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#414525 - 12/12/18 07:27 PM NFL Week 15
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Los Angeles Chargers vs. Kansas City Chiefs

The Kansas City Chiefs have a chance to take a huge step toward tightening their grip on the top overall seed and home-field advantage throughout the AFC playoffs when they host the Los Angeles Chargers on Thursday night. However, the Chiefs could see control of the conference as well as the AFC West diminish in a showdown for division supremacy against Los Angeles.

History is on the side of Kansas City (11-2), which has won nine in a row over the Chargers (10-3) and extended the streak with a 38-28 victory in Los Angeles in the season opener. "The Chargers are a good team -- a team that's on a hot streak right now -- and you're basically playing for the AFC West title," Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes said. "You have to go out there and try to get yourself ready to go -- physically and mentally - to win a football game." Los Angeles has won three in a row overall and can clinch a playoff spot with a victory Thursday, but its last win over Kansas City was in 2013 -- the last time the franchise advanced to the postseason. "The nine in a row is one thing, but personally I'm 0-3 against this team, and that's too many," Chargers coach Anthony Lynn said. "We're doing everything we can to try to break that streak. We've got to go out and play relaxed and very confident. That's when this team plays its best football."

TV: 8:20 p.m. ET, FOX, NFL Network. LINE: Chiefs -3.5. O/U: 53

ABOUT THE CHARGERS (10-3): Los Angeles could again be without star running back Melvin Gordon, who has 13 total touchdowns despite missing the past two games and told reporters Tuesday that he expects to be a game-day decision. Backup Austin Ekeler sustained a neck injury and concussion in Sunday's win over Cincinnati (as the Chargers were -16.5 point favorite at intertops) and is expected to sit out, leaving the possibility that rookies Justin Jackson and Detrez Newsome will carry the ground game. Philip Rivers, who is third in the league in passer rating (114.5) and has thrown for 29 touchdowns against six interceptions, has connected with wideout Keenan Allen with a scoring pass in five straight games. Joey Bosa has four sacks in four games since returning to the lineup.

ABOUT THE CHIEFS (11-2): Kansas City has withstood a pair of close calls the past two weeks since running back Kareem Hunt was abruptly released, but Mahomes supplied a late touchdown pass in each game and enters Thursday's matchup with a league-leading 43 scoring strikes. Injuries are also a major concern for the Chiefs, who are uncertain about the status of wide receiver Tyreek Hill (foot) and expect to be without running back Spencer Ware (shoulder/hamstring). Hill torched the Chargers in the season opener with a 91-yard punt return for a touchdown and two scoring passes from Mahomes, who also has passed for an NFL-high 4,300 yards. Kansas City's defense ranks 30th in total yards and is last against the pass (281.8 yards).

EXTRA POINTS

1. Chiefs DE Chris Jones has at least one sack in nine consecutive games, the longest single-season streak since 1982.

2. Allen had eight catches for 108 yards and a TD in the Week 1 matchup.

3. Chiefs WR Kelvin Benjamin, claimed off waivers last week, is expected to make his Kansas City debut.

PREDICTION: Chiefs 30, Chargers 26
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#414688 - 12/13/18 09:41 PM Re: NFL Week 15 [Re: FREAK]
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Houston Texans vs. New York Jets

A pair of lengthy losing streaks came to an end last week for both the Houston Texans and New York Jets, who have decidedly different goals heading into the final three games of the season. New York is trying to finish on a strong note after ending a six-game slide while Houston hopes to inch closer to a division title entering Saturday's matchup at the Jets.

The Texans are sitting atop the AFC South and are in the running for the No. 2 overall seed and a first-round bye in the playoffs despite having a nine-game winning streak halted by visiting Indianapolis last week. Houston follows up Saturday's matchup with a game at Philadelphia next weekend so its bracing to play in adverse conditions by practicing outdoors. "Our weather right now is not like it is in New York or Philly, but it's not great here right now," Texans coach Bill O'Brien said. "So, I think that's good. Then we'll just do things during practice to kind of help show him what the elements might be like to the best of our ability." Rookie Sam Darnold, the No. 3 overall pick in this year's draft, returned from a three-game absence to rally New York to a 27-23 victory at Buffalo last week.

TV: 4:30 p.m. ET, NFL Network. LINE: Texans -6. O/U: 41.5

ABOUT THE TEXANS (9-4): Houston's defense was burned for 399 yards by Indianapolis' Andrew Luck but it ranks fifth in scoring (19.9 points) and should have an easier time containing New York's pedestrian passing attack. The Texans also are fifth against the run (88.2 yards) and likely will try to apply pressure on Darnold with edge pass rushers J.J. Watt and Jadeveon Clowney, who have combined for 19.5 sacks. Quarterback Deshaun Watson has been part of a ground game that averaged 146.1 yards during the winning streak, but running backs Lamar Miller and Alfred Blue were limited to 54 yards last week. Wideout DeAndre Hopkins had a season-low 36 yards last week but has 1,151 yards and nine TDs on the season.

ABOUT THE JETS (4-9): Darnold did not put up eye-popping numbers against the Bills, completing 16 of 24 passes for 170 yards with one touchdown and one interception, but he directed a winning scoring drive after Buffalo went ahead with 2 1/2 minutes to play. "As a kid, you dream of converting two-minute drives and going down there and scoring," said Darnold, who was intercepted seven times in his previous three games before he was hurt. With Isaiah Crowell ailing and sitting out practice Thursday, Elijah McGuire is expected to get the start after rushing for 60 yards and the game-winning TD on Sunday. New York's defense has struggled against the run, allowing an average of 132.0 yards rushing.

