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Dec. 16, 2012

NFL Week Fifteen Predictions

by Jacob Buchholz, Online Sports Editor, Jack Estrin, Online Editor-in-Chief, Michael Gerbasi, Online Sports Editor and Josh Schmidt, Print Sports Editor
This weekend will be filled with big time matchups with playoff implications. The Bears and Packers play for supremacy in the NFC North. The Colts and Texans will battle it out for the AFC South. Not to mention Patriots vs. 49ers, Ravens vs. Broncos, Giants vs. Falcons and Cowboys vs. Steelers. Meanwhile on the home front all eyes will be on RG3 and whether his knee has healed up enough or whether it will be Kirk Cousins leading the Redskins.

Peyton Manning and the Broncos take on the Ravens in Baltimore. Courtesy of AP
Peyton Manning and the Broncos take on the Ravens in Baltimore.
Standings:
Jacob: 139-69
Josh: 133-75
Michael: 132-76
Jack: 130-78

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Cincinnati Bengals at Philadelphia Eagles
Jacob: Bengals
Jack: Bengals
Michael: Bengals
Josh: Bengals

Jacob says:
The Eagles are hopeless, the Bengals are looking at a possible wild card berth.
Jack says:
Although the Eagles pulled out a big win last week against the Bucs, don't expect them to continue their success against Cincinnati. With the Bengals playing for their playoff lives, there is no way that they let this one slip away.
Michael says:
Nick Foles and Bryce Brown have been delightful surprises for the Eagles, but the Bengals are up to the task. In a big game like this, I don't think Andy Dalton will let his team lose.
Josh says:
Why would the Eagles win?

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Green Bay Packers at Chicago Bears
Jacob: Packers
Jack: Bears
Michael: Packers
Josh: Packers

Jacob says:
It doesn't matter where this game is. The Bears have fallen apart. They've lost four of their last five including two in a row. They've given up the division lead to the Packers and they are not getting it back.
Jack says:
After an unexpected loss to the Vikings, look for the Bears to win this rivalry game. Jay Cutler is likely to play after an injury last week, and he will be the difference maker. You can be sure that Soldier Field will be rocking Sunday with Green Bay in town, and the 12th man will help propel Chicago in a close one.
Michael says:
Again, similar to last week, the loss of Brian Urlacher will severely affect the Bears' D. I expect the Packers to be able to run the ball with at least some degree of success due to the loss of Urlacher. The Pack win this game.
Josh says:
Chicago fans can now only reminisce as to when the Bears were 7-1 and were vying for the top seed in the NFC. Now they have their defensive leader sidelined, their quarterback with an injured neck, and are mired in a 1-4 stretch.

Indianapolis Colts at Houston Texans
Jacob: Texans
Jack: Texans
Michael: Texans
Josh: Texans

Jacob says:
The Texans may not be as good as the Patriots but they are better than the Colts. While everyone has been giving Andrew Luck enormous credit for the Colts' turnaround, most of which he deserves, recently his season has been turning for the worse. In his last five games Luck has thrown 10 interceptions and only 8 touchdowns. It hit a new low last week as he registered a 50.6 passer rating on the way to a narrow win against the 4-9 Titans. Texans bounce back and win big.
Jack says:
After an awful loss to the Patriots on Monday, the Texans will rebound strongly. The Colts weak secondary will be exposed in this one and Andre Johnson will have a big day. When Schaub and Arian Foster get the play action game going, the Texans' offense will be tough to stop.
Michael says:
Coming off a huge loss to New England, I like Houston to bounce back. Earlier in the season when Houston took a beating from Green Bay, they came back and won the very next week. I expect history to repeat itself and for the Texans to take this game.
Josh says:
While the Colts have been good this season, they’re no match for Houston. Houston bided their time at the cellar of the AFC South for their first years of existence and now seem poised to dominate for the years to come. Luck and the Colts will have to settle for the Wild Card.

Denver Broncos at Baltimore Ravens
Jacob: Broncos
Jack: Broncos
Michael: Broncos
Josh: Broncos

Jacob says:
What happened to the Ravens? The season was going along just as planned and then it all began to fall apart. Their 9-4 record is suddenly looking less than ominous and they may be in for a tough weekend against the Broncos.
Jack says:
With the Ravens struggling, the Broncos should win this one easily. Peyton Manning and the high flying Broncos will put up far too many points for the Ravens' offense to handle.
Michael says:
I think Denver is the best team in the AFC right now maybe along with New England. Peyton Manning has complete control of the offense and makes everyone else around him better. The Ravens are going to have to play a remarkable defensive game to stop the Broncos.
Josh says:
Even with Jim Caldwell calling the plays and Ray Rice likely getting the ball more often, there’s still one thing Denver holds over Baltimore’s head: A quarterback with not only the talent to be great, but the intangibles to lead. Joe Flacco should take notes from Peyton Manning if he wants to truly be elite.

