NFL Predictions Week 15: Schedule, Point Spreads And What To Expect For All 16 Football Games

 @gptweet
on December 12 2013 11:07 AM
Cam Newton Carolina Panthers
Cam Newton and the Carolina Panthers are the biggest favorites in Week 15, and look to keep pace for the NFC South and a Wild Card spot on Sunday against the N.Y. Jets. Reuters

Three weeks left to go in the 2013 season, and three out of the 12 playoff spots have already been claimed, leaving nine berths still available.

Two of those spots are guaranteed despite losses for the respective teams. A 14-point defeat in Week 14 didn’t stop the Indianapolis Colts (8-5) from clinching the AFC South, and the Seattle Seahawks (11-2) saw their seven-game win streak snapped yet they still locked up back-to-back postseason berths for the first time since 2007.

Seattle's thumping of the New Orleans Saints (10-3) assured the Seahawks of the tiebreaker, but the Saints can still challenge for the NFC’s best record and home field advantage.

The Denver Broncos (11-2) are hoping to fend off the New England Patriots (10-3) for the AFC’s best record, with the Cincinnati Bengals (9-4) lurking.

The wild card race is fairly messy in both conferences, with as many as six teams in the NFC and four in the AFC contending. New Orleans will be wary of the Carolina Panthers (9-4), who are just one game behind, and the San Francisco 49ers (9-4) are also only one game ahead of the Arizona Cardinals (8-5).

In the AFC, the Baltimore Ravens (7-6) hold the head-to-head tiebreaker over the Miami Dolphins (7-6), while the San Diego Chargers (6-7) and New York Jets (6-7) will need to win out and get some help to make the postseason.

This week’s biggest spread belongs to Carolina, who are favored by 11 points over the Jets, and certainly know they can’t afford to two straight losses at this critical juncture of the season.

San Diego At Denver -10.5

Sunday marks the last time the Broncos will play in Denver probably until the postseason. They’re 7-0 at home this year, and another win should all but wrap up the AFC West. San Diego could breathe life in Kansas City’s division hopes with an upset, but the Chargers are 3-4 on the road this season

Time: Thursday, 8:25 p.m. ET

Channel: NFL Network

Prediction:  Denver 37, San Diego 24

Washington At Atlanta -7

This line jumped two more points in Atlanta’s favor, and it might have something to do with Washington starting Kirk Cousins over Robert Griffin III. Cousins has thrown 73 passes in five NFL games for four touchdowns to five picks. Even against 3-10 Atlanta, the Redskins should struggle to snap their five-game slide.

Time: Sunday, 1 p.m. ET

Channel: FOX

Prediction: Atlanta 24. Washington 13

San Francisco -5.5 At Tampa Bay

The division might be out of reach for the 49ers, but they’ll need to extend their three-game win streak and hope for an Arizona loss before Week 17’s showdown in Phoenix. Tampa Bay has shown plenty of resilience in the last five weeks, winning four of their last five. Quarterback Mike Glennon and running back Bob Rainey could give San Francisco fits and reason enough to worry.

Time: Sunday, 1 p.m. ET

Channel: FOX

Prediction: San Francisco 17, Tampa Bay 14

Seattle -6.5 At N.Y. Giants

The No. 1 pass defense meets the NFL’s interception leader in the Giants Eli Manning. This could be a very scary game for New York unless running back Andre Brown can bust out and take some pressure off Manning.

Time: Sunday, 1 p.m. ET

Channel: FOX

Prediction: Seattle 31, N.Y. 17

Chicago -1 At Cleveland

Three straight 300-yard games with eight touchdowns to one interception have Josh McCown challenging Jay Cutler as Chicago’s quarterback of the future. Cleveland’s eight-ranked pass defense could decide McCown's future with the club.

Time: Sunday, 1 p.m. ET

Channel: FOX

Prediction: Cleveland 20, Chicago 17

Houston At Indianapolis -5.5

The Colts could rest up for the playoffs, but they’re two games back of the No. 2 seed in the AFC. The disappointing 2-11 Texans likely won’t be a challenge, but next week at Kansas City and the season finale against Jacksonville could be very difficult matchups for Indianapolis.

