Week 15 NFL Predictions

Houston made a shocking performance last week, so let’s see what happens this week.

Week 15 NFL Predictions

Another week of great football is now behind us. Week 14 featured a bit of a lighter slate with only 13 games. However, each team has now had their bye week meaning that every team will be in action for the rest of the season. I would like to take a moment to congratulate the Houston Texans on their incredible performance last week. If you haven’t heard, Houston rose from the dead and almost beat the Cowboys. No, that is not a typo. The Texans almost beat the Cowboys. Dallas pulled off a game winning touchdown drive in the final minutes, but Houston should be applauded for almost pulling off the upset of the year. Week 15 features the first Saturday games of the season with the college football regular season now over, so let’s get right to the power rankings and predictions.

Each team’s record and rank from last week is listed in parentheses.

The cellar dwellers:

#32. Houston Texans (1-11-1, 32)

#31. Indianapolis Colts (4-8-1, 28)

#30. Chicago Bears (3-10, 29)

The scrappy underdogs:

#29. Denver Broncos (3-10, 31)

#28. Los Angeles Rams (4-9, 31)

#27. Arizona Cardinals (4-9, 21)

#26. Cleveland Browns (5-8, 22)

#25. New York Giants (7-5-1, 20)

#24. Atlanta Falcons (5-8, 26)

#23. New Orleans Saints (4-9, 25)

#22. Carolina Panthers (5-8, 27)

#21. Pittsburgh Steelers (5-8, 23)

#20. Las Vegas Raiders (5-8, 18)

The non-serious contenders:

#19. Jacksonville Jaguars (5-8, 24)

#18. Green Bay Packers (5-8, 19)

#17. Washington Commanders (7-5-1, 17)

#16. Seattle Seahawks (7-6, 13)

#15. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (6-7, 11)

#14. Tennessee Titans (7-6, 12)

#13. New England Patriots (7-6, 16)

#12. Baltimore Ravens (9-4, 15)

#11. New York Jets (7-6, 9)

Potential Super Bowl teams:

#10. Detroit Lions (6-7, 10)

#9. Los Angeles Chargers (7-6, 14)

#8. Miami Dolphins (8-5, 8)

#7. Minnesota Vikings (10-3, 7)

Super Bowl favorites:

#6. Kansas City Chiefs (10-3, 5)

#5. Cincinnati Bengals (9-4, 4)

#4. Dallas Cowboys (10-4, 1)

#3. San Francisco 49ers (9-4, 7)

#2. Buffalo Bills (10-3, 3)

#1. Philadelphia Eagles (12-1, 2)

Week 15 predictions:

San Francisco 49ers @ Seattle Seahawks:

The 49ers showed why they are one of the best teams in football last week, demolishing Tom Brady’s Buccaneers 35-7. Rookie quarterback Brock Purdy threw two touchdowns and ran for another in the win. The Niners are having no problems even with their third string quarterback. The Seahawks on the other hand are in a downward spiral. After a 6-3 start to the season, they have lost three of their last four games with the only win during that stretch coming against John Wolford’s Rams. Their most recent loss, a 27-17 defeat at the hands of the Panthers last week, represents a low point for Seattle. Geno Smith threw two interceptions in his worst game of the season, and the defense continued to struggle even against a below average Carolina offense. The Niners are clear favorites in this matchup.

Prediction: 49ers 33, Seahawks 23

Indianapolis Colts @ Minnesota Vikings:

The Colts were on bye last week, but in week 13 they were dismantled 54-19 by the Cowboys. The Vikings suffered a tough 34-23 loss to the Lions last week. Kirk Cousins threw for over 400 yards, but Dalvin Cook fumbled away a touchdown at the goal line, and their receivers had some critical drops, plus their defense was nonexistent. However, Minnesota is the far superior team in this one and should take this opportunity to get back on track.

