It’s hard to believe there are only a few weeks left in the NFL regular season, and time has flown by this year. In Week 15, there are no more bye weeks, and fantasy football playoffs begin across the country, so there’s a lot to be excited for. This week’s slate has a handful of top-notch matchups between playoff contenders as well as high-stakes implications across the board. This article contains the updated odds for every game and my picks and predictions for each contest. Let’s dive in.
My Week 14 record: 11-3 SU, 12-2 ATS, 8-6 O/U
My record overall: 128-78-1 SU, 120-88-1 ATS, 108-99-1 O/U
Thursday, December 16th
Kansas City Chiefs @ Los Angeles Chargers
The winner of this game will be in the driver’s seat in the AFC West, and both teams will be riding some excellent momentum into this contest. The Chiefs have won their last four games by an average margin of 22 points and wallopped the Raiders last week to get some revenge for their home loss to their divisional rival the previous season. The Chargers, meanwhile, are working on a two-game win streak with wins by an average of 17.5 points. Justin Herbert has excelled against the Chiefs in his career with just under 300 passing yards per game and eight touchdowns to just one interception. Still, this Kansas City defense has improved considerably in recent weeks as it’s gotten healthier. The Chiefs are the much healthier team of these two at this point, with the Chargers potentially missing some key pieces in this game. I also wouldn’t be overvaluing the “home-field advantage” in this one as I’m expecting a ton of Chiefs fans to be making the trip to Los Angeles. The Chiefs can put themselves in a great position to lock up the #1 seed in the AFC this week, and I’m betting on them to continue their recent hot streak against an injured Chargers squad.
Kansas City Chiefs: CB Charvarius Ward (illness) Q, CB L’Jarius Sneed (personal) O, DE Chris Jones (undisclosed) IR/COVID-19, LB Willie Gay Jr. (undisclosed) IR/COVID-19, WR Josh Gordon (illness) IR/COVID-19, OT Mike Remmers (knee) IR
Los Angeles Chargers: RB Austin Ekeler (ankle) Q, S Derwin James (hamstring) Q, CB Asante Samuel Jr. (concussion) Q, OT Rashawn Slater (illness) IR/COVID-19, OT Bryan Bulaga (back) IR
Matchup To Watch: Orlando Brown Jr. (KC OT) vs. Joey Bosa (LAC DE)
My Pick: Chiefs win 27-23, Chiefs cover, under 54 points
NFL Week 15 Betting Picks Video
Saturday, December 18th
New England Patriots @ Indianapolis Colts
This might be the game I’m most excited for this week as both of these teams are strong playoff contenders with a ton to fight for in this excellent Saturday primetime slot. I’m surprised the Colts opened as favorites in this one with the Patriots on a seven-game win streak, but the one key area where Indianapolis may have the upper hand is in the run game. Jonathan Taylor can overwhelm a New England run defense that has allowed 136.3 rushing yards per game over their past three games, the eighth-most over that span. The Colts have gotten better as the season has gone on with the offensive line getting healthy, and Carson Wentz has been better than most give him credit for. Michael Pittman Jr. has emerged as a consistent receiving threat in his second professional season with a current 17-game pace of over 1,100 yards. His matchup with J.C. Jackson will be one to watch. This game will be won in the trenches on both sides, but I believe Jonathan Taylor can do enough to overwhelm the Patriots defensively. This will be a close game regardless, and I love the Patriots as a teaser piece, but I’m picking the Colts to win this game by about a field goal at home.
