Week 15 in the NFL kicks off with Arizona looking to improve its playoff position against the dangerous St. Louis Rams. It continues on Sunday with an AFC East showdown in Miami, a critical clash among AFC North contenders, and Thanksgiving rematches between the Niners and Seahawks and Cowboys and Eagles.
Finally, on Monday, New Orleans rebound against the Bears.
Let’s take a look at the full slate.
Arizona (10-3) at St. Louis (6-7) – Spread: Rams -3.5
The Cardinals have lost back-to-back road games, falling 19-3 at Seattle in week 12 and dropping a 29-18 decision at Atlanta in week 13. Arizona is 3-3 on the road straight up and against the spread. They won at Oakland, Dallas, and New York (Giants). The Cardinals picked up a huge home win last weekend against the Chiefs (17-14) to keep their slim, one-game lead over the Seahawks in the NFC West. The defense was key, as the Cardinals put up 11 unanswered points in the second half to win and cover.
The Rams have been tough customers at home recently. Since losing to the Niners, 31-17, in St. Louis during week 6, the Rams have beaten Seattle, Denver, and Oakland at home (covering in all three). That streak followed a dismal start to the year in which St. Louis lost and failed to cover in each of their first three home games. Arizona scored two late defensive touchdowns in a 31-14 victory over the Rams in week 10. They have won two straight overall and three of four, including back-to-back shutouts of the Raiders (52-0) and Redskins (24-0).
Miami (7-6) at New England (10-3) – Spread: Patriots -8
It was a sizable upset in week 1 when the Dolphins beat New England, 33-20. Now the Patriots can all but sew up the AFC East title with a bit of revenge at home. This is the last regular season road game for Miami. The Fins are 4-3 straight up and against the number away from home. Miami rallied to beat the Jets in New York, 16-13, in week 13, but failed to cover as 6.5-point favorites. Miami held late leads in their previous two road games (against Denver and Detroit), but wound up on the losing end both times.
The Dolphins (7-6) fell off the pace in the AFC Wild Card race last weekend after dropping a home game to Baltimore.
New England has dominated opposition at home recently. They blew out Detroit, 34-9, in week 12 after smashing the Broncos, 43-21, in week 9 and demolishing the Bears, 51-23, in week 8. The Pats are 6-0 at home and 4-2 against the spread. They took the Packers to the wire at Lambeau in week 13 (26-21), narrowly failing to cover as four-point road dogs. They rebounded from that loss with a good win in San Diego in week 14.
Pittsburgh (8-5) at Atlanta (5-8) – Spread: Steelers -2
The Steelers are on the road for a second straight week. Pittsburgh won at Cincinnati in week 14 by three touchdowns and are now 4-3 on the road and 3-4 against the number. Each of the last three meetings between Pittsburgh and Atlanta has gone to overtime. Pittsburgh hasn’t won in Atlanta since 1996.
The Falcons are playing their last game against an opponent outside of the NFC South. The Falcons failed to rally for a victory on Monday night in Green Bay in week 14; but they showed some mental fortitude coming from 31-7 down the break to make it a one-score game (43-37) and cover the spread. Atlanta has still won just one game all season against a non-divisional opponent. At home, the Falcons are 3-3 straight up and 4-2 against the spread.
Washington (3-10) at New York Giants (4-9) – Spread: Giants -7
The Redskins conclude the year with games against each of their NFC East rivals. This game against the Giants is their final road game of the season. In week 4, New York crushed Washington, 45-14. The Skins are 1-6 on the road and 3-4 against the spread. They lost at Indianapolis, 49-27, in week 13, fell at San Francisco, 17-13, in week 12, and dropped a 29-26 decision at Minnesota in week 9.
The Redskins pitched a shutout against the Rams last weekend, losing 24-0. New starting QB Colt McCoy injured his neck, meaning Robert Griffin III may get a chance to start again in week 15.
The Giants last won at home in week 5 against the Falcons. Since then, they have lost home games against the Colts, Niners, and Cowboys. The G-men are 2-4 at home and 3-3 against the number. They ended a seven-game losing streak last weekend by thumping the Titans, 36-7, in Tennessee.
Oakland (2-11) at Kansas City (7-6) – Spread: Chiefs -10.5
In what has been a lost year for the Raiders, a season sweep over AFC West rival Kansas City would feel awfully good. In week 12, Oakland beat the Chiefs, 24-20, and they doubled their win total by beating their cross-town rivals, San Francisco, last Sunday in Oakland. The Raiders have not won a road game all season. While Oakland is 0-6 outside of the Bay Area straight up, they are 4-2 against the spread. That said, the Raiders were blown out, 52-0, by St. Louis in their last road game.