EXTRA POINTS

1. Watson has a 112.9 passer rating in his last seven games, throwing for 13 TDs against two interceptions.

2. McGuire had a season-high 83 yards from scrimmage last week.

3. Hopkins has a touchdown reception in his last five road games.

PREDICTION: Texans 23, Jets 20
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#414689 - 12/13/18 09:42 PM Re: NFL Week 15 [Re: FREAK]
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Cleveland Browns vs. Denver Broncos

The Denver Broncos' disheartening setback in their last outing not only ended their promising three-game winning streak, it also positioned them one game behind four others in the mad dash for the sixth and final seed in the AFC playoffs. The Broncos bid to dust themselves off and post their 12th consecutive win over the Cleveland Browns on Saturday night when the clubs meet in Denver.

"Our record right now, we're still in it, and every game now is a must-win. We haven't talked about that, but we have to now: Every game that we play is a must-win," coach Vance Joseph said of his Denver team that dropped a 20-14 decision at San Francisco on Sunday to reside behind Baltimore (7-6), Miami (7-6), Indianapolis (7-6) and Tennessee (7-6). Joseph also took aim at offseason acquisition Case Keenum following his third straight sub-200-yard performance, saying that the quarterback "has to make more plays." Top overall pick Baker Mayfield, however, has found success since Cleveland fired former head coach Hue Jackson and named Freddie Kitchens as the offensive coordinator, throwing 11 touchdowns in his last five games while improving his quarterback rating to 114.4 in that stretch following Sunday's 26-20 win over Carolina. Mayfield will look to exploit a vulnerable Broncos secondary that is without Pro Bowler Chris Harris Jr. (fractured left fibula) and could be missing fellow cornerbacks Tramaine Brock (ribs) and Isaac Yiadom (separated right shoulder).

TV: 8:20 p.m. ET, NFL Network. LINE: Broncos -3. O/U: 45.5

ABOUT THE BROWNS (5-7-1): While Mayfield's bravado is readily available for the cameras, fellow rookie Nick Chubb has earned the nickname "Old School" for his quiet demeanor. Chubb's play on the field speaks volumes, however, as the 22-year-old recorded a rushing touchdown in his fifth straight game versus the Panthers and eighth overall (six rushing, two receiving) in seven contests since taking over the starter's role after Cleveland traded fellow running back Carlos Hyde to Jacksonville. Wideout Jarvis Landry found the end zone twice (one receiving, one rushing) last week and had two touchdown grabs among his seven receptions in his only career encounter at Denver in 2014 while playing with Miami. "You have to get him going early. You have to get that momentum," Mayfield said of Landry. "Then he is a guy who he feeds off that momentum, that energy and that confidence."

ABOUT THE BRONCOS (6-7): Linebacker Bradley Chubb told reporters that he won't ease up on Nick Chubb, who is his second cousin. "I know he's not going to hold back and he knows I'm not going to hold back," said Bradley Chubb, who has posted a franchise rookie-record 12 sacks this season. "It's just going to be a regular football game. You can't put too much weight on it because then if you start thinking, 'My cousin's on the other side,' you end up getting trucked or something." Fellow rookie Phillip Lindsay rushed for his sixth touchdown in four games last Sunday, although he was limited to just 30 yards on 14 totes to drop his NFL-best yards per carry average on the season to an impressive 5.8. Lindsay will face Cleveland's generous 28th-ranked rush defense needing just 33 yards to reach 1,000 on the season.

EXTRA POINTS

1. Cleveland DE Myles Garrett has collected 7.5 of his club-high 12.5 sacks in his past seven games.

2. Denver LB Von Miller has recorded 9.5 of his team-best 13.5 sacks in his last eight contests.

3. Browns CB Damarious Randall has two of his club-high four interceptions in the past three games.

PREDICTION: Browns 23, Broncos 16
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#414806 - 12/14/18 02:06 PM Re: NFL Week 15 [Re: FREAK]
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Miami Dolphins vs. Minnesota Vikings

The Miami Dolphins may have saved their AFC wild-card hopes last weekend and look to build on that dramatic result when they visit the Minnesota Vikings on Sunday. Kenyan Drake's 52-yard scoring dash as the third player to touch the ball on the game-ending lateral capped the 'Miami Miracle' as the Dolphins stunned New England 34-33.

Miami is one of four AFC teams with a 7-6 record, and wide receiver Kenny Stills is interested to see how his team follows up on the unlikely victory. "If we don't finish the season strong and we don't make the playoffs, to me it doesn't really matter how great of a play that was," Stills told reporters of the game-ender against the Patriots. Minnesota is battling for an NFC wild-card spot, but scoring a total of 17 points in back-to-back losses led to the firing of offensive coordinator John DeFilippo on Tuesday - with Kevin Stefanski being promoted to fill the role. "He's been around since I've been here," Vikings receiver Stefan Diggs - a fourth-year pro - told reporters. "He knows the things that work, and he knows what he likes and knows what he wants to get to. I look forward to the game and seeing how it's going to play out."

TV: 1 p.m. ET, CBS. LINE: Vikings -7.5. O/U: 44.5.

ABOUT THE DOLPHINS (7-6): Miami lost six of eight games before posting back-to-back victories, and the miracle against New England saved the team from a major uphill climb. "I like where we're at. We're alive," coach Adam Gase said during a press conference. "We're one week at a time, but if you're not excited right now, then you might as well just go find something else to do." Ryan Tannehill has eight touchdown passes against one interception in three games since returning from a shoulder injury while cornerback Xavien Howard (knee), who is tied for the NFL lead with seven interceptions, is in jeopardy of missing his second straight game.

