NFL Week 15 open thread

Ed: We’re heading into the home stretch of the regular season, and it’s looking pretty good for Team Ed. Last week I went 5-2 to bring my 2014 season record to 65-31. That’s a better winning percentage (0.677) than the Pittsburgh Steelers this year (0.615), but I’d be willing to have them surpass me and win a Super Bowl. (Of course, that’s exactly what they’re going to do.) I’m in the upper bracket of the Politinerds playoffs, but got thumped in the first week of the two-week set. I have to make up a 34-point deficit this week, and that means that Denver, Pittsburgh, and New England have to come up big.

Jazz: This week, let’s take a look at this ten minute collection of the best cat videos of 2014. Ohmahgawd, they are too cute for words, aren’t they? And if that’s not enough to put you in the holiday spirit, you need to check out the Penguin Dance-Off. (Oh, and I lost again last week to go 44-52 on the year, but do we really need to talk about that? Also, I never really had anything to do with that fantasy football league Ed is always going on about. He may have imagined the whole thing.)

Ed: Let’s get down to cases, shall we? Pittsburgh goes into Atlanta after having just won a big road game in Cincinnati. The Steelers D has been inconsistent, but they should hold up better than Green Bay’s did last week against the Falcons. Atlanta’s dead last against the pass and 21st against the run, so expect a big day from Big Ben and La’Veon Bell. Steelers 38-21 over the Falcons (1 pm ET, CBS). The Jets hit the road in their quest to win the first-round draft pick, but they’re amazingly favored against nearly-as-hapless Titans. I just can’t see the Jets winning on the road, though, so I’ll pick Tennessee in an upset 17-13 win  (4:05 pm, CBS). The Vikings go on the road to take on Detroit, and while Minnesota’s playing better, they haven’t improved enough to win this game. Lions eat the Vikes 34-17 and get that score for the third straight week at home (4:25 pm, Fox).

Jazz: I asked my cat Walter who would win these three games, as he is clearly more on top of the sporting news than I am. He assures me that the Steelers will beat the Falcons 31-28 on the strength of the #2 passing offense matched up with an Atlanta passing defense which is in the bottom 10%. Walter is also positive that Detroit will simply destroy the Vikings 27-10 because rookie Teddy Bridgewater just isn’t ready for a pass rush like the ones the Lions will bring. Walter then went on to begin saying something about the Titans having a good chance due to home field advantage, but I threw him outside at that point. The Jets beat Tennessee 17-14.

Ed: What are the other hot games of the week?

  • Dolphins at Patriots (1 pm, CBS) – When was the last time Miami beat a good team? At least a month ago, when they topped Buffalo at home. Going on the road against New England late in the year, this one should be an easy win for the Pats, 31-17.
  • Broncos at Chargers (4:05 pm, CBS) – Denver appears to have righted the ship the last three weeks, but San Diego can play tough against the Broncos. Peyton & Co. handled them pretty easily in Week 8 at home, but the Chargers have won three out of four since. I’m not going to pick against Peyton, but this will be close — figure a shootout of 35-28 Denver.
  • 49ers at Seahawks (4:25 pm, Fox) – This game looked like a Super Bowl-quality matchup at the beginning of the season, but the Niners haven’t beaten a good team in weeks and lost to Oakland of all teams last week. They haven’t scored more than 20 points in a game since Week 10. Seattle’s defense will keep that streak going. Seahawks win, 30-17.
  • Cowboys at Eagles (8:30 pm, NBC) – Dallas lost to Philly at home a couple of weeks ago, and they will be looking to avenge that loss on the road tonight. Their last win over a good team came in Week 6, two months ago, even with DeMarco Murray and their 3rd-ranked rushing offense. Other than Dallas, Philly has mostly gotten fat on easy teams; their only real victory over a playoff-caliber team was Indianapolis in Week 2. Mark Sanchez’ offense looked pathetic last week, but they won’t be playing against the Seattle defense this week. Philly will edge Dallas, 28-24, in what should be a good game to watch.

Jazz: 

  • Dolphins at Patriots (1 pm, CBS) – The Dolphins are one of the teams that already beat New England and they will be fired up to repeat that performance. Ryan Tannehill has been spotty at times, but he’ll rise to the occasion today. Dolphins in an upset, 30-24.
  • Broncos at Chargers (4:05 pm, CBS) – The Chargers have done better against the Broncos than nearly anyone else in the past couple of years and have been one of a few teams to hold them to relatively lower numbers in offense. They also beat Denver at home last year, so they have shown they can do it. I’ll take another upset pick here in what might be an exciting game, and take San Diego 31-27.
  • 49ers at Seahawks (4:25 pm, Fox) – Neither San Francisco nor Seattle have lived up to early billing. Colin Kaepernick has been faltering of late and the one thing Seattle still has is an awesome pass defense at home. Seahawks take this one 27-14.
  • Cowboys at Eagles (8:30 pm, NBC) – Both of these teams have pretty well flummoxed me in the prediction game all season, but in this case I will find it more amusing than ever if Mr. Buttfumble manages to show up in top form. Also, I can’t stand rooting for the Cowboys. Eagles in a romp, 35-17.