NFL Week 15 Picks
After a season where I won the Gridiron Experts Staff Pick ‘Em contest, I’ll be providing my picks every week for you, our readers. Last year, I went 64.5% straight up, and 55.4% against the spread… so I’m hoping to replicate that success this year. Each week, I’ll give you my picks for the game, and a short write-up centered around the key reason why I’m making the pick that I am. Last week, I had one of my best weeks to date. I went 13-3 straight up and 9-7 against the spread. Additionally, my lock of the week came through (11-3 for the season).
You can also click over to see all our Free NFL picks for the week with the staff.
NY Jets @ Baltimore (-14.5)
Lamar Jackson is a little banged up. He’s listed as questionable for this matchup but has repeatedly affirmed that he’ll play against the Jets. That’s all I need to hear. The Ravens are red hot right now and I can’t possibly pick against them. I’ll take the game’s most electric player to blow out one of the league’s worst teams at home. Ravens 34-16.
Seattle (-5.5) @ Carolina
Both of these teams are coming off a loss in Week 14. The Panthers have lost 5 straight, while the 10-3 Seahawks have won 5 of their last 6. QB Russell Wilson is having one of his best seasons ever, throwing for 3,422 yards and 26 TD compared to only 5 INT. Wilson lost a weapon last weekend when RB Rashad Penny injured his knee, and one of his most productive WRs, Tyler Lockett, has fallen off the face of the earth over the past month. Wilson will likely focus on DK Metcalf to produce, while Chris Carson should dominate this backfield moving forward. On the other hand, Kyle Allen has played terrible football as of late, and sports only a 16:12 TD to INT ratio so far this year. If it wasn’t for the absolutely amazing Christian McCaffrey and breakout WR DJ Moore, this team would likely be contending for the first overall pick. McCaffrey should keep this game respectable, but I’m not sure the Panthers’ secondary is up to the task to stop the MVP candidate, Wilson. Despite their tough game in Los Angeles last weekend, I think that Wilson is due to bounce back and lead this team to victory. His line will need to protect him in the process, as the Panthers rank 2nd in the league in Sacks… but ultimately, I think they’ll hold off the Panthers and cover on the road. Seahawks 28-21.
New England (-8.5) @ Cincinnati
I know the Bengals are no longer winless. With that said, let’s not get crazy. The league’s best defense is coming to town… and you can be sure that they watched a lot of film to prepare for this game. The Patriots rank 1st in Points Against, while the Bengals rank 31st in points scored. Despite the off-field chaos, Brady & Co. will take care of business and win this game easily on the road. Patriots 30-16.
Tampa Bay (-3.5) @ Detroit
Jameis Winston is an absolute sight to behold. The Bucs QB sports a robust 4,115 passing yards on the season, along with an unbelievable 26:23 TD to INT ratio. Add in the fact that Jameis has fumbled the ball 12 times (losing 5 of them), and he’s a must-see attraction every moment he’s on the field. Regardless of the chaos, Bruce Arians has his QB and the Bucs playing some good football, as they’ve won 4 of their last 5 games. This week’s contest with Detroit should be yet another good opportunity for Tampa Bay to light up the scoreboard, as the Lions rank 24th in the league in Points Against. Detroit is without their usual starter, as David Blough will yet again take the reins of the offense. He will be without one of his most reliable targets, as WR Marvin Jones was placed on Injured Reserve earlier this week. The focus will certainly be on WR Kenny Golladay, who is Detroit’s best (and only) weapon these days. The Lions rank 31st in Interceptions so far this year, so believe it or not, Jameis might not throw any this week. OK, just kidding… he probably will… but I don’t think it’ll be enough to swing the result. Tampa Bay has won their last 2 road games, and I think they’ll pick up a third win on Sunday. Give me the road favorites to win & cover. Bucs 27-22.
