Philip Rivers

NFL Week 15: A Thursday Shocker and Playoff Implication Time

By Scott Taylor and Dave Petrishen

TAMPA, Fla. – Thursday Night Football is finished for another season and what a way to go out. Thursday night in Denver, the San Diego Chargers brought good Philip Rivers to town and beat the heavily favored Denver Broncos 27-20,

“I’d say we didn’t have our best stuff tonight,” Broncos coach John Fox told the Associated Press. “I think I’d agree with that. They obviously did a better job getting ready on the short week than we did.”

Philip Rivers looked good for the second straight week.

Philip Rivers looked good for the second straight week.

Interesting stuff in this game: The Broncos offense failed to score at least 25 points for the first time in 19 games so rather than move closer to clinching the AFC West title and the No. 1 seed in the AFC playoffs, the Broncos’ fell to 11-3 and now Kansas City and New England (a team that gets more officiating calls in their favor than all other teams combined) are 10-3 entering road games Sunday. Denver must win out to guarantee the No. 1 seed but now New England holds the tiebreaker.

Frankly, the Broncos were horrid on Thursday night. They ran only 53 offensive plays. They had more three-and-outs than Christian Ponder.

So this week, our fearless prognosticators head into Week 15, already down 0-1 (Dr. Football did win against the spread), but there is plenty of time to pick it up. There are 15 games on Sunday and Monday and both of our great football minds are coming off big weeks in Week 14.

Last week The Doc was 11-5 (135-73) straight up and 8-8 (101-107) against the spread while The Coach went 12-4 (137-71) straight up and 11-5 (111-97) against the spread.

The week, Dr. Football provides the legitimate commentary while The Coach sings show tunes and tries to figure out all of this week’s 674 different playoff scenarios.

SUNDAY AFTERNOON

Kirk Cousins will start this week for Washington.

Kirk Cousins will start this week for Washington.

Washington Redskins (3-10) at Atlanta Falcons (3-10) 
Line: Falcons by 6.5.

RGIII has been demoted to the number 3 status QB and Kirk Cousins will get the start. There may be a surprise element there, but the Redskins won’t win, but Atlanta won’t cover the spread. The Coach says: This is a nose holder

The Doc: TAKE THE FALCONS TO WIN BUT NOT COVER.

The Coach: TAKE THE FALCONS TO WIN AND COVER.

San Francisco 49ers (9-4) at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (4-9) 
Line: 49ers by 5.

Tampa Bay is much improved from the beginning of the year, having won four of five, but none of those games have come against teams that are any good. And as we saw last week against Seattle, San Francisco is good…very good. The Coach says: San Francisco should win, but I really like Tampa. They have nothing to play for and they’re playing with that relaxed knowledge that nothing that they do really matters. You can win a lot of games you shouldn’t with that attitude.

The Doc: TAKE THE 49ers TO WIN AND COVER.

The Coach: TAKE THE 49ers TO WIN AND COVER.

Seattle Seahawks (11-2) at New York Giants (5-8) 
Line: Seahawks by 7.

Eli Manning vs. the best secondary in the league? Good grief. The Coach says: Move along, there is nothing to see here.

The Doc: TAKE THE SEAHAWKS TO WIN AND COVER.

The Coach: TAKE THE SEAHAWKS TO WIN AND COVER.

Jay Cutler gets the start for the Bears.

Jay Cutler gets the start for the Bears.

Chicago Bears (7-6) at Cleveland Browns (4-9) 
Line: Bears by 2.5

The Bears were very impressive on Monday against the Cowboys and may have Jay Cutler back, but the question is why do they need him. Josh McCown’s been getting the job done, and is currently the NFL’s third ranked passer. The Bears offense is actually better without Cutler. The Browns have dropped four straight, but their defense is much better than what the Cowboys provided on Monday. I think Jay Cutler’s return will spell doom for the Bears. The Coach says: This game provides us with one of the three potentially biggest losses of the week. If the Bears lose this one it will be devastating.

The Doc: TAKE THE BROWNS IN AN UPSET.

The Coach: TAKE THE BEARS TO WIN AND COVER.

Houston Texans (2-11) at Indianapolis Colts (8-5) 
Line: Colts by 5.5.

The Colts may be struggling as of late, but there is no team in all of football in more of a mess than the Texans. The Coach says: The Colts are AFC champs for a reason.

The Doc: TAKE THE COLTS TO WIN AND COVER.

The Coach: TAKE THE COLTS TO WIN AND COVER.

Buffalo Bills (4-9) at Jacksonville Jaguars (4-9) 
Line: Bills by 2.

Curious spread. The Jaguars have won four of their last five and are at home. The Bills are also playing their second consecutive road game, and they were horrible last week in Tampa Bay. The Coach says: Question of the Week: How the hell are the Bills favored.

The Doc: TAKE THE JAGUARS IN AN UPSET.

The Coach: TAKE THE JAGUARS TO WIN AND COVER.

Ryan Tannehill. Biggest game of the season for the Dolphins.

Ryan Tannehill. Biggest game of the season for the Dolphins.

