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PFT’s Week 15 picks

There's plenty at stake when the 8-5 Buccaneers face the 11-2 Cowboys as struggling Dak Prescott could be fighting to remain the team's starter at quarterback with Tony Romo waiting for another chance.

With three weeks left, MDS has taken the lead.

By correctly picking the Panthers to beat the Chargers, he finished 12-4. I picked the Chargers, which has left me at 11-5 and one game back with 48 more games to pick.

This week, we disagree on two of the prime-time games, including the biggest game of the weekend. Every pick for Week 16 appears below.

Rams at Seahawks

MDS’s take: The Jeff Fisher era is over, but the losing is not. The Seahawks aren’t playing their best football right now, but they’re playing well enough that they should easily dispatch a Rams team that’s been through a rough week.

MDS’s pick: Seahawks 24, Rams 10.

Florio’s take: Jeff Fisher’s non-excuse for losing this one would be that the Rams fired their head coach only three days before the game.

Florio’s pick: Seahawks 35, Rams 13.

Dolphins at Jets

MDS’s take: Despite losing Ryan Tannehill, the Dolphins will remain in the playoff hunt thanks to their easy schedule. They shouldn’t need Tannehill to beat the Jets.

MDS’s pick: Dolphins 20, Jets 10.

Florio’s take: Matt Moore was the team MVP in 2011, and he has the experience to get it done with limited time to prepare. The Jets got an unlikely win in San Francisco; they can take another night off, like they did against the Colts.

Florio’s pick: Dolphins 27, Jets 17.

Packers at Bears

MDS’s take: The Bears are playing better than anyone could have expected given that three quarterback injuries have left them with Matt Barkley, who wasn’t even on the roster four months ago. Still, they’re not playing well enough to beat the Packers.

MDS’s pick: Packers 21, Bears 17.

Florio’s take: The Bears would surely love to play spoiler for their biggest rivals, but the Packers are firing on all cylinders. And a one-legged Aaron Rodgers would still run rings around a fully-functioning Matt Barkley.

Florio’s pick: Packers 31, Bears 17.

Jaguars at Texans

MDS’s take: The Texans aren’t a particularly good team, but they keep finding ways to beat their divisional opponents, and that should be enough to win the AFC South.

MDS’s pick: Texans 24, Jaguars 14.

Florio’s take: The Texans are making a push for another short stint in the playoffs. The Jaguars had a short stint with relevance in 2016.

Florio’s pick: Texans 27, Jaguars 13.

Browns at Bills

MDS’s take: If Rex Ryan wants to avoid Jeff Fisher’s fate, beating the Browns is a must. He’ll have his players ready to play.

MDS’s pick: Bills 27, Browns 10.

Florio’s take: It would be fitting for the suddenly dysfunctional Bills to become the first team to lose to the Browns in more than a full year. And if this one were being played in Cleveland, the Browns would be the pick. The Bills will find a way to win this one, despite their best efforts to find ways to lose it.

Florio’s pick: Bills 23, Browns 16.

Eagles at Ravens

MDS’s take: The Ravens are still fighting for a playoff spot, while the Eagles appear to be pretty much out of fight. I like Baltimore to win this one handily.

MDS’s pick: Ravens 30, Eagles 13.

Florio’s take: Baltimore knows that stakes: Run the table, get to the playoffs. They’ll have an easier time against the team from the eastern side of Pennsylvania.

Florio’s pick: Ravens 23, Eagles 10.

Titans at Chiefs

MDS’s take: In a game with AFC playoff implications for both teams, I like the Chiefs to maintain first place in the AFC West with a solid victory.

MDS’s pick: Chiefs 27, Titans 17.

Florio’s take: It’ll be 11 degrees on Sunday in Kansas City. For a young quarterback who grew up in Hawaii, that’s probably too much for an overachieveing team to handle.

Florio’s pick: Chiefs 20, Titans 10.

Lions at Giants

MDS’s take: This may be the most intriguing game on the schedule. Both the Lions and the Giants still have an outside shot of earning home-field advantage throughout the NFC playoffs. But both teams are still at risk of missing the playoffs entirely as well. I’ll pick the Giants to win a close game at home.

MDS’s pick: Giants 24, Lions 23.

Florio’s take: A pair of 9-4 teams get together with plenty at stake. The Lions will keep it close, but home-field advantage plus the confidence that comes from sweeping the Cowboys is the difference for the Giants.

Florio’s pick: Giants 24, Lions 20.

Colts at Vikings

MDS’s take: The Colts threw away their best chance to win the AFC South last week. This week I think the Vikings will finish them off, while keeping their own playoff hopes alive.

MDS’s pick: Vikings 17, Colts 13.

Florio’s take: A pair of underachieving teams meet in a de facto elimination game. Both eventually will be eliminated. The Colts get eliminated a little sooner.

Florio’s pick: Vikings 31, Colts 17.

Steelers at Bengals

MDS’s take: The Steelers are closing in on the AFC North title, and they should take care of business in Cincinnati.

MDS’s pick: Steelers 37, Bengals 21.

Florio’s take: The Bengals have improved in recent weeks, but the Steelers are hitting their stride and the Bengals are simply playing out the string. This time around, the Steelers won’t need a pair of 15-yard penalties to snatch a season-extending win.

Florio’s pick: Steelers 30, Bengals 20.

Saints at Cardinals

MDS’s take: Both of these teams have had disappointing seasons: When the schedule came out, few thought this would be a meaningless game in the NFC playoff race. I think the Cardinals are playing a little harder down the stretch, however, and will pull out this game at home.

MDS’s pick: Cardinals 21, Saints 14.

Florio’s take: Pride is on the line, but not much more, as a pair of potential contenders punch another stop on their way to getting the season over with. David Johnson is the difference.

Florio’s pick: Cardinals 27, Saints 24.

49ers at Falcons

MDS’s take: This is the easiest game on the board to pick, as the Falcons are fighting for the NFC South title and the 49ers are a mess.

MDS’s pick: Falcons 38, 49ers 14.

Florio’s take: An old-school NFC West rivalry isn’t nearly as compelling as it once was, with the 49ers losing 12 in a row. The Falcons can’t afford a hiccup, given the unlikely ascension of the Buccaneers.

Florio’s pick: Falcons 27, 49ers 17.

Patriots at Broncos

MDS’s take: The Broncos’ excellent pass defense should hold Tom Brady in check, but the Patriots’ defense won’t yield many points, and New England will win a close, low-scoring game.

MDS’s pick: Patriots 16, Broncos 13.

Florio’s take: The Bill Belichick/Tom Brady Patriots have struggled in Denver, but Trevor Siemian falls closer to the Danny Kannell/Tim Tebow category than Jake Plummer/Peyton Manning/pre-Texans Brock Osweiler.

Florio’s pick: Patriots 27, Broncos 20.

Raiders at Chargers

MDS’s take: I’m tempted to pick the Chargers in the upset, as I think they’re better than their record suggests, while the Raiders aren’t quite as good as their record suggests. But with the Raiders playing for the playoffs and the Chargers playing for nothing, I’ll say Oakland makes a big play in the fourth quarter to turn the game.

MDS’s pick: Raiders 24, Chargers 21.

Florio’s take: In their final visit to San Diego, the Raiders give the locals another reason to not be upset about the team’s looming relocation.

Florio’s pick: Raiders 27, Chargers 17.

Buccaneers at Cowboys

MDS’s take: The Bucs are one of the hottest teams in football right now, but I think Dak Prescott is going to bounce back from a rough game last week and turn in a big game this week.

MDS’s pick: Cowboys 31, Buccaneers 24.

Florio’s take: The Buccaneers have made far more accomplished quarterbacks look like rookies this year. What will they do to a rookie? We’ll know it when we see it.

Florio’s pick: Buccaneers 24, Cowboys 23.

Panthers at Washington

MDS’s take: Carolina is long since out of it, while Washington remains in the thick of the playoff race. Washington will be motivated to turn in a big performance in a must-win game.

MDS’s pick: Washington 28, Panthers 20.

Florio’s take: With their own playoff hopes dashed, the Panthers would love to do the same to Josh Norman’s.

Florio’s pick: Panthers 30, Washington 24.