ABOUT THE VIKINGS (6-6-1): Minnesota's lone points in Monday's 21-7 loss to Seattle came with 70 seconds remaining, and coach Mike Zimmer feels his players will respond to the shakeup and the challenge ahead. "Just go out and play football and do what they've been taught to do for a long time," Zimmer said during a press conference. "Everybody understands the situation and the stakes of this particular game and the next couple of games. Our guys are pretty smart, and we understand that." Kirk Cousins (3,698 yards) has registered just one 300-yard performance over his last five games, but defensive end Danielle Hunter has been superb as he is tied for third in the league with 12.5 sacks.

EXTRA POINTS

1. The Dolphins have won each of the last three meetings.

2. Minnesota WR Adam Thielen leads the NFL with 103 receptions while Diggs is tied for seventh with 88.

3. Miami RB Frank Gore (708 yards) rushed for 92 yards against New England - his second-highest output of the season.

PREDICTION: Vikings 23, Dolphins 20
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#414807 - 12/14/18 02:06 PM Re: NFL Week 15 [Re: FREAK]
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Oakland Raiders vs. Cincinnati Bengals

The Cincinnati Bengals are looking to end a losing streak that ruined their season, but their opponent may not be the pushover it has been for the majority of the campaign. Cincinnati attempts to halt its five-game slide when it hosts the Oakland Raiders on Sunday.

The Bengals had their bye after rebounding from back-to-back defeats by edging Tampa Bay in Week 8 but are winless since, with the latest loss being a 26-21 road setback against the Los Angeles Chargers last Sunday. Oakland would have appeared to be the perfect remedy for Cincinnati's skid, but it has won two of its last four contests - including a 24-21 home upset of Pittsburgh last week. The Raiders, who are seeking consecutive victories for the first time this year, still are in disarray off the field. The team fired general manager Reggie McKenzie on Monday, was sued by the city of Oakland the following day in regard to its move to Las Vegas for the 2020 season and remains unsure of where it will call home next year.

TV: 1 p.m. ET, CBS. LINE: Bengals -3. O/U: 46

ABOUT THE RAIDERS (3-10): Derek Carr's early-season interception problem is a thing of the past as he has gone eight games without being picked off. The 27-year-old, who has thrown for 3,434 yards and 18 touchdowns, leads the AFC and ranks fifth in the entire league with a 69.5 completion percentage. Carr is hoping protection is not an issue against the Bengals, considering Jon Feliciano (calf) was placed on injured reserve while fellow guards Gabe Jackson (elbow/ankle) and Kelechi Osemele (toe) have not practiced this week.

ABOUT THE BENGALS (5-8): One bright spot for the team this year is its proficiency in the red zone, as it has scored 27 touchdowns on 36 trips for a 75.0 success percentage - which ranks second in the NFL. Joe Mixon is coming off one of his best rushing performances of the season as he gained 111 yards on 26 carries against the Chargers. The 22-year-old, who also scored a TD, has recorded at least 115 yards from scrimmage five times thus far during his sophomore campaign.

EXTRA POINTS

1. Raiders TE Jared Cook has made a career-high six touchdown catches, including one in three of his last four games.

2. Cincinnati's Geno Atkins leads all NFL defensive tackles with 68 sacks since the start of the 2010 season.

3. Oakland signed G Cameron Hunt and OL Denver Kirkland due to injuries on its offensive line.

PREDICTION: Bengals 33, Raiders 27
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#414808 - 12/14/18 02:06 PM Re: NFL Week 15 [Re: FREAK]
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Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs. Baltimore Ravens

The Baltimore Ravens are 3-1 with Lamar Jackson as the starting quarterback, with the lone loss coming by a field goal at the AFC-leading Kansas City Chiefs last week. Those four games proved to be enough to elevate Jackson over former starter Joe Flacco, who will serve as the backup on Sunday when he returns from a hip injury as the Ravens host the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

The Ravens are just a half-game behind the stumbling Pittsburgh Steelers in the AFC North, and coach John Harbaugh felt sticking with Jackson gave the team its best chance to make the playoffs. "Listen, it's out of my hands," Flacco told reporters. "I got hurt; they drafted Lamar in the first round. At some point, something was going to happen between the two of us. Who knows what that was going to be. This is just what it is at this point. I've obviously had five weeks to think about it and prepare myself for this situation and the possibility of it. ... I'm going to do my best to handle it the right way." The Buccaneers went through a quarterback quandary already this season and settled on former No. 1 pick Jameis Winston over backup Ryan Fitzpatrick, though Winston is not coming off one of his better performances. Winston and Tampa Bay fell apart in the second half last week at home against New Orleans and ended up with a 28-14 loss after managing a total of 81 yards on offense after the break.

TV: 1 p.m. ET, FOX. LINE: Ravens -7.5. O/U: 46.5

ABOUT THE BUCCANEERS (5-8): Tampa Bay is 30th in the league in scoring defense, allowing an average of 29.5 points, and is already concerned about the prospect of facing Jackson. "Any time when you have a running quarterback, you're looking at a more physical game," defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul told reporters. "Just to play that is difficult. I'm not going to lie, their option stuff is difficult and anybody in the NFL, D-end-wise, if they say it's not that's a lie. That stuff play(s) with your eyes but you've got to be disciplined with it and I think I do a pretty good job and our coaches do a pretty good job game-planning against it. I think we're going to go out and do it." That defense seemed to be turning around in back-to-back wins and through the first half against New Orleans before surrendering 25 points in the second half.

ABOUT THE RAVENS (7-6): Jackson owns three touchdown passes and three interceptions in four games as the starter but gives the team a different dynamic with his legs and rushed for a pair of TDs while averaging 4.9 yards per carry. "I pretty much didn't really have a reaction to (being named starter) when (Harbaugh) was telling me," Jackson told reporters. "All it made me do is -- I know I have to focus on everything a lot more, just bettering myself and trying to join with everyone around me even more. That's about it." Jackson and the offense are supported by a defense that leads the NFL in points against (18.5) while sitting second in yards (293.9).

