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NFL 2021 Week 15 Preview and Bettor’s Guide: Letting the Big Dogs Out

Written By | Dec 15, 2021
Big Dogs, Chicago Bears, NFL, Football,

85 Chicago Bears – William Marshall, Mike Singletary and Brian-Urlachers – Image Courtesy of the Chicago Bears

DELRAY BEACH, Florida, December 15, 2021 — In September, all 32 NFL teams are like little puppies with dreams in their eyes. This is December. Put the NFL puppies to bed. December brings the words of John Randle and Mike Singletary that ring as true as a quarterback getting his bell rung.

“This is when the big dogs come out.”

NFL’s 100 greatest teams of all time: Which squad is best in league history?

1. 1985 Bears (won Super Bowl XX):Pure dominance. Their 15 regular-season wins came by an average of 18.1 points. The defense collected 64 sacks while allowing just 12.4 points a week. Chicago shut out the Giants and Rams in the NFC playoffs before that epic 46-10 Super Bowl dismantling of New England. All told, the Bears outscored their postseason opponents 91-10. Sure, it would have been nice to see a rematch with Dan Marino and the Dolphins, who handed Chicago its only loss of 1985, on Super Sunday. And maybe you’d like the best team of all time — arguably — to feature a more renowned quarterback than Jim McMahon. But the fact that an offense led by Walter Payton (1,551 rushing yards) was almost extraneous also illustrates just how transcendent Buddy Ryan’s “46 defense” was. And for a list like this, a little flair should count for something, and with McMahon, Payton, Ryan, “Refrigerator” Perry, Mike Singletary, coach Mike Ditka and many others — most getting star turns with “The Super Bowl Shuffle” — the ’85 Bears had character(s) in spades. – USA Today

You can yap and yelp in September. In December, you better be snarling mad dog mean to win in the National Football League in December. Even during COVID.

This is when the big dogs come out.

Normally Week 14 of the NFL season was when the big dogs came out. Yet that was in the era of 17 week seasons with 16 games. 2021 is the first season with 18 weeks of football where each team plays 17 games. So now the intensity builds in Week 15.

This is when the big dogs come out.

There is room for finesse in September. The weather is colder in December. The bodies are bruised, beaten, battered, and bloodied. The best of these men will refuse to stay down. Talking does not win Super Bowls. The Lombardi Trophy is not hoisted by engaging in words. Winning teams in December bring their battering rams. December is smash-mouth offense, bone-crunching defense, and brutal, blustery football weather.

This is when the big dogs come out.

September brings sunshine and ease at moving the ball. December is a war of attrition where every yard is contested. Fourth and goal at the one is not so easy when the men in the trenches are fighting the elements of rain, snow, and cold as well as each other. Every loss brings a team closer to the season’s end short of the goal. In December, only the very strongest of the strong survive. The very strongest of those men thrive.

This is December football. These are the big dogs. This is when the big dogs come out.

With the biggest of the big dogs in mind, here is the NFL 2020 Week 15 Preview and Bettor’s Guide, with point spreads provided by and all times Eastern.

Thursday, December 16, 2021, 8:00 p.m.

Kansas City Chiefs (-3) at Los Angeles Chargers —

The Chargers are only one game back of the Chiefs in the AFC West, but the Chiefs have won six straight and are starting to look again like the club that has dominated the division the last five years. Justin Herbert is playing well, but Patrick Mahomes has too many weapons. The Chiefs even have the better defense. Chiefs cover.

Saturday, December 18, 4:30 p.m.

Las Vegas Raiders at Cleveland Browns (-5.5) —

The 6-7 Raiders and 7-6 Browns are both alive, but the Raiders are in full collapse mode having lost five of their last six. The Raiders just lost to Kansas City by 39 while the Browns got a big win over Baltimore. The Browns are only one game back in their division. The Raiders did go into Cleveland last year and beat them 16-6, but this Raiders team in recent weeks has been bad at everything. Browns cover. Update: This game has been moved to Monday at 5:00 p.m. due to Covid.

8:00 p.m.

New England Patriots at Indianapolis Colts (-2) —

The Patriots and Colts is not the bitter rivalry it once was, but the 9-4 Patriots have won seven straight and have a shot at home field throughout the playoffs. The 7-6 Colts are alive for a playoff spot. Mac Jones won last week while handing the ball off 46 times and only throwing three passes. Carson Wentz is playing well but Bill Belichick has a good defense. Go with the hot team and the evil mastermind coach. Upset special, Patriots win outright.

Sunday, December 19, 1:00 p.m.

Dallas Cowboys (-10.5) at New York Giants —

The 9-4 Cowboys have a shot at home field throughout the playoffs while the Giants are just playing out the string. As big a mismatch as this, the Giants defense is not terrible. A garbage touchdown to defeat the high spread for a road team is plausible. Cowboys win but fail to cover.

Houston Texans at Jacksonville Jaguars (-3) —

This is the Stupor Bowl. Both teams are 2-11. The loser may get the top pick in the 2022 NFL Draft. The Texans won in Week 1 at home. The Jaguars have too much inner turmoil to get the win. Upset special, Texans win outright.

