Scott Shapiro's Week 15 NFL Worksheet: Bills will steamroll fading Panthers
The bye weeks are done, and it is time for the stretch run in the 2021 NFL season.
The defending champion Buccaneers and MVP frontrunner Tom Brady have deservedly cemented themselves as the favorites (+475) to win back-to-back titles after their overtime victory against the Bills. The surging Chiefs (+600), the Packers (+650), and the red-hot Patriots (+650) are also given serious chances in TwinSpires Sports' current “NFL Championship” market. There is so much left to be decided, though, in one of the more wide-open seasons in recent memory.
On to Week 15, where pigskin fanatics get a Saturday doubleheader, on top of an extremely meaningful Thursday night affair and two divisional matchups to close the week on Sunday and Monday night.
Team most likely to win by 14+ points: Buffalo Bills
Sun, December 19 2021, 6:00 PM
Buffalo has lost two in a row and three of its last four, but the Bills played one of their best halves of the season in Tampa on Sunday afternoon. Trailing 24-3 at the half, they mounted a big-time comeback against the Buccaneers and nearly came away with a huge road victory.
While they are unlikely to repeat as AFC East champions this year, the Bills appear set to finish the regular season with a bang, starting with a favorable matchup in upstate New York in Week 15 against the fading Panthers.
Look for the Buffalo defensive front to control things from start to finish against Carolina’s porous offensive line and earn a lopsided victory before heading to Foxborough for a rematch with the first-place Patriots next weekend.
Underdog of 6+ points most likely to spring an outright upset: Atlanta Falcons
Sun, December 19 2021, 9:05 PM
Before anyone rushes to their TwinSpires Sports app to bet Atlanta on the moneyline, let me be clear. I am not endorsing an outright win wager on a Falcons team that somehow is in the Wild Card hunt, despite a point differential of -108 through their first 13 contests.
That being said, none of the other significant underdog options do much for me in Week 15, so I will try to make a case for the “Dirty Birds.”
Atlanta heads west to take on a San Francisco squad that is playing its best football at the right time, but is in a potential letdown spot after an emotional overtime victory in Cincinnati last Sunday.
The 49ers should be able to move the ball regularly against the Falcons, but perhaps Atlanta can win the turnover battle, take advantage of a banged-up San Francisco secondary, and stay in this one until the fourth quarter. If so, the Falcons have a chance to spring the big upset, much like they did when they last visited Levi’s Stadium and came away with a 29-22 victory as 10-point dogs in December of 2019.
RB/WR/TE most likely to score two touchdowns: Justin Jefferson
Tue, December 21 2021, 1:15 AM
The former LSU star had a historical first season, setting the NFL rookie record for receiving yards. The 22nd selection in the 2020 draft got off to a bit of a slow start, in terms of statistical production in 2021, but has really come on strong of late, posting more than 140 yards in three of his last five games.
In Week 15, Jefferson will meet a Bears defense that has struggled all season to cover elite wide receivers. Look for one of the best pass catchers in the NFL to go off on Monday night in a must-win game for the Vikings.
Quarterback most likely to throw for 400 yards: Justin Herbert
Fri, December 17 2021, 1:20 AM
With most of the league’s best passing offenses in lopsided matchups this week, it is nearly impossible to be confident about any signal caller amassing serious volume through the air.
I will take my chances with Justin Herbert in a monster AFC West contest on Thursday night against Kansas City. Sure, the Chiefs defense has played at a high level throughout their current six-game winning streak, but most of their success has come against quarterbacks far less talented than Herbert.
If Kansas City can jump out in front in this one, Herbert should post big numbers in a game that has by far the highest total on the Week 15 slate.
Defense Most Likely To Pitch a Shutout: Miami Dolphins
Sun, December 19 2021, 6:00 PM
Miami lost seven consecutive games over the first half of the season, but they have really come on of late, in large part due to superb defense.
The Dolphins have yielded 17 points or fewer in each of their last five games and should be ready to close the season strong after a late bye in Week 14. Expect Brian Flores' Cover Zero defense to give rookie QB Zach Wilson fits all day long.
Miami will win its sixth in a row behind another dominant effort from its defense.
My Week 15 ATS Plays of the Week
- Buffalo -10.5
- Houston +3.5
- Bengals/Broncos Under 44
- Packers/Ravens Under 43.5