The injury-riddled 2015 NFL season continues. The Bengals have lost quarterback Andy Dalton with a broken thumb, and it's AJ McCarron time in Cincinnati. The Seahawks have lost Marshawn Lynch's replacement, Thomas Rawls, to injury. Everybody is injured, and guys that aren't injured are getting benched. For example, Matt Cassel was benched by Dallas against the Jets on Saturday night in favor of Kellen Moore. Lots of teams are in playoff contention still, and some will clinch this weekend. What teams will make a playoff push this week? Who will plunge towards a better draft pick in 2016? Here are some picks.
Kansas City Chiefs @ Baltimore Ravens. The Chiefs are still playing for a playoff spot. The Ravens have nothing left to play for other than the first overall pick. With a roster riddled with injuries, I think the Ravens just don't have enough firepower to defeat the Chiefs. Chiefs win. Final score: Kansas City Chiefs 24, Baltimore Ravens 14.
Houston Texans @ Indianapolis Colts. This is a huge game for both of these teams, as the winning team takes possession of the lead in the AFC South. Both of these teams are playing with journeymen quarterbacks. However, Matt Hasselbeck is showing his age and the Houston defense is loaded with talent. Texans win this game. Final score: Houston Texans 35, Indianapolis Colts 14.
Atlanta Falcons @ Jacksonville Jaguars. The Falcons have imploded late in the season, and the Jaguars are on a hot streak. That hot streak could continue against Atlanta, but with Freeman healthy for the Falcons, the Atlanta offense could put up some nice numbers in Jacksonville. The Falcons are bad, but I don't think this turns into another blowout for the Jaguars. In fact, I think the Falcons sneak out of Jacksonville with a win. Final score: Atlanta Falcons 33, Jacksonville Jaguars 28.
Chicago Bears @ Minnesota Vikings. The Vikings are in playoff contention. The Bears are playing just well enough to hurt themselves in the draft but not well enough to make the postseason. However, heading into Minnesota, the Bears help both themselves and Minnesota by losing to the Vikings. Final score: Minnesota Vikings 28, Chicago Bears 21.
Tennessee Titans @ New England Patriots. This week, Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota gets to face future hall of fame quarterback Tom Brady. Mariota has talent, but this is going to be a brutal matchup for the Titans and Mariota. Patriots win this one at home. Final score: New England Patriots 45, Tennessee Titans 27.
Carolina Panthers @ New York Giants. The Panthers have a good chance to go undefeated this season. That being said, history suggests that the Panthers will lose at least one game this season. History also suggests that the Giants are a team used to snapping undefeated streaks. They'll play spoiler again against Carolina, and hand the Panthers their first loss of the season. Giants win! Final score: New York Giants 28, Carolina Panthers 27.
Buffalo Bills @ Washington Redskins. Both of these teams as inconsistent on the field as Max Klinger is in an office! Just when you think you know how they'll perform, they find new and wonderful ways to disappoint or surprise you. This game is one of those games that I just can't pin down. However, the Redskins are in better shape than the Bills in the playoff picture, so I'm going to go with the thought that maybe Washington gets an edge with a chance at the division in sight. Redskins win. Final score: Washington Redskins 10, Buffalo Bills 9.
Green Bay Packers @ Oakland Raiders. This is going to be a fun matchup. This week, Brett Favre's former team the Packers travels to Oakland to take on John Madden's former team, the Raiders. Aaron Rodgers is Favre's replacement in Green Bay, and Del Rio was a huge Oakland fan as a kid in the 1970s, when Madden was coaching there. That being said, don't expect Del Rio to spend all game talking about Rodgers. I expect this to be a surprisingly close but high-scoring game, but at the end of the day, the Packers have more weapons and will win. Final score: Green Bay Packers 38, Oakland Raiders 35.
Cleveland Browns @ Seattle Seahawks. Injuries. Injuries everywhere! I'd say that the Browns have a chance to win this week against Seattle, but Russell Wilson is not one of Seattle's injured players and Wilson has been on fire the past few weeks. Seahawks win this one by a decisive margin. Final score: Seattle Seahawks 38, Cleveland Browns 10.
Denver Broncos @ Pittsburgh Steelers. This could be the game of the week. The Broncos have yet to allow a 300 yard passing game this season. Ben Roethlisberger is averaging over 300 passing yards a game. This should be a great matchup between two potential playoff teams, but I think Pittsburgh comes away with a win. Final score: Pittsburgh Steelers 28, Denver Broncos 21.
Miami Dolphins @ San Diego Chargers. This game makes me sad, much like the postseason makes Bengals fans sad. Before the season, both of these teams looked like potential playoff contenders. Now, both of these teams will be on the outside looking in. At least the Chargers will have a pretty great draft slot in 2016 after a brutal season. With 3 wins, the Chargers are playing for the first overall pick in 2016. The Dolphins help them this week. Final score: Miami Dolphins 7, San Diego Chargers 3.
Cincinnati Bengals @ San Francisco 49ers. As a long-time Bengals fan, I hate this matchup with a fiery passion. Every time the Bengals face the 49ers, images of Lewis Billups dropping what should have been a Joe Montana interception come to mind. Tim Krumrie's broken leg comes to mind. Two losses in the Superbowl come to mind. In the postseason, the 49ers have the Bengals number. However, this isn't the postseason. Even with Andy Dalton injured, the Bengals are in good hands. I believe that AJ McCarron is a better quarterback than Blaine Gabbert, and the Bengals have far more weapons on both sides of the football than the 49ers do. As long as McCarron can just manage the game, Cincinnati should come out of San Francisco with a win, and minus a few mistakes, McCarron looked solid last week. Bengals win this one. Final score: Cincinnati Bengals 35, San Francisco 49ers 14.