Tennessee Titans (-2) at Pittsburgh Steelers —

The 9-4 Titans have a shot at home field throughout the playoffs while the 6-6 Steelers are fighting for survival. The Steelers had 10 days to get ready for this game. Both Mike Vrabel and Mike Tomlin want to pound the rock. Go with the desperate team at home in the cold. Upset special, Steelers win outright.

New York Jets at Miami Dolphins (-8.5) —

The Dolphins started 1-7 but have since won five straight. They went into New York and beat the Jets. The Dolphins have the better defense. The Jets have nothing to play for and they play like it. Yet Tua Tagovailoa is not playing well enough to justify the high spread. The dolphins win but fail to cover.

Washington Gridlock at Philadelphia Eagles (-4.5) —

A loss at home to Dallas stopped a four-game win streak for the No-Names. Both teams are 6-7 and fighting for playoff survival. Jalen Hurts is back from injury. This is a game to just take the home field, although these teams are evenly matched. The Eagles win but fail to cover. Update: This game has been moved to Tuesday at 7:00 p.m. due to Covid.

Arizona Cardinals (-14) at Detroit Lions —

The 10-3 Cardinals were belted at home by the Rams, while the Lions reverted to their losing way after getting their first win two weeks ago. The spread is too high for a road team playing against a Lions team that competes hard more often than not. A garbage touchdown from Jared Goff is very realistic. Cardinals win but fail to cover.

Carolina Panthers at Buffalo Bills (-10.5) —

The 5-8 Panthers are all but eliminated while the 7-6 Bills are still alive. The Bills have not been playing well in recent weeks, but the high spread is justified given the Panthers’ struggles.

Josh Allen is playing far better than Cam Newton. In the cold weather, go with the team that still has a lot to play for. Bills cover.

4:00 p.m.

Cincinnati Bengals at Denver Broncos (-1) —

Both teams are 7-6. The Broncos rolled over hapless Detroit while the Bengals lost a home heartbreaker to San Francisco in overtime. The Broncos have the better defense but Joe Burrow is playing better than Teddy Bridgewater. Joe Mixon gives the Bengals the advantage on the ground. Go with the better quarterback and ground game in a close one. Upset special, Bengals win outright.

Atlanta Falcons at San Francisco 49ers (-8.5) —

The 6-7 Falcons and 7-6 49ers are both in the playoff chase. Jimmy Garoppolo has better weapons in George Kittle and Deebo Samuel than Matt Ryan has. The spread is high, but the Falcons beat bad teams and lose to good teams. The 49ers cover.

Seattle Seahawks at Los Angeles Rams (-6.5) —

The 9-4 Rams just got a huge emotional road win at Arizona and have to guard against a letdown. The Seahawks have won two straight. Russell Wilson is starting to play like fans are accustomed to. He has weapons every bit as good as Matthew Stafford does. Throw out the records when these NFC West Rivals play. Sean McVay will guard against a letdown but Pete Carroll will make him earn it. The Rams win but fail to cover. Update: This game has been moved to Tuesday at 7:00 p.m. due to Covid.

Green Bay Packers (-5.5) at Baltimore Ravens —

With Lamar Jackson out with an injured ankle, the Ravens have a tough test. The Ravens have lost two straight games but at 8-5 still lead their division by one game. The Packers at 10-3 are tied for the top record in the NFC and would have home field advantage if the season ended today. Tyler Huntley is not a bad backup, and the spread is high given that the Ravens have a decent defense. In a close one, it is foolish to bet against Aaron Rodgers. Packers win but fail to cover.

8:00 p.m.

New Orleans Saints at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (-10.5) —

The Saints beat the Buccaneers a few weeks ago, but then the Saints lost five straight before beating the woeful Jets last week. The 6-7 Saints are still alive for a playoff spot. The 10-3 Buccaneers are tied for the top record in the NFC and are trying to get home field. The return of Alvin Kamara gives the Saints a chance to defeat the spread. The Buccaneers could make this a blowout and take Kamara out of the game, but give the Saints defense a chance to keep it close. Buccaneers win but fail to cover.

Monday, December 20, 8:00 p.m.

Minnesota Vikings (-4) at Chicago Bears —

The 6-7 Vikings are clinging to playoff life while the Bears are done. Despite having everything to play for, it is tough to trust the Vikings after their loss to previously winless Detroit. The Bears gave Green Bay a competitive game. The Bears have an interesting special teams guy in Jakeem Grant. He may not be Devon Hester, but he could be something special. The Bears have the edge on defense. Upset special, Bears win outright.


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Eric Golub

Brooklyn born, Long Island raised and now living in Los Angeles, Eric Golub is a politically conservative columnist, blogger, author, public speaker, satirist and comedian. Read more from Eric at his TYGRRRR EXPRESS blog. Eric is the author of the book trilogy “Ideological Bigotry, “Ideological Violence,” and “Ideological Idiocy.”