2021 NFL Expert Picks: Week 15

2021 NFL Expert Picks: Week 15

by December 16, 2021 0 comments

Two NFL experts from the Prime Time Sports Talk staff came together to share their picks for Week 15.

These two writers will make their picks for the entire season. (Failure to accurately predict a tie will be treated as a loss.) A record will be listed at the bottom of every article. An archive of all 18 regular-season and four playoff editions can be found here.

Sam Schneider and Andersen Pickard contributed to this article.

Kansas City Chiefs vs. Los Angeles Chargers

Sam: Chiefs 30, Chargers 17

As predicted, Kansas City has turned the corner. They’ve rattled off six straight wins, while their division mate Los Angeles has won four of their last six. To be the best, you have to beat the best, and there is no reason to expect the Chargers to rise to that challenge. The Chiefs win their seventh straight and assert their continued dominance in the AFC West.

Andersen: Chiefs 34, Chargers 28

The Chiefs put on a show while defending their home turf from the Raiders on Sunday. Although the Chargers are at least one tier up from Vegas, they still don’t bring quite enough juice to dismantle a Kansas City team that has hit its stride, especially on defense.

Las Vegas Raiders vs. Cleveland Browns

Sam: Browns 22, Raiders 20

With the number of players placed on the COVID list for Cleveland, the gambling spread has swung dramatically in the Raiders’ favor. However, several of those players still have an opportunity to make a return after passing two tests. Las Vegas is still in disarray after Jon Gruden was fired, and the Browns are going to run it up the gut with Nick Chubb and D’Ernest Johnson.

Andersen: Raiders 24, Browns 13

COVID-19 has plagued the Browns locker room, knocking the likes of Baker Mayfield, Jarvis Landry, Kevin Stefanski, and many others in isolation. Even if Cleveland gets its key players back for this Saturday (which is not a guarantee), the pieced-together week and lack of practice will spell disaster.

New England Patriots vs. Indianapolis Colts

Sam: Colts 26, Patriots 17

New England has won seven in a row on the strength of their defense, but Indianapolis has been playing great defense of late, as well. Expect a healthy dose of Jonathan Taylor and a few timely throws from Carson Wentz to keep the Pats’ Mac Jones and the running back core off the field.

Andersen: Patriots 14, Colts 10

Serious question: who will figure out this relentless Patriots defense? Jonathan Taylor can try all he wants, but the Indy offense will be set back by poor decision-making from Carson Wentz. If the Patriots can hold Taylor to under 150 scrimmage yards, they should prevail on Saturday night.

Tennessee Titans vs. Pittsburgh Steelers

Sam: Titans 24, Steelers 20

This should be a really fun game, and the pendulum could swing in either direction at the drop of the hat. The nod goes to Tennessee, who overall is playing better team football, even after losing Derrick Henry. Heinz Field is no longer a tremendous home field advantage for Pittsburgh, and in this one, Ryan Tannehill shows up and shows out against a suspect secondary.

Andersen: Steelers 24, Titans 21

There are a lot of unknowns surrounding this game. For example, after facing a Jaguars team that rolled over last week, how will Tennessee fare against more stern competition? On the other side, will Big Ben stay upright and can Chase Claypool just stay out of the headlines for once? In the end, the Steelers have more talent and will win by three.

Carolina Panthers vs. Buffalo Bills

Sam: Bills 41, Panthers 13

This is assuming Josh Allen will play on Sunday. If he does not, all bets are off, because there would be no sparkplug remaining for Buffalo. I expect him to play, and also expect him to damage Carolina with his legs, rather than his arm. Bills stampede to a victory.

Andersen: Bills 34, Panthers 11

It’s worth monitoring Josh Allen‘s status this week, but even if he can’t play, the Bills should still end up in the win column. Carolina’s never-ending quarterback woes continue. On the other hand, Buffalo has dealt with some adversity, but the Panthers should be an easier task than the Patriots or Buccaneers.

