NFL capsules for Week 15

December 14, 2021 06:37 PM
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Kansas City Chiefs at Los Angeles Chargers

Week 15 kicks off Thursday night as the Kansas City Chiefs (9-4 SU, 6-7 ATS) and Los Angeles Chargers (8-5 SU, 7-6 ATS) square off in a key AFC West clash. After an uninspiring 3-4 start, the Chiefs have won six straight and have covered in their last four games, culminating with a 48-point outburst Sunday against the Raiders. The much-maligned Chiefs defense has given up only two touchdowns in the last three weeks, with both scores coming late in games that had long been decided. The Chargers’ high-powered offense is hitting its stride as well, as Los Angeles has put up 78 points over its last two games. These teams met in Week 3, with the Chargers winning 30-24 in Kansas City, and the winner of this game will lead the AFC West. The Chargers hope to get wide receiver Keenan Allen back off the COVID-19 list after he missed last week’s game. The Chiefs are 3-point favorites, with the total sitting at 49.

Las Vegas Raiders at Cleveland Browns

The first Saturday game of the year features the Las Vegas Raiders (6-7 SU, 5-8 ATS), coming off Sunday’s 48-9 beatdown at the hands of the Chiefs, and the Cleveland Browns (7-6 SU, 5-8 ATS). The Browns held on for dear life Sunday when a 24-6 second-half lead turned into a 24-22 nail-biter as they beat back a furious rally from the Ravens. Despite the victory, the Browns must have some concern for an offense that was shut out in the second half and has struggled moving the ball. Running back Kareem Hunt left the game early with an ankle injury, and his status will be something to monitor on a short week. Raiders standout tight end Darren Waller (knee/back) has missed the last two games. These teams met in November 2020, with the Raiders winning 16-6 on an extremely windy day in Cleveland. The Browns are favored by 5.5, and the total is 44.

New England Patriots at Indianapolis Colts

The Saturday slate concludes with a good one, as the New England Patriots (9-4 SU and ATS) are 1-point underdogs when they visit the Indianapolis Colts (7-6 SU, 8-5 ATS). Both teams will have extra rest coming off byes, and the Patriots are looking to cement their status as the No. 1 seed in the AFC. These are two of the hotter teams in the league. The Patriots have won six in a row, while the Colts have gone 7-3 since an 0-3 start. The Patriots’ winning streak has come on the strength of an airtight defense that has allowed just 7.2 points per game over the last five games. These are two of the more run-heavy teams in the league, as both average nearly 30 rush attempts per game. The total is 45.

Washington Football Team at Philadelphia Eagles

A crucial NFC East battle takes place when Washington (6-7 SU, 5-8 ATS) and the Philadelphia Eagles (6-7 SU, 7-6 ATS) square off in a game that will leave the loser in great danger of missing the playoffs. The Eagles will be coming off a bye and hope to have quarterback Jalen Hurts back in the lineup after he missed the previous game with an ankle injury. Washington also faces uncertainty at quarterback after Taylor Heinicke injured his knee in last week’s loss to Dallas and was unable to finish the game. Kyle Allen replaced Heinicke and helped rally the team from a 24-0 deficit to get within a score late. Washington averaged only 3.6 yards per play in defeat. The Eagles are favored by 4, and the total is 45.

Carolina Panthers at Buffalo Bills

Losers of eight of their last 10, the Carolina Panthers (5-8 SU and ATS) take on the reeling Buffalo Bills (7-6 SU and ATS). Not long ago the Bills were the short shot in terms of odds to win it all, but they have lost three of four and are in danger of missing the playoffs altogether. They rallied from a 24-3 deficit Sunday against the Bucs but fell 33-27 in overtime. Quarterback Josh Allen was in a walking boot after the game and is considered day-to-day with an ankle injury. The Panthers’ quarterback situation isn’t ideal either as Cam Newton and P.J. Walker saw action in Sunday’s 29-21 loss to the Falcons. Panthers coach Matt Rhule maintains that Newton will be the starter but says Walker will also be involved in the game plan. The Bills are favored by 9, while the total sits at 43.5.

New York Jets at Miami Dolphins

The Miami Dolphins (6-7 SU and ATS) will be off a bye and looking to hang on to their slim playoff hopes as they host the New York Jets (3-10 SU and ATS). After losing seven in a row, the Dolphins have won five straight and have fought back to the fringe of the playoff race. The Jets are coming off a 30-9 loss to the Saints, and their offense has gone 10 consecutive quarters without reaching the end zone. All three running backs on the Dolphins’ depth chart were on the COVID-19 list early this week, as their status remains uncertain. These teams met in Week 11, with the Dolphins winning 24-17 on the road. The Dolphins are 8-point chalk, with the total at 43.

Dallas Cowboys at New York Giants

The Dallas Cowboys (9-4 SU, 10-3 ATS) are closing in on the NFC East title and look to move one step closer as they visit the New York Giants (4-9 SU, 6-7 ATS). The Cowboys held off a late rally last week to defeat Washington, nearly squandering a 24-0 lead. While the Cowboys are among the top teams in the league, averaging 6 yards per play on offense, the Giants are near the bottom, averaging just over 5 YPP. The Cowboys are favored by 10.5, with the total sitting at 45, as they try to replicate their 44-20 Week 4 win over the Giants. New York quarterback Daniel Jones has missed the last two games with a neck injury, and backup Mike Glennon has struggled.

