NFL Week 15 game picks: Saints defeat Chiefs; Vikings edge Bears

Gregg Rosenthal went 9-7 on his predictions for Week 14 of the 2020 NFL season, bringing his total record to 130-76-1. How will he fare in Week 15? His picks are below.

Sunday, Dec. 20

San Francisco 49ers 28, Dallas Cowboys 24

This will be the last time this Cowboys team dashes the home crowd's false hope coming off a win. This will also likely be the last time we marvel at Kyle Shanahan and Robert Saleh's synchronized coaching acumen for San Francisco, with the two men making the best of a cursed season that no organization could have survived, and Saleh poised for a ride on the coming coaching carousel.

Seattle Seahawks 27, Washington Football Team 20

Whether it's Dwayne Haskins or Alex Smith getting the start, Washington's QB situation might not be as decisive for the team's offense as Antonio Gibson's status on Sunday. Washington doesn't have the juice to compete against Seattle sans Gibson, no matter how well Jonathan Allen and Chase Young are playing. The Seahawks would agree that running backs matter, based on the boost Chris Carson gives their offense. My score here will move depending on Gibson's status; for now, I'm assuming he's out another week with turf toe.

UPDATE: Washington ruled Smith (calf) out for Sunday's game. Haskins will start against the Seahawks.

Minnesota Vikings 25, Chicago Bears 23

This is one of the toughest games to pick all year. Either Mitchell Trubisky is pulling his final okey-doke on the Bears faithful, lighting up some bad defenses before Lucy pulls the ball away from him. Or this Bears team, with the Jaguars up next week, is going to be in playoff contention into Week 17. With so many factors at play -- I also worry about Minnesota's line against this Bears front -- it's hard not to lean on the better coach and the better quarterback. Those remain in Minnesota.

Miami Dolphins 27, New England Patriots 19

Miami has a significantly better defense than New England. Despite playing with a rookie quarterback, the Dolphins have a significantly better offense, too, especially now that it appears DeVante Parker, Jakeem Grant and their backfield will be ready for Sunday. The Dolphins probably need to win out, but they should feel good that the fine folks at Football Outsiders confirmed that 11 wins gets them to the playoffs in all of their simulations. The season-long underestimation of the Dolphins and overestimation of the Patriots should finally end here.

Baltimore Ravens 33, Jacksonville Jaguars 24

The Ravens' deteriorating defense is a problem. Their cornerbacks aren't healthy enough to leave in man coverage, which limits their blitzes, which ruins the pass rush from a banged-up defensive line. Gardner Minshew could also be a problem this week, but the Jaguars' run defense is too soft to hold up despite this being Baltimore's third straight game playing on a short week.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers 31, Atlanta Falcons 24

The Falcons helped bring Tom Brady to Tampa by picking off Jameis Winston in overtime of the 2019 season finale. Now they could theoretically ruin Brady's season, with two games against the Buccaneers in the next three weekends. While the Falcons' defense has improved enough under Raheem Morris to keep this one close, Matt Ryan isn't the same player without a healthy Julio Jones on the field.

UPDATE: Jones will be out vs. the Bucs, Morris announced on Friday.

Tennessee Titans 38, Detroit Lions 24

The Darrell Bevellution has undeniably helped Detroit's offense. Unfortunately, it hasn't helped Kenny Golladay -- or the Lions' key missing linemen on both sides of the ball -- get any healthier. I know Mike Vrabel wants Derrick Henry to get 2,000 yards, but this looks like a game in which the Titans won't need him that much. (Especially if Chase Daniel starts in place of a banged-up Matthew Stafford.)

Indianapolis Colts 30, Houston Texans 26

The Texans may nearly be out of receivers, but this is a division game where the teams are facing off for the second time in three weeks. It could not have been more evenly played last time around, and familiarity in the NFL is the great equalizer. The Colts aren't quite as good as they looked last week, and the Texans aren't as bad.

Arizona Cardinals 24, Philadelphia Eagles 21

The Eagles had their best offensive game of the season, by far, in Jalen Hurts' first start. It came against one of the top defenses in football. And for some reason, the focus in Philly seems to be on finding ways not to hurt Carson Wentz's feelings. If the Eagles' offensive line and secondary weren't newly destroyed by injuries, I'd pick the Eagles to win this game and make life truly chaotic in Philly.

Los Angeles Rams 27, New York Jets 9

Adam Gase's patented run-run-pass approach led to 12 first downs and 116 net passing yards against a Seahawks pass defense ranked last in yards allowed. Now the Jets have to face a Rams defense that ranks first in the league in expected points allowed, with the knowledge that Joe Flacco might give the team a better chance to win than Sam Darnold.

New Orleans Saints 30, Kansas City Chiefs 27

People are giving up on the Saints too quickly because of a bad (if overdue) loss. Despite missing Drew Brees for a month, the Saints have been a more complete team than the Chiefs all season, with more truly impressive wins. They are a proud team coming off an embarrassing loss, and Sunday's game means far more to them than it does to the Chiefs, who can afford to lose and still get home-field advantage. The injury report will help make my pick here. The Chiefs could be down their top three tackles, while Taysom Hill's limitations show up more each week. If Brees returns, I'm picking him to help Sean Payton's Coach of the Year candidacy.

UPDATE: Sean Payton announced he's planning to start Drew Brees against the Chiefs on Sunday.

Cleveland Browns 24, New York Giants 17

I already liked the Browns' offensive line to win a battle of strengths up front, especially after watching the Cardinals' zone running game create great push against Big Blue last week. Now I really like the Browns to bounce back in prime time after learning that Daniel Jones, facing a new ankle injury, might not even start for this limited Giants offense.

Monday, Dec. 21

Pittsburgh Steelers 27, Cincinnati Bengals 10

Pittsburgh's offense is coming off its worst two-game stretch of the season. Brandon Allen is coming off his best game as the Bengals' QB1. Despite that, we'll know that something is seriously wrong with these Steelers if the game is close entering the fourth quarter.


Green Bay Packers 37, Carolina Panthers 26

Teddy Bridgewater's play has declined over his last five games. The Panthers' defense, which will struggle to get pressure on Aaron Rodgers Saturday night, has remained sub-mediocre all year. That's a rough combination against a Packers team whose offense is perfectly in sync, with this game offering another chance for Rodgers to build his MVP résumé.

Buffalo Bills 27, Denver Broncos 21

Bills fans have been waiting for this moment for 25 years: a chance to win the AFC East, in the team's third straight nationally televised game, with a top-10 quarterback and a peaking defense. They are Super Bowl contenders -- and Super Bowl contenders don't lose games like this, even against a Broncos team coming off its best two-game stretch of the season.

Los Angeles Chargers 31, Las Vegas Raiders 30

The last Chargers-Raiders game came down to the final snap. The last Chargers-Raiders game did not include Joey Bosa and Austin Ekeler. Both teams have deteriorated since then, but playing the Raiders' defense in prime time sure feels like a showcase for why Justin Herbert should win Offensive Rookie of the Year.

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