EXTRA POINTS

1. Buccaneers Ss Isaiah Johnson (concussion) and Justin Evans (toe) are both questionable for Sunday.

2. Ravens S Tony Jefferson (ankle) sat out the last two games but could return this week.

3. The teams are meeting for the first time since Oct. 12, 2014, when Flacco threw for 306 yards and five TDs in Baltimore's 48-17 win at Tampa Bay.

PREDICTION: Ravens 28, Buccaneers 24
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#414809 - 12/14/18 02:07 PM Re: NFL Week 15 [Re: FREAK]
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Dallas Cowboys vs. Indianapolis Colts

Two of the hottest teams in the NFL try to push closer to playoff berths when the surging Dallas Cowboys visit the Indianapolis Colts on Sunday. The NFC East-leading Cowboys ran their winning streak to five games with a 29-23 victory over Philadelphia last week, riding another monster effort from wideout Amari Cooper, who had a career-high 217 receiving yards and three touchdowns -- including the game-winner in overtime.

"I was almost, I guess I would say, astonished that we were able to get that trade," quarterback Dak Prescott told reporters of the midseason acquisition of Cooper, who has a team-leading 642 yards in just six games with the team. "So I guess if you say that, when we're getting a trade, well, what's wrong? And then to get him and see everything turning out and playing out the way it is, we're very, very fortunate." The Colts know all about piling up big yards through the air and quarterback Andrew Luck ranks second in the NFL with 34 passing TDs after tossing two more -- to go along with 399 yards -- in a crucial 24-21 win at Houston last week. The victory kept Indianapolis' AFC South hopes alive and put it squarely in the wild-card race as it looks to snap a three-year playoff drought. "There was a confidence all week," coach Frank Reich told the media in Houston. "What was best about this was, we expected to win this game. We really did."

TV: 1 p.m. ET, FOX. LINE: Colts -3. O/U: 47

ABOUT THE COWBOYS (8-5): Ezekiel Elliott (NFL-best 1,262 yards) has 155 touches over the last five games, including a season-high 40 last week, and has been hampered this week by a shoulder issue. The team termed his absence from practice Wednesday as a "maintenance day" and the third-year pro is expected to be ready to take on a defense that allows 3.8 yards per carry, sixth-best in the league entering Week 14. Prescott threw for a career-high 455 yards against the Eagles and is completing 74.1 percent of his passes since Cooper arrived.

ABOUT THE COLTS (7-6): Roughly half of Luck's 399 yards against the Texans went to star wideout T.Y. Hilton, who is averaging 8.3 catches and 139 yards over his last four games. However, Hilton -- who needs 14 yards to reach 1,000 for the fifth time in his career -- has missed practice this week due to an ankle injury after fighting through a shoulder issue last week. Tight end Eric Ebron has flourished alongside Hilton and set the franchise record for TDs at the position with his 12th last week, leaving him three shy of matching Marvin Harrison's team mark, set in both 2001 and 2004.

EXTRA POINTS

1. Dallas ranks third in the NFL in run defense (86.8 yards allowed per game), while Indianapolis is eighth (102.9).

2. Cowboys LB Sean Lee (hamstring) is questionable after missing the last five games.

3. Dallas took the last three meetings, including a 42-7 rout in 2014 in which Luck threw for 109 yards and two interceptions before being yanked from the game in the third quarter.

PREDICTION: Cowboys 24, Colts 23
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#414810 - 12/14/18 02:07 PM Re: NFL Week 15 [Re: FREAK]
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Detroit Lions vs. Buffalo Bills

The Detroit Lions' playoff chances are minuscule, but they are technically still alive and looking to remain a factor with a win Sunday at the Buffalo Bills. A 17-3 victory at Arizona last weekend kept the Lions mathematically in the hunt and a stretch run with three games against teams at .500 or worse gives them an opportunity to finish strong and hope for help -- lots of it -- elsewhere.

"We've got to win out," veteran safety Glover Quin told the Detroit Free Press. "We've got to go in, prepare and get ready to beat Buffalo and we get that done, we'll move on to the next one. But none of those scenarios, none of that stuff matters if we don't take care of our business." That task would become much more difficult without starting quarterback Matthew Stafford, who has been limited in practice due to a back issue after throwing for a season-low 101 yards against the Cardinals. The Bills are coming off back-to-back four-point losses that have dashed what were already slim playoff hopes in the AFC. They'll continue to try to foster the growth of rookie quarterback Josh Allen, who has thrown for 597 yards and run for 335 -- the most ever by a quarterback in a three-game span -- since returning from a sprained elbow.

TV: 1 p.m. ET, FOX. LINE: Bills -2. O/U: 39.5

ABOUT THE LIONS (5-8): The defense shined while Stafford and company struggled to produce a season-low 218 total yards at Arizona, with Darius Slay's 67-yard interception return for a touchdown the game's biggest play -- and players on that side of the ball know their top goal this week is to contain Allen. "We prepared well and I think the guys have done a good job on that," linebackers coach Al Golden told reporters of recent improvements. "Now having said that, I think Buffalo and Allen might be our greatest challenge this year. The young man is doing an unbelievable job of moving the football for Buffalo." Detroit's run defense has allowed 71.6 yards per game over the last five contests, which would rank first in the NFL if spread over the full season.

ABOUT THE BILLS (4-9): Allen has completed only 50 percent of his passes and has four interceptions over his last three games, but the team likes what it sees in the 22-year-old's decision-making. "I think, for the most part, he's been on time with it," coach Sean McDermott told reporters of Allen opting to scramble. "He's letting routes develop. If there's separation, great, if there isn't, then he's got to do something with the ball to create a play for us." Allen has developed some chemistry with fellow rookie Robert Foster, who has at least 94 receiving yards in three of his last four games after hauling in seven catches for 104 yards in last Sunday's 27-23 loss to the New York Jets.

