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Thursday, 17 December 2015

NFL Week 15 Picks 2015 (December 17-21)

I can't believe there are only three weeks left of the regular season in the NFL and more Play Off scenarios are likely to be decided as we reach Week 15.

A recap of Week 14 in the NFL as well as the Power Ranking and Week 14 Picks Recap can be found here.

Week 15 Picks
Week 14 was a very good one, but I hope to find the right picks again in Week 15 to make sure this is going to be a successful season.

I won't have a pick from Thursday Night Football as I really can't get a read on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and St Louis Rams. The former lost in Week 14 which might have ended Play Off hopes, while the latter are so inconsistent that it wouldn't surprise me if they failed to back up their win over Detroit Lions by looking ahead to their final two Divisional games.

Next week St Louis play Seattle and try to snap that hot run so there is a chance they have looked ahead to that game, but I think this game easily comes down to which of the Running Backs makes a big play or two. I can't pick a game on that basis alone and these teams are evenly matched so I will wait for Saturday, Sunday and Monday games for any picks this week.

New York Jets @ Dallas Cowboys Pick: I hate the fact that there is so much money on the New York Jets but they look the far superior team than the current incarnation of the Dallas Cowboys.

I am not sure how much belief is left in Dallas with their Play Off spot just about gone after the blow out loss to the Green Bay Packers. I will give Dallas credit and say the Defensive unit continues to play hard, but they are getting next to no support from the Offense and it is no surprise that they are getting worn down and then beaten as games reach the third and fourth quarter.

Eddie Lacy and James Starks trampled Dallas last week and the absence of Rolando McClain is a big hole to fill at Linebacker. That could mean Chris Ivory has a chance of a decent game for the Jets, especially as Ryan Fitzpatrick has played well enough at Quarter Back that Dallas can't just load the box and hope to contain the run.

Fitzpatrick is aided by two top Receivers in Erik Decker and Brandon Marshall and I don't think the Dallas Secondary can contain both of those players.

So while I can see New York moving the chains pretty effectively, the same can't really be said for the Dallas Cowboys. Matt Cassel hasn't proved capable of making the throws necessary even teams try to shut down the run and I think that is more difficult for him this week.

Why? Because the Jets Defensive Line have dominated the run all season, but have been even more impressive over their last three games by giving up just 2.4 yards per carry. Dallas can't expect Darren McFadden and Ronnie Turbin to have too many big gains in this one and that means Cassel is throwing from third and long far too often for their liking.

The Jets Secondary does have some holes, but Dez Bryant isn't fully healthy and I think they can make enough plays to limit what the Cowboys can do. Add in the fact that the Jets also get a lot of pressure on the Quarter Back and I am struggling to see how Cassel can help the Cowboys keep this competitive.

I don't like the spread that much, but I do think the Jets will prove to be the better team as the Cowboys season effectively comes to an end. New York can't focus on anything but this game as they try to hold on for a Wild Card spot and the big games with New England and Buffalo might be meaningless if they were to lose. I think Fitzpatrick makes enough big plays to get the Jets into position to win this one by at least seven.

Chicago Bears @ Minnesota Vikings Pick: The Chicago Bears might have seen their season come to an end with back to back losses, but they will have plenty of motivation in playing spoiler at the Minnesota Vikings this week. It still looks like the Vikings are in a position to take one of the Wild Card spots in what is a top heavy NFC, but a defeat might just give them a few more issues to contend with over the final three weeks of the season.

Injuries are hurting Minnesota at this moment, especially Defensively, so the Vikings have to make sure the Offense is back on the same page. Some mistakes on that side of the ball have been part of the reason that Minnesota have lost three of their last four games, although the lack of a consistent way to move the chains hasn't helped.

Teddy Bridgewater has had a couple of very good games this season which have suggested he is more than a game manager, but the majority of the time this team leans on Adrian Peterson. While the Offensive Line has struggled to open holes at times, I think Peterson is established in this game and can have a big running day.

That will make things easier for his Quarter Back, especially as the Chicago Secondary is actually a little under-rated. The Bears have also gotten a fierce pass rush generated in recent games which will give Bridgewater some problems if Peterson is not able to run the ball, something that has been a bit of an issue for Minnesota in their last few games.

Running the ball has been an issue for Chicago too but Matt Forte is back and he is a huge part of the Offensive picture for the Bears. Forte and Jeremy Langford could both have decent outings against the Vikings who are missing the likes of Anthony Barr at Linebacker and Harrison Smith has been hurt at Safety.

Establishing the run is important for the Bears to make sure Jay Cutler is kept in favourable third down situations. Cutler has limited his mistakes in recent games, and he should have some room to find the likes of Alshon Jeffery in this one to move the chains.

This is a revenge game for Chicago too having lost a close one at home to Minnesota and the recent games have all been very competitive. I am surprised that Chicago are being as many points as they with that in mind and the underdog has covered in three of the last four games in Minnesota when these teams meet here.

Too many points as far as I am concerned as Chicago remain competitive in their games and Minnesota will be happy with any kind of win.

Carolina Panthers @ New York Giants Pick: The unbeaten Carolina Panthers will know they are visiting a New York Giants team that is desperately fighting for their Play Off future. They will also be aware that the New York Giants have a habit of playing up to the level of opponent they face and are capable of knocking Carolina from the land of the unbeaten.

