Bing Predicts: NFL Week 15

Michael B. Sauter
24/7 Wall St.

It’s not like the New England Patriots tossed away their Super Bowl hopes after the upset 27-20 loss to the Dolphins. But now it is clear they are vulnerable. The defense has ranked near the bottom of the NFL all season and is currently 29th, allowing 374.6 yards per game.

Tom Brady had a bad night, it happens even to the best. Give the Dolphins defense credit for intercepting him twice and holding the Pats to two yards of offense in the first quarter.

The Patriots’ loss was one of several upsets of top-echelon, playoff-bound teams in Week 14. The New Orleans Saints (9-4) fell to the Atlanta Falcons and the Minnesota Vikings (10-3) lost to the Carolina Panthers.

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Bing Predicts missed all three of those upsets and had a ho-hum 9-7 record for the week. NFL prognostication is a tricky business.

In Week 15, the stakes are higher for teams on the playoff bubble. Plus, several games could help determine playoff seeding for teams already looking ahead to the postseason OR will be key in deciding which playoff teams get home field advantage or even first round byes.

The NFL schedule makers must have foreseen how the first 14 weeks would play out. The Patriots (10-3) will play at Pittsburgh on Sunday afternoon. The red-hot Steelers (11-2) are riding an eight-game win streak, while New England will be looking for a return to the win column. You know what they say, wounded animals are the most dangerous.

Bing’s NFL predictions use team and player statistics and web activity to build a statistical model that takes into account historical data and real-time information (like injuries, suspensions, and lineup changes). Finally, social sentiment adds a unique wisdom-of-the-crowd factor to the model. Learn more about Bing Predicts.

Click here to see all Bing weekly NFL predictions.

Denver Broncos at Indianapolis Colts
> Bing Predicts winner: Denver (58%)
> Kickoff time: 8:25 PM EDT (Thursday)
> Game spread: Denver -3
> Matchup history: Series tied 13-13-0

With neither team headed to the postseason, it’s not exactly a perfect Thursday night matchup. Of course, several of the Thursday night games have not exactly been must-see TV. The Broncos (4-9), coming off a 23-0 rout of the Jets, are favored. The win snapped an eight-game losing streak. Quarterback Trevor Siemian threw for 200 yards and a touchdown. The Broncos have a monkey to get off their backs — they have not won in Indianapolis since 2003. That’s six consecutive losses there. Of course, many of those years the Colts (3-10) were not pushovers like they have been this year. They are sunk without quarterback Andrew Luck.

Indianapolis is coming off a 13-7 loss at Buffalo in the raging snowstorm. Veteran running back Frank Gore hit a career-high in carries with 36 for 130 yards. Wide receiver T.Y. Hilton managed only nine catches, 109 yards, and one touchdown in the last four games. Of course, part of that can be blamed on the offensive line, which has struggled and allowed quarterback Jacoby Brissett to be sacked a league-leading 48 times.

Chicago Bears at Detroit Lions
> Bing Predicts winner: Detroit (61%)
> Kickoff time: 4:30 PM EDT (Saturday)
> Game spread: Detroit -6.5
> Matchup history: Bears lead 97-73-5

With the Lions (7-6) holding onto slim hopes of a playoff berth, this is a must-win game. Detroit prevailed 27-24 in its first meeting with the Bears, but it was close and a 52-yard field goal by Matt Prater proved to be the difference. Quarterback Matthew Stafford displayed his toughness once again on Sunday, not letting his severely bruised throwing hand affect his game. It wasn’t easy or particularly pretty, but the Lions beat the Bucs 24-21. Theo Riddick and the rest of the Lions’ rushing attack struggled on the ground, gaining just 53 yards on 18 carries. However, Riddick rushed for two scores.

The Bears (4-9) topped Cincinnati 33-7 on Sunday to snap their five-game losing streak. They showed a balanced offense with 232 rushing yards and 250 passing yards. Maybe quarterback Mitchell Trubisky is slowly maturing. He passed for 271 yards, one touchdown, and no interceptions. Running back Jordan Howard had 23 carries for 147 yards and a pair of touchdowns. It’s an NFC North divisional battle, but it should be all Lions at Ford Field in a rare Saturday game.

