Week 15 NFL Picks

Let Jake Browning get paid, the Bears can’t choose Justin Fields, and why the the handling of the Draymond Green situation is a joke.

Last Week:  8 – 6 – 1
Season:       100 – 98 – 10

Thursday (8:15PM ET)

Chargers 21 at Raiders 63
I did not watch a single second of this game. It was my son’s birthday. I’ll try to go back and get caught up but I really, really don’t want to.

Saturday Games (1:00, 4:30 & 8:15PM ET)

Vikings at Bengals
Minnesota got away with starting Joshua Dobbs last week. I still think Jaren Hall is the better choice over Nick Mullens, so we’ll see how this week plays out against the resurgent Bengals. Jake Browning can really make himself some money over the next few weeks. If he plays well, he could command a multi-year deal as an overpaid backup or potential starter. Matt Flynn and Chase Daniels are millionaires because of solid stretches as backups. There is a small catch here, however. Browning can’t become an unrestricted free agent because he hasn’t accrued enough time in the NFL. I highly doubt the Bengals would deny him a nice contract and make him a qualifying offer (meaning he HAS to stay in Cincinnati). On the other hand, given Joe Burrow’s injury history, maybe the Bengals make him an offer of their own to be a well-paid backup. I highly doubt this would be the case given their current cap situation but you never know. BENGALS -3

Steelers at Colts
Pittsburgh leads the league in disgruntled players. I would typically back the Mike Tomlin led squad in any December scenario with a playoff berth hanging in the balance. Unfortunately, this Steelers team is mentally soft on offense and they can’t do anything at quarterback. I don’t know how or why Mason Rudolph hasn’t seen the field this season. He can’t possibly be worse than Mitch Trubisky was last week. My only worry is the Steeler defense bullying Gardner Minshew into giving this game away. STEELERS +1.5

Broncos at Lions
Denver is in the playoffs if they can just find a way to win Saturday night. They own tiebreakers against the Browns and Bills. The Texans appear to be DOA with CJ Stroud in concussion protocol. The Broncos final three games are against the offensively challenged Patriots, the rudderless Chargers and the Raiders. Unfortunately, I don’t see Russell Wilson keeping up with a Lions offense that was embarrassed last week but I think Denver’s defense can keep it close. BRONCOS +4.5

Early Games (1:00PM ET)

Bears at Browns
I said this a few weeks ago, the Bears have to move on from Justin Fields and take Caleb Williams. Fields has certainly shown flashes, and in most any other situation, sticking with Fields would be the right move, but you have to reset the QB pay clock if you have the chance. If Fields were Justin Herbert or Burrow or Jalen Hurts or Patrick Mahomes, then sure, pay him and draft another position. Fields isn’t any of those guys, though. He’s not particularly close either. Take the phenom and the four years of discount QB pay and contend from there. Chicago isn’t that far behind. The defense has shown tremendous improvement, DJ Moore is a legitimate number one, and I still think a healthy Khalil Herbert and Roschon Johnson are a solid backfield duo. BROWNS -3

Buccaneers at Packers
The NFL has suffered through a rough season from a quarterbacking perspective. However, they must be thrilled by the amount of teams still in playoff contention this late in the season, and that is a product of the quarterback injuries. Look at the standings. Going into Week 15, all but four teams remain legitimately alive for a playoff spot. (UPDATE: Five are now dead after the Chargers slaughter.) This is what all the other major sports would kill for; a plethora of meaningful games in the final quarter of the season. I would love to say this is a de facto playoff game but it’s not. The Buccaneers will still be alive in the NFC South with a loss and the Packers remaining schedule would afford them the opportunity to climb back in. BUCCANEERS +3.5

Texans at Titans
Houston has been decimated by injury the last few weeks. The Tank Dell injury was brutal for CJ Stroud and the offense. He was their big play guy and Stroud’s go to in a 3rd and long situation. Dalton Schultz has been down for two weeks. Last week, already without Dell and Schultz, Houston’s leading receiver Nico Collins went down in the first quarter and did not return. Maybe Houston claws its way to a win here, I just don’t see it happening without Stroud. Their running game has been too inconsistent all season to win without big plays from the passing game. No Line Yet

Jets at Dolphins
That was an abomination Monday night by Miami. The best offense in the league up 14 points with the opportunity to jump in the AFC driver’s seat and they choked. Big time. Miami could’ve closed the game out with a 1st down but the most aggressive offense in the NFL went conservative. Then the Dolphins had the opportunity to salvage the game and promptly ran one of the worst two-minute offenses I’ve seen all season. Maybe we should stop with the unconditional Mike McDaniel love until he actually does something deserving of all the praise. Maybe win a big game? Maybe beat a good team? Maybe be more aggressive when it really matters? JETS +9

