Happy holidays everyone! It’s Christmas week and to make the best holiday even better, there’s a slew of great games on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. But before we crack into the spiked eggnog, let’s take a look back, then forward.
Biggest Takeaway: The Wildcard
Only four teams have clinched playoff berths with two weeks left in the season. This will make for a fun finish. There are too many scenarios to break down. The AFC & NFC wildcard races are jumbled. Many of these teams could punch their ticket on Christmas. What a gift that would be. But aside from the division titles, I’ll be watching the Wildcard race. In the NFC, I’m watching the Giants, Redskins, Bucs, Packers, and the Vikings. Yes, I know the Saints and Panthers are technically still alive too. In the AFC you have the Chiefs, Broncos, Dolphins, Ravens, Titans, Colts, and Bills. It’s a full house for both sides and it will be interesting to see how things unfold.
Best Week 15 Win: Tennessee Titans
Something special is happening in Nashville. Every week the Titans have to go against a pretty tough opponent. Every week I think they will lose. But every week they seem to win. It may be time to hop on the Titans bandwagon. Going on the road to Arrowhead is not easy. It’s even tougher when it’s minus a million degrees. They beat a Chiefs team that had so much to play for, and they did this by holding their offense to 17 points. Tennessee’s offense did just enough to win this game 19-17 on a last second field goal. A field goal that was by no means a gimmie. Was the two-point conversion attempt foolish? Absolutely. But you know what, who cares. The Titans won a very impressive, mid-December road game, to make sure that their playoff berth balances in their own hands. It’s simple, Titans win there next two games and they win the division. With the QB scenario in Houston and the fact they get the Texans at home to end the year, you have to admit that this team is most likely the favorite at this point to win the AFC South.
Worst Week 15 Loss: Washington Redskins
A big blow to the Redskins playoff picture occurred on Monday night. Washington fell to the now 6-8 Carolina Panthers 26-15. The Panthers dominated the entire game running the ball straight down the throat of the Washington defense. They controlled the clock, tempo, and the game from kickoff to the final whistle. The Redskins want to have the identity of a smash mouth football team. But for an offense that put up a measly 29 yards on the ground against a Panthers defense without Luke Kuechly is just the opposite of that. The game also had a little bit of hype around Josh Norman getting to face his old team. At the end of the game, Norman had a few good plays but got beat a fair amount as well. The Washington offense produced very little while the defense couldn’t stop Carolina. These late home December losses while your battling for a playoff spot is a killer. The Skins now need to win out and receive help to capture that 6th seed.
Week 16 Predictions:
Can’t Miss Win: Patriots over Jets
Last time I checked, the Jets were getting no respect from Vegas for their matchup against the Patriots. I believe the line was 16.5 the last time I looked. And I will be agreeing with Vegas since the Jets would need an early Christmas miracle to win this Christmas Eve game in New England. The Patriots won’t be resting players either. They are one game up on the Raiders for home field advantage throughout the AFC playoffs. Oakland holds the tie breaker. So as long as the Raiders keep winning, the Patriots need to do the same. I don’t think it’s necessary to really dive into this game and explain why the Jets have no chance. NY doesn’t have anything to play for. I wouldn’t be surprised if we see 2 or 3 different QBs lineup behind center for the Jets. Plus, the Jets haven’t won in Gillette Stadium since the 2011 playoffs when Mark Sanchez and the boys upset New England. This is an easy win for the Patriots.
Intriguing Matchup: Baltimore at Pittsburgh
The mecca of the two Christmas Day games. Picture this day: you wake up and gather with loved ones to share gifts; then devour a delicious breakfast, and if you’re like me, you enjoy a Mimosa or Bloody Mary too. Relax and celebrate this joyous occasion all day, then get ready for two NFL showdowns. That’s my Christmas plan. What better way to celebrate a holiday full of peace and love, then to combat that with a heated rivalry that will pretty much determine the AFC North champion. This is better than any white Christmas. The 8-6 Ravens, who beat Pittsburgh earlier in the year, head to the home of the 9-5 Steelers for a 4:25pm Christmas Day matchup.
These two teams simply just do not like each other. Baltimore has an incredible defense, while Pittsburgh has the more explosive offense. The Ravens defense needs to hold the three big B’s to 20 points or less. Joe Flacco doesn’t have the talent around him to put up more than 24 points this week. They will be on the road, in a hopefully snowy atmosphere, where the crowd will be absolutely electric. There’s going to be a lot of chatter – lead by Baltimore’s T-Suggs and Steve Smith. Don’t expect the Steelers to not return the favor. This one will get chippy. When it’s all said and done, I like the Steelers. I’m a big believer that home field advantage is a huge factor. Plus the Steelers have much more offensive fire power. Pittsburgh in a close one.
Biggest Upset: 49ers over Rams
A real matchup of the NFL’s elite here. The 1-13 49ers face off against the 4-10 Rams. San Francisco is riding a lengthy 13 game losing streak. But they get back into the win column this week. There’s a few reasons why I like the 49ers to upset the new LA Rams. Colin Kaepernick hasn’t been terrible this year. He’s honestly shown why he should be considered a starting NFL QB. Overall, he is better today than Jared Goff, but I’d expect Goff to grow into a better QB. San Francisco has lost games because their defense can’t stop anyone. Lucky for this group, the Rams have the worst total offense in the NFL. That means they’re worse than Cleveland. Finally, LA has a new interim head coach. Chip Kelly is no all-star leader, but he’s been there all year. For these abysmal reasons, San Francisco beats the LA Rams in a heavy weight battle.
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