Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers roll into the Motor City
Defensive coordinator Cory Undlin, other assistants also not on the field
Two people within the franchise tested positive
The team announced the move Monday
Detroit officially were eliminated from playoff contention
The Week 15 NFL schedule is stacked with great matchups. Our NFL Nation reporters bring us the keys to every game, a bold prediction for each matchup and final score picks.
Additionally, ESPN Stats & Information provides a stat to know for each game and a look at current playoff scenarios, and the Football Power Index (FPI) goes inside the numbers with a matchup rating (on a scale of 1 to 100) and a game projection. ESPN Fantasy‘s Kyle Soppe and ESPN Chalk‘s Dave Bearman hand out helpful nuggets as well. It’s all here to help get you ready for a loaded weekend of NFL football.
Let’s get into the full Week 15 slate, including a huge meeting between the Saints and Chiefs.
Thursday: LAC 30, LV 27
Saturday, 4:30 p.m. ET | NFL Network
Matchup rating: 49.3 | Spread: BUF -6 (49)
What to watch for: After losing five cornerbacks — four to injuries and A.J. Bouye to a suspension — in the past three weeks, Denver has just three available on the roster, and one of them (Nate Hairston) was signed off the Ravens’ practice squad just a week ago. The Bills have the No. 3 passing offense in the league, and quarterback Josh Allen has six 300-yard games this season and two 400-yard games. — Jeff Legwold
Bold prediction: Buffalo wide receiver Stefon Diggs will go wild on Saturday. With the Broncos’ struggles at cornerback, that might not be too bold of a prediction, but this might be: He will set a new career high and eclipse the 201 receiving yards he needs to become the Bills’ single-season receiving leader. — Marcel Louis-Jacques
Stat to know: Allen has an 89.2 Total QBR when facing a blitz (five or more pass-rushers) this season. That’s sixth best in the NFL, and way up from his 54.2 QBR against blitzes in his first two seasons.
Playoff/draft picture: The Bills can clinch the AFC East with a victory or a Dolphins loss. But they also can clinch just a playoff berth with a Ravens loss. The Broncos, meanwhile, will be eliminated with a loss, a Dolphins win or a Ravens win. They are projected to draft 11th in April.
What to know for fantasy: Allen is averaging 11.6% more fantasy points per game on the road than at home this season. See Week 15 rankings.
Betting nugget: Buffalo has covered in each of its past five games. Read more.
Louis-Jacques’ pick: Bills 34, Broncos 17
Legwold’s pick: Bills 26, Broncos 17
FPI prediction: BUF, 62.3% (by an average of 4.2 points)
Matchup must-reads: “I wanted more for myself”: Inside Diggs’ long road to Buffalo … After bout with COVID-19, Broncos DC Donatell makes welcome return … Bills’ defense getting healthy, hitting stride at right time … So much for scouting reports: Broncos’ Johnson, Jewell defy expectations … Prosthetic blades and Disney World: Bills players fulfill young boy’s wish
Saturday, 8:15 p.m. ET | NFL Network
Matchup rating: 60.7 | Spread: GB -9 (51.5)
What to watch for: Watch the sideline when the Packers score a touchdown or get a long field goal, and you’ll see a component of why coach Matt LaFleur has been so successful: He’s right there celebrating with the players. Watch when something goes wrong, and he’s right there to question why. LaFleur has found a balance, leading to a 23-6 record since taking over in 2019. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, if the Packers win Saturday, he would be just the sixth head coach to win at least 24 of his first 30 games, joining George Seifert (27), Guy Chamberlin (26), Paul Brown (25), George Halas (24) and Steve Mariucci (24). — Rob Demovsky
Bold prediction: Panthers quarterback Teddy Bridgewater will throw for more than 300 yards and three touchdowns. Perhaps even more bold, he will lead his first comeback win of the season on the last possession after going 0-7 in those scenarios thus far. It’ll come down to a deep pass to wide receiver DJ Moore to set up a Joey Slye game-winning field goal. — David Newton
Stat to know: Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers has nine games with at least three touchdown passes and zero interceptions this season, the most in a season in NFL history (Elias Sports Bureau). He is currently on a three-game streak with those numbers.
Playoff/draft picture: The Packers have clinched the NFC North, and FPI gives them a 59% chance of the securing the No. 1 seed and home-field advantage in the NFC. Those chances would improve to 71% with a victory or fall to 23% with a loss, independent of other outcomes. The Panthers can be eliminated from playoffs contention this weekend with a loss or wins by either the Cardinals or Bears. Perhaps of more interest to Carolina fans, they have a 28.7% chance to move up into the top five of the draft from their current No. 7 projected spot.
What to know for fantasy: Since 2018, Green Bay’s Aaron Jones ranks fourth among qualified running backs in points per touch (1.08). He’s running hard (6.1 yards per carry over his past three games) and is facing the fourth-worst defense in terms of defending running backs since the beginning of last season. See Week 15 rankings.
