Week 15 in the NFL featured some crazy games, such as the New York Jets pulling off a miraculous upset over the Los Angeles Rams, and Tom Brady erasing another 17-point halftime deficit against the Atlanta Falcons. Let’s rewind and take a quick look at all the action from Week 15.
Los Angeles Chargers (5-9) – 30 vs Las Vegas Raiders (7-7) – 27 (OT)
The Raiders fired defensive coordinator Paul Guenther following their 44-3 blowout loss to the Atlanta Falcons, but the change wasn’t enough to get the Raiders a victory to keep their playoff chances alive. The Raiders would loose Derek Carr in the first quarter to a groin injury, and it could potentially keep him sidelined for the rest of the season. Former Tennessee Titans QB Marcus Mariota would come on in relief of Carr and be the leading rusher with nine carries for 88 yards and a rushing TD. But with Justin Herbert‘s 314 passing yards and 3 total touchdowns on the other end, Mariota‘s performance wasn’t enough. The Raiders hurt themselves as they had 6 penalties for 69 yards with 5 of them resulting in a first down. This loss for the Raiders has all but ended their playoff hopes, as they would need a lot to go right for them over the next two weeks to find themselves in the playoffs. Meanwhile, this win for the Chargers did nothing but worsen their draft pick as they’re already eliminated from the playoffs.
Buffalo Bills (11-3) – 48 vs Denver Broncos (5-8) – 19
With this win, the Bills won the AFC East for the first time since 1995 and they did so in spectacular fashion as they dominated the Broncos. At halftime, the game remained up for grabs, with the Bills leading 21-13. The Bills then proceeded to steamroll the Broncos to the tune of 534 total yards, which was more than double the Broncos 255 total yards. This game continues to push Josh Allen‘s name into the MVP conversation, as he threw for 392 total yards and 3 total touchdowns. A late injury to Bills’ Stefon Diggs is concerning with the playoffs nearing, as Diggs has been the go-to target for Allen and the Bills offense. As for the Broncos they are now eliminated from playoff contention officially with this loss. Their league high 30 turnovers have plagued them all season and it could lead to look at potential upgrades at the QB position, as Drew Lock has now gone 10 games straight with atleast one turnover.
Carolina Panthers (4-10) – 16 vs Green Bay Packers (11-3) – 24
Despite being able to out gain the Packers in yardage 364 to 291 and sacking Aaron Rodgers 5 times, the Panthers first half run defense is what put held them back in this one. The Panthers held the MVP candidate Rodgers to just 169 total yards and 2 touchdowns, but let Aaron Jones run all over them for 145 yards and a touchdown on only 20 carries. Offensively, they only managed to turn 1 of their 5 red zone drives into touchdowns, which left much to be desired. The Panthers have been close in nearly all of their losses this season, with 8 of the 10 being a one possession game, and most of them being without their star running back, Christian McCaffrey. This loss will help the Panthers odds at getting a higher draft pick in this year’s upcoming draft, while the Packers continue to work towards securing the #1 seed in the NFC to have home-field advantage throughout the playoffs.
San Francisco 49ers (5-9) – 33 vs Dallas Cowboys (5-9) – 41
In order to score you can’t turn the ball over, which is basic knowledge in football. Despite gaining 458 total yards, the 49ers would turn the ball over 4 times in this one, and practically shot themselves in the foot. This has been a trend for the 49ers, as they’ve committed at least two turnovers in their last eight games. The Cowboys didn’t win this game as much as the 49ers lost this game and allowed them to win because of it. Even without RB Ezekiel Elliott, the Cowboys were able to use second year back Tony Pollard successfully, as he ran for 69 yards along with 63 receiving yards and two scores. Both the Cowboys and 49ers are still in playoff contention following this game despite their subpar records due to the NFC as a whole having many teams lingering around the .500 win percentage mark.
