This week’s NFL slate features one of the best TNF matchups of the year in Chiefs vs Chargers, along with a strong Saturday night game between the Patriots and Colts. Read on for our picks and predictions for Week 15.
Week 15 of the 2021 NFL season is here, and the race for the playoffs is heating up in both conferences. Strangely, the Wild Card slots in both conference are pretty much entirely up for grabs—save the 5th seed in the NFC, which the Rams have a big lead on. Even our Falcons have a 12% chance of reaching the playoffs in mid-December—and that chance could skyrocket into the 40s with an upset victory over the 49ers on Sunday. Easier said than done, however.
I finally strung together two quality weeks and posted my best record of the season by going 10-4 in Week 14. That’s opened up a substantial cushion above .500, as I’m now 62-51-1 on my shortened picks season. Now’s the time to get spicy and continue picking some underdogs—hopefully I don’t blow it this time. Read on for my picks and predictions for Week 15’s games!
Thursday Night Football: Kansas City Chiefs (9-4) at Los Angeles Chargers (8-5)
The pick: Chiefs (-160)
Spread: Chiefs -3 | Over/Under: 52 | Moneyline: Chiefs -160, Chargers +140
The best Thursday Night Football game we’ve seen in awhile approaches in Week 15, with a matchup between the resurgent Chiefs and the hot-and-cold Chargers. If both teams play to their potential, this could be a tremendous contest and potential shootout between two of the best QBs in the NFL. It could also be a defensive slugfest if Los Angeles cools off and KC’s offense remains stuck in the mud. I’m going with the Chiefs here, because I just can’t trust the Chargers week-to-week.
Saturday Afternoon: Las Vegas Raiders (6-7) at Cleveland Browns (7-6)
The pick: Raiders (-120)
Spread: Raiders -1 | Over/Under: 38.5 | Moneyline: Raiders -120, Browns +100
What could’ve been a spicy battle between two relatively disappointing teams as they jockey for Wild Card spots is now looking like a COVID disaster. The Browns have a huge number of starters on the reserve/COVID-19 list and could add even more before the game. Who knows if any of the players, including QB Baker Mayfield, will return before Saturday. The Raiders are still capable of winning games—they just haven’t done it much lately. As the significantly healthier team, I’m leaning slightly towards Vegas.
Saturday Night: New England Patriots (9-4) at Indianapolis Colts (7-6)
The pick: Patriots (+125)
Spread: Colts -2.5 | Over/Under: 45 | Moneyline: Colts -145, Patriots +125
This looks like a great matchup between the AFC’s top seed and a very good but inconsistent contender in the Colts. Jonathan Taylor has been the most productive offensive player in the league over the past month—can he continue that dominance against the Patriots? The Colts have a chance here, but I can’t resist taking the Patriots as an underdog.
Dallas Cowboys (9-4) at New York Giants (4-9)
The pick: Cowboys (-525)
Spread: Cowboys -10.5 | Over/Under: 44.5 | Moneyline: Cowboys -525, Giants +385
Will the Giants get Daniel Jones back, and just how bad will New York’s COVID outbreak be? Those are the two big questions surrounding this game, but the outcome either way is not really in doubt: the Cowboys are 10+ point favorites for a reason.
Houston Texans (2-11) at Jacksonville Jaguars (2-11)
The pick: Texans +155
Spread: Jaguars -4 | Over/Under: 39.5 | Moneyline: Jaguars -180, Texans +155
A matchup between two of the worst teams in football? Nobody wins—except for teams hoping to climb the draft order behind them. The Jaguars and their coaching situation scream “dead team walking”, and I just can’t pick them. Instead, I’ll go with the Texans, who are at least spicy on occasion even if they usually lose in the end.
Tennessee Titans (9-4) at Pittsburgh Steelers (6-6-1)
The pick: Titans (-120)
Spread: Titans -1.5 | Over/Under: 41.5 | Moneyline: Titans -120, Steelers +100
The Titans got a much-needed win over the Jaguars last week, and seem to have righted the ship on offense. Tennessee is getting healthier just in time for the Steelers, who have sort of lumbered into a 6-6-1 record. I like the Titans to build on last week’s game by putting the Steelers’ playoff hopes to bed.
Arizona Cardinals (10-3) at Detroit Lions (1-11-1)
The pick: Cardinals (-675)
Spread: Cardinals -12.5 | Over/Under: 47 | Moneyline: Cardinals -675, Lions +475
The Cardinals are playing the Lions. Enough said.
Carolina Panthers (5-8) at Buffalo Bills (7-6)
The pick: Bills (-525)
Spread: Bills -11 | Over/Under: 44.5 | Moneyline: Bills -525, Panthers +385
The Panthers defense is no longer enough to save them, as the two-QB offense that Matt Rhule is apparently dead-set on running turned the ball over repeatedly against the Falcons and all-but-assured a defeat. While the Bills have struggled during a very difficult stretch of their schedule, they shouldn’t have too much trouble shutting down Carolina at home.
