December 15, 2013 in Sports

Week 15 preview

Dan Caesar St. Louis Post-Dispatch
 

Eagles at Vikings

Kickoff: 10 a.m.

Line: Eagles by 6 1/2; O/U: 51 1/2

Records: Eagles (8-5, 5-1 away); Vikings (3-9-1, 3-3 home)

Synopsis: Philly flying high after its comeback win in snow last week, victory No. 5 in a row, and now turns its speedy offense loose in a dome. That’s a bad sign for Minnesota, which gives up more points and yards than all but one other team and might be minus standout RB Adrian Peterson (foot injury).

Pick: Eagles 34-23

Redskins at Falcons

Kickoff: 10 a.m.

Line: Falcons by 6 1/2; O/U: 50 1/2

Records: Redskins (3-10, 1-5 away); Falcons (3-10, 2-4 home)

Synopsis: Both teams stink but WASH’s slide is worse and it has benched QB Robert Griffin III. WASH gives up 31.3 points per game (most in the NFL) and is 27th vs. the pass. Atlanta suffers through an injury-ravaged season, but it has been competitive lately (a win followed by a one-point loss) and is sixth in passing.

Pick: Falcons 33-20

49ers at Buccaneers

Kickoff: 10 a.m.

Line: 49ers by 5; O/U: 41 1/2

Records: 49ers (9-4, 4-2 away); Buccaneers (4-9, 3-4 home)

Synopsis: SF comes off a big win at home vs. Seattle but gets a hot foe here as Tampa has won four of five after an 0-8 start. But the 49ers defense is back on track, having allowed more than 17 points just once in its last seven outings and should harass rookie Tampa Bay QB Mike Glennon.

Pick: 49ers 26-16

Bears at Browns

Kickoff: 10 a.m.

Line: Bears by 1; O/U: 43 1/2

Records: Bears (7-6, 2-4 away); Browns (4-9, 3-4 home)

Synopsis: Although Cleveland has just four wins, it has been competitive recently and nearly beat New England last week with WR Josh Gordon on a three-game run of receiving outings never seen before in the NFL. Chicago’s defense has been poor, but offense gets QB Jay Cutler back.

Pick: Browns 30-20

Texans at Colts

Kickoff: 10 a.m.

Line: Colts by 5 1/2; O/U: 45 1/2

Records: Texans (2-11, 1-5 away); Colts (8-5, 4-2 home)

Synopsis: Houston plays its first game since firing Gary Kubiak, but the problems are much deeper than the coach – as its 11-game losing streak would attest. Nonetheless, the defense ranks No. 3 and Indy isn’t exactly on a roll, having lost three of five. But it can’t lose at home to this bunch, right?

Pick: Colts 27-17

Bills at Jaguars

Kickoff: 10 a.m.

Line: Bills by 3; O/U: 43 1/2

Records: Bills (4-9, 1-5 away); Jaguars (4-9, 1-5 home)

Synopsis: Buffalo has lost five of six but has the NFL’s No. 5 ground game and faces the No. 28 run defense, However, Jacksonville has won three in a row, and four of five, since its 0-8 start and has averaged 29.5 points in its last two outings. Bills are no bargain on the road, where they’re 1-5.

Pick: Jaguars 27-20

Patriots at Dolphins

Kickoff: 10 a.m.

Line: Patriots by 1; O/U: 45 1/2

Records: (10-3, 3-3 away); Dolphins (7-6; 3-3 home)

Synopsis: Miami has won three of four and although not among the leaders in any of the key offensive or defensive stats has been persevering. It gets a foe that will be minus a key cog, tight end Rob Gronkowski. He suffered a knee injury last week and Pats weren’t the same when he was out early this year.

Pick: Dolphins 24-20

Chiefs at Raiders

Kickoff: 1:05 p.m. (CBS)

Line: Chiefs by 5; O/U: 41 1/2

Records: Chiefs (10-3, 5-1 away); Raiders (4-9, 3-3 home)

Synopsis: KC has shined against the NFL’s weaker teams and Oakland, which has lost three in a row and is 4-9, fits that bill. The Chiefs thrive via defense and special teams, and they should be a factor here, too. However, Oakland has home wins over San Diego and Pittsburgh, and can hang close.

Pick: Chiefs 20-17

Jets at Panthers

Kickoff: 1:05 p.m.

Line: Panthers by 10; O/U: 40 1/2

Records: Jets (6-7, 1-5 away); Panthers (9-4, 5-1 home)

Synopsis: NY had an uncharacteristic scoring explosion last week, but comes back to realty as Carolina will be mad after its normally air-tight defense was manhandled by the Saints last week. Look for a return to form. The Panthers love to keep the ball on the ground, but New York is No. 2 vs. the run.

Pick: Panthers 23-6

Cardinals at Titans

Kickoff: 1:25 p.m.

Line: Cards by 3; O/U: 42 1/2

Records: Cardinals (8-5, 2-4 away); Titans (5-8, 2-4 home)

Synopsis: Arizona is in playoff contention but goes on the road, where it’s 2-4, but gets a foe that’s not very good at home – TEN is 2-4 there. The Cards’ defense is solid – top 10 in three of the four major stat categories – and should be able to contain the inconsistent Tennessee attack.

Pick: Cardinals 23-17

Saints at Rams

Kickoff: 1:25 p.m.

Line: Saints by 6; O/U: 47 1/2

Records: Saints (10-3, 3-3 away); Rams (5-8, 3-3 home)

Synopsis: Saints coming off a dominant victory that ended Carolina’s win streak at eight games, but that was at home. They now are on the road, where they are 3-3. They get a foe that is reeling, having scored just 23 points combined in its last two. But the Rams are decent at home and they can stay close here.

Pick: Saints 24-20

Packers at Cowboys

Kickoff: 1:25 p.m. (Fox 28)

Line: Cowboys by 6 1/2; O/U: 49

Records: Packers (6-6-1, 2-4 away); Cowboys (7-6, 5-1 home)

Synopsis: Green Bay is without QB Aaron Rodgers again as it faces a team that has a short week after playing Monday. But Dallas is 5-1 at home, where it averages nearly 34 points a game. That’s a bad sign for the Packers “D,” which is no better than 20th in the major stat categories.

Pick: Cowboys 31-27

Bengals at Steelers

Kickoff: 5:30 p.m. (NBC)

Line: Bengals by 2 1/2; O/U: 41 1/2

Records: Bengals (9-4, 3-4 away); Steelers (5-8, 3-3 home)

Synopsis: Pittsburgh is just 3-3 at home after being upset by Miami last week, but is in must-win mode and gets an inconsistent foe here. Steelers have become a pass-oriented team behind QB Ben Roethlisberger, who will guide the NFL’s No. 7 aerial attack vs. the No. 9 pass defense. Last call for PIT.

Pick: Steelers 23-20

Ravens at Lions

Monday: 5:40 p.m. (ESPN)

Line: Lions by 5 1/2; O/U: 48 1/2

Records: Ravens (7-6, 1-5 away); Lions (7-6, 4-2 home)

Synopsis: Detroit beat itself with turnovers (again) last week as it continues to fail to win with the regularity it should for its talent level. Baltimore is 1-5 on the road but only one of the defeats was by more than six points. Detroit’s offense ranks No. 2, look for a breakout here.

Pick: Lions 27-17


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