New England Patriots: DT Christian Barmore (knee) Q, OT Trent Brown (calf) Q, C David Andrews (shoulder) Q, RB Brandon Bolden (knee) Q, K Nick Folk (knee) Q, RB Damien Harris (hamstring) O
Indianapolis Colts: DE Grover Stewart (illness) Q, LB Bobby Okereke (illness) Q, C Ryan Kelly (knee) Q
Matchup To Watch: Michael Pittman Jr. (IND WR) vs. J.C. Jackson (IND CB)
My Pick: Colts win 26-23, Colts cover, over 45.5 points
Sunday, December 19th
Carolina Panthers @ Buffalo Bills
For three quarters on Sunday, it looked like the Bills had utterly given up on this season. The Buccaneers led 24-3 at halftime, but the Bills scratched and clawed their way back to push the game to overtime. While they ultimately lost the game, Buffalo showed a ton of resolve. I loved how they essentially used Josh Allen as their RB1 – he finished with 12 carries for 109 yards and a touchdown – and it was the exact approach I thought they should have taken against the Patriots the week prior. That strategy should pay dividends against the Panthers this week. Carolina has struggled to identify its starting quarterback, and Cam Newton’s losing streak with the team has extended to 11 games. Are they better off with P.J. Walker at this point? That’s up for debate, but the time for them to get right is not against this Bills defense. Carolina’s defense is good enough to make this game at least somewhat interesting, but the Panthers will inevitably suffer from a couple of bad turnovers and lose the game. I love the Bills as a teaser candidate this week, but I’m less thrilled about the ten-point spread, and I expect the Panthers to keep it somewhat close.
Carolina Panthers: WR D.J. Moore (hamstring) Q, CB A.J. Bouye (foot) Q
Buffalo Bills: QB Josh Allen (toe) Q, DT Star Lotulelei (toe) Q, DE Jerry Hughes (foot) Q, DE A.J. Epenesa (ankle) Q, WR Emmanuel Sanders (knee) D, LB A.J. Klein (illness) IR/COVID-19
Matchup To Watch: Stefon Diggs (BUF WR) vs. Stephon Gilmore (NE CB)
My Pick: Bills win 23-17, Panthers cover, under 43.5 points
Arizona Cardinals @ Detroit Lions
Monday night was a night of regression for the Cardinals in all of the worst ways. Arizona outgained the Rams by almost 100 yards. Still, two costly turnovers, seven penalties, and surprisingly poor late-game management from Kliff Kingsbury ultimately cost them the game as Matthew Stafford picked apart their defense. Following that game, some questions were asked of the Cardinals that they won’t have the opportunity to answer this week, but they should beat the Lions soundly. It’s been a comedy of errors for Jared Goff and the offense, especially without D’Andre Swift and T.J. Hockenson. Their inability to move the ball does not combine well with a defense that hemorrhages points. Kyler Murray failed to throw or run for a touchdown, but he finished with 444 passing and rushing yards and looked pretty healthy in his second game back from his injuries. The Lions have nothing left to fight for, and the Cardinals should have a chip on their shoulder in this game after dropping just their third loss of the season. Expect Arizona to run up the score on the hapless Detroit defense.
Arizona Cardinals: RB James Conner (ankle) Q, TE Zach Ertz (hamstring) Q, DE Zach Kerr (ribs) Q, DT Corey Peters (knee) Q, WR DeAndre Hopkins (leg) O, CB Robert Alford (pectoral) O, C Rodney Hudson (illness) IR/COVID-19, RB Chase Edmonds (ankle) IR
Detroit Lions: OT Penei Sewell (shoulder) Q, OG Jonah Jackson (back) Q, DT Michael Brockers (knee) Q, WR Josh Reynolds (thigh) Q, RB D’Andre Swift (shoulder – AC joint) O, TE T.J. Hockenson (thumb) O, LB Julian Okwara (ankle) O, CB Nickell Robey-Coleman (undisclosed) O, RB Jamaal Williams (illness) IR/COVID-19, CB Ifeatu Melifonwu (undisclosed) IR/COVID-19
Matchup To Watch: Penei Sewell (DET OT) vs. Chandler Jones (ARI OLB)
My Pick: Cardinals win 34-10, Cardinals cover, under 47.5 points
New York Jets @ Miami Dolphins
When these teams played earlier in the season, the final score was surprisingly close, but at that point, the Jets were much healthier on offense. The Jets have quietly dealt with a ton of attrition as Elijah Moore, Corey Davis, and Michael Carter are all on Injured Reserve. The Dolphins, meanwhile, have three running backs on the COVID-19 Injured Reserve and another two on the traditional IR. However, the Dolphins have Tua Tagovailoa rolling right now as he ranks second in the NFL among qualified passers in completion percentage. The Jets’ defense has also been reeling as the team has allowed 63 points over the past two weeks. The Dolphins are fighting for their playoff lives, and they probably need to win out to get there, but this team has been playing its best football lately. The defense has started to look like the unit we expected to see this year under Brian Flores, as they have allowed just 11.5 points per game over their past four games. With New York missing several vital pieces and Zach Wilson going through some growing pains as a rookie, this game threatens to get ugly.