New England Patriots (10-3) at Miami Dolphins (7-6) 
Line: Patriots by 2.5.

The Patriots have already beaten the Dolphins this season, and that’s before Tom Brady got on the same page with his receivers. But now he’s without Rob Gronkowski again. The Dolphins are playing for their playoff lives, but the Patriots at home are too tough. The Coach says: You get the sense sometimes that if the Pats are trailing late in the game, Bill Belichick just needs to call the league and they give him a couple of huge calls. He’ll need it this week.

The Doc: TAKE THE PATRIOTS TO WIN AND COVER.

The Coach: TAKE THE DOLPHINS TO WIN.

Philadelphia Eagles (8-5) at Minnesota Vikings (3-9-1) 
Line: Eagles by 4.5.

Adrian Peterson is hobbling, but even healthy he can’t do it all himself. The NFC East leading Eagles and Nick Foles will expose Minnesota’s terrible defense once again. There is some magic at home for the Vikings as we saw a few weeks back against the Bears, but not enough against a very good Eagles team. Make it six straight for Philadelphia. The Coach says: Just fire Leslie Frazier.

The Doc: TAKE THE EAGLES TO WIN BUT NOT COVER.

The Coach: TAKE THE EAGLES TO WIN AND COVER.

New York Jets (6-7) at Carolina Panthers (9-4) 
Line: Panthers by 11.

The Jets were able to score points off of Oakland turnovers and a strong running game. That won’t likely be the case against the Panthers, who sport the best rushing defense in the NFL. I see this game as a “tune up” for next week’s rematch against the Saints, one this time they’ll host. The Coach says: Cam Newton should have some fun.

The Doc: TAKE THE PANTHERS TO WIN AND COVER.

The Coach: TAKE THE PANTHERS TO WIN AND COVER.

Alex Smith just keeps winning

Alex Smith just keeps winning

Kansas City Chiefs (10-3) at Oakland Raiders (4-9) 
Line: Chiefs by 5.

Nothing to cure what ails you than a game against the Raiders, just ask the Jets. The Chiefs got their game back last week in Washington, and I think they’ll keep their foot on the gas right until January. The Coach says: This used to be such a wonderful late-season match-up. Then again, so was Vikings-Packers once.

The Doc: TAKE THE CHIEFS TO WIN AND COVER.

The Coach: TAKE THE CHIEFS TO WIN AND COVER.

Arizona Cardinals (8-5) at Tennessee Titans (5-8) 
Line: Cardinals by 2.5.

The Cardinals are fighting for the final NFC wild card spot having lost only once since Week 7, while the Titans have only managed to win twice since September. The Cardinals have a great defense especially against the run, which will keep the Titans Chris Johnson in check. The Coach says: This is the week Arizona has to demonstrate it’s for real.

The Doc: TAKE THE CARDINALS TO WIN AND COVER.

The Coach: TAKE THE CARDINALS TO WIN AND COVER.

New Orleans Saints (10-3) at St. Louis Rams (5-8) 
Line: Saints by 6.

The Rams play pretty tough against the pass, which will slow things down for Drew Brees and company; in fact they are a very different team on the road at 3-3. No team in the NFL has a worse record against the spread on the road than the Saints, so I think the Rams will keep it closer than expected. The Coach says: This won’t be a blowout, but the Saints will win by a touchdown.

The Doc: TAKE THE SAINTS TO WIN BUT NOT COVER.

The Coach: TAKE THE SAINTS TO WIN AND COVER.

Tony Romo: Season in the balance.

Tony Romo: Season in the balance.

Green Bay Packers (6-6-1) at Dallas Cowboys (7-6) 
Line: Cowboys by 7

The Cowboys ran into a brick wall on Monday in Chicago, and will look to rebound against the Aaron Rodgers-less Packers. Think Thanksgiving all over again for Green Bay. The Coach says: No Aaron Rodgers, no hope in Green Bay.

The Doc: TAKE THE COWBOYS TO WIN AND COVER.

The Coach: TAKE THE COWBOYS TO WIN AND COVER.

SUNDAY NIGHT

Cincinnati Bengals (9-4) at Pittsburgh Steelers (5-8) 
Line: Bengals by 3.

Although the Bengals have proved to be the better team so far this season, there is still a lot of fight left in the Steelers despite their loss last week at home against Miami. I can’t figure them out. One thing I can figure out is that the Bengals are much better than the Dolphins, and need this win to take the next step. The Coach says: Huge road game for the Bengals

The Doc: TAKE THE BENGALS TO WIN AND COVER.

The Coach: TAKE THE BENGALS TO WIN AND COVER.

MONDAY NIGHT

Baltimore Ravens (7-6) at Detroit Lions (7-6) 
Line: Lions by 6.

The Lions are a great team at home, while the Ravens only have one win away from Baltimore. Expect Matthew Stafford and Calvin Johnson both to have a big game. The Coach says: This will be a gigantic loss for either team.

The Doc: TAKE THE LIONS TO WIN AND COVER.

The Coach: TAKE THE LIONS TO WIN AND COVER.

Matthew Stafford, another big week at home.

Matthew Stafford, another big week at home.

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