U.S. Markets open in 8 hrs 31 mins

Week 15 NFL picks straight up: Seahawks overtake Rams; Panthers edge Packers

Our Week 15 NFL picks and predictions feature lead changes in both West divisions, as both the Los Angeles Chargers and Seattle get massive wins over division rivals.

The NFL has done nothing better this season than to promise a lot, then deliver little. But most fans love December games between good-to-great teams with heavy playoff implications, particularly on national TV. This year, that’s what they get.

Patriots at Steelers, Chargers at Chiefs and Rams at Seahawks are as good as it gets in Week 15 of the regular season. And thankfully, some lucky fans will get a juicy early game to occupy the day until Patriots-Steelers kicks off: Packers at Panthers, Cam Newton against Aaron Rodgers.

The less you have to think about the Eagles starting Nick Foles in a pivotal, late-season game instead of Carson Wentz, the better.

MORE: Week 15 NFL picks against the spread

Week 15 NFL picks, predictions

(All times ET)

MORE: Watch NFL in U.S. live and on-demand with fuboTV (7-day trial)

Green Bay Packers (7-6) at Carolina Panthers (9-4)

Sunday, 1 p.m., Fox

Before the celebration of Rodgers’ return gets fully underway, a hand for Brett Hundley, whose fill-in duties ended with two straight overtime wins and an excellent performance in a narrow loss in Pittsburgh. Meanwhile, a hand for Newton, who followed up a disappointment in New Orleans with a clutch game against the Vikings. The Panthers are running quite a gauntlet down the stretch; if they make the playoffs, they will have earned it.

Prediction: Panthers, 27-25


WEEK 15: Playoff picture | Clinching scenarios

Houston Texans (4-9) at Jacksonville Jaguars (9-4)

Sunday, 1 p.m., Fox

The Jaguars got deep under the Seahawks’ skin last week, took an emotional victory, talked their talk afterward … and now face a classic trap game. These milestone moments come fast for teams in mid-construction. They get the Texans team against which they started this whole rampage on opening day, when they sacked Tom Savage six times in one half, got him benched in favor of Deshaun Watson and crushed them 29-7 in Houston. Jacksonville cannot afford to overlook this. (Actually, the Jags probably can, but they shouldn't.)

Prediction: Jaguars, 19-10


Baltimore Ravens (7-6) at Cleveland Browns (0-13)

Sunday, 1 p.m., CBS

This will not be the one for the Browns. Yes, they had a 14-point fourth-quarter lead on the Packers, but they haven’t shown they’re built to keep doing that. The Ravens' defense, which got shredded by the Steelers last week, will have some issues covering Josh Gordon, but as long as they get to DeShone Kizer enough (as they did in their previous game in Baltimore), they’ll be fine.

Prediction: Ravens, 20-12


Miami Dolphins (6-7) at Buffalo Bills (7-6)

Sunday, 1 p.m., CBS

The Dolphins are coming off a win over the Patriots in which Jay Cutler played his best game all season. They also are coming off a win over the Bills late last season that ended a four-game losing streak in Buffalo, and they won that with Matt Moore filling in for Ryan Tannehill. Tyrod Taylor couldn't make it back from his knee injury in time to play in the blizzard last week. Nathan Peterman was knocked out of that game with a concussion. The signs for the Bills have been better.

Prediction: Dolphins, 26-20


Cincinnati Bengals (5-8) at Minnesota Vikings (10-3)

Sunday, 1 p.m., CBS

Counting the number of times it's been said, "This debacle has got to be the end for Marvin Lewis," is a game in itself. It’s been said the last two weeks, after the flag-filled, blown-lead loss to the Steelers, and after they got run out of their own stadium by the Bears. The odds of them putting up a fight at this point, against a Vikings team with a home-field Super Bowl in its sights, are extremely long.

Prediction: Vikings, 31-13


Arizona Cardinals (6-7) at Washington Redskins (5-8)

Sunday, 1 p.m., Fox

Bruce Arians deserves credit for keeping these Cardinals in the hunt, massaging two wins in four starts out of Blaine Gabbert, against the Jaguars and Titans in the middle of their own playoff runs. Washington, meanwhile, tapped out early in LA against the Chargers and immediately started questioning themselves and each other, coaches and players alike. If the Cardinals catch a good museum or two while in town (the National Museum of African American History and Culture is a revelation) and don’t get anyone hurt, it’ll be a worthwhile trip.

Prediction: Cardinals, 27-13


Philadelphia Eagles (11-2) at New York Giants (2-11)

Sunday, 1 p.m., Fox

How the Eagles really maintain what they’ve accomplished this season without Carson Wentz will always be a challenge. It just won’t be noticeable against the Giants, who are terrible by every possible measurement. Their first meeting in Week 3 could have altered the fates of both teams — the Giants screwed up a handful of opportunities late, then the Eagles won on a final-play, 61-yard field goal. They’ll continue on those paths.