New York Jets: RB Tevin Coleman (concussion) Q, OG Laurent Duvernay-Tardif (ankle) Q, OG Dan Feeney (back) Q, DT Sheldon Rankins (knee) Q, CB Michael Carter II (concussion) Q, OT George Fant (knee) D, QB Mike White (illness) IR/COVID-19, WR Elijah Moore (undisclosed) IR/COVID-19
Miami Dolphins: OG Austin Jackson (illness) Q, WR Jaylen Waddle (undisclosed) IR/COVID-19, RB Myles Gaskin (illness) IR/COVID-19, RB Salvon Ahmed (illness) IR/COVID-19, RB Phillip Lindsay (illness) IR/COVID-19, S Jevon Holland (illness) IR/COVID-19, WR Will Fuller (finger) IR
Matchup To Watch: Jaylen Waddle (MIA WR) vs. Bryce Hall (NYJ CB)
My Pick: Dolphins win 27-10, Dolphins cover, under 42 points
Dallas Cowboys @ New York Giants
The Cowboys finally got healthy this past week, and their defense took turns teeing off on Taylor Heinecke with a combined nine quarterback hits in the game. Micah Parsons had another two sacks to bring his season tally to 12. Not only is he the shoo-in Defensive Rookie of the Year winner, but he’s also a fringe Defensive Player of the Year candidate. Now that DeMarcus Lawrence and Randy Gregory are back in the lineup, the Cowboys can line Parsons up across the field and use him in many unique ways. Dak Prescott still isn’t quite right, and you have to wonder if his calf is still bothering him after injuring it a few weeks ago. Ezekiel Elliott and Tony Pollard are also still dealing with injuries. It doesn’t help that Tyron Smith will also miss this game. However, this Dallas defense will cause many issues for the Giants, whether it’s Daniel Jones or Mike Glennon under center. With a couple of turnovers for New York, Dallas should handle this game fairly easily, but I wouldn’t be shocked if the Cowboys don’t cover.
Dallas Cowboys: DE DeMarcus Lawrence (foot) Q, RB Tony Pollard (foot) Q, OT Tyron Smith (ankle) O, WR Cedrick Wilson (illness) IR/COVID-19
New York Giants: RB Saquon Barkley (ankle) Q, DE Leonard Williams (elbow) Q, WR Sterling Shepard (calf) Q, OG Ben Bredeson (ankle) D, QB Daniel Jones (neck) O, CB Adoree’ Jackson (quadriceps) IR/COVID-19, WR Kadarius Toney (oblique) IR/COVID-19, CB Aaron Robinson (illness) IR/COVID-19, S Xavier McKinney (undisclosed) IR/COVID-19, WR John Ross (illness) IR/COVID-19
Matchup To Watch: CeeDee Lamb (DAL WR) vs. James Bradberry (NYG CB)
My Pick: Cowboys win 26-17, Giants cover, under 45 points
Tennessee Titans @ Pittsburgh Steelers
With a win in this game, the Titans clinch a playoff spot and keep alive their hopes of earning the #1 seed in the AFC. The Steelers, meanwhile, are fighting for their playoff lives after a loss to the Vikings put them squarely outside the playoff picture. In recent weeks, Ben Roethlisberger has played better with five touchdowns to just one interception over his last two games. The Titans have been relatively vulnerable against the pass this season. Tennessee has allowed the second-fewest rushing yards per game, however, so Pittsburgh’s typically run-heavy approach with Najee Harris will not work as well in this game. Tennesse, meanwhile, is without Derrick Henry and A.J. Brown, but they did get Julio Jones back in the lineup last week. Ryan Tannehill has done an admirable job keeping the offense afloat without his key supporting castmates. However, he won’t be winning any awards for being held under 200 passing yards by the Jaguars. The Titans shut out the Jaguars last week, but the Steelers’ offense has been much more productive, and Ben Roethlisberger has his team fighting hard right now. Both teams should be well-rested for this game, and while it’s difficult to trust the Steelers on any given week, I give them a slight edge at home.