Jacksonville Jaguars at Miami Dolphins
Jacob: Dolphins
Jack: Dolphins
Michael: Dolphins
Josh: Dolphins

Jacob says:
The Jaguars lost to the Jets last week. They must be bad—really, really bad.
Jack says:
I can't possibly pick the Jags in this one. Although Chad Henne has certainly done a better job of leading this team than Blaine Gabbert did, Dolphins rookie Ryan Tannehill is better than either option.
Michael says:
As long as Jacksonville has their backup running back going, they will not defeat Miami. The Jags do have Chad Henne, who is playing well, but without their largest offensive weapon, Miami dominates.
Josh says:
Lost in the furvor over Andrew Luck, Robert Griffin III and Russell Wilson is that Ryan Tannehill has helped the Dolphins to a 5-8 record. That may not sound like much, but Miami fans have seen worse in recent years.

Washington Redskins at Cleveland Browns
Jacob: Redskins
Jack: Browns
Michael: Redskins
Josh: Redskins

Jacob says:
If RG3 doesn't play it will be very close but either way the Redskins are the better team here. The Browns are underrated and could cause problems which is why the Redskins will be willing to play RG3 in a questionable situation with their playoff hopes on the line.
Jack says:
With a hobbled RG3, look for the Browns to surprise the Redskins in this one. The Browns at 5-8 are a much better team than they are given credit for. Cleveland is hot, on a three game winning streak, and would be delighted to finish the season at .500. If RG3 plays, he will almost surely not be at 100%, and I don't think Kirk Cousins would be able to get this W in his first career start.
Michael says:
Washington has announced that they will not name a starting QB until Sunday. If it is RGIII, the Redskins should be able to dominate one of the lesser defenses in the league. If Kirk Cousins gets the start, I still give the Redskins a slight edge going off the way Cousins performed last week in the win against Baltimore. The Redskins move one step closer to the playoffs.
Josh says:
Even with fellow rookie Kirk Cousins starting under center the Redskins will still be able to beat a hot Cleveland team. Rookie (surprise right?) Alfred Morris will be able to pound the ball down the Browns’ throat and all Cousins will need to do is get the ball into Pierre Garcon’s hands and let him make a big play.

Minnesota Vikings at St. Louis Rams
Jacob: Rams
Jack: Vikings
Michael: Vikings
Josh: Vikings

Jacob says:
A Viking win could bring them even with the Bears in the NFC North but it's just not happening. They are 1-5 on the road this season and the Rams are not out of the playoff race either.
Jack says:
AP is too much for anyone in this league to handle, and he will explode for another jaw dropping game in this one. The Vikings will end the Rams' playoff hopes on their home turf.
Michael says:
Nobody can stop Adrian Peterson right now; the guy is an animal. Expect AP to torch one of the weaker defenses against the rush.
Josh says:
Adrian Peterson is a beast and Christian Ponder is engaged to ESPN reporter Samantha Steele. Need I say more?

Tampa Bay Buccaneers at New Orleans Saints
Jacob: Saints
Jack: Buccaneers
Michael: Saints
Josh: Saints

Jacob says:
The Saints will not be in this year's postseason. That I can say with a lot of confidence. However, at home against the sporadic Buccaneers, they will be able to get a win.
Jack says:
With each team coming off of a deflating loss last week, I expect Tampa Bay to win this divisional matchup. Josh Freeman will pick apart the Saints' secondary, and Doug Martin will have a big day to pace the Bucs.
Michael says:
The loss of Aquib Talib to the Patriots was a big factor for the Tampa Bay secondary. I expect Drew Brees to take advantage of the weak Bucs' secondary and put up a lot of points on them.
Josh says:
Drew Brees and his warriors will win this one for their vindicated teammates. New Orleans will also be playing spoiler to the Buccaneers' playoff hopes.

New York Giants at Atlanta Falcons
Jacob: Falcons
Jack: Giants
Michael: Falcons
Josh: Falcons

Jacob says:
The Falcons are beatable. That has been made clear by both the Saints and the Panthers now, however they are 6-0 at home on the year and the Giants have lost three of their last five and they look quite beatable themselves.
Jack says:
The Giants proved last week against the Saints that their hiccup in Washington was a fluke. They will dismantle the Falcons on Sunday, and play the way they did against New Orleans. The Giants are starting to get hot, much like they did at the end of last season. The Giants at their best are the best team in the league, and I expect them to play like that in this must win game.
Michael says:
I give Matt Ryan and the Falcons the slight edge in this game. Atlanta is simply the better team right now and they are 6-0 this season at home. I like Atlanta at home.
Josh says:
By no means would anyone be surprised if New York gave Atlanta two straight losses, it’s hard to see Matt Ryan losing in the Georgia Dome. If he wants to prove that the Falcons are an elite team he better improve his home record to 33-4 for his career.

Detroit Lions at Arizona Cardinals
Jacob: Lions
Jack: Lions
Michael: Lions
Josh: Lions

Jacob says:
The Cardinals are not winning another game this year.
Jack says:
The Cardinals are terrible. I mean, did you see that game in Seattle last week?
Michael says:
The Cardinals are not winning again this season. I can say that right now. I like Detroit and their high-powered offense.
Josh says:
Detroit is the best 4-9 team in quite a few years. Unfortunately 4-9 doesn’t get you anywhere in the NFL. But then again, neither does losing 58-0, Arizona.

