This is the part of the season that needs no hype. Almost every game will have some type of playoff implication, whether it's tiebreakers, jockeying for positioning, or trying to make up ground. Most games this time of year will have you on the edge of your seat if you are even the mildest of NFL fan. By this time of year, we know what to expect out of each team, we've seen the highest they can perform at and the lowest too, it just comes down to, who puts their best foot forward (Sal Alosi) over these last 3 weeks and into the playoffs.
* You will notice that we've placed a number in parentheses next to each team. That number is the teams Power Ranking. To see the entire NFL Power Rankings (Net Points) for Week 15or where that team stands relative to others, just click on the number.
(5-8) vs. (4-9)
Ryan Torain has been banged up for most of his career and comes into this game with another mild injury. Mike Shanahan will have to determine if Torain will be able to carry the load over the last 3 weeks and be the premier back next year. In a game like this, there's nothing to play for and neither team can get motivated by being the spoiler. Guys are playing for jobs and teams play this game to figure out who will/will not be with them next year.
Dallas has played a lot better under Jason Garrett but they still need to find out who their playmakers are on this defense. Rumor has it that Tashard Choice had originally asked for Donovan McNabb's autograph but then cancelled the request when he became the third string QB this week. Rex Grossman offered to give Choice his autograph, but Choice wanted Grossman to pay him $20 to take it. DOH! - Cowboys Win 28-17
(3-10) vs. (7-6)
Buffalo has been a surprise during the second half of this season. With Miami still alive for a wild card spot, you can expect a full effort from their divisional foe playing spoiler. Steve Johnson has put together a far better statistical season then Brandon Marshall and I expect him to outperform Marshall in this game as well.
Marshall's subpar season is based solely on Chad Henne being his QB. Unfortunately for Marshall, Henne remains his quarterback. If you're looking for a player to watch in this game, look no further than the dynamic, NFL sack leader, Cameron Wake. Wake was a steal from the CFL and should be a top performer for years to come. The problem is on the other side of the ball though. - Upset Alert Bills Win 27-16
(4-9) vs. (1-12)
Just when you thought there couldn't be anything worse than an all NFC West match-up, the NFL gives us the worst team in the NFC West against the worst team in the NFL. This is a match-up of the two worst teams in the Xtra Point Football Net Points Power Rankings. The things to watch for here are the rookie QBs, John Skelton and Jimmy Clausen. These two teams are looking to find out if they have their franchise quarterbacks already in the locker room or if they will be looking to draft Andrew Luck.
The winner in this game will be the loser because the loser may end up with a higher draft pick and the loser will get a meaningless win. - Cardinals Win 26-13
(5-8) vs. (2-11)
Finally, we get to see Colt McCoy back on the field with Peyton Hillis. I don't care that this game is pointless because it's worth seeing something special being built with this young offense. The defense is also in the first steps of turning around their demeanor, especially the secondary. TJ Ward and Joe Haden may get the opportunity to introduce themselves to Carson Palmer in this game.
The Bengals will send out their underperforming QB and their unhappy receivers and we'll get to watch them lose and argue once again. As I stated in NFL Rage this week, why not try and see what they have in Dan Lefevour? The Broncos are doing it this week with Tim Tebow. Just a thought. Or they could keep doing what's gotten them only 2 wins to this point of the season. - Browns Win 21-17
(5-8) vs. (5-8)
Both of these teams are technically still alive but they know how far fetch their chances are. Houston seems to still be playing for their coach, while the Titans have a divide between themselves and head coach Jeff Fisher. The Texans defense has been improving and the offense was able to torch the Ravens on MNF.
Tennessee definitely hasn't been being playing to even half of their ability as of late. It's apparent that Fisher he won't be back in Nashville next year. The players are done with Fisher and Fisher is done with the owner Bud Adams. - Texans Win 27-10
(8-5) vs. (3-10)
The Tampa Bay secondary will have their hands full with Calvin Johnson. This Lions have proven they have heart (never thought I would do a Wizard of Oz reference here) and can play with almost any QB. My only request is that if Drew Stanton scores, that he do the Carlton and not the Dougie.
I like what the Lions have done this season but they'll need to knock out Josh Freeman the same way they did Aaron Rodgers, for the Lions to beat this team. Tampa has suffered a lot of injuries to key pieces on their defense and while their offense is mostly intact, they seem to either play up or down to their competition never putting teams away. - Bucs Win 27-24
(11-2) vs. (6-7)
This Atlanta team keeps rolling. They are benefiting from Tom Brady's Patriots getting all of the attention in the AFC and Michael Vick's Eagles getting all of it in the NFC. This allows them to not get caught up in all of the media hype and just keep plugging away. The Pats are the most fundamental team in the NFL, so it's hard to picture them falling off.
