Thursday, December 14, 2017

NFL Weekly Predictions: Week 15

By Jeffrey Boswell

Note: the quotes in this article are fictional.

Denver @ Indianapolis (+2)

The Colts lost to Nathan Peterman and the Bills 13-7 in snow-covered New Era Field. Frank Gore rushed for 130 yards, but Jacoby Brissett and the Indy passing game struggled in the wintry conditions.

"This team was not built to play in a blizzard," Chuck Pagano said. "We're an indoor team; the only 'blizzard' we can handle comes from Dairy Queen.

"There are those that say I should be more like snow and never appear in Lucas Oil Stadium. There's even a charity drive/petition to get me fired. It works like this: each household item donated counts as a vote to have me removed as coach. It's called a 'Canned? Good!' drive."

The Broncos snapped a eight-game losing streak with a dominating 23-0 win over the visiting Jets. Trevor Siemian tossed a touchdown pass to DeMaryius Thomas, and the Broncos defense posted the team's first shutout since 2005.

"We played much better than we have in a long time," Vance Joseph. "I credit the players with their hard work, especially their diligent film study. Oh, we didn't watch any game film. Instead, we watched the Kevin Hart/Will Ferrell comedy Get Hard, at the urging of John Elway, of course.

"It's hard to believe we were 3-1 at one point. And it's even harder to believe we lost eight games in a row after that. Honestly, it felt like I was in a dream. I kept pinching myself after each successive loss, hoping I'd wake up from the ordeal. It didn't work, and what's worse, now I'm suing myself for sexual harassment."

Colts win, 20-17.

Chicago @ Detroit (-6)

The Lions beat the Buccaneers 24-21 to improve to 7-6 and keep their playoff hopes intact. Matthew Stafford, playing with an injured right hand and sore ankle, engineered the game-winning drive that culminated in Matt Prater's 46-yard field goal with 20 seconds left.

"Matthew is one tough S.O.B.," Jim Caldwell said, "as opposed to Jameis Winston, who's just an S.O.B. Matthew will beat injury every time, unless his opponent in the playoffs is 'injury.'"

The Bears roughed up an injury-depleted Bengals squad in a 33-7 win in Cincinnati. Jordan Howard ran through the Bengals defense for 147 yards and 2 touchdowns.

"That's two weeks in a row the Bengals have 'taken it on the chin,'" John Fox said. "Let's be honest, there are way too many players using their helmets as weapons. Some fear mongers claim that North Korea wants to put warheads on the helmets of some players. I'm even told by some that North Korea claims to have invented the game of football.

"I'm pretty sure I'll be fired soon. All signs seem to indicate that, like the one in my office that says 'There's the door.' In fact, I had my palm read by a gypsy, and was told I might as well 'hand' in my notice. I had that same gypsy gaze into a crystal ball. She saw 'fire.' I'm not worried. Should I be fired, I'm sure I can find another coaching job, whether it be in the NFL, or in a Lithuanian basketball league."

Lions win, 27-23.

Los Angeles Chargers @ Kansas City (+1½)

The Chargers shut down the Redskins in a 30-13 win at Stub Hub Stadium and remained tied with the Chiefs in the AFC West. Philip Rivers passed for 319 yards and 2 touchdowns. Rivers moved ahead of Warren Moon to ninth place on the NFL's all-time career passing yardage list.

"Hey," Rivers said, "I'm thrilled to be in front of Moon. I hope to move further in front of him, because from what I've heard lately about him, it's probably wise to distance oneself from him.

"I'm now the current leader for the most consecutive starts at 189. I don't plan on letting anyone stop me from continuing that streak. That's why I've filed a restraining order on Ben McAdoo. I don't want that guy near me, or my kids' schools."

The Chiefs beat the Raiders, 26-15, for their second straight win, as Kareem Hunt broke out of a lengthy slump with 116 yards rushing and a touchdown. K.C. hosts the Chargers on Saturday night with the AFC West lead hanging in the balance.

"Our offense is definitely back on track," Alex Smith said. "And it all started when Andy Reid gave up play-calling duties. That wasn't easy for Andy to do. Luckily, Andy can swallow anything, including his pride.

"Marcus Peters' souvenir yellow flags are a hot Christmas item in Kansas City. Marcus will even deliver them."

Kansas City wins, 23-20.

