For the first time since Week 5 of the 2021 NFL season, we will be making picks and predictions for a full 16-game slate. The bye weeks are now in the rearview mirror, and as an added bonus, we have Saturday NFL games for the next two weeks. Let’s take a look at the early NFL odds for Week 15 and make our picks and predictions.
NFL picks and predictions Week 15 | NFL lines and odds
The 2021 NFL standings have twisted and turned over the past few weeks, and the NFL playoff picture is seemingly shaken up every single week. What does that mean for the landscape of the NFL in Week 15, and how do the sportsbooks view this week?
Let’s take a look at the Week 15 picks, predictions, and NFL odds from DraftKings sportsbook as of 5:30 AM ET on December 13, starting with the games on Thursday and Saturday.
Thursday Night Football: Kansas City Chiefs (-3.5) at Los Angeles Chargers
Another dominant victory from the Chiefs has them sitting pretty at 9-4 on a six-game winning streak. During that stretch, the offense has had its moments, but it has been the defense that’s shone. They have only allowed more than 20 points once since Week 6 and could be the difference in this game.
The Chargers entered Week 14 as the only team to average 26 points per game scored and allowed. That is the problem for Los Angeles — if their offense doesn’t explode, their defense has trouble restricting opponents. That is very dangerous against this Chiefs team.
This could be an entertaining Thursday Night Football contest, but the Chiefs just have the more well-rounded team right now.
Chiefs vs. Chargers Prediction: Chiefs 33, Chargers 27
Saturday: Las Vegas Raiders at Cleveland Browns (-6.5)
The Raiders’ season is falling apart and the stagnation of their offense is largely the problem. They have scored more than 16 points just once in their last six games. Meanwhile, the Browns’ defense has only given up more than 16 points twice in the last seven games.
This could be a low-scoring affair, which is concerning with a spread around a touchdown. Week 14 was just the third time the Browns have scored more than 20 points in the past 10 games. In a game where neither offense appears convincing, taking the underdog getting 6.5 points feels like the smart play.
Raiders vs. Browns Prediction: Browns 20, Raiders 17
Saturday Night Football: New England Patriots at Indianapolis Colts (-1)
This is a clash of two of the best teams in the AFC. The Colts have won seven of their last 10, while the Patriots have won seven straight. The key will be how the Patriots play the Colts’ run game. If Bill Belichick focuses his defense’s attention on Jonathan Taylor, Carson Wentz and the passing attack may need to put the game on their shoulders.
If the Colts can establish the run game and put pressure on the Patriots’ offense from a time-of-possession perspective, they could force Mac Jones to make plays. The other key to this game comes in the red zone. The Colts’ offense ranks 21st in red-zone conversion rate, while the Patriots’ defense is second.
The other element here is that Belichick and the Patriots have had the Colts’ number. The Patriots have won eight straight against Indianapolis. It is hard to go against Belichick stifling the Colts’ run game and forcing the ball into Wentz’s hands. That should then play into the hands of an opportunistic Patriots secondary.
Patriots vs. Colts Prediction: Patriots 26, Colts 23
Sunday, Week 15: Free NFL picks and predictions
Let’s break down the bulk of the action: Sunday. Here are our Week 15 picks, predictions, and NFL odds for Sunday’s games as of 5:30 AM ET on December 13.
Dallas Cowboys (-11) at New York Giants
The Cowboys have been extremely frustrating this season. The inconsistency on both sides of the ball makes them tough to judge. However, the situation in New York is a mess right now. How the Cowboys handle back-to-back East Coast road games will be key, but they should win this with reasonable comfort.
Cowboys vs. Giants Prediction: Cowboys 30, Giants 20
Houston Texans at Jacksonville Jaguars (-3)
This game will likely not feature much on anyone’s television in Week 15. The Texans upset the Jaguars at home in Week 1, but the Jaguars arguably need this win more. However, could the dysfunction in the franchise, and the uncertainty around the future of Urban Meyer, be too much?
My lean is to the Texans getting the points, but this is a game that you should really not bet on. Neither team deserves to win, so give me the draw, with the Texans covering the spread.
Texans vs. Jaguars Prediction: Texans 18, Jaguars 18
Tennessee Titans (-2.5) at Pittsburgh Steelers
The Titans got back on track in the win column at least in Week 14.
However, a quiet defeat of the Jaguars does not cover up any of the problems they have right now. This game is huge for both sides with different playoff situations on the line.
The Titans have the more explosive offense, and both defenses have inconsistencies. This feels like a game the Steelers win in a low-scoring slugfest that leaves the AFC playoff picture looking even more confusing than it did coming in.
Titans vs. Steelers Prediction: Steelers 21, Titans 20
Arizona Cardinals (-14) at Detroit Lions
This screams of a trap game for the Cardinals. All the analysis and numbers will tell you they are the better team. However, they will be coming off an emotional Monday Night Football game and facing an opponent that is easy to overestimate. Don’t be surprised if this is close in the second half, but the Cardinals should pull away for a comfortable win. Keep an eye on both James Conner’s injury status leading up to kickoff.
