NFL Week 15 Picks: Last-Second Picks for Every Game This Week

Kyle Vassalo@VassaloBRFeatured ColumnistDecember 15, 2011

NFL Week 15 Picks: Last-Second Picks for Every Game This Week

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    Week 15 is by far the most important week of the season thus far, and it's got nothing to do with the playoff race.

    The Green Bay Packers are defending their undefeated 13-0 record and trying to move a step closer to perfection by knocking off the Kansas City Chiefs in the always-hostile Arrowhead Stadium.

    Head coaches Tony Sparano and Todd Haley bit the dust last week, and it's the time of year where failing coaches can start feeling their hot seat get even warmer.

    The Indianapolis Colts have been so immersed in Andrew Luck and Peyton Manning discussions, many are overlooking the fact that Jim Caldwell's squad only has a few more shots at obtaining a win and avoiding the "worst team of all time" designation.

    And let's not forget about Tim Tebow, who has a chance to prove to his critics once and for all that his six-game reign of terror isn't a fluke. He takes on Tom Brady's New England Patriots, and if ever there was a team to make a statement against, it would be future Hall of Fame coach Bill Belichick's ring-touting Patriots.

    There isn't a shortage of great matchups and wild storylines in Week 15 of this wild season. Let's take a look at how these games are going to shake out.

Jacksonville Jaguars vs. Atlanta Falcons

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    Matchup: Jacksonville Jaguars vs. Atlanta Falcons

    The Winner: Atlanta Falcons

    Matt Ryan threw three touchdown passes, two to Roddy White and another to Julio Jones, Michael Turner added a score on the ground and the Falcons inched closer to solidifying a playoff spot by destroying the Jags, 41-14 in Atlanta Thursday night.  The Falcons improved to 9-5.

    Blaine Gabbert threw an interception and lost a pair of fumbles and the Jags had four total turnovers as they fell to 4-10.

Dallas Cowboys vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

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    Matchup: Dallas Cowboys vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

    Projected Winner: Dallas Cowboys

    This matchup was looking a lot better at the beginning of the season than it is now. This Saturday game features a Cowboys team that is right in the thick of the playoff race and a Buccaneers squad that has already packed it in.

    The Cowboys have lost two games as a result of missed last-second field goals. The Bucs have dropped seven straight and look worse every single time they take the field.

    The Bucs have lost by at least eight in every game they've played since their Week 8 bye. The Cowboys are going to mop the floor with Tampa Bay.

Miami Dolphins vs. Buffalo Bills

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    Matchup: Miami Dolphins vs. Buffalo Bills

    Projected Winner: Miami Dolphins

    This matchup features two of the hardest teams to read in the NFL. The Dolphins looked like a shoo-in for a top-three pick in the upcoming draft after starting off the season 0-7, then won three in a row and have fallen off in recent weeks, dropping two of their last three.

    The Bills started off 3-1 and have lost their last six games. With Fred Jackson down and the losses piling up, Buffalo has returned to the state of indifference we are accustomed to seeing. Nobody fears their offense anymore, and with the Bills scoring 17 or less in four of their last five, it's clear that they can no longer make up for their defensive inadequacies by lighting up the scoreboard.

Seattle Seahawks vs. Chicago Bears

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    Matchup: Seattle Seahawks vs. Chicago Bears

    Projected Winner: Seattle Seahawks

    Marshawn Lynch is on a tear and there is nothing the Bears can do to stop him. He has 100 or more yards rushing in five of his last six games and six touchdowns in that span.

    He's torched Rob Ryan's Cowboys defense and the Baltimore Ravens' Hall of Fame laden crew. Brian Urlacher isn't scaring him, and the Bears offense is in turmoil.

    With Matt Forte and Jay Cutler down, and the Sam Hurd drug scandal rocking the Bears, Chicago is vulnerable and the Seahawks will capitalize.

Tennessee Titans vs. Indianapolis Colts

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    Matchup: Tennessee Titans vs. Indianapolis Colts

    Projected Winner: Tennessee Titans

    We're at the point now where it's tough to see where the Colts are going to find their first win. A record of 0-16 is a very real possibility, and with the surging Titans staring them in the face, victory certainly isn't attainable this week.

    Chris Johnson got off to a dreadful start this season, but he has rushed for 130 or more yards in three of his last five outings. He hit a snag last week against the New Orleans Saints, but will surely bounce back against a Colts run defense that gives up 144.3 YPG.

    The 7-6 Titans are making a playoff push, and with winnable games against the Colts and Jaguars, they could very well control their own destiny heading into Week 17 against the Houston Texans.

Green Bay Packers vs. Kansas City Chiefs

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    Matchup: Green Bay Packers vs. Kansas City Chiefs

    Projected Winner: Green Bay Packers

    Every week, people come up with reasons why the Packers will be upset by their opponent. Last week, the Oakland Raiders were a trap game. The week before that it was the New York Giants (who ruined the Pats' undefeated streak in the Super Bowl) who were going to dethrone them. The week before that it was the Lions on Thanksgiving who were sure to feed them a loss.

    This week, it's the fact that they have to play in Arrowhead. Don't buy into the nonsense. The Packers have the best player in football under center in Aaron Rodgers, and bumping Romeo Crennel into the interim spot isn't going to propel the Chiefs past the Packers.

    The Chiefs have lost five of their last six. No way do they take away the Packers' undefeated aspirations.

Cincinnati Bengals vs. St. Louis Rams

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    Matchup: Cincinnati Bengals vs. St. Louis Rams

    Projected Winner: Cincinnati Bengals

    The Bengals have lost four of their last five, but all four have come against teams who already have 10 wins on the season.