Betting nugget: Green Bay is 4-0 against the spread (ATS) in prime-time games this season, and Carolina is 4-12 ATS in prime-time games since 2014 (0-1 ATS this season). Read more.
Newton’s pick: Panthers 38, Packers 37
Demovsky’s pick: Packers 31, Panthers 17
FPI prediction: GB, 74.8% (by an average of 8.9 points)
Matchup must-reads: Assessing Bridgewater, Panthers’ season shaped by late-drive failures … Why Packers are NFC’s favorite and a (surprise) team that could stop them … WR Moore off COVID-19 list, will play Saturday … Tonyan becomes productive tight end Packers have sought all along … How one throw in August helped set Packers’ Rodgers on possible MVP path
Domonique Foxworth and Louis Riddick break down why Aaron Rodgers should be considered for league MVP in his 16th season.
Sunday, 1 p.m. ET | Fox
Matchup rating: 74.3 | Spread: TB -6 (49.5)
What to watch for: Most of the time when the “What’s wrong with Matt Ryan” question is raised, the Falcons quarterback follows up with a strong outing. His passer ratings the past five games (two of which were wins) have been 112.1, 45.8, 75.3, 80.4 and 57.3. That’s all over the place. If Ryan wants to prove to Atlanta that he still has it and can be the guy next season, a strong rebound against Tampa Bay is the place to start. — Courtney Cronin
Bold prediction: The Bucs will have three red zone stops on defense. They had two last weekend against the Vikings and three before the bye week against the Chiefs. And for all the positive changes coach Raheem Morris has made, the Falcons are still one of the worst red zone scoring teams on offense in the league, averaging just 48.9% in red zone touchdown efficiency (31st). Scoring for them is going to have to come from chunk plays downfield. — Jenna Laine
Stat to know: In eight wins, Tampa Bay quarterback Tom Brady has been sacked five times and pressured on 13% of dropbacks while completing 44% of his passes thrown 20-plus yards downfield (four touchdowns, zero interceptions). But in losses, Brady has been pressured and struggled with the deep ball. In five losses this season, he was sacked 11 times, pressured on 27% of dropbacks and able to complete just 21% of passes 20-plus yards downfield (one TD and five interceptions).
Playoff/draft picture: It’s unlikely, but the Buccaneers can clinch a playoff berth this weekend. They need to win, but they also need a tie in the Bears-Vikings game. They have a 97% chance to make the playoffs at this point, whereas the Falcons are eliminated and looking to jump from their current No. 6 projected draft spot into the top five, which FPI gives them a 36.4% chance to do.
What to know for fantasy: Atlanta tight end Hayden Hurst has 12.4 fantasy points over his past four games. Total. It’s not ideal, but the Buccaneers are allowing the fifth-most tight end points this season, allowing opponents to complete 73.2% of their tight-end targets (fifth highest) in the process. See Week 15 rankings.
Betting nugget: Atlanta is 1-4 ATS against teams with winning records this season. Read more.
Laine’s pick: Buccaneers 24, Falcons 16
Cronin’s pick: Buccaneers 24, Falcons 13
FPI prediction: TB, 64.1% (by an average of 4.8 points)
Matchup must-reads: If Jones can’t go, Bucs have depth and experience behind him … “I have to be better with the football”: Falcons’ Ryan rues late-game mistakes … Far from flawless, Bucs showed glimpses of improved offense vs. Vikings
Sunday, 1 p.m. ET | Fox
Matchup rating: 60.3 | Spread: SEA -5.5 (44.5)
What to watch for: Which team will handle the pressure applied by the opposing defense? Washington’s front has been terrific, starting with Chase Young and Montez Sweat. Washington ranks third in sacks per pass attempt (9.1%) for the season, while the Seahawks rank first in that category since Week 8. Washington likes to play zone, which is wise against Seattle wideout DK Metcalf and quarterback Russell Wilson. Those two have combined for three plays of 50 yards or longer; Washington has allowed an NFL-high seven such receptions. — John Keim
Bold prediction: Wilson will complete at least 75% of his passes. He has hit that mark four times this season, including last weekend as the Seahawks’ game plan against the Jets and their new defensive coordinator was to get the ball out quickly on shorter passes. Washington’s loaded defensive line will give the Seahawks another reason to do that Sunday, especially if starting right tackle Brandon Shell is unavailable. — Brady Henderson
Stat to know: Over the past four weeks, Washington’s defensive line leads NFL with 58 QB pressures and boasts the second-highest pass rush win rate, beating blocks within 2.5 seconds 61% of the time, per ESPN metrics and NFL Next Gen Stats.
Playoff/draft picture: Win and they’re in for the Seahawks this weekend. Washington can’t clinch the NFC East or a playoff spot, but it has a 68.6% chance of making the playoffs per FPI. It has not reached the playoffs since 2015.
