With just three weeks left in the season, the NFL playoff race is at its most frenetic. Three teams have already punched their ticket to the postseason, and up to five teams can join them this week. SB Nation's panel of experts is back to break down the action for Week 15.
This week marks the return of Saturday night football with the Dallas Cowboys hosting the New York Jets. The Cowboys still aren't done at 4-9, just two games back in the NFC East. The Jets are riding a three-game winning streak and currently hold a wild card position, but they'll need to keep up their winning ways with the Pittsburgh Steelers hot on their tails. All the panelists except for PFT Commenter predict them to do exactly that.
Speaking of the Steelers, they take on the Denver Broncos in arguably the biggest game of the week. Pittsburgh is 8-5 and creeping up on a suddenly vulnerable Cincinnati Bengals team in the AFC North. The 10-3 Broncos suffered an uninspiring defeat to the Oakland Raiders last week, in which Brock Osweiler regressed after a promising start to the season. Osweiler will start again Sunday, but Peyton Manning returned to practice this week, which means that Denver's quarterback situation may be far from settled. Nearly all of our writers picked Pittsburgh, with only the enigmatic PFT Commenter predicting the Broncos to win.
The AFC South "race" comes to a head with the Indianapolis Colts and Houston Texans taking each on in a rematch of their Week 5 game. Both teams are coming off humiliating losses, which means their seasons are on the line. To compound matters, Texans starter Brian Hoyer suffered a concussion and Colts starter (in place of Andrew Luck) Matt Hasselbeck is dealing with rib injuries. Could it be the T.J. Yates/Charlie Whitehurst show on Sunday? Everyone on the panel except for David Fucillo is picking Houston to claim first place in the division this week.
The Bengals can clinch the AFC North with either a win or a Steelers loss, but their season took a major turn when Andy Dalton broke his thumb in last week's loss. AJ McCarron showed some flashes, but otherwise looked every bit the part of an inexperienced quarterback pressed into service. How he performs down the stretch will be one of the top NFL stories to follow, but he and the Bengals shouldn't have too much trouble putting away the San Francisco 49ers. Noted 49ers fan Fucillo is the only one picking San Francisco.
Sunday Night Football features the red-hot Arizona Cardinals facing the Philadelphia Eagles, who refuse to go away. The Cardinals can wrap up the NFC West with a win, and can clinch a first-round bye if they win and the Green Bay Packers lose. The Eagles are clawing back into the NFC East race at 6-7, but none of our panelists have much faith in them pulling the upset. It's a clean sweep for Arizona across the board.
Here are the complete picks for Week 15 (straight up, not against the spread).
|Week 15||Ryan Van Bibber||Stephen White||Joel Thorman||David Fucillo||Danny Kelly||Matt Ufford||PFT Commenter||OddsShark|
|TB vs STL||TB||STL||TB||TB||STL||STL||TB||TB|
|NYJ vs DAL||NYJ||NYJ||NYJ||NYJ||NYJ||NYJ||DAL||NYJ|
|CHI vs MIN||MIN||MIN||MIN||MIN||MIN||MIN||MIN||CHI|
|ATL vs JAX||JAX||ATL||ATL||JAX||JAX||JAX||JAX||JAX|
|HOU vs IND||HOU||HOU||HOU||IND||HOU||HOU||HOU||HOU|
|CAR vs NYG||CAR||NYG||NYG||CAR||CAR||NYG||CAR||CAR|
|TEN vs NE||NE||NE||NE||NE||NE||NE||NE||NE|
|BUF vs WAS||BUF||BUF||WAS||BUF||BUF||BUF||WAS||WAS|
|KC vs BAL||KC||KC||KC||KC||KC||KC||KC||KC|
|CLE vs SEA||SEA||SEA||SEA||SEA||SEA||SEA||SEA||SEA|
|GB vs OAK||GB||OAK||GB||GB||GB||GB||OAK||OAK|
|DEN vs PIT||PIT||PIT||PIT||PIT||PIT||PIT||DEN||PIT|
|MIA vs SD||MIA||MIA||SD||SD||MIA||MIA||MIA||SD|
|CIN vs SF||CIN||CIN||CIN||SF||CIN||CIN||CIN||CIN|
|ARZ vs PHI||ARZ||ARZ||ARZ||ARZ||ARZ||ARZ||ARZ||ARZ|
|DET vs NO||DET||DET||NO||NO||DET||NO||NO||DET|
And here are the updated results for the season.
|Ryan Van Bibber||Stephen White||Joel Thorman||David Fucillo||Danny Kelly||Matt Ufford||PFT Commenter||OddsShark|
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SB Nation presents: The Jags are good, the Falcons are bad and nothing makes sense