If I learned one thing from Week 14, it’s that I’m starting to think that nobody in Jacksonville wants Urban Meyer to be the coach of the Jaguars anymore and that includes Urban Meyer.
This is actually good news for me, because that’s one less pick I’ll have to worry about each week for the rest of the season since I’ll definitely be blindly picking against the Jaguars from now on.
If you need proof that Urban Meyer wants out, just look at his postgame handshake from Sunday. I mean, I’m no body language expert, but if that facial expression doesn’t scream ‘I hate my job,’ I don’t know what does.
I’ll be honest, I haven’t seen anyone walk around with that look on their face since my roommate got dumped by his girlfriend in college on the same day that his cat ran away. Fortunately for Meyer, he actually has a winnable game this week against the Texans. However, based on how Jacksonville’s season has gone so far, he’ll probably find a way to lose the game by seven touchdowns.
Now that you know I’ll be picking against the Jags, let’s get to the rest of the Week 15 picks before I spoil anymore of them.
Actually, before we get to the picks, here’s a quick reminder that you can check out the weekly picks from every CBSSports.com NFL expert by clicking here. If you like clicking on things then I highly suggest you also click here so you can sign up for CBSSports.com’s NFL newsletter, which I’m in charge of. It makes a great holiday gift and that’s mostly because it doesn’t cost you anything and because it gets delivered to your inbox five days per week, it truly is the gift that keeps on giving.
While you’re thinking about whether you should sign up for the newsletter, you can pass the time by listening to the latest Pick Six podcast, which I recorded on Monday night with my crazy partners Will Brinson and Ryan Wilson. We spent 45 highly entertaining minutes talking about the totally bonkers game between the Rams and Cardinals. We also had a friendly debate about who’s going to win the NFC West. If you want to listen, and you definitely should, you can do that below.
Alright, I really want to get my pick against the Jaguars on the record, so let’s get this thing started.
NFL Week 15 Picks
Kansas City (9-4) at L.A. Chargers (8-5)
Thursday, 8:20 p.m. ET (Fox/NFL Network/Amazon)
Kansas City Chiefs
Over the past few weeks, the AFC West race has slowly turned into the football equivalent of an M. Night Shyamalan movie: I thought I knew what was going on, but then there was a twist, except the twist was that there were multiple twists.
The first twist came in October when it looked like the Chiefs were going to be bad this year. After Week 7, Kansas City was sitting in last place with a record of 3-4 while the Raiders were on top of the AFC West with a 5-2 record. That seems like seven years ago.
The second twist came from the Chargers, who decided they’re not going to lose any games played during an odd week this year. In odd week games this season, the Chargers are 6-0 while averaging 33.67 points per game. In odd week games, the Chargers basically turn into the 1985 Bears, except with a more talented quarterback. Fittingly, one of their biggest odd week wins came in Week 3 when they beat the Chiefs 30-24. However, that was back when we all thought the Chiefs were bad.
The third twist came when the Chiefs rebounded from their 3-4 start to win six straight games and the twist there isn’t even that they rebounded, it’s how they did it: The Chiefs have won six straight games due to their defensive play.
In their first seven games, the defense gave up 29 points per game, but during their six-game winning streak, that number is down to 10.9 points per game. Basically, the Chiefs defense has been destroying everyone and when you throw in the fact that there’s a 99.9% chance the Chargers are going to be missing their starting left tackle on Thursday, that feels like a monstrous advantage for Kansas City.
During the preseason, I picked the Chiefs to win the AFC West and I’m going to stand by my pick, because as we all know, if you don’t stand for something, you’ll fall for anything. Did I steal that quote from someone on the internet who probably stole it from someone else? Yes.
I can’t believe I’m going to do it, but I’m going to pick against the one team this year that hasn’t lost an odd week game and I’m doing it in an odd week. I already regret it.
The pick: Chiefs 34-27 over Chargers
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New England (9-4) at Indianapolis (7-6)
Saturday, 8:15 p.m. ET (NFL Network)
The date of this game is NOT a typo, Saturday football is back! Over the next two weeks, we’re going to be getting multiple Saturday games with two being played in both Week 15 and Week 16. Normally, my favorite thing to do on Saturdays during the NFL season is to buy things I don’t need at Target. However, I’m going to have to put those plans on hold this week, because we have football to watch.
The fact that this game is being played on a Saturday must have thrown off the oddsmakers because they’ve made New England THE UNDERDOG. It’s also possible they started pounding their Christmas wine a little early, because that’s the only way to explain why THE TOP SEED in the AFC could possibly be an underdog. I mean, it doesn’t make any sense. Actually, now that I’m thinking about it some more, the point spread does make some sense. I have no idea what’s going on with the point spread and that’s exactly what they want in Vegas: People who have no idea what’s going on. The entire city was built on confused gamblers having no idea which team to bet on.
