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Week 15 2016 NFL Picks: Challenge Athlon Sports Experts!

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The NFL playoff race is going full-throttle, and the competition off the field among fans is nearly as heated as the competition on the field on game day.

The Athlon Sports Pro Football Experts Club presented by New Era gives you the chance to compete with your friends and our experts each week.

Think you’re up for taking on our experts every week? Think you can beat the writers and editors each week? Join our weekly pick ‘em game and compete for tons of cool prizes.

Here are this week’s picks from Athlon Sports senior editor John Gworek:

Thursday's Game

Los Angeles at Seattle

Which Seattle team will show up? Probably the one that hung 40 points on Carolina at home two weeks ago and not the one that sandwiched that game with 15 total points in two road losses.

Gworek's Pick: Seattle, 31–13

Saturday's Game

Miami at N.Y. Jets

Ryan Tannehill will miss a start for the first time in his career, leaving it to Matt Moore to keep the Dolphins in the playoff race. The first time these teams met, Miami fell behind late but won it on a kickoff return for a touchdown.

Gworek's Pick: Miami, 23–21

Sunday’s Games

Green Bay at Chicago

Aaron Rodgers missed practice this week due to a calf injury, and playing in what are expected to be frigid conditions won’t help. But if the weather ground the passing games, the Packers’ superior run defense could make the difference.

Gworek's Pick: Green Bay, 27–17

Jacksonville at Houston     

The Jags have lost eight straight but can help decide the AFC South with games against co-leaders Houston and Tennessee the next two weeks. Both of these defenses rank among the top six in the NFL.

Gworek's Pick: Houston, 16–9

Cleveland at Buffalo  

This should be another late-season Bills-Browns classic … like the 8–0 Browns win in Cleveland in a 2007 blizzard. Or the 6–3 barnburner in 2008 that the Bills lost — despite holding the Browns to 22 passing yards and two completions on 17 attempts — thanks to three turnovers and 13 penalties. Are you still reading this?

Gworek's Pick: Buffalo, 11–6

Philadelphia at Baltimore   

The Ravens nearly rallied to upset the Patriots on Monday night, but they can still catch the Steelers in the AFC North — as long as they take care of business here. The Eagles have lost four in a row by an average score of 28–16.

Gworek's Pick: Baltimore, 24–13

Tennessee at Kansas City  

The Chiefs had extra time to get ready for this one after their big win over Oakland last Thursday. Tennessee is still tied for the AFC South lead thanks to a plus-8 turnover differential in its last four games. But that formula might be tough to execute against Kansas City, which is plus-11 on the season.

Gworek's Pick: Kansas City, 21–17

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Detroit at N.Y. Giants

These teams have made a habit of winning close games, although the Lions have been much more dramatic about it with eight fourth-quarter comebacks. The Giants will need their big playmakers — Odell Beckham Jr. on offense and Landon Collins on defense — to come through.

Gworek's Pick: N.Y. Giants, 23–21

Indianapolis at Minnesota  

Andrew Luck turned the ball over three times last week in a five-point loss to Houston. He’ll need to be better against a Minnesota defense that ranks third overall and eighth in takeaways.

Gworek's Pick: Minnesota, 20–16

Pittsburgh at Cincinnati

The Steelers have won four in a row, three of them on the road, and must win one more before returning home to close the season. The Bengals have been better of late with back-to-back wins, but that may have more to do with their opponents (Eagles and Browns) than themselves.

Gworek's Pick: Pittsburgh, 24–19

New Orleans at Arizona

Something will have to give when the Saints’ top-ranked offense meets the Cardinals’ top-ranked defense. It is more likely to be the New Orleans offense: The Saints are generally not the same team away from the Superdome, and they have scored just 24 points total in back-to-back losses.

Gworek's Pick: Arizona, 28–24

San Francisco at Atlanta    

The Falcons lead the league in points and rank third in total offense. The 49ers rank dead last in scoring defense and total offense. Let’s just move on.

Gworek's Pick: Atlanta, 40–14

New England at Denver     

Tom Brady is coming off a 400-yard passing game on Monday night. The Broncos have the NFL’s top pass defense, however, so expect the Pats to try to get LeGarrette Blount going. Denver quarterback Trevor Siemian has more than 700 yards passing over his last two starts. Can he keep up with Brady? (No.)

Gworek's Pick: New England, 27–17

Oakland at San Diego

The Chargers turn the ball over so much that they are minus-5 in turnover differential — despite leading the league with 25 takeaways. The Raiders, on the other hand, are plus-15.

Gworek's Pick: Oakland, 31–21

Tampa Bay at Dallas 

During a five-game winning streak, The Bucs have allowed just 11.8 points per game and forced 14 turnovers. Dallas’ offense, which at one point had eight straight 400-yard games, has come back to Earth the last two games: 24 total points, 262 yards per game and five turnovers. Is Romo Time approaching?

Gworek's Pick: Dallas, 20–17

Monday’s Game

Carolina at Washington

The Panthers won at home last week thanks to five San Diego turnovers. But they still rank 30th in pass defense, and in their last two road games they have allowed 900 yards and 75 points. That’s not good heading to Washington, where the Redskins have the NFL’s No. 2 overall offense and also rank second in passing offense.

Gworek's Pick: Washington, 30–21

Week 14 Record: 9–7

Overall Record: 118–88–2