Prediction: Vikings 31, Colts 20

Baltimore Ravens @ Cleveland Browns:

The Ravens edged out a 16-14 win over the Steelers last week thanks to some timely plays by their defense and special teams. Baltimore intercepted Pittsburgh quarterback Mitch Trubisky three times in the red zone and blocked a 40-yard field goal in the fourth quarter that could have won it for the Steelers. However, Ravens quarterback Tyler Huntley went down with a concussion late in the game, and Lamar Jackson remains out with a knee injury, so undrafted rookie Anthony Brown may have to start this week. DeShaun Watson and the Browns offense continued to struggle last week in a 23-10 loss to the Bengals. Watson finally threw his first touchdown pass of the season, but it came with the game already out of hand in the fourth quarter. He will try to continue knocking off the rust this week in another tough matchup. If Huntley or Jackson were to play in this one, Baltimore would be heavy favorites. However, Brown is unheralded and unproven. If he is forced to start, this game will likely be a slop fest that could go either way. The Browns have the better run game and quarterback, plus they are at home, so I’ll take them to win.

Prediction: Browns 13, Ravens 9

Miami Dolphins @ Buffalo Bills:

The Dolphins are struggling. They have lost back-to-back games to the 49ers and Chargers, and Tua Tagovailoa is playing his worst football of the season. He has completed just 23 of 53 passes over the last two weeks and has turned the ball over three times. This is a sudden and unexpected regression back to the way he played in his first two seasons. It will be interesting to see if he is able to get back on track. This week would be a great time to do that as they head to Buffalo to face the division-leading Bills. Buffalo took care of business last week, beating the Jets 20-12 in a defensive battle. This one should be more of a shootout, but Buffalo will be hungry to avenge their loss to Miami from back in week three. If Tua plays like he has the last two weeks, this will not be close. Even if he plays better, Buffalo has home field advantage and are the more well rounded team.

Prediction: Bills 34, Dolphins 24

Philadelphia Eagles @ Chicago Bears:

This is an interesting matchup between two exciting young quarterbacks. Jalen Hurts and the Eagles crushed the Giants 48-22 last week. Philadelphia is rolling and is clearly the best team in football right now. Justin Fields keeps the Bears relatively competitive, but they will be overmatched this week. Philadelphia’s roster is superior at every single position.

Prediction: Eagles 41, Bears 24

Detroit Lions @ New York Jets:

This is a matchup of two young, up and coming teams. The Lions are on fire with five wins in their last six games. Last week, their offense dominated all game in an impressive 34-23 win over the division leading Vikings. Electric rookie receiver Jameson Williams made his first appearance of the season and caught a 41-yard touchdown. Detroit’s receiving core is underrated. Williams, Amon-Ra St. Brown, and D.J. Chark are all explosive. Detroit’s defense has also come on recently. The Jets are held back by their lack of a good quarterback, but their young, great defense keeps them extremely competitive. They held the explosive Bills to 20 points last week, but their offense only mustered 12 points. I expect a similar game script in this one. Detroit has a great offense and a competent defense that should keep New York in check.

Prediction: Lions 26, Jets 20

Atlanta Falcons @ New Orleans Saints:

The Falcons finally made a quarterback change over their bye week, as rookie Desmond Ritter will be their starter for the rest of the season. They are technically still in the playoff race in the terrible NFC South, but they don’t deserve to be in that position. The Saints are actually playing better of late, but it is not translating into wins. They lead the Buccaneers 16-3 with under five minutes to go back in week 13, but they fell apart after that and allowed back-to-back touchdown drives to lose 17-16. However, they are more talented than Atlanta and are playing at home. I also don’t expect Ritter to play great in his first NFL start.

Prediction: Saints 23, Falcons 17

Pittsburgh Steelers @ Carolina Panthers:

Similar to the Saints Falcons matchup, both these teams are mediocre but evenly matched. The Steelers lost to the Ravens 16-14 last week, but they probably would have won if Kenny Pickett didn’t suffer a concussion in the first quarter. Mitch Trubisky’s three red zone interceptions are the reason Pittsburgh lost. The Panthers have won back-to-back games over the Broncos and Seahawks. The Seattle win was especially impressive, as Carolina held the high octane Seahawks offense to 17 points and intercepted Geno Smith twice. This should be a defensive battle, and I think it will come down to who starts at quarterback for the Steelers. If Pickett is cleared, I think Pittsburgh will win. If Trubisky is forced to start, Carolina should win. I’ll assume Pickett plays for this exercise.

Prediction: Steelers 20, Panthers 16

Dallas Cowboys @ Jacksonville Jaguars:

The Cowboys hit a most unexpected speed bump last week, as it took a game winning 98-yard touchdown drive in the final minutes to beat the Texans 27-23. It was probably just a bad week, but it was nonetheless extremely concerning for their Super Bowl prospects. The Jags have won two of their last three games, most recently crushing the Titans 36-22. Trevor Lawrence is playing his best football and the defense is doing enough. However, I think the Cowboys have a bounce back week in this one. I don’t think a team as talented as them will play that poorly two weeks in a row against inferior opponents.

