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NFL Week 15 Predictions: Breaking Down Every Game

Tom Brady

As the NFL regular season winds down, the good folks at Bing Predicts are clearly rounding into postseason form. Week 14 was another successful performance, as Bing Predicts nailed 13 out of 16 games correctly. The San Francisco 49ers‘ defense cost us an extra win, as the team surrendered 20 unanswered points in a home loss to the New York Jets, but we’ll refrain from complaining too much and set our sights on Week 15.

By now, you know the drill, but here’s a refresher for the uninitiated: PointAfter, a sports data site powered by Graphiq, looked through each matchup and predicted the winner of each game using data from Bing Predicts. Bing Predicts uses web activity and social sentiment — in addition to historical player, team and match stats — to predict the outcome of NFL games. Web and social data allow Bing Predicts to capture real-time information about lineup changes and reaction to them to tune the strengths of teams.

We have another full schedule this week, with 16 games to break down, including a rare Saturday tilt between the Miami Dolphins and Jets. Sunday features a rematch of last year’s AFC Championship Game, as the New England Patriots visit the Denver Broncos, with Denver fighting to stay alive for a wild card spot. As usual, we’ll run through each game starting with the most competitive of the week and offer our analysis as we move through every matchup. In the event of ties, the earlier game was shown first. If games had the same kickoff time, we then broke ties based on each game’s opening line.

Note: Also included with game predictions are the opening lines for each game, courtesy of Vegas Insider.

#1. Pittsburgh Steelers (8-5) @ Cincinnati Bengals (5-7-1)

Le'Veon Bell

Bing Predicts winner: Steelers (55 percent)

Opening line: PIT -3
Kickoff time: 1:00 p.m. EST

The Steelers have ripped off four straight wins after enduring a midseason four-game skid that started in mid-October. Last week confirmed Le’Veon Bell’s status as an unstoppable inferno, as he eviscerated the Bills’ defense with 298 yards from scrimmage and three touchdowns.

This week, it’s Cincinnati’s turn to try and stop Bell, and there will be no love lost between the two teams. Last season’s AFC Wild Card Round matchup saw the Steelers win in controversial fashion. Bengals linebacker Vontaze Burfict, at the center of all the drama that night, did not play when these teams faced off in Week 2 but will be on the field this time. Expect tempers to flare should Burfict cross the line (as he’s been known to do), and also expect a Steelers victory.

#2. Oakland Raiders (10-3) @ San Diego Chargers (5-8)

Derek Carr

Bing Predicts winner: Raiders (55 percent)

Opening line: OAK -2.5
Kickoff time: 4:25 p.m. EST

Oakland’s divisional hopes took a hit in last week’s loss to Kansas City, as the Chiefs swept the season series. Derek Carr had by far his worst game of the season, completing 17 of 41 pass attempts for just 117 yards. San Diego has allowed the fifth-lowest passer rating (82.3) on the season, so Carr won’t have an easy time rediscovering his groove.

Still, Bing Predicts likes the Raiders in this one, as the Chargers have lost three of their past four games. Melvin Gordon’s status for this week is up in the air, as he’s dealing with hip and knee injuries, which greatly diminishes San Diego’s chances at pulling off the upset.

#3. New England Patriots (11-2) @ Denver Broncos (8-5)

Tom Brady

Bing Predicts winner: Patriots (55 percent)

Opening line: NE -3
Kickoff time: 4:25 p.m. EST

The Broncos are in serious danger of missing the playoffs this season, and the reason is their offense has stalled out in recent weeks. Denver ran the ball just nine times for 18 yards in the loss to Tennessee, putting a lot of strain on Trevor Siemian. The Broncos’ defense has been lights-out all season, though it will face its toughest test in Tom Brady.

Rob Gronkowski’s last reception came in Week 10 against Seattle. In the four games since, Brady has completed 64.4 percent of his throws with 10 touchdowns and one interception, good for a 102.2 passer rating. Denver has easily the best pass defense in the league, and that matchup will determine the outcome of this game. Bing Predicts gives the edge to Touchdown Tom by a slim margin.

#4. Detroit Lions (9-4) @ New York Giants (9-4)

Odell Beckham Jr.

Bing Predicts winner: Giants (57 percent)

Opening line: NYG -5.5
Kickoff time: 1:00 p.m. EST

In what could be a preview of a potential NFC Divisional Round matchup, the white-hot Lions head to the Meadowlands to face the Giants, with New York fresh off its biggest win of the season. The Giants’ offense was unimpressive in the 10-7 win over Dallas, but New York snapped the Cowboys’ 11-game winning streak and held Dak Prescott and Co. in check. More importantly, the Giants are responsible for Dallas’ only two blemishes on the season.

