The New Orleans Saints seemed completely lost in Week 13, this week they face their divisional rival in the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Tampa stands within striking distance of Atlanta in the NFC South race, while New Orleans is all but mathematically eliminated from playoff contention at the moment. Although hope seems lost, faint hope is really all that is left at this point.
Just like the previous two seasons, the Saints are on track for another familiar 7-9 campaign. That being said, another familiar trend we've seen in recent seasons is the Saints playing well in Tampa and leaving there with victories, so let's hope that trend stays true. Let's take a look at all of the intriguing matchups in the league this week as we enter the final stretch of the 2015 NFL season.
Last week I went 8-7
I told you so: Ravens over Dolphins!
What do I know: Jets over Colts?
Thursday, December 8th - Thursday Night Football
For some reason, Kansas City just has Oakland's number at Arrowhead Stadium, and in the biggest game of the season for both teams, KC will have the advantage again. The Chiefs will use the ground game to punish and wear down the suspect Raiders defense while keeping the dynamic Oakland offense on the sidelines. A bad turnover or two by Oakland will keep the score just barely out of reach and secure victory for the home team Kansas City wins 27-17.
Sunday, December 11th - Early Games
Buffalo's top-ranked rushing attack will keep this game close throughout, but Ben Roethlisberger and the Pittsburgh offense will make the big plays in the end to secure victory in snowy Buffalo. Pittsburgh wins 33-30.
Denver's defense will clamp down on the Tennessee offense in the Nashville rain. Denver wins 30-22.
Redskins(6-5-1) at Eagles(5-7)
Washington's offensive balance will be too much for Philadelphia to overcome in this pivotal divisional matchup. Washington wins 32-24.
Cardinals(5-6-1) at Dolphins(7-5)
Arizona's 2nd ranked defense will be the difference in this one, taking away Miami's rushing attack and forcing Ryan Tannehill to win the game, which he will not. Arizona wins 27-17.
This will be a defensive battle throughout, until Minnesota pulls away by forcing Jacksonville's offense into turnovers. Minnesota wins 28-17.
In what could almost be considered an AFC South title elimination game, Indy will pull out a huge win over Houston late. Indianapolis wins 24-21.
Chargers(5-7) at Panthers(4-8)
Philip Rivers returns to his old college stomping grounds where he will stomp the toothless Carolina defense. The Panthers will roll over to the Chargers at home in this one. San Diego wins 21-16.
Bengals(4-7-1) at Browns(0-12)
Cincinnati's offense will have a field day against the hopeless Browns in Cleveland. Cincinnati wins 37-7.
Upset Alert! Chicago will stun the Lions in Detroit behind another inspired effort by Matt Barkley and Jordan Howard on offense. Chicago's defense will also have a big game against Matthew Stafford and the Lions offense. In the end, Detroit will miss a huge game-tying field goal, to ensure victory for the visiting Bears. Chicago wins 27-24.
Sunday, December 11th - Late Games
The Jets will pick up their easiest win of their terrible season in the Bay Area. Jets win 27-12.
The Matt Ryan/Julio Jones connection will have a monster day in Los Angeles. Atlanta wins 32-20.
Seahawks(8-3-1) at Packers(6-6)
This game will come down to defense and patient quarterback play, advantage Seahawks. Seattle wins 24-19.
Saints(5-7) at Buccaneers(7-5)
The Saints top-ranked offense can take advantage of the familiar Tampa defense in this one. Although all of the attention has gone to Brandin Cooks and Michael Thomas recently, it will be Willie Snead that emerges as the star of the Saints offense in this matchup. Like most road contests for the Saints, this one will not be high-scoring, but thanks to a big effort by the Saints defense, that won't matter as much. The Saints will win in Tampa once again, and keep things interesting, if only for another week or two. Saints win 24-20.
Sunday Night Football
Upset Alert! Dallas has been as confident as any team in the NFL this season, and rightfully so, but here they'll run into an opponent who knows them as well as any team in the NFL. The Eli Manning/Odell Beckham Jr. connection will have a big game at home against the Cowboys, while Ezekiel Elliott will be the big star for Dallas. Ultimately, the Giants will benefit from an inspired performance from their defense backed by an inspired home crowd, ending Dallas' 11 game win streak. Giants win 26-22.
Monday, December 12th - Monday Night Football
Ravens(7-5) at Patriots(10-2) - Game of the Week
Upset Alert! Baltimore's top-ranked defense will be key in this surprising win over the Patriots in New England. In a tight, back and forth game, it will come down to Justin Tucker knocking the game-winner through the uprights for the visiting Ravens. Baltimore wins 26-23.
There it is, Week 14 of the NFL season. Maybe the Saints can end this cycle of painful familiarity we have been trapped in for three seasons now. Leave us your picks, comments, and insight below.