Breaking
May 29, 2024

Many Tough Calls as NFL Week 15 Serves Up Critical Games

AiBot
Written by AiBot

AiBot scans breaking news and distills multiple news articles into a concise, easy-to-understand summary which reads just like a news story, saving users time while keeping them well-informed.

Dec 17, 2023

The 2023 NFL season heads toward the home stretch, and Week 15 presents some critical games that could decide playoff spots and seeding. With only three weeks left in the regular season, teams are jockeying for position and every game takes on added importance.

Favorites Look to Hold Serve in Week 15

Several of this week’s games feature playoff contenders matched up against teams with losing records. The favorites will look to avoid letdowns and take care of business to maintain or improve their standing.

The Bills are 6.5-point favorites at home against the Cowboys in a potential Super Bowl preview. Dallas has dropped two of three, while Buffalo saw its seven-game win streak snapped last week. This could come down to which offense makes more plays.

The Chiefs are favored by 3 on the road against the Texans, an ideal bounce-back spot after Kansas City lost surprisingly to Cincinnati. Houston is just 1-10-1, so Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs offense should be able to get back on track.

In an AFC North clash, the Ravens are 4-point favorites over the visiting Browns. Both teams are fighting for Wild Card spots, so this is essentially an elimination game. Lamar Jackson’s status is still uncertain for Baltimore, a big factor in this matchup.

The Vikings host the Colts as 3.5-point favorites in another key game between Wild Card hopefuls. Minnesota saw its five-game win streak end last week and will aim to get back on track at home. Indianapolis has struggled offensively and may have trouble keeping pace.

Matchup Spread Pick
Cowboys at Bills BUF -6.5 Bills 35, Cowboys 31
Chiefs at Texans KC -3 Chiefs 31, Texans 17
Browns at Ravens BAL -4 Ravens 24, Browns 20
Colts at Vikings MIN -3.5 Vikings 27, Colts 17

Questions Surround Quarterback Situations

Aside from the Chiefs getting Patrick Mahomes back after his foot injury, several teams have uncertainty at the quarterback position heading into Week 15.

In Baltimore, Lamar Jackson’s status is still up in the air as he recovers from a knee injury. Backup Tyler Huntley has filled in capably, but getting their dynamic starter back could be key for the Ravens’ playoff push. A decision might not come until close to gametime.

For the 49ers, veteran Josh Johnson was placed on injured reserve, meaning third-string rookie Brock Purdy is slated to start versus Seattle. Purdy performed well in relief last week but is untested as a starter. The Niners hope his poise continues as they battle for the NFC West title.

In Miami, Tua Tagovailoa remains in concussion protocol, and backup Teddy Bridgewater is questionable with a dislocated pinky that caused him to exit last week early. If neither can play, rookie Skylar Thompson would make his second straight start. That could be trouble against an aggressive Bills defense fighting for the AFC’s No. 1 seed.

Team Quarterback Situation Impact
Ravens Lamar Jackson (knee) questionable Getting him back could swing matchup with Browns
49ers Josh Johnson on IR, Brock Purdy to start Rookie must step up against playoff-hungry Seahawks
Dolphins Tua Tagovailoa in protocol, Bridgewater injured Could face Bills with third-stringer under center

NFC Playoff Scramble Highlights Week 15 Slate

While Buffalo, Kansas City and Philadelphia have all clinched playoff spots in the AFC and NFC respectively, only six total teams have punched their postseason tickets heading into Week 15. That means several crucial games with major playoff implications on tap this week.

In the NFC, three games in particular could help shape both Wild Card and division title chases.

The Giants visit Washington as pick ’em in an NFC East clash between 6-7 teams. The winner stays alive in the race for the third Wild Card spot while the loser sees their playoff hopes endangered. New York has lost three of four but faces a Commanders defense that just allowed over 30 points in three straight games.

Out west, the red-hot Seahawks host the NFC East-leading Eagles as 2.5-point underdogs. At 7-5, Seattle is battling for a Wild Card spot while also pursuing San Francisco atop the NFC West. Philly already punched its playoff ticket but seeks to maintain edge for No. 1 conference seed. The Seahawks are 6-1 at home and aim to keep surging.

Matchup Spread Pick
Giants at Commanders Pick ‘Em Giants 27, Commanders 24
Eagles at Seahawks PHI -2.5 Seahawks 30, Eagles 27

The third pivotal NFC matchup sees the Packers visit Miami as 3-point underdogs. Green Bay is scraping to stay alive at 5-8 while the 8-5 Dolphins are battling for a Wild Card. However, Miami could be forced to start third-string quarterback Skylar Thompson. If Aaron Rodgers and the Pack can take advantage, they could sneak out a critical road win.

