Week 15 of the NFL season is upon us, and that means it's time for another round of bold predictions. As always, this week's edition of fearless prognostications includes a macho helping of audaciousness and abandon as we head into Sunday and Monday's contests. Warning: These predictions are not for the faint of heart.
Bryce Petty wins again or Rosenthal pens tell-all novella
The last time we saw the Jets in prime time, Gang Green all but quit in a lopsided loss to the Colts. Two weeks later, second-year quarterback Bryce Petty will win over New York's cranky tabloids with a dazzling performance against the Dolphins on Saturday night. Instead of flatlining in a big spot, Petty will dent Miami's postseason hopes with a 300-yard, three-touchdown evening that makes a star out of rookie wideout Robby Anderson, who will use his 4.36 speed to pile up two scores and 150-plus yards through the air.
If this doesn't happen, NFL Network's Gregg Rosenthal will take a leave of absence during the playoffs to author the first five chapters of an autobiography titled "Portrait of the Football Blogger as a Young Man." The 50-page "sneak peek" will shed light on Rosenthal's early obsession with local politics by chronicling his head-turning run for First Selectman of Martha's Vineyard at age 21. Rosenthal's failed bid for office will be skillfully tempered in the book by a string of delightful anecdotes describing his part-time job as a tennis instructor at the Edgartown School For Girls.
"I lived a formulaic existence in many ways. One day drifted into the next," Rosenthal would write. "I thought a run for office would change my outlook on life, but it only sunk me deeper into a hazy state of mind that left me asking: 'Who am I? Why am I here? Do my daily actions and choices truly mean anything?' All of that changed when I became a tennis instructor at the School For Girls. Little did I know how my perspective on our society would shift as I helped these young athletes grow into devastating tennis players. We all have something special within us."
-- Marc Sessler
Dak commits three turnovers in Bucs' upset win
Dak Prescott is a rookie quarterback, and the NFL season is long. People change. We grew accustomed to Tony Romo's heir playing smart, productive football during Dallas' 11-game winning streak. But ever since Thanksgiving, Prescott's production has slowed, most notably against formidable Vikings and Giants defenses. Enter Tampa Bay, a defense in the same mold on a five-game winning streak and looking for redemption on prime time. Led by Gerald McCoy and Keith Tandy, the Bucs' defense has done a full 180 since their Week 9 blowout loss to the Falcons, averaging 18.7 points allowed with a plus-15 turnover differential since. Fresh off a two-pick night in East Rutherford, Prescott throws just one against Tampa, but fumbles twice, once in the red zone and once in his own territory late in the fourth quarter. The kicker? Roberto Aguayo, a rookie kicker drafted higher than Prescott, knocks in the winning field goal, sending Dak and Dallas to its second straight loss and further down the wormhole of incessant Romo rumors.
-- Jeremy Bergman
Matt Moore to eclipse career-high 308 passing yards
The football gods have a sense of humor. This week that wit will be embodied in the form of Dolphins quarterback Matt Moore. The 32-year-old veteran hasn't started a game since January 1, 2012. He's playing behind a banged-up offensive line against a good Jets defensive front. In two starts versus the Jets in 2011, Moore averaged 169.5 passing yards with one TD and four interceptions. Moore looked creaky last week, but Saturday in a chilly game in New Jersey, the veteran will find the fountain of youth. Against a shaky Jets pass defense, Moore will eclipse his career-high 308 passing yards, keeping Miami squarely in the playoff hunt with a win over New York.
-- Kevin Patra
Vikings sack Andrew Luck seven times
Minnesota's fierce defense is the primary reason the Vikings are still in contention at this point in the season, because we all know their offense isn't keeping anyone up at night. Best in the league in points allowed per game (second in yards per game surrendered), Minnesota has put the clamps down on just about every opponent to take the field against it. Even without Sharrif Floyd, the Vikings have harassed opposing passers all season long, ranking third in the league with 35 sacks. They'll add seven more on Sunday, as Indianapolis travels to shiny new U.S. Bank Stadium to hear the roar of the "Skol" chant, the sounding of the outrageously large Viking horn and most unfortunate for those wearing horseshoes, the sound of their quarterback getting familiar with the turf. The Vikings sack Andrew Luck seven times, undercut the Colts' offense and grind out another close win to remain alive in the postseason hunt.
-- Nick Shook