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Los Angeles Chargers at Kansas City Chiefs
> Bing Predicts winner: Los Angeles (53%)
> Kickoff time: 8:25 PM EDT (Saturday)
> Game spread: Kansas City -1
> Matchup history: Chiefs lead 59-55-1

Perfect — a nationally televised Saturday night game with playoff implications for both teams. The winner will be in the driver’s seat for AFC West. Settle in and grab the popcorn. The favored Chargers (7-6) have won seven of the last nine, with one loss to the Patriots and one in overtime. During their four-game win streak, including Sunday’s 30-13 win over the Redskins, they’ve outscored opponents 131-53 and have averaged 465 yards per game. In that stretch, quarterback Philip Rivers has passed for 1,177 yards, eight touchdowns, and zero interceptions. They seem to be warming up at just the right time.

In their first meeting in Week 3, Kansas City won 24-10. The Chiefs (7-6) are coming off a 26-15 win over the Raiders. Prior to that win, they had lost six of their last seven. They scored on each of their first four drives on Sunday, showing signs of life for the offense. Rookie running back Kareem Hunt ran for 116 yards, his first 100-yard game since Oct. 8.

Miami Dolphins at Buffalo Bills
> Bing Predicts winner: Buffalo (51%)
> Kickoff time: 1:00 PM EDT (Sunday)
> Game spread: No line
> Matchup history: Dolphins lead 60-45-1

This is a must-win game for the Bills (7-6) to keep their playoff hopes alive, yet it’s uncertain if either of their top two quarterbacks will be ready to play. Still, the Bills have the edge in this matchup. Nathan Peterman is in the concussion protocol and Tyrod Taylor is day-to-day with a knee injury. Quarterback Joe Webb finished Sunday’s game and could be the starter in this crucial contest. Buffalo is coming off a 13-7 overtime win over the Colts in Sunday’s snowstorm. LeSean McCoy had his best rushing game of the season, dashing through the snow with 32 carries for 156 yards and a touchdown.

Dolphins quarterback Jay Cutler got off to a slow start this season, coming back from a short-lived retirement. But he led Miami to a huge 27-20 win over the Patriots on Monday night and outplayed Tom Brady along the way. Cutler threw three touchdowns and zero interceptions, while Brady threw two interceptions and just one touchdown. Credit the Dolphins defense to holding the Pats to 0 of 11 on third downs and just 25 rushing yards. The win gives these Dolphins (6-7) legitimacy. This Bills-Fins matchup is the first of two meetings in the final three weeks of the season for these AFC East division rivals.

Baltimore Ravens at Cleveland Browns
> Bing Predicts winner: Baltimore (77%)
> Kickoff time: 1:00 PM EDT (Sunday)
> Game spread: Baltimore -7
> Matchup history: Ravens lead 28-9-0

The Ravens (7-6) remain in playoff contention, while the Browns are in the running to be the first 0-16 NFL team since the Lions in 2008. So no wonder the Ravens are the favorites here. In their first meeting in Week 2, the Ravens won 24-10. Baltimore let a nine-point fourth quarter lead slip away in their 39-38 loss at Pittsburgh on Sunday night. Even if they’re still stinging from that performance by Ben Roethlisberger and Antonio Brown, they should have no problem putting away the Browns.

Cleveland (0-13) did make a game of it with the Packers on Sunday, but lost 27-21 in overtime. Wide receiver Josh Gordon had three catches for 69 yards and a touchdown in his second start after returning from years of suspensions over illegal drug use. Quarterback DeShone Kizer threw for three touchdowns and two interceptions. Again, mistakes were the deciding factor. For a winless team, that’s not really surprising.

