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NFL Week 15 picks

John Paul Starkey is back to pick the winner of each and every Week 15 game in the NFL -- both straight up, and against the spread.


Does Week 15 feature the best slate of games to date all season? You have to think so. With so many key games this weekend, Week 15 figures to be perhaps the most important week of the year, as this week especially will help determine playoff teams, and playoff seeding.

As always, I'm here to pick the winner of each and every game -- both straight up, and against the spread.

New York Giants (+1) at Atlanta Falcons -- In one of the bigger games of the day, we get to see if the Falcons really do belong among the heavyweights of the NFC. Sure, the Falcons still have the top seed in the playoffs as of today, but are they really better than the 49ers, Packers or Giants? I don't think they are. Eli Manning throws a couple of picks, but the Giants win.

Denver Broncos (-3) at Baltimore Ravens -- Geez, this is how far Baltimore has fallen in recent weeks, and this is how much Denver has risen? I don't really think the Ravens should be home underdogs, but here they are. I think Ray Rice sees enough touches with Cam Cameron out, and the Ravens hold off the Broncos for the upset win.

Green Bay Packers (-3) at Chicago Bears -- I haven't been a believer in the Bears all year, and I have no reason to start thinking that Jay Cutler is actually good enough to lead the Bears to a win over Aaron Rodgers and the Packers. Green Bay wins, and covers.

Washington Redskins (even) at Cleveland Browns -- It looks like RG3 isn't playing for Washington on Sunday -- and that could be the death knell for Washington's playoff hopes. I do think Cleveland is better than its record, but, can they beat a hungry Washington team, sans RG3? The answer is yes. Cleveland wins in the mild upset.

Indianapolis Colts (+10) at Houston Texans -- Really, Las Vegas? We're still doing this thing where we pretend like the Texans are a dominant team, despite nearly losing to the Jaguars and Lions, and being stomped on by the Patriots on Monday Night Football? Well, ok, I guess. I don't see the Colts winning this game, but they'll manage to cover the double-digit point spread.

Jacksonville Jaguars (+8) at Miami Dolphins -- The Dolphins have a really good defense, a really good special teams unit, and a horrible offense... and that's still going to be enough to beat the pathetic Jaguars. Miami wins, but Jacksonville covers.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (+4) at New Orleans Saints -- Though the Bucs managed to exceed some expectations this year, this game features two disappointing teams. Tampa Bay had a chance to be a playoff team, but after losing to the Eagles last week, that hope is gone. New Orleans wins this meaningless game, but Tampa Bay covers.

Minnesota Vikings (+3) at St. Louis Rams -- Adrian Peterson gets to try to further his MVP candidacy and help the Vikings inch a little closer to a playoff berth, against a Rams team I simply can't figure out. Because I can't figure them out, I'm going to pick them to win at home, but Minnesota covers.

Detroit Lions (-6.5) at Arizona Cardinals -- There sure are some great games in Week 15, but there are a few turds in the punch bowl. This is maybe the second-biggest turd in the punch bowl. Detroit wins and covers just because I can probably play quarterback for Arizona right now.

Seattle Seahawks (-5) at Buffalo Bills -- I don't think Russell Wilson is good. If this were a 1 p.m. game, I'd take the Bills to upset the Seahawks. It's not, so I won't. Seattle wins, Buffalo covers.

Carolina Panthers (+3) at San Diego Chargers -- Another week of us getting to watch Norv Turner's career in San Diego draw to a painful close. Turner and the Chargers did manage to upset the Steelers last week, so naturally, they'll win again this week, just to remind fans what could have been. San Diego covers, too.

Pittsburgh Steelers (-2) at Dallas Cowboys -- Both teams really, really need to win this game. Obviously, both teams won't. Sorry, Cowboys fans, but I'm going to pick the team that has proven it can win games when it needs to -- and win physical games when it needs to. Steelers win, and cover.

Kansas City Chiefs (+3) at Oakland Raiders -- I really, really don't know which team is more pathetic right now. Probably the Raiders, because they've been the running joke of the league for awhile, and at least the Chiefs made the playoffs two years ago. I don't know. Chiefs in the upset?

San Francisco 49ers (+4.5) at New England Patriots -- The best game of the week. Top-ranked defense against top-ranked offense. Unfortunately for the 49ers, the team with the top-ranked offense has Tom Brady, and Tom Brady will score more points than Colin Kaepernick. I don't really want to live in a world where the opposite is true. Patriots cover.

New York Jets (+1) at Tennessee Titans -- Seriously. This is the last Monday night game of the year? We're going out with this? This is more proof that NBC's Sunday Night Football and late-season flex scheduling reigns supreme over Monday Night Football. Whatever. Jets win and keep what faint playoff hopes they have alive.

Be sure to follow JP Starkey on Twitter.

Photographs by jamesbrandon, jdtornow, phlezk, flygraphix, mcdlttx, tomasland, and literalbarrage used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.