Tennessee Titans: OLB Harold Landry (hamstring) Q, OG Aaron Brewer (toe) Q, CB Janoris Jenkins (ankle) O, LB David Long (hamstring) O, OG Rodger Saffold (shoulder) O, WR Dez Fitzpatrick (undisclosed) IR/COVID-19
Pittsburgh Steelers: QB Ben Roethlisberger (pectoral) Q, LB T.J. Watt (groin) Q, CB Joe Haden (foot) Q, LB Alex Highsmith (quadriceps) Q, OT Zach Banner (knee) Q
Matchup To Watch: Julio Jones (TEN WR) vs. Joe Haden (PIT CB)
My Pick: Steelers win 23-20, Steelers cover, over 41.5 points
Houston Texans @ Jacksonville Jaguars
The vultures are starting to circle for Urban Meyer as every week, more anonymous reports come out about how the former Ohio State coach has wholly lost his new locker room. He has also repeatedly put Trevor Lawrence in disadvantageous positions to succeed. However, the rookie passer has to shoulder some responsibility for his poor play – he has thrown one touchdown pass since Halloween and had four interceptions last week. Meanwhile, while the Texans are clearly at a massive talent disadvantage, David Culley at least has them playing feisty football at times, and Davis Mills has shown some decent flashes. Last week, he threw for over 300 yards and didn’t turn the ball over against the Seahawks. I wouldn’t advise placing any money on this game, but I certainly don’t ever want to bet on the Jaguars, and they shouldn’t be favored against anyone right now. The Texans are at least playing with some semblance of belief and tenacity, and that’s enough for me to give them their second win over Jacksonville of the season.
Houston Texans: LB Kevin Pierre-Louis (hamstring) Q, CB Jimmy Moreland (foot) Q, RB Rex Burkhead (hip) O, S Justin Reid (concussion) O, LB Kamu Grugier-Hill (knee) IR/COVID-19, LB Christian Kirksey (undisclosed) IR/COVID-19, DE DeMarcus Walker (undisclosed) IR/COVID-19, CB Terrance Mitchell (undisclosed) IR/COVID-19
Jacksonville Jaguars: RB Carlos Hyde (concussion) O
Matchup To Watch: Tytus Howard (HOU OT) vs. Josh Allen (JAX DE)
My Pick: Texans win 20-13, Texans cover, under 41 points
Cincinnati Bengals @ Denver Broncos
It’s been a weird season for the Bengals, but certainly one with some promises of progress for the previously downtrodden franchise. I was impressed with the team’s resiliency in coming back from down 20-6 to start the fourth quarter against a strong 49ers team to force overtime last week. Of course, they lost anyway, and now Cincinnati has a brutal stretch to close out the season as it tries to hang onto a playoff spot in an incredibly competitive AFC. Denver’s win over Detroit was predictably dominant as their defense was stout against a limited offense, and the tributes for former Bronco Demaryius Thomas, who passed away on Thursday, were the most moving part of the afternoon. That type of loss could be galvanizing for this team, and this is the type of game they should excel in. According to the FPI, the Bengals and Broncos both have under 30% chances to make the playoffs, so this is arguably a “loser leaves town” match with tons at stake. Joe Burrow is still tied for the league lead in interceptions, and while not all of them have been his fault, his mistake-prone tendencies will be a problem against this electric pass defense. With a solid commitment to the ground game led by Javonte Williams and Melvin Gordon, I’m picking Denver to win this game and extend their playoff hopes for another week.
