DELRAY BEACH, Florida, December 14, 2017: For Jewish football fans, this is the holiest, most fun week of the year. From sundown on December 12 through sundown on December 20, Jews celebrate Hanukkah. Better yet for leatherheads, nothing adds to the Festival of Lights like a football stadium lit up.
Several current NFL owners are Jewish. Arthur Blank (Falcons), Mark Davis (Raiders), the Glazer family (Buccaneers), Robert Kraft (Patriots), Jeffrey Lurie (Eagles), Stephen Ross (Dolphins), Dan Snyder (Redskins), Bob and Steve Tisch (Giants) and Zygi Wilf (Vikings) are all Jewish.
Some of the main contributors to NFL history are Jewish. Al Davis was the former AFL Commissioner who forced the merger that led to the modern NFL. Sid Gillman revolutionized the passing game and passed his knowledge on to Davis and many others. Ed Sabol created NFL Films, which has beautifully preserved the greatest moments in NFL history.
Yes, Jews play football. too. Julian Edelman (Patriots) is one of Tom Brady’s key wide receivers. Legendary quarterback Sid Luckman (Bears) led the Monsters of the Midway to a 73-0 victory in the 1940 NFL Championship, the largest margin of victory in NFL history. Linebacker Lyle Alzado (Raiders) won a Super Bowl with the Silver and Black and led Denver’s Orange Crush defense to another Super Bowl. Alan Veingrad (Packers, Cowboys) is the only Orthodox Jew with a Super Bowl ring. He was an offensive tackle on the 1992 Dallas team that won it all.
Reggie “Minister of Defense” White (Packers) was a devout Christian, but he had a deep appreciation and fascination with the Jewish people. His final years were spent studying ancient Hebrew for hours every day. His consecutive quarterback sacks helped Green Bay win it all in 1996. He entered the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2006.
Andre Tippett (Patriots) was born a Baptist but converted to Judaism. He played on the 1985 New England team that reached the Super Bowl and entered the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2008.
Long live football, and long live the Jewish contribution to this game we love. With that, here is the NFL 2017 Week 15 Preview and Bettor’s Guide, with point spreads provided by FootballLocks.com and all times Eastern.
Thursday, December 14, 2017, 8:30 p.m.
Denver Broncos (-2.5) at Indianapolis Colts. Both teams are a mess, but league rules prevent canceling this game. Trevor Siemian is better than Jacoby Brissett and Denver has a better defense. Broncos cover.
Saturday, December 16, 4:30 p.m.
Chicago Bears at Detroit Lions (-5.5). The 7-6 Lions still have a shot at making the playoffs. Matthew Stafford should not have too much difficulty against Chicago’s unimpressive defense. Lions cover.
Los Angeles Chargers (-1) at Kansas City Chiefs. The Chargers started 0-4 and have been red hot since, going 7-2. The Chiefs started 5-0 and went ice cold in going 1-6 before winning last week. However, Arrowhead is a tough place to play and the Chiefs get Marcus Peters back from a one-game suspension. Upset special, Chiefs win outright.
Sunday, December 17, 1:00 p.m.
Miami Dolphins at Buffalo Bills (-3.5). Miami is 6-7 and Buffalo is 7-6. With playoff lives on the line, Miami comes in having won two straight, including against New England. However, those games were at home. They will not go into Buffalo in December and get a win. Bills cover.
Green Bay Packers at Carolina Panthers (-3) — Green Bay is 7-6. More importantly. Aaron Rodgers returns. Carolina at 9-4 ties for the NFC South lead. Carolina has a defense, and nobody knows if Rogers is truly back to his old self. Panthers cover.
Baltimore Ravens (-7) at Cleveland Browns. The 7-6 Ravens take on an 0-13 Browns team that blew a 14 point second half lead last week. The Browns are much improved with Josh Gordon in the lineup, but the Ravens are a desperate bunch trying to make the playoffs. Ravens win but fail to cover.
Houston Texans at Jacksonville Jaguars (-11). The Jaguars are 9-4 and playing solid defense. Houston is starting third string quarterback T.J. Yates. Jacksonville’s offense does not do enough to trust this high a spread. Jaguars win but fail to cover.
Cincinnati Bengals at Minnesota Vikings (-10.5). Despite a loss last week, Minnesota is 10-3 and has a brutal defense. Cincinnati is misfiring on all levels. The spread is high, but Minnesota really is that good. Vikings cover.
New York Jets at New Orleans Saints (-15.5). The Saints are 9-4 and tied for the NFC South lead. The overachieving Jets are done for the year and last week lost Josh McCown for the rest of the season. The spread is high but the Jets do not have a quarterback. A garbage touchdown could defeat this spread. Saints win but fail to cover.
Philadelphia Eagles (-7.5) at New York Giants. The 11-2 Eagles should be celebrating, but they just lost Carson Wentz for the rest of the year. Eli Manning got his job back last week but the Giants were routed at home by Dallas. Nick Foles is a very capable backup, and he showed little rust last week in engineering a big road win over the Rams. Eagles win but fail to cover.
Arizona Cardinals at Washington Redskins (-4.5). Injuries are decimating Arizona who is 6-7 and has been decimated by injuries. Washington is terrible on the road, but Kirk Cousins plays much better at home. Redskins win but fail to cover.
Los Angeles Rams at Seattle Seahawks (-2.5). The 9-4 Rams take on the 8-5 Seahawks for control of the NFC West. Seattle won in Los Angeles. Russell Wilson is carrying the Seahawks, and at home with the 12th man roaring, trusting Seattle is not a big leap. Seahawks cover.
New England Patriots (-3) at Pittsburgh Steelers. The Patriots had their annual stumble at Miami to drop to 10-3 while Pittsburgh got another ugly win to get to 11-2. The Patriots always beat the Steelers. Tom Brady outplays Ben Roethlisberger when these teams compete. Brady will again. Patriots cover.
Tennessee Titans at San Francisco 49ers (-2). Don’t let the records fool you. The Titans are a soft 8-5 team while the 3-10 49ers have drastically improved with consecutive wins. Jimmy Garoppollo is poised, and the 49ers have a real defense. 49ers cover.
Dallas Cowboys (-3) at Oakland Raiders. Both teams were 6-6 last week and had road games at division rivals. The Cowboys won big while the Raiders lost big. This is the last Raiders home game of the year, but nobody knows which Raiders team will show up. Both these teams beat the Giants the last couple weeks, so it is hard to gauge what they truly are. With Ezekiel Elliott still suspended, Derek Carr has a better running game with Marshawn Lynch than Dad Prescott has with Elliott’s backups. Upset special, Raiders win outright.
Monday, December 18, 8:30 p.m.
Atlanta Falcons (-6) at Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The 8-5 Falcons got a big win over New Orleans last week and are only one game back in the NFC South. Tampa Bay is a mess, and Jameis Winston has regressed. Falcons cover.