Miami @ Buffalo (even)

The Bills edged the Colts, 13-7, in overtime with Nathan Peterman getting the start at quarterback for Tyrod Taylor, out with a knee injury. LeSean McCoy rushed for 156 yards and the game-winning TD, while Peterman passed for a touchdown before leaving the game with a concussion.

"While Nathan completed only 5-of-10 passes," Sean McDermott said, "he completed 32 of 32 handoffs to LeSean.

"That was Nathan's 15 minutes of fame. He had already had his '15 minutes of lame' a few weeks ago against the Chargers.

"We'll be facing the Patriots in Week 16. And we haven't forgotten what Rob Gronkowski did to Tra'Davious White. Gronk was fined for the hit, but that's not the end of his 'Bill-ing,' because he's still got 'hell to pay.'"

The Dolphins stunned the Patriots 27-20 on Monday night and improved to 6-7 in the AFC East. Jay Cutler passed for 263 yards and 3 touchdowns, and the Miami defense held the Pats to 0-11 on third downs.

"Jay played like our best player," Adam Gase said. "And what do you know, he's heading to New York. Amazingly, Derek Jeter had nothing to do with it.

"Kenyan Drake is playing lights out at running back for us. I think people now understand why we traded Jay Ajayi. We evaluated both, weighed the pros and cons, and come to an educated decision. Unlike Jay, we did our homework."

Buffalo wins, 22-17.

Green Bay @ Carolina (-3)

The Packers kept their playoff hopes alive with a 27-21 overtime over the Browns in Cleveland. Brett Hundley's 25-yard touchdown pass to Davante Adams won it in overtime as Green Bay collected its second consecutive overtime win.

"I think my guys misunderstood when I asked them for 'a little extra,'" Mike McCarthy said.

"Aaron Rodgers is ready to return to the lineup. Or at least we think he is. I don't want to say we hurried him back, but it's the best we've performed at 'rushing' all season.

"It's a big boost to have Aaron back. Packers fans everywhere are saying 'All Hail Aaron Rodgers!' On the other hand, Panthers fans are saying 'Aw Hell! Aaron Rodgers!'"

Jonathan Stewart rushed for 3 touchdowns as the Panthers snapped Minnesota's eight-game winning streak with a 31-24 win at home. Carolina's defense forced 3 turnovers and sacked Case Keenum 6 times.

"In an ironic twist," Ron Rivera said, "Jonathan listed the Minnesota defense as 'questionable.' In another ironic twist, Cam Newton said the Vikes' D 'flopped.'"

Panthers win, 27-19.

Baltimore @ Cleveland (+7)

The Browns lost to the Packers, 27-21, in overtime just days after firing general manager Sashi Brown. Cleveland hired former Chiefs GM John Dorsey, and the team decided to keep Hue Jackson as head coach.

"This was a game we should have won," Hue Jackson said. "If I had a nickel for every time I said that, I'd have a nickel.

"Frankly, I'm stunned that the Browns are bringing me back. But I'm thrilled to still have my job. I guess you could say it's a 'big win' for me.

"But let's give it up to Josh Gordon. He had a touchdown against the Packers, which is pretty amazing considering how long he's been away from football. I told him to just enjoy the moment. He agreed, and said he just wants to 'drink it all in.'"

The Ravens gave up 565 yards of total offense in a 39-38 loss at Pittsburgh on Sunday night.

"I'm angry," John Harbaugh said, "but defensive coordinator Dean Pees is 'pissed.' For a team that's pitched three shutouts already this season to suddenly give up 39 points, well, that's like a kick in the balls to the defensive coordinator. And the players will have to answer for it. So they'll be getting up with Pees' nuts later."

Baltimore wins, 24-13.

Houston @ Jacksonville (-11)

The Jaguars beat the visiting Seahawks, 30-24, in a surprising shootout. Blake Bortles passed for 2 touchdowns, and the Jags' defense made up for some big mistakes by picking off Russell Wilson 3 times.

"Michael Bennett went for a cheap shot at the end of the game," Doug Marrone said. "I've made it know I'm a big fan of bologna; Bennett's meat of choice is obviously chicken.

"As you've heard, I love bologna. And the people at Boar's Head sent me about 300 pounds of bologna. So we had a 'bologna party.' Now, it probably won't be as big a deal as the Patriots 'sausage party' back in 1990, but contrary to that incident, everybody got a footlong at ours."

The Texans lost at home to the 49ers, 26-16, on a rough day for Tom Savage, who was knocked out of the game in the second quarter.