Cincinnati Bengals: LB Logan Wilson (shoulder) O, CB Chidobe Awuzie (foot) IR/COVID-19, OT Riley Reiff (ankle) IR
Denver Broncos: RB Melvin Gordon (thumb) Q, RB Javonte Williams (knee) Q, S Kareem Jackson (back) Q, DE Shelby Harris (knee) Q, S Caden Sterns (shoulder) Q, OLB Stephen Weatherly (illness) Q, OT Bobby Massie (hip) Q, DE Dre’Mont Jones (foot) D, LB Kenny Young (concussion) D, LB Malik Reed (undisclosed) IR/COVID-19, RB Mike Boone (illness) IR/COVID-19
Matchup To Watch: Ja’Marr Chase (CIN WR) vs. Patrick Surtain II (DEN CB)
My Pick: Broncos win 22-19, Broncos cover, under 44 points
Atlanta Falcons @ San Francisco 49ers
The Falcons deserve a lot of credit for sticking around in the playoff hunt in their first year with Arthur Smith as head coach, especially with Calvin Ridley away from the team dealing with personal matters. Matt Ryan has played much better football lately, and Cordarelle Patterson has been a revelation. Still, it’s not going to be enough to produce enough points to keep up with San Francisco. George Kittle is on a monstrous hot streak right now with 22 catches for 332 yards and three touchdowns over his last two weeks; of course, that’s unsustainable, but for context, that would be a 17-game pace of 187 catches for 2,822 yards and 25 touchdowns. Superhuman. Deebo Samuel is back after missing a week, and Brandon Aiyuk has to be fully out of the dog house after his game-winning touchdown last week. With Jimmy Garoppolo playing efficient football and hopefully Elijah Mitchell back this week to head the backfield, this San Francisco offense will overwhelm a poor Atlanta defense. Matt Ryan could take advantage of the 49ers if they are still missing their vital defensive pieces, but the Niners should be able to lay the smack down at home.
Atlanta Falcons: OLB Dante Fowler (calf) Q, S Erik Harris (pectoral) O, WR Calvin Ridley (personal) NFI-R
San Francisco 49ers: TE George Kittle (knee) Q, S Jaquisky Tartt (lower body) Q, LB Fred Warner (ankle) Q, RB Elijah Mitchell (concussion) Q, CB Dontae Johnson (personal) Q, RB Elijah Mitchell (knee) O, LB Dre Greenlaw (groin) O, DT Maurice Hurst (calf) O
Matchup To Watch: Jake Matthews (ATL OT) vs. Nick Bosa (SF DE)
My Pick: 49ers win 31-17, 49ers cover, over 45.5 points
Green Bay Packers @ Baltimore Ravens
I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention how impressed I was with Tyler Huntley, who came in to relieve an injured Lamar Jackson on Sunday, and he made some huge plays to almost allow his team to come back and win the game. Rookie Rashod Bateman finished with seven catches for 103 yards last week, while Mark Andrews had 11 catches for 115 yards and a touchdown in one of his better performances of the season. However, the Packers’ dynamic pass rush led by Preston Smith and Kenny Clark should make Huntley’s life miserable behind a banged-up offensive line if he is the starter this week. Aaron Rodgers is clearly in much pain with his busted toe, but he’s played through it and had an excellent four-touchdown performance against the Bears last week. The Ravens have pushed through many injuries to secure narrow wins this season, but the Packers are trending in the right direction health-wise and just dismantled a Bears team the Ravens barely beat a couple of weeks ago. I declared a few weeks ago that I wouldn’t be picking against the Packers again, and I have to think they can cover the one-touchdown spread against one of the least healthy teams in football.
