NFL Week 15 Preview: Do-or-Die Time


Tennessee Titans quarterback Ryan Tannehill (17) passes against the Oakland Raiders during the first half of an NFL football game in Oakland, Calif., Sunday, Dec. 8, 2019. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)

Michael Raupp, Sports Editor

Michael Raupp, Editor

Overall Record: 74-44-1

Thursday Night Score: New York Jets (5-9) 21, Baltimore Ravens (12-2) 42

Best Pick Of Last Week: San Francisco over New Orleans

Worst Pick Of Last Week: Seattle over Los Angeles Rams


My Five Best Games of the Weekend:


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

Sunday, Noon (FOX)

Winners of three straight, Chicago has kept their slim playoff hopes alive into the final three weeks of the regular season. An abundance of injuries, especially on defense, has not derailed their season because of a finally awakened offense, but the team still has a brutal draw the final two games of the season after this one having to play Kansas City and Minnesota to round out the season. 

Regardless of what happens these next three games, the quarterback position is Mitchell Trubisky’s to lose. If he plays well and the Bears miss the playoffs, he will still be the starter come next season, but if they lose and he fails to make a statement, it becomes harder to believe he is capable for the job. 

Trubisky has seemed much more comfortable, decisive, accurate, and has shown the ability to run when he has to the last few weeks, all the traits the Bears expected when he was drafted. If the Bears can get the same out of Trubisky while adding Akiem Hicks back from IR on the defensive front, the Bears are suddenly a team no one wants to face this time of year.

The odds are stacked up against them, but finding a bonafide quarterback for the future is better late than never, even if it means missing the playoffs this season.

The Packers have not looked that impressive the last two weeks against inferior teams, therefore, the Bears keep their weak playoff pulse going if they take care of their own business first and subsequently get some help.

Bears 24, Packers 20

Houston Texans (8-5) @ Tennessee Titans (8-5)

Sunday, Noon (CBS)

We find ourselves in another version of the “AFC South’s toss-up of the week,” this time having serious implications for both the division and wild-card scenarios. The door was opened for Tennessee last week after a domination over the Raiders combined with an inexplicable flop by Houston to Denver, which has set the stage for a possible divisional flip of leaders this Sunday. 

Nobody, and I mean nobody, predicted the offensive success the Titans have had since Ryan Tannehill took over at quarterback. Tennessee has scored 30+ points points in their last four games, breaking the franchise record for yards per offensive play for the second time in three weeks with 552 total yards in their most recent outburst in Oakland. 

Who knows how long Tannehill’s hot streak will continue, but being in the same conversation as Aaron Rodgers regarding statistics is never a bad thing.

Titans take first place in the AFC South for now with the second meeting between both teams coming Week 17, which could possibly decide the division.

Texans 24, Titans 30 

Los Angeles Rams (8-5) @ Dallas Cowboys (6-7)

Sunday, 3:25 (FOX)

How ‘bout them Cowboys? Losers of seven of their last ten, the Cowboys fell below .500 for the first time this season against the Bears last Thursday night. However, the Cowboys are still a more realistic contender for the playoffs than the Bears and Rams being the leaders in the lousy NFC East. 

Even with the ship sinking on head coach Jason Garret’s tenure in Dallas, a victory over the Rams would set the team up to play for the division next week in Philadelphia with the Eagles having the same record but the Cowboys having the tiebreaker with a win in the first meeting.

The Rams have found life late in the season, especially after beating the Seahawks, but the Cowboys are still a better team at home and will finally wake up behind a strong performance of quarterback Dak Prescott. 

Rams 21, Cowboys 27

Buffalo Bills (9-4) @ Pittsburgh Steelers (8-5)

Sunday, 7:20 (NBC)

All the credit in the world to the Steelers for believing in their team after long time starting quarterback Ben Roethlisberger went down in the second week of the season, as the team traded for safety Minkah Fitzpatrick despite an 0-3 start to the season. Pittsburgh has won eight of their last ten and can move up from the second wild card to the first with a victory Sunday night. 

Both teams are where they are in part to their defenses, so none of that will change in this one. However, that does not mean Bills’ Josh Allen has not done his part. He will continue his stellar sophomore season with a bounce back performance from playing against Baltimore last week where he absorbed six sacks.  

It’s not Pittsburgh’s fault, but the lack of a quarterback will finally catch up to them.

Bills 20, Steelers 16

Indianapolis Colts (6-7) @ New Orleans Saints (10-3)

Monday, 7:15 (ESPN)

Having an extra day to think about their gut-wrenching loss to the 49ers at the Superdome will have the Saints fired up Monday night against the Colts. Losing last Sunday most likely took the Saints out of contention for the first seed in the NFC, but the team is right there to earn the final first round bye with the second seed. 

New Orleans should not have any issues against a Colts team that is headed in the wrong direction, losers of five of their last six with their playoff chances slipping each loss. A win and they are right back into contention with a Steelers loss, but the Saints will not lose again at home for the second straight week. 

Colts 21, Saints 27