EXTRA POINTS

1. Buffalo RB LeSean McCoy (hamstring), who was limited to nine snaps and gained one yard last week, is listed as questionable for this one.

2. Lions DT Ezekiel Ansah (shoulder), whose 48 career sacks rank fourth in franchise history, was placed on injured reserve.

3. The Bills have won four of the last five meetings, all by single digits.

PREDICTION: Lions 21, Bills 19
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#414811 - 12/14/18 02:08 PM Re: NFL Week 15 [Re: FREAK]
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Green Bay Packers vs. Chicago Bears

The Green Bay Packers looked like a different team in their first week under interim coach Joe Philbin, but a date with a more impressive defense is looming. Aaron Rodgers and the Packers offense will have its work cut out when they visit the NFC North-leading Chicago Bears on Sunday.

The Bears can clinch the NFC North with a win on Sunday and are coming off a dominating defensive performance in which they held the high-powered Los Angeles Rams out of the end zone and intercepted Jared Goff four times in a 15-6 triumph. "Defensively, I thought our guys were relentless across the board," Chicago coach Matt Nagy told reporters. "We always talk about green grass on offense, being able to have a pocket to throw, and I felt our defensive line did a great job of collapsing the pocket and not giving Jared any green grass in there to step into his throws. That's where it all starts." Rodgers will try to scramble away from that defensive line and lead Green Bay to back-to-back wins after throwing a pair of touchdown passes without an interception in last week's 34-20 win over the Falcons. "I don't know if anything felt way different," Rodgers told reporters of his start under a head coach other than Mike McCarthy. "I just was trying to have fun out there and lead and inspire. Had a little maybe extra message this week for the guys on game day and just a couple more reminders on just how special the opportunities are and let's not let this one slip away regardless of what our record is."

TV: 1 p.m. ET, FOX. LINE: Bears -6. O/U: 45

ABOUT THE PACKERS (5-7-1): Rodgers owns just one interception on the season and broke Tom Brady's NFL record for consecutive pass attempts (358)without an INT in last week's win, but Green Bay is going up against a Bears defense that leads the league with 25 interceptions. "Hopefully it stays that way," Philbin told reporters of Rodgers' 369 interception-free streak. "We talked today in the meeting. The reality is (the Bears) lead in the NFL in takeaways, and the other reality is we've been good at taking care of the football. We've got to avoid those things that happened to the Rams the other night." The Packers' defense only owns seven interceptions but is riding a streak of five consecutive games holding opponents under 25 points.

ABOUT THE BEARS (9-4): Quarterback Mitchell Trubisky (shoulder) returned from a two-game absence last week and struggled while throwing three interceptions. "It has nothing to do with rust," Nagy told reporters of Trubisky. "Both defenses had their own unique ways of making things happen. You'd like to have pinpoint accuracy on every throw, and there were some that he was slightly off. But that's my job, too, to make sure that I'm putting him in good positions with the play calls that I have." Taking some of the pressure off Trubisky is running back Jordan Howard, who ran for 101 yards on 19 carries against Los Angeles.

EXTRA POINTS

1. The Bears placed CB Bryce Callahan (broken foot) on IR.

2. The Packers placed G Byron Bell (knee) on IR and signed G Nico Siragusa off the Baltimore practice squad.

3. Green Bay is riding a five-game winning streak in the series, including a 24-23 home win in Week 1.

PREDICTION: Bears 20, Packers 17
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#414812 - 12/14/18 02:09 PM Re: NFL Week 15 [Re: FREAK]
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Tennessee Titans vs. New York Giants

The Tennessee Titans look to remain in the playoff hunt and post their third consecutive victory when they visit the New York Giants on Sunday. Tennessee trails Houston by two games for first place in the AFC South but is among a crowded field in the race for the second wild-card spot.

The Titans are coming off a 30-9 triumph over Jacksonville on Dec. 6 in which Derrick Henry ran wild en route to being named the AFC Offensive Player of the Week. The 24-year-old rushed for a franchise-record 238 yards and a career-high four touchdowns, including an NFL record-tying 99-yarder, as Tennessee improved to 5-1 at home. However, the club is just 2-5 on the road, where it has dropped two straight as it prepares to face a New York team that has won four of its last five contests after cruising to a 40-16 triumph in Washington last Sunday. The Giants received a stellar effort from rookie running back Saquon Barkley in the win but were without wideout Odell Beckham Jr., who did not practice on Thursday and is questionable to face the Titans due to a quadriceps injury.

TV: 1 p.m. ET, CBS. LINE: Giants -2. O/U: 43.5

ABOUT THE TITANS (7-6): Tennessee lost a pair of key players in last week's victory as tight end Jonnu Smith and tackle Jack Conklin both suffered season-ending knee injuries. Taywan Taylor has been a factor since returning from a foot injury, making nine catches for 163 yards in two games after missing the previous three. "I just want to make sure I'm ready when my number is called and get myself ready every week," Taylor told the team's website regarding the extra time off since last week's contest. "The extra days has everybody feeling good, and now we just have to build on things and stay on track."

ABOUT THE GIANTS (5-8): Barkley, who rushed for a career-high 170 yards last week, ranks third in the league with 1,124 and is the first rookie in franchise history to reach 1,000. The 21-year-old is tied with Edgerrin James (1999) for the second-most games by a rookie with at least 100 scrimmage yards (12) - one behind Eric Dickerson (13 in 1983) - and needs 147 and two touchdowns to become the fifth rookie in NFL history with at least 1,900 and 15 (Dickerson, James, Ezekiel Elliott in 2016, Billy Sims in 1980). Eli Manning (55,142) threw for 197 yards last week to become the seventh quarterback in league history to reach 55,000.