Time: Sunday, 1 p.m. ET

Channel: CBS

Prediction: Indianapolis 24, Houston 10

Buffalo -2.5 At Jacksonville

The Jags have won four of their last five, but two of those wins have come against lowly Houston, and they’ve been outgained in total yards in all but one game. The Bills have the potential to blow them out and force lots of turnovers.

Time: Sunday, 1 p.m. ET

Channel: CBS

Prediction: Buffalo 30, Jacksonville 20

New England -2.5 At Miami

Losing Rob Gronkowski hurts, but New England found ways to win without him to start the season. This would be a huge win for the wild card-minded Dolphins, who are holding quarterbacks to a 76.1 passer rating, third best in the NFL.

Time: Sunday, 1 p.m. ET

Channel: CBS

Prediction: Miami 24, New England 20

Philadelphia -4.5 At Minnesota

Huge trap game for Philadelphia, who can take a commanding lead if the Cowboys are forced to face Aaron Rodgers. The Vikings' last three games have been decided by exactly three points for a 1-1-1 record. This game could come down to who has the final possession and a the better kicker. Adrian Peterson's likely absence gives the Eagles the edge.

Time: Sunday, 1 p.m. ET

Channel: FOX

Prediction: Philadelphia 30, Minnesota 17

N.Y. Jets At Carolina -11

Geno Smith looked poised and under control against Oakland last week, but will face a nightmare of a Carolina defense that’s forced 16 interceptions and 41 sacks, ands ranks second in the NFL with 13 passing touchdowns allowed.

Time: Sunday, 4:05 p.m. ET

Channel: CBS

Prediction: Carolina 34, N.Y. 17

Kansas City -4.5 At Oakland

The two losses to Denver have basically put the division out of reach, but Kansas City can still make their case with a road victory Sunday and in Week 17 at San Diego. After that its entirely up to Denver’s stretch run. Oakland’s Matt McGloin has struggled in the last three games after lighting up Houston three weeks ago, and a matchup against the NFL’s top defense likely won’t snap that funk.

Time: Sunday, 4:05 p.m. ET

Channel: CBS

Prediction: Kansas City 27, Oakland 10

Arizona -2.5 At Tennessee

Carson Palmer’s thrown four interceptions in the last six games and Arizona’s gone 5-1 and are now in playoff contention. In the previous seven games Palmer threw 13 picks. The formula for the Cardinals success seems pretty clear, though they are 2-4 on the road.

Time: Sunday, 4:25p.m. ET

Channel: FOX

Prediction: Arizona 31, Tennessee 27

New Orleans -6 At St. Louis

New Orleans should win this game, but it will be off turnovers forced by its sixth ranked defense. The Rams have also gone 8-for-26 on third down in the last two games, and are 30th in the league in third down conversion rate. An inability to extend drives won’t work against Drew Brees.

Time: Sunday, 4:25 p.m. ET

Channel: FOX

Prediction: New Orleans 30, St. Louis 17

Green Bay At Dallas -7

This game completely hinges on whether Aaron Rodgers plays or not. The Packers have remained cautious, considering they have to run the table in order to win the division and only stand a game behind Detroit. The Cowboys are in the same boat as they’ll need a division title to play in the postseason. Dallas will need their defense to step up after a miserable effort against the Chicago Bears on Monday.

Time: Sunday, 4:25 p.m. ET

Channel: FOX

Prediction: Green Bay 24, Dallas 17

Cincinnati -3 At Pittsburgh

The Bengals defense is too good, and Pittsburgh already dropped two straight to Baltimore and Miami's top defenses. Though the Steelers can force Cincinnati quarterback Andy Dalton into mistakes. Dalton’s fifth in the NFL with 16 interceptions thrown.

Time: Sunday, 8:30 p.m. ET

Channel: NBC

Prediction: Cincinnati 37, Pittsburgh 24

Baltimore At Detroit -6

This has potential to be the game of the week. The Lions need to keep Green Bay at a distance, and it appears the defending champion Ravens will need a wild card spot to avoid embarrassment. The Ravens have gone 4-1 in their last five games, and Detroit has struggled against top defenses with losses to Arizona, Cincinnati, and Pittsburgh. Last week, quarterback Matthew Stafford was held without a touchdown pass for the first time all season, which can’t happen again if the Lions want to claim the division sooner rather than later.

Time: Monday, 8:40 p.m. ET

Channel: ESPN

Prediction: Baltimore 31, Detroit 28

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