Thursday, December 15, 2016

NFL Weekly Predictions: Week 15

By Jeffrey Boswell

Note: the quotes in this article are fictional.

Los Angeles @ Seattle (-14)

The home-standing Rams were blasted 42-14 by the Falcons, as Atlanta forced 5 turnovers. Los Angeles fell to 4-9, 1-5 at home, and head coach Jeff Fisher was fired on Monday, despite recently signing a contract extension.

"That was Fisher's 165th loss as a head coach," Todd Gurley said. "That tied him with Dan Reeves for the most in NFL history. What else do Reeves and Fisher have in common? They're the only two people unhappy about Fisher getting fired.

"I said we looked like a middle school team. That's kind of a backhanded compliment, because nearly all of our mistakes are 'elementary.'

"Now, a great Rams running back can finally enjoy games without the presence of Fisher. I'm talking about me, not Eric Dickerson."

The Seahawks likewise suffered a blowout defeat, losing 38-10 to the Packers at snowy Lambeau Field. Russell Wilson threw a career-worst 5 interceptions in the loss.

"We're 2-4-1 on the road this year," Pete Carroll said. "Obviously, we play better at home, where our fans known as the '12s' really make a difference. If we had any fans in Green Bay, they'd be called the '13s,' because the Packers tore us a new 'one.'

"I wish nothing but the best to Jeff Fisher. But Jeff shouldn't worry about being idle for long. There are teams always looking for good coaches. And Jeff knows lots of good coaches."

Seahawks win, 27-11.

Miami @ New York Jets (+2½)

The Jets came back from an early 14-0 deficit and outlasted the 49ers 23-17 in overtime at Levi's Stadium. Bilal Powell scored the game-winning touchdown and rushed for 145 yards against the 49ers' league-worst rush defense.

"The 49ers have a terrible rush defense and our game-plan was to attack in that manner and we stuck with it and we were successful in doing so," Todd Bowles said. "Appropriately, that was a 'run-on' sentence.

"Bryce Petty was okay against the 49ers. We're going to see what he's is made of in these next three games. Ryan Fitzpatrick is no longer a reliable starter. There was a time when Ryan was great. He was 'money in the bank'; now, he just has 'money in the bank.'"

Ryan Tannehill passed for 3 touchdowns to lead the Dolphins to a 26-23 win over the visiting Cardinals. However, Tannehill was knocked out with a sprained MCL and ACL on a hit from Calais Campbell and is done for the season.

"Can we get the NFL investigate Campbell and the Cardinals?" Adam Gase said. "Because they just let the air out of our season.

"Matt Moore will take over at quarterback. I'm handing him the keys to this offense and asking him to drive very carefully."

The Jets put the clamps on Jay Ajayi, while establishing their own run game with Bilal Powell, who rushes for 99 yards and 1 touchdown.

Jets win, 20-17.

Philadelphia @ Baltimore (-6)

The Eagles have lost four in a row after Sunday's 27-22 loss to the visiting Redskins. Carson Wentz passed for 314 yards, but had 2 costly turnovers.

"Our 3-0 start is a distant memory," Wentz said. "When we were undefeated, people were talking Super Bowl. Now that we're 5-8, fans have resorted to thoughts of the 'good old days,' also known as 'September.'"

The Ravens battled the Patriots on Monday night in Foxboro and came up short in a 30-23 loss. Tom Brady passed for 406 yards and 3 touchdowns. The loss knocked Baltimore out of first in the AFC North, and if the season ended today, they would miss the playoffs.

"Tom Brady really gets pumped up for the Ravens," Joe Flacco said. "That's definitely not the case when he plays the Colts, because nothing gets pumped up when the Pats play the Colts."

Baltimore wins, 27-17.

Cleveland @ Buffalo (-10)

The Bills gave up 236 yards on the ground and three touchdowns to Le'Veon Bell in a 27-20 loss to the visiting Steelers. Buffalo fell to 6-7 and is a long shot to make the playoffs.

"I'm disgusted by our performance on defense," Rex Ryan said. "I'm so disgusted, I'm of good mind to fire my offensive coordinator. That was the course of action after we gave up 37 points to the Jets in Week 2. I can't fire the assistant head coach and so-called defensive genius Rob Ryan, because he's my brother. I can't leave him unemployed at this time of year. That would be downright cruel, because Rob has mouth to feed.

"There are rumors that my days in Buffalo are numbered. I think it's just that — a rumor. Somebody probably overheard me say I was 'getting the boot.' In my world, 'getting the boot' is a sexy advantage of having a sick foot fetish and a wife willing to accommodate it."

In his return from an injury suffered in Week 1, Robert Griffin III completed only 12-of-28 passes for 104 yards and 1 interception as the Browns lost to the Bengals, 23-10.

