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RJ’s NFL Picks, 2012 Edition: Week Fifteen

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I went 10-6 last week straight up, and 4-12 against the spread. For the season, that puts me at 133-75 straight up and 94-106-8 against the spread. For a comparison, check out the “experts” over at ESPN.com.

What follows are my picks for the NFL’s Week 15 games:

*Thursday, December 13*

Cincinnati (7-6) at Philadelphia (4-9) – 8:20 p.m. (Line: Cincinnati by 3.5)

Bengals WR A.J. Green is on pace for 97 receptions this season. The Eagles got their first victory since September last week.

—RJ’s Pick: Cincinnati by 8

*Sunday, December 16*

New York Giants (8-5) at Atlanta (11-2) – 1:00 p.m. (Line: ATLANTA BY 2)

A matchup of division-leading teams. The Giants are just a game ahead of both Washington and Dallas in the NFC East. The Falcons have already wrapped up the NFC South, with a five-game lead over second place Tampa Bay. The Giants are 3-3 on the road this season while the Falcons are 6-0 at home.

—RJ’s Pick: Atlanta by 6

Minnesota (7-6) at St. Louis (6-6-1) – 1:00 p.m. (Line: ST. LOUIS BY 2.5)

The Vikings are just 1-5 on the road this season. The Rams have won three straight.

—RJ’s Pick: St. Louis by 7

Jacksonville (2-11) at Miami (5-8) – 1:00 p.m. (Line: MIAMI BY 7)

Jaguars RB Maurice Jones-Drew, who has been out since October with a foot injury, had been averaging 4.8 yards per carry. His main replacement Rashad Jennings is averaging just 2.8 yards per carry. Dolphins WR Brian Hartline needs just 75 more receiving yards for his first career 1,000-yard season.

—RJ’s Pick: Jacksonville by 3

Green Bay (9-4) at Chicago (8-5) – 1:00 p.m. (Line: Green Bay by 3)

The Packers are 4-0 against divisional opponents so far this season. If the Bears lose, the best they can hope for is a Wild Card berth.

—RJ’s Pick: Green Bay by 8

Washington (7-6) at Cleveland (5-8) – 1:00 p.m. (Line: No Line)

The Redskins have won four in a row. QB Robert Griffin III suffered a knee injury last week, and his status for this week is unknown at the time of this writing (hence the lack of a line for this game). If Griffin is unable to play, fellow rookie Kirk Cousins will start under center. The Browns have won three straight and are 4-3 at home this season.

—RJ’s Pick: Washington by 10

Denver (10-3) at Baltimore (9-4) – 1:00 p.m. (Line: Denver by 2.5)

The Broncos have won eight straight, the longest current winning streak in the league. The Ravens have lost their last two games, but are 5-1 at home this year.

—RJ’s Pick: Denver by 7

Indianapolis (9-4) at Houston (11-2) – 1:00 p.m. (Line: HOUSTON BY 8)

Believe it or not, the Colts actually control their own destiny in the AFC South. They are two games behind Houston, but they get to play them twice (including this week). Their other remaining game is against Kansas City, arguably the worst team in the NFL. If the Colts win out, they would finish the season in first place with 12 wins and would host at least one playoff game. That would be an incredible turnaround for a team that went 2-14 last season. The Texans are 5-1 at home, but they have allowed at least 31 points in three of their last four games.

—RJ’s Pick: Indianapolis by 1

Tampa Bay (6-7) at New Orleans (5-8) – 1:00 p.m. (Line: NEW ORLEANS BY 3.5)

The Buccaneers had dropped three straight games, and desperately need a win this week to have any shot at a Wild Card berth. Their seven losses this season have been by the following margins: 7 points, 6 points, 2 points, 7 points, 1 point, 8 points, and 2 points. The Saints have also lost three in a row. They have the league’s worst defense in terms of total yards allowed.

—RJ’s Pick: Tampa Bay by 2

Detroit (4-9) at Arizona (4-9) – 4:05 p.m. (Line: Detroit by 5.5)

The Lions have lost five straight games. The Cardinals, however, have lost nine in a row, and were destroyed by Seattle 58-0 last week. I honestly believe the Lions will win this week.

—RJ’s Pick: Detroit by 14

Carolina (4-9) at San Diego (5-8) – 4:05 p.m. (Line: SAN DIEGO BY 3)

Panthers quarterback Cam Newton has had three consecutive games with a passer rating of at least 110. He has not thrown an interception since Week Ten. The Chargers, who are virtually eliminated from playoff contention, beat the Steelers in Pittsburgh last week, 34-24. It was the team’s first road win against the Steelers since the AFL and NFL merged in 1970. Watch the Chargers finish the season at .500, just enough to save head coach Norv Turner’s job. Then watch Chargers fans commit mass suicide.