What to know for fantasy: Seattle receiver Tyler Lockett has been held under 12.5 fantasy points in six of seven games since his 53-point outburst against the Cardinals, and Washington owns the fourth-best defense against receivers this season. See Week 15 rankings.
Betting nugget: Washington has covered in four consecutive games, all wins. Read more.
Henderson’s pick: Seahawks 23, Washington 17
Keim’s pick: Seahawks 24, Washington 17
FPI prediction: SEA, 61.3% (by an average of 3.9 points)
Matchup must-reads: Below .500 but division champions? Washington could be navigating a road Seahawks first traveled … Washington’s defensive rise goes beyond Young … Playoff preview? Seahawks’ trip to Washington could happen again in January … Young, defense help vault Washington into first place in NFC East … Seahawks’ Adams sets DB sacks mark vs. Jets
Sunday, 1 p.m. ET | CBS
Matchup rating: 49.1 | Spread: MIA -1 (41.5)
What to watch for: The Patriots are the NFL’s fifth-best rushing offense (147.5 yards per game), and they leaned on that rushing for 217 yards (quarterback Cam Newton had 75) when they beat the Dolphins 21-11 in the season opener. Miami’s rushing defense (120.2 yards per game allowed, 22nd in the NFL) has improved some since then, but the Dolphins know the key to stopping the Patriots’ offense starts with minimizing the running attack. — Cameron Wolfe
Bold prediction: A trick play, with Newton on the receiving end, will provide a spark, as the Patriots need to pull out all the stops with their season on the line. Even though playoff hopes are a long shot, the Patriots will go all out to win, and the offense will need to get creative at times to jump-start an attack that produced only three points in a Week 14 loss to the Rams. — Mike Reiss
Stat to know: The Dolphins have forced a turnover in 19 consecutive games, the longest active streak in the NFL and the Dolphins’ longest streak since a 19-game run in 1997-98. The most recent time Miami had a longer streak was in 1982-85 (42 straight).
Playoff/draft picture: The Patriots could be eliminated from the playoffs with a loss this weekend, which would end a streak of 11 straight seasons with a postseason appearance. They are projected to pick 16th in the draft, with a 1.9% chance to move into the top 10 per FPI. In a role reversal, the Dolphins have a 30.2% chance to see some playoff football.
What to know for fantasy: Newton had a season-high 15 rushing attempts (75 yards and two scores) in the Week 1 meeting with the Dolphins. He scored 25.7 fantasy points in that game, but he has reached that mark just once since. See Week 15 rankings.
Betting nugget: This is the first time Miami has been favored over New England since 2013, and it’s the first time Miami has been favored by more than one point over New England since 2003. Read more.
Reiss’ pick: Patriots 20, Dolphins 17
Wolfe’s pick: Dolphins 20, Patriots 16
FPI prediction: NE, 51.8% (by an average of 0.6 points)
Matchup must-reads: Facing Tagovailoa, Patriots look to continue dominance vs. rookie QBs … Mapping out Dolphins’ path to 2020 NFL playoffs: Wild card or bust … Patriots running backs “just trying to stay afloat” during challenging season … Oh, “Boise”: How the Miami Miracle unfolded and stunned Patriots … Sticking with Newton gives Belichick cover for Patriots’ roster issues … Dolphins are making a name for themselves with their no-name defense
Sunday, 1 p.m. ET | CBS
Matchup rating: 48.1 | Spread: IND -7 (50.5)
What to watch for: Keep an eye on the Colts’ pass rush facing the Texans’ offensive line. The Colts were shut out when it came to sacks against the Raiders in Week 14, but Houston quarterbacks were sacked seven times by the Bears last weekend. Indianapolis sacked Texans QB Deshaun Watson five times when these teams met two weeks ago, and he Texans have given up 40 sacks this season. — Mike Wells
Bold prediction: Houston wide receiver Keke Coutee will have another game with 100 or more receiving yards. The three best games in Coutee’s career have come against the Colts (a combined 22 catches for 275 yards), and that will continue on Sunday. — Sarah Barshop
Stat to know: Watson has 25 passing touchdowns this season, and he needs just two more to set a new career high.
Playoff/draft picture: The Colts enter the weekend with an 85% chance of making the playoffs per FPI. They’ll have a 95% chance with a victory Sunday but a 66% chance with a loss. Houston is out of the playoff race but also does not have a first-round pick for 2021.
What to know for fantasy: Tyreek Hill, DK Metcalf and T.Y. Hilton are the only players this season to string together three straight games with 80 receiving yards and a touchdown catch, with Hilton being the one riding an active streak. See Week 15 rankings.
Betting nugget: Indianapolis is 8-2 ATS in its past 10 games as a favorite. Read more.
