In recent years Week 17 has been designated for divisional play in the NFL, but this season, Week 15 provides a preview with 11 divisional games, 10 of which have playoff implications.
And I have gained some separation from the .500 level, this is always a good time to finish strong.
Week 14 record: 10-5-1
Season record: 113-92-2
Arizona Cardinals (10-3) +4.5 at St. Louis Rams (6-7)
Despite being all but mathematically eliminated, St. Louis is a favorite and the number has gone up after opening up at 3.5. This is a trap game for Arizona as the Seahawks loom in Week 16.
ATS pick: Rams
Pittsburgh Steelers (8-5) -2.5 at Atlanta Falcons (5-8)
This will be a high-scoring affair, as the Steelers offense has fired on all cylinders in recent weeks. Julio Jones accounted for 250 receiving yards Monday night but is questionable for this game.
ATS pick: Steelers
Green Bay Packers (10-3) -4.5 at Buffalo Bills (7-6)
The Packers’ defense showed cracks against the Falcons in the second half this week, and can now hear the footsteps of Seattle for the NFC’s top seed. This week in Buffalo and even next week in Tampa will be difficult games for the Pack.
ATS pick: Bills
Cincinnati Bengals (8-4-1) +1 at Cleveland Browns (7-6)
This shouldn’t be too hard to figure out, the Browns’ defense dominated down in Cincinnati on a Thursday night a month ago. Throw in the Johnny Manziel factor and I look for Cleveland to rock and roll.
ATS pick: Browns
Houston Texans (7-6) +6.5 at Indianapolis Colts (9-4)
The Texans have climbed into wild card contention, and would also remain in the AFC South race with a win in Indianapolis.
ATS pick: Texans
Oakland Raiders (2-11) +10 at Kansas City Chiefs (7-6)
The Raiders sent Kansas City into their tailspin a few weeks back, and can effectively end their playoff hopes this week. Raiders/Chiefs games tend to be closely contested regardless of records, especially in Kansas City. Add in Jamaal Charles being hobbled while the wraps have finally been taken off Latavius Murray, and you have a potential upset.
ATS pick: Raiders
Miami Dolphins (7-6) +7.5 at New England Patriots (10-3)
Remember the questions being asked about the Patriots after losing in Miami way back in Week 1? It is indeed a long season. I would stay away from the window myself with the dreaded hook in play.
ATS pick: Dolphins
Washington (3-10) +6.5 at New York Giants (4-9)
Odell Beckham will likely put up his seventh straight 90-plus yard receiving performance, we can sell that aspect. Other than that look for tens of thousands of empty seats in the Meadowlands.
ATS pick: Giants
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2-11) +3 at Carolina Panthers (4-8-1)
Just when Cam Newton finally looked impressive and healthy, he winds up out this week after being involved in a traffic accident. Derek Anderson started the team’s previous meeting back in Week 1, a game which Carolina won.
ATS pick: Panthers
Jacksonville Jaguars (2-11) +14 at Baltimore Ravens (8-5)
This should be a win for Baltimore as they look to remain in the AFC Wild Card and Divisional races. But the Ravens never seem to win easily.
ATS pick: Jaguars
New York Jets (2-11) -2.5 at Tennessee Titans (2-11)
Do you really want to live in New York? The local TV schedule features Washington/Giants followed by this epic showdown. And the doubleheader game is blacked out nearly every week.
ATS pick: Jets
Denver Broncos (10-3) -4 at San Diego Chargers (8-5)
The final San Diego Chargers home game ever? The battle for a new stadium has lasted forever – a location near the harbor is an option except the convention center wants to expand to keep an annual comic book convention from moving to Los Angeles. So it’s either football or comic books, and the trendies who like their Batman just might win.
ATS pick: Broncos
Minnesota Vikings (6-7) +7.5 at Detroit Lions (9-4)
Don’t look now, but the Vikings have put together a halfway respectable season with a rookie quarterback and minus Adrian Peterson. Detroit is also laying the dreaded seven and a half at home.
ATS pick: Vikings
San Francisco 49es (7-6) +10 at Seattle Seahawks (9-4)
For the first time in the Jim Harbaugh era, the Niners find themselves double-digit underdogs as they travel to FEMA Region X to face the Seahawks. Approximately 80 percent of all bets early this week have been for Seattle, although a lone tourist with a hole burning in his wallet wagered $20,000 on the Niners. The dominating 19-3 win a fortnight ago suggests the Seahawks again win convincingly.
ATS pick: Seahawks
Dallas Cowboys (9-4) +3.5 at Philadelphia Eagles (9-4)
The NFC East goes a long ways towards being decided Sunday night. These rivals also met on Thanksgiving with the Eagles winning handily. I believe Tony Romo is even more banged up than is being let on. This might be the Body Bag game for a new generation.
ATS pick: Eagles
New Orleans Saints (5-8) +3 at Chicago Bears (5-8)
In Roger Goodell’s ultimate wisdom, yet another late season Monday night game is scheduled for a frigid climate. A couple of good offenses ensure a lot of fantasy playoff battles will be decided.
ATS pick: Saints