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“NFL Week 15 Predictions”

Amid many major matchups this weekend, the Jacksonville Jaguars, led by running back Maurice Jones-Drew (pictured above), have a chance to all but shut the door on the Indianapolis Colt's playoff hopes. Can the Jags complete the season sweep on their divisional rival?

After this weekend, there are just 2 more fun-filled Sundays with a full slate of NFL games.  Where did the season go?  This week is full of big time matchups and boy is the NFL different at this point than it was at Week 15 last year.

The Colts with a loss and a little help could be eliminated from postseason play entirely.  Peyton not in the playoffs?  In the words of Shannon Sharpe, “Cmon Man.”  The Eagles and Giants have a royal rumble for NFC East supremacy.  Who foresaw the Cowboys not being in the thick of these race?  Instead, they are in the cellar.  Though everybody knew the NFC West was weak, did anybody expect there to be 0 teams with a 500 or better record?  Could a sub 500 team make the playoffs?  In addition, the Cincinnati Bengals, a team that many thought were a Super Bowl contender, are now in the cellar and in contention for the Andrew Luck/Cam Newton sweepstakes.  Lastly, Rex Grossman will be starting for the Redskins due to the benching of starter Donovan McNabb.  Could it be “Grossmania” in Washington?

Lets take a look at the Pick’em Scoreboard.

TheSportsKraze:   123                          CV3: 126

So I made up a game.  Sadly I got this week, and the next two to catch the NFL Expert that is CV3.  Hopefully this week I can continue on the upward climb back to picking supremacy.

TheSportsKraze Picks:

Lions at Buccaneers:  Detroit is coming off of a big win, but their year is over.  They are already looking ahead to next season.  Tampa on the other hand has a shot to nab a Wild Card.  This is a must win for them if they want a prayer at making the postseason.  When teams are playing for something, they tend to choke.  But I do not see Tampa choking this week.  They will find a way to win another close one as they have done all year.  The Bucs choke job will happen in their final game against New Orleans.  Bucs at home by 6.

Eagles at Giants:  This may very well be the game of the week.  Michael Vick and the Eagles have been rolling behind an electric offensive unit.  Behind an extremely balanced offensive attack, the Eagles are one of the major feel good stories in the NFL this year.  The Giants on the other hand finally seem to be righting their ship.  They have won 3 games in a row since falling to Philly in mid November.  The Giants started the trend of teams really getting at Michael Vick.  Expect them to show a perfected craft in this home contest.  I expect both of these teams to make the playoffs.  But I have the Giants winning this one in a thrilling fashion by 1 in front of a hostile home crowd.

Saints at Ravens:  This is another outstanding matchup.  Fire vs fire.  The Saints high-powered aerial attack versus the Ravens stout defense.  Lately though, the Ravens D has not looked so stout.  The Texans moved the ball at will vs Baltimore in the 4th quarter last Monday and really showed the age of Baltimore’s D.  Can the Ravens regain their swagger?  I think so.  The Saints are playing great football and have won 6 straight.  But this game is in Baltimore.  The conditions should play in the Ravens favor as they sneak by with a 1 point victory.

Cardinals at Panthers:  These are both pitiful teams.  Luckily for Arizona, no matter how bad they have looked at times, they are not nearly as bad as Carolina.  Besides, Arizona showed some offensive life last week in laying a butt whooping on Denver.  The Panthers are playing for Andrew Luck.  They have the inside track to the number 1 pick and what reason do they have to give it up.  There is no motivation for the Panthers to win.  They won’t throw the game by any means.  But there will be no fire to help lead them to their 2nd win of the season.  Cardinals by 7 on the road.

Chiefs at Rams:  Both of these teams are tied for first in their respective divisions.  They both have a lot on the line.  The Chiefs live on an outstanding rushing attack while the Rams live on a balanced offensive unit.  Can Sam Bradford take care of business in the biggest game of his NFL career?  I think so.  I am taking the home team to shock the Chiefs.  Sorry KC.  The Chargers will take over the division from here.  Rams by 3 at home.

