It hurt my soul to write out “week 15.” Seems so much worse when it’s sitting there in front of you. The season’s almost over, folks, and there’s still a ton left up in the air. One thing that’s decided already, though, is MVP. Lamar Jackson is one of the more obvious MVPs I can remember, and there’s a decent chance he’s unanimous. Just an amazing season that checks off all the boxes: record-breaking? Check. Best team in the league? Check. Most entertaining offense? Check. Add in that he seems like an awesome, beloved teammate and a decent person all-around and it’s a no-brainer. He’s even threatening to make me root for the Ravens, something I haven’t done since the early 2000s. Thank God Suggs isn’t there to ruin this. By the way, I’m allowed to enjoy Lamar’s success because I went on the record before the draft as being pro-Lamar and wanted him to be Brady’s heir apparent. I’m saved from the internet’s ire, at least today.
We’re really getting down to nut-cutting time, and a bunch of teams are staring destiny in the face. We’ve got some #clinchingscenarios on the line, and a ton of super irrelevant games. Should be fun!
All lines from Bovada.
Chicago Bears at Green Bay Packers (-4)
Let me make this clear: I want the Bears to win. I don’t think I’ve done a particularly good job of hiding my distaste for Aaron Rodgers over the years (I don’t hate him as much as he hates getting gifts from his family or attending grandparents’ funerals), so I’m sure it’s not shocking. And everything seems to favor the Bears, here. The Bears are Back, everyone’s been talking about how the Packers are a really shaky 2 seed, it’s the holidays so you know Rodgers has to spend all his time telling himself not to think about his family, literally everything is going against the Packers. But the Packers will win, because they always beat the Bears in Lambeau and they always beat the Bears when it would be most crushing for them. RIP Bears.
Pick: Packers -4
Seattle Seahawks (-7) at Carolina Panthers
Seahawks need this game, and, for their own psyche, need to win by a lot. Panthers have respectfully bowed out of this season for all non-McCafferey stat-padding purposes. Side note: did you know DJ Moore was fourth in the league in receiving yards? You do now.
Pick: Seahawks -7
New England Patriots (-10) at Cincinnati Bengals
Just to weigh in on this latest Patriots (hopefully) micro-scandal- I don’t really care. I don’t think normal people really care. The people who despise the Pats and base their entire existence on hating the Pats will obviously pounce and try to get Brady, Belichick, and Kraft executed and every draft pick until the end of time taken away, but that would have happened regardless. My thing is just be smarter. You’re never going to get the benefit of the doubt, particularly in this area. Don’t put yourself in this situation to begin with, and you won’t have the hyenas saying you have to cheat to beat the Bengals. Or maybe they got “caught” on purpose because they always rally together and win the Super Bowl when mired in controversy. In that case, carry on.
Pick: Pats -10
Denver Broncos at Kansas City Chiefs (-10)
At this point in the season, it’s always safer to pick the team that’s playing for something against the team that isn’t. But, improbably, the Broncos are still alive for the playoffs. If they win out and every other team in the league loses all their games, they’re in. That quest ends this week, but they’ll at least keep it close.
Pick: Broncos +10
Miami Dolphins at New York Giants (-3.5)
Pick: Dolphins +3.5
Philadelphia Eagles (-5.5) at Washington Redskins
Pick: Eagles -5.5
Tampa Bay Bucs (-4) at Detroit Lions
Pick: Bucs -4
Houston Texans at Tennessee Titans (-3)
I’ll tell you what I wouldn’t want to do if I were an AFC South team, and that’s go into Nashville for a must-win December game and try to contain Tannehill and Tractorcito. No one’s hotter than the Titans and no one’s more content to blow the division than the Texans. They already won their Super Bowl, so everything else is gravy. Mike Vrabel is never satisfied, and he’ll have the boys ready to win by a thousand.
Pick: Titans -3
Minnesota Vikings (-1.5) at Los Angeles Chargers
Pick: Chargers -1.5
Cleveland Browns (-3) at Arizona Cardinals
Pick: Browns -3
Jacksonville Jaguars at Oakland Raiders (-6.5)
Can’t get enough NFL football.
Pick: Raiders -6.5
Atlanta Falcons at San Francisco 49ers (-11)
Folks, I haven’t seen a massacre this bad since the last time I opened a box of Cheez-Its after 1 am.
Pick: 49ers -11
Los Angeles Rams (-2) at Dallas Cowboys
The Man wants me to talk about this game, but I refuse. I’m just a rebel.
Pick: Rams -2
Buffalo Bills at Pittsburgh Steelers (-1)
The Steelers have morphed into an even more Bills-y version of the Bills, and this Spider-Man meme game could be a possible bizarro-world first-round matchup if the Bills win. But they won’t, because you don’t beat Duck Hodges in Heinz Field at night. You just don’t, no matter how many fans go through tables during the tailgate. Pretty sure Buffalo people view going to Pittsburgh the same way a European person would view going to Monaco or Croatia.
Pick: Steelers -1
Indianapolis Colts at New Orleans Saints (-9)
It’d be a real shame if something happened and I wasn’t able to watch this game.
Pick: Saints -9