The Chiefs have quality home wins over New England and Seattle this year and are 4-2 at Arrowhead both straight up and against the spread. Most recently, they lost to the Broncos, 29-16, at home in week 13, killing their chances at a division title in the process. Last weekend, K.C. stretched its overall losing streak to three games, falling 17-14 to the Cardinals in Arizona. They now sit one game back of the last Wild Card spot in the AFC.
Houston (7-6) at Indianapolis (9-4) – Spread: Colts -7
The Texans play a divisional road game for a second straight week after winning in Jacksonville, 27-13, on Sunday. They are 4-3 on the road and 5-2 against the spread. Houston is looking to avenge a 33-28 setback against the Colts in week 6. The Texans trailed 24-0 after one quarter, but rallied to get within 27-21 late in the third. Houston went one for eight on third down, while the Colts converted eight of 16 tries.
This is Indy’s final regular season home game. The Colts are 5-2 straight up and against the number at home. Indianapolis handled the Jags and Redskins at home following a week 11 loss against the Patriots at Lucas Oil Stadium.
Jacksonville (2-11) at Baltimore (8-5) – Spread: Raves -14
The Jaguars have played just one competitive road game this year (a 16-14 loss at Tennessee in week 6). Jacksonville has dropped each of their other five road games by at least ten points, putting them at 0-6 SU and 1-4-1 ATS.
In week 13, Baltimore was unable to hold a two-score lead late in the fourth against San Diego, ultimately losing a 34-33 heartbreaker and failing to cover as four-point home favorites. The Ravens have generally been good at home though, going 4-2 straight up and against the number in Baltimore. They have home victories over Pittsburgh, Carolina, Atlanta, and Tennessee, and losses to the Chargers and Bengals.
The Ravens picked up a huge road win last weekend in Miami to move to 8-4, half a game back of division leading Cincinnati and tied for the last AFC Wild Card spot.
Green Bay (10-3) at Buffalo (7-6) – Spread: Packers -7
The Packers are on the road after playing four of their last five at home. Green Bay is 3-3 on the road and 2-4 against the spread. Most recently, the Packers won at Minnesota, 24-21, in week 12. Prior to that, Green Bay dropped a 44-23 battle at New Orleans in week 8.
The Bills are 4-3 at home and 3-4 against the spread on the year. They have won two straight at home (if you include their win over the Jets that was relocated from New York to Detroit because of snow), most recently smoking the Browns, 26-10, in week 13. Buffalo wraps up the year with two extremely tough games in the final three weeks (Green Bay and New England) plus one against Oakland.
They dropped last weekend’s game to Denver at Mile High. But they hung tough with the mighty Broncos, ultimately making it a one-score game (24-17) and covering as double-digit road dogs.
Tampa Bay (2-11) at Carolina (4-8-1) – Spread: Panthers -6
The Bucs and Panthers have both had bad seasons. But, after an out-of-nowhere 41-10 road win over the Saints in week 14, Carolina is in the thick of the division race (sitting a half game behind Atlanta and New Orleans) with three weeks remaining. Carolina beat Tampa, 20-14, in Florida in week 1. The Panthers are 2-4 at home and 4-2 against the spread. Carolina has not won in front of their fans since beating Chicago in week 5. In Carolina’s most recent home game, the Falcons handed the Panthers a 19-17 loss in week 11.
The Buccaneers are winless at home, but have pulled off two road victories (over Pittsburgh and Washington) this year. Tampa Bay is 2-5 away from home and 4-3 ATS. They have lost three straight overall, including last week’s 34-17 loss to Detroit, and haven’t scored more than 17 points during the losing streak.
Cincinnati (8-4-1) at Cleveland (7-6) – Spread: Bengals -2
The Bengals will be hoping for revenge when they travel to Cleveland. The Browns destroyed Cincinnati, 24-3, in week 10 at Paul Brown Stadium. Andy Dalton was intercepted three times while completing just 10 of 33 pass attempts in the loss. The Bengals will also be hoping to bounce back from a key divisional loss to the Steelers in week 14, in which they were outscored 24-0 in the fourth quarter. The Bengals are 4-2 SU on the road and 3-3 against the number, but have won three in a row away from home.
Cleveland’s win over Cincy in week 10 snapped a 17-game losing streak in divisional road games. The Browns have not earned a playoff berth since 2002 and, after dropping games to fellow AFC Wild Card contenders Houston and Buffalo in weeks 11 and 13, need wins and help down the stretch to reach the postseason. In week 14, the offense failed to convert an impeccable defensive performance into a W; the Browns scored two defensive touchdowns and contained Andrew Luck and the Colts for 3.5 quarters, but gave up a major in the dying seconds to lost 25-24.