Chicago @ Green Bay (-4.5)
Chicago has had an up and down season, but they seem to be on more of an upswing as of late. They’ve won 4 of their last 5 and will try to ride this newfound “Mitchmentum” into Lambeau on Sunday. QB Mitchell Trubisky has certainly been playing better football as of late, and the Bears find themselves at 7-6 on the season. While it might be too late to make a playoff run, their trajectory is pointing up. Trubisky has been focusing on WR Allen Robinson as his primary target, and Robinson has made opposing defenses pay. Mix in the dynamic Tarik Cohen and rookie RB David Montgomery, and the Bears certainly have a multitude of effective options to attack with. On the other side, QB Aaron Rodgers continues to produce and has led the Packers to a 10-3 record. The 36-year-old Rodgers has thrown for 23 TD compared to only 2 INT this year. Chicago’s defense will certainly need to disrupt his rhythm and try to force some turnovers in the process. Rodgers is flush with dangerous weapons, as RB Aaron Jones has already scored 12 TD this season. Add in one of the best WRs in the game in Davante Adams, and the Bears will have their hands full on Sunday. With all of that said, the Packers didn’t look great at home last week, only beating Washington by 5 points. Another huge factor will be the return of DL Akeim Hicks. The monster DL’s return will draw focus away Bears star Khalil Mack. Don’t forget, Mack can be the best player on the field at any moment (even despite a down season), and I think he’s due for a rebound on Sunday. Call me crazy, but I think the Bears are surging right now, and like them to pull the upset on the Frozen Tundra. Bears 23-22.
Denver @ Kansas City (-9.5)
The Broncos shocked the league last weekend, as they disposed of the Texans in Houston 38-24. On the other hand, the Chiefs were one of the first teams to beat the Patriots in Foxborough in over a year. Needless to say, both teams are coming off of their best performance of the year. QB Patrick Mahomes has regressed compared to his historic season a year ago, but even with that regression, Mahomes is one of the league’s best. He’s thrown for 3,266 yards and 21 TD to 3 INT this season and has two of the most dangerous pass-catchers around in Tyreek Hill and Patrick Mahomes. Denver will counter with the amazing Chris Harris Jr., but unfortunately, there are two stars to cover. I like one of these two All-Pro players to make some big plays and light up the Box Score on Sunday. While QB Drew Lock showed out against Houston last weekend, Kansas City’s defense is vastly improved over the last few weeks. Lock will try to get the ball to breakout star WR Courtland Sutton and RB Phillip Lindsay. However, I think Kansas City just has too many threats for Denver to handle. The Chiefs will be hindered by a banged-up backfield but should do enough on the ground to keep the defense guessing. I think the Chiefs should win this game comfortably at home. Chiefs 32-20.
Miami @ NY Giants (-3.5)
Eli Manning made his return on Monday night and played a fantastic first half. Unfortunately, his offense was shut out in the second half. Regardless of their QB, New York has lost 9 games in a row. Manning will look to replicate his first-half performance against a below-average Miami defense. He’ll certainly lean on RB Saquon Barkley, one of the league’s best RBs. While Barkley has underperformed, his skill set is such that he could change the game at any moment. Rookie WR Darius Slayton has also provided a spark to this offense and demonstrated a strong rapport with Manning last week. While his explosive first half wasn’t enough to get New York the win, there’s certainly some promise in this connection. Miami, on the other hand, didn’t score an offensive TD in their 22-21 loss to the Jets. Jason Sanders’ 7 field goals paced them in Week 14, but they’ll need more offensive firepower if they want to succeed in New York this weekend. At this point, Miami is concerned they might not have Davante Parker for this duel, as the WR still remains in the concussion protocol. With the Giants’ terrible pass defense, the loss of a game-breaker like Parker would certainly hurt the D0lphins. Former Virginia Tech WR Isaiah Ford stepped up last weekend, posting 92 yards on 6 catches. Ford will need to be reliable again for Ryan Fitzpatrick to help this offense succeed. In the end, I don’t think the triple threat of Fitzpatrick, Ford, and RB Patrick Laird will be enough firepower. I think Eli will get the win on Sunday at home. Giants 23-20.