EXTRA POINTS

1. Manning has thrown 10 touchdown passes and only two interceptions in five games since the Giants' bye week.

2. Tennessee signed TE Cole Wick from San Francisco's practice squad and also inked OL Austin Pasztor to a contract.

3. New York is 6-5 in the all-time series but has lost five of the last six meetings.

PREDICTION: Titans 27, Giants 17
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#414813 - 12/14/18 02:09 PM Re: NFL Week 15 [Re: FREAK]
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Washington Redskins vs. Jacksonville Jaguars

Despite coming off one of their most embarrassing performances in recent memory, the Washington Redskins still will be playing for their playoff lives when they visit the Jacksonville Jaguars on Sunday. The Redskins have lost four straight contests, including a 40-16 drubbing by the New York Giants last week, but they still have an outside shot at a postseason berth.


It's an unlikely quarterback matchup as Jacksonville's Cody Kessler will make his third start since replacing Blake Bortles while Washington will give Josh Johnson his first NFL since 2011. Redskins coach Jay Gruden worked with Johnson in both Tampa Bay and Cincinnati, and the signal-caller sparked the offense in the second half last week in his first appearance since 2014. "Well, he's played with or against everybody in the league, so for starters, he knows everybody on the Jacksonville defense," Gruden told reporters. "He knows everybody we're about to play and is familiar with terminology and systems and coverages and defenses and all that stuff, so that's a good thing. As far as knowing what to do here, I think the big reason we wanted him is because of his familiarity with what we do." The Jaguars have lost eight of their last nine games and scored in single digits in four of those contests.

TV: 1 p.m. ET, CBS. LINE: Jaguars -7.5. O/U: 36


ABOUT THE REDSKINS (6-7): Washington's offense already was among the league's worst before Alex Smith was lost to injury and followed soon after by backup Colt McCoy. Mark Sanchez was a disaster in his only start, but Johnson brought some life to the offense in relief last week. The defense played well to start the season but has given up at least 400 total yards in five of the last six games and has especially struggled against the run of late.

ABOUT THE JAGUARS (4-9): Jacksonville snapped its seven-game losing streak in Kessler's first start - but it was because of the defense, which pitched a shutout in a 6-0 win over Indianapolis. The secondary is outstanding, but the team has been susceptible to the run, although it allows an NFL-low 15 points per game at home. Kessler's stats have been unimpressive, but he's thrown only one interception -- none in his two starts -- and will have a healthy Leonard Fournette in the backfield with him.


EXTRA POINTS

1. Washington RB Adrian Peterson (13,148) needs 112 rushing yards to pass Eric Dickerson for eighth place on the all-time list.

2. Jacksonville K Josh Lambo, who is 27-for-27 on field-goal attempts at home since joining the team, is questionable with a groin injury.

3. Washington LB Ryan Kerrigan has recorded eight sacks, two forced fumbles and a fumble recovery in his last eight games.


PREDICTION: Jaguars 16, Redskins 13
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#414814 - 12/14/18 02:10 PM Re: NFL Week 15 [Re: FREAK]
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Arizona Cardinals vs. Atlanta Falcons

With the playoffs out of reach, the Arizona Cardinals and host Atlanta Falcons will be looking for something positive on which to build for next season when they square off on Sunday. The Falcons have lost five straight contests while the Cardinals have dropped four of their last five.


The Cardinals view the remainder of the season as an opportunity to continue rookie quarterback Josh Rosen's development. "You can see the potential and the things he is capable of doing," Arizona coach Steve Wilks told reporters. "I can go back throughout the season and pull positive things - the two-minute drives, the winning drives, the things he's been able to operate under duress - so he has the qualities and the skill set. The inconsistency is there, but a lot of it is not just him, it's the personnel, and that falls back on us as coaches to put those guys in position to be successful." A porous defense and a non-existent ground game have derailed Atlanta's season despite the fact Matt Ryan and Julio Jones continue to put up big numbers. It's the last home game of the season for the Falcons, who are 3-4 at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.

TV: 1 p.m. ET, FOX. LINE: Falcons -10. O/U: 44


ABOUT THE CARDINALS (3-10): Arizona ranks last in total offense and scoring despite having versatile running back David Johnson and veteran wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald. Rosen completed a season-high 26 passes for 240 yards in last week's 17-3 loss to Detroit, but Arizona was unable to find the end zone. The Cardinals' pass defense has been outstanding -- it held the Lions to 96 yards last week -- but the club has been gashed on the ground.

ABOUT THE FALCONS (4-9): The passing game has been the only area in which Atlanta has enjoyed success, as Ryan has thrown for 4,076 yards with 28 touchdowns and six interceptions while Jones leads the league with 1,429 receiving yards. Running backs Tevin Coleman and Ito Smith have been unable to fill the void created by Devonta Freeman's injury. The defense also was beset with injuries from the start of the season and has given up at least 130 rushing yards in each game during the team's losing streak.



EXTRA POINTS

1. Jones has recorded at least six receptions and 100 receiving yards in seven of his last eight games.

2. Arizona DE Chandler Jones has registered 5.5 sacks in his last five contests and 12 overall this season, tying him for second in the NFC.

3. Atlanta has had at least six receivers catch a pass in each of its last 12 games.


PREDICTION: Falcons 24, Cardinals 20
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#414815 - 12/14/18 02:10 PM Re: NFL Week 15 [Re: FREAK]
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Seattle Seahawks vs. San Francisco 49ers

The Seattle Seahawks attempt to record their fifth consecutive victory when they host the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday. Seattle's recent hot stretch has placed it in a strong position in the NFC wild-card chase, and the team can clinch a playoff berth this weekend if it defeats the 49ers.