New York Jets (3-10) at Miami Dolphins (6-7)
The pick: Dolphins (-475)
Spread: Dolphins -10 | Over/Under: 42.5 | Moneyline: Dolphins -475, Jets +350
The Dolphins have performed a miraculous turnaround and are one of the hottest teams in the NFL. They still have some glaring flaws on offense, but their defense is playing like the elite unit we expected going into the season. The Jets have started to fare a little better in recent weeks with the return and limited grown of Zach Wilson, but they’ll still get whipped by good teams.
Washington Football Team (6-7) at Philadelphia Eagles (6-7)
The pick: Eagles (-320)
Spread: Eagles -7 | Over/Under: 44 | Moneyline: Eagles -320, WFT +250
I probably would’ve taken Washington in the upset here, but the questionable status of both Taylor Heinicke and backup QB Kyle Allen make it far too spicy. The Eagles may or may not have Jalen Hurst back, but Gardner Minshew played just fine in his absence. I think Philadelphia pulls ahead in the race for the 7th seed this week.
Cincinnati Bengals (7-6) at Denver Broncos (7-6)
The pick: Bengals (+130)
Spread: Broncos -2.5 | Over/Under: 44.5 | Moneyline: Broncos -150, Bengals +130
The Bengals are very inconsistent, and so are the Broncos. Both have their clear strengths, with Denver establishing itself as a high-powered rushing attack and Cincinnati showcasing a balanced approach on offense and defense. I see this one as as coin-flip, and it has massive implications for the AFC’s Wild Card race—or perhaps even the division title, in Cincinnati’s case. I’ll take the Bengals as the slight underdog here.
Atlanta Falcons (6-7) at San Francisco 49ers (7-6)
The pick: 49ers (-435)
Spread: 49ers -9.5 | Over/Under: 46 | Moneyline: 49ers -435, Falcons +330
The most important game of the season for the Falcons is also one that they’re 9.5-point underdogs in. It’s not going to be easy for Atlanta defeat San Francisco—a much more talented roster on both sides of the ball. The Falcons probably have to play their best game of the year to pull off the upset, as well as hope for another poor home performance from the 49ers. I hope they do it, but I don’t really think they will.
Green Bay Packers (10-3) at Baltimore Ravens (8-5)
The pick: Packers (-235)
Spread: Packers -5 | Over/Under: 43.5 | Moneyline: Packers -235, Ravens +190
Green Bay may get to avoid a matchup with Lamar Jackson, as the quarterback’s status remains up in the air for Sunday. But even with Jackson healthy, it would be a difficult task for the Ravens to take down the Packers—who have moved into the NFC’s #1 seed. Baltimore always plays close games, so I don’t think Green Bay runs away with this one. They still get the win.
Seattle Seahawks (5-8) at Los Angeles Rams (9-4)
The pick: Rams (-200)
Spread: Rams -4.5 | Over/Under: 45 | Moneyline: Rams -200, Seahawks +170
The Rams took down the Cardinals in primetime, showing that they’re still a force to be reckoned with in the NFC playoff picture. Now they face a Seahawks team trying to pull off a miracle finish to sneak into the playoffs. These two teams generally play each other close, but I think Los Angeles shuts down Seattle’s hopes with a win on Sunday.
Sunday Night Football: New Orleans Saints (6-7) at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (10-3)
The pick: Bucs (-525)
Spread: Bucs -11 | Over/Under: 46.5 | Moneyline: Bucs -525, Saints +385
The kiss of death officially ran out of luck last week as the Saints got the win over the Jets. I clearly need to pivot my strategy now and save the kiss for more important matchups later in the season. Tampa Bay is one of the best teams in the NFC and is slowly starting to get healthier. I think they take care of a floundering New Orleans team on Sunday.
Monday Night Football: Minnesota Vikings (6-7) at Chicago Bears (4-9)
The pick: Vikings (-190)
Spread: Vikings -3.5 | Over/Under: 44 | Moneyline: Vikings -190, Bears +160
At long last, I think I’ve finally deduced a way to accurately predict Vikings games: they come in pairs. Since Week 5, the Vikings have repeated the W-W, L-L pattern twice and are now in the next set with the win against Pittsburgh. Clearly, they will win this week—reigniting hope in the fanbase of making the playoffs—before promptly losing the next two to the Rams and Packers and falling out contention entirely. The Bears are at the mercy of this pattern too, sadly, and thus are cursed to lose on Monday.
Odds/lines subject to change. T&Cs apply. See draftkings.com/sportsbook for details.