Chiefs at Patriots
No question, Patrick Mahomes looked dumb for all the whining, but he’s still the best player in the NFL and he’s still going to end up in the AFC title game. I didn’t see Sunday’s outburst by the Chiefs as them being sore losers. I think it showed their level of frustration with the offense boiling over and the officials were the nearest outlet. What Mahomes and Andy Reid really wanted to do was go chew out Kadarius Toney for his 947th stupid mistake this season, but they can’t do that. The Chiefs need him. What they need even more than Toney is for Isiah Pacheco to be fully healthy so they can become a ground and pound team that beats defenses over the top with play action. Of course, taking what the defense gives you has never been Mahomes or Reid’s cup of tea. There is no choice this year, though. Pacheco is the offense’s best way to survive January. CHIEFS -8

Giants at Saints
The Tommy Devito Giants could leapfrog their way into the wildcard with a win and a whole bunch of convenient losses throughout the NFC. I love the NFL. This is like the 2005 Jeff Garcia Philadelphia Eagles all over again. GIANTS +5.5

Falcons at Panthers
I was glad the Falcons finally featured all of their last three top ten picks in one game. They should probably try that more. I don’t think there’s a more depressing sports franchise right now than the Panthers. Maybe the Washington Wizards? No, they at least own the fruits of their failure. Carolina does not. How this line is only three is concerning but I can’t back the Panthers anymore. FALCONS -3

Afternoon Games (4:05PM ET)

Commanders at Rams
I’ll admit, I’m not the biggest Sean McVay guy, but what McVay has done this year is pretty remarkable. This team was supposed to be a rebuilding mess for a handful of seasons. Some wondered why they brought back Matthew Stafford at all instead of trading him. The Rams haven’t had a first round pick since the Obama administration. And here they are, right in the thick of the NFC playoff picture. We too often focus on the first round of the draft as being the end all determination of how a team did in the draft. That first round is undoubtedly critical, but the Rams have drafted exceptionally well beyond the first round and that’s why they’re where they are today. RAMS -6.5

49ers at Cardinals
If Jonathan Gannon could take down another NFC powerhouse like he did back in September his friends in Philadelphia would greatly appreciate it. Let’s talk about Draymond Green and how the NBA, the Warriors and Steve Kerr are stupid. First, Green is a professional athlete who gets too heated too fast and can’t control his emotions. This isn’t new. This was never a mental health crisis before. Dennis Rodman anyone? Bill Laimbeer? DK Metcalf? Tensions run high in pro sports. It happens. Second, Green is not a danger to society. As far as I know, he doesn’t abuse his spouse, his children or the people he passes at the grocery store. He doesn’t need to change his life around. He needs a little more self-control on the basketball court. Third, if I were Green, I would verbally and publicly undress Steve Kerr and the NBA for their cowardly and defaming remarks. They aren’t mental health professionals. Who are they to say that Green needs professional help? They’re throwing Green under the bus and running over him because the optics of throwing punches in the NBA is apparently the end of the world. I’ve never liked Green. His antics are tiresome and he’s always gotten away with this while the Warriors ruled the NBA. Now that he’s old and the Warriors are fading, the league all of sudden wants Green to stop being what he’s been his entire career. Please. 49ERS -12

Cowboys at Bills
Dallas is playing great. Dak Prescott is quarterbacking better than anyone. The Cowboys trail only the 49ers as Super Bowl favorites. The 2023 season belongs to Dallas. Congratulations Jerry Jones, Mike McCarthy and the entire roster. You guys did it. You were great. Well done. Enjoy the parade! BILLS -2

Sunday Night (8:20PM ET)

Ravens at Jaguars
The NFC playoffs lack intrigue this year. It’s clear the 49ers and Cowboys are one and two with the fraudulent Eagles and Lions trailing behind them. Maybe the Eagles find their way back to 2022 form but I doubt it. The AFC Playoffs, meanwhile, are a wild, wild mess. If you asked ten people to name the best team in the AFC I am certain you’d get at least five different answers, maybe even six. I love it. This is a MASSIVE game for the Jaguars. While unlikely given their sweep of the Colts, the Jaguars are flirting with falling out of the top of the AFC South and even missing the postseason altogether. Trevor Lawrence and Calvin Ridley have to get their stuff figured out. When those two are on the same page, the offense goes up another level. Lately, they’ve been hit or miss. It’s too late in the season for them not to have this figured out. I have no idea who is to blame. Just get it right. JAGUARS +3.5

Monday Night (8:15PM ET)

Eagles at Seahawks
The coach speak coming out of Philadelphia this week was the opposite of confident and reassuring. It whiffed of delusion and ignorance. I texted a friend back in early November… “If the Eagles are serious about playing for a title, they need to make a change at OC.” Oh well. I do expect the offense to look better Monday night. I don’t say that because I believe in Brian Johnson and Jalen Hurts, I simply believe the Seattle defense isn’t very good and the Eagles just played two of the top seven defenses in the NFL. When you walk around with weights on your legs it’s much easier to be fast when you remove them. Simple as that. I also fully expect the Seahawk offense to move up and down the field like it’s flag football. EAGLES -3

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