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NFL picks 2018, Week 15: Experts predict bounce back wins for the Patriots and Rams

Can’t miss picks for every game in Week 15.

New England Patriots v Miami Dolphins Photo by Cliff Hawkins/Getty Images

Upsets happen. They may not happen like they did last week, not as many on a single day of the season, but it’s a risk every “expert” picker has to accept. Almost everyone got it wrong when the Dolphins pulled off the Miami Miracle to beat the Patriots. Everyone but the coin had the Colts beating the Texans. Those are all normal, acceptable upsets.

The pick that has to hurt most is the Jets beating the Bills, a game that was just kind of there, between two teams’ whose seasons were effectively, if not mathematically, over. How do you pick a game like that? It’s as random as a 10-point favorite shooting itself in the foot against the Raiders.

This week has some floaters on the agenda too — Washington vs. Jacksonville, Oakland vs. Cincinnati, and who can wait for the three-hour thrill ride that is Detroit at Buffalo? But let’s set those aside so we can talk about games that matter for playoff purposes.

Which NFL teams can clinch this week?

The first game with major implications is Thursday night. The Chiefs would clinch the AFC West with a win over the Chargers. However, a loss would leave the division race and even the No. 1 seed in the AFC wide open. Our panel is united in its predictions that the Chiefs will win, and with the game at Arrowhead Stadium, that checks out.

The Ravens are still in good shape for the final AFC wild card spot, but a win this week would boost them into the picture for the AFC North title. They’re playing the Buccaneers.

The Rams’ loss to the Bears on Sunday night did two things. First, it booted them out of the top spot in the NFC, putting the Saints back in the lead for the No. 1 seed. Second, it raised more questions about whether this high-flying offense can win on the road against a playmaking defense. They’re playing at home against the Eagles this week. Our panel is almost unanimous that the Rams will win, except for a certain coin which did manage to go 9-7 last week. However, the Eagles could be a dangerous opponent for the Rams.

The Bears can clinch the NFC North with a win over the Packers this week. I have a sneaky feeling we might see some of that old Aaron Rodgers magic now that Mike McCarthy has been exiled to island of mediocre head coaches.

Okay, so what about the big one — the Patriots at the Steelers? There are three picks for Pittsburgh here, and I supposed that is it possible. Mike Tomlin’s Steelers have never had a problem dialing up their focus for the Patriots — the problem is that they’re usually a week ahead of themselves. You can also be sure that no injury, barring decapitation, will let him leave Ben Roethlisberger on the sideline this week. Then again, that may work to the Patriots’ advantage the way Roethlisberger’s been making some terrible throws during their three-game skid.

The picks

OK, let’s get to the picks. Our guest this week is Gil Arcia, the managing editor over at Bucs Nation, SB Nation’s home for all things Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

The computer picks come to us via OddsShark. The coin is a quarter from 2007 that gets flipped every Tuesday morning, heads for the home team. Panelists are allowed to make changes for up to two of their picks by Friday to account for injuries, etc.

Week 15 picks

Games RVB Stephen White Geoff Schwartz Charles McDonald Adam Stites Christian D'Andrea Gil Arcia Coin flip OddsShark computer
Games RVB Stephen White Geoff Schwartz Charles McDonald Adam Stites Christian D'Andrea Gil Arcia Coin flip OddsShark computer
LAC vs KC KC KC KC KC KC KC KC LAC KC
HOU vs NYJ HOU HOU HOU HOU HOU HOU HOU HOU HOU
CLE vs DEN DEN CLE DEN CLE CLE DEN CLE CLE DEN
AZ vs ATL ATL ATL ATL ATL ATL ATL ATL AZ ATL
DET vs BUF BUF DET BUF BUF BUF BUF BUF BUF BUF
GB vs CHI GB CHI CHI CHI CHI CHI CHI CHI CHI
OAK vs CIN CIN CIN OAK CIN CIN CIN CIN CIN CIN
DAL vs IND IND IND IND IND DAL IND DAL DAL IND
MIA vs MIN MIN MIN MIN MIN MIN MIN MIA MIN MIN
TEN vs NYG NYG TEN NYG NYG NYG TEN TEN TEN TEN
WAS vs JAX JAX JAX JAX JAX JAX JAX JAX WAS JAX
TB vs BAL BAL BAL BAL BAL BAL BAL BAL TB BAL
SEA vs SF SEA SEA SEA SEA SEA SEA SEA SF SF
NE vs PIT NE NE NE NE NE PIT PIT PIT PIT
PHI vs LAR LAR LAR LAR LAR LAR LAR LAR PHI LAR
NO vs CAR NO NO NO NO NO NO NO CAR NO
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