Bills at Dolphins:  Both of these teams surprised many with victories last week, including me.  The Bills have a decent rushing attack, but they struggle at stopping the run.  Well, Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams should be ready to pound the rock come Sunday.  These two are a solid combination that should take advantage of a very weak Buffalo defensive front.  Also, they do not have to go to Buffalo and deal with the cold weather elements.  Buffalo will at least get to spend a few days out of the cold in Miami.  But they will go home with a cold feeling after losing a close one.  Dolphins by 3 at home.

Texans at Titans:  The Texans have ripped out the heart of Houston again.  Tennessee is also in the midst of a horrible year.  After a solid start, the Titans have now lost 6 straight games.  Expect it to be 7 after this week.  Sure Houston does not really have much to play for.  But Tennessee cannot stop the pass. Houston has an outstanding receiving corps and an elite QB.  Matt Schaub will have a field day come Sunday.  Texans by 10 on the road.

Jaguars at Colts:  The biggest game of the year for both of these squads.  I will admit I had the Jaguars coming in last in the AFC South back in September.  Boy was I wrong.  But Indianapolis has owned this division for over a decade for a reason.  Jacksonville will have to take on Peyton in his Indianapolis sanctuary. Good luck Jacksonville.  Look for Peyton to put on an MVP like performance in keeping his team alive.  Indianapolis does not miss out on the playoffs.  Colts by 7 at home.

Redskins at Cowboys:  The two bottom dwellers of the NFC East link up in Dallas.  America’s team has had a very odd season.  As have the boys out of the nation’s capital.  Rex Grossman gets the pleasure of taking on a Dallas team that has played much better football since the firing of former coach, Wade Phillips. The Skins were in the thick of things until their recent 3 game skid.  Dallas on the other hand has had nothing to play for since October.  Teams that have nothing to play for tend to play well.  Dallas has been no exception to this.  Cowboys by 6 at home.

Browns at Bengals:  The Battle of Ohio.  Sure neither of these teams are in contention.  Sure the Bengals will be blacked out on television again.  But this game is always a big one for both franchises.  Cincinnati can at least split with the Brownies with a home victory in this one.  Sure Cleveland has played very good football for the past couple of months.  But they showed some vulnerability in a loss to the Bills last weekend.  And for some reason, I still think the Bengals can win one more game this year.  What game would be better than a matchup against the rival Brownies, a team that is not “that much” better than them. Besides the Bengals have never lost more than 10 games in a row in franchise history.  The bleeding stops at 10 yet again.  Bengals by 3 at home.

Falcons at Seahawks:  The Falcons are arguably the best team in football.  And without question the top dog in the NFC.  Seattle on the other hand still finds themselves in the hunt in the NFC West.  Sadly for the Seahawks, the Falcons are still looking to clinch down their division.  With the Saints playing great football, the Falcons are highly motivated to continue their winning ways.  Expect Roddy White to have a field day against a depleted Seahawk’s secondary. Falcons by 10 at home.

Jets at Steelers:  Another stellar matchup.  Can Mark Sanchez and the Jets get it together?  Not exactly the ideal game for a struggling Jets offense that has not scored a touchdown in their past 2 games.  Great teams thrive under adversity though.  The Jets play like the old school Steeler’s teams.  They run the ball well.  And their defense is tenacious in every way.  The Steelers on the other hand sit atop the AFC North and are riding a 4 game winning streak.  In addition, they stop the run better than any team in the League.  Though I think the Jets are a great team who I picked to win the Super Bowl, I do not see them figuring things out in a must win game at Heinz Field.  The Steelers will be just too tough and win at home in a brutal battle by 3.

Broncos at Raiders:  An old school rivalry in the AFC West.  Denver has lost 4 in a row and cannot stop the run.  Oakland on the other hand can really run the rock.  Too much Darren McFadden in this one.  Raiders by 7 at home.

