Bing Predicts NFL Week 15
Week 14 tested the NFL's elite and provided multiple improbable finishes, further muddying the playoff picture and building excitement over the season's final three games. The Los Angeles Rams, New England Patriots, Houston Texans, and Pittsburgh Steelers were all upset, whereas the New Orleans Saints struggled to put away the Buccaneers until a late-game surge, and the Kansas City Chiefs needed overtime to take down the Baltimore Ravens at home.
The postseason may look a lot more clear after Week 15—as many as seven of the eight divisions could have a champion crowned—but if we've learned anything this season, it's to expect the unexpected.
Here's a look at some important Week 15 matchups:
—Chargers @ Chiefs: Yet again, this is another pivotal Thursday night affair. This game will go a long way in deciding the AFC West and the #1 overall seed on that side of the bracket.
—Cowboys @ Colts: Are the Cowboys legitimate Super Bowl contenders? The Colts will try to prove otherwise as they fight to keep their season alive.
—Packers @ Bears: This is the NFL's oldest rivalry. A win and the Bears are in the playoffs, but the Packers won't go down without a fight as they have three games to sneak their way into the postseason under interim head coach Joe Philbin.
—Patriots @ Steelers: These two teams are looking to bounce back from heart-wrenching losses last week and secure their positions in the AFC playoffs.
Guiding you through every game is Bing Predicts, which leverages search, social, and historical statistics to forecast the week's winners and losers. Read on for Week 15 predictions.
ALSO: See how Bing predicted the entire season here.
Los Angeles Chargers (10-3) @ Kansas City Chiefs (11-2)
Game time: Thursday, Dec. 13, 8:20 p.m. EST
Historical matchup: Kansas City Chiefs lead series 61-55-1
This week's Thursday night matchup is a good candidate for game of the week. A victory for the Chargers brings their record even with the Chiefs, clinches a playoff berth, and gives them a shot at the #1 overall seed in the AFC. The Chiefs have already punched their postseason ticket, but a victory clinches the the AFC West as they've already taken down Los Angeles once this season.
While it would take a major collapse to keep the Chargers from playing in January, home field advantage is on the line. Kansas City and L.A. hold the top two records in the AFC, but if the Chargers lose, they can only finish as high as the fifth seed.
Patrick Mahomes II remained magic on Sunday, making other-wordly throws and continuing to defy what we thought was possible from the quarterback position. He sits atop the NFL rankings in passing yards (4,300) and touchdowns (43) this season, and he's making it look easy. The Chargers' Philip Rivers is having a remarkable season as well. He's pacing for the best quarterback rating of his career: His quarterback rating is currently at 114.5, and his 29-to-6 touchdown-to-interception ratio is the best of his career.
The Chiefs have not been an easy opponent for the Chargers in recent years. The Chargers have lost the last nine matchups.
Bing Predicts: Kansas City Chiefs
Bing Predicts Winner: Kansas City Chiefs (60% chance)
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Houston Texans (9-4) @ New York Jets (4-9)
Game time: Saturday, Dec. 15, 4:30 p.m. EST
Historical matchup: New York Jets lead series 5-2-0
The Houston Texans saw their league-high, nine-game winning streak come to an end after falling to the Indianapolis Colts 24-21, stifled by their inconsistent performance on offense. With a win last week, the Texans could have capitalized on the New England Patriots' last-second loss to the Miami Dolphins and moved into the #2 overall seed in the AFC. However, Houston can still take home an AFC South title in Week 15 with a victory over the New York Jets and a Colts' loss to the Dallas Cowboys.
The Jets halted their six-game losing streak with a 27-23 victory over the Buffalo Bills. They aren't officially eliminated from the postseason, but one more loss will serve as the final nail in the coffin. Rookie quarterback Sam Darnold did just enough to best fellow 2018 first-round quarterback Josh Allen: Darnold was 16-of-24 and orchestrated a fourth-quarter comeback capped by a game-winning touchdown run from running back Elijah McGuire. Darnold had missed the previous three games with a foot injury.