"Tom gave new meaning to the words 'shaken up,'" Bill O'Brien said. "Were his hands waving goodbye to his soul? I don't know how in the heck he passed the concussion protocol. Are the concussion doctors working on commission? Are players memorizing the answers to the doctors' questions? If the first question is, 'Where are you?' is the correct answer, 'In concussion protocol?' Maybe the NFL's concussion protocol needs to be put in concussion protocol."

Jaguars win, 27-13.

Cincinnati @ Minnesota (-10½)

The Bengals gave up 482 yards of total offense to the Bears in a blowout 33-7 loss at home.

"It's effort like this that could get a coach fired," Marvin Lewis said. "But I seem to be 'bulletproof' around here, which damn sure comes in handy when one of your players is Pacman Jones.

"With Christmas approaching, I'd just like to remind everyone of the saying, 'It's better to give than receive.' I'm referring, of course, to concussions."

The Vikings had their 8-game winning streak snapped by the Panthers in a 31-24 loss at Bank of America Stadium. The Minnesota defense gave up 216 yards on the ground.

"I think we got too caught up in all the talk about the Super Bowl being at our home field," Mike Zimmer said. "As a result, we got 'road hard.'"

Vikings win, 30-14.

New York Jets @ New Orleans (-15)

The Saints lost 20-17 to the Falcons at Mercedes-Benz Stadium last Thursday night. After the game, Sean Payton was highly critical of the officiating.

That's right," Payton said. "I called the officiating 'extremely poor' and 'inconsistent.' That's just me being honest, which is actually me lying.

"Alvin Kamara suffered a concussion early in the Atlanta game. Luckily, he's cleared concussion protocol and will play against the Jets. I put a bounty on Alvin's head, and it was collected by the first doctor who cleared him to play."

The Jets were shut out in Denver, 23-0, by the Broncos. New York managed a paltry 100 yards of total offense on the day, and fell to 5-8.

"We've surprised a lot of people this year," Todd Bowles said. "Usually by winning, but this time by losing.

"Sadly, Josh McCown broke his left hand and is lost for the remainder of the season. In his place, we're starting Bryce Petty. Bryce was once thought to be the future of this team. Well, he's certainly not the 'passed' of this team. That leaves him as the 'present.' And he'll be gift-wrapped for a hungry Saints defense."

Saints win, 33-10.

Philadelphia @ New York Giants (+7)

The Giants were manhandled, 30-10, by the Cowboys as the Giants secondary was torched for 3 Dak Prescott passing touchdowns. New York fell to 2-11, the NFC's worst record.

"I received a standing ovation before the game," Manning said. "Ben McAdoo never got one of those, because fans can't 'stand' him.

"I started a new consecutive starts streak. It stands at one game. I think the more important streak is McAdoo's consecutive games streak of not coaching the Giants. That's surely a record that will never be broken."

The Eagles beat the Rams, 43-35, in Los Angeles in what was a costly win, as Carson Wentz was lost for the rest of the year with a torn ACL.

"We're putting our faith in Nick Foles," Doug Pederson said. "And that faith is strong, because we will be praying all the time.

"We didn't consider using a quarterback other than Nick. Colin Kaepernick didn't cross our minds. Donovan McNabb was a thought, but we prefer he keep his hands to himself."

Eagles win, 25-16.

Arizona @ Washington (-4½)

The Redskins lost to the Chargers, 30-13, as the Washington offense managed only 201 yards on offense while surrendering 488 on defense.

"We got beat on both sides of the ball," Jay Gruden said. "And I guess I got beat in geometry class, because a football doesn't have sides.

"We're 5-8 and pretty much out of the playoff hunt. So it's not too early to start looking towards next season. I guess the big decision is whether or not to give Kirk Cousins a big contract. Whatever we do, I'm sure it will be the wrong decision."

The Cardinals beat the visiting Titans, 12-7, led by 4 second-half field goals from Phil Dawson. With five receptions for 44 yards, Larry Fitzgerald passed Randy Moss for third place on the NFL's career receiving yards list.

"Phil is a lot like former Cardinal Michael Floyd's favorite liquor," Bruce Arians said, "because he kicks like a mule.

"Larry grew up idolizing Moss. Larry was a ballboy for the Vikes in Moss' day, and would often wash Randy's car for cash. Not just any cash, but straight cash, homey. Contrary to a popular urban legend, Larry did not rinse a parking attendant off the grill of Randy's car."