New England Patriots (6-8) – 12 vs Miami Dolphins (9-5) – 22
Despite missing their top two receiving threats, DeVante Parker and Mike Gesicki, the Dolphins were able to control the game by possessing the ball and playing top-tier defense as they have all season. This Dolphins defense has forced at least 1 turnover for twenty straight games and have allowed 21 points or less in 10 of 14 games this year as well. The Patriots settled for four field goals from Nick Folk as their only scoring production in the game. With this loss the Patriots will officially miss the playoffs for the first time in 11 seasons, which is an NFL record. Bill Belichick is now faced with an offseason of unknowns as they go in without a definite answer at the QB position in Cam Newton and a lack of receiving threats. The Patriots defense, while allowing the 7th fewest points per game, has a couple of aging pieces that Belichick might look to get some return on. The Dolphins head into a matchup against the Las Vegas Raiders, who are also in the playoff hunt still. This matchup could prove vital in determining which team ends up with the #7 seed in the AFC, which makes it a must-win for the Dolphins
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (9-5) – 31 vs Atlanta Falcons (4-10) – 27
Yet again Tom Brady overcame a 17 point halftime deficit against the Falcons, but this time he did it with the Buccaneers. Blowing leads have continued to hurt the Falcons, especially this season, and this game was no different. After making some critical halftime adjustments, the Buccaneers dominated the time of possession battle after trailing in the first half. This game featured Antonio Brown‘s first touchdown this season, which happened to be the game winning touchdown with 6:25 left in the 4th quarter. This game was an aerial attack for both teams, with Brady throwing for 390 yards and two touchdowns, and Matt Ryan going for 356 yards and three scores. It would be the Buccaneers defense and LB Devin White, who had three sacks, that would be able to shut down the Falcons offense late in the game to secure the victory. The Buccaneers will go to face the recently playoff eliminated Lions as they continue to works towards the playoffs, and the Falcons will face the Chiefs as they look towards this upcoming offseason and the future.
Seattle Seahawks (10-4) – 20 vs Washington Football Team (6-8) – 15
The young, high-powered defense of the Football Team did all they could in the game to extend their winning streak to five games. Without Alex Smith under center and rookie Antonio Gibson both due to injuries, the offense was expected to take a major step back in this game. This was not the case as they out gained the Seahawks offensively, but it was the turnovers and penalties that would hinder their success. Tight end Logan Thomas would lead the way with 13 catches for 101 yards, helping Dwayne Haskins throw for 295 yards a score (along with two interceptions). It was a late game sack by Seahawks’ mid-season acquisition, Carlos Dunlap, that clinched the victory for the Seahawks. With this win the Seahawks were able to clinch a playoff berth for this season, adding to their run of recent success. And despite the loss, The Football Team are still in playoff position, as they lead in a weak NFC East.
Chicago Bears (7-7) – 33 vs Minnesota Vikings (6-8) – 27
Mitchell Trubisky has led the Bears to back to back wins after losing six straight prior, and kept the Bears afloat in the playoff race.. Bears’ running back David Montgomery helped lead the way, running for 146 yards and two touchdowns, as the Bears were able to convert 50% of the time on 3rd down. 3rd downs for the Vikings were not as successful, as they only converted 36% of the time. Vikings’ Justin Jefferson showed his dominance once again as a rookie, securing eight catches for 104 yards. A last second desperation throw by Kirk Cousins was intercepted to end the game and secure a Bears victory as they look to squeeze their way into the playoffs. The Bears will follow up their win with a matchup against the one-win Jaguars, which will hopefully help their playoff aspirations. As for the Vikings, this loss hurts their playoff positioning, and it won’t get much easier, as they face the Saints on Christmas Day.
Jacksonville Jaguars (1-13) – 14 vs Baltimore Ravens (9-5) – 40
After an opening drive interception by Lamar Jackson, the Ravens dominated the Jaguars the rest of the way. The Ravens were able to outgain the Jaguars 409 yards to 267 yards. The Jaguars inability to get their defense off of the field on third down continuously hurt them all game long. They also struggled to protect their quarterback, as they allowed 5 sacks. Jaguars QB Gardner Minshew II returned for his first start since October 25th, but he couldn’t do enough to lead the Jaguars to victory. Lamar Jackson would finish the game with 278 total yards and 4 touchdowns against the Jaguars’ defense. Ravens’ WR Dez Bryant was able to bring in his first touchdown since December 10th, 2017. The Ravens will face the Giants next week as they continue their playoff pursuit. The Jaguars will move forward to face the Bears, as they look towards a high draft pick in next years draft.
Detroit Lions (5-9) – 25 vs Tennessee Titans (10-4) – 46
The QB-RB duo of Ryan Tannehill and Derrick Henry dominated in this game offensively, as they were able to score at will. The Titans offense was perfect in the red zone, going 5-5, and 9-11 on third down conversions, which will typically result in a successful offensive day. Matthew Stafford did all he could playing through a rib and thumb injury, throwing for 252 yards and a score. It was the Lions defense, a unit that has now allowed an opposing team to score over 40 points for the 4th time this season, that ultimately led to the team’s defeat. With this loss the Lions are now eliminated from playoff contention and will force them to face some decisions of what direction they will look towards for the future. As for the Titans, this win puts them in position to potentially clinch a playoff berth next week.
