It’s crunch time as the NFL Week 15 schedule thrusts contenders under the microscope, and we’ve got some potential upsets brewing.
Focusing just on the games with playoff implications, we’re looking at six favorites who could potentially suffer upset losses on Sunday.
Chicago Bears vs. Green Bay Packers (-4.5)
This is a humongous game for Mitchell Tribusky and the Chicago offense. Trubisky, who spent most of his 2019 season struggling to even to the simplest things under center, is suddenly surging and has thrown six touchdowns the past two games. The Bears have won three straight and four of their last five, and they’re right there in the thick of it for an NFC wild-card spot.
The first time these teams met (Week 1), the Packers managed just 10 points but won. Of late, two teams with ferocious pass rushes (San Francisco 49ers and Los Angeles Chargers) have found a way to flummox Aaron Rodgers, leading to losses for the Packers. If the Bears can keep doing what they’ve been doing recently, they could certainly fly home to Chicago Sunday night with a huge win over their rival.
Houston Texans vs. Tennessee Titans (-3)
This is a huge AFC South clash — the first of two between these two contenders in the final three weekends — that could very well determine which one of them gets into the playoffs, and which one stays out.
Ryan Tannehill is playing as well as just about any quarterback in the NFL and has the Titans on a roll. They’ve won four in a row, and six out of their last seven, thanks in large part to Tannehill’s ability to spread the ball around and create a balanced offensive attack — one that has sparked a huge final push from running back Derrick Henry.
The reason we’re bullish on the Texans to pull off an upset is that when Deshaun Watson is on his game, there are few teams that can beat Houston. If he plays up to his potential and doesn’t turn the ball over, the Texans can pull ahead within the division and come away with the win.
Philadelphia Eagles (-5.5) vs. Washington Redskins
Let’s be honest about the Eagles for a moment. They very well could win Sunday, and heck, we predicted they’ll beat the Dallas Cowboys to claim the top spot in the awful NFC East. But in no way is this a good football team right now. The roster is absolutely wrecked due to injuries, especially at wide receiver, where they had two healthy players after the overtime win against the New York Giants last Sunday.
Now, the Redskins aren’t fantastic. But their offense is starting to pick up some steam in the latter part of the season with rookie quarterback Dwayne Haskins getting much-needed reps in during this lost season. And if Carson Wentz continues to struggle connecting with his playmakers in timely moments, the Eagles could very well fall to Washington Sunday.
Seattle Seahawks (-6.5) vs. Carolina Panthers
Seattle’s defense just got wrecked last week against the Los Angeles Rams, who utilized a heavy dose of Todd Gurley. Now heading into Sunday’s game in Charlotte, the Seahawks will be without star defensive end Jadeveon Clowney, who was ruled out due to illness and injury.
All that to say that Christian McCaffrey should be due for a monster day, both as a runner and receiver, going against Seattle’s defense. Now, the Panthers aren’t doing much of anything positive on defense these days, either, and Russell Wilson could potentially have a big game throwing the ball. But with Rashaad Penny out, Seattle’s offense isn’t quite as potent as it has been most of the season.
Los Angeles Rams (-1) vs. Dallas Cowboys
The Cowboys have lost three games in a row — their second three-game losing streak of the 2019 season. Their offense has struggled lately, thanks in part to the nagging injuries Amari Cooper has endured, and partly due to playing some darn good defenses.
The Rams have played well defensively, so it would be easy to assume the good vibes will continue on that side of the ball against a struggling Dallas offense. Yet the Rams are still a work in progress in the secondary, and the Cowboys have a few playmakers who can break loose on any given play.
We’re predicting the Cowboys find a way to get back on track at home Sunday, thanks to a big game from Amari Cooper, who has some experience against Jalen Ramsey.
Atlanta Falcons vs. San Francisco 49ers (-11)
Now here’s a bold pick, to be sure. The 49ers have lost just twice this season, and both losses were nail-biters that hinged on special teams plays. Meanwhile, the Falcons have won just four games all year and just put one of their best offensive players on injured reserve.
So why are we picking the 49ers to potentially be upset at home by the Falcons? Quite simply, it’s due to San Francisco’s injury report. The team ruled half its starting lineup out for Sunday’s game, and as deep as this team’s talent is, there’s sure to be a drop off in production.
If Jimmy Garoppolo continues to slice and dice in the passing game, the 49ers will almost assuredly still win. But if he takes a step back this weekend and throws an interception or two, this game is Atlanta’s for the taking.