Tennessee Titans at Pittsburgh Steelers

The Tennessee Titans (9-4 SU, 8-5 ATS) recorded their first win in nearly a month as they shut out the Jaguars 20-0 on Sunday. They now take on the desperate Pittsburgh Steelers (6-6-1 SU, 5-8 ATS), who are in dire need of a victory and will have extra rest since they haven’t played since Thursday. The Titans have Julio Jones back, while A.J. Brown and Derrick Henry remain on injured reserve. Amid all the injuries, they have hung on to first place in the AFC South but have struggled on offense. Last week, even in victory, they managed to gain only 263 yards on 3.8 yards per play against the Jaguars. Standout Steelers defender T.J. Watt left last week’s loss to the Vikings and did not return, leaving his status in doubt. The Titans are 2-point road favorites, with the total at 43.

Houston Texans at Jacksonville Jaguars

The Houston Texans (2-11 SU, 5-8 ATS) defeated the Jacksonville Jaguars (2-11 SU, 4-9 ATS) in Week 1 but have since lost 11 of 12. Tyrod Taylor played quarterback for the Texans in the first matchup, but rookie Davis Mills has taken over. The Jaguars were shut out last week in Tennessee, averaging under 4 yards per play. Reports have surfaced of turmoil between rookie coach Urban Meyer and his staff, while the usage of running back James Robinson has been a point of contention as well. The Jaguars are favored by 3.5, and the total is 41.

Atlanta Falcons at San Francisco 49ers

Matt Ryan takes on his former offensive coordinator as the Atlanta Falcons (6-7 SU and ATS) visit Kyle Shanahan and the San Francisco 49ers (7-6 SU, 6-7 ATS). The 49ers, favored by 8.5, are currently the No. 6 seed in the NFC, while the Falcons are one of five teams at 6-7, just outside the playoffs. Both teams are coming off road victories, with the 49ers winning 26-23 in overtime after blowing a 20-6 fourth-quarter lead in Cincinnati. The Falcons won in Carolina and are alive in the wild-card race despite being near the bottom of the league in points per game (18.8) and points per game allowed (27.2). The total is 46.

Cincinnati Bengals at Denver Broncos

This crucial AFC matchup features teams desperate for victories as the Cincinnati Bengals (7-6 SU, 6-7 ATS) are 1-point road underdogs against the Denver Broncos (7-6 SU and ATS). The Broncos have had a winning streak of three and a losing streak of four this season, and both teams are in the thick of a jumbled AFC playoff picture. The Bengals are coming off a game in which they outgained the 49ers but lost in overtime despite gaining over 6 yards per play on offense. The loser will have a major uphill climb to reach the postseason. The total is set at 44, with the Broncos 10-3 to the Under this season.

Arizona Cardinals at Detroit Lions

After winning their first game two weeks ago, the Detroit Lions (1-11-1 SU, 8-5 ATS) dealt with a rash of injuries as well as a flu outbreak last week and were beaten 38–10 in Denver. They hope to get back key skill players T.J. Hockenson and D’Andre Swift when they host the Arizona Cardinals (10-3 SU, 9-4 ATS). The Cards are favored by 13, but running back James Conner and wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins were limping after Monday night’s loss to the Rams. Despite the loss, the Cardinals are top-5 in the league in points per game (28.2) and points per game allowed (19.5). The total is set at 47.

Green Bay Packers at Baltimore Ravens

The Green Bay Packers (10-3 SU, 11-2 ATS) are looking to improve on their league-best record against the spread and can clinch the NFC North with a victory. They face a Baltimore Ravens (8-5 SU, 6-7 ATS) team that is suddenly just one game up in the AFC North after their late rally fell short last week in Cleveland. The Ravens are dealing with a litany of injuries, primarily in the secondary, and now have concern over quarterback Lamar Jackson, who left last week’s game and did not return. The Packers will be looking to exploit a Ravens defense that is allowing 5.9 yards per play (30th). The visitors are favored by 5.5, with the total at 43.5.

Seattle Seahawks at Los Angeles Rams

Both teams come in riding two-game winning streaks after losing their previous three. The Seattle Seahawks (5-8 SU, 7-6 ATS) need a win to maintain their faint hopes of reaching the playoffs. They do have winnable games still to come against the Lions and Bears but can ill afford another loss. The Rams are coming off perhaps their best performance of the season, a 30-23 victory on “Monday Night Football” at Arizona. The Rams are favored by 7, and the total is 46.5. These teams met in October, with the Rams winning 26-17 in Seattle. Russell Wilson left that game early to due to a finger injury.

New Orleans Saints at Tampa Bay Buccaneers

With a chance to clinch the NFC South on Sunday night, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (10-3 SU, 7-6 ATS) host the New Orleans Saints (6-7 SU and ATS). Since Tom Brady joined the team, the Bucs have lost all three regular-season games against the Saints, including 36-27 on Oct. 31. Star running back Alvin Kamara returned last week as the Saints held the Jets out of the end zone en route to a 30-9 road victory. Both defenses are near the top of the league in rushing yards per game, with the Bucs third at 91.2 and the Saints sixth at 95. The Bucs are favored by 11.5, and 46.5 is the total.

Minnesota Vikings at Chicago Bears

Week 15 concludes with “Monday Night Football” as the Minnesota Vikings (6-7 SU, 7-6 ATS) look to even their record and stay in the NFC wild-card race. They will have extra rest, having not played since their thrilling 36-28 Thursday night victory over the Steelers. The Chicago Bears (4-9 SU and ATS) are near the bottom of the league on offense, averaging 5 yards per play (29th) and 17.8 points per game (26th). The Vikings are favored by 3.5 but have lost five of their last six matchups against the Bears and typically struggle in Chicago, where they are 5-16 SU since 2000. Dalvin Cook returned last week, missing just one game with a torn labrum. Adam Thielen has a high ankle sprain that caused him to miss last week’s game and is questionable. The total is 44.

 

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