Houston Texans (4-9) – 20 vs Indianapolis Colts (9-4) – 27
Without his WR1, Will Fuller (suspension), Deshaun Watson was able to still put up 373 yards and 2 TDs against a high ranking Colts defense. Per usual, it wasn’t enough for the Texans, as rookie RB Jonathan Taylor and QB Philip Rivers led the Colts offense and helped the team secure a much needed victory. It would be the Colts’ ability to get to Watson, sacking him 5 times, along with their red zone defense success that would help the Colts prevail. Watson and the Texans offense were nearly able to tie the game, as they found themselves in the red zone with less than a minute left, but linebacker Darius Leonard forced a fumble from Keke Coutee right as he was about to cross the goal line to secure the victory for the Colts. This victory helps the Colts further their positioning in the playoff push as they have a tough game against the Steelers next week. The Texans will hopefully look to get Watson the help he needs to succeed in the future this offseason as they are eliminated from the playoffs.
Philadelphia Eagles (4-9-1) – 26 vs Arizona Cardinals (8-6) – 33
This game was a duel between former Oklahoma QBs in Jalen Hurts, Eagles rookie QB, and Kyler Murray, Cardinals second year QB. Both inflicted their will on the opposing defenses, with Murray going for 435 total yards and four scores, while Hurts produced 401 total yards and four touchdowns as well. The Cardinals would commit 3 turnovers throughout the game, but they still managed to outgain the Eagles in yards, 526 to 422. The Cardinals’ defense would produce six sacks in the game, which would be one of the deciding factors in the victory. DeAndre Hopkins had 169 receiving yards and a late touchdown that proved to be the deciding score for the Cardinals. Arizona will host the 49ers in their final home game of the season next week as they hope to continue a playoff run. The Eagles will go up against the Dallas Cowboys next week as they hope to sneak their way into the playoffs somehow.
New York Jets (1-13) – 23 vs Los Angeles Rams (9-5) – 20
Somehow the New York Jets have won a game… against a playoff team in the Rams as well. Of all people to secure the win for the Jets it was 37-year-old running back Frank Gore, who brought in a third down pass to secure the win. The ageless veteran Gore finished the day running the ball 23 times for 59 yards and a touchdown. The Jets nearly allowed the Rams to win the game, despite have a 13 point lead going into the fourth quarter, but were able to hang on and close out their first win of the season. The Rams’ inability to convert on third downs, going 2 for 11, along with the Jets’ ability to possess the ball, created the perfect storm for the Rams to go down in this shocking fashion. This win could jeopardize the Jets chances at getting the first pick in next years’ draft, as the Jaguars actually hold the tiebreaker for the worst record in the league currently, due to them facing a weaker slate of opponents. The Jets will go to play the Browns next week, while the Rams will look to rebound facing their division rival Seattle.
Kansas City Chiefs (12-1) – 32 vs New Orleans Saints (10-3) – 29
Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs were able to outgain Drew Brees and the Saints in yardage, 411 to 285, on their way to their league-leading 13th win. The Saints struggled on third down, only converting one of their eleven tries, and allowed four sacks as well. The Chiefs dominated the possession battle, as they held the ball for 41:14 of the game, more than doubling the Saints time of 18:46. The Saints continued to beat themselves in other aspects of the game as they committed 10 penalties for 93 yards. Drew Brees also had a uncharacteristically low completion percentage of 44%, completing only 15 of his 34 pass attempts. The Chiefs defense was able to contain the Saints’ Alvin Kamara holding him to 54 yards rushing and 40 yards receiving for one score. Patrick Mahomes, on the other hand, had 3 receivers, Travis Kelce, Sammy Watkins, and Tyreek Hill, with over 50 yards receiving as he passed for 254 yards and three scores in the win. The Chiefs ground game was dominate as well with both Clyde Edwards-Helaire and Le’Veon Bell eclipsing 60 rushing yards. The Chiefs will face the Falcons next week, while the Saints will take on the Minnesota Vikings on a short week on Christmas day, with both looking to secure the highest possible playoff seed.
Cleveland Browns (10-4) – 20 vs New York Giants (5-9) – 6
Baker Mayfield had another great performance this week as he threw for 297 yards and two touchdowns in the victory. The Giants would have to play backup QB Colt McCoy due to Daniel Jones being sidelined this week. McCoy would throw for 221 yards versus the team that drafted him back in 2010. The Browns were able to control this game by possessing the ball and converting on third down 69% of the time. Next week the Giants will look to rebound and get back on track against the Ravens, as they are still fighting for a playoff spot. The Browns will look to continue their winning ways against the one win Jets next week.