Barshop’s pick: Colts 31, Texans 24
Wells’ pick: Colts 34, Texans 20
FPI prediction: IND, 63.7% (by an average of 4.7 points)
Matchup must-reads: Hard to see better days ahead for Texans’ D after “embarrassing” loss … Colts’ Sanchez thankful to be back after “whirlwind” three weeks … Texans players gather at Watson’s new restaurant’s opening in potential protocol violation … Colts’ Reich says QB Rivers has “multiple years” left if he wants to keep playing … Colts’ Hilton vanished, but now he’s the real “Ghost” again
Sunday, 1 p.m. ET | Fox
Matchup rating: 48.1 | Spread: MIN -3 (47)
What to watch for: All eyes will be on Vikings kicker Dan Bailey after he missed three field goals and an extra point in a Week 14 loss to Tampa Bay. Coach Mike Zimmer was lukewarm on his commitment to Bailey this week, but given the COVID-19 protocols and Bailey’s long history of being an excellent kicker, all signs point to Minnesota not making a change for the Bears game. But if Bailey misses a kick Sunday, I’m not so sure how much longer he’ll be on the roster. — Courtney Cronin
Bold prediction: The Bears will win their third straight game in Minnesota for the first time since 1983-85. Chicago coach Matt Nagy has had the Vikings’ number at U.S. Bank Stadium, where his team has won each of the past two seasons, including a dominant victory in the 2018 regular-season finale that kept Minnesota out of the playoffs. Nagy is 4-1 lifetime versus the Vikings, the lone loss occurring when these teams met at Soldier Field on Nov. 16. — Jeff Dickerson
Stat to know: Minnesota running back Dalvin Cook has 14 rushing touchdowns this season, the second most in a single season in Vikings history (Adrian Peterson had 18 in 2009). But Cook has averaged 2.84 yards per rush in four career games against the Bears.
Playoff/draft picture: The winner of this game will stay in the playoff hunt, while the loser will have no better than a 5% chance of reaching the postseason, according to FPI. Chicago is currently looking at a 15% chance to make the playoffs, which could rise to 36% with a win and would fall to 2% in a loss. Minnesota — sitting at 21% now — would jump to 32% with a win but drop to 5% in a loss.
What to know for fantasy: Vikings wide receiver Adam Thielen scored twice in the first meeting with the Bears, but Justin Jefferson had twice as many receptions and caught 80% of his targets (Thielen was at 57.1%). See Week 15 rankings.
Betting nugget: Chicago is 1-4 ATS in its past five games. Read more.
Dickerson’s pick: Bears 27, Vikings 26
Cronin’s pick: Vikings 28, Bears 27
FPI prediction: MIN, 59.4% (by an average of 3.2 points)
Matchup must-reads: Bears face QB decisions in the possible post-Trubisky era … Kicking woes could boot Vikings out of playoffs if not fixed quickly … Can GM Pace and coach Nagy survive Bears’ downfall? … What does workload for Vikings’ Cook mean for 2021 and beyond?
Sunday, 1 p.m. ET | CBS
Matchup rating: 47.6 | Spread: BAL -13 (47.5)
What to watch for: Quarterback Lamar Jackson and the Ravens’ dominant rushing attack face a struggling Jaguars run defense. Baltimore leads the NFL in rushing (173.8 yards per game) and has produced over 200 yards on the ground in back-to-back games. Jacksonville has allowed the third-most rushing yards this season (145.5 per game) and gave up 249 last weekend to the Titans. — Jamison Hensley
Bold prediction: Yannick Ngakoue will have multiple sacks on Sunday. The Ravens defensive end said he’s treating this as just another game, but nobody believes that, right? It was an ugly end to his time in Jacksonville, which included calling the owner’s son (who is also the team’s executive VP of football administration and technology) a clown on social media. Jaguars offensive tackles Cam Robinson and Jawaan Taylor have struggled against quicker rushers this season, and Ngakoue will take advantage. — Mike DiRocco
Stat to know: The Jaguars have lost 12 straight games, the second-longest losing streak in franchise history (13 straight in 2012-13). But on the upside, they have a plus-74 point differential against the Ravens and are 12-9 in the matchup’s history.
Playoff/draft picture: The Ravens have the easiest remaining schedule in the NFL, per FPI, as their final three opponents are a combined 8-30-1 this season. They have a 53% chance to win out, according to FPI. While they currently have an 86% chance to make the playoffs, they’d be looking at 53% with a loss this weekend, independent of results in other games. The Jags, meanwhile, are projected to take home the No. 2 spot in the draft and even have a 24.6% chance to move into the top spot.
What to know for fantasy: Jacksonville running back James Robinson and Buffalo receiver Stefon Diggs are the only running backs, wide receivers or tight ends to have scored 10 PPR points in all 13 of their team’s games this season. See Week 15 rankings.
Betting nugget: Baltimore is 39-0 outright as a double-digit favorite in the regular season, the only team to never lose in that spot. Read more.