The Lions have made a habit of late-game comebacks. An optimist would say that speaks highly of their crunch-time chops, though it’s not really a good thing that Detroit needed a fourth-quarter comeback at home against the Bears last week. Matthew Stafford threw two interceptions, his first picks since Week 9, and he’ll face a difficult challenge in the Giants’ secondary. New York has allowed an opponents’ passer rating of 76.3, second-best in the NFL. That, plus home-field advantage, gives the Giants the slight edge.

#5. New Orleans Saints (5-8) @ Arizona Cardinals (5-7-1)

Carson Palmer

Bing Predicts winner: Cardinals (57 percent)

Opening line: ARI -2.5
Kickoff time: 4:05 p.m. EST

Both the Saints and Cardinals lost last week, virtually ending each team’s playoff hopes. Carson Palmer’s nightmare season continued, as he threw for just 145 yards and had two interceptions in Arizona’s 26-23 loss to Miami. Drew Brees, meanwhile, threw three interceptions for the second consecutive week, posting his lowest passer rating (48.5) of the season. New Orleans averages 23.5 points per game on the road compared to 31 at home, so Bing Predicts gives the edge to Arizona.

#6. Miami Dolphins (8-5) @ New York Jets (4-9)

Ryan Tannehill

Bing Predicts winner: Dolphins (58 percent)

Opening line: MIA -3
Kickoff time: 8:25 p.m. EST (Saturday)

Excitement about Miami’s 26-23 win over Arizona last week was tempered by Ryan Tannehill’s apparently serious knee injury. What was initially feared as a season-ending ACL tear turned out to be only a sprain, though Tannehill will miss this week’s road game against the Jets. Veteran Matt Moore will play in his place, his first start since 2011. Expect a low-scoring game as the Dolphins try to make due with Moore and the Jets’ Bryce Petty continues to adjust to his new role as starting quarterback.

#7. Indianapolis Colts (6-7) @ Minnesota Vikings (7-6)

Adam Thielen

Bing Predicts winner: Vikings (60 percent)

Opening line: MIN -4
Kickoff time: 1:00 p.m. EST

The Colts are on life support after last week’s sloppy 22-17 loss to Houston, while the Vikings are just barely hanging on to their playoff hopes. Andrew Luck picked a bad time to have his worst game of the season, as he completed just 53.3 percent of his passes with two interceptions in what was the biggest game of the year.

Minnesota got a much-needed win against the woeful Jaguars, though the Vikings will need to play better against Indianapolis. Sam Bradford’s second consecutive strong performance was an encouraging sign, and he should be able to take advantage of the Colts’ subpar pass defense. Bradford has developed a strong rapport with third-year wideout Adam Thielen, who has 24 catches for 305 yards in his last four games.

#8. Green Bay Packers (7-6) @ Chicago Bears (3-10)

Aaron Rodgers

Bing Predicts winner: Packers (67 percent)

Opening line: GB -4
Kickoff time: 1:00 p.m. EST

Don’t look now, but the Packers are right back in the playoff picture. Aaron Rodgers has played like a man on fire lately, completing 70.7 percent of his throws with 10 touchdowns, no interceptions and a 121.1 passer rating in his last four games. To keep pace for a wild card spot, Green Bay can’t afford a slip-up against the Bears, who appear to be locks for a top-five pick in the 2017 draft.

Though Chicago has been tough to watch this season, the team continues to get unexpected contributions from Jordan Howard and Matt Barkley. Howard, a rookie drafted in the fifth round last year, has been a steady contributor all season, rushing for 969 yards and averaging 5.0 yards per carry. Barkley, who’s started the past three games, has resurrected his career with steady play. His passer rating the last three weeks is a respectable 83.0, which is more than anyone could have expected from a guy who appeared to be on his way out of the league last season. Still, with the way Rodgers is operating at the moment, it’s unlikely Chicago will have enough firepower to keep up.

#9. Jacksonville Jaguars (2-11) @ Houston Texans (7-6)

Blake Bortles

Bing Predicts winner: Texans (67 percent)

Opening line: HOU -5
Kickoff time: 1:00 p.m. EST

Respect (or maybe some concern) goes to anyone who watches this game in its entirety, as these are perhaps the two least exciting teams in the league. The Texans are treading water atop the NFL’s worst division, and they have the league’s No. 28 scoring offense. The Jaguars are in last place and haven’t come close to stealing the show in Blake Bortles’ third season. Expect the Texans to do just enough at home to get the win and hold their precarious playoff position.

#10. Tennessee Titans (7-6) @ Kansas City Chiefs (10-3)

Travis Kelce

Bing Predicts winner: Chiefs (69 percent)

Opening line: KC -6
Kickoff time: 1:00 p.m. EST

Both of these teams faced must-win games last week, and both prevailed in close wins. The Chiefs, however, looked much more impressive in their win over Oakland, as Tennessee’s Marcus Mariota looked overwhelmed against Denver’s defense. Mariota completed only six of 20 pass attempts for 88 yards, ending an impressive eight-week stretch of excellent play. The Titans’ defense bailed him out, but it won’t be as easy in Kansas City.