Houston @ Tennessee (-2.5)
Tennessee is red hot and dismantled the Raiders in Oakland last Sunday. Houston, on the other hand, fell flat against the Broncos at home. A trip to Nashville isn’t ideal after a performance like that, but the Texans still have the amazing Deshaun Watson to lean on. The dynamic QB will certainly look to hone in on his stud WR DeAndre Hopkins, as this duo has torched the Titans in the past. RB Carlos Hyde might find his job very difficult on Sunday, as the Titans front has been very stingy against the run so far this year. If Houston wants to upset the Titans at home, they’ll need to do it through the air… and by forcing some turnovers. They’ll have to stop one of the hottest QBs in football right now to force those turnovers, though. Ryan Tannehill has been absolutely amazing and is nurturing a lethal connection with rookie WR AJ Brown. The Ole Miss product caught 5 balls for 153 yards and 2 TD in Oakland and has a chance to lead the league in receiving among rookies. The most dangerous part of this offense is RB Derrick Henry, though. Henry’s 1,243 rushing yards ranks 2nd in the NFL (only 38 yards behind Nick Chubb.) Henry is averaging 5 yards per carry and is one of the league’s best runners in December. Look for him to wear down this Houston front, and for Tannehill to make more timely throws. The Music City magic will continue for at least another week. Titans 30-24.
Philadelphia (-4.5) @ Washington
The Eagles looked terrible in the first half against Eli Manning and the Giants on Monday Night. Until Carson Wentz and Zach Ertz took over the game in the second half, the only offensive spark for this team was Boston Scott (yes, Boston Scott.) WR Alshon Jeffery will miss the rest of the season, RB Jordan Howard is still out, and WR Nelson Agholor is nursing a knee injury. Things are tough right now in Philly. In their absence, RB Miles Sanders will need to step up and perform better than he did the other night when he averaged 3 yards per carry on 15 totes. TEs Dallas Goedert and Zach Ertz will be Wentz’s main targets and will need to shoulder the load for Philly to succeed. On the other hand, Washington dropped a close game in Green Bay last week, but are 2-2 in their last 4 games. Bill Callahan’s offense isn’t exciting in any capacity, and you can bet Adrian Peterson will yet again be the focal point. The nature of this Washington’s offense means that the Redskins will control the clock and keep this game close on paper. Dwayne Haskins hasn’t shown the ability to take this offense over, and with a lack of elite options (save Terry McLaurin), Washington could be in for a tough Sunday. I think that the Eagles’ defensive front will lock down Peterson, but the Skins will keep the game competitive. Wentz will make enough clutch throws to his tight ends for the Eagles to escape with an ugly win in Washington. Eagles 21-17.
Atlanta @ San Francisco (-10.5)
Things aren’t great in the ATL. The Falcons are sitting at 4-9 on the year and just lost their young WR Calvin Ridley to injury. QB Matt Ryan faces a terrible task, as this San Fran defense is one of the league’s best. They might be without two of their top corners, but Ryan will have to have his head on a swivel every time he drops back with Nick Bosa pursuing him. He’ll focus on WR Julio Jones if he’s healthy enough to play (Jones is questionable, as usual.) On the other hand, San Francisco is riding high after beating New Orleans in the game of the year by a score of 48-46. Jimmy Garoppolo is quarterbacking this team in style, as he’s thrown for 25 TD compared to only 11 INT in this high-powered offense. RB Raheem Mostert has also continued his breakout and may be emerging as the lead dog in this three-headed backfield. The return of Matt Breida certainly helps, and the presence of veteran Tevin Coleman rounds out this solid rushing attack. WR Emmanuel Sanders had his best game of the season, taking 7 catches for 157 yards and a TD, while also throwing a TD for good measure. WR Deebo Samuel is an emerging star and threat any time he touches the ball… and oh yeah, George Kittle is on this team– inarguably one of the league’s best TEs. Kittle’s thunderous 39-yard catch on 4th and 2 came with less than a minute to play and set up the team for the game-winning field goal. Kyle Shanahan’s 49ers have proven that they can compete in any type of game. They’ve won low-scoring games where they relied on their elite defense, and they’ve won high-scoring shootouts as we saw in New Orleans. This team is equipped for the long run, and I don’t think the visiting Falcons will get in their way. I’ll take San Fran to win and cover in this one. 49ers 30-18.
