Week 15 is crunch time for NFL teams looking to make their push to the playoff or to get home field advantage and there are a few key games that should be very competitive and go a long way toward deciding team’s fate. This week also marks the first week with two Saturday games which cuts down on the Sunday main slate a little bit but give us a little two-game appetizer to get in some DFS action for the Saturday slate.
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Note: DVOA referenced in this article stands for Defense-adjusted Value Over Average which is a metric from FootballOutsiders.com.
So, let’s get right to the numbers and analysis…
Denver Broncos @ Indianapolis Colts
The Broncos finally got back in the win column last week with a shutout victory over the Jets. They will travel to Indy on a short week to face the Colts. The Colts have been shredded by opposing QBs over the course of the season ranking 30th DVOA while allowing 263 passing yards (29th) per game. However, they have been better recently allowing just 197 passing yards (2nd) over the last five weeks. The Broncos passing attack will have Trevor Siemian under center again but he has only managed 200 passing yards in each of the last two weeks. The positive for the Broncos passing game is that the targets are condensed with Demaryius Thomas consuming 12 out of 31 attempts last week. Emmanuel Sanders has been battling through injuries this season and on a short week, I have a hard time believing he will be healthy enough to be productive on the turf. The running game saw CJ Anderson take over the bulk of the carries last week but he was very unproductive with them (2.2 YPC) and we have seen the RB carries shift on a dime before so they are all too hard to trust even in a decent matchup.
The Colts will welcome the indoors this week as they return home after losing in overtime to the Bills in Snowmageddon last week. While the Broncos have allowed a lot of touchdown passes this season with an average of two per game (30th) their overall pass defense has still been solid allowing just 203 passing yards (2nd) per game. Jacoby Brissett will need to get a big play from TY Hilton in order to have a successful day making Hilton a decent GPP option but not much else. With Frank Gore piling up 36 carries in the snow on Sunday, the Colts may give a few extra carries to Marlon Mack on a short week. Mack has some big-play ability of his own but the Broncos have been stout against the run this season allowing just 3.37 YPC (3rd).
- Demaryius Thomas (**)
- TY Hilton (*)
Chicago Bears @ Detroit Lions
The Bears are coming off a convincing win over the Bengals in Cincy last week to snap their five-game losing streak and will travel to Detroit to face the division-rival Lions on Saturday. The Bears strength plays right into the Lions weakness this week as the Lions run defense ranks 28th DVOA and has allowed 125 rushing yards (29th) and 1.4 TDs (31st) over the last five weeks. Jordan Howard and to a lesser extent, Tarik Cohen should have a good day on the ground. The passing game behind QB Mitch Trubisky will be another story as the Lions have been average against the pass (16th DVOA) but the Bears will continue to hide Trubisky and his 180 passing yards per game (32nd) for as long as they can on the road. The Bears defense could be an option on the Saturday slate as the Lions have allowed 2.6 sacks (21st) and two turnovers (27th) per game over the last five weeks.
After a win against the Bucs last week, the Lions are still in the playoff hunt in the NFC but will need to keep winning. As an exact opposite of the Bears, the Lions’ offense is at its best when Matthew Stafford drops back and takes to the air, ranking 3rd in passing yards and 6th in TD passes per game this season. The Bears’ pass defense is decent ranking in the middle of the pack in most categories. The Lions will primarily feed their WRs Marvin Jones and Golden Tate but I’d prefer Jones who has more TD upside. Also don’t be afraid to fire up Kenny Golladay in a GPP as he has big-play potential and could be in for a breakout game. The Lions’ running game can be ignored regardless of the status of Ameer Abdullah. Matt Prater is a strong kicking option at home against a Bears’ team that has allowed 2.4 field goal attempts (26th) per game over the last five weeks.
- Jordan Howard (**)
- Tarik Cohen (*)
- Bears defense (*)
- Matthew Stafford (*)
- Marvin Jones (**)
- Golden Tate (*)
- Kenny Golladay (*)
Los Angeles Chargers @ Kansas City Chiefs
|Los Angeles Chargers||55||55||75||52||59||48||53||55||-1|
|Kansas City Chiefs||46||50||30||39||25||62||30||44||46|
The Chargers continued their late-season push with their fourth straight win last week over the Redskins setting up a battle for first place in the AFC West against the Chiefs on Saturday night in KC. Philip Rivers has thrown for over 300 yards in three straight games and will face a Chiefs’ pass defense that ranks 21st DVOA and has allowed 259 passing yards per game (27th) this season. They have cut down on the TD passes over the last five weeks allowing just 0.8 (1st) per game. They have been especially stingy against TEs in the red zone allowing just two TDs to opposing TEs this season. This could limit Hunter Henry’s upside and funnel more of the passing offense to the WRs where Keenan Allen has been red-hot with four straight games over 100 yards with a total of four scores and has a good individual matchup working out of the slot. Melvin Gordon and the Chargers’ running game should have some success against the Chiefs’ 31st DVOA ranked run defense that has allowed 103 yards (26th) and 0.85 TDs (26th) to opposing RBs this season.
The Chiefs finally broke back into the win column last week against the Raiders after losing four straight games. They will have another key divisional matchup against the Chargers in a battle for first place. The Chiefs will need to hope that RB Kareem Hunt can continue to produce like he did last week (138 total yards and a score) as the Chargers are more vulnerable to the run this season ranking 26th DVOA (compared to 6th DVOA against the pass). As long as the Chiefs can work with the lead or stay close he should get enough carries to be productive as the Chargers have allowed 4.62 YPC (30th) to opposing RBs this season. Alex Smith and the passing game could have some problem, however, as the Chargers have allowed just 217 passing yards (3rd) and 1.1 TDs (5th) per game this season. Travis Kelce has the best matchup of all Chiefs pass catchers as the Chargers’ rank just 18th DVOA against TEs.
- Philip Rivers (**)
- Keenan Allen (***)
- Melvin Gordon (*)
- Kareem Hunt (*)
- Travis Kelce (**)