The Chiefs put together a team victory over the Raiders on Thursday, sweeping the season series against Oakland and running their record to 5-1 at home. Denver leads the league in opponents’ passer rating (67.4), but Kansas City isn’t too far behind at seventh (84.3), meaning Mariota will again have his hands full. This time, he’ll be on the road, so Bing Predicts likes the Chiefs to maintain their pole position in the AFC West.

#11. Philadelphia Eagles (5-8) @ Baltimore Ravens (7-6)

Joe Flacco

Bing Predicts winner: Ravens (69 percent)

Opening line: BAL -6
Kickoff time: 1:00 p.m. EST

Baltimore’s playoff hopes took a hit in Monday’s 30-23 loss to New England, though the Ravens currently own the head-to-head tiebreaker over the first-place Steelers. That makes this week’s home matchup against the slumping Eagles a must-win, as Philadelphia has lost four straight games and is 1-6 on the road this season. Carson Wentz played better against Washington last week, posting an 86.7 passer rating, but he’ll face a stingy Ravens pass defense that’s tied for second in interceptions (15).

#12. Carolina Panthers (5-8) @ Washington Redskins (7-5-1)

Kirk Cousins

Bing Predicts winner: Redskins (70 percent)

Opening line: WAS -4
Kickoff time: 8:30 p.m. EST (Monday)

The Redskins stole a victory in Philadelphia last week when a loss would have put a serious hit on their playoff hopes. They’ll face a Panthers team that bounced back nicely in Week 14 with a 28-16 win over San Diego, though Carolina’s offense struggled. Cam Newton posted a 54.6 passer rating — his second-worst of the year — by completing only 10 of 27 pass attempts. Washington’s secondary has struggled this season, but expect Kirk Cousins and the Redskins to be able to outscore the Panthers at home.

#13. Cleveland Browns (0-13) @ Buffalo Bills (6-7)

LeSean McCoy

Bing Predicts winner: Bills (75 percent)

Opening line: BUF -10
Kickoff time: 1:00 p.m. EST

The Browns’ losing streak reached 16 games in last week’s 23-10 loss to Cincinnati. Robert Griffin III returned and struggled mightily, completing 12 of 28 passes for 104 yards and an interception. The Bills have lost two straight games and five of their past seven, but even Buffalo should be able to avoid embarrassment at home. LeSean McCoy has averaged 144.3 yards from scrimmage in his last three games and should feast against the league’s No. 31 scoring defense.

#14. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (8-5) @ Dallas Cowboys (11-2)

Dak Prescott

Bing Predicts winner: Cowboys (75 percent)

Opening line: DAL -8.5
Kickoff time: 8:30 p.m. EST

The Cowboys’ 11-game win streak came to an end last week, as Dak Prescott finally played like your typical rookie quarterback. Tampa Bay’s hot streak continued, as the Bucs notched their fifth straight win thanks to another strong performance by their defense. After keeping Russell Wilson, Phillip Rivers and Drew Brees in check in three straight weeks, can the Bucs lock down Prescott and the vaunted Dallas offense?

Prescott was abysmal last week when throwing from a clean pocket, completing seven of 21 pass attempts with two interceptions. The Giants’ pass defense is among the best in the league, and perhaps New York used different coverages to confuse Prescott and force bad decisions. Tampa Bay ranks 14th in opponents’ passer rating (88.7), so Prescott should have an easier time finding the open man. Expect Dallas to bounce back this week and clinch the division.

#15. Los Angeles Rams (4-9) @ Seattle Seahawks (8-4-1)

Russell Wilson

Bing Predicts winner: Seahawks (83 percent)

Opening line: SEA -12.5
Kickoff time: 8:25 p.m. EST (Thursday)

The Rams’ nightmare season continued last week in a 42-14 blowout loss to the Falcons. That brought about the inevitable firing of head coach Jeff Fisher, and now Los Angeles heads to one of the toughest road environments in the league on a short week. This spells nothing but trouble for Jared Goff and the rest of the Rams’ league-worst offense, which has scored a combined eight touchdowns in the past seven games.

The Seahawks can’t exactly be brimming with confidence after getting trounced by Green Bay last week. Seattle’s pass defense is simply not the same without Earl Thomas, and the Seahawks were torched by Aaron Rodgers in a 38-10 route. Russell Wilson threw a career-worst five interceptions, but it seems outside the realm of possibility that the Rams could actually win at CenturyLink Field.

#16. San Francisco 49ers (1-12) @ Atlanta Falcons (8-5)

Matt Ryan

Bing Predicts winner: Falcons (84 percent)

Opening line: ATL -11.5
Kickoff time: 4:05 p.m. EST

We’ll keep this one short and sweet: the 49ers rank last in points per game allowed (30.2) and yards per game allowed (415.3). Atlanta leads the league in points per game (32.9), is playing at home and is in a neck-and-neck fight with Tampa Bay for first place in the NFC South. Matt Ryan and Co. should cruise to an easy victory.

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