"I would say Robert was 'out of practice,'" Hue Jackson said, "but that would need further clarification, because RG3's been 'out of practice' more than most.

"And speaking of oft-injured, players, Sammy Watkins will be on the field for the Bills. Tell me this. If Sammy co-starred in a movie with Tom Cruise, would it be called 'Minority Injury Report?'

"We're now 0-13. And we're also 0-13 in games decided by one point or more. We're also 0-13 in games in which we were behind at the end of the fourth quarter. Plus, we're winless in games."

LeSean McCoy rushes for 111 yards and a score, and backfield cohort Mike Gilleslie adds a short TD run.

Buffalo wins, 24-12.

Green Bay @ Chicago (+6½)

The Packers crushed the Seahawks 38-10 at Lambeau Field, led by three touchdowns from Aaron Rodgers and five interceptions of Russell Wilson by Green Bay's oft-criticized defense.

"I thought our defense played lights out," Aaron Rodgers said. "And that's unusual, became in most games, they get lit up.

"We're halfway to 'running the table.' With three more wins, we'd be 10-6 and could possibly claim the NFC North. So the Lions probably should not 'R-E-L-A-X.'"

The Bears nearly upset the Lions at home, but eventually lost, 20-17. Chicago fell to 3-10 on the year.

"Our defense has really been impressive," John Fox said. "Vic Fangio has done a heck of a job as defensive coordinator. If Buddy Ryan were alive, he'd shake Vic's hand. But Buddy wasn't much of a hand-shaker; he'd much rather punch somebody. Is there a punchable face in the house? Turns out, we could use Jay Cutler for something.

"Alshon Jeffery returns from a four-game suspension for violating the league's performance-enhancing drug policy. I'm not sure what he was taking, but in any case, for the last for weeks, Alshon's been in the NFL's 'concoction protocol.'

"It's a 12:00 PM local time start at Soldier Field. So, I'm dubbing my team 'The Monsters of the Midday.'"

Rodgers passes for a touchdown, and Randall Cobb takes a reverse in for a score to seal the win.

Green Bay wins, 22-19.

Jacksonville @ Houston (-6)

The Jaguars hung tough before faltering late in a 25-16 loss to the visiting Vikings. Jacksonville has lost eight in a row and is 2-11.

"Despite our troubles," Gus Bradley said, "fans are still coming out to watch us play. In fact, people are lining up outside right now, some for tickets, but most to interview for the head coaching job.

"They call the day after the last day of the regular season 'Black Monday.' That's when struggling teams often fire their head coaches. I really wish to never see that day, and I think Shad Khan will oblige me."

The Texans upset the Colts 22-17 at Lucas Oil Stadium in a huge AFC South showdown. With the win, the Texans remained atop the division, with a tiebreaker edge over the Titans.

"We rushed for 185 yards," Bill O'Brien said, "and forced 3 turnovers. In other words, we didn't win on account of Brock Osweiler. But don't feel sorry for Osweiler's 'account'; Brock's doing pretty well for himself. He's got so much money, he could invest with Bernie Kosar and Lenny Dykstra and still have plenty to live on.

"Despite his struggles, Brock is cheerful and in the holiday spirit. He even outfitted members of the Texans' front office with wool outerwear. In other words, he 'fleeced' them."

Houston wins, 20-17.

Tennessee @ Kansas City (-5½)

The Chiefs beat the Raiders 21-13 last Thursday and took over first place in the AFC West. Tyreek Hill had 2 touchdowns, one on a reception and the other on a punt return.

"Tyreek is what you call a 'difference-maker,'" Andy Reid said. "He's this team's 'X factor.' In college, he was his team's 'APB factor.'"

The Titans beat the visiting Broncos 13-10 in Nashville last week, led by a rushing attack that went for 180 yards and a touchdown. Tennessee is 7-6 in the AFC South, behind the 7-6 Texans who hold the tiebreaker edge.

"They call the Denver pass defense the 'No Fly Zone,'" DeMarco Murray said. "They also call the Denver rush defense the 'Runway.'

"Former Rams coach Jeff Fisher spent 16 years as head coach of the Oilers/Titans. That's the only reason you can classify him as a 'titan' of the coaching profession.

Alex Smith passes for 245 yards and 3 touchdowns, and the Chiefs win, 27-17.

Indianapolis @ Minnesota (-4)

The Colts lost 22-17 to the visiting Texans last week, hurt by 3 turnovers by Andrew Luck. Indy dropped to 6-7 and trails the Texans and Titans by a game in the AFC South.