DiRocco’s pick: Ravens 28, Jaguars 21
Hensley’s pick: Ravens 34, Jaguars 10
FPI prediction: BAL, 87.6% (by an average of 15.3 points)
Matchup must-reads: Who’s the Jaguars’ kicker this weekend? It’s been historic, wacky and wild … Wild comeback in Cleveland: Inside Ravens and Jackson’s dramatic 70 minutes … Minshew expects Ravens’ Ngakoue to be “out for blood” … Taking the 427 hits: Ravens’ Jackson brings fighter’s mentality
Sunday, 1 p.m. ET | CBS
Matchup rating: 40.1 | Spread: TEN -11 (51.5)
What to watch for: The quest for 2,000 rushing yards continues for Titans running back Derrick Henry, who has 1,532 yards with three games left. The Titans will try to take advantage of a Detroit run defense allowing 132.8 yards per game. They want to get Henry the football but will be cautious about running him too much. Keep an eye on how they manage his carries and how often he can break off longer runs. — Turron Davenport
Bold prediction: Henry will put himself in a little bit better position for his chase for 2,000 yards after running for 200-plus yards against Detroit, including two touchdowns. The Lions’ offense is matching their defense in terms of injuries, with questions about Frank Ragnow (throat) and Matthew Stafford (ribs), so Detroit’s already-porous run defense might end up on the field more than it would want — which could leave for large holes in the second half. — Michael Rothstein
Stat to know: The Lions have allowed 21 rushing touchdowns (tied for the most) this season.
Playoff/draft picture: The Titans can clinch a playoff berth with a win and a loss from the Ravens. They haven’t made the playoffs in consecutive seasons since 2007-08. The Lions will be eliminated from the playoffs with a loss and a Cardinals win, but FPI gives them a 74% chance to pick in the top 10 at the draft.
What to know for fantasy: Four of Henry’s seven career games with 30 points have come in December (includes 36.2 points last weekend at Jacksonville). See Week 15 rankings.
Rothstein’s pick: Titans 34, Lions 13
Davenport’s pick: Titans 42, Lions 17
FPI prediction: TEN, 79.0% (by an average of 10.7 points)
Matchup must-reads: What does and doesn’t make the Lions’ coaching job appealing … Titans’ defense shores up season-long vulnerabilities in win over Jaguars … Badgers and Favre — all part of the charmed Wisconsin life of Lions’ Bevell
Sunday, 1 p.m. ET | CBS
Matchup rating: 34.3 | Spread: SF -3 (45)
What to watch for: The Cowboys’ run defense can feel good about its performance against Cincinnati last weekend, allowing 101 yards on 30 carries, but in facing similar run schemes to what San Francisco uses, the unit has struggled majorly. The Browns ran for 307 yards against Dallas, the most allowed in team history. Washington ran for 189 and 182 yards in sweeping the Cowboys in 2020. Gap discipline is a must vs. San Francisco, but the Cowboys have yet to show the ability to be sound when facing a zone scheme. — Todd Archer
Bold prediction: For the second time this season, 49ers running back Jeff Wilson Jr. will set a career high for rushing yards, surpassing the 112 he had against New England in Week 7. Dallas is giving up a league-worst 162.7 rushing yards per game and 5.07 yards per carry. With Raheem Mostert still dealing with the lingering effects of a previous ankle injury, this is a favorable matchup for Wilson and the Niners on the ground. — Nick Wagoner
Playoff/draft picture: The 49ers (79%) and Cowboys (71%) entered the season with the fourth- and fifth-highest percentages to make the playoffs, according to FPI, but now both face elimination. The Cowboys will be eliminated from postseason contention with a loss or wins by Washington and Arizona. The 49ers are eliminated with a loss and a Cardinals win. It would be the second consecutive season that the Super Bowl loser failed to make the playoffs in the following season (Rams). Dallas is projected to draft fifth in April, while San Francisco is 13th.
What to know for fantasy: Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott has been held under 10 fantasy points eight times in his career, and five of them have come in the past two months. See Week 15 rankings.
Betting nugget: Since the start of the 2018 season, Dallas is 4-0 ATS as a home underdog (1-0 ATS this season). Read more.
Wagoner’s pick: 49ers 27, Cowboys 13
Archer’s pick: 49ers 31, Cowboys 23
FPI prediction: SF, 70.4% (by an average of 7.1 points)
Matchup must-reads: “Badass” Warner the latest to carry on 49ers’ linebacking legacy … Don’t judge Cowboys’ Lawrence by sack totals alone … Cowboys, 49ers flexed out of prime time in Week 15 — how did it come to this? … Cowboys VP Jones says McCarthy will return as coach in 2021 … McCarthy reminds how Cowboys’ finish in 2020 can affect 2021, too
Sunday, 4:05 p.m. ET | Fox
Matchup rating: 49.6 | Spread: LAR -17.5 (43.5)
What to watch for: The Rams’ offense has rebounded since a Week 12 loss to the 49ers, but watch for coach Sean McVay and quarterback Jared Goff to potentially try to open up the playbook and find connections deep downfield against a struggling Jets defense that is allowing 286.8 passing yards per game, which ranks 31st in the NFL. Entering Sunday, Goff is averaging 6.18 air yards per attempt, which ranks 33rd out 35 qualified passers. — Lindsey Thiry
Bold prediction: Rams defensive tackle Aaron Donald will record at least two sacks and at least two run stuffs (tackles for zero or negative yards). An elite interior pass-rusher each week, he now faces a team with two backup guards in Pat Elflein and Josh Andrews. — Rich Cimini
Stat to know: The Rams lead the NFL in total defense (285.9 yards per game), while the Jets are last in total offense (269.8).
