Week 15 marks the first time in the 2015 NFL season that a game will be played on Saturday, and it could end up being one of the most one-sided affairs on the upcoming schedule. The New York Jets (8-5) visit the Dallas Cowboys (4-9) in what has a good chance to be the 10th loss of the season for America’s Team.
New York is making a push towards the playoffs, while battling the Kansas City Chiefs (8-5) and Pittsburgh Steelers (8-5) for an AFC wild-card spot. Dallas is in the midst of their worst season in over a decade, though they are just two games out of first place in the NFC East.
The Jets are three-point road favorites, according to vegasinsider.com, and the over/under is 41.5 points. New York is on a three-game winning streak, and Dallas is coming off a 21-point loss in Green Bay.
Both teams need to have Sunday’s game in their quest to make the playoffs. The Jets are much more likely to make the postseason than the Cowboys, but Saturday’s game is imperative for New York to have, even though they currently hold a playoff berth.
The Jets enter Week 15 as the No.6 seed, but they don’t control their destiny because of tiebreakers. They won’t make the playoffs if the Steelers and Chiefs win their last three games. Saturday’s game is especially important because of New York’s schedule. They end the regular season at home against the New England Patriots and on the road against the Buffalo Bills.
Dallas is mathematically still alive, but they aren’t going to be in the playoffs. That would require the Cowboys to win out, and the rest of the teams in the division to win no more than one game each.
Battle of Journeymen Quarterbacks
Ryan Fitzpatrick and Matt Cassel have played for a combined 10 teams over the past decade, and not much was expected out of them heading into 2015. Fitzpatrick has made the most of his opportunity with the Jets, while Cassel has shown why he’s bounced around the league so much.
In year No.11, Fitzpatrick is playing the best football of his career. He already has a career-high with 25 touchdown passes, and he’s almost thrown for as many yards as Aaron Rodgers. It’s certainly helped that New York’s surrounded the quarterback with good weapons. Brandon Marshall and Eric Decker are one of the best pairs of wide receivers in the NFL, combining for 2,062 yards and 20 scores. It’s given the Jets a top-10 scoring offense after the team failed to finish higher than 28th in points in the last two years.
Starting his seventh game in place of Tony Romo, Cassel hasn’t given Dallas a chance to compete in a mediocre NFC East. Peyton Manning and Nick Foles are the only starters that have a worse passer rating this season, and he’s thrown one more interception than touchdown pass. The Cowboys have scored more than 20 points just once with Cassel under center.
Running on the Jets Defense
Cassel and the Cowboys have had trouble moving the ball against mediocre defenses, and Saturday’s matchup doesn’t bode well for Dallas. New York has one of the best defenses in football, and the Cowboys will have trouble scoring in Week 15.
The Jets rank fifth in total defense and 10th in points allowed. New York has been vulnerable against the pass at times, but that shouldn't be a problem for them against Dallas. That means the Cowboys will have to get something going on the ground, which will be very difficult for them to do. The Jets have the league’s No.1 run defense, allowing just 78.9 yards per game on 3.6 yards per carry. New York has allowed just two rushing touchdowns.
Dallas’ rushing attack hasn’t been bad, and Darren McFadden has rushed for at least 111 yards in four of his last eight games. But he's done most of his damage against bad teams, totaling just 123 rushing yards on 2.4 yards per carry in four games against top-10 run defenses.
The Cowboys can’t score against most defenses, and they’ll have an especially difficult time doing so against the Jets. It could be a long night for Dallas, who doesn’t have much to play for.
New York over Dallas, 27-13