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NFL Pro Football 2011 Week 15 Picks

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Fearless Rick's NFL Week 15 Picks - Early Games

Rick Gagliano | December 15-18

All times Eastern - Click here for late games.

Thursday, December 15

Jacksonville Jaguars at Atlanta Falcons (-12, 42 1/2) 8:20 pm - With an 8-5 record, the Falcons are in a good spot to earn a wild card, as they are tied with Detroit, but have to play at New Orleans next week. For Atlanta, this is a walkover against one of the lesser teams in the league, and losers of three of their last four (though they did hammer Tampa Bay last week, 41-14), and the Falcons should have only to contain Maurice Jones-Drew to come out victorious.

Figuring the Falcons won't leave anything to chance, look for Matt Ryan to go long early and try to put the Jags in a hole. If that's the case, it should be lights out, because the Jaguars don't have the kind of offense that lends itself to late-game heroics.

If this one is close at the half, there's a chance for the Jags, albeit a slim one. The Falcons should win and cover with ease.

Prediction: Falcons 31 Jaguars 14

Saturday, December 17

Dallas Cowboys (-7, 47) at Tampa Bay Buccaneers 8:20 pm - After the Cowboys blew yet another 4th quarter lead last week to the Giants, morale has to be down in Big D, though the Cowboys can take solace in the fact that Eli Manning has been an absolute surgeon in the 4th quarter this season.

Dallas will have another crack at the Giants in week 17, but they've got to navigate their way through this game and next week against the Eagles, not an easy task. Anyone believing that the Cowboys will not make the playoffs this year is probably on the right track.

Though the Bucs have devolved into one of the NFL's biggest busts this season, losing seven straight and falling to a miserable 4-9, they really have nothing to lose here and a chance to spread some of their pain. The Buccaneers have won three of seven at home this year, while the Cowboys are only 2-4 on the road.

Will Dallas chuck this one in and end all speculation early? Probably not, but considering their serial 4th quarter woes, Tampa Bay will probably find a way to score late and cover the overly-generous sucker line.

Prediction: Cowboys 27 Buccaneers 23

Sunday, December 18

Miami Dolphins at Buffalo Bills (even, 41) 1:00 pm - A game nobody really cares about except the families of the players and coaches, pitting the bottom tier of the AFC East against each other. Miami won the first meeting this year, in Miami, unmercilessly dumping the Bills by a 35-8 score. The 4-9 Dolphins, with their new interim head coach, Todd Bowles, can actually get technically out of last place with a win here, which would even their record with the Bills (currently 5-8). Buffalo has lost six straight straight and the level of talent they put on the field is sub-par after sustaining a rash of season-ending injuries. Another positive for the Dolphins is that the weather - despite being the middle of December - isn't going to be too bad: a little nippy, but no snow.

Prediction: Dolphins 24 Bills 17

Washington Redskins at NY Giants (-7, 46 1/2) 1:00 pm - This would seem like an obvious pick as the Giants are leading the NFC East after disposing of the Cowboys in the waning seconds last week, but the Redskins went toe-to-toe with New England, losing, 34-27, but had a chance to tie at game's end.

The Giants have won eight of the last ten meetings, including a 28-14 win in Washington earlier this year. Their 37-34 win at Dallas last week was just the first for the Giants in their last five games. Of course, the level of competition has to be mentioned. The Giants' losses were to San Francisco, Philly, New Orleans and Green Bay, the last on a final drive engineered by Aaron Rodgers after Eli Manning had tied the game.

If everything works out properly - the Giants seem to have their running game working again - Eli won't have to rally the G-Men to a win.

Prediction: Giants 24 Redskins 14

Tennessee Titans (-7, 41) at Indianapolis Colts 1:00 pm - The Colts are headed to an 0-16 season, so there's really no good reason to take them, especially in the face of the short line. A touchdown can be scored by the Titans at any time, and they should, realistically, win this by three scores.