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Cincinnati Bengals at Minnesota Vikings
> Bing Predicts winner: Minnesota (73%)
> Kickoff time: 1:00 PM EDT (Sunday)
> Game spread: Minnesota -10
> Matchup history: Series tied 6-6-0

The Vikings (10-3) can take the NFC North title with a win on Sunday over the Bengals. Minnesota, which lost 31-24 at the Panthers on Sunday -- its first loss in two months, will be back home after three on the road. Tight end Kyle Rudolph and wide receiver Adam Thielen each had drops, and the Vikings were just one of four when they made it to the red zone.

The Bengals (5-8) lost in humiliating fashion, 33-7, to the Bears on Sunday. Yes, the Bears. Coach Marvin Lewis’ seat is getting warm after winning just 10 of the last 27 games. Quarterback Andy Dalton struggled, going 14 of 29 for 141 yards, one touchdown, and one interception. Running back Giovani Bernard finished with 62 rushing yards and caught six passes for 68 yards in the loss.

New York Jets at New Orleans Saints
> Bing Predicts winner: New Orleans (80%)
> Kickoff time: 1:00 PM EDT (Sunday)
> Game spread: New Orleans -15.5
> Matchup history: Series tied 6-6-0

The favored Saints (9-4) might still be a little ticked after their 20-17 loss last Thursday to the Falcons. Quarterback Drew Brees threw for 271 yards, two touchdowns, and one interception, but it was not enough. Wide receiver Michael Thomas came up big with 10 catches for 117 yards and a touchdown, but it was not enough either. Running back Alvin Kamara suffered a concussion on the first drive and could not return, but he is expects to play against the Jets.

The Jets (5-8), who lost 23-0 to the Broncos, also lost starting quarterback Josh McCown with a broken left hand. McCown was emotional afterward, crying during his postgame press conference. Backup quarterback Bryce Petty will get a shot at the starting QB job for the second straight year.

Philadelphia Eagles at New York Giants
> Bing Predicts winner: Philadelphia (78%)
> Kickoff time: 1:00 PM EDT (Sunday)
> Game spread: Philadelphia -9.5
> Matchup history: Giants lead 85-82-2

Seriously, can anything go right for the Eagles? They clinched the NFC East and they were clearly one of the elite teams in the NFL with Super Bowl hopes growing each week. And then -- boom -- quarterback Carson Wentz (they love him in Wentzlvania) goes down in the third quarter of a 43-35 win over the Rams with a torn ACL. He’s done for the season, but the Eagles (11-2) must go on. Nick Foles will take over at quarterback and should be fine in the final three regular season games. But after that no one knows how far Foles could take the Eagles in the playoffs.

One thing we know is that Foles and company should have no trouble against the Giants (2-11), who they beat 27-24 in Week 3. The teams have gone in opposite directions since then. Eli Manning was back as a starter on Sunday, but the Giants still lost 30-10 to the Cowboys.

Arizona Cardinals at Washington Redskins
> Bing Predicts winner: Washington (57%)
> Kickoff time: 1:00 PM EDT (Sunday)
> Game spread: Washington -3.5
> Matchup history: Redskins lead 74-46-2

The Redskins (5-8) accomplished a major feat in their 30-13 loss to the Chargers on Sunday. Their coach, Jay Gruden, was so dismayed he was at a loss for words. The Redskins, who have lost six of their last eight and two straight, were eliminated from the playoffs. Redskins safety D.J. Swearinger questioned whether the defense was putting forth its best effort. Still, they’re favored over the Cardinals (6-7).

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Arizona beat the Titans 12-7 on four field goals by Phil Dawson. The defense also stepped up in the second half, intercepting Marcus Mariota twice. Blaine Gabbert, the Cardinals’ third-string quarterback, passed for 178 yards with no interceptions, despite taking a beating all day. He was sacked eight times in the game.

