2015 NFL Football Betting – Weekly Preview
The NFL moves into week 16, the next to last week of the season. Playoff spots, first-round byes, divisions – they’re all on the line, as the push to the postseason intensifies throughout the league. The pressure is about to reach its peak.
1 – Best Sunday Games: New England Patriots @ New York Jets; Green Bay Packers @ Arizona Cardinals
In week 16, the good Sunday games are comprised of matchups which affect the playoff picture. If the games happen to be extremely significant for both teams, they get elevated to the top of the list. For instance, Cleveland-Kansas City affects the playoff picture, but the Chiefs are almost certain to win at home. That’s a relevant game, but it’s not as good as the two games to be featured on Sunday afternoon:
The Patriots and the Jets hate each other, and the Jets usually play well enough on defense to make the Patriots sweat. However, the Patriots usually play well enough on defense to stay in and ultimately win the game. Experts should not expect anything else in this game on Sunday in New York. The Patriots are battling all sorts of injuries on offense. Their wide receivers and running backs have been wiped out, leaving Tom Brady with very little in the way of resources. The Jets can certainly stay close with their defense under first-year head coach Todd Bowles, a former defensive coordinator who should be able to come up with a very good plan. The key to the game is Jets quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick. He has to make clutch plays in the fourth quarter for New York to pull the upset.
The even bigger game on Sunday is Packers-Cardinals. Here’s the situation: Arizona leads in the race for the second seed in the NFC playoffs and a first-round bye behind top-seeded Carolina. However, the Packers would be in position to get the second seed and the bye a week later if they can win this game on Sunday. Green Bay could finish 12-4 and win the head-to-head tiebreaker over Arizona. The Packers know that Arizona’s Tyrann Mathieu is out for the season with an injury suffered last week versus Philadelphia. They can throw on Arizona’s secondary. Arizona needs to win the game up front with its pass rush, against a banged-up Green Bay defensive line.
2 – Sunday Night Football: New York Giants @ Minnesota Vikings
This is a matchup of teams that are playing for some very specific goals. The Giants are playing to extend their season and merely stay alive with a chance at the playoffs heading into week 17 in early January. The Giants have to win their last two games and get at least some help in order to win the NFC East and go to the playoffs. They received bad news earlier in the week when Odell Beckham’s one-game suspension was denied on appeal. That will not help them move the ball against the Vikings’ defense. Minnesota is playing to try to overtake Seattle for the fifth seed in the NFC. The fifth seed would enable the Vikings to play the NFC East champion in the wild card round, a definite advantage. With the number six seed, Minnesota would have to play at Green Bay or Arizona in the wild card round.
Expect the Vikings to be ready for this game, and to play with a sense of purpose at home on national television.
3 – Monday Night Football: Cincinnati Bengals @ Denver Broncos
The theme of this game is the battle of the backup quarterbacks. It has been known for a few weeks that Denver would have Brock Osweiler in at quarterback for this game. Osweiler has relieved an injured Peyton Manning and gained experience as a starter in live NFL action. As long as Manning is not healthy enough to play, Osweiler is the guy. There might have been some drama surrounding this issue, but Manning has not been dressing for games. He has not been in uniform while Osweiler has played. Not even this past Sunday against Pittsburgh did Manning put on the pads and a helmet. Osweiler was always going to be the quarterback if Manning didn’t suit up.
What’s new is that Cincinnati has a backup, A.J. McCarron. He won his first NFL start last week, but that was because the San Francisco 49ers committed a number of turnovers which enabled the Bengals to score three touchdowns on drives no longer than 36 yards. As long as Denver doesn’t commit turnovers, it will be hard for Cincinnati to score on Denver’s defense.