—RJ’s Pick: San Diego by 9

Seattle (8-5) at Buffalo (5-8) – 4:05 p.m. (Line: Seattle by 5.5)

The Seahawks have a not-unrealistic shot at winning the NFC West. They just need to win out (including next week at home against the division-leading 49ers), and hope San Francisco loses this week in Foxborough. Bills RB Fred Jackson is out for the season with a leg injury, so C.J. Spiller should be getting almost all the team’s carries in the final three games.

—RJ’s Pick: Seattle by 2

Pittsburgh (7-6) at Dallas (7-6) – 4:25 p.m. (Line: Pittsburgh by 2)

This is a must-win game for both teams. The Steelers have the league’s top pass defense. The Cowboys have the NFL’s third best passing offense.

—RJ’s Pick: Pittsburgh by 5

Kansas City (2-11) at Oakland (3-10) – 4:25 p.m. (Line: OAKLAND BY 3)

The Chiefs have a point differential of -157. The Raiders have a point differential of -154. Ugly.

—RJ’s Pick: Oakland by 11

San Francisco (9-3-1) at New England (10-3) – 8:20 p.m. (Line: NEW ENGLAND BY 6)

A possible Super Bowl preview. The 49ers have won three in a row. They are ranked second in the NFL in both pass defense and run defense. The Patriots have won seven straight. It’s worth remembering that their three losses this season were by 2 points, 1 point, and 1 point. Their balanced offense is ranked fifth in the league in passing yards per game and seventh in rushing yards per game.

—RJ’s Pick: New England by 13

*Monday, December 17*

New York Jets (6-7) at Tennessee (4-9) – 8:30 p.m. (Line: TENNESSEE BY 2)

The Jets have won their last two games and are still a possible Wild Card team. The Titans have dropped three straight and are allowing an average of nearly 30 points per game.

—RJ’s Pick: New York Jets by 3

[If you’re interested, you can check out the full list of Danny Sheridan’s Odds here.]

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    Final Scores:

    Bengals 34, Eagles 13 RJ 1-0 (1-0 ATS)

    Atlanta 34, Giants 0 RJ 2-0 (2-0 ATS)

    Vikings 36, Rams 22 RJ 2-1 (2-1 ATS)

    Miami 24, Jaguars 3 RJ 2-2 (2-2 ATS)

    Packers 21, Bears 13 RJ 3-2 (3-2 ATS…and I nailed the spread)

    Redskins 38, Browns 21 RJ 4-2 (4-2 ATS)

    Denver 34, Baltimore 17 RJ 5-2 (5-2 ATS)

    Houston 29, Colts 17 RJ 5-3 (5-3 ATS)

    NO 41, TB 0 RJ 5-4 (5-4 ATS)

    Arizona 38, Lions 10 RJ 5-5 (5-5 ATS)

    Carolina 31, SD 7 RJ 5-6 (5-6 ATS)

    Seattle 50, Buffalo 17 RJ 6-6 (5-7 ATS)

    Dallas 27, Steelers 24 (in OT) RJ 6-7 (5-8 ATS)

    Oakland 15, KC 0 RJ 7-7 (6-8 ATS)

    SF 41, NE 34 RJ 7-8 (6-9 ATS)

    Tennessee 14, Jets 10 RJ 7-9 (6-10 ATS)

    RJ through 15 weeks:

    140-84 straight up

    100-116-8 against the spread

    ESPN’s experts in Week 15:

    Allen
    9-7

    Golic
    11-5

    Hoge
    11-5

    Jaworski
    9-7

    Mortensen
    10-6

    Schefter
    7-9

    Schlereth
    10-6

    Wickersham
    9-7

    Jackson
    10-6

    Johnson
    9-7

    Ditka
    11-5

    Carter
    9-7

    Accuscore
    10-6

    Pick ‘em
    12-4

    ESPN’s experts through 15 weeks:

    Allen
    133-91

    Golic
    139-85

    Hoge
    146-78

    Jaworski
    145-79

    Mortensen
    156-68

    Schefter
    138-86

    Schlereth
    143-81

    Wickersham
    155-69

    Jackson
    138-86

    Johnson
    134-90

    Ditka
    141-83

    Carter
    146-78

    Accuscore
    141-83

    Pick ‘em
    145-78