FOX Sports South walks the plank of potential embarrassment by chronicling seven bold predictions for NFL Week 15 -- traditionally the second week of the fantasy playoffs -- an ambitious gallery that could be way off the mark come Monday night. There's no fear of failure here, though. Just educated guesses. (Photos: Kyle Terada/Aaron Doster/Steven Flynn-USA TODAY Sports)
BOLD PREDICTION #1: Jaguars rookie Blake Bortles will post the first three-TD outing of his career ... REASONS TO BELIEVE: 1) The Ravens (Jacksonville's Sunday foe) own the NFL's 29th-ranked pass defense, allowing 276 yards per game. 2) The Jaguars should have their full complement of pass-catchers for Week 15. 3) Bortles has already tossed 30-plus balls nine times. 4) Since Week 9, Bortles has a cumulative completion rate of 59 percent. 5) Jacksonville's rushing attack ranks among the league's worst. 6) The strong-armed Bortles (multiple TDs for Weeks 3/9) is due for a transcendent rookie breakout.
Aaron Doster-USA TODAY SportsAaron Doster
Prelude To A Smackdown
BOLD PREDICTION #2: The Seahawks will amass 37-plus points against the Niners ... REASONS TO BELIEVE: 1) The Seahawks are averaging 28.7 points at home this season. 2) In its last five meetings, Seattle has topped San Francisco by an average final score of 26-11. 3) In his last seven games against the 49ers (including the playoffs), RB Marshawn Lynch (above) has notched 100 total yards and/or one TD every time. During that stretch, Beast Mode holds per-outing averages of 115 yards/1.1 TDs. 4) The 7-6 Niners, losers of two straight games, may be on the brink of implosion -- citing their cumbersome playoff odds ... and the impending divorce between the front office and coach Jim Harbaugh. 5) San Fran was manhandled by Oakland last week. Enough said.
Kyle Terada-USA TODAY SportsKyle Terada
Curb Your Enthusiasm
BOLD PREDICTION #3: Aaron Rodgers, the hottest quarterback on the planet, won't pass for multiple scores in Buffalo ... REASONS TO BELIEVE: 1) Last Sunday, the Bills halted Peyton Manning's streak of 51 games with at least one TD pass. 2) Mario Williams (right) and the Buffalo defenders lead the NFL in sacks per game (3.7) ... along with "fewest opponents passing first downs" -- at 10.8 per game. 3) Buffalo and Cincinnati are the NFL's best defenses with "passing touchdows allowed" -- at 1.1 per game. 4) What makes Rodgers so dominant? For starters, he has a 34/2 TD-INT ratio since Week 2; and Green Bay has enjoyed a 9-1 record in its last 10 games. (Photos: Chris Humphreys/Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports)
BOLD PREDICTION #4: Revenge-minded Chris Johnson collects his first 100-yard rushing day of the season ... REASONS TO BELIEVE: 1) Johnson (six consecutive years of 1,400 total yards -- 2008-13) has experience running on the uneven Nashville turf. Citing his last three games at LP Field (2013), Johnson averaged 105 total yards/1.3 TDs. 2) The Titans, the NFL's worst defense against the run, have surrendered 125 rushing yards per game during their seven-game slide. 3) For the season, Tennessee has also allowed 26-plus points nine times. 4) Johnson has logged 35 touches since Week 13 -- his highest two-game tally with the Jets. 5) Johnson may still be seething about the Titans waiting until June to release him. (Photos: Melina Vastola/Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports)
Resistance Is Futile
BOLD PREDICTION #5: The Rams defense will limit the Cardinals to single-digit points ... REASONS TO BELIEVE: 1) St. Louis is riding high from back-to-back shutouts (Weeks 13-14) -- a feat the Rams franchise hadn't previously accomplished since 1945. 2) The Rams are chasing the 1976 Steelers for the modern-day record of three consecutive shutouts. Citing their final nine games that year, the famed Steel Curtain defense surrendered a grand total of 28 points (or 3.1 per game). 3) Since Week 9, the Rams have allowed 81-plus team rushing yards just once. 4) Defensive end Robert Quinn (#94 above -- 10.5 sacks) has collected 4.5 sacks in the last two weeks. 5) The Cardinals offense has tallied only four TDs in their last four outings.
Geoff Burke-USA TODAY SportsGeoff Burke
BOLD PREDICTION #6: Giants tight end Larry Donnell will again notch multiple TDs against the Redskins ... REASONS TO BELIEVE: 1) On Sept. 25, Donnell (above) walloped Washington for seven catches, 54 yards and three scores. 2) Donnell has collected 14 receiving targets over the last two weeks. 3) The Redskins have surrendered five TDs to tight ends in their last five games -- including four TE scores for Weeks 13-14. 4) Since Week 9, Giants QB Eli Manning has averaged 44 pass attempts. 5) What makes this such a bold pick? Donnell has only scored two TDs since Week 5.
Geoff Burke-USA TODAY SportsGeoff Burke
BOLD PREDICTION #7: Steelers-Falcons will end up as the weekend's highest-scoring game. ... REASONS TO BELIEVE: 1) This pick could be horribly misguided if Falcons wideout Julio Jones (448 yards, two TDs for Weeks 13-14) sits with a hip injury. 2) The Falcons and Steelers have both averaged 30-plus points in their last three games. 3) Le'Veon Bell has notched 200-plus total yards in three straight games -- a tailback record only shared with icon Walter Payton (1977). 4) Atlanta and Pittsburgh have surrendered 400-plus total yards eight combined times this season. 5) QBs Matt Ryan (left) and Ben Roethlisberger (right) are both viable candidates for 300 yards passing and/or three TDs on Sunday. (Photos: Jason Getz/Ron Schwane-USA TODAY Sports)