Oh, snap – we are so late on the week 15 NFL game summaries. Shame on us. (To be honest though, we’d feel worse if we weren’t off gallivanting across town attending football-related events that provide great content blog posts. I’m still reliving the Chung Changing Lives Open Mic Night and I can’t wait to write about a spectacular sports professional that I met last night.)
So even though you might have already written off week 15, we’d still like to give you a quick refresher so you know what’s at stake this weekend. THE PLAYOFFS ARE COMING, PEOPLE!
(Here’s the current playoff picture, so you know which teams are still fighting for a spot.)
FYI – There are two Saturday games this week. Yes, that’s weird, especially since the league is referring to them as special editions of Thursday Night Football. Whatever – that means more football, so I’m not complaining. In case you don’t have any plans, Philly plays Washington at 4:30 EST and San Diego plays San Francisco at 8:30 EST.
Here’s what we thought about week 15 in the NFL…
Arizona (12), St. Louis (6) – This was the Cardinals’ first Thursday win since 1948 and the first game in two years without a touchdown from either team. In this battle of the defenses, Arizona fared slightly better, despite losing QB Drew Stanