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Sam Farmer's NFL picks for Week 15

The Times' NFL writer examines this week's matchups.

December 18, 2009

Times NFL writer Sam Farmer examines this week's matchups. Lines according to Glantz-Culver. Last week 10-6, overall 138-70 (.663); against spread 7-9, overall 90-118 (.433). See Farmer's video picks online at our Fabulous Forum blog at latimes/sports:

Dallas at New Orleans

Records: Cowboys 8-5; Saints 13-0

When: Saturday, 5:15 p.m.

TV: NFL Network.

Line: Saints by 7.5. Over/Under: 53.5

The Saints are averaging 36.7 points at home and have too many ways to score. Losing DeMarcus Ware is huge for the Cowboys, who are not a great road team anyway. Saints 34, Cowboys 21

New England at Buffalo

Records: Patriots 8-5; Bills 5-8

When: Sunday, 10 a.m.

TV: none. DirecTV: 704

Line: Patriots by 7. Over/Under: 40.5

The Patriots have won 17 of 18 against the Bills, including the last 12. New England would feel better, though, if it had the ground game to attack Buffalo's porous run defense. Patriots 27, Bills 17

Cleveland at Kansas City

Records: Browns 2-11; Chiefs 3-10

When: Sunday, 10 a.m.

TV: none. DirecTV: 705

Line: Chiefs by 2. Over/Under: 37

Cleveland's defense finally woke up in Week 14, sacking Ben Roethlisberger eight times. The Chiefs have had a hard time protecting Matt Cassel, who has limited targets. Browns 20, Chiefs 17

Houston at St. Louis

Records: Texans 6-7; Rams 1-12

When: Sunday, 10 a.m.

TV: none. DirecTV: 706

Line: Off board(St. Louis QB).

While the Texans have a chance at their first winning season in franchise history, the Rams have the inside track on the No. 1 overall pick. So, in a sense, this result is a win-win. Texans 30, Rams 13

Miami at Tennessee

Records: Dolphins 7-6; Titans 6-7

When: Sunday, 10 a.m.

TV: none. DirecTV: 707

Line: Off board. (Tennessee QB).

If Vince Young, who's battling a strained hamstring, can still pose a run threat, that will help create opportunities for Chris Johnson. And that could spell trouble for Miami. Titans 24, Dolphins 20

Atlanta at N.Y. Jets

Records: Falcons 6-7; Jets 7-6

When: Sunday, 10 a.m.

TV: none. DirecTV: 708

Line: Off board (Atlanta QB).

Coming off three consecutive victories, the Jets defense has rounded into a solid unit. New York has a secondary that matches up well against the Falcons' passing attack. Jets 24, Falcons 13

S.F. at Philadelphia

Records: 49ers 6-7; Eagles 9-4

When: Sunday, 10 a.m.

TV: Channel 11. DirecTV: 709

Line: Eagles by 8.5. Over/Under: 42.5

Dealing with a short week or a cross-country trip is difficult -- but both? The 49ers' task is tough, especially with a shaky secondary looking to contain an explosive passing game. Eagles 27, 49ers 20

Arizona at Detroit

Records: Cardinals 8-5; Lions 2-11

When: Sunday, 10 a.m.

TV: none. DirecTV: 710

Line: Cardinals by 12. Over/Under: 47

The prize is dangling out there for the Cardinals, who need a win (and a San Francisco loss) to clinch the NFC West. That should be sufficient incentive against a bad team. Cardinals 31, Lions 10

Chicago at Baltimore

Records: Bears 5-8; Ravens 7-6

When: Sunday, 10 a.m.

TV: none. DirecTV: 711

Line: Ravens by 11. Over/Under: 40.5

It's strange to think of Jay Cutler as a liability, but it's hard to get around his 22 interceptions, all but five coming in road games. Ravens are big test for him and his offensive line. Ravens 23, Bears 17

Cincinnati at San Diego

Records: Bengals 9-4; Chargers 10-3

When: Sunday, 1 p.m.

TV: Channel 2. DirecTV: 712

Line: Chargers by 6.5. Over/Under: 43.5

As evidenced last week at Minnesota, the Bengals are having a tough time scoring. That won't do against a scorching Chargers team that has so many ways to score. Chargers 28, Bengals 13

Oakland at Denver

Records: Raiders 4-9; Broncos 8-5

When: Sunday, 1 p.m.

TV: none. DirecTV: 713

Line: Broncos by 14. Over/Under: 37

Earlier this season, the Broncos posted a 23-3 victory on the road. The Raiders have the capability to surprise, but they've had to switch quarterbacks again (Charlie Frye). Broncos 34, Raiders 6

Green Bay at Pittsburgh

Records: Packers 9-4; Steelers 6-7

When: Sunday, 1:15 p.m.

TV: Channel 11. DirecTV: 714

Line: Steelers by 2. Over/Under: 40.5

The Packers have won five in a row, and the Steelers have lost five in a row. That said, these teams are a lot closer in talent than what those numbers indicate. Packers 21, Steelers 17

Tampa Bay at Seattle

Records: Bucs 1-12; Seahawks 5-8

When: Sunday, 1:15 p.m.

TV: none. DirecTV: 715

Line: Seahawks by 6.5. Over/Under: 39

Matt Hasselbeck has a sore throwing shoulder, so it's a blessing to be facing the league's worst run defense. The Seahawks have won three of their last four home games. Seahawks 24, Buccaneers 13

Minnesota at Carolina

Records: Vikings 11-2; Panthers 5-8

When: Sunday, 5:15 p.m.

TV: Channel 4.

Line: Vikings by 9. Over/Under: 42.5

The Vikings are built to shut down what the Panthers do best -- run the ball. Plus the Vikings have motivation: A victory, and they clinch the NFC North. Motivation wins. Vikings 34, Panthers 9

N.Y. Giants at Washington

Records: Giants 7-6; Redskins 4-9

When: Monday, 5:30 p.m.

TV: ESPN.

Line: Giants by 3. Over/Under: 43.5

The Giants have lost their last three road games by an average of three touchdowns. But the incentive of staying in the postseason race should nudge them past the Redskins. Giants 24, Redskins 20

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