Green Bay Packers: WR Marquez Valdes-Scantling (back) Q, OT David Bakhtiari (knee – ACL) O, OT Billy Turner (knee) O, QB Jordan Love (illness) IR/COVID-19, DT Kenny Clark (undisclosed) IR/COVID-19
Baltimore Ravens: QB Lamar Jackson (ankle) Q, WR Marquise Brown (illness) Q, OT Patrick Mekari (hand) Q, TE Nick Boyle (knee) Q, OT Alejandro Villanueva (knee) Q, OG Ben Powers (foot) Q, DE Calais Campbell (thigh) D, OG Ben Powers (foot) O, S Chuck Clark (undisclosed) IR/COVID-19
Matchup To Watch: Mark Andrews (BAL TE) vs. Adrian Amos (GB S)
My Pick: Packers win 26-16, Packers cover, under 43.5 points
New Orleans Saints @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Tom Brady threw for his 700th touchdown pass for the game-winning score to Breshad Perriman in overtime on Sunday. Still, after the game, he was more concerned with how the team is “playing for a division championship, and that’s pretty exciting.” No group has challenged Brady like the Saints since he arrived in Tampa Bay, as New Orleans has won all three of their regular-season games against the Bucs over the past two years. Of course, Brady exacted some revenge in the playoffs last year, but this is still a critical rivalry game. The Buccaneers are fighting for the number one seed in the NFC, and while they won the Super Bowl as a Wild Card last year, they’d surely love to avoid having to do that again. The Saints were grateful to get back in the win column last week as they had been fighting off a five-game losing streak that started the week after their win over the Buccaneers earlier in the year. New Orleans has had an uncharacteristically mediocre pass defense this year. This feels like it will be a statement game for Brady as he has an electrifying passing performance and puts his stamp on another MVP.
New Orleans Saints: OT Ryan Ramczyk (knee) O, OT Terron Armstead (knee) O, RB Mark Ingram (illness) IR/COVID-19, DE Cameron Jordan (illness) IR/COVID-19
Tampa Bay Buccaneers: RB Leonard Fournette (ankle) Q, S Antoine Winfield Jr. (foot) Q, CB Richard Sherman (Achilles) Q, S Jordan Whitehead (calf) Q, CB Jamel Dean (illness) O, RB Giovani Bernard (hip) IR
Matchup To Watch: Mike Evans (TB WR) vs. Marshon Lattimore (NO CB)
My Pick: Buccaneers win 34-20, Buccaneers cover, over 46.5 points
Monday, December 20th
Las Vegas Raiders @ Cleveland Browns
The Raiders decided it was a brilliant idea to stomp all over the Chiefs’ logo in the middle of their field before the game on Sunday for some reason, and they were rewarded with a stomping of their own as the Chiefs smothered them with a final score of 48-9. However, we’ve seen some uncharacteristic resiliency out of this Raiders bunch, and if this game against the Browns was happening last week instead of this week, it’s hard to imagine the spread would be this high. Cleveland has had a roller-coaster of a season, and it wasn’t a great look that they barely escaped an incredibly injured Ravens team to win on Sunday. However, a win on Sunday and a Baltimore loss to Green Bay would put them in a strong position in the AFC North. It looked like the bye week helped Baker Mayfield considerably, and the Browns should have no problems running the ball against the Raiders. However, the Browns are dealing with a massive injury report that should have a big impact on this game. For now, I’m trusting that Cleveland will have enough pieces healthy to win this game, but it’s not surprising that the line has already fallen from -6 to -3. I’ll be monitoring the injury reports closely before I make my final prediction.
UPDATE: Baker Mayfield and Case Keenum have both been ruled out, which means Nick Mullens will be the Browns’ starter for this game. While Mullens is not terrible and has had some decent games in the NFL, it’s hard to trust him to overcome the COVID-19 attrition Cleveland has faced and to be fully prepared to be the starter for this game, especially with Kevin Stefanski not with the team.
