NFL cheat sheet: Here’s who to watch and why in Week 15
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PACKERS at BEARS
Time: Noon, Fox-32.
Line: Bears by 6. Total: 45.
Records (overall/ATS): Packers 5-7-1/5-7-1; Bears 9-4/9-4.
Outlook: Bears are set up for a role reversal after upset of the Rams. The defense is due for a letdown after letting it all hang out. But a focused Mitch Trubisky likely to have the offense in high gear.
Pick: Bears 27, Packers 24.
TEXANS at JETS
Time: 3:30 p.m., Saturday, NFL Network.
Line: Texans by 6. Total: 41½.
Records (overall/ATS): Texans 9-5/6-7; Jets 4-9/5-8.
Outlook: Texans figure to respond after having a nine-game winning streak snapped vs. the Colts. Jets’ run game in dire straights with Isaiah Crowell (toe) banged up.
Pick: Texans 23, Jets 16.
BROWNS AT BRONCOS
Time: 7:20 p.m., Saturday, NFL Network.
Line: Broncos by 3. Total: 45½.
Records (overall/ATS): Browns 5-7-1/8-5; Broncos 6-7/6-6-1.
Outlook: Browns have responded to coach Gregg Williams — 3-2 since Hue Jackson was fired, with three wins in their last four games. Only losses to Chiefs and Texans.
Pick: Broncos 24, Browns 20.
RAIDERS AT BENGALS
Line: Bengals by 2½. Total: 46.
Records (overall/ATS): Raiders 3-10/5-8; Bengals 5-8/6-7.
Outlook: Raiders beat the Steelers for their biggest win of the season — then fired GM Reggie McKenzie. Mack, Cooper trades continue to haunt Jon Gruden.
Pick: Bengals 21, Raiders 17.
LIONS at BILLS
Line: Bills by 2½. Total: 39½.
Records (overall/ATS): Lions 5-8/7-6; Bills 4-9/5-8.
Outlook: Two teams with only the draft to look forward to. LeSean McCoy hamstring injury doesn’t help rookie QB Josh Allen. But Ziggy Ansah (shoulder) on IR impacts the Lions’ pass rush.
Pick: Lions 9, Bills 6.
COWBOYS at COLTS
Line: Colts by 3. Total: 47.
Records (overall/ATS): Cowboys 8-5/8-5; Colts 7-6/6-6-1.
Outlook: Two teams on a roll. Cowboys have won five straight. Colts have won six of seven.
Pick: Cowboys 31, Colts 27.
TITANS at GIANTS
Line: Giants by 2½. Total: 43½.
2017 records (overall/ATS): Titans 7-6/7-6; Giants 5-8/7-5-1.
Outlook: Giants have won four of their last five and are legitimately improved, but now they face a first-string QB in Marcus Mariota.
Pick: Titans 17, Giants 16.
CARDINALS at FALCONS
Line: Falcons by 9. Total: 44.
Records (overall/ATS): Cardinals 3-10/6-6-1; Falcons 4-9/3-10.
Outlook: Falcons are in free fall with five consecutive losses. But this is a team they can pick on.
Pick: Falcons 34, Cardinals 17.
REDSKINS at JAGUARS
Line: Jaguars by 7. Total: 36.
Records (overall/ATS): Redskins 6-7/7-6; Jaguars 4-9/4-7-2
Outlook: Redskins’ playoff hopes are in the hands of Josh Johnson, who was signed on Dec. 4 and is making his first start since 2011.
Pick: Redskins 17, Jaguars 16.
SEAHAWKS at 49ERS
Time: 3:05 p.m.
Line: Seahawks by 4. Total: 43½.
Records (overall/ATS): Seahawks 8-5/8-3-2; 49ers 3-10/4-9.
Outlook: Seahawks won 43-16 two weeks ago. Niners are 0-2 SU/ATS after a win this season.
Pick: Seahawks 34, 49ers 16.
SAINTS at PANTHERS
Time: 3:25 p.m.
Line: Saints by 6. Total: 52.
Records (overall/ATS): Saints 11-2/10-3; Panthers 6-7/5-8.
Outlook: Panthers have lost five straight but will put up a fight at home, where they are 5-1/4-2.
Pick: Saints 23, Panthers 20.
DOLPHINS at VIKINGS
Line: Vikings by 7. Total: 44½.
Records (Overall/ATS): Dolphins 7-6/8-5; Vikings 6-6-1/6-6-1.
Outlook: Firing a coordinator this late in the season might be the ultimate sign of desperation, but there is precedent for striking gold with the sudden change.
Almost six years ago to the day that the Vikings fired offensive coordinator John DeFilippo, Ravens coach John Harbaugh fired offensive coordinator Cam Cameron after a 31-28 loss to Redskins in 2012.
With Jim Caldwell taking over the offense, the move paid big dividends in the playoffs — Joe Flacco had a postseason for the ages (11 touchdowns, no interceptions, a 117.2 passer rating) and the Ravens offense averaged 27.5 points in four victories en route to winning Super Bowl XLVIII over Jim Harbaugh’s 49ers.
With a strong defense and offensive weapons that made them a Super Bowl contender prior to the regular season, the Vikings are a candidate to at least get a bump from the coordinator change to quarterbacks coach Kevin Stefanski, if not make a deep run in the playoffs.
Despite subpar protection throughout the season, the Vikings’ offense has produced on occasion — 29 points vs. the Packers, 31 vs. the Rams, 37 vs. the Jets. Even 20 points vs. the Bears looks pretty good now.
And in Kirk Cousins — whose career started to blossom when he replaced Robert Griffin III in that Redskins-Ravens game that led to Cameron’s firing — they have the Flacco type who can get hot and carry a team to glory.
Pick: Vikings 30, Dolphins 17.
BUCCANEERS at RAVENS
Line: Ravens by 7½. Total: 46½.
Records (overall/ATS): Buccaneers 5-8/5-7-1; Ravens 7-6/7-6.
Outlook: The Ravens are averaging 27 ppg in four games with Lamar Jackson at QB, losing only to the Chiefs. Now they face a Buccaneers team that has allowed 39.8 ppg on the road (40, 48, 34, 37, 42, 38). John Harbaugh is 52-30 in the second half in his 11 seasons — third best record in the NFL in that span.
Pick: Ravens 30, Bucs 20.
PATRIOTS at STEELERS
Time: 3:25 p.m., Ch. 2.
Line: Patriots by 2. Total: 52.
Records (overall/ATS): Patriots 9-4/8-5; Steelers 7-5-1/6-6-1.
Outlook: The Patriots figure to respond after a tough loss to the Dolphins, but the Steelers are in desperation mode with three straight losses — likely needing to beat either the Patriots or the Saints to make the playoffs. RB James Conner (ankle) and QB Ben Roethlisberger (ribs) are banged up.
Pick: Steelers 21, Patriots 17.
EAGLES at RAMS
Time: 7:20 p.m., Ch. 5.
Line: Rams by 10½. Total: 53.
Records (overall/ATS): Eagles 6-7/4-9; Rams 11-2/5-7-1l.
Outlook: Rams have struggled a bit to maintain their early season dominance, but Jared Goff, Todd Gurley, Sean McVay and Co. are very likely to bounce back at home after getting throttled by the Bears — a dreadful performance that almost certainly was an anomaly in a difficult environment on the road. Eagles still have playoff hopes.
Pick: Rams 37, Eagles 23.