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Week 15 NFL picks: Can 49ers beat Dalton-less Bengals?

We're back with Week 15 NFL picks for our Yahoo! pick 'em contest. I've also included my pick against the spread for Thursday Night Football.

Welcome back for another round of picks! Week 15 marks the first of two straight weeks with Saturday evening football. The Dallas Cowboys host the New York Jets, with kickoff scheduled for 5:25 p.m. PT on NFL Network. We'll make sure and have an open thread for that game. That follows tonight's matchup between the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and St. Louis Rams on the very fringe of the playoff race.

I'll be posting my full picks against the spread on Saturday, but for today, I have posted my straight up picks down below, as well as my ATS pick for TNF. You can view the NN pick 'em contest results over here. I was 10-6 in Week 13, which brings me to 126-84 for the season.

The San Francisco 49ers are back home this week, facing the Cincinnati Bengals in their final inter-conference matchup. The 49ers are a 4.5-point underdog, down from an expected seven point line due to Andy Dalton's injury. The Bengals quarterback fractured his thumb in Week 14, and will not play for at least four weeks. I'm really tempted by the 49ers in this game. Even with last week's embarrassing loss to the Cleveland Browns, the 49ers have played well at home. They face A.J. McCarron in his first career start, which puts a twist on things. More than likely I'll just stay away from the game, but I do think the 49ers can win this one.

Thursday features two teams barely alive in the playoff race. The 5-8 St. Louis Rams host the 6-7 Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The two wild card berths are currently held by the 8-5 Seattle Seahawks, and the 8-5 Minnesota Vikings. The Bucs have a slim chance at climbing back into this, while the Rams are all but eliminated. I don't expect either to earn a playoff berth, but both can show off intriguing rookie talent on Thursday. Jameis Winston is looking like a keeper for the Bucs, while Todd Gurley has serious potential for the Rams.

The Rams are a two-point favorite in this one. This is a tough one for me to call. I'm going to with the Bucs bouncing back for a win, but I am not overly confident about it.

Here are my Week 15 picks for our pick 'em contest.

Bucs @ Rams: Bucs
Jets @ Cowboys: Jets
Bears @ Vikings: Vikings
Falcons @ Jaguars: Jaguars
Texans @ Colts: Colts
Panthers @ Giants: Panthers
Titans @ Patriots: Patriots
Bills @ Washington: Buffalo
Chiefs @ Ravens: Chiefs
Browns @ Seahawks: Seahawks
Packers @ Raiders: Packers
Broncos @ Steelers: Steelers
Dolphins @ Chargers: Chargers
Bengals @ 49ers: 49ers
Cardinals @ Eagles: Cardinals
Lions @ Saints: Saints