Cardinals vs. Lions Prediction: Cardinals 33, Lions 17
Carolina Panthers at Buffalo Bills (-12)
The Bills desperately need to stop their slide. Against the struggling Panthers, Buffalo should be able to do that. The Panthers seemingly have no idea who they want to play QB (and neither of them is playing particularly well). If the Bills lose this game, they are in serious trouble.
Panthers vs. Bills Prediction: Bills 30, Panthers 17
New York Jets at Miami Dolphins (-8.5)
The Dolphins must avoid coming off the bye week with a sloppy game, or they risk undoing all their hard work of the past few weeks. We have seen Zach Wilson struggle against the Patriots this year, and a former Belichick disciple in Brian Flores should be able to cause similar confusion. Look for this to be a comfortable win for the Dolphins — unless they shoot themselves in the foot.
Jets vs. Dolphins Prediction: Dolphins 24, Jets 13
Washington Football Team at Philadelphia Eagles (-4)
We should be seeing both Taylor Heinicke and Jalen Hurts under center after both have had injury scares. Heinicke looked off against the Cowboys, and the offense has now been stagnant multiple weeks in a row. However, the Eagles’ offense has been extremely hit or miss with Hurts under center.
How Washington handles the Eagles’ run game will be key. This defense has been solid against the run in recent weeks, and if they can take that element away from Hurts, they can cause the upset.
Washington vs. Eagles Prediction: Washington 23, Eagles 20
Cincinnati Bengals at Denver Broncos (-1.5)
The Bengals’ season is spiraling, while the Broncos’ defense is dragging this team to playoff relevance. The winner of this game will have a huge head-to-head tiebreaker that could decide who goes to the playoffs.
The key to this game rests on the Bengals’ run defense. They have not allowed a team to rush for more than 100 yards in the last four. If they can do that again this week, they should come away with a victory. Cincy’s defense will have the chance to capitalize on the less-than-stellar play of Teddy Bridgewater.
This should be a close game between AFC playoff hopefuls. Ultimately, it will come down to who makes the least mistakes, which has been something Joe Burrow has struggled with this season. The sportsbooks have this spot on with the Broncos having the edge thanks to home-field advantage.
Bengals vs. Broncos Prediction: Broncos 24, Bengals 23
Atlanta Falcons at San Francisco 49ers (-8)
The 49ers should be able to breeze past the Falcons, but that simple fact means this could be a game they drop. However, the 49ers’ run game should be too much for Atlanta, who had allowed six straight 100-yard rushing games before stiffening against the Buccaneers and Panthers. The only obvious route to this being an upset is if Jimmy Garoppolo makes costly mistakes.
Falcons vs. 49ers Prediction: 49ers 27, Falcons 20
Green Bay Packers (-7) at Baltimore Ravens
The injury to Lamar Jackson turns this game from an intriguing affair into a potential blowout. The Ravens’ offense has been a mess in the past five weeks, and that could only get worse if Tyler Huntley is under center. The one positive element for the Ravens — if they can get Jackson even limited in practice, they can force the Packers to prepare for both QBs.
The Packers’ offense is now averaging 37.3 points per game in the last three weeks. They appear to be getting better and better every week. However, their defense and special teams have struggled. Nonetheless, against this struggling Ravens offense, they should have too much for the upset to be a major concern.
Packers vs. Ravens Prediction: Packers 33, Ravens 21
Seattle Seahawks at Los Angeles Rams (-7)
This is simply a must-win game for both sides, and these contests normally find a way to be a lot of fun. This was the matchup where Russell Wilson got injured, and prior to the injury, the Seahawks were actually leading.
The recent history between these two sides suggests this will be a tightly fought affair. Additionally, the Rams have just been so unconvincing recently, it is tough to imagine them blowing out the Seahawks.
Seahawks vs. Rams Prediction: Rams 27, Seahawks 24
Sunday Night Football: New Orleans Saints at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (-11.5)
When the Saints beat the Buccaneers a few weeks ago, this looked like an enticing showdown with the division on the line. Just a couple of months down the line, now we’re looking at it as a potential trap game for the Bucs as they look for the No. 1 seed.
The Saints’ offense with Taysom Hill will always have a chance to surprise. Josh Allen had success running the ball, even against a good Buccaneers run defense. This game should be closer than the spread suggests, but the upset will be tough for the Saints to pull off.
Saints vs. Buccaneers Prediction: Buccaneers 24, Saints 17
Monday Night Football: Week 15 picks and predictions
Had the Bears been able to win on Sunday Night Football, this would be a game with intriguing NFC playoff implications. Let’s take a look at the current odds for the game and make our final pick and prediction for Week 15 of the 2021 NFL season.
Minnesota Vikings (-4) at Chicago Bears
The Bears’ offense appears to be lively with Justin Fields under center. In the last three games that he was able to complete, they have averaged 28 points. That is a concern for the Vikings, but their offense has been excellent recently. In the past six games, they have averaged 30.2 points per game.
This could be a surprisingly high-scoring matchup, assuming the weather conditions in Chicago cooperate. Unless we get severe weather conditions, over 43 feels in play here, and the Bears have a good chance to cover this spread at home.
Vikings vs. Bears Prediction: Vikings 31, Bears 28