Playoff/draft picture: The Rams can clinch a playoff berth with a win. Additionally, they have a 67.5% chance to take home the NFC West by the end of the season, per FPI. The winless Jets have a 53% chance of losing out, which would ensure the No. 1 pick in the draft. They are currently the favorite, with a 75.4% chance to have the first pick.
What to know for fantasy: Los Angeles running back Cam Akers and Minnesota’s Dalvin Cook are the only two players with 20 carries in each of the past two weeks. Not bad for a rookie who had 59 carries for the season prior. See Week 15 rankings.
Betting nugget: Eight of past 10 Rams games have gone under the total. Read more.
Cimini’s pick: Rams 35, Jets 6
Thiry’s pick: Rams 32, Jets 10
FPI prediction: LAR, 93.0% (by an average of 19.5 points)
Matchup must-reads: Jets coach Gase says he has let ownership down … YAC kings: Rams’ Woods, Kupp masters at picking up yards after catch … Demise of the 2020 Jets: 13 reasons for 13 losses … Look out, L.A.: Rams’ defense gaining momentum as playoffs approach … Could Clemson’s Lawrence, the likely No. 1 NFL draft pick, spurn the Jets? … Is Goff capable of being a Super Bowl-winning quarterback for the Rams?
Sunday, 4:05 p.m. ET | Fox
Matchup rating: 43.7 | Spread: ARI -7 (49.5)
What to watch for: With running back Chase Edmonds a game-time decision and quarterback Kyler Murray having struggled in the run department recently, watch for Murray to break out on the ground against the Eagles. Murray understands the Cardinals’ playoff situation — they need to keep winning to stay alive — and if he runs, they tend to have a better chance to win. With three games left, the Cardinals don’t have any time to waste, and Murray will do his part. — Josh Weinfuss
Bold prediction: Eagles running back Miles Sanders will rack up 70 receiving yards and record his first receiving TD of the season. His prowess as a pass-catcher, on display during his rookie season, faded for much of this year, as he and quarterback Carson Wentz had trouble connecting. Sanders posted a season-high 36 receiving yards last weekend with Jalen Hurts under center, signaling bigger things to come. — Tim McManus
Stat to know: Murray is 9-4 in his career when rushing for 40-plus yards in a game. But he is 3-12-1 when held under that.
Playoff/draft picture: The Cardinals enter the weekend with a 56% chance of making the playoffs, per FPI. They’ll have a 65% chance of making the playoffs with a victory on Sunday but a 25% chance with a loss. No team has a larger potential swing (40 percentage points) in Week 15. The Eagles would be eliminated from the playoffs with a loss and a Washington win. They enter the weekend with a 6.5% chance of making the postseason, and those chances would jump to 18% with a win. Philadelphia currently is projected to have the 10th pick in the draft.
What to know for fantasy: Sanders is coming off of his best game of the season (29.6 points), and there is home run upside. But it comes at a cost. Sanders has more single-digit performances (four) than 20-point games (three), with three of those duds coming in the past month. See Week 15 rankings.
Betting nugget: Arizona is 3-6 ATS as a favorite with Murray under center. Read more.
McManus’ pick: Eagles 27, Cardinals 24
Weinfuss’ pick: Cardinals 24, Eagles 21
FPI prediction: ARI, 77.8% (by an average of 10.2 points)
Matchup must-reads: Eagles lineman Driscoll out for rest of season, source says … The chicken, brat and weather reporter: Why Cardinals’ Pugh turned to a life coach … How should the Eagles approach Wentz? Think Favre … Cardinals find a recipe to win while getting back in the playoff picture
Sunday, 4:25 p.m. ET | CBS
Matchup rating: 97.2 | Spread: KC -3 (51.5)
What to watch for: It’s two of the NFL’s elite teams, both trying to secure the crucial No. 1 seed in their conferences. The Chiefs’ No. 1-ranked offense meets the Saints’ No. 2-ranked defense. Oh, and there’s a chance that Drew Brees could return to the lineup just in time for an epic QB matchup against Patrick Mahomes. There might not be a better game on the NFL’s regular-season schedule all year. — Mike Triplett
Bold prediction: The Chiefs will force the Saints into at least two game-altering turnovers. The suddenly revived Chiefs pass rush had four sacks against the Dolphins last weekend and will pressure the Saints’ quarterback — whether it’s Brees or Taysom Hill — into some mistakes. Keep an eye on Chiefs safety Tyrann Mathieu, who has four interceptions over the past three games. — Adam Teicher
Stat to know: Mahomes has thrown for at least 315 yards in six straight games, tied with Brees (2012-13) and Rich Gannon (2002) for the longest such streak in NFL history. And according to the Elias Sports Bureau, his 2,309 yards over his past six games is the most over any six-game span in NFL history.