Russell Wilson threw a season-best four touchdown passes as the Seahawks routed the 49ers 43-16 on Dec. 2. San Francisco committed three turnovers to Seattle's zero in that contest to continue a season-long issue that has the team ranked last in the NFL at minus-21 with five takeaways and 26 giveaways. The 49ers are coming off a solid effort as they defeated Denver 20-14 last Sunday to halt their three-game losing streak. Seattle erupted for 18 fourth-quarter points on Monday to defeat Minnesota 21-7 despite Wilson passing for a career-low 72 yards.

TV: 4:05 p.m. ET, FOX. LINE: Seahawks -3.5. O/U: 44

ABOUT THE SEAHAWKS (8-5): The defense carried the load in Seattle's latest win as Wilson (29 touchdowns this season) completed just 10-of-20 passes - with the longest being a 14-yarder - in a stale effort. "If you want to be a championship team, you have to find ways to win, even when it doesn't look pretty," Wilson told reporters. Middle linebacker Bobby Wagner, who returned an interception 98 yards for a touchdown in the first meeting with the 49ers, has recorded 107 tackles - his seventh straight campaign with 100 or more.

ABOUT THE 49ERS (3-10): Emerging star George Kittle registered 210 receiving yards against Denver - four shy of Shannon Sharpe's NFL record for a tight end set in 2002 - and now holds the franchise single-season mark for the position with 1,103. "He's a dynamic player," cornerback Richard Sherman told reporters. "I don't think he gets enough credit for how athletic he is. It's very similar to (Travis) Kelce out in Kansas City with how slippery he is. His lateral movement is deceptive, and he has a ton of speed." Nick Mullens threw for a career-best 414 yards against Seattle in the first meeting while defensive end DeForest Buckner posted two of his team-best nine sacks.

EXTRA POINTS

1. The Seahawks have won each of the last nine regular-season meetings.

2. Seattle LB Mychal Kendricks (knee) was placed on injured reserve after getting hurt on Monday.

3. San Francisco rookie WR Dante Pettis established season highs of five catches, 129 yards and two touchdowns in the first meeting with Seattle.

PREDICTION: Seahawks 35, 49ers 20
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#414816 - 12/14/18 02:10 PM Re: NFL Week 15 [Re: FREAK]
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New England Patriots vs. Pittsburgh Steelers

The New England Patriots and Pittsburgh Steelers appeared to be en route to another high-stakes collision course in the season's final month, but recent stumbles by both teams have changed the dynamics. While the No. 1 overall seed in the AFC may be out of reach, the Patriots and Steelers try to move closer to wrapping up division titles when they meet in Pittsburgh on Sunday.

The Steelers overcame a slow start to the season by ripping off six consecutive victories, but they are in the midst of a three-game skid that has cut their lead over Baltimore in the AFC North to one-half game. "We realize what's at stake," Pittsburgh quarterback Ben Roethlisberger told reporters. "No panic. We still control our destiny, but it's not going to get any easier." The Patriots, who are coming off a stunning last-second loss at Miami, have won five in a row against the Steelers but don't expect to see an opponent lacking for confidence after losing three straight. "I don't give that any credibility at all," New England coach Bill Belichick told reporters. "Competitive people compete. That's what they do, and certainly that's what the Steelers are. So, I'm sure we'll get their best. I think they'll get our best. We'll see what happens."

TV: 4:25 p.m. ET, CBS. LINE: Patriots -2.5. O/U: 52

ABOUT THE PATRIOTS (9-4): Tom Brady threw for 358 yards and three touchdowns at Miami, but New England failed to take advantage of three prime red-zone opportunities in which they came away with a total of six points. Rob Gronkowski scored for the second time in three games and had his first 100-yard performance since the season opener while Josh Gordon continues to become a bigger option in the passing game, matching his season high with five receptions for 96 yards. Rookie running back Sony Michel has been inconsistent since returning from injury and averaged less than three yards a carry in road losses at Miami and Tennessee. New England is permitting an average of 31.3 points in its four losses - all on the road.

ABOUT THE STEELERS (7-5-1): Roethlisberger sat out much of the second half of last week's 24-21 loss at Oakland due to a rib injury, but he was a full participant in Thursday's practice. The same could not be said of starting running back James Conner, who missed last week's game due to an ankle injury that kept him out of practice Wednesday and Thursday - although the team has not ruled him out. Jaylen Samuels rushed for only 28 yards on 11 carries in place of Conner last week, but Roethlisberger has perhaps the league's best wideout tandem in JuJu Smith-Schuster and Antonio Brown, who have combined for 177 receptions and 18 touchdowns. Pittsburgh's defense has been burned for 39 fourth-quarter points during the three-game skid.

EXTRA POINTS

1. Brady has thrown 25 touchdown passes and four interceptions in career 10 games against Pittsburgh.

2. Brown has registered 487 receiving yards and seven touchdowns in his last five home contests.

3. Gronkowski has scored eight touchdowns in six games versus the Steelers and made nine catches for 168 yards in last season's matchup.

PREDICTION: Steelers 30, Patriots 27
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#414817 - 12/14/18 02:11 PM Re: NFL Week 15 [Re: FREAK]
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Philadelphia Eagles vs. Los Angeles Rams

A familiar role reversal appears ready to play itself out as Nick Foles likely will be under center for an injured Carson Wentz on Sunday night when the Philadelphia Eagles visit the Los Angeles Rams. Foles replaced an injured Wentz in Los Angeles last year before going on to highlight a fairy-tale season by guiding the franchise to its first Super Bowl title.