Green Bay Packers at Carolina Panthers
> Bing Predicts winner: Carolina (51%)
> Kickoff time: 1:00 PM EDT (Sunday)
> Game spread: Carolina -1
> Matchup history: Packers lead 9-5-0

The Panthers (9-4), coming off a huge 31-24 win over the Vikings, are preparing for another NFC North opponent. Green Bay’s Aaron Rodgers, who had a broken collarbone surgically repaired, could start for the first time since Oct. 15, but it is not a certainty. So the Panthers are favored, but not by much. Cam Newton’s 62-yard scamper Sunday set up one of Jonathan Stewart’s three touchdown runs. Newton passed for just 137 yards with one touchdown and one interception, but his 70 rushing yards were a boost.

The Packers (7-6) were 4-1 when Rodgers broke his collarbone. After losing as a fill in against the Minnesota Vikings during the game Rogers was injured, Backup Brett Hundley led the Packers to wins in three of the seven games since then. They just squeaked by the Browns, 27-21, in overtime on Sunday. Green Bay needs to win out and get a little help to make it to the postseason. Rodgers’ possible return is not good news for the Panthers. In four career games against Carolina, Rodgers has passed for 1,230 yards, a dozen touchdowns, and two interceptions.

Houston Texans at Jacksonville Jaguars
> Bing Predicts winner: Jacksonville (74%)
> Kickoff time: 1:00 PM EDT (Sunday)
> Game spread: Jacksonville -10.5
> Matchup history: Texans lead 19-12-0

No question here that the Jaguars (9-4) are the better team. They beat the Texans 29-7 in Week 1 and have played well since with few hiccups. They’ve won two straight, including Sunday’s 30-24 win over Seattle, and they have the NFL’s stingiest defense that limits opponents to 15.5 points per game. Rookie running back Leonard Fournette carried 24 times for 101 yards and a touchdown, and had four catches for 18 yards. He leads Jacksonville’s running attack, the most potent in the league, averaging 150.0 yards per game. Quarterback Blake Bortles passed for 268 yards and two touchdowns.

The Texans (4-9) have dropped three straight, including Sunday’s 26-16 loss to the 49ers. They have never recovered from the loss of quarterback Deshaun Watson and defensive end J.J. Watt. Now they might be down to their third quarterback, T.J. Yates. Tom Savage, who filled in for Watson, went down hard against San Francisco. He eventually (not immediately) was ruled out with a concussion. It’s unlikely he’ll be ready to go on Sunday.

Los Angeles Rams at Seattle Seahawks
> Bing Predicts winner: Los Angeles (51%)
> Kickoff time: 4:05 PM EDT (Sunday)
> Game spread: Seattle -1
> Matchup history: Seahawks lead 23-16-0

The Rams (9-4) are a slight favorite in what’s being called the NFC West championship game.
The Rams still hold the NFC West lead after a 43-35 loss to the Eagles on Sunday. A win at Seattle will basically sew up the division. Quarterback Jared Goff had a quiet day in the loss, completing just 16 passes for 199 yards. Running back Todd Gurley had 13 carries for 96 yards and two touchdowns along with three catches for 39 yards. Rookie wide receiver Cooper Kupp had five receptions for 118 yards and a touchdown.

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If the Seahawks (8-5) win at home, they will be back in first place. If they lose, it could be a season-ender. They’re coming off a 30-24 loss to the Jaguars. Seattle’s two key defense players, Michael Bennett and Sheldon Richardson, were involved in an on-the-field melee at the end of Sunday’s game but will not be suspended. In the first matchup in Week 5, the Seahawks won 16-10.

New England Patriots at Pittsburgh Steelers
> Bing Predicts winner: Pittsburgh (51%)
> Kickoff time: 4:25 PM EDT (Sunday)
> Game spread: New England -2.5
> Matchup history: Series tied 15-15-0

Wow, one lousy loss to the Dolphins and the Patriots have lost their luster. The Steelers (11-2) have won eight straight, including a 39-38 win over the Ravens on Sunday night. They get a slight edge in this matchup even though they have not beaten the Patriots in six years. Seems like it’s a good thing to have the NFL’s top wide receiver (Antonio Brown, 1,509 yards) and running back (Le’Veon Bell, 1,105 yards) along with quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, who passed for 506 yards and two touchdowns against the Ravens. The Steelers and Patriots have the two best passing offenses in the NFL.