Playoff/draft picture: To clinch the AFC’s No. 1 seed and home-field advantage throughout the playoffs, the Chiefs need a win and losses by both the Steelers and Bills. And the Saints could clinch the NFC South with a win or a Buccaneers loss.
What to know for fantasy: Chiefs running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire has been held under 40 rushing yards in four of his past five games, and despite being a fantasy first-rounder, he has just two top-10 performances this season. See Week 15 rankings.
Betting nugget: Kansas City has won five consecutive one-score games, though it has failed to cover in all five. It is the first team to win but not cover five straight since the 1986 Patriots. Read more.
Teicher’s pick: Chiefs 26, Saints 20
Triplett’s pick: Chiefs 27, Saints 24
FPI prediction: KC, 55.2% (by an average of 1.8 points)
Matchup must-reads: How long would Chiefs QB Mahomes need to surpass passing records of Saints’ Brees? … Saints just missed on Mahomes in 2017, but reshaped the franchise anyway … Chiefs, Mahomes continue “love-hate relationship” with Hard Rock Stadium … Payton: Brees return depends on how week goes … Turnovers continue to cloud Hill’s future as Saints quarterback
Domonique Foxworth and Damien Woody explain why they believe the Saints should start Jameis Winston against the Chiefs.
Sunday, 8:20 p.m. ET | NBC
Matchup rating: 27.1 | Spread: CLE -5 (44)
What to watch for: The Browns have the third-ranked rushing offense (156.2 yards per game), and the Giants have the seventh-ranked rushing defense (101.5). Whoever wins that matchup likely wins this game. — Jordan Raanan
Bold prediction: In teammate and close friend Odell Beckham Jr.‘s former stadium, Browns wide receiver Jarvis Landry will account for multiple touchdowns in a game for the first time this season. — Jake Trotter
Stat to know: Cleveland quarterback Baker Mayfield has averaged 9.9 yards per attempt off play-action this season, second best in the NFL. But he has averaged 6.3 yards per attempt without play-action, 29th in the NFL.
Playoff/draft picture: The Browns enter the weekend with a 82% chance of making the playoffs, per FPI. Win and that becomes 95%. Lose and the Browns are down to 68%. The Giants are also fighting for a playoff spot and enter the weekend with a 24% chance of winning the NFC East. A victory would help, giving them a 41% chance, but that number would fall to the single digits with a loss (9%). New York is currently projected to have the No. 12 draft slot.
What to know for fantasy: There are 14 tight ends who have seen at least 55 targets this season, and Evan Engram of the Giants ranks last among them in points per target (1.22). In fact, that rate is 18.1% below any of the other qualifiers and 29.5% below the average. See Week 15 rankings.
Betting nugget: The Giants are 8-3 ATS as an underdog this season. Read more.
Trotter’s pick: Browns 28, Giants 24
Raanan’s pick: Browns 22, Giants 20
FPI prediction: CLE, 58.1% (by an average of 2.8 points)
Matchup must-reads: It’s been 25 years since the Browns broke Cleveland’s heart and left for Baltimore … Giants OC Garrett tests positive for coronavirus; Kitchens to call plays vs. Browns … Despite defeat, Browns show why they’re trending in right direction … Nearly two years later, Giants winning the Beckham trade … Giants QB Jones has second leg injury
What to watch for: Pittsburgh is trying to snap a two-game losing skid that has halted its momentum on the season. The Bengals have dropped five straight, have been decimated by injuries and are looking for their first victory over their AFC North rival since Nov. 1, 2015. — Ben Baby
Bold prediction: The Steelers will rush for more than 100 yards. The running game has been nonexistent for three games, but Pittsburgh is facing a Bengals team that gives up 131.9 rushing yards per game. To go deep in the playoffs, the Steelers need a more well-balanced offense, and the Monday Night Football game will allow them to correct their shortcomings in the ground game. — Brooke Pryor
Stat to know: Drops have been a major issue for the Steelers this season. They have 33 total drops and a 6.3% drop rate, both highest in the NFL. And over the past three weeks, they have 14 drops and a 9.9% drop rate. Wide receiver Diontae Johnson leads all players with 11 drops, while tight end Eric Ebron is tied for the lead among tight ends with six.