Wentz, who tore his ACL and LCL during that contest against the Rams on Dec. 10, 2017, is nursing a fractured vertebrae that has his availability in question for not only Sunday night's game but the remainder of the season. Foles secured Super Bowl Most Valuable Player honors after Philadelphia outslugged New England, but the 29-year-old failed to recapture that magic by throwing for one touchdown and one interception in two games to start this season. "Doesn't affect much, because Carson is a great football player, but they also were able to win a Super Bowl with Nick playing really high-level football," Rams coach Sean McVay said of the Eagles' uncertainty under center. Speaking of quarterbacks, Jared Goff answered a brilliant 413-yard, four-touchdown performance in a 54-51 win versus Kansas City with a pair of duds -- notably a career-high four-interception effort in a 15-6 setback at Chicago on Sunday.

TV: 8:20 p.m. ET, NBC. LINE: Rams -11.5. O/U: 52.5

ABOUT THE EAGLES (6-7): Philadelphia's passing attack primarily goes through Zach Ertz, who ranks third in the NFL with 98 receptions and third among tight ends with 1,016 receiving yards. Alshon Jeffery found the end zone in Sunday's 29-23 overtime loss to Dallas, although the wideout's 50 yards receiving marked his highest output since Oct. 21. Running back Josh Adams answered a pair of 20-carry performances with just seven totes last week, but the rookie is optimistic that Philadelphia can overcome its injuries and find a way into the playoffs. "We're going to keep this thing together and try to do something special," said the 6-foot-2, 225-pound Adams, who will look to exploit a Rams defense that permits 124.2 rushing yards per game.

ABOUT THE RAMS (11-2): If Goff can exploit an injury-riddled Eagles secondary that has allowed an NFL third-worst 277.4 passing yards per game, the NFC West champion Rams would be in line to clinch a first-round bye should they win on Sunday and the Bears lose to Green Bay. Goff, who was the top overall selection in the 2016 NFL Draft -- one pick ahead of Wentz, would benefit from star running back Todd Gurley (NFL-best 19 touchdowns -- 15 rushing, four receiving) getting back on track. The potential NFL MVP candidate recorded season lows in rushing attempts (11), rushing yards (28), touches (14) and scrimmage yards (58) versus Chicago. Gurley, who has 834 scrimmage yards with seven scores (five rushing, two receiving) in six home games this season, totaled 135 (96 rushing, 39 receiving) and a pair of touchdowns in the Rams' 43-35 loss to the Eagles on Dec. 10, 2017.

EXTRA POINTS

1. Los Angeles DT Aaron Donald has registered all of his NFL-best 16.5 sacks in the last 10 games.

2. The Eagles, who have lost three of their last five overall, have won five in a row and 12 of their last 14 encounters with the Rams.

3. Los Angeles has committed eight turnovers in the last three contests after turning the ball over seven times in its first 10 games.

PREDICTION: Rams 42, Eagles 14
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#415223 - 12/16/18 11:12 PM Re: NFL Week 15 [Re: FREAK]
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New Orleans Saints vs. Carolina Panthers

The Carolina Panthers reached the midway point of the season riding a three-game winning streak and hot on the heels of the first-place New Orleans Saints in the NFC South. The Panthers have not won since and now face the prospect of having to beat the NFC-leading Saints twice in the final three weeks to make the playoffs, beginning with Monday night's matchup at Carolina.

The Panthers' five-game slide, which includes four losses on the road, has them sitting among three teams that are one-half game behind Minnesota for the second wild card in the NFC. "We feel like we are going to win every game," Carolina defensive end Julius Peppers told reporters. "It is not for a lack of confidence. It is just a lack of execution." New Orleans appeared on the verge of a second straight defeat before scoring 25 unanswered points in last week's 28-14 win at Tampa Bay (as the Saints -9.5 point favorite at intertops) to maintain its hold on the top overall seed in the NFC. The Saints, who swept three meetings with the Panthers last season, including a 31-26 playoff victory, can clinch a first-round bye with a win on Monday and a loss by Chicago to Green Bay.

TV: 8:15 p.m. ET, ESPN. LINE: Saints -6.5 O/U: 50.5

ABOUT THE SAINTS (11-2): While Drew Brees and the offense understandably receive the bulk of the publicity, New Orleans has limited its last five opponents to 17 points or fewer and ranks No. 1 in the NFL against the run, allowing an average of 77.6 yards. Brees has one touchdown pass and one interception in each of the last two games, but he still leads the league in passer rating (120.8) and completion percentage (75.7). Brees, who has posted 31 TD passes against four interceptions, has an elite receiver in Michael Thomas, who ranks second in the NFL with 102 catches. Alvin Kamara is a two-way threat out of the backfield with 1,384 yards from scrimmage and 15 touchdowns while Mark Ingram has rushed for 519 yards and five scores.

ABOUT THE PANTHERS (6-7): Cam Newton, battling a sore throwing shoulder, failed to throw a touchdown pass for the first time since the season opener in last week's 26-20 loss at Cleveland, although he joined Peyton Manning as the only players with 3,000 yards passing in each of their first eight seasons. Christian McCaffrey continues to carry the offense, rushing for two touchdowns and catching six passes last week to give him 1,627 yards from scrimmage and 13 scores on the season. Rookie wide receivers D.J. Moore and Curtis Samuel have emerged as Newton's top targets, although Ian Thomas made nine catches for 77 yards in place of injured tight end Greg Olsen last week. Carolina ranks seventh in run defense (97.8 yards).

EXTRA POINTS

1. Brees has thrown for 1,521 yards with 13 TDs and three picks in his last five meetings with Carolina.

2. Newton has rushed for five touchdowns in his last seven home contests versus New Orleans.

3. Thomas has 298 career receptions, the most by any player in his first three seasons.

PREDICTION: Saints 27, Panthers 26
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