"I know I need to improve my decision-making," Luck said. "But you must understand, I'm just trying to survive out there behind my shaky offense line. I've been sacked 37 times this year. I think my offensive linemen should each dress as Santa Claus; that's the only way they'd only be responsible for one 'sack.'"

The Vikings picked up a big road win with a 25-16 win over the Jaguars.

"Coach Zimmer was sporting an eye patch," Sam Bradford said. "And that patch was aligned in the 'eye formation.'

"U.S. Bank Stadium will be offering a new item at the concession stands. It's an edible strawberry-flavored eye patch. It's called 'Eye Candy.'"

Colts win, 24-23.

Detroit @ New York Giants (-4½)

The Lions eked out a 20-17 win over the Bears and have now won five in a row to solidify their lead in the NFC North. Detroit is 9-4, two games in front of the 7-6 Vikings.

"I dislocated the middle finger on my throwing hand," Stafford said. "But there's no way that will keep me out of the Giants game. You shouldn't expect anyone to enter MetLife Stadium without the use of a middle finger. Heck, that's the finger I plan to use most. How else can you deal with those jerk fans.

"Defensively, we have to get under Odell Beckham's skin. He's apt to run his mouth to anyone. If he were a guest of Plaxico Burress in a club, Burress would have two 'loose cannons' with him."

The Giants beat the Cowboys 10-7 at MetLife Stadium, knocking off Dallas for the second time this year. New York's defense stifled Dak Prescott, and Eli Manning hit Odell Beckham, Jr. for a 61-yard touchdown pass late in the third quarter for the game-winning points.

"Odell broke one," Manning said. "It's good to see Odell's explosive burst on the field instead of in the face of an official or player.

"Odell then celebrated with Michael Jackson's 'Moonwalk.' Here's a surprising fact. Odell's favorite MJ album is 'Thriller.' Here's an unsurprising fact: his favorite song on that album is 'Wanna Be Starting Something.'"

Giants fans acknowledge Stafford's stellar year with a stadium-full of middle fingers, and in doing so break the Guinness world record for most simultaneous one-finger salutes.

Beckham grabs a short TD pass in the third quarter, then grabs his crotch. The Giants defense sacks Stafford 4 times.

New York wins, 23-16.

New Orleans @ Arizona (-2½)

Drew Brees threw 3 interceptions for the second straight game as the Saints fell 16-11 to the Buccaneers at Raymond James Stadium.

"For years," Brees said, "I've been compared to the Mannings. Until now, it was never Archie.

"Despite my struggles, there was no way I was taking myself out of the game. Who in their right mind would expect me to take myself out of a game? The again, who would expect me to take my team out of the game, twice, in two weeks?

"Brandin Cooks is frustrated with his role in the offense. As his quarterback, what I need to do is get him the damn ball before he reads Keyshawn Johnson's autobiography."

The Cardinals late comeback fell short in a 26-23 loss to the Dolphins in Miami. Arizona fell to 5-7-1.

"If we lose to the Saints," Bruce Arians said, "our playoff hopes would effectively be over. We can't win the division, and we can't make it in as a wild card. That song you hear? It's not a Christmas carol. It's a duet, sung by the fat lady and Dandy Don Meredith.

"Police in Scottsdale charged Michael Floyd with DUI after they found him passed out in his vehicle at a stoplight at nearly 3 in the morning. In the sports world, that's called pulling a 'Tony LaRussa.'"

Saints win, 29-27.

San Francisco @ Atlanta (-13½)

The Falcons pummeled the Rams 42-14 as the Atlanta defense forced 5 turnovers, returning two for touchdowns. Atlanta is 7-5 and holds the tiebreaker edge over the 7-5 Buccaneers in the NFC South.

"Rams fans wanted something shredded," Matt Ryan said. "It was Jeff Fisher's contract, not their offense.

"Julio Jones missed the game and is dealing with a turf toe injury. It's very painful, especially for me. But anytime we can sit Julio and win, we know we've played the Rams."

Falcons win, 31-22.

New England @ Denver (+3)

Despite 334 yards passing from Trevor Siemian, the Broncos lost 13-10 at Tennessee. Denver gained only 18 yards on the ground.

"The Titans defense rendered us one-dimensional," Gary Kubiak said. "That's not good for our offense. On the plus side, though, it matches my personality.

"Aqib Talib has vowed to avenge Harry Douglas' cheap shot to the knee of Chris Harris. Aqib always has his teammates' backs. He's loyal to a fault. He'll take a bullet for a teammate, although he's more likely to give a bullet for a teammate. This certainly isn't the first time Aqib has been charged with 'communicating threats.'"

Tom Brady passed for 406 yards and 3 touchdowns as the Patriots turned back the visiting Ravens 30-23. New England improved to 11-2 and can clinch a first-round bye with a win in Denver.