The Seahawks keep hanging around and even with a loss could still be tied for first place at 6-8. That's crazy and I'll just leave it at that. - Falcons Win 30-10
(3-10) vs. (6-7)
As for the Raiders, MEMO to Tom Cable: Stop taking Darren McFadden out of the game in favor of Michael Bush whe McFadden has a rhythm going and is leading you ream to the end zone. – Gonna punt on a prediction here due to the late breaking Tim Tebow news. I'll let you know my prediction after the game....
(8-5) vs. (11-2)
Some of you might be wondering why this isn't listed under the Water Cooler games. I'm sure I'll get blamed for hating the Patriots. The reason is because it doesn't look like Aaron Rodgers will play or play at 100% if he does. And that's a shape as these two teams are ranked # 1 & 2 in out Xtra Point Football Net Points Power Rankings. With the way the Patriots are playing now, there's no chance for an unhealthy Aaron Rogers or Matt Flynn to beat them.
The Patriots need to keep doing what they've been doing, it's as simple as that. If they can stay this hot going into the playoffs, then it's going to be hard for anyone to knock them off. - Patriots Win 33-17
(9-4) vs. (4-8)
The Bears can't let there be lingering effects from their blowout loss at the hands of the Patriots, they have to get back to what they were doing well before last week. I think they'll bounce back and put some distance between themselves and the Packers. Chicago needs this victory.
Joe Webb should get the start and Patrick Ramsey will be his backup. Webb could be a surprise but it won't be this week against a Julius Peppers pass rush. - Bears Win 23-9
"Water Cooler" Games
(10-3) vs. (9-4)
I fully expect New Orleans to take advantage of the Ravens secondary, the same way the Texans did on MNF. With each passing week, Reggie Bush will continue to ease himself back into a key role in this offense.
Baltimore doesn't have the same dominant defense as in past. If this game gets away from the Ravens, I wouldn't be surprised to see a slip that ends with the Ravens season spinning out of control. - Saints Win 30-19
(8-5) vs. (7-6)
I have been one of the toughest critics of the Jaguars this season and I don't see any reason to stop now. I believe this game will start the decline for the Jags season.
The Colts will struggle against the Jags rushing attack in this game but in the end, I can't see Peyton Manning blowing a game that could be his team's last chance at the playoffs.I see a high scoring and late game heroics for Peyton in this one. - Colts Win 33-31
(9-4) vs. (10-3)
The Jets are flying into Pittsburgh low on feul and looking to get back on course. This is a meeting of 2 stellar defenses but the other side of the ball has been an area of struggle for both teams. The Jets need this game more, but can Mark Sanchez do what he did last year and get on a run?
Even with the Steelers offense struggling of late, Ben Roethlisberger has a lot of weapons and a proven track record. When you look at all aspects of this game, the biggest difference comes when you get to quarterback. Mark Sanchez vs. Ben Roethlisberger. There just aren't many QB's in the league whose hands you want the ball in more in crunch time then Big Ben. - Steelers Win 20-12.
(8-5) vs. (6-7)
Who would have thought that the battle over Missouri would have been more important than the battle over Texas? This is this biggest surprise of first place team match-ups. KC will need Matt Cassel healthy for this one.
The way it's going, I wouldn't be surprised to see the Rams back into the playoffs. They could make the road a lot easier by winning some of these important games. It's simple, with Cassel, I take the Chiefs, without, I take the Rams. - Chiefs Win 24-20
Game of the Week
(9-4) vs. (9-4)
There are several games that are between division leaders and playoffs teams this week. This game gets the top however billing because of the way they always play each other and the history; divisional foes that don't like each other.
Michael Vick seems to be having his way with the NFL. This will be his biggest game though since coming out of prison. How we he handle a game of this magnitude? The last time Philly played this Giants 'D', they didn't play their best game.
New York needs this victory more than Philly and there will be long lasting effects to a victory here. The game will be in New York and I feel that the Giants are ready for this game. Ahmad Bradshaw and Brandon Jacobs are the key to this one. Provided the Giants don't obsessively to turn the ball over and they keep Vick and his pals on the sideline, NY will be able to pull out this key victory. - Giants Win 24-23
I'll be back next Sunday morning week for Week 15 of NFL GameDay. Don't forget to check out NFL Rage mid week where I vent my frustrations at some of the dumbest calls and decisions from this week's games. NFL Gameday - It's easy like Sunday Morning! - Jayson Braddock
Jayson appears on Sports Radio 790 AM in Houston, TX, every Thursday morning at 11:19 am CST as the football insider on the Dylan Gwinn show. He's a graduate of the Sports Management World Wide Football GM & Scouting Course and has been mentored by former NFL player / executive John Wooten and Sporting News.com NFL Draft Expert Russ Lande. His work is mostly appreciated by die-hard fans interested in every little detail about their team and not just watered down mainstream talk. - Listeners NOT in the Houston metropolitan area can hear Jayson on iheart radio or sports7910.com.
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