Washington Football Team vs. Philadelphia Eagles

Sam: Eagles 30, Football Team 13

Washington now has 21 players on the COVID list. Certainly, some of them will pass the two-test requirement to return, but we are talking two centers, three defensive ends, multiple safeties, and others. Compound that with injury designations to Taylor Heinicke and Terry McLaurin, this does not bode well. They are going to get killed in Philadelphia.

Andersen: Eagles 21, Football Team 17

Injuries remain a point of discussion for Washington, which is closely monitoring the statuses of Taylor Heinicke and Terry McLaurin. Regardless of their official injury designations, it would be reasonable to expect some limitations surrounding the duo this week. That bodes well for an Eagles team coming off its bye and looking for a spark with Jalen Hurts returning under center.

Houston Texans vs. Jacksonville Jaguars

Sam: Jaguars 27, Texans 24

If I am not mistaken, in this article last week I mentioned that it would be the last game for Urban Meyer in Jacksonville. Nobody likes a braggart, so I digress. Out from under the thumb of a guy who had no business coaching in the NFL to begin with, the Jaguars get an opportunity to feel good about themselves against a terrible Houston team, and they do just that.

Andersen: Texans 21, Jaguars 14

David Mills showed plenty of potential against the Seahawks last week. The Jaguars should only represent an easier foe. Speaking of Jacksonville, Urban Meyer was fired this week in what was likely the easiest decision owner Shad Khan had to make.

Dallas Cowboys vs. New York Giants

Sam: Cowboys 33, Giants 20

The Cowboys’ offense has not looked nearly as dominant as it did to start the season, but the defense has stepped up to give them a lift. This week, expect Dallas to unleash quarterback Dak Prescott and wideout Amari Cooper in a divisional matchup that’s going to get out of hand early, as the Cowboys roll to their 10th win.

Andersen: Cowboys 37, Giants 13

Mike Glennon or Jake Fromm. It’s time to pick the greater of two evils. Regardless of whom New York rolls with, the Cowboys’ defense will rip them apart. At the same time, even with Ezekiel Elliott struggling and Dak Prescott posting a quiet Week 14 showing, the Dallas offense is in the top tier of the NFL. This could get ugly real fast.

Arizona Cardinals vs. Detroit Lions

Sam: Cardinals 36, Lions 20

The Lions are not good. There, it’s been said. Kyler Murray and company run away with this one before the faithful in Detroit even know what hit them. A late touchdown makes it look a little better, but they were never in it from the start. Arizona came out of the tunnel already up by two touchdowns.

Andersen: Cardinals 34, Lions 23

Speaking of games that could get out of hand early, don’t be surprised one bit when the Cardinals go up on the Lions. Their offense, to its credit, has gotten better, so some garbage-time scoring could pull Detroit within two possessions. Still, Arizona will be in the driver’s seat for the entirety of this one.

New York Jets vs. Miami Dolphins

Sam: Dolphins 17, Jets 10

Tuning in for this game is inadvisable, as it is sure to be an ugly one. Neither of these teams have done anything to impress thus far. The Jets do have a solid defensive unit, and Miami’s is underrated, but this game will be marred by mistakes and bad play calls. I guess Tua Tagovailoa is better than Zach Wilson, so we’ll roll with the Dolphins in this one.

Andersen: Dolphins 21, Jets 16

It might not be quite enough, but the Dolphins’ run in the final half to two-thirds of the season has been phenomenal. Miami is showing indications that it could be a playoff contender as soon as 2022, assuming it misses out this year. They’ll get the better of New York and the inexperienced Zach Wilson in this divisional clash.

Cincinnati Bengals vs. Denver Broncos

Sam: Broncos 26, Bengals 24

With right tackle Riley Reiff (ankle) out, as well as cornerback Chidobe Awuzie (COVID-19), the Bengals are coming in to this one skittish. Both teams enter at 7-6 and trying to keep pace in their respective divisions. Without Reiff, Cincinnati will be susceptible to the pass rush. Although Joe Burrow will keep them in the game late, Cincy loses another heartbreaker.