Las Vegas Raiders: DE Carl Nassib (knee) Q, LB Darron Lee (undisclosed) Q, TE Foster Moreau (abdomen) Q, TE Darren Waller (knee) O, LB Denzel Perryman (ankle) O, CB Trayvon Mullen (toe) O, RB Jalen Richard (illness) IR/COVID-19
Cleveland Browns: DT Malik Jackson (knee) Q, TE Harrison Bryant (ankle) Q, RB Kareem Hunt (ankle) O, CB Greg Newsome II (concussion) O, QB Baker Mayfield (illness) IR/COVID-19, QB Case Keenum (illness) IR/COVID-19, OT Jedrick Wills (illness) IR/COVID-19, OG Wyatt Teller (illness) IR/COVID-19, S Ronnie Harrison (undisclosed) IR/COVID-19, CB Troy Hill (illness) IR/COVID-19, S John Johnson (illness) IR/COVID-19, DB Grant Delpit (illness) IR/COVID-19, DE Jadeveon Clowney (illness) IR/COVID-19, TE Austin Hooper (illness) IR/COVID-19, WR Jarvis Landry (illness) IR/COVID-19, TE David Njoku (undisclosed) IR/COVID-19, DE Takkarist McKinley (illness) IR/COVID-19
Matchup To Watch: Kolton Miller (LV OT) vs. Myles Garrett (CLE DE)
My Pick: Raiders win 27-23, Raiders cover, over 42.5 points
Minnesota Vikings @ Chicago Bears
I’ll admit, I was scared enough of the Bears during the Sunday Night Football game that I rushed to hedge my eight-team parlay that included the Packers as the last leg. Of course, the Packers went on to return the game to normalcy as they outscored the Bears 24-3 over the second half, but Justin Fields looked like he might threaten to lead the Bears to beat the Packers in Lambeau for the first time since 2015. I’ve been nothing but impressed with the rookie quarterback this season, and while he’s made his fair share of mistakes, he’s improved as the season has gone on, and the coaches have opened up the offense for him. Meanwhile, the Vikings are coming off a much-needed win over the Steelers on Thursday in a game in which they almost had a blown 29-point lead that would have been the pinnacle of absurdity for the most mistake-prone team in the NFL. On some weeks, Kirk Cousins looks like an MVP candidate, and on other weeks, he actively hurts his team. Justin Jefferson is quickly evolving into one of the best receivers in the NFL, and, incredibly, he’s on pace to out-produce his historic rookie season this year. Minnesota’s talent level has never been the issue; a lack of coaching has led to inconsistent results this year. With an ascendant Justin Fields and a defense playing quality football, I like the Bears to play spoiler and pull off a home upset of their divisional rival.
Minnesota Vikings: WR Adam Thielen (ankle) Q, OT Christian Darrisaw (ankle) Q, LB Eric Kendricks (lower back) Q, RB Alexander Mattison (illness) IR/COVID-19, DE Danielle Hunter (undisclosed) IR/COVID-19, RB Alexander Mattison (illness) IR/COVID-19, WR Dede Westbrook (illness) IR/COVID-19, DE Everson Griffen (personal) NFI-R
Chicago Bears: QB Justin Fields (hand) Q, RB David Montgomery (illness) Q, DE Akiem Hicks (ankle) Q, LB Roquan Smith (hamstring) Q, TE Cole Kmet (illness) Q, TE Jimmy Graham (knee) Q, WR Jakeem Grant (illness) Q, WR Marquise Goodwin (foot) Q, OT Jason Peters (ankle) D, QB Andy Dalton (hand) IR/COVID-19, DT Eddie Goldman (undisclosed) IR/COVID-19, OT Elijah Wilkinson (illness) IR/COVID-19, S Eddie Jackson (undisclosed) IR/COVID-19, WR Allen Robinson (undisclosed) IR/COVID-19
Matchup To Watch: Justin Jefferson (MIN WR) vs. Jaylon Johnson (CHI CB)
My Pick: Bears win 24-21, Bears cover, over 44 points
Tuesday, December 21st
Seattle Seahawks @ Los Angeles Rams
The Rams’ win over the Cardinals on Monday was arguably the most crucial win of the season for any team, and they did it in style. Cooper Kupp was spectacular with a career-high 13 receptions for 123 yards and a touchdown. At the same time, Matthew Stafford turned in arguably his best performance of the season with three touchdowns, no turnovers, and a spotless 139.2 passer rating. Odell Beckham Jr. looks like he will be a real difference-maker for this team moving forward. Van Jefferson had another 52-yard touchdown as he continues to make massive plays every week, and Sony Michel had solid production to help the Rams salt the game away. Defensively, the Rams were excellent as well. Aaron Donald finished with three sacks and a pass deflection that turned into a crucial red-zone interception as he reminded everyone he is the best defensive player in football. Despite being without Robert Woods, Jalen Ramsey, Tyler Higbee, Brian Allen, Darrell Henderson, and Rob Havenstein, all crucial starters, the Rams came up big when it mattered most. The Seahawks may be coming off a decisive win over the putrid Texans, but they don’t have the horses to go into Los Angeles and beat this suddenly cruising Rams team.