The Patriots (10-3) are coming off a 27-20 upset loss to the Dolphins on Monday night and smack into one of the best matchups of Week 15. Tom Brady called Monday a bad night and no one could argue after he threw a pair of interceptions. His record against the Dolphins in Miami is an unBrady-like 7-9. Brady still leads the NFL in passing yards (3,865) but may have a tough time against the Steelers, who have the NFL’s fourth stingiest pass defense, allowing just 200.8 passing yards per game. The loss snapped the Patriots eight-game winning streak and put their first-round bye in jeopardy.

Tennessee Titans at San Francisco 49ers
> Bing Predicts winner: Tennessee (53%)
> Kickoff time: 4:25 PM EDT (Sunday)
> Game spread: Pick ‘em
> Matchup history: 49ers lead 8-5-0

The favored Titans (8-5) are one game behind the Jaguars in the AFC South race, so this is a huge game for them with playoff implications. The Titans have won six of their last eight, but are coming off a 12-7 loss to the Cardinals. Marcus Mariota was 16 of 31 for 159 yards and tossed two second-half interceptions. The third-year quarterback now has eight interceptions in the last four games. This season he’s got a career-high 14 interceptions against just 10 touchdown passes.

In San Francisco, they call it the Jimmy Garoppolo effect. In his two starts, the 49ers (3-10) have emerged victorious. After an 0-9 start, the 49ers have won three of their last four. Their only loss over that span was by one point to Seattle. It’s too little too late for the playoffs, but possibly a good sign for next season. Garoppolo threw for 334 yards, a touchdown, and an interception in the 26-16 win over the Texans, while running back Carlos Hyde had 14 carries for 78 yards and a touchdown.

Dallas Cowboys at Oakland Raiders
> Bing Predicts winner: Dallas (58%)
> Kickoff time: 8:30 PM EDT (Sunday)
> Game spread: Dallas -3
> Matchup history: Raiders lead 6-5-0

Dallas (7-6) gets the nod here after beating the Giants 30-10 for their second straight win. It’s a big game for both the Cowboys and Raiders to keep their playoff hopes on life support. Dak Prescott threw for 332 yards and three touchdown passes, while running back Rod Smith had 160 yards from scrimmage (47 rushing) and a pair of touchdowns. Linebacker Sean Lee returned from a hamstring injury in grand style with 18 tackles, one interception, and a pass defense.

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Getting to the playoffs will be a tough road for the Raiders (6-7), who play the top two teams in the NFC East in the last three games — they face Dallas, then Philadelphia, and finish the season at the Los Angeles Chargers. Quarterback Derek Carr struggled big time, tossing two interceptions in the 26-15 loss to the Chiefs on Sunday. Running back Marshawn Lynch carried seven times for 61 yards and a score.

Atlanta Falcons at Tampa Bay Buccaneers
> Bing Predicts winner: Atlanta (75%)
> Kickoff time: 8:30 PM EDT (Monday)
> Game spread: Atlanta -4
> Matchup history: Series tied 24-24-0

Only one of these teams remains in the playoff conversation, and that’s the favored Falcons (8-5), who beat the Saints 20-17 in Week 14. If the Falcons win, they will remain in the thick of the playoff race in the NFC. Atlanta won the first meeting against the Buccaneers three weeks ago, 34-20. Look for more of the same. The Falcons’ Matt Ryan had a tough day in last Thursday’s win with three interceptions. However, the defense came up big with a late interception of a Drew Brees pass that sealed the win.

The Bucs (4-9) have had a disappointing season with three straight losses. You know it’s bad when they’re playing the final three games for pride and for coach Dirk Koetter’s job. Tampa is coming off a 24-21 loss to the Lions on Sunday. In that game, the Bucs lost three fumbles, and Jameis Winston was intercepted twice. Still, they almost won.

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