Andersen: Bengals 28, Broncos 27

Wow, this could get good. The Broncos have been quietly rising up the ranks as of late while the Bengals have looked strong on both sides of the football. It’s very possible that all seven touchdowns scored in this game come from running backs. Keep an eye on this matchup as a potential Game of the Week.

Atlanta Falcons vs. San Francisco 49ers

Sam: Falcons 31, 49ers 21

Upset special of the week. San Francisco has played well of late, but their secondary has no answer for Matt Ryan. Expect Atlanta to come out “bombs away” and completely catch Kyle Shanahan’s team off guard. The 49ers are not built for major comebacks, so the “shock and awe” treatment puts them on their heels, and they do not recover.

Andersen: 49ers 34, Falcons 24

The 49ers’ offense, headlined by the unstoppable George Kittle, has completely hit its stride as of late. San Francisco looks like a team that currently holds a playoff berth and will refuse to surrender it the rest of the way.

Seattle Seahawks vs. Los Angeles Rams

Sam: Rams 30, Seahawks 20

Seattle’s pass defense has been exploited often this season, and a resurgent Matthew Stafford is going to take advantage, along with Cooper Kupp, who has been playing like a man possessed. The rumblings in the Pacific Northwest are about to grow louder as the Seahawks fall again in a big game.

Andersen: Rams 27, Seahawks 23

The Rams inched a bit higher in the playoff race with a win over the Cardinals on Monday. The Seahawks won, too, but their opponent was a measly Houston team focused on draft picks. Assuming they receive good news about their lingering COVID-19 outbreak over the next few days, the Rams should win.

Green Bay Packers vs. Baltimore Ravens

Sam: Packers 31, Ravens 17

Lamar Jackson appears unlikely to play, and Tyler Huntley does not exactly strike fear into anyone’s heart. Considering Jackson is basically the crux of the offense, the Ravens stand no chance against Green Bay, even at home. Packers keep rolling.

Andersen: Packers 31, Ravens 24

The Packers are really good and Aaron Rodgers is an MVP candidate again. Green Bay will pick apart an overrated Ravens defense while the Baltimore offense struggles. Even if Lamar Jackson plays, the unit has been trending downward as of late. They’ll escape from this rut eventually, but it won’t come against a Packers team that can deliver a blow in so many ways.

New Orleans Saints vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Sam: Buccaneers 26, Saints 16

Tampa Bay is going to crowd the box and absolutely dare Taysom Hill to throw the ball, rather than let he or Alvin Kamara run. The Saints have great defensive potential, but are often inconsistent. Short fields will play right into the defending champions’ hands, and they win the divisional battle with ease.

Andersen: Buccaneers 24, Saints 21

Divisional games are always close. That’s no secret. Although the Buccaneers should win, the current spread of 10.5 in Tampa Bay’s favor is absurd. Alvin Kamara‘s return gives an exponential boost to the Saints’ offense, which (combined with its defense) can perform enough to remain competitive in this one.

Minnesota Vikings vs. Chicago Bears

Sam: Vikings 34, Bears 14

Chicago simply does not have any offensive weapons. Justin Fields has been terrible, and neither veteran backup has been anything to write home about. The Bears are not a good team. They get mauled at Soldier Field against a Vikings team that isn’t exactly a lot to write home about, either.

Andersen: Vikings 27, Bears 20

Dalvin Cook is a cheat code. Heck, while we’re at it, so is Justin Jefferson. This Bears team is easily frazzled. They’ll trail the Vikings early and never come back despite what Minnesota’s poor track record with leads suggests.

Records

Sam: 120-88
Joe: 101-79
Andersen: 126-82


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Sam Schneider on Twitter @BuyAndSellYou
Andersen Pickard on Twitter @AndersenPickard

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Andersen is a teenage sportswriter and reporter whose articles have appeared across the Prime Time Sports Talk, Sports Illustrated Kids, FantasyPros, and SB Nation platforms. He has also received credit from RotoWorld, CBS Sports, ESPN, Bleacher Report, USA Today, Yahoo Sports, The Athletic, SB Nation, NBC Sports, NY Post, and dozens of other sports sites for his reporting work.

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