Packers at Patriots:  The Packers are fighting for their playoff lives while the Patriots are on cruise control, looking to lock up home field advantage.  If I were the rest of the AFC, I would pray that the Patriots do not clinch home field advantage throughout the duration of the playoffs.  Nobody wants to play in a cold Foxborough Stadium in a playoff atmosphere.  Sadly for the AFC, Rodgers suffered a concussion last week and is the motor that makes this lethal Green Bay offense go.  Whether he plays or not, he will not be full strength.  Though Green Bay defends against the pass at a high level, can anybody stop Brady and the Pats aerial attack?  Look for the Patriots to make it 6 in a row in Foxborough.  NE by 9 at home.

Bears at Vikings:  A Monday Night Affair that many had circled before the season even started.  Much has changed since September.  The Vikings are out of playoff contention and have been for some time now.  Brett Favre’s mythical streak has ended.  And the Bears are in first place.  Did anybody envision any of this 3 months ago?  Either way, when these teams take the field at the University of Minnesota’s field, god knows who will be playing QB for the Vikings.  But it will not matter.  Bears by 6 on the road.

CV3 Picks:

Bengals over browns by 7
Dallas over washington by 13
Houston over Titans by 3
Jags over Colts by 3
Chiefs over Rams by 7
Bills over Dolphins by 10
Giants over Eagles by 6
Bucs over Lions by 1
Cards over Panthers by 6
Saints over Ravens by 6
Falcons over Seahawks by 14
Raiders over Broncos by 14
Steelers over Jets by 10
Pats over Packers by 21
Bears over Vikings by 3

So there you have a look at this week’s NFL slate.  Some great matchups that hold heavy playoff implications.  Can the Colts and Jets stay alive?  Will Baltimore make a statement against the Saints?  And who will reign supreme in the NFC East (Eagles or Giants)?  We will know a lot more after Week 15 concludes.

Stay tuned for the next edition of TheSportsKraze.

-TheSportsKraze

“AFC East Preview”

Mark Sanchez may have taken Tom Brady's spot as the "pretty boy" quarterback in the AFC East. The Jets are the pick of TheSportsKraze to take the divisional crown.

NFL Training Camp is right around the corner.  Which means that the NFL regular season is just about a month and a half away.  So let the madness begin.  I will not be giving Fantasy Football projections.  I can simply leave that up to ESPN and all the other websites.  But I will weigh in with my thoughts on each division and pick a winner.  But also please realize that these picks are coming just before or during the beginning of training camp.  Training Camp is always full of injuries.  So take that into consideration.

AFC East:  Bills, Dolphins, Jets, Patriots (alphabetical order)

This has been a division that traditionally is the Patriots and then everyone else.  Well with the brilliance of Rex Ryan down the stretch last year, and the amazing off-season the Jets have had, the AFC East is not just the Patriots and everyone else.  It is the Patriots and the Jets, plus a solid Dolphins squad.  This is a very intriguing division for many reasons.

First of all you have 3 of the coldest weather places in the NFL.  Buffalo, New England, and New York all have bitterly cold and snow filled winters.  This really plays a large piece of what happens down the stretch.  Then of course there is beautiful Miami which will probably never see snow during our lifetime.

Buffalo Bills (4th):  So lets start at the bottom of the division.  I have the Buffalo Bills finishing last as they did last year.  With the very probable loss of Terrell Owens, who is not nearly what he was at the age of 37, this team really has no big time players.  Their most recognizable names are WR Lee Evans, LB Paul Posluszny, and S Jairus Byrd.  Their quarterback Trent Edwards had a very weak year last season in which he did not play in 7 games and threw more interceptions than touchdowns.  Never a good sign.  Their running back combo will consist of hot-shot rookie CJ Spiller and savvy veteran Marshawn Lynch.  Though I feel Spiller has a ton of upside, this team will struggle so much in the passing game, that teams will be able to throw 8 or 9 guys in the box at all times.  Spiller will be good for a rookie, but playing in Buffalo as a running back will be very tough due to the extreme cold and lack of a passing game. 

