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Predicting studs and duds for NFL Week 15

Rachel Wold
Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports

Matchups to savor

Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports

NFL Week 15 offers football fans many awesome matchups to savor beginning with a thrilling divisional showdown in Kansas City. This time it will be the Chargers’ turn to try and slow down quarterback Patrick Mahomes and Co. while Los Angeles looks to improve to 11-3.

Week 15 also features a matchup between AFC quarterback greats Tom Brady and Ben Roethlisberger — both reeling from last-second, embarrassing losses.

Meanwhile, the Green Bay Packers head to Chicago to face a Bears defense that last obliterated the Los Angeles Rams. It is possible Chicago has more doom and gloom to deal out to Green Bay.

We’ll address all that and more in our stud and dud predictions for NFL Week 15.


Stud: Tom Brady, quarterback, New England Patriots

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As the Patriots attempt to better their AFC playoff positioning, look for Brady to put on another fabulous show. Tom Terrific has passed for over 300 yards in his past two games. The Patriots’ upcoming meeting against the Steelers should be no different. Brady is facing a Steelers defense that last looked like a joke when it allowed Oakland Raiders quarterback Derek Carr to throw for 322 yards, two touchdowns and zero interceptions in a winning performance. Overall, the Patriots should feast as they attempt to avenge their last loss, which was due to the “Miami Miracle.”


Dud: T.Y. Hilton, wide receiver, Indianapolis Colts

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Hilton had himself a beauty of a game when he tallied a jaw-dropping 199 yards against the Houston Texans in his last performance. But, the buck for Hilton could easily stop in Week 15. Hilton and quarterback Andrew Luck should be challenged facing the Dallas Cowboys. The ‘Boys defense is a legit threat and has given up only 10 wide receiving touchdowns all season. Plus, opposing wide receivers have averaged just 136.6 yards per game facing the Cowboys defense. Hilton should come back down to earth this week.


Stud: Russell Wilson, quarterback, Seattle Seahawks

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Wilson looked just awful when he completed a mere 50 percent of his passes for 72 yards, while throwing a hideous interception and failing to score on Monday night. We would like to think it was because he was playing a stout Minnesota Vikings defense. So, Wilson should be on course to redeem himself in his second clash against the 49ers. It was only two games ago Wilson threw for four touchdowns against San Francisco. With a shot at making it to the postseason, Wilson should get his performance back on track. Fingers crossed.


Dud: Mike Evans, wide receiver, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Mike Evans

Melina Vastola-USA TODAY Sports

Week 15 should be a game when Evans has one of his quieter turnouts. This is because Evans and the Bucs hit the road to face a scary Ravens defense. This is a defense that struggled to contain Chiefs wideout Tyreek Hill. Yet overall on he season, the Ravens have given up just nine touchdowns to opposing wide receivers and the fourth-fewest fantasy points to the position. We can also expect the Ravens to pull out of the stops as they fight to nudge their way into first place in the AFC North. This starts by keeping Evans neutralized.


Stud: Todd Gurley, running back, Los Angeles Rams

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Gurley just finished laying a huge stinker when he managed a terrible total of 58 yards in a loss to the Bears. So, look for Gurley to right that wrong with a bounce-back game against the Philadelphia Eagles in Week 15. Over their last four games, the Eagles have yielded the second-most total yards (734) in the league and six touchdowns to opposing running backs. Gurley is a far cry from an average back and should be able to work his magic both on the ground and through the air.


Dud: Nick Chubb, running back, Cleveland Browns

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Much of Chubb’s success depends on him actually finding the end zone in any given game. He has scored a rushing touchdown consecutively in his last five contests (including this insane run). He has also managed two receiving scores in this same stretch. Though, Chubb scoring in his next game might be a stretch. Next up for the rookie is a mile-high meeting against the Denver Broncos. To date, this defense has permitted only nine total running back scores. This stat is not exactly ideal considering we never know which version of the Browns offense is going to show up on game day.


Stud: Desmond Trufant, cornerback, Atlanta Falcons

Desmont Trufant

Kim Klement, USA Today Sports

The Falcons defense is not much to write home about this season. Though, Trufant has a great opportunity to make fans forget that when he might possibly nab his first interception of the year. Trufant gets a dream matchup against the lowly Arizona Cardinals in Week 15. An interception-prone rookie quarterback Josh Rosen should do wonders for Trufant looking like a stud in his next game. Rosen has 12 picks versus 10 touchdowns on record, so it would not take much rattling from Trufant to create yet another Cardinals turnover.


Dud: Kenyan Drake, running back, Miami Dolphins

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Famous for his amazing run during the Miami Miracle during Miami’s riveting win over New England, Drake should simmer down in Week 15. Why so? Drake and the Dolphins head to Minnesota to tangle with that vicious Vikings defense. This is a defense that last held the Seahawks offense to only 286 total yards and one touchdown. Granted, it was running back Chris Carson who scored on the ground. But Drake splitting carries with Frank Gore, and the Dolphins potentially struggling for gains, could result in a dismal turnout for the young running back.


Stud: James Conner, running back, Pittsburgh Steelers

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Conner will hopefully make his way back to the lineup after missing his last game due to an ankle injury. This will be great timing for the Steelers, desperately attempting to break an ugly three-game losing streak. Fortunately for Conner, he will face the Patriots, whose run defense last looked like a hot mess allowing the aforementioned 35-year-old Frank Gore to run for 92 yards on 12 attempts as well as Brandon Bolden to score two rushing touchdowns. Conner should have his way all day long in this upcoming AFC clash.