"I think we'll be fine without Rob Gronkowski while he recovers from surgery. And Rob will be just fine without us. This will give him time to star in a feature film about a bro who meets a gorgeous Wall Street broker on the 'Gronk Cruise,' after which they begin a torrid 16-month affair. The movie is called '69½ Weeks.'

"The Broncos defense is quite formidable. They have quite possibly the best defensive backfield in football, and they thrive in tight coverage. They're great a man coverage. You know who's not good at 'man coverage?' Zeke Mowatt."

Broncos win, 23-20.

Oakland @ San Diego (+3)

The Raiders lost 21-13 last Thursday in Kansas City's Arrowhead Stadium. The loss dropped Oakland out of first place in the AFC West.

"That was easily my worst game of the year," Carr said. "A dislocated pinkie and bone-chilling temperatures don't make for a good combination. Before the loss, I knew we were the best team in the AFC. Now, I still believe it, but not as confidently. So, when I make the 'We're No. 1' gesture, I just use a little finger.

"I reached out to Johnny Manziel and told him I'd like to be a friend to him. Now, I just want to be a friend, not his best friend, because Johnny already has a best friend. It's the bottle."

The Chargers fell behind 23-0 at Carolina before charging back to make it close in an eventual 28-16 loss. Philip Rivers passed for 236 yards and 2 touchdowns, but tossed 3 interceptions.

"I admire David Carr for reaching out to Johnny Manziel," Rivers said. "Despite his short stay in the NFL, Manziel is still a member of the quarterback fraternity. But maybe he doesn't want to be, because our 'fraternity parties' are nothing like the ones he's used to attending."

Oakland wins, 31-26.

Pittsburgh @ Cincinnati (+3)

Le'Veon Bell rushed for 236 yards and 3 touchdowns as the Steelers overpowered the Bill 27-20 in Buffalo.

"Le'Veon is a beast," Mike Tomlin said. "Now, due to copyright concerns, I hesitate to say he went 'Beast Mode.' Le'Veon's not a big Skittle fan, though, but if he smokes enough, he claims he can 'taste the rainbow.'

"We want to make sure the Bengals know this game will have a playoff atmosphere. They certainly don't play as well when there's 'atmospheric pressure.'"

The Bengals kept their very slim playoff hopes alive with a 23-10 win over the Browns.

"That's right," Marvin Lewis said. "Our playoff hopes are very slim, but not as slim as they are when we make the playoffs. Can I get a rim shot?"

Steelers win, 25-23.

Tampa Bay @ Dallas (-7)

The Tampa defense carried the load in the Bucs 16-11 win over the visiting Saints. Tampa's defense kept the Saints out of the end zone and picked off Drew Brees three times.

"I for one can certainly appreciate a good 'Defense!' chant," Jameis Winston said.

"I know exactly what it was like to be a rookie quarterback. But Dak Prescott has it tougher than anyone else. When he looks over his left shoulder, he sees an old man. When he looks over his right shoulder, he sees an older man. But can you blame Jerry Jones? You can't tell him to 'Mind his own business,' because that's exactly what he's doing."

The Cowboys lost for only the second time, falling 10-7 at MetLife Stadium to the Giants, who beat Dallas in Week 1. Dak Prescott struggled, with only 165 yards passing, 1 touchdown, and 2 interceptions.

"That's called a 'sweep,'" Jason Garrett said. "But here in Dallas, we like to think we have the biggest broom, because we sweep a lot under the rug.

"Let's not be silly. Dak Prescott is our quarterback, and will continue to be our quarterback unless disaster strikes. An example of a 'disaster' would be Jerry Jones making an executive decision to start Tony Romo."

Dallas wins, 30-27.

Carolina @ Washington (-4½)

The Carolina defense forced five Philip Rivers turnovers in a 28-16 win over the visiting Chargers. The Panthers kept their slim playoff hopes alive with the win.

"It will be a challenge beating the Redskins in Washington," Cam Newton said. "Let's just hope a clear winner is determined on Monday night, because the last thing I want to hear after the game is 'It's a tie.'"

The Redskins used a strong second half to sprint by the Eagles 27-22 at Lincoln Financial Field. Kirk Cousins passed for 234 yards and 2 touchdowns.

"Did you see what Cam was wearing after the game?" Kirk Cousins said. "That outfit must be one in Newton's 'Look Like Chic' clothing line. Cam loves to dress up, especially for post-game press conferences. He should be the cover boy for GQ&A.

"I'm set to make a lot of money when I sign my next contract. With some of that money, I plan to get licensed to open my very own restaurant in the Fran Tarkenton chain. Of course, I'll need to be 'Fran-chised' first."

Washington wins, 30-25.

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