Culver City Observer -

By Bill Seals - Fred Altieri
Sports Reporters - PFWA Members 

2021 NFL Power Rankings – Week 15

Rams Move Up to #4, Chargers to #9

 

December 16, 2021

Mike Nowak - LA Chargers

Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert - 30 touchdowns, 11 interceptions

1. Green Bay Packers (10-3): The Packers are the No. 1 seed in the NFC after the Cardinals loss to the Rams. With a balanced offensive attack and a future Hall of Fame quarterback, the Packers should be favored to get homefield advantage throughout the NFC playoffs, for the second consecutive season. Next: -5.5 at Baltimore Ravens - Sun, Dec. 19 – O/U 43.5 (ATS: 11-2 – O/U: 5-8)

2. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (10-3): The Buccaneers can clinch their division this weekend with a victory. Wide Receiver Breshad Perriman, who was cut by the Lions and the Bears this season, caught a game winning 58-yard touchdown pass in overtime from Tom Brady to lead the Bucs to victory. Next: -11 vs New Orleans Saints - Sun, Dec. 19 – O/U 46.5 (ATS: 7-6 – O/U: 7-6)

3. New England Patriots (9-4): The Patriots have won seven consecutive games but lack an explosive element to their offense that would really scare teams in the playoffs. They just play good, solid football and are led by the best coach in football. But will that be enough with a rookie at starting quarterback? Next: +2.5 at Indianapolis Colts – Sat, Dec. 18 – O/U 45.5 (ATS: 9-4 – O/U: 6-7)

4. Los Angeles Rams (9-4): Quarterback Matthew Stafford completed 23 of 30 passes for 287 yards and three touchdowns in the win over the Cardinals. For the third straight game, Odell Beckham Jr. caught a touchdown pass as a he becomes more and more comfortable in the Ram offense. Next: -4.5 vs Seattle Seahawks - Sun, Dec. 19 – O/U 45.5 (ATS: 6-7 – O/U: 7-5-1)

5. Kansas City Chiefs (9-4): The Chiefs take on the Chargers at SoFi Stadium with the division title likely on the line for both teams. To stop or slowdown Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert, the Chiefs will need to get consistent pressure on Herbert. Teams that have not been able to put consistent pressure on Herbert have found it difficult to beat the Chargers.

6. Dallas Cowboys (9-4): The Cowboys won a big division matchup with the Washington Football Team on Sunday and are a lock to win the NFC East with a three-game lead and four games left. The Cowboys are currently the No. 4 seed in the NFC playoff race, which means their road to the Super Bowl will likely lead through Green Bay and Tampa Bay.Next: -10.5 at New York Giants - Sun, Dec. 19 – O/U 44.5 (ATS: 10-3 – O/U: 6-7)

7. Arizona Cardinals (10-3): The Cardinals loss to the short-handed Rams on Monday Night at home should have Cardinal fans concerned. After a 7-0 start, the Cardinals have gone 3-3 with all three losses coming at home. Worse news: wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins will miss the remainder of the regular season and likely the postseason with an MCL injury. Next: -13.5 at Detroit Lions - Sun, Dec. 19 – O/U 47.5 (ATS: 9-4 – O/U: 7-6)

8. Tennessee Titans (9-4): The Titans had not won a game since November 14th, but the Jaguars can temporarily fix whatever ails a football team. The Titans turned four interceptions into an easy rout of the Jaguars, 20-0. Next: -2 at Pittsburgh Steelers - Sun, Dec. 19 – O/U 41.5 (ATS: 8-5 – O/U: 7-6)

9. Los Angeles Chargers (8-5): Quarterback Justin Herbert was named the AFC Offensive Player of the Week in Week 14, the second consecutive week he has won this award and the third time this season. Herbert had another excellent game, completing 23 of 31 passes for 275 yards and three touchdowns. Next: +3 vs Kansas City Chiefs, Thu, Dec. 16 – O/U 52 (ATS: 7-6 – O/U: 6-7)

10. Baltimore Ravens (8-5): Quarterback Lamar Jackson is day-to-day with an ankle injury and if he is not healthy, the Ravens will continue to struggle to score points in an offense that revolves around the running of Jackson. Next: +5.5 vs Green Bay Packers – Sun, Dec. 19 – O/U 43.5 (ATS: 6-7 – O/U: 6-7)