Miami Dolphins (3rd):  The team I have finishing 3rd in this division is the Miami Dolphins.  Now Miami is a solid team.  Though they finished 7 and 9 last season, they did lose their final 3 games.  So they were right in the thick of the playoff race for the majority of the season.  Miami made a great offseason pickup in nabbing Brandon Marshall.  Marshall is one of the game’s very best receivers and will add a much-needed possession and deep threat combo guy to the Dolphin’s offensive repertoire.  They also possess possibly the best left tackle in the game in Jake Long.  Not to mention they have a very solid 2 headed monster at running back in Ricky Williams and Ronnie Brown.  The NFL has become a League where you must have 2 strong backs to be successful.  One very strong featured back with the lack of a compliment does not typically translate to success anymore in the NFL.  The only thing that will really hold this team back in my eyes is their mediocre at best quarterback in Chad Henne.  Sure he will have a great rushing attack to lean on and a big play receiver in Brandon Marshall, but the Patriots and Jets will both have very strong defenses and should really confuse the former Michigan star.  Not to mention Miami has a mediocre at best defense led by Kendall Langford and Randy Starks on the line. 

New England Patriots (2nd):  My pick to finish in 2nd in the AFC East is the New England Patriots.  Yes the Tom Brady, 3 time Super Bowl winning Patriots.  And first of all lets put to rest the rumors of turmoil between Brady and Patriot’s ownership.  These are false and will have no affect on the team.  The Patriots will be tough this  year.  And you better believe they are looking for redemption after their embarrassing playoff loss at the hands of Ray Lewis, Ed Reed, and the Baltimore Ravens.  The Patriots will once again be led by a phenomenal passing attack which features Tom Brady, Randy Moss, and a “should be” healthy Wes Welker.  All reports are saying that the best possession receiver in the game “should be” healthy for the Patriots Week 1 battle with Cincinnati.  Now the Patriots are a team that featured a stellar offense last season and also a fairly strong defense.  They are led by possibly the best preparation coach in the game in Bill Belichick.  Belichick is the Peyton Manning of coaches when it comes to preparing his team for games.  This team probably only has one somewhat noticeable weakness.  And that is their running back corpse.  Laurence Maroney has never really panned out as expected and he will be joined by Sammy Morris to provide the Patriot’s one-two punch (I do realize they have old man river Fred Taylor as well).  Now I also realize that it is tough for running backs in New England due to the fact that they throw so much.  But neither of these guys have given Bill much reason to have confidence in them.  Look for this team to nab a wildcard, but also realize that I do not see them making a Super Bowl run.  The Patriots are beginning to remind me of the San Antonio Spurs of the NFL.  They are a team that will make the playoffs and will always be dangerous due to players like Brady and the great coaching of Belichick, but their glory days seem to be behind them. 

New York Jets (1st):  I have the New York Jets finishing in 1st.  Yes, I realize that this is the AFC East.  A division that has been owned by the Patriots for around a decade.  But the Jets on paper appear to have the best team in football.  They are a team that shocked the world in last year’s playoffs by advancing all the way to the AFC Championship Game.  They appear to have dramatically improved from last year on paper.  This team had the best defense in the League last season and I do not see any reason why they will not be right near the top again this year.  Their defense will be led by the best corner in the game in Darrelle Revis, a very talented linebacking corpse led by Calvin Pace and David Harris, and of course the defensive mastermind that is Rex Ryan.  In addition, their offense should be better.  Not just simply because Mark Sanchez has a full year of experience under his belt, but because they brought in a big time playoff experienced receiver in Santonio Holmes to play alongside Braylon Edwards.  Also they picked up a seasoned veteran running back in LaDainian Tomlinson to help groom the very talented former Iowa Hawkeye, Shonn Greene.  In addition, I forgot to mention that they even made upgrades to their already stellar defense with the likes of Antonio Cromartie and Jason Taylor.  You better believe that this Jet’s team is the real deal.

Many are saying it is Super Bowl or bust for the Jets this year.  And this seems to be a fair statement.  Expect the Jets to gain the AFC East crown on the way to another deep playoff run.

Stay tuned for the next edition of TheSportskraze.

-TheSportsKraze