Cleveland (-2.5) @ Arizona
The Cardinals haven’t won a game since the inexplicable disappearance (in plain sight) of David Johnson. They’ve lost 6 in a row, and now have to contend with the visiting Browns. Kyler Murray will do his best to ignite this offense, which still relies on veteran WR Larry Fitzgerald & young stud WR Christian Kirk. Kenyan Drake and David Johnson (maybe?) will pace the backfield and try to produce against this Cleveland defense. The Browns have won 4 of their last 5, despite their star WR Odell Beckham Jr. lighting up the news airwaves. With or without Beckham, I think this offense has way too much heat for the Cardinals to keep up with. RBs Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt should methodically wear down this Arizona defense, while WRs Jarvis Landry and Beckham should find the holes to exploit the secondary and rip off some chunk plays in the process. If TE David Njoku is healthy enough to play, he’ll produce as well, as the Cardinals are historically bad against opposing tight ends. I just don’t see the Cardinals defense magically fixing everything overnight. I’ll take the visiting Browns to win and cover. Browns 22-18.
Jacksonville @ Oakland (-6.5)
The Jaguars seem like they’ve completely quit on this season. They’ve lost 5 straight and will have to travel across the country to Oakland for this one. I truly think that the Raiders are better on both sides of the ball. With that said, we did just see Derrick Henry exploit this Oakland run defense… so look for Leonard Fournette to post a respectable game. Oakland will rely on QB Derek Carr to outscore the Jaguars. Carr has a few strong weapons, but we’re not sure if he’ll have his best (and youngest.) RB Josh Jacobs is questionable after missing last week. If Jacobs can’t play on Sunday, it’d be a huge downgrade to DeAndre Washington for this offense. Carr will be focusing his passing attack on WR Tyrell Williams and TE Darren Waller. The latter has had quite the breakout year and should have an opportunity to shine against the Jaguars. Again, I feel like Oakland is the better team on both sides of the ball. And there might be a little extra emotion, as this is likely the Raiders’ last game at the Black Hole (and in Oakland for that matter.) Raiders 28-20.
LA Rams (-1.5) @ Dallas
Los Angeles impressed many last weekend with their victory over the Seahawks on Sunday Night. Jared Goff has played better as of late, and RB Todd Gurley seems to be rounding out into form after his workload was monitored all season. WR Robert Woods also impressed again, notching 7 catches for 98 yards and a touchdown. While WR Brandin Cooks has been ineffective since returning from injury, and WR Cooper Kupp’s snaps have been limited (due to gameplan, per McVay), this offense is still potent. McVay’s attack is also complex because they have so many weapons that can burn you at a moment’s notice. Conversely, Dallas has lost 4 of their last 5. Things aren’t great in Jerry World right now, but the Cowboys still have a chance at the division title, as they’re tied in First with the Eagles. QB Dak Prescott leads the NFL in passing yardage with 4,122 yards. He’s focused in on stud WR Amari Cooper who’s logged 1,054 yards and 8 TD so far this season. Young WR Michael Gallup has also been impressive, grabbing 55 balls for 905 yards. RB Ezekiel Elliott is one of the league’s best backs and has produced as such so far this season, logging 1,071 yards and 9 TD along the way. I truly believe that the Cowboys’ best days are ahead of them, but I don’t think the LA Rams are the best matchup for Dallas. Aaron Donald’s presence should make life tough for Zeke on Sunday, and Jalen Ramsey should match up nicely with either Cooper or Gallup. In a clash of stars, I side with the LA defensive studs to contain the Dallas weapons in this battle. It could go either way, but I like the Rams on the road in this one. Rams 28-25.