Arizona Cardinals @ Philadelphia Eagles. And now, a Christmas miracle. Sam Bradford and Carson Palmer are both healthy in week 15 of the regular season. Both quarterbacks are playing extremely well as well. I feel like this will be a very competitive game, but I also feel like the Cardinals are just a better team. Cardinals should win this one. Final score: Arizona Cardinals 28, Philadelphia Eagles 24.
Detroit Lions @ New Orleans Saints. Here's a fun fact. Former Saints defensive coordinator Greg Williams once participated in a bounty scheme with his players, and once told them to "kill the head and the body will die." Former Lions defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh once tried to tear off Jake Delhomme's head. Both Williams and Suh have moved on, and both the Lions and Saints are struggling defensively. Both teams also have very potent offenses, so this could be a shootout. However, the Saints have a slightly better defense than the Lions, and I think that gives New Orleans the edge. Final score: New Orleans Saints 35, Detroit Lions 33.
--Mike B (123-88).
Bears (5-8) @ Vikings (8-5): The Bears are looking to play spoiler and put the Vikings playoff hopes even more in trouble. They have had their moments of looking good and if they can find that this week they have a chance. The Vikings have looked like world beaters at times this season and then at other times they have looked like new kids on the block. I think the Vikings and possible MVP candidate and probable comeback player of the year candidate win this one. Vikings win 27 – 23 over the Bears.
Falcons (6-7) @ Jaguars (5-8): I am going to leave this simple. I am done picking Atlanta. They have completely folded up and died. Jaguars win 29 – 25 over the Falcons.
Texans (6-7) @ Colts (6-7): The Texans are going to bounce back here and look for a strong turn around. The Colts have looked weaker and weaker each week since they beat the Broncos and I think it continues this week. The Colts will struggle to keep up here. Texans win 32 – 20 over the Colts.
Panthers (13-0) @ Giants (6-7): This game is not open and shut. The giants could play spoiler here and ruin perfection. The Panthers are so much better than people are crediting them, they are calling this the worst undefeated team in the NFL’s history and I disagree. I am a little torn here. I am going with the undefeated team though. Panthers win 34 – 29 over the Giants.
Titans (3-10) @ Patriots (11-2): Patriots win no analysis needed here kind of a no brainer. Patriots win 42 – 17 over the Titans.
Bills (6-7) @ Redskins (6-7): This game is going to be close the whole way through. I am really not sure it is even possible to pick a winner here. These two teams are so close in almost every way. Both teams have a terrible coach and good defenses. I think the Bills have the edge due to Tyrod being the better QB and Sammy Watkins being the best WR in this game. Bills win 24 – 13 over the Redskins.
Chiefs (8-5) @ Ravens (4-9): This one is open and shut. Chiefs win 31 – 14 over the Ravens.
Browns (3-10) @ Seahawks (8-5): Ok Seattle this one is yours for the taking. I seriously think the Seahawks are rolling and the Browns are sleeping. Seahawks win 34 – 20 over the Browns.
Packers (9-4) @ Raiders (6-7): This game is going to be a close shootout with no defense, which is crazy to say because defensive player of the year in my opinion is Khalil Mack. The Packers are slow for some reason as of late on offense and I think it’s because they need to move Randall Cobb back to the slot and get Ty back for the deep threat. This season has showed how much they need Jordy Nelson to be so dominant. This game will be close but I think in the 4th quarter Aaron Rodgers will find a way to pull this through. Packers win 35 – 27 over the Raiders.
Broncos (10-3) @ Steelers (8-5): This game should be game of the week. The Broncos will be fun to watch on the road against the Steelers. The Steelers are a good team with the chance to get more into a comfortable spot for the wildcard. Broncos lost last week to Oakland and that is a big worry for me going into this game. The Steelers just shut up the division leading Bengals last week and looked good in doing so. Steelers win 27 – 18 over the Broncos.
Dolphins (5-8) @ Chargers (3-10): The Chargers are a nightmare and the Dolphins are just trying to find their way but they aren’t as bad as the Chargers. Dolphins win 25 – 20 over the Chargers.
Bengals (10-3) @ 49ers (4-9): This game is and should be simple with AJ McCarron under the center although I think Gabbert is the better QB. Bengals win 24 – 17 over the 49ers.
Cardinals (11-2) @ Eagles (6-7): This game will be high paced offense with some defense sprinkled in. The Cardinals are truly a top 4 team in the NFL. Cardinals win 32 – 14 over the Eagles.
Lions (4-9) @ Saints (5-8): Brandin Cooks is better than Calvin at this point in his career. Stafford and Brees are about equal and neither team has a running game. I really think these teams are equal in every way except the Lions have Ansah who is incredible. I am going to take the “upset”. Lions win 31 – 26 over the Saints.
Texans @ Colts - Colts win.
Bears @ Vikings - Vikings win.
Titans @ Patriots - Patriots win.
Panthers @ Giants - Panthers win.
Bills @ Redskins - Bills win.
Falcons @ Jaguars - Jaguars win.
Chiefs @ Ravens - Chiefs win.
Packers @ Raiders - Packers win.
Browns @ Seahawks - Seahawks win.
Broncos @ Steelers - Steelers win.
Dolphins @ Chargers - Chargers win.
Bengals @ 49ers - Bengals win.
Cardinals @ Eagles - Cardinals win.
Lions @ Saints - Saints win.
-Tyler B. [127-82]
Sports give us as the human race something to cheer for and support and give hope to all of us.