Playoff/draft picture: The Steelers will look to clinch the AFC North with a win or a Browns loss. It would be their first AFC North title since 2017. The Bengals are projected to have the third pick in the draft and have a 96.1% chance to remain in the top five, per FPI.
What to know for fantasy: Yes, quarterback Joe Burrow was calling the shots, but in the first Steelers-Bengals game, Cincinnati wide receiver Tee Higgins accounted for 54% of the team’s receiving yards. See Week 15 rankings.
Betting nugget: The largest upset in Monday Night Football history is 10.5 points, done three times, most recently by Miami at home against New England in 2017. Read more.
Pryor’s pick: Steelers 24, Bengals 10
Baby’s pick: Steelers 27, Bengals 6
FPI prediction: PIT, 76.8% (by an average of 9.7 points)
Matchup must-reads: Steelers receiver Smith-Schuster doesn’t plan to stop dancing on logos … Why this could be end of Green’s time with Bengals … Roethlisberger: No panicking for Steelers amid two-game setback … Recovery of Bengals’ Burrow: What to expect, how it compares to others … Season over for Bengals DT Atkins without a sack
Published at Fri, 18 Dec 2020 23:02:50 +0000
The Lions prepare to play the Titans
A desperation, multi-lateral play by the Browns as time expired resulted in a safety for the Ravens that covered the spread and swung millions of dollars in bets at sportsbooks around the nation.
The Ravens closed as consensus 3-point road favorites over the Browns. In a back-and-forth battle with major playoff implications, Baltimore’s Justin Tucker hit a 55-yard field goal that gave the Ravens a 45-42 lead with two seconds to play.
After a touchback on the ensuing kickoff, Cleveland had time for one play. It would prove fortuitous for gamblers who backed the Ravens and costly for those who sided with the underdog Browns.
Baker Mayfield completed a pass to Kareem Hunt on a short slant over the middle. Hunt lateraled back to Rashard Higgins, the first of seven laterals on the play. The ball ended up in the hands of Jarvis Landry, who was pushed out of bounds in the end zone for a safety, giving the Ravens a 47-42 win.
The Ravens opened as 1-point favorites early last week at most sportsbooks. The line grew throughout the week and was up to Baltimore -3 by Friday and even reached -3.5 at some sportsbooks in the hours leading up to Monday’s kickoff.
“In the last two hours, we took significant money on the Browns, when we went to 3.5,” Jason Scott, vice president of trading for BetMGM, told ESPN.
Despite the flurry of late money on Cleveland, Scott said his book ended up needing the Browns to cover the spread, primarily due to parlay liability on the Ravens.
“We wish it wouldn’t have happened,” Scott said of the safety on the final play. “We were a little worse on the Ravens, but it wasn’t significant.”
The betting action on the game was relatively balanced and produced mixed results for sportsbooks. Several sportsbooks ended up with slightly more money on Cleveland prior to kickoff, but there was plenty of support for the Ravens.
Bookmaker William Hill U.S. reported taking a $126,000 bet on Baltimore -3, which went from a push to a six-figure payday on the safety on the final play. FanDuel sportsbook director John Sheeran said that, including in-game wagering, the Ravens covering the spread was costly for his shop.
“Pretty big swing. I’d classify it in the seven-figure range,” Sheeran said. “Pretty expensive one, but I think bettors were due one given the way the season’s gone.”
The money at sportsbook PointsBet was more lopsided on the Browns, with 78% of the point-spread handle backing Cleveland. PointsBet communications director Patrick Eichner said the Ravens winning by five instead of three produced “one of the biggest swings of the season” in favor of the book.
The game featured five lead changes and three ties. The Browns rallied from a 14-point deficit to take the lead in a fourth quarter that saw 35 points scored. Ravens starting quarterback Lamar Jackson, after leaving the game due to cramps, returned in the fourth quarter to throw a touchdown pass to Marquise Brown on a fourth-down play that gave Baltimore the lead back. Jackson then led the Ravens on a last-minute drive to set up Tucker’s winning field goal.
The wild finish produced big swings in the live betting odds. The Browns’ odds to win the game shifted from +980, when they trailed by 14, to -420 after they took the lead midway through the fourth quarter.
“One of my colleagues who was trading [the live odds] said he felt like he was playing in the game rather than trading it. It was pretty exhausting,” FanDuel’s Sheeran said. “It was a very popular game overall, and the in-play boosted up the total handle. It was definitely our highest-bet game of the weekend by quite some way.”
Published at Tue, 15 Dec 2020 23:18:54 +0000
Team also announces Barry Sander among advisors for the team’s searches
The Green Bay Packers defeated the Detroit Lions, 31-24, behind a four touchdown performance from quarterback Aaron Rodgers. Rodgers notched his 73rd game with three or more touchdowns throwing for 290 yards, three touchdowns, and rushing for one touchdown of his own. With the win, the Packers captured their second consecutive NFC North title.