Dud: Saquon Barkley, running back, New York Giants

Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports

Never a total dud, Barkley stands to have a tamer performance than the 197 total yards he dumped on a hapless Washington Redskins team during his last game. Next on the schedule for Barkley and the Giants is a game against the Tennessee Titans. Tennessee’s defense can prove to be problematic, which could throw some monkey wrenches at the Giants’ best offensive efforts. Plus, wideout Odell Beckham Jr. looks to return to the field and he will surely command what he thinks should be his fair share of overall touches.


Stud: Lamar Jackson, quarterback, Baltimore Ravens

Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

Jackson is all kinds of awesome to watch in action on the field, and he routinely amazes with plays like this. Provided he starts in Week 15, he has a very friendly matchup on his home turf against the Buccaneers. While the Ravens attempt to fight for a playoff slot, Jackson should thrive against the Bucs that are surrendering the 27th-most overall yards and nearly 30 points on average per game. Meanwhile, the Ravens defense might just force some turnovers, which could leave Jackson some short-field opportunities.


Dud: Trey Burton, tight end, Chicago Bears

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The old notion that Burton would take on a “Travis Kelce” role in head coach Matt Nagy’s offense needs to be flushed down the toilet for good. Burton had two splashy games this season, but has for the most part delivered coal. He was invisible in Week 13 and last managed two receptions for 22 yards. Burton next faces the Packers whose defense has given up the second-fewest fantasy points to the tight end position. Let that fun fact soak in while Burton plays Mr. Invisible again on Sunday.


Stud: Keenan Allen, wide receiver, Los Angeles Chargers

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This much-anticipated AFC West showdown between the Chargers and the Chiefs should produce tons of studs. In particular, we will spotlight Allen, who has scored in his last five games. The Chiefs are generously surrendering the most passing yards per game in the league. This comes on top of giving away 25 passing touchdowns. All of this leads to quarterback Philip Rivers, as well as Allen, having a huge game as the Chargers attempt to upset the Chiefs in Kansas City.


Dud: Mark Ingram, running back, New Orleans Saints

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Ingram and the Saints have secured first place in the NFC South. But they still have to square off with the Panthers for the first time this season. This puts Ingram against a defense that has given up only eight rushing touchdowns to opposing running backs. Meanwhile, the Panthers have been ultra-generous through the air and have allowed 28 passing touchdowns. This seems better for Alvin Kamara’s outlook, rather than Ingram’s. It is also worth noting that Carolina has yielded the seventh-fewest rushing yards all season.


Stud: David Njoku, tight end, Cleveland Browns

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Njoku has had his ups and downs all season. Though in Week 15, Njoku has a golden opportunity to shine playing against the Broncos. For those who last watched the Broncos defense in action, it absolutely had no answer for San Francisco 49ers tight end George Kittle in Week 14. Kittle sliced and diced Denver, catching 7-of-9 targets for 210 yards and one amazing 85-yard touchdown (watch here). If Njoku and quarterback Baker Mayfield can get a similar rhythm going, watch out Denver.


Dud: Stephon Gilmore, cornerback, New England Patriots

Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Gilmore last got burned multiple times when the Patriots surprisingly fell in Miami to the Dolphins. And another tough road matchup is on tap for Gilmore when the Patriots head to Pittsburgh. Gilmore and New England’s secondary are going to be very challenged containing the likes of Antonio Brown and JuJu Smith-Schuster. The latter just had himself a heck of a game when after he turned eight catches into 130 yards and two touchdowns against the Raiders. At the very least, Gilmore will have his hands very full trying to corral Pittsburgh’s offense.


Stud: Doug Martin, running back, Oakland Raiders

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The Raiders aren’t going away from the season without a fight. Martin and Co. just served as big spoilers, handing an embarrassing loss to Pittsburgh. Next, Martin and the Raiders will attempt to notch Win No. 4 in Cincinnati. Martin will face a Bengals defense that has allowed the most rushing yards on average per game (148.1) to date. And with the Bengals perhaps playing from behind, Martin should be plenty involved in the Raiders controlling the clock.


Dud: Davante Adams, wide receiver, Green Bay Packers

Davante Adams

Mark J. Rebilas, USA Today Sports

As the Packers fight to salvage a poor season, things won’t be easy when Adams and his team head to Chicago to take on the Bears. The Bears undoubtedly boast the best defense in the league and just annihilated what is normally a stellar Rams offense. Quarterback Aaron Rodgers faces a tough test and the Bears secondary should do an excellent job in smothering Adams in coverage. If Adams comes out on the winning side with one of his 100-plus yard games and a touchdown, then color us wrong.


Stud: Cam Newton, quarterback, Carolina Panthers

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To help wind down a struggling season on a high note, Newton at least has a favorable clash in New Orleans playing the Saints. On the season, the Saints have given up 24 passing touchdowns on top of four quarterback rushing scores. We know Newton often takes care of business on the ground himself, so this matchup is ideal for him. Plus, the Saints rank 28th in the most passing yards permitted per game. Win or lose, Newton should add some substantial yardage and points to his stat line.


Dud: Derwin James, safety, Los Angeles Chargers

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This rookie first-rounder has been quite the gem in the Chargers secondary. But this much-anticipated AFC West battle against the Chiefs will put James’ talents to the test. Trying to slow down tight end Travis Kelce will be no easy task. At 6-foot-5 and 260 pounds, Kelce is quarterback Patrick Mahomes’ go-to man. As of late, this has especially been the case. Over his past three games, Kelce has been nearly unstoppable after recording 29 catches for 372 yards and four touchdowns. James is really going to have to give it his all to attempt to squash the Chiefs.


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