The National Football League will be entering its’ third to last weekend and is the norm this time of year there are some great match-ups and some that are not. I’m getting an early start on Week 15 by looking at some of the better games and then will revisit them later in the week.
Arizona (-3) at Tennessee – The Cardinals travel to Nashville with an 8-5 record and hopes of still getting in the playoffs. As it looks right now, the Cards will need to win out and get some help too. They trail both San Francisco and Carolina by a game.
Arizona’s final two games are at Seattle and home with the Niners. Perhaps they can win two of their final three and have the Panthers lose twice. A tie would favor the Cardinals because they beat the Panthers in week four.
The Titans are relegated to the role of spoiler now after Indianapolis won the division on Sunday. Tennessee is still mathematically alive but the chances of getting the final wild-card spot in the AFC are slim and none.
I do not expect the Titans to roll over in this one and Arizona is just 2-4 on the road. Right now I like the Titans.
New England (-3.5) at Miami – The Patriots once again return to life without Rob Gronkowski as the athletic tight end is now out for the season with serious injuries to his knee. Although the Pats have been able to go 5-1 without Gronk in the lineup, the numbers elsewhere are staggering.
Tom Brady’s rating drops significantly and the red zone scoring drops in a big way as well without number 87 on the field. Does this mean a return to the run or does Julian Edelman become a bigger target?
The Dolphins are coming off a huge win in Pittsburgh in cold and snowy conditions and against a team that needed to win too. My concern for them is Ryan Tannehill tends to throw a few bad balls each game and you can’t do that against the Pats.
The Dolphins have to get to Brady in order to have a shot and right now I like them get 3.5.
Baltimore (+5.5) at Detroit – The Ravens continued to hold on to the final wild-card spot by slipping past the Vikings on Sunday. The Lions saw their lead diminished in the NFC North with 4th quarter letdown and loss to the Eagles. Yes, I saw all of that snow.
This might be the biggest game of the week in terms of playoff implications because each team has so much at stake. Detroit gets a bit of a break with the Giants coming to Detroit and then they finish the season at Minnesota.
The Ravens host New England in a Sunday Night Game and then finish at Cincinnati. Thus the argument can be made this one is bigger for the Ravens.
The Lions are 4-2 at home while the Ravens are a miserable 1-5 away from Baltimore. That has to play into the hands of Detroit I would think.
Cincinnati (-1.5) at Pittsburgh – The Bengals come to Heinz Field on a three game win streak and the knowledge that they won late in the season on the same field to make the playoffs last year. The Steelers are still mathematically alive but they would need to win their final three and get a lot of help. Stranger things have happened but I wouldn’t count on it.
The Bengals are getting great play from Andy Dalton and his receivers while the defense appears to be overcoming the loss of Geno Atkins. With a struggling Steelers’ secondary look for the Bengals to cover.