Posted: Thursday December 15, 2011 1:14PM ; Updated: Thursday December 15, 2011 1:55PM
Peter King
Peter King>WEEKEND PICKOFF

NFL Week 15
 
Last week: 10-6 (.625); Season: 137-71 (.659)
 
Thursday, Dec. 15
 
8:20 p.m. ET (NFL Network) Jacksonville Jaguars (4-9) at Atlanta Falcons (8-5)
Glad to see Mike Smith, the Atlanta coach, is feeling better after his heart scare on the team charter Sunday night. Matt Ryan could do him a very big favor with a low-stress game Thursday night. But as you can see by the score here, Ryan still looks wild high to me.
 
Saturday, Dec. 17
 
8:20 p.m. ET (NFL Network) Dallas Cowboys (7-6) at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (4-9)
I'm guessing 40 to 50 percent of the fans at the Pirate Ship Saturday night will be Cowboy fans, and that's good for the Bucs. Maybe the Dallas cheering will drown out the calls for Raheem Morris' job.
 
Sunday, Dec. 18
 
1 p.m. ET (CBS) Miami Dolphins (4-9) at Buffalo Bills (5-8)
Now the Dolphins start looking for little things, in their last three meaningless games. And the biggest little thing anyone on the roster would love to accomplish is Reggie Bush and a 1,000-yard rushing season, which he's never done in the NFL. He needs 230 yards. He's had three 100-yard rushing days this year, and I bet Brian Daboll, the offensive coordinator and play-caller, tries to get it for him starting here in Orchard Park.
 
1 p.m. ET (FOX) Washington Redskins (4-9) at New York Giants (7-6)
Just can't imagine Eli Manning losing a game the Giants will likely have to have to stay atop the East, though you never know ab0ut the Giants when they play games the western world is sure they'll win. Remember Week 5 against Seattle?
 
1 p.m. ET (FOX) Green Bay Packers (13-0) at Kansas City Chiefs (5-8)
Just what every interim coach who wants to be a head coach wants to see for the first game of his three-game trial: Romeo Crennel's got the 13-0 Packers coming to Arrowhead Sunday. I don't see him being picked by Scott Pioli come January for a second stint as a head coach in the league, but Crennel has the kind of credibility with ownership and the GM -- and is well-respected enough in the locker room -- that a very good last 15 days of the season could get him on Pioli's finalist list.
 
1 p.m. ET (FOX) Seattle Seahawks (6-7) at Chicago Bears (7-6)
Toughest game of the week to pick. Bears playing for their playoff lives. Seattle is too, though very few teams have a more difficult last three games than the 'Hawks (at Chicago, San Francisco, at Arizona, which is playing well). I give Rod Marinelli and Lovie Smith the edge in this one, and they'd better be at their game-planning smartest, because there hasn't been a better running back in football over the past six weeks than Marshawn Lynch. You can look it up: 706 rushing yards, most in the league since Week 9. The Bears don't make the playoffs with a loss here, so I just can't see their season going down in flames at home in December against Tarvaris Jackson.
 
1 p.m. ET (FOX) New Orleans Saints (10-3) at Minnesota Vikings (2-11)
Well, Jared Allen is hot, and he really wants the sack record, and the kid quarterback is pretty good and showing good signs of playing well when playing hurt, and ... oh, stop it. This is Drew Brees coming to town. And the four-headed running game. And the Minnesota secondary. Christian Ponder's not scoring 35 Sunday, and he would have to do that to be competitive in this game.
 
1 p.m. ET (FOX) Carolina Panthers (4-9) at Houston Texans (10-3)
Cam Newton can win any game he plays. We've seen that this year. But he hasn't come up against the indomitable force and Tebow Jr.-esque Midas Touch of one T.J. Yates.
 
1 p.m. ET (CBS) Tennessee Titans (7-6) at Indianapolis Colts (0-13)
Last time these two met at Lucas Oil Field, it was the last game of Jeff Fisher's 17-year tenure as Titans coach. The Titans were playing out the string. The Colts were going on to the playoffs. Peyton Manning throwing to the Blair White Project; Kerry Collins throwing to Kenny Britt. That was 11 months ago. Now it'll be Matt Hasselbeck or Jake Locker dueling Dan Orlovsky. Times change.
 
1 p.m. ET (CBS) Cincinnati Bengals (7-6) at St. Louis Rams (2-11)
This is the sorriest sentence of the weekend: I don't see how Steve Spagnuolo can save himself. Sorry because of the kind of person he is and the kind of coach. Sometimes things just don't work out.
 
4:05 p.m. ET (FOX) Detroit Lions (8-5) at Oakland Raiders (7-6)
Tough thing for Oakland? With Darren McFadden, the Raiders win this game. An electric running back can beat Detroit. But I don't see Oakland's defense stopping Matthew Stafford, and I don't see the Raiders controlling the clock enough to win this.
 
4:15 p.m. ET (CBS) New York Jets (8-5) at Philadelphia Eagles (5-8)
"We'll get our track shoes on," Rex Ryan says about playing Mike Vick. Make sure they're on in the secondary too. DeSean Jackson is playing for redemption -- and a rich 2012 deal. Somewhere.
 
4:15 p.m. ET (CBS) Cleveland Browns (4-9) at Arizona Cardinals (6-7)
Whoa! You mean to tell me the Cardinals are 7-7 with this win? What happened? The Miracle of Red Skelton lives? The best defense no one knows is in the desert? With a Cincinnati-Seattle finishing schedule, this is suddenly an interesting outside-the-box playoff team.
 
4:15 p.m. ET (CBS) New England Patriots (10-3) at Denver Broncos (8-5)
Poof. There it goes. Teblowed up. The way I see this game is that New England's going to get a good lead early, and Tim Tebow is going to have to play well early to keep the Broncos in it. And that is not Tebow's game. Maybe it will be Sunday, magically. But in a battle of four-quarter quarterbacks, give me Brady -- even against a tough D like Denver's.
 
8:20 p.m. ET (NBC) Baltimore Ravens (10-3) at San Diego Chargers (6-7)
The Chargers, finished with the Triple-A portion of the schedule (at Jacksonville, Buffalo, scoring 75 points in the two), now put the big-boy pads on and play well. I see some very happy faces in the NBC production truck Sunday night, with a down-to-the-wire, big-ratings game won by the legs of Ray Rice in the final minutes.
 
Monday, Dec. 19
 
8:30 p.m. ET (ESPN) Pittsburgh Steelers (10-3) at San Francisco 49ers (10-3)
Don't know who plays quarterback for Pittsburgh, but I might suggest Dennis Dixon. I think Aldon and Justin Smith would chase the immobile Charlie Batch and truly immobile Ben Roethlisberger down early and often, and the legs of Dixon might give the Steelers the best chance in what is going to be a terrific defensive game.
 

 
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