Prediction: Eagles, 28-16


New York Jets (5-8) at New Orleans Saints (9-4)

Sunday, 1 p.m., CBS

The Saints have had a long time to think about how they let Thursday’s game against the Falcons get away from them. Their lives would be so much easier this week, facing a Jets team that just lost to a Broncos team that hadn’t won in two months, and one that’s going to play Bryce Petty. The Saints play the Falcons in the Superdome next week. They have to maintain that cushion until then.

Prediction: Saints, 24-10


Los Angeles Rams (9-4) at Seattle Seahawks (8-5)

Sunday, 4:05 p.m., Fox

The Rams would be justified in being salty about the Seahawks not missing any players after that kneel-down disgrace in Jacksonville. They’re likely even saltier about losing in October at home to a Seahawks team that was really struggling. A Seahawks win would put them in a tie for the NFC West lead, with the tiebreaker. If they do win the division, despite all the injuries and the excess of knuckleheads, Russell Wilson has to be the MVP.

Prediction: Seahawks, 24-19


MORE: Seahawks' playoff chances at crossroads

New England Patriots (10-3) at Pittsburgh Steelers (11-2)

Sunday, 4:25 p.m., CBS

Speaking of the MVP award, Rob Gronkowski has to be a candidate now, right, seeing how constricted the Patriots offense looked without him against the Dolphins? Of course, in a just world, he'd be suspended for this game, too, after what he did. But he's not, so that’s a problem for a Steelers defense that struggled to slow down the Ravens. Meanwhile, the Patriots defense that was riding a bend-don’t-break rep into the Dolphins game broke a lot that night. And the Dolphins don’t have Antonio Brown or Le’Veon Bell.

Prediction: Steelers, 31-29


Tennessee Titans (8-5) at San Francisco 49ers (3-10)

Sunday, 4:25 p.m., CBS

The Titans are a game back in the AFC South even though pretty much nobody is playing well for them, except maybe Jurrell Casey and Brian Orakpo. Definitely not Marcus Mariota, who has thrown three touchdowns and eight interceptions in his last four games. The 49ers are 2-0 with Jimmy Garoppolo starting. Important distinction, though: Garoppolo playing well and the 49ers winning does not make the 49ers good.

Prediction: Titans, 17-14


Dallas Cowboys (7-6) at Oakland Raiders (6-7)

Sunday, 8:30 p.m., NBC

The Raiders have fallen flat twice in a four-game span, trailing 30-0 in the fourth quarter against the Patriots and 26-0 in the fourth against the Chiefs last week. Derek Carr might still be hurt — he did, after all, break bones in his back earlier this season and only missed one game — or he’s completely lost his rhythm. The Cowboys have figured out how to move the ball, score and win without Ezekiel Elliott, right as they go into their final game without him.

Prediction: Cowboys, 27-16


Atlanta Falcons (8-5) at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (4-9)

Monday, 8:30 p.m., ESPN

The Dirk Koetter experiment at coach is going to undergo serious scrutiny, at the very least, as the Bucs were eliminated from contention and continued one of the NFL’s most underwhelming seasons. The Falcons keep hinting that they’re back to where they were last year, when they hit 7-5 and didn’t lose again until the Super Bowl. Oh, and when the Falcons and Bucs met last month, Julio Jones had 253 yards receiving.

Prediction: Falcons, 37-24


Denver Broncos (4-9) at Indianapolis Colts (3-10)

Thursday, 8:25 p.m., NBC/NFLN/Amazon Prime | fuboTV

One of the many prime-time games the league had to think would be a ratings bonanza, especially on a Thursday night. Andrew Luck vs. Von Miller and the rest of that Broncos defense … heck yeah! Hell no. The Broncos did end their eight-game losing streak last week, but a short turnaround on the road is hardly a reward. Playing the Colts, though, is sort of a reward.

Prediction: Colts, 23-13

Chicago Bears (4-9) at Detroit Lions (7-6)

Saturday, 4:30 p.m., NFL Network

There were actually rumblings last week that, for the third time in his four seasons in Detroit, Jim Caldwell was "on the hot seat." Being on the fringes of the playoff race isn't great, granted, but it still beats the fringes of the race for the No. 1 pick. The Bears do have a chance to snatch one in Detroit, avoid a sweep and capitalize on pounding the listless Bengals. But the Bears don’t do things like that well, among other things.

Prediction: Lions, 33-10


Los Angeles Chargers (7-6) at Kansas City Chiefs (7-6)

Saturday, 8:25 p.m., NFL Network

A month into the season, these teams' current records and their share of the AFC West lead with three weeks left seemed impossible. The Chargers are on a 7-2 stampede after an 0-4 start, and had the Raiders not laid down last week in Arrowhead, they might be leading the division over the still-shaky Chiefs. Philip Rivers last threw an interception in the overtime loss to the Jaguars; in their four straight wins since, he has thrown for eight touchdowns, no interceptions and 337 yards a game.

Prediction: Chargers, 31-28