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NFL Week 15 picks: Chiefs beat Saints; Steelers bounce back against Bengals

Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker Avery Williamson celebrates a defensive stop against the Buffalo Bills.
Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker Avery Williamson (51) celebrates a defensive stop against the Buffalo Bills in Orchard Park, N.Y., on Dec. 13.
(Adrian Kraus / Associated Press)
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The Times’ NFL writer, Sam Farmer, examines this week’s matchups. Lines according to Pregame.com (O/U = over/under). Last week’s record 10-6 (.625); season 140-167-1 (.676).

Using point spreads with the scores Farmer predicted, the record against the spread would have been 4-12 (.250); season 107-96-56 (.527).

Times are Pacific.

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Bills (10-3) at Broncos (5-8)

Buffalo Bills quarterback Josh Allen throws a pass against the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday.
(Matt Durisko / Associated Press)

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Saturday, 1:30 p.m.

TV: NFL Network.

Line: Bills by 6. O/U: 511/2.

The Broncos are young and full of potential, but too up and down. Josh Allen is playing at an MVP level for the Bills, whose defense struggles with consistency but can play really well at times.

Prediction: Bills 35, Broncos 24

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Panthers (4-9) at Packers (10-3)

Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers throws against the Detroit Lions on Sunday.
(Paul Sancya / Associated Press)

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Saturday, 5:15 p.m.

TV: NFL Network.

Line: Packers by 81/2. O/U: 511/2.

This could be a bit of a shootout, especially if D.J. Moore is back for the Panthers. Green Bay’s defense is vulnerable, but the Packers have too many weapons and Aaron Rodgers is too good.

Prediction: Packers 34, Panthers 27

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Jaguars (1-12) at Ravens (8-5)

Baltimore Ravens running back Gus Edwards (35) and wide receiver Willie Snead (83) celebrate a touchdown.
Baltimore Ravens running back Gus Edwards (35) and wide receiver Willie Snead (83) celebrate a touchdown against the Cleveland Browns on Monday.
(David Richard / Associated Press)

Sunday, 10 a.m.

TV: None. DirecTV: 705.

Line: Ravens by 13. O/U: 471/2.

The Ravens looked great in a thriller at Cleveland on Monday, finally playing with the explosiveness that defined them last season. The Jaguars can hang tough now and again but can’t stop the run.

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Prediction: Ravens 34, Jaguars 17

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Patriots (6-7) at Dolphins (8-5)

Miami Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa scrambles against the Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday.
(Doug Murray / Associated Press)

Sunday, 10 a.m.

TV: None. DirecTV: 706.

Line: Dolphins by 11/2. O/U: 411/2.

Bill Belichick routinely schools rookies, even the astoundingly impressive QB Justin Herbert. But Tua Tagovailoa is backed by a smothering Miami defense, and Patriots will struggle to move ball.

Prediction: Dolphins 24, Patriots 18

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49ers (5-8) at Cowboys (4-9)

San Francisco 49ers running back Jeff Wilson carries against the Buffalo Bills on Dec. 7.
(Ross D. Franklin / Associated Press)

Sunday, 10 a.m.

TV: Channel 2. DirecTV: 707.

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Line: 49ers by 3. O/U: 45.

The season is slipping away for banged-up 49ers, but they should be able to run over Cowboys. If Raheem Mostert can’t go, Jeff Wilson will have a big day. Kyle Shanahan will carve up a bad Dallas D.

Prediction: 49ers 28, Cowboys 21

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Texans (4-9) at Colts (9-4)

Indianapolis Colts quarterback Philip Rivers looks to pass against the Las Vegas Raiders on Sunday.
(Isaac Brekken / Associated Press)

Sunday, 10 a.m.

TV: None. DirecTV: 708.

Line: Colts by 71/2. O/U: 51.

Even if they get Brandin Cooks back, the Texans don’t have much left. You can’t run on the Colts, and they still have a swarming pass defense. Indianapolis rushes four and gets to the quarterback.

Prediction: Colts 33, Texans 24

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Lions (5-8) at Titans (9-4)

Tennessee Titans running back Derrick Henry scores a touchdown against the Indianapolis Colts on Nov. 29.
(Jeff Haynes / Associated Press)

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Sunday, 10 a.m.

TV: None. DirecTV: 709.

Line: Titans by 11. O/U: 511/2.

The Lions can’t stop the run, and Tennessee is going to want to run it all game. It doesn’t look as if Matthew Stafford is going to play. If he did, maybe the game wouldn’t be so lopsided.

Prediction: Titans 35, Lions 21

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Buccaneers (8-5) at Falcons (4-9)

Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady throws a pass against the Minnesota Vikings on Sunday.
(Mark LoMoglio / Associated Press)

Sunday, 10 a.m.

TV: None. DirecTV: 710.

Line: Buccaneers by 6. O/U: 491/2.

Where did Matt Ryan go? The Falcons don’t run, and even though their defense is better under Raheem Morris, it’s not good enough. Tampa Bay has kicking issues, but Buccaneers are just better.

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Prediction: Buccaneers 34, Falcons 27

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Bears (6-7) at Vikings (6-7)

Chicago Bears quarterback Mitchell Trubisky looks to pass against the Houston Texans on Sunday.
(Kamil Krzaczynski / Associated Press)

Sunday, 10 a.m.

TV: None. DirecTV: 711.

Line: Vikings by 3. O/U: 461/2.

The Bears have scored 30 and 36 in consecutive weeks, so that makes this interesting. But you never know which Mitch Trubisky you’re going to get. That said, the Vikings are better all the way around.

Prediction: Vikings 28, Bears 24

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Seahawks (9-4) at Washington (6-7)

Seattle Seahawks linebacker Bobby Wagner chases after the ball against the New York Giants.
Seattle Seahawks linebacker Bobby Wagner chases after the ball against the New York Giants on Dec. 6.
(Stephen Brashear / Associated Press)

Sunday, 10 a.m.

TV: None. DirecTV: 712.

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Line: Seahawks by 51/2. O/U: 441/2.

Could be game of the week, especially if Alex Smith can play. The Seahawks have been better on defense since they started blitzing with Bobby Wagner and Jamal Adams. A lower-scoring slugfest.

Prediction: Seahawks 21, Washington 17

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Eagles (4-8-1) at Cardinals (7-6)

Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts passes against the New Orleans Saints on Sunday.
(Chris Szagola / Associated Press)

Sunday, 1:05 p.m.

TV: None. DirecTV: 713.

Line: Cardinals by 6. O/U: 491/2.

Now that teams have gotten a glimpse of Jalen Hurts, they know what they’re facing. Hurts will need to throw better to outduel Kyler Murray and the Cardinals. Interesting game, but go with home team.

Prediction: Cardinals 28, Eagles 20

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Jets (0-13) at Rams (9-4)

Los Angeles Rams quarterback Jared Goff throws against the New England Patriots on Dec. 10.
(Jae C. Hong / Associated Press)

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Sunday, 1:25 p.m.

TV: Channel 11. DirecTV: 714.

Line: Rams by 171/2. O/U: 431/2.

With a spot in the playoffs up for grabs with a win, Sean McVay makes sure his players don’t overlook the league’s only winless team. Rams’ defense is smothering and Jared Goff has a big day.

Prediction: Rams 38, Jets 9

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Chiefs (12-1) at Saints (10-3)

Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes throws a pass against the Miami Dolphins on Sunday.
(Wilfredo Lee / Associated Press)

Sunday, 1:25 p.m.

TV: Channel 2. DirecTV: 715.

Line: Chiefs by 3. O/U: 511/2.

The Saints have won a lot but haven’t scored like crazy with Taysom Hill at quarterback. If Drew Brees returns, he won’t be the same ... at least not yet. Hard to match Chiefs in a scoring contest.

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Prediction: Chiefs 34, Saints 28

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Browns (9-4) at Giants (5-8)

Cleveland Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield throws a touchdown pass against the Baltimore Ravens on Monday.
(Ron Schwane / Associated Press)

Sunday, 5:20 p.m.

TV: Channel 4.

Line: Browns by 6. O/U: 441/2.

The Giants have looked decent at times, but Daniel Jones doesn’t look healthy and will be vulnerable to the Browns pass rush. Cleveland is coming off a heartbreaker, and should bounce back.

Prediction: Browns 27, Giants 23

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Steelers (11-2) at Bengals (2-10-1)

Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger throws a pass against the Buffalo Bills on Sunday.
(Jeffrey T. Barnes / Associated Press)

Monday, 5:15 p.m.

TV: ESPN.

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Line: Steelers by 13. O/U: 40.

Ben Roethlisberger virtually always plays well in home state of Ohio, and has the weapons to carve up the struggling Bengals. Pittsburgh regains footing and heads into postseason on upward trend.

Prediction: Steelers 35, Bengals 18

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