    They face a much more manageable challenge this week in taking down the St. Louis Rams. The Rams' offensive line is banged up beyond recognition. The injury bug bit them hard this year, and has played a huge factor in the two-win Rams' miserable season.

    The Bengals have become what the 2010 Bucs were, in that they are solid at beating bad teams, but struggle against the league's best. This is a bad team that they should handle readily.

New Orleans Saints vs. Minnesota Vikings

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    Matchup: New Orleans Saints vs. Minnesota Vikings

    Projected Winner: New Orleans Saints

    Even if Adrian Peterson does return to the lineup and he is 100 percent, it's not going to spare the Vikings from yet another defeat.

    Jared Allen has the numbers to be defensive player of the year, and Peterson is the best back in the league, but the team as a whole is pathetic.

    Going into Minnesota and obtaining a victory is no longer difficult, as the Vikings have one victory at home. The Saints have puzzling road losses to the Buccaneers and Rams, but you shouldn't expect Drew Brees and the Saints to buckle now with a first-round bye in their sights.

Washington Redskins vs. New York Giants

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    Matchup: Washington Redskins vs. New York Giants

    Projected Winner: New York Giants

    The Giants are the rising team in the NFC to watch. Eli Manning and the Giants have the playoff experience to make a serious run, and their win over the Cowboys that snapped a four-game losing streak puts them back on top of the division.

    They lost to the Redskins in Week 1, but the Washington team taking the field this week is a shadow of the team that we saw on opening day.

    With Trent Williams and Fred Davis suspended, and the Redskins losing eight of their last nine games, the Giants won't have any problem rolling over their division rivals this week.

Carolina Panthers vs. Houston Texans

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    Matchup: Carolina Panthers vs. Houston Texans

    Projected Winner: Houston Texans

    The Houston Texans have proven that they can win with T.J. Yates. It's not always going to be pretty, but he's got enough talent around him and a talented enough defense to win as long as he protects the football.

    He's not Matt Schaub, but he doesn't have to be to knock off the Panthers this week. Cam Newton is stellar, but the Panthers haven't beaten a single team that has won five games this season.

    His efforts won't be enough to propel the Panthers to victory, and the Texans will continue to build their resume while heading into the playoffs for the first time in franchise history.

Detroit Lions vs. Oakland Raiders

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    Matchup: Detroit Lions vs. Oakland Raiders

    Projected Winner: Detroit Lions

    The Raiders have slipped to second place in the AFC West, and though they've shown they can beat talented teams this season, the glaring inconsistency they put on display against the Dolphins in Week 13 are a huge cause for concern.

    This team went for broke by bringing in Carson Palmer, and after another year of being held out of the postseason, they're going to wish they had those picks come April.

    The Lions are in a must-win situation this week. With matchups against the Chargers and Packers lying ahead, they can't afford to drop a win against Oakland. Ndamukong Suh is coming back this week from suspension, Darren McFadden is still banged up and it looks like Detroit should have no problems against the Silver and Black.

New England Patriots vs. Denver Broncos

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    Matchup: New England Patriots vs. Denver Broncos

    Projected Winner: New England Patriots

    As awesome as it would be to see Tim Tebow notch his seventh-straight victory and do it against Tom Brady and the Patriots of all teams, it's not in the cards for him this week.

    Some will argue that the Patriots' porous defense will allow the Broncos to hang with them in a shootout, but the Patriots are going to dismantle the Broncos' winning formula.

    The Broncos have only allowed more than 17 twice in their seven-game winning streak. Lights-out defense is a huge part of their winning recipe, and though the Broncos have been overly impressive, they simply aren't going to be able to hang with the Pats in a shoot-out.

New York Jets vs. Philadelphia Eagles

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    Matchup: New York Jets vs. Philadelphia Eagles

    Projected Winner: New York Jets

    There are star players in the Eagles locker room who are fighting for jobs. The influx of talent exposed the problems that come along with overloading a team with big names and failing to instill things like drive and effort into the team.

    The Eagles exude dominance sporadically. We see glimpses of the team we thought the Eagles were to kick off the season, but nothing more.

    The Jets may be 2-4 on the road this season, but the Eagles have only won once at home all year long. With the Jets' eyes fixated on the playoffs, the worthless Eagles squad won't come away with a victory this week.

Baltimore Ravens vs. San Diego Chargers

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    Matchup: Baltimore Ravens vs. San Diego Chargers

    Projected Winner: Baltimore Ravens

    The Ravens are the best team in the AFC. They've got a defense that ranks in the top five in passing and rushing yards allowed, and an underrated offense that knows how to put their team in a position to win.

    They've won six of their last seven games and are entering the postseason with a full head of steam.

    Even though this is usually the time the Chargers become a team to fear, Norv Turner's job being in limbo and Philip Rivers' inexplicably off-year are major causes for concern heading into this matchup.

Pittsburgh Steelers vs. San Francisco 49ers

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    Matchup: Pittsburgh Steelers vs. San Francisco 49ers

    Projected Winner: San Francisco 49ers

    The 49ers were stunned by an unexpected loss to the Cardinals, but they are encountering the perfect storm this week, as they face the banged-up Steelers on Monday night.

    With James Harrison suspended and Ben Roethlisberger and Maurkice Pouncey wounded, the Steelers roll into this defensive struggle with three of their best five players suspended or injured.

    The 49ers still have yet to allow a rushing touchdown this season, and if Big Ben can't go, it's going to be a long night for the Steelers, who won't be able to run the ball to compensate for their sorry QB situation.

    The 49ers put their offensive inadequacies on full display last week, but with the Coach of the Year front-runner at the helm, you can expect them to make adjustments that will adhere to more touchdowns when they get within striking distance.