Prediction: Cowboys 34, Jaguars 24

Kansas City Chiefs @ Houston Texans:

The Chiefs are losing steam. After a close loss to the Bengals, Kansas City let the Broncos hang around in a 34-28 win last week. The offense is no concern, but the defense has some major holes that could loom large in the playoffs. The Texans deserve all the respect for hanging with the Cowboys last week, but it is unlikely that they do it again this week.

Prediction: Chiefs 38, Texans 20

Arizona Cardinals @ Denver Broncos:

Kyler Murray went down on the third play of Arizona’s 27-13 loss to the Patriots last week with a devastating torn ACL. He will obviously be sidelined for the remainder of this season and may miss the start of next year as well. Journeyman Colt McCoy will start for the rest of the season. The Broncos put up a good fight last week against the Chiefs. Russell Wilson was playing his best game of the season before going down with a concussion in the third quarter, after which Denver ceased moving the football on offense. However, receiver Jerry Judy broke out for three touchdown receptions to lead the way in Denver’s highest offensive output of the season thus far. If Wilson is able to clear concussion protocol by Sunday, then I think Denver should win this game easily. If not, the it would be a battle of backup quarterbacks that nobody in their right mind would watch. I’ll take Denver to win either way. They have the better defense and are at home.

Prediction: Broncos 20, Cardinals 17

New England Patriots @ Las Vegas Raiders:

The Raiders blew a 16-3 lead in the final five minutes last week against the Rams, embarrassingly allowing a 98-yard game winning drive by Baker Mayfield in under two minutes. The Patriots took care of the Cardinals last week. Josh McDaniels, the Raiders head coach, was New England’s offensive coordinator for a decade before taking the job in Vegas, so this should be an interesting game. I am picking the Raiders to win. They have the more talented offense, and I think McDaniels will have some inside information about New England’s defense that he will be able to use to his advantage.

Prediction: Raiders 23, Patriots 20

Tennessee Titans @ Los Angeles Chargers:

The Titans are in free fall. They are still in first place, but they have suffered back-to-back lobsided losses to the Eagles and Jaguars. Their defense has not looked the part recently as they have surrendered 71 points over the last two weeks. The offense is okay, but they can’t keep up if their defense is struggling. Justin Herbert and the Chargers, on the other hand, had their most impressive win of the season last week, beating the Dolphins 23-17. Herbert completed 39 passes and threw for 367 yards while the defense held Tua Tagovailoa to a measly 10 completions and 145 passing yards. Additionally, wide receiver Mike Williams returned from a nagging ankle injury to give a significant boost to the offense. The Chargers have too much momentum for the reeling Titans to overcome in this one.

Prediction: Chargers 27, Titans 21

Cincinnati Bengals @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers:

The Bucs humiliated themselves last week, losing to the 49ers 35-7. Tom Brady threw two interceptions while the defense was nowhere to be found. The Bengals kept on rolling with an easy 23-10 win over the Browns. Unless Brady pulls off some late season magic, this one shouldn’t be particularly close.

Prediction: Bengals 27, Buccaneers 20

New York Giants @ Washington Commanders:

The Giants would like to forget their dreadful performance last week when they lost to the Eagles 48-22. The injuries are piling up for New York, and it finally seems as if their lack of talent is catching up to them. These teams tied two weeks ago, but Washington is well rested coming off their bye week and are at home for this rematch.

Prediction: Commanders 26, Giants 19

Los Angeles Rams @ Green Bay Packers:

Baker Mayfield was released by the Panthers last Monday, claimed off waivers by the Rams on Tuesday, and it led a magical fourth quarter comeback against the Raiders on Thursday. It is truly special, especially for a quarterback, to learn an entire offensive playbook and execute it in just two days, much less to lead a game winning drive in the two-minute drill. The Packers were on bye last week, but their offense was finally starting to roll before their week off. Green Bay’s defense is bad, but Los Angeles just doesn’t have the firepower to keep up with Green Bay’s offense when they are clicking. I’ll be rooting for Mayfield though.

Prediction: Packers 27, Rams 23