Wednesday, December 22, 2010

NFL 2010: Week 15 -- 'Tis the Season, Playoffs in Sight

With two weeks to go and wrapping around the Christmas holidays, week 15’s slate has several high impact games for teams still in playoff contention. Remarkably thus far, only one division has been decided and three additional teams have clinched playoff spots; however, it’s pretty obvious several other teams will be there minus a titanic scale meltdown.

For the record, Chicago has clinched the NFC north, while Pittsburgh (AFC north), New England (AFC east) and Atlanta (NFC south) have landed playoff berths. In the AFC, Baltimore (AFC north) and the New York Jets (AFC east) are well positioned as the wild card teams. Indianapolis has the tie breakers over Jacksonville keeping the AFC south in contention. Kansas City enjoys a one game lead over San Diego in pursuit of the AFC west.

The NFC is still wide open aside from Chicago’s feat. Either Atlanta or New Orleans as a long shot could win the NFC south. Atlanta has a two game lead. The teams go face-to-face this weekend. Philadelphia leads the New York Giants after the Giants’ shocking loss last weekend. The “Who Wants It?” sweepstakes have St Louis and Seattle tied at an embarrassing 6-8 with San Francisco still in the chase at 5-9. New Orleans is almost certainly an NFC wild card, while Green Bay, Tampa Bay and the New York Giants battle for the remaining spot. The Giants have a one game lead.

Week 15 Picks:

Games with Playoff Consequences…

Carolina @ Pittsburgh (=14 ½)
This will be a rest up and get healthy game for the Steelers. No way has Carolina had a chance in this one.

Baltimore (-3 ½) @ Cleveland
Never an easy game for the Ravens playing in the city that hates them most, they must beat Cleveland to maintain a shot at the AFC east.

Washington @ Jacksonville (-7)
The Jaguars should have little trouble keeping their playoff hopes in tact versus a miserable Redskins team piloted by journeyman QB Rex Grossman. In what was to be a turnaround year for the Burgundy and Gold has turned out to be far worse than imagined in the Nation’s Capital. Can Daniel Snyder, boy genius owner, find the maturity to have the right football men build a new team? Mike Shanahan and his boy have failed horribly as coaches.

Tennessee @ Kansas City (-5)
A must win for the Chiefs to sustain their run at the AFC west crown. With the confusion over QB’s resulting from Vince Young’s demise and Randy Moss’s situation, the Titans are too messed up to be a threat.

Seattle @ Tampa Bay (-6 ½)
Both teams are fighting for playoff spots. Tampa Bay must win to stay alive. If Seattle and St. Louis both lose, a team with NINE losses could win the division.

Minnesota @ Philadelphia (-14 ½)
The Vikings are a hurting mess as Philadelphia’s playoff run is fired up. The 2010 season has truly been the Vikings worst nightmare.

New England (-6 ½) @ Buffalo
Merely a tune up game for the playoffs for New England.

San Francisco @ St. Louis (-2 ½)
Who would believe a team with a 5-9 record meeting a division rival with a 6-8 record could be fighting for a division crown? St. Louis has the slight edge. Unbelievable.

New York Jets at Chicago (-1)
The Jets need this game a lot more than Chicago does, but can the Jets sustain the energy that defeated the Steelers? Go with “da Bears.”

Indianapolis (-3) @ Oakland
The Colts will win when the chips are down. They have to have this one to stay in the playoff hunt.

New York Giants @ Green Bay (-3)
A battle for the NFC wild card, the unpredictable Giants face a team with a head-clubbed QB who missed the last two games with a concussion. This is a tough pick but the Packers appear to have more guts than the Giants.

San Diego (-7 ½) at Cincinnati
San Diego must and should win at Cincinnati. A loss ends their hopes for the playoffs.

New Orleans @ Atlanta (-2 ½)
Not the big game it was poised to be earlier in the season, this year’s final Monday night game has New Orleans visiting Atlanta who has a two game advantage over New Orleans for the NFC south lead. Having seen how the Ravens tore apart New Orleans, Atlanta should prevail.

Wait ‘til next year division….

Dallas (-6 ½) @ Arizona
A contest on the NFL Network Christmas nights, eggnog belching fans can see Dallas beat up on the ravaged Arizona Cardinals. Put “Charlie Brown Christmas” in the DVD player.

Detroit @ Miami (-3 ½)
Miami was supposed to be a contender this year. They’ve underachieved all year. Detroit finally has a season they can build on in pursuit of their 5th win. Miami still should prevail but a Detroit upset is far from out of the question. There’s no time for slacking down by South Beach.

Houston (-2 ½) @ Denver
The 2010 season can be shown as nothing but horrible disappointments for both teams. The Texans were supposed to be a playoff contender. No one would have expected Denver to be one of the worst teams in the game. Perhaps coaching rumors will make more noise than cheers for the game as Texans’ coach, Gary Kubiak sure looks like a possible fit for where he caddied John Elway. The Texans simply have too much talent not to beat the Broncos, a team in disarray.

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