11. Buffalo Bills (7-6): The Bills have lost two in a row and four of their last six games. They are two games behind the Pats in the AFC East, with four games remaining. Against the Bucs, the Bills had 19 rushing attempts, with 12 coming from quarterback Josh Allen, and 54 passing attempts. Allen is carrying the load and that is not a formula for success. Next: -10.5 vs Carolina Panthers - Sun, Dec. 19 – O/U 44.5 (ATS: 6-6-1 – O/U: 6-7)

12. Cincinnati Bengals (7-6): The Bengals lost their second straight game at home, this time to the 49ers in overtime, 26-23. All of their remaining opponents have winning records, so the Bengals may have dug themselves a hole that they cannot get out of. Next: +2.5 at Denver Broncos - Sun, Dec. 19 – O/U 44 (ATS: 6-7 – O/U: 6-7)

13. Indianapolis Colts (7-6): The Colts are another team that needs to win this weekend. Coming off their bye week, they should be ready for their nationally televised game on Saturday Night at home against the Pats. Next: -2.5 vs New England Patriots – Sat, Dec. 18 – O/U 45.5 (ATS: 8-5 – O/U: 8-5)

14. San Francisco 49ers (7-6): There are 14 teams in the NFL with six or seven wins after Week 14. The 49ers are one of them, which makes them possibly good enough to make the playoffs, but not a threat to make a difference in the playoffs. Next: -9 vs Atlanta Falcons – Sun, Dec. 19 – O/U 46 (ATS: 6-7 – O/U: 7-6)

16. Cleveland Browns (7-6): The Browns defeated the Ravens to keep their playoff hopes alive. That was the good news. The bad news is Covid-19. Twelve players on the 53-man roster have come down with Covid, including quarterback Baker Mayfield. Head coach Kevin Stefanski has also tested positive for Covid. Next: +1.5 vs Las Vegas Raiders – Sat, Dec. 18 – O/U 38.5 (ATS: 5-8 – O/U: 7-6)

17. Pittsburgh Steelers (6-6-1): The Steelers trailed 29-0 before staging a comeback to make it close against the Vikings. In the last four games, the Steelers have given up an average of 35 points per game. It is difficult seeing this team in the playoffs this season. Next: +2 vs Tennessee Titans – Sun, Dec. 19 – O/U 41.5 (ATS: 5-8 – O/U: 5-7-1)

18. Denver Broncos (7-6): The Broncos used their running attack and their defense to easily defeat the Lions, 38-10. The Broncos rushed for 184 yards and had two key turnovers in keeping their playoff hopes alive. Next: -2.5 vs Cincinnati Bengals - Sun, Dec. 19 – O/U 44 (ATS: 7-6 – O/U: 3-10)

19. Las Vegas Raiders (6-7): The Raiders lost twice to the Chiefs this season, by a combined score of 89-23. The Chiefs have struggled offensively this season, but not against the Raiders. Over the past six weeks the Raiders are statistically the worst team in the NFL. The Raiders are a team that needs new leadership and a total house cleaning. Next: -1.5 at Cleveland Browns - Sat, Dec. 18 – O/U 38.5 (ATS: 5-8 – O/U: 7-6)

20. Philadelphia Eagles (6-7): The Eagles have their final four games of the season against NFC East teams, which gives them a chance at making the playoffs. Quarterback Jalen Hurts is day-to-day with an ankle injury, which may mean that backup Gardner Minshew gets another start. Minshew may be the better passing option in the Eagles offense. Next: -7 vs Washington Football Team – Sun, Dec. 19 – O/U 44 (ATS: 7-6 – O/U: 7-6)

21. Miami Dolphins (6-7): The Dolphins had a seven-game losing streak during the season but have turned it around and won five consecutive games. They should make it six this Sunday at home, which would keep them alive in the playoff race. Next: -10 vs New York Jets - Sun, Dec. 19 – O/U 42 (ATS: 7-5-1 – O/U: 5-8)

22. Minnesota Vikings (6-7): The Vikings have led in every game this season by at least six points. They have had a difficult time holding on to leads. Against the Steelers, they led 29-0 before hanging on for a 36-28 win. Dalvin Cook rushed for 205 yards and two touchdowns to lead the Vikings. Next: -3.5 at Chicago Bears – Mon, Dec. 20 – O/U 44 (ATS: 7-6 – O/U: 8-5)