I might be confused about the point spread, but I’m not confused about who I’m going to pick. I’m 11-2 picking Colts games this year, which is tied for my best record picking any team and the reason I’ve done so well picking Colts games is because I ask myself one question: Will the Colts be able to run the ball on their opponent?
Heading into Week 15, the Colts are 7-6 on the season, but here’s the key part: They’re 7-0 when they rush for more than 125 yards in a game and 0-6 when they rush for less than 125, so all you have to do is figure out whether they’re going to rush for 125 yards against the Patriots. My gut says no.
As we know, Bill Belichick tries to take away the thing you do best and the thing Indy does best is run the ball. Belichick is going to take away the run and make Carson Wentz beat him and based on what I’ve seen from Carson Wentz this season, I have a better chance of defusing a small bomb using a shot glass than Wentz does of dominating a Belichick defense.
Also, one other thing to keep in mind here is that Belichick hates the Colts. Before Deflategate, Belichick already loved beating the Colts, but after they started that whole controversy, it seems like Belichick wants nothing more than to wipe the entire organization off the face of the planet. Since 2010, Belichick is a perfect 9-0 against the Colts and I think he’s going to improve that to 10-0 on Saturday.
Belichick wants to win this game so badly that he’s making his advanced scouts watch “Hard Knocks.”
If the Patriots blow out the Colts, there’s a good chance we’re never going to see anyone volunteer for “Hard Knocks” ever again. Belichick has a chance to crush the Colts’ playoff chances and ruin a TV show in one week. I doubt he passes up that opportunity.
That being said, I do think Mac Jones is going to struggle against the Colts defense, so I don’t think this is going to be a blowout.
The pick: Patriots 20-17 over Colts
Washington (6-7) at Philadelphia (6-7)
1 p.m. ET (Fox)
With just four weeks to play in the regular season, the NFC wild card race has slowly turned into the football equivalent of a Hallmark Christmas movie: I thought it was going to be garbage, but now I’m sucked into it and I’ll definitely have to watch the entire thing because I have to know how it ends.
If I had to compare this year’s playoff race to one specific movie, it would definitely be “The Nine Kittens of Christmas.”
My DVR Is also set, Courtney. The only difference between the wild card race and the movie is that instead of nine kittens, we’re getting nine teams battling for the final wild card spots in the NFC and these are two of them.
I’ll be honest, I’ve been pretty bad at picking both of these teams this year and that’s mostly because I have no idea who’s going to show up. In one week, you’ll see the Eagles go on the road and beat the Broncos 30-13, but in another week, you’ll see them score just seven points in a loss to THE GIANTS. On Washington’s end, they’re good enough to beat the Buccaneers, but they’ve also lost three games this year by 14 or more points.
The easiest way to beat Washington is to throw the ball on them and that’s because the Football Team is surrendering 259.1 pass yards per game, which is the third-worst in the NFL. However, if there’s one team that’s not designed to take advantage of that, it’s definitely the Eagles, who have the third-fewest pass yards in the NFL this year.
The Eagles have been horrible at home this year (1-4), they’ve been bad against divisional opponents (0-2), but they do have one advantage and that’s the fact that they’ll be coming into this game off a bye. On the other hand, Washington will be coming into this game after getting beat up by Dallas, Taylor Heinicke has a banged up knee and Jonathan Allen likely won’t be playing after being placed on the COVID list Monday and now that I’m looking at it, I’m pretty sure roughly half the team is on the COVID list.
I think that means I have to pick the Eagles.
The pick: Eagles 22-19 over Washington
Cincinnati (7-6) at Denver (7-6)
4:05 p.m. ET CBS
This isn’t a playoff game, but it’s going to kind of feel like a playoff game and that’s because the loser basically has no hope of making the postseason. Of course, based on the Bengals recent track record of postseason success, it’s probably for the best that this isn’t an actual playoff game.
If the Bengals want to shut down the Broncos offense on Sunday, they should probably plan to put the game in the hands of Teddy Bridgewater by going all-in to stop the run. Although the Broncos are 7-6 on the season, they’re just 2-5 when they rush for less than 120 yards. The Bronco’s rushing attack takes a lot of heat off of Bridgewater and when that rushing attack gets shut down, Bridgewater hasn’t responded so well.
The Bengals are actually in ideal shape to take advantage of this and that’s because they’re surrendering just 93.1 rush yards per game, which is the fourth-fewest in the NFL. If you force Bridgewater to make mistakes, the Broncos probably aren’t going to win. The Broncos quarterback has only been picked off in four games this season, but Denver has lost every game where he’s thrown at least one interception.
For the Broncos, they’re going to need to figure out how to beat an AFC North team, because it’s the one division that has beaten up on Denver all season. Through 14 weeks, the Broncos are 0-3 against the AFC North, but 7-3 against everyone else. Also, the Broncos somehow haven’t won a Week 15 home game since 2003 — they’re 0-6 since then — and I just can’t pick against a trend like that.
The pick: Bengals 27-24 over Broncos
Green Bay (10-3) at Baltimore (8-5)
4:25 p.m. ET (Fox)
Green Bay Packers
I have no idea who the starting quarterback is going to be for either team on Sunday, which definitely adds an element of mystery to this game. On the Packers’ end, Aaron Rodgers has had an injured toe for more than a month now and that injury seems to be getting worse every week.
Normally, I’d say he should just have the toe amputated, but I feel like that’s not a viable option for an NFL quarterback. To be honest, it’s probably not a viable option for anyone and I should probably go ahead and refrain from offering amputation advice in all future picks columns. As for Rodgers, as long as he doesn’t have surgery on the toe this week, he should be able to play.
On the other side of the field, Lamar Jackson is also dealing with an injury. The Ravens quarterback injured his ankle against the Browns and even if it’s a minor sprain, it’s not an ideal injury for someone like Jackson. If he does play, he’s likely going to be hobbled by his injury, which could cut down on his mobility, which could be a nightmare for a Ravens offense that’s already been struggling. If you’ve been watching the Ravens lately, you may have noticed that their offense has been absolute disaster for roughly five straight weeks. Over their past five games, they’re averaging just 16.6 points per game and if Jackson is banged up, I don’t see their offensive struggles ending this week.
With both quarterbacks injured, that basically means that this game could give us one of four quarterback battles:
Aaron Rodgers vs. Lamar Jackson
Aaron Rodgers vs. Tyler Huntley
Jordan Love vs. Lamar Jackson
Jordan Love vs. Tyler Huntley
It’s looking like we’ll get Rodgers against Jackson, but it’s not set in stone. The one interesting part of this game is that Jackson has NEVER lost to an NFC team. He’s 12-0 in his career and I feel like that has something to do with the fact that he’s already a difficult QB to prepare for and it becomes even more difficult when you don’t really study Baltimore’s offense due to the fact that you only face them once every four years like NFC teams do.
If Jackson was fully healthy, I’d think about taking the Ravens, but he’s not, so I’m rolling with the Packers.
The pick: Packers 31-24 over Ravens
NFL Week 15 picks: All the rest
Browns 23-20 over Raiders
Cardinals 30-16 over Lions
Rams 34-24 over Seahawks
Dolphins 24-13 over Jets
Cowboys 27-17 over Giants
Buccaneers 23-16 over Saints
Bills 34-20 over Panthers
Titans 19-16 over Steelers
49ers 33-23 over Falcons
Texans 24-17 over Jaguars
Vikings 27-23 over Bears
Best pick: Last week, I predicted that the Vikings would beat the Steelers by one score and guess what happened? The Vikings beat the Steelers by one score. Now, did I know that Minnesota was going to jump out to a 29-0 lead only to nearly blow the entire game in the fourth quarter? Of course I did. If you’ve watched just five seconds of any Vikings game this year, then you already know that every game has more drama than an entire season of the The Real Housewives of Orange County. Honestly, all Vikings games going forward should be rated TV-14 because I’m not sure it’s appropriate for children under the age of 14 to be watching them. It can’t be good for their health, or anyone’s health for that matter.
Worst pick: For the third straight week, I picked against Jimmy Garoppolo and for the third straight week, I learned that you should never pick against handsome. Actually, who am I kidding, I only missed three picks last week and two of them came on games that went to overtime, so they weren’t even bad picks. As a matter of fact, I should have gone 13-1 last week, but Zac Taylor decided to pretend like Joe Burrow didn’t exist in overtime and the refs bailed out the Buccaneers against Buffalo. Also, Kyler Murray decided to play his worst game of the season, which caused my other loss. I accept none of these losses and will be putting an asterisk next to my Week 14 record.
Finally, if you guys have ever wondered which teams I’m actually good at picking, here’s a quick look:
Teams I’m 11-2 picking this year: Texans, Colts, Steelers (10-2-1)
Longest current streak of picking a team’s games correctly: Steelers (10-0-1 since Week 3)
Teams I’ve been the worst at picking this year: Washington (4-9), Saints (5-8) Cardinals (5-8)
Longest active streak of picking a team’s games wrong: 49ers (0-3 over their past three games, but 9-4 overall picking their games this season)
Straight up in Week 14: 11-3*
SU overall: 129-78-1
* = should be 14-0
Against the spread in Week 14: 8-6
ATS overall: 101-104-3
Exact score predictions: 3
Exact score, wrong winner: 2
You can find John Breech on Facebook or Twitter and if he’s not doing one of those things, he’s probably watching a Hallmark Christmas movie because there are a lot of news ones to watch and he’s running out of time to watch them.