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Week 15 Picks, Part I

Thursday, Dec. 13
Denver Broncos (6-7) at Houston Texans (6-7), 8:15 p.m.
Statistically evenly matched. The loser is out of the playoffs. The winner's chances are very slim. Could it be Mike Shanahan's swan song? If he loses to his former protege, you never know. Houston's red-on-red uniforms look like something out of the XFL. No, I guess I don't have anything to say.
Prediction: Broncos, 17-13.

Saturday, Dec. 15
Cincinnati Bengals (5-8) at San Francisco 49ers (3-10), 8:15 p.m.
Games like these are difficult to predict. Wins are relatively meaningless to these teams. With Marvin Lewis on the hot seat, some players may have little motivation. Having no chance at the playoffs and trading their first-round pick to New England, neither winning nor losing has any impact on San Francisco. Few players are "playing for pride." Most are playing for paychecks, and that means playing to keep their jobs or to improve their free-agent market-value. San Fran remains a single point ahead of Miami for worst point differential at minus-141. It's hard to pick a team like that.
Prediction: Bengals, 31-10.