Seattle Seahawks: WR DK Metcalf (foot) Q, DE Carlos Dunlap (quadriceps) Q, CB D.J. Reed (chest) Q, OT Brandon Shell (shoulder) Q, OG Gabe Jackson (knee) Q, S Quandre Diggs (knee) Q, RB Adrian Peterson (lower back) O, WR Tyler Lockett (undisclosed) IR/COVID-19, RB Alex Collins (undisclosed) IR/COVID-19
Los Angeles Rams: DT Aaron Donald (knee) Q, C Brian Allen (knee – MCL) Q, CB Jalen Ramsey (illness) IR/COVID-19, RB Darrell Henderson (illness) IR/COVID-19, OT Rob Havenstein (undisclosed) IR/COVID-19, DB Terrell Burgess (undisclosed) IR/COVID-19, DT Sebastian Joseph-Day (undisclosed) IR/COVID-19, OLB Von Miller (undisclosed) IR/COVID-19, LB Justin Hollins (undisclosed) IR/COVID-19, LB Troy Reeder (undisclosed) IR/COVID-19
Matchup To Watch: Tyler Lockett (SEA WR) vs. Jalen Ramsey (LAR CB)
My Pick: Rams win 27-17, Rams cover, over 43.5 points
Washington Football Team @ Philadelphia Eagles
Washington made Cowboys fans sweat for a minute on Sunday, and the fact that they made things that stressful was shocking given the personnel they have available. Kyle Allen replaced Taylor Heinecke after suffering a knee injury, Terry McLaurin was held without a catch and sustained a concussion, and Logan Thomas and Curtis Samuel remain out. Jonathan Allen and David Mayo have joined Chase Young and Montez Sweat as notable absences on the defensive end. The Eagles aren’t much healthier, but Jalen Hurts expected to make his return after the team’s bye week. Washington’s banged-up defense should struggle to contain Hurts with his dual-threat capability. Miles Sanders and Jordan Howard remain on the injury report, but the Eagles have a deep running back room with Boston Scott and Kenneth Gainwell very capable fill-ins. I haven’t always trusted Hurts this season, but Washington is falling apart now, and I don’t trust their limited personnel to win this game. The NFC East is not as good as we thought it might be a few weeks ago, but this game still carries significant playoff implications, and the Eagles’ strong defense and balanced rushing game should be enough to beat Washington.
Washington Football Team: WR Terry McLaurin (concussion) Q, QB Taylor Heinecke (knee) Q, OT Charles Leon Jr. (back) Q, RB J.D. McKissic (concussion) Q, LB Cole Holcomb (ankle) Q, OG Brandon Scherff (ankle) Q, WR Curtis Samuel (hamstring) Q, QB Kyle Allen (illness) IR/COVID-19, QB Taylor Heinecke (illness) IR/COVID-19, CB Kendall Fuller (undisclosed) IR/COVID-19, DT Jonathan Allen (illness) IR/COVID-19, LB David Mayo (illness) IR/COVID-19, DE Montez Sweat (illness) IR/COVID-19, WR Cam Sims (illness) IR/COVID-19
Philadelphia Eagles: QB Jalen Hurts (ankle) Q, C Jason Kelce (knee) Q, RB Miles Sanders (ankle) Q, CB Steven Nelson (shoulder) Q, RB Jordan Howard (knee) Q, DE Derek Barnett (neck) Q, WR Quez Watkins (undisclosed) IR/COVID-19
Matchup To Watch: Jalen Hurts (PHI QB) vs. Washington pass defense (third-most passing yards allowed)
My Pick: Eagles win 26-23, Washington covers, over 43.5 points