Carolina Panthers at San Diego Chargers
Jacob: Panthers
Jack: Panthers
Michael: Chargers
Josh: Panthers

Jacob says:
The Panthers seem to always get the short end of the stick but they finally got a big win last week against the Falcons. I could see them winning out although it still won't get them into the playoffs.
Jack says:
With Cam Newton throwing for nearly 300 yards and rushing for over 100, the Panthers' offense showed signs of greatness. That showing was all the more impressive as it lead to a win against the Falcons, who came into the game 11-1. The Panthers should be able to duplicate that success this week in San Diego.
Michael says:
Although Carolina is coming off an improbable win over Atlanta, I like San Diego. Danario Alexander has really emerged as a solid number one option at wide receiver.
Josh says:
While the Chargers may have been able to beat the Steelers last week, Cam Newton will be able to use his dynamic abilities to mess with the Chargers' defense. Sorry Norv, this season seems pretty lost.

Seattle Seahawks at Buffalo Bills
Jacob: Seahawks
Jack: Seahawks
Michael: Seahawks
Josh: Seahawks

Jacob says:
Any road game is tough for the Seahawks but the Bills are really just awful.
Jack says:
The Seahawks had an impressive defensive showing last week against the Cardinals, and they will shut down the Bills in similar fashion this week.
Michael says:
Russell Wilson and Marshawn Lynch have been excellent this season and have been the keys to the Seahawks' success. The Bills' defense should not present any real challenges. Look for Seattle to take this one.
Josh says:
The Seahawks will likely be a Wild Card team in the playoffs, but very few division winners would feel comfortable facing this team that’s quality in all three facets of the game.

Kansas City Chiefs at Oakland Raiders
Jacob: Raiders
Jack: Chiefs
Michael: Raiders
Josh: Chiefs

Jacob says:
Carson Palmer will have a big game against the Chiefs secondary as the Raiders come out with a win.
Jack says:
Jamaal Charles will be the best player on the field this week against Oakland, and he will be the difference in the ball game.
Michael says:
What a bad game, two of the worst teams in the league. It's not that I like the Raiders, but that I dislike the Chiefs because of all their turnovers more.
Josh says:
For Jovan Belcher. The Raiders may be the better team in many aspects, but they seem lost while the Chiefs will have something, or somebody, to play for.

Pittsburgh Steelers at Dallas Cowboys
Jacob: Cowboys
Jack: Cowboys
Michael: Cowboys
Josh: Steelers

Jacob says:
The Steelers were just out of sync last week. They were confused and they played terribly. Both teams need to win, but the Cowboys will come out on top.
Jack says:
The Steelers are struggling, and although both teams are fighting for their playoff lives, the Cowboys are simply the better team right now.
Michael says:
With DeMarco Murray's return, the Cowboys' offense is greatly improved. The injured and aging Pittsburgh defense is going to have a lot more pressure on them this week. Look for the Cowboys to roll.
Josh says:
Maybe I’m just picking this because I’m a Redskins fan, but I just can’t have faith in the Cowboys to win a big game. Big Ben will return the Steelers to form.

San Francisco 49ers at New England Patriots
Jacob: Patriots
Jack: Patriots
Michael: Patriots
Josh: Patriots

Jacob says:
The Patriots are the best team in the league. They made that evident as they wiped the floor with the 11-2 Texans. Brady is clicking, Welker is clicking, Ridley is clicking and even the defense is clicking.
Jack says:
Did you see what Tom Brady did to the Texans last week? I mean come on man, this is going to be easy.
Michael says:
This game is tough to call, but I think the Pats are just too hot right now. The 49ers have a great defense, but New England has a better offense. New England is clicking on all cylinders and should win this game.
Josh says:
Potentially a Super Bowl matchup, but unfortunately, the Patriots will win this match up 8 times out of 10, which leaves little suspense. Tom Brady may just be the greatest quarterback of all time while Bill Belichick may be the best coach of all time. Enjoy them while you can.

Monday, December 17, 2012

New York Jets at Tennessee Titans
Jacob: Jets
Jack: Titans
Michael: Jets
Josh: Titans

Jacob says:
What a Monday night matchup. Two dynamic offenses and power defenses fighting for conference supremacy—oh wait. It's the Jets and the Titans. I don't know, Jets win?
Jack says:
The Titans were close to upsetting the Colts last week, and I don't think Mark Sanchez will be able to keep up with the explosive Jake Locker.
Michael says:
I think the Jets can get the job done against Tennessee. Chris Johnson has not been particularly great this season and I think the New York defense can handle him. I'm taking New York.
Josh says:
The NFL has been really hit or miss with Monday Night Football games this year. While we’ve had great games such as the Redskins-Giants game, we’ve also had Carolina-Philadelphia and New Orleans-Philadelphia.



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