The Texans will need to play better on offense than they did last week, but don't expect the Jets to play spoiler.
Bing Predicts: Houston Texans
Bing Predicts Winner: Houston Texans (73% chance)
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Cleveland Browns (5-7-1) @ Denver Broncos (6-7)
Game time: Saturday, Dec. 15, 8:20 p.m. EST
Historical matchup: Denver Broncos lead series 23-5-0
The Cleveland Browns look like a totally rejuvenated football team after the firing of former head coach Hue Jackson. It took Cleveland just five games to win as many times—three—under interim head coach Gregg Williams as it did in the 40 games Jackson was at the helm. It appears the Browns have found their quarterback of the future in Baker Mayfield. He helped pull off a 26-20 upset over the reeling Carolina Panthers on Sunday. Mayfield has thrown at least one touchdown in each of his last 10 games.
The Broncos suffered a major blow to their playoff chances after their 20-14 loss to the San Francisco 49ers. It ended a three-game winning streak and dropped the team to below .500 with only three games remaining. With one AFC wild-card spot essentially locked up by either the Chiefs or the Chargers, the Broncos will need to leap four teams in the final three games to secure the sixth seed, which seems unlikely.
These teams don't battle often, but the Browns haven't taken down the Broncos since 1990 and are losers of 11-straight in head-to-head matchups. With momentum and a playoff pipedream on the Browns' minds, that losing streak could end in Denver.
Bing Predicts: Denver Broncos
Bing Predicts Winner: Denver Broncos (57% chance)
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Arizona Cardinals (3-10) @ Atlanta Falcons (4-9)
Game time: Sunday, Dec. 16, 1 p.m. EST
Historical matchup: Arizona Cardinals lead series 16-14-0
In a week chock-full of important games with major playoff implications, this is certainly one that can and probably should be avoided. The Atlanta Falcons have been one of the major disappointments in the NFL this season. Their 34-20 loss to the Green Bay Packers was their fifth straight loss. Despite impressive numbers put up by former MVP Matt Ryan and five-time Pro Bowler Julio Jones, the Falcons have glaring holes that need to be addressed. The team is now guaranteed a sub-.500 record for the first time since 2014.
The Cardinals weren't expected to contend this year, and they have not. Their 3-10 record has them tied for worst in the NFL, and Arizona has the worst offensive output of all 32 teams.
Both squads are looking to 2019 at this point, hoping to right the ship as much as possible over these final three games of the season.
Bing Predicts: Atlanta Falcons
Bing Predicts Winner: Atlanta Falcons (70% chance)
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Tennessee Titans (7-6) @ New York Giants (5-8)
Game time: Sunday, Dec. 16, 1 p.m. EST
Historical matchup: New York Giants lead series 6-5-0
As it currently stands, the Titans, along with the Dolphins, Ravens, and Colts, sit tied at 7-6, all vying for the last wild-card spot in the AFC. Tennessee is playing with extra rest after their 30-9 Thursday night rout of the Jacksonville Jaguars. Running back Derrick Henry had a career day, rushing for 238 yards and four touchdowns including a 99-yard record-tying score. Their victory kept them in playoff contention, but a victory over the surging New York Giants is critical in either leaping the three aforementioned wild-card contenders or, at the very least, keeping pace.
The Giants are playing like a completely different team in the second half of the season. After starting 1-7, New York has won four of five since its bye and looks like a squad that could contend for a postseason berth if it weren't for their abysmal start. With their 40-16 blowout victory over the Washington Redskins, the Giants are playing as well as they have all season. Running back Saquon Barkley looks like the clear rookie of the year. Barkley is currently #3 in the league among all running backs in rushing yards and added a career-high 170 yards on Sunday.
At this stage of the season, all the Giants can do is play spoiler, which the Titans cannot afford this week.
Bing Predicts: New York Giants
Bing Predicts Winner: New York Giants (53% chance)
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