Minnesota (-2.5) @ LA Chargers
The Chargers have lost 3 of their last 4, despite knocking off the lowly Jaguars last weekend. Philip Rivers’ career is likely winding down, but he’s still as competitive as ever. Luckily, he’s surrounded by a bevy of skill players to aid him in their offensive attack. RBs Melvin Gordon and Austin Ekeler have been a dynamic duo all year, and Ekeler has been shining as of late. Last week, Ekeler logged 101 yards rushing, and 112 yards receiving, including an 84-yard touchdown. Rivers also has the fantastic WR Keenan Allen, who is approaching 1,000 receiving yards on the season. In addition to Allen, Mike Williams has been playing well too. He’s netted 841 yards receiving so far this season, and inexplicably caught his very first touchdown of the season just last week. On the other hand, the visiting Vikings are on a mission to make the playoffs in the crowded NFC. You can bet that they’ll feel the magnitude of this game and rise to the occasion. WR Adam Thielen is nearing his return, but can’t be counted on until he’s actually activated by Minnesota. Until then, QB Kirk Cousins will have his primary target Stefon Diggs to hone in on. RB Dalvin Cook is one of the league’s best and will aim to exploit this Chargers front on the ground. Given the playoff implications (and lack thereof for LA), I like the 9-4 Vikings to take this one on the road. Vikings 28-23.
Buffalo @ Pittsburgh (-1.5)
This should be a fun (and cold) game on Sunday Night. Both teams need this win to stay locked into Wild Card spots, so tensions will be high. Heck, Buffalo can even contend with the Patriots for a division title if they get a little lucky over the next few weeks. QB Josh Allen will have his work cut out, as the Pittsburgh defense has been one of the league’s best, allowing the 6th lease points per game, logging the most Sacks, and creating the 2nd most INTs. Buffalo will have to deploy a balanced attack, and Allen will have to take care of the ball in the process. WR John Brown has been quiet as of late, but he’s always a deep threat, so Pittsburgh will have to keep a close eye on him as the game goes on. Otherwise, Buffalo’s options are limited. WR Cole Beasley is always effective, but not particularly a game-breaker. They also have young RB Devin Singletary, who has flashed recently. He will need to be at his best, along with the veteran Frank Gore, to keep Buffalo in this game on SNF. The Steelers will yet again turn to Duck Hodges at QB, but he will (yet again) likely be without WR JuJu Smith-Schuster. It seems that RB James Conner should return, but the WR corps will undoubtedly remain thin with the absence of JuJu. Diontae Johnson and James Washington have both had their moments this year, but they haven’t played across from many DBs like TreDavious White. I expect White to make a big difference in this game and to shut down whoever he lines up on. This will be a defensive battle, and with how the Bills have been playing on both sides of the ball, I give them the edge… even at the hostile Heinz Field. Look for them to cause multiple turnovers and get the best of Duck. Bills 24-23.
Indianapolis @ New Orleans (-8.5)
New Orleans will be out for revenge in this one. The Colts have lost 5 of their last 6, and just don’t look the same as they did earlier this year. They lost TE Eric Ebron for the season, and are currently without WR TY Hilton. Therefore, their top weapons are TE Jack Doyle, WR Zach Pascal, and RB Marlon Mack. While Mack is certainly a young, quality player, there’s really not a lot for Jacoby Brissett to work with here. On the other hand, Hall of Fame Drew Brees will be at home with one of the game’s best RBs (Alvin Kamara) and the league leader in receptions and receiving yards (Michael Thomas.) Not to mention, the Saints are better defensively. I’m not going to overthink this one. Saints 33-20.
Enjoy the games! Until next week…