Washington wins, 24-21.

Los Angeles Rams @ Seattle (-1½)

The Seahawks lost, 30-24, at Jacksonville in a hotly-contested battle that quickly degenerated into a near brawl at game's end. Russell Wilson threw 3 touchdown passes, but also tossed 3 interceptions.

"We lost our cool there at the end," Pete Carroll said. "We had two players ejected in the final minute, and Quinton Jefferson tried to go into the stands after being pelted with a water bottle. Frankly I'm stunned, that Jaguars fans are that concerned about keeping my players hydrated."

The Rams lost a shootout to the visiting Eagles, 43-35, and fell to 9-4, still ahead of the 8-5 Seahawks, who lost at Jacksonville.

"As the score indicated," Sean McVay said, "our offense can play with anybody, and our defense was playing with themselves."

Seahawks win, 30-27.

New England @ Pittsburgh (+2½)

Ben Roethlisberger passed for 506 yards and 2 scores as the Steelers erased a late 9-point deficit to beat the Ravens, 39-38. Roethlisberger became the first player in history to pass for 500 yards three times, and Pittsburgh clinched the AFC North crown.

"Like I said," Ben Roethlisberger said, "we respect the Ravens more than the Bengals. And it's always been that way. Just ask Hines Ward. I can't tell you how many times he's respectfully blindsided a Raven.

"We've been looking forward to this game all season. It's always a challenge against Tom Brady, who's adding 'accomplished author' to his resume. I haven't read Tom's book, but if I do, I'm sure I'll read it while I'm in the bathroom. And if I'm out of toilet paper, that book will become much more interesting."

The Patriots faltered in a 27-20 loss on Monday night to the Dolphins at Hard Rock Stadium.

"We may have been looking ahead to the Steelers game," Tom Brady. "It's never a good idea to look past Jay Cutler, unless you're the Broncos or Bears.

"We wanted to be playing our best football with the Steelers game approaching. And we wanted Pittsburgh to know that as well. It's a mental game, and we want our opponents to be wondering, 'Are they peaking, or are they peeking?'

"Thankfully, we've got Rob Gronkowski returning after a one-game suspension. Rob knows how wrong his actions were; however, I'm not sure the NFL does."

Patriots win, 26-23.

Tennessee @ San Francisco (-2)

The 49ers upset the Texans 26-16 in Houston, powered by Jimmy Garopollo, who passed for 334 yards and a touchdown as San Fran won their second in a row.

"Jimmy has breathed new life into this franchise in a very short period," Kyle Shanahan said. "If you're a stoner, you could say he's shotgunned new life into this franchise.

"Jimmy is fast becoming an icon here in the Bay Area. He's joining the likes of Joe Montana, Ronnie Lott, Jerry Rice, and Dirty Harry Callahan. Much like Callahan, Jimmy's made a 'Sudden Impact.' And he's 'made my day.'"

San Francisco wins, 25-17.

Dallas @ Oakland (+3)

The Cowboys pummeled the Giants, 30-10, at MetLife Stadium, spoiling Eli Manning's return to the lineup.

"Eli's been starting in this league for 13 years," Dak Prescott said. "So, it's unusual to hear Eli's name and the word 'return' mentioned, without 'interception' before it."

The Raiders lost to the Chiefs, 26-15, in a lackluster effort that dropped them a game behind the Chiefs and the Chargers in the AFC West. Derek Carr threw only 1 touchdown to go with 2 interceptions, and took blame for the loss afterwards.

"When you hear the words 'I've got to do better," Carr said, 'you'd expect them to be coming from the mouth of whomever cuts Mark Davis' hair."

Raiders win, 27-24.

Atlanta @ Tampa Bay (+3)

The Falcons picked up a huge 20-17 win over the visiting Saints last Thursday night, despite a rough night for Matt Ryan, who threw 3 interceptions.

"I made some questionable throws," Ryan said, "especially coming from the guy who was the NFL's MVP last year. Do I need help? Maybe. If you could seek treatment for INT's like you could for STDs, Atlanta is the place to do it, and 'Ron Mexico' is the name to use."

The Buccaneers lost, 24-21, at home to the Lions and fell to 4-9.

"We were officially eliminated from playoff contention," Dirk Koetter said. "We're quite disappointed. Jameis Winston can 'eat a W,' but it sure is tough to 'swallow nine L's.'"

Buccaneers win, 28-26.

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