With a 13-0 record behind them, Carolina are very close to wrapping up home field advantage in the NFC and the concern now has to be injuries. Last week Greg Olsen, Jonathan Stewart and Cam Newton were all banged up Offensively, but it looks like only Stewart will be missing in this one.

Newton has been playing like the MVP in recent games and I can see the Quarter Back having a strong day in this one. The New York Giants have struggled for consistent pressure up front and the Secondary hasn't held up well through injuries and I do think Newton's makeshift Receiving corps can find the right creases in the coverage to help Carolina move the chains.

The Giants do continue to play the run well, but their Defensive concerns are in the Secondary and Newton has shown he can stand in the pocket and fizz passes to his Receivers around the field.

That does mean it will be up to Eli Manning and Odell Beckham to find a way to keep up with the Panthers, although Beckham's likely match up with Josh Norman is going to be a huge one for the fans to enjoy. Norman is arguably the best Corner Back in the NFL, while Beckham has the eye for the magical catch and it could be an even contest for much of the day.

Manning has to find his other Receivers in the passing game to perhaps open things up for Beckham, although they will also line him up in different positions to try and get him going. The Panthers will hope to shut down the New York Giants by shutting down the run and then trying to take away Beckham with Norman.

Carolina have played the pass very well in recent games and they do get a lot of pressure up front which is going to be tough for Manning if Ereck Flowers is out or limited.

I do like the Giants as a home underdog though and I think the Carolina injuries might mean they are slowed down just enough. The New York Giants have every chance of winning this game outright, but you can't disrespect Carolina who have played hard by suggesting it will happen. Instead back the Giants with more than a Field Goal worth of points to give another unbeaten team a really tough test.

Buffalo Bills @ Washington Redskins Pick: It looks like the sharp money in this game is coming down on the Buffalo Bills as this game has moved from a pick 'em to Washington Redskins being set as the home underdog of almost a Field Goal.

I am not sure I fully understand that move, especially as the Buffalo Bills are coming off what was an emotional and perhaps fatal loss to the Philadelphia Eagles. LeSean McCoy has to pick himself up from that and usually I would suggest this is a very good chance for the Running Back to establish the run.

However, this is an area where the Washington Redskins have played well in recent games and they might be able to slow down the Bills on the ground to force Tyrod Taylor to beat them through the air.

Taylor is capable of doing that as this Redskins Secondary has a number of holes in it. I am not sure how Washington will really contain Sammy Watkins, but they do get some decent pass rush pressure and will be looking for that to rattle Taylor who has been banged up.

Washington should have some success when looking to throw the ball themselves as Kirk Cousins has proved he can get the ball downfield. The Bills have struggled to impose their pass rush on teams and that has meant Quarter Backs have had the time to expose any issues in the Secondary.

Cousins may also be aided by the fact that the Redskins might be able to run the ball effectively for the first time in a little while. Both Alfred Morris and Matt Jones are tough runners and the Buffalo Bills have just begin to wear down when it comes to defending the run.

I can really see both teams having their success with the ball in hand in this one, but I can't have the Redskins as the underdog. The Buffalo Bills might already be out of the Play Off picture in the AFC, even if that is not made official just yet, and I think the loss last week is going to be a tough one to overcome.

That isn't to say the Washington Redskins are going to perform just because they are in a position to reach the Play Offs. However Kirk Cousins has been much better at home and has to have had some confidence from finally winning on the road last week. I just don't think they should be almost a Field Goal home underdogs in this one and a small interest on Washington to cover here is the call.

The Christmas rush and parties at this time of the year means I will add the remaining picks from Week 15 below.

MY PICKS: New York Jets - 3 Points @ 1.91 Coral (2 Units)
Chicago Bears + 5.5 Points @ 1.91 Ladbrokes (2 Units)
New York Giants + 4 Points @ 1.91 Ladbrokes (2 Units)
Washington Redskins + 2.5 Points @ 2.00 Paddy Power (1 Unit)
Oakland Raiders + 3.5 Points @ 1.91 William Hill (1 Unit)
Denver Broncos + 7 Points @ 1.83 Ladbrokes (2 Units)
Miami Dolphins + 1 Point @ 1.91 William Hill (1 Unit)
San Francisco 49ers + 6 Points @ 1.91 Ladbrokes (1 Unit)
Arizona Cardinals - 3.5 Points @ 2.00 Sky Bet (2 Units)

Week 14: 8-2, + 10.12 Units
Week 138-3, + 8.06 Units
Week 122-10, - 14.18 Units
Week 113-4-1, - 1.38 Units
Week 103-6, - 5.54 Units
Week 96-2, + 8.08 Units
Week 80-1, - 1 Unit
Week 72-4, - 4.23 Units
Week 63-5-1, - 3.33 Units
Week 53-5-1, - 3.48 Units
Week 44-3-1, + 2.24 Units
Week 38-2, + 9.03 Units
Week 24-5, - 1.71 Units
Week 15-2-1, + 6.46 Units

Season 201559-54-5, + 10.14 Units
Season 201477-80-2, - 8.47 Units
Season 201386-70-2, + 22.27 Units

Season 2012- 4.78 Units

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