Other key NFC games include the Falcons visiting the Saints on Sunday and the Rams hosting the Packers on Monday night. Atlanta and New Orleans both have slim playoff hopes at 5-8 in a competitive NFC South. Los Angeles hopes to play spoiler against rival Green Bay.

Week 15 Prop Bets Worth Watching

While spreading the ball around limits targets for top receivers, Tyreek Hill’s over/under of 6.5 receptions seems low against a vulnerable Lions’ secondary. Hill has caught seven or more passes five times this year, and Miami will likely be chasing points.

The Colts have struggled to run the ball this season, but Minnesota allows 5.2 yards per carry over their past three games. Back Jonathan Taylor’s rushing over/under is just 64.5 yards, a number he’s hit in three of his last four contests. It’s a tempting play.

Finally, the Bears offense averages a paltry 285.6 total yards per game. But Cleveland’s defense allows 371.6 total yards, including 263.5 passing. Chicago quarterback Justin Fields’ over/under for pass yards is 212.5, above his season average but well below the Browns’ averages. It warrants consideration.

Week 15 Survivor Pool Considerations

For those still alive in survivor pools, Week 15 provides some safer choices along with a few risky plays for the bold.

The Bills are a popular choice at home against Dallas, as Buffalo has been dominant in Western New York this season. However, the Cowboys present a stiff test.

Other solid options include the Bengals against the Bucs with Tampa Bay collapsing and the 49ers facing third-string quarterback Drew Lock and the Seahawks. Both road teams have clear edges.

For those looking to take risks, the Lions seem undervalued as 3-point home favorites over the Jets with New York having playoff hopes but Detroit possessing more talent. An upset win by Chicago visiting Baltimore would also be a boon but is highly unlikely.

Playoff Scenarios Start Firming Up

With the regular season nearing its end, the playoff picture is coming into sharper focus in both conferences. Let’s examine where some key contenders stand.

In the AFC East, Buffalo has already clinched a playoff berth and has its sights set on home-field advantage and the AFC’s No. 1 seed. The Dolphins and Jets both remain in Wild Card contention at 8-5 and 7-6 respectively. Miami currently holds the tiebreaker for the No. 6 spot while New York is on the outside looking in.

Out west, Kansas City sits atop the AFC at 10-3 and can clinch the division with a win or Chargers loss. The Chiefs hold the head-to-head tiebreaker over Buffalo for the top seed. Los Angeles and Las Vegas still have dim playoff hopes but need help at 6-7.

In the NFC East, the Eagles have secured a postseason berth at 12-1 but are now tied with Minnesota record-wise for the No. 1 seed after the Vikings’ win on Sunday. Philadelphia holds the head-to-head edge for now. The 8-4 Cowboys and 7-5 Giants remain in solid Wild Card position. Washington lingers at 7-5-1.

The Buccaneers lead the weak NFC South at 6-7 but have dropped four of five. The 6-8 Falcons are still in striking distance while the 5-8 Saints and Panthers are on the fringes. Tampa Bay needs to reverse its slide soon to hold off its rivals.

So as the playoff races gain clarity, teams have little margin for error left. Every game and possession grows more pivotal, setting up a tension-filled next three weeks. Buckle up!

What Next After Week 15?

Looking ahead, the Week 16 slate could provide even more critical games with massive playoff ramifications.

A Saturday night matchup between the Raiders and Steelers will feature two 7-7 teams battling for their postseason lives. Christmas Day will see Denver visiting the defending champion Rams as both 5-9 clubs play for pride. Then on Monday night, Buffalo will visit Cincinnati in an AFC Championship rematch that could decide playoff positioning.

Other games like Philadelphia at Dallas, Las Vegas at Pittsburgh, Miami at New England, and the Giants at Minnesota will also carry major weight. And some currently struggling teams like Tampa Bay, Green Bay, Detroit, and Washington will aim to make late-season pushes to sneak into Wild Card spots.

In the end, injuries, COVID-19 and other unpredictables could play a role in shaping the final playoff field. But for now, it’s clear Week 15 presents many critical matchups. Teams storming toward the finish line have no time for letdowns, and winning on the margins will determine postseason fate. Every pass, carry, tackle and kick now carries extra consequence.

So prepare for a tension-filled week where fortunes shift wildly and playoff lives hang in the balance. It will be three days fans won’t forget as longshots get knocked out and favorites try cementing their spots. Strap in for a rollercoaster ride!

AiBot

AiBot

Author

AiBot scans breaking news and distills multiple news articles into a concise, easy-to-understand summary which reads just like a news story, saving users time while keeping them well-informed.

To err is human, but AI does it too. Whilst factual data is used in the production of these articles, the content is written entirely by AI. Double check any facts you intend to rely on with another source.

By AiBot

AiBot scans breaking news and distills multiple news articles into a concise, easy-to-understand summary which reads just like a news story, saving users time while keeping them well-informed.

Related Post