throw the ball to him. Matt Cassel was marginally better last week than Brandon Weeden but that’s not enough. Add Joseph Randle’s absence thanks to acute knuckleheaded-ness and this game feels like a rout for the rounding-into-form Seahawks.
Packers (-3.5) over BRONCOS: Here it is. Denver is 6-0 by virtue of its defense and the roll call of crap competition its faced. The Packers are not crap competition. It will be fascinating to see how well the high-powered Green Bay offense functions here, if Aaron Rodgers will be able to operate as per usual against that Denver pass rush and those excellent corners. As for Peyton Manning? This one will bring him a step closer to the bench.
PANTHERS (-7) over Colts: Only in the AFC South can a team be as poor as the Colts and have the specter of the coach and GM getting canned hanging over everything yet still be a near shoo-in to win the division and make the playoffs. Indy will lose again on Monday night to the hard-charging Panthers and it probably won’t make the slightest difference in their playoff position. It’s up to you to decide whether that’s lucky or not.
Last Week: 6-7
Season to date: 54-43-1