This week, as North America (and dozens of countries on other continents) is awash with the new virulent variant of COVID known as Omicron, the NFL has been dealing with its own outbreak, as they average somewhere in the neighbourhood of 30 positive tests per day.
As of this writing, three games have been postponed, as they each involve a team (Cleveland, LA Rams, Washington) that has at least 20 players on the COVID list. The second scheduled Saturday game of the season is now the first, there are four games scheduled AFTER Sunday, and a week that began on Thursday will last AT LEAST until Tuesday.
Welcome to Week Fifteen!
Whoever you are, wherever you are, I hope you are vaxxed and safe. Myself, I don't need my government or anyone else to tell me to lock down, as I have been doing the same things and taking the same precautions for almost two years now.
If you go out, wear a mask, and be careful. If you feel sick, get tested. Don't listen to Fox News, Joe Rogan, Aaron Rodgers, or any other idiots out there. Neither they, nor you, are an expert, nor are you invincible. You are not a horse, and you're not special.
COVID DOESN'T CARE!
Oh, and if you live in Los Angeles, it's not because you're cold, no matter what that moron Joe Buck says.
Week Fifteen Picks
Winners in Bold:
New England at Indianapolis
Well, at least we get to kick off the weekend with a game between two well-matched opponents, with playoff implications for both, and with only one COVID scratch between them. New England is at a slight disadvantage due to RB Damien Harris being ruled Out with a hammy, but rookie Rhamondre Stevenson is a beast, and the Pats have depth at the position. Indy has their own star RB, Johnathan Taylor, who will be the first priority of the Pats defense. This game will likely come down to which QB performs more efficiently and mistake-free. This has all the makings of a good game.
Dallas at New York G
Even with Dallas’s offense struggling somewhat, Mike Glennon vs. Dallas’s defense is too much of a mismatch.
Houston at Jacksonville
A game between a couple of losers, in which winner loses draft position. That’s fitting, somehow. I’m leaning towards Jacksonville, because I suspect that the players and coaches are feeling pretty good since Urban Meyer got canned.
Tennessee at Pittsburgh
Two more teams that have been only mildly afflicted by the recent COVID outbreak (didn’t all the Tennessee players get COVID last season?). Tennessee is still far-removed from fielding their optimum offense, but Pittsburgh’s defense isn’t really all that frightening. I think Tennessee wins a low-scoring slog.
New York J at Miami
With three players on the COVID list, including breakout rookie WR Jaylen Waddle, I’d be worried about Miami’s chances this week if they were playing almost any other team. New York is terrible, banged-up on the OL, and has five players of their own on the COVID list.
Arizona at Detroit
Arizona is dealing with a lot of injuries right now, but they’re playing Detroit, and they’re both bad and loaded with injuries as well.
Carolina at Buffalo
Buffalo can’t afford to take anything for granted at this point. Fortunately for them, Carolina’s offense is so terrible that this game should be a horrible mismatch.
Cincinnati at Denver
Cincy lost a heartbreaker last week in OT, due in no small part to some gutless/nutless coaching. They’re pretty banged-up this week, but so is Denver. I like Joe Burrow more than Teddy Bridgewater in a shootout, which is what this game has the potential to turn into.
Atlanta at San Francisco
The hardest part about picking San Fran games is that I can never be sure about George Kittle’s availability. Healthy, Kittle is the absolute, bar-none, best TE in the league, and the combination of him being the team’s best receiver AND a punishing blocker in the run game makes him utterly indispensable to San Fran’s offensive identity. Right now, he’s healthy.
Green Bay at Baltimore
Everyone seems to be talking about how good Green Bay is right now. Baltimore’s success hinges almost entirely on having a unique, game-wrecking QB (when he’s healthy), and the game’s best kicker (by a country mile). Green Bay should win easily, right? Let’s see.
New Orleans at Tampa
If they remain focused, there is absolutely no way Tampa should lose to a team QBed by Taysom Hill. No way.
Las Vegas at Cleveland
I, and I’m sure many others, have no idea what to make of this game. Vegas looks done. Cleveland, on the other hand, has something like 20 players on the COVID list, including both Baker Mayfield AND Case Keenum, plus several other key players. On top of that, Kareem Hunt is Out with an ankle injury.
Minnesota at Chicago
In case I was tempted to pick Chicago in an upset (I wasn’t), the slew of players Chicago has on the COVID list would have definitely knocked some sense into me.
Seattle at Los Angeles R
Another difficult pick. Postponed until Tuesday; Seattle loaded with injuries and Tyler Lockett on the COVID list; LA with a whopping 23 on the COVID list. If it’s up to the QBs to win this with little help, I don’t know how you pick against Russell Wilson.
Washington at Philadelphia
Another game postponed until Tuesday. Philly’s frisky rushing attack vs. Washington’s 23 players on the COVID list seems like a no-brainer to me.