Tennessee is still alive for a playoff spot, but, at 7-6, they'll need help. They played the Saints tightly last week, losing by five points and backup Jake Locker looked like the future for this franchise. Alternately, the Colts need a quarterback of some quality, but the season is almost over and Peyton Manning will likely be back in full health next year.

Tennessee's defense should be able to handle anything coming their way and win this one handily.

Prediction: Titans 30 Colts 10

Carolina Panthers at Houston Texans (-7, 45) 1:00 pm - The Texans have already cinched their division, but at 10-3 are tied with New England for the best record in the AFC, so they actually do have a lot to play for: a first week bye and home field throughout the playoffs.

Whether they ca put the kibosh on the Panthers is an open question. One would assume that the Houston players are not going to be fully focused this week, while Carolina continues to improve and certainly won't lie down here. Carolina has won two of their last three, stopped last week by Atlanta, as the Falcons rallied from an early deficit to win easily.

Houston has won seven straight and has the second-best point differential in the league, after Green Bay - 132 points. Some mixed signals, but five of Carolina's losses have been by seven points or more, the Texans are 5-1 at home and their defense is stifling.

Prediction: Texans 28 Panthers 17

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Green Bay Packers (-14 1/2, 46) at Kansas City Chiefs 1:00 pm - Seriously, the Packers are absolutely on a roll, heading for 16-0 and there's no way anybody in their right mind would take the Chiefs here, despite them being at home.

5-8 Kansas City has the 31st ranked offense in the league, and, despite the Packers' deficiencies on defense, the Chiefs will be lucky to find the end zone more than once in this game. Meanwhile, the Packers are scoring an average of 25.8 per game.

Romeo Crennel takes over as the Chiefs new head coach, but it won't matter. Kansas City is an incomplete football team with holes in their passing game.

It's just a math thing. Packers should blow these guys away.

Prediction: Packers 38 Chiefs 10

Looking for the best NFL Handicapper? Good luck. Most of them suck.

Cincinnati Bengals (-7, 40) at St. Louis Rams 1:00 pm - Boy, the Rams are a really lousy football team. Consequently, they are the worst performing team in the NFL against the line, coming in with a 2-11 ATS record. The Bengals, however, are just 0-4-1 in their last five ATS, and they have won just once over that span of games.

It is possible that Sam Bradford could improve on last week's performance and rip he Bengal secondary, but Cincinnati is still hoping for a playoff spot and this looks like an easy mark.

Prediction: Bengals 28 Rams 13

New Orleans Saints (-7, 51 1/2) at Minnesota Vikings 1:00 pm - The game is indoors, where the Saints are at their best, but the 2-11 Vikings have shown occasional signs of life, especially when both Christian Ponder and Adrian Peterson are healthy.

New Orleans has already clinched a playoff spot after barely surviving against the Titans last week in Tennessee. This looks like it could be another close call for Drew Brees and company, though they should win it.

Prediction: Saints 31 Vikings 27

Seattle Seahawks at Chicago Bears (-3 1/2, 36) 1:00 pm - This is a key game for both clubs, as, with just three games left in the season, the 7-6 Bears and 6-7 Seahawks probably have to win out in order to have any shot at the playoffs.

The Bears have dropped three straight, and without Jay Cutler behind center, the offense has struggled, scoring only 33 points in those losses.

The Seahawks have been gathering momentum and have most of the pieces in place to at least play a spoiler role in this season's late playoff run. Marshawn "Beast Mode" Lynch will have a blast running into and over the Bear linebackers and Seattle will continue its winning ways, having won four of its last five.

Prediction: Seahawks 20 Bears 13

All times Eastern - Click here for late games

Copyright 2011, 2012, Rick Gagliano, Downtown Magazine. All rights reserved. Downtown Magazine is located in the Uinted States of America and is not affiliated with the National Football League or the NCAA. For more information, contact us here. Use of this site is for entertainment purposes only.


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