New York Jets (2-11) at Tennessee (2-11) – Spread: Jets -1
The Jets travel to Nashville where they have won just once in four trips since 2006. New York is playing a third road game in four weeks and will end the year with back-to-back divisional games. After falling to the Vikings in overtime last week, New York is 0-6 away from home and 1-4-1 against the number.
The Titans have lost seven straight and haven’t been competitive in almost a month. Five of their last six games have been decided by ten points or more. Tennessee is 1-5 at home and 1-4-1 against the spread. Their lone victory in front of friendly fans was in week 6 against the Jaguars. Last weekend, they were blown out by the Giants, 34-7, in Nashville and rookie QB Zach Mettenberger was lost for the season with a shoulder injury.
Denver (10-3) at San Diego (8-5) – Spread: Broncos -4
The Broncos and Chargers were two of three AFC West teams to make the playoffs last year. Sitting first and second in the division, both are in contention to return to the postseason. In week 8, Denver beat San Diego, 35-21. Denver wideout Emmanuel Sanders caught three touchdown passes in the victory. Denver is 3-3 straight up and against the number away from home. They won at Kansas City, 29-16, in week 13. Denver took care of business at home last weekend, trumping the Bills, 24-17.
The Chargers face arguably the most difficult schedule in the NFL over the final month of the season. After playing the Ravens and Patriots in weeks 12 and 13, San Diego finishes with Denver, San Francisco, and Kansas City. The Chargers’ SNF loss to the Patriots in week 13 bumped them to 8-5, but they remain in the final Wild Card spot in the AFC thanks to owning the tiebreaker over Baltimore.
Minnesota (6-7) at Detroit (9-4) – Spread: Lions -7.5
The Vikings head to Detroit hoping for a better result than the first time these teams met. The Lions handed Minnesota a 17-3 loss in week 6. The Vikings are 2-4 on the road and 3-3 against the spread. Most recently, Minnesota lost at Chicago, 21-13, in week 11. Prior to that, they beat the Bucs, 19-13, in overtime in week 8. Last weekend, they downed the Jets at home, 30-24.
This is the Lions’ final home game of the season. Detroit ends the year with road games at division rivals Chicago and Green Bay. The Lions have been very good at home, going 5-1 SU, but average on the road, going 3-3 SU. Currently neck-and-neck with Seattle and Dallas in the NFC Wild Card race, the Lions need to take care of business at home to avoid more late-season heartbreak. They did the job in week 14, downing the lowly Bucs, 34-17.
San Francisco (7-6) at Seattle (9-4) – Spread: Seahawks -10
The 49ers lost to the Seahawks, 19-3, in San Francisco on Thanksgiving, and then laid an egg in Oakland last Sunday, losing 24-13 to their crosstown rivals. Now they must win out and get help to make the playoffs. The Niners are 4-3 on the road straight up and against the spread.
Seattle has won three straight and five of six against San Francisco at home. The Seahawks are 5-1 at CenturyLink Field this year and 4-2 against the spread. The Seahawks beat Arizona, 19-3, at home in week 12 and have gone 3-0 in Seattle since a loss to Dallas in week 6. The Seahawks looked like the defending Super Bowl champs that they are in week 13, holding Chip Kelly’s potent offense to just two scores in a 24-14 win over the NFC East-leading Eagles in Philadelphia.
Dallas (9-4) at Philadelphia (9-4) – Spread: Eagles -3.5
On Thanksgiving, the Cowboys fell to Philadelphia, 33-10; they were dominated in every phase of the game and were out-gained 464-267. The Eagles rushed for 256 yards in the win. But Dallas has played better on the road than at home this season, going 6-0 away from AT&T Stadium and covering the spread five times. The Cowboys host Indianapolis in week 16 before traveling to Washington to end the regular season. They beat the Bears on TNF in week 14.
This is the final home game for the Eagles before visiting the Redskins and Giants to conclude the year. The Eagles are 6-1 at home after falling to Seattle last week. Philadelphia is 5-2 against the spread at home, but Dallas has won two straight and four of five in Philly.
New Orleans (5-8) at Chicago (5-8) – Spread: Saints -3
There was a time not so long ago – like, five weeks ago, to be precise – when New Orleans was great at home and mediocre on the road. Recently, though, the Saints have been weak at home and solid when traveling. The Saints won at Carolina, 28-10, in week 9, then lost three straight at home before beating Pittsburgh, 35-32, in the Steel City in week 13. The trend continued last week as the Saints got blown out at home by the Panthers. New Orleans stands at 2-4 on the road and 3-3 against the spread.
This is the second of three straight home games for Chicago. The Bears have extra time to prepare after falling to the Cowboys on Thursday in week 14. Chicago has won three of their last four meetings at home against the Saints. Officially eliminated from playoff contention last weekend, the Bears are playing primarily for their coaching staff’s jobs and draft positioning.