Week 15 NFL Picks: Breaking Down Sunday's Biggest Games Involving AFC Teams

Ryan RudnanskySenior Writer IDecember 13, 2012

FOXBORO, MA - DECEMBER 10: Stevan Ridley #22 of the New England Patriots celebrates his touchdown run with Tom Brady, Brandon Lloyd #85, and Wes Welker #83 of the New England Patriots in the second half against the Houston Texans at Gillette Stadium on December 10, 2012 in Foxboro, Massachusetts. (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)
Jim Rogash/Getty Images

With just three weeks left in the NFL's regular season, the playoff picture is shaping up, as powerhouses assert themselves and bulk up before the postseason.

We saw the New England Patriots demolish the Houston Texans last week, but how will they fare against the San Francisco 49ers in Week 15?

Will the Texans get knocked off by the surging Indianapolis Colts?

And don't expect the Denver Broncos to cede the top spot in the AFC so quickly.

Here's a breakdown of Sunday's biggest games involving AFC teams.


Denver Broncos (10-3) at Baltimore Ravens (9-4)

A lot of people think the Broncos are the AFC's second-best team after the Patriots' win and the Ravens' loss in Week 14.

Of course, the Ravens can change that perception rather quickly with a win over the Broncos in Week 15.

A couple of things worry me about the Ravens in this matchup.

One, Baltimore's pass defense hasn't been as good this season (allowing 7.2 yards per pass attempt, 19th in the NFL) and we all know Peyton Manning loves to throw the ball around.

Two, Baltimore's offense has been inconsistent and Denver's defense has been solid as of late.

Prediction: Broncos 28, Ravens 20


Indianapolis Colts (9-4) at Houston Texans (11-2)

One week, the Texans are "the AFC's best team" and the next, the sky is falling.

Well, not exactly. The Texans may have been embarrassed by Tom Brady and Co., but, then again, who hasn't? They are still allowing 6.7 yards per pass attempt this season (seventh in the league) and they've notched 15 interceptions (tied for sixth).

On top of that, this offense can still put up a lot of points and the Colts are allowing 25.3 points per contest (tied for 23rd in the NFL). 

Prediction: Texans 24, Colts 20


San Francisco 49ers (9-3-1) at New England Patriots (10-3)

Beyond the Patriots' explosive offense, they have noticeably beefed up defending the run this season, holding Texans star Arian Foster to 46 yards on 15 carries in Week 14.

That leads me to believe that second-year quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who has four career starts, will have to have a big outing for the 49ers to be able to keep up with the Patriots.

We saw in Week 14 what the Patriots' offense did to the Texans' supposedly strong defense, so I doubt San Francisco is going to stop Brady and Co. Sure, the 49ers should be able to limit New England's offense, but the 49ers are likely going to have to score more in Week 15 than they are accustomed to this season.

Ultimately, I don't like Kaepernick's inexperience going up against Bill Belichick's squad. I think he will have a decent game, but nothing spectacular, which is what will be needed to knock off the Patriots in Foxboro.

Prediction: Patriots 27, 49ers 21


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