23. New Orleans Saints (6-7): Running back Alvin Kamara returned after missing the last four games, and the Saints suddenly looked good again, ending a five-game losing streak with a 30-9 win over the Jets. Kamara rushed for 120 yards and one touchdown in his return. Next: +11 at Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Sun, Dec. 19 – O/U 46.5 (ATS: 6-7 – O/U: 6-7)

24. Seattle Seahawks (5-8): The Seahawks have won two in a row and strangely enough still have hopes of a winning season and a wild-card playoff berth. That flame of hope should be extinguished this weekend. Next: -4.5 at Los Angeles Rams – Sun, Dec. 19 – O/U 45.5 (ATS: 7-6 – O/U: 3-9-1)

25. Atlanta Falcons (6-7): The Falcons still have hope at 6-7 after a win over the fading Panthers. First year head coach Arthur Smith has done a remarkable job with a roster that is not that impressive, primarily by going 6-3 in games against teams with losing records. Next: +9 at San Francisco 49ers – Sun, Dec. 19 – O/U 46 (ATS: 6-7 – O/U: 6-7)

26. Carolina Panthers (5-8): The Panthers started off the season 3-0, which gave the illusion that this team was an NFL playoff team. They are 2-8 since then, with key injuries exposing a lack of depth on the roster. Next: 10.5 at Buffalo Bills - Sun, Dec. 19 – O/U 44.5 (ATS: 5-8 – O/U: 6-7)

27. Chicago Bears (4-9): The Bears clinched a losing season with another loss to that quarterback and team "that still owns them." The clock is ticking on head coach Matt Nagy, with the only speculation being will he make it to January 10th, 2022. Next: +3.5 vs Minnesota Vikings - Mon, Dec. 20 – O/U 44 (ATS: 4-9 – O/U: 5-8)

28. New York Giants (4-9): The Giants played without starting quarterback Daniel Jones due to a neck injury and put together an unimpressive performance versus the Chargers, losing 37-21. At one point in the game, the Giants were outscored by the Chargers 30-0, with the offense being held to 60 total yards. Next: +10.5 vs Dallas Cowboys – Sun, Dec. 19 - O/U 44.5 (ATS: 6-7 – O/U: 4-8-1)

29. New York Jets (3-10): The bottom three starting quarterbacks in quarterback rating in the NFL are rookies Justin Fields, Trevor Lawrence, and Zach Wilson, with Wilson being the lowest rated starting quarterback in the NFL. Wilson has thrown 11 interceptions and only six touchdowns while completing 56% of his passes. So what have the Jets learned about Wilson this season? Next: +10 at Miami Dolphins - Sun, Dec. 19 – O/U 42 (ATS: 3-10 – O/U: 7-6)

30. Detroit Lions (1-11-1): The Lions had their one-game winning streak end against the Broncos, losing 38-10 in Denver. The 2022 NFL draft lacks a franchise type of quarterback, so tanking this season for the top quarterback does not help. In 2022, the Lions can "Tank for Bryce." Next: +13.5 vs Arizona Cardinals – Sun, Dec. 19 – O/U 47.5 (ATS: 8-5 – O/U: 5-8)

Brennan Asplen - LA Rams

Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford - 33 touchdowns, 9 interceptions

31. Houston Texans (2-11): The Texans lost again, this time to the Seahawks at home. Quarterback Deshaun Watson has been listed as inactive so far this season as he deals with the allegations of sexual assault or harassment made in 22 civil lawsuits. That inactive label could apply to the whole Texan team this season. Next: +3.5 at Jacksonville Jaguars – Sun, Dec. 19 – O/U 39.5 (ATS: 5-8 – O/U: 5-8)

32. Jacksonville Jaguars (2-11): Franchise quarterback Trevor Lawrence tossed four interceptions in a 20-0 loss to the Titans. The Jaguars rushed for 8 yards in the game and had 192 yards in total offense. Head Coach Urban Legend Meyer had the usual "deer-in-headlights look" on the sidelines, while stories of Meyer calling all of his assistant coaches' losers and arguing with players came out in the news. Appropriately, he was fired just past midnight Thursday morning. Next: -3.5 vs Houston Texans - Sun, Dec. 19 – O/U 39.5 (ATS: 4-9 – O/U: 2-11)

 

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