I can’t recall a more exciting week of NFL games than the NFL Week 15 schedule. After last year’s debacle with the Indianapolis Colts sitting starters in late in the season,, the NFL made a concerted effort to put more meaningful games on the NFL schedule late in the season. Mission accomplished as this weekend is shaping up to be one of the biggest in regular season history.
It is time to start talking NFL playoffs and this weekend is almost like a playoff weekend. Almost every game has a scenario in which 1 team needs to win to either stay alive or hold on to home field advantage in January. This weekend’s slate of games may be even better than anything you see in the playoffs, because instead of seeing two big games on a day you will see 13!
Jacksonville Jaguars (8-5) vs. Indianapolis Colts (7-6) – If not for one Hail Mary pass the Jaguars season looked to be yet another disappointment. Instead that one play has turned their season around. I would dare say that the Jaguars are not only the most underrated team in football, but probably more well rounded than the Patriots. You would never know that the Colts were still in the hunt for a playoff spot after what will probably go down as the worst statistical season for Peyton Manning since his rookie year, but they are. How ironic is it that last year at this time the conversation was whether the Colts could go undefeated for a season and a year later they are one game away from being shut out of the post season? The Jags lock up the division with a win here and clinch a playoff spot while a loss here will leave the Colts out of the playoffs for the first time since Manning’s rookie year.
Green Bay Packers (8-5) vs. New England Patriots (11-2) – This game would have been a lot more interesting if Aaron Rodgers was playing. Another bit of irony here in that you have the Packers who were the runaway NFC favorites in the pre season to take it all going against a team that most thought would be rebuilding for a 2011 run. Do they pay those so called NFL experts by the way? I think all of the talk about the Patriots weak secondary is ridiculous. Yes they were torched this season, but they have been lock down over the last few weeks. The Pats can clinch a first-round bye and the division with a win here. That is huge because not only do the Pats want that bye, but they would love a team like San Diego to have to come into Foxboro in January. The Packers are pretty much DOA without Rodgers and a loss here ends it all for the green and yellow.
New Orleans (10-3) vs. Baltimore Ravens (9-4) – I am stoked for this game. This is a very likely Super Bowl preview and features two of the best teams in their conferences at their most critical points of the season. For the Saints, 10-3 in Week 15 wouldn’t be such a bad thing if it weren’t for that bad loss to the Atlanta Falcons earlier this year and the fact that the Falcons have remained hot all season. The loss to the Steelers two weeks ago was devastating for the Ravens. This is an absolute must-win for both teams. The Saints are still playing for the bye and home field advantage in January and there might not be another team in the NFC with more of a home field advantage than the Saints. The Saints can clinch a playoff berth with a win here, but a few other teams must lose in order for that to happen and the same with the Ravens. This should be a fun game and I predict a total shootout here regardless of what the stats say about the defenses.
New York Jets (9-4) vs. Pittsburgh Steelers (10-3) – This one looked good on paper in September and looks equally enticing today. Here you have almost two identical teams with struggling offenses and superior defenses. If Jets fans were looking for a week for Mark Sanchez to get back on track, I doubt this is going to be it and the same goes for Steelers’ fans. I buy the Jets a little more than the Steelers as a team that can turn it around and make a late run. I think the Jets offense has a ton of potential and they are getting opportunities, yet unfortunately all of the receivers are dropping passes. The Steelers are just stagnant on offense and aren’t getting opportunities. Big Ben lacks the mobility and he is missing Santonio Holmes big time, although he gets him back this week …just on the other team. The Jets can clinch a playoff spot here with a win and a few other losses falling their way. A loss would probably end their postseason aspirations. For the Steelers, a loss here would not be nearly as devastating. A win and a Baltimore loss clinches the division for the Steelers.
Kansas City Chiefs (8-5) vs. St. Louis Rams (6-7) – It is a sad state of affairs when a 6-7 team in Week 15 stands atop of their division. The Chiefs at 8-5 also lead their division but need a lot of help along the way to see a postseason game. A loss by either team could theoretically knock them out of the hunt, although technically they’d still be alive. This game would be a lot more exciting if Matt Cassel plays, but as of this writing it isn’t looking good.
Chicago Bears (9-4) vs. Minnesota Vikings (8-5) – You would have no idea if you watched the Vikings and Bears play last week that these were two teams in the hunt for a division spot. The Bears in my opinion are the biggest fraud of the top contenders coming out of the NFC. Their defense can be had in the secondary and their offense is just the usual Mike Martz piece of glorified garbage. Even as bad as they looked at home last week, they can clinch the division with a win and a Green Bay loss which looks very likely. The Vikings are on life support right now. Nobody expects this team to be playing in the postseason and who knows where a home game would be played. However, there are a lot of veteran players on the Vikings who would absolutely love to play spoiler. How ironic is it that if Brett Favre plays, he would theoretically playing for the Green Bay Packers to say alive in the division race? Regardless of what we saw last week, this should be a real exciting and intense game of Monday Night Football.
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