Welcome, welcome, welcome to another feeble attempt at NFL handicapping by yours truly. I went 2-1 last week, with my best bet of Vikings -3 covering with relative ease. As the season comes to a close, additional factors come into play when assessing the Week 15 slate. Motivation, desperation, and divisional rivalries all take on a greater importance than in previous weeks. Several teams are clinging to their playoff lives (Packers, Vikings, Ravens) while others are just playing the season out. (Jaguars, Browns, 49ers) Let’s get into it:
Titans (+5.5) at Chiefs:
Tennessee is coming off a big win at home against the Denver Broncos, a game that was not as close as the final score states. The Titans were in control for the majority of that game, but took their foot off the gas in the last quarter.
They’ll travel to Kansas City to take on the red-hot Chiefs. I’ve been backing the Chiefs for the majority of the season for a variety of reasons. 1) I feel that they’re the most underrated team in football because of their boring style of play, and the public has yet to catch on. 2) Andy Reid is historically phenomenal after the bye week. With that being said, this feels like a trap game for Kansas City. They are coming off their biggest win of the season against Oakland last week, and have a huge divisional game next week at home against Denver. Tennessee also exploits the biggest weakness for Kansas City, their rushing defense. Oakland probably could have won in Week 14 if they stayed committed to their rushing attack, as Kansas City had no answer for it. We don’t have to worry about that with Tennessee, who relies on their running game more than almost any other team in the league. Kansas City also lost their best interior linebacker, All-Pro Derrick Johnson. Titans +5.5, and I’m going to make that my lock of the week.
Jaguars at Texans (-6):
I’m going back to the well and picking against Jacksonville. I’m telling you, this team has completely given up. Players have already openly discussed with the media about their desire for this season to end. With Los Angeles firing head coach Jeff Fisher, I could see Jacksonville doing the exact same thing to Gus Bradley after this week. Jacksonville’s front-office cannot risk losing a potential replacement candidate to the Rams because of their stubbornness to fire Bradley. Anyways, back to this game.
It really boils down to the fact that Jacksonville has given up. Houston currently sits in first place in the AFC South and need a win in order to stay atop the division. When it comes to measuring motivation, these teams are on two different ends of the spectrum. Texans -6.
Patriots (-3) at Broncos:
I typically don’t buy into public narratives when it comes to handicapping, but this is a revenge game for New England. And if there’s one franchise that remembers post-season losses more than others, it’s New England. Denver enters this game playing some of their worst football of the season. The offense is arguably one of the worst in the league, and while their defense is still top-notch, it is their offense that is really holding them back. They cannot run the ball, and quarterback Trevor Siemian is struggling to find any sort of consistency through the air.
New England on the other hand, is coming off their best win of the season against Baltimore. If it wasn’t for two consecutive gaffes on special teams, New England might have won by 20+ points. They are playing their best football of the season and are fighting for home-field advantage in the playoffs. I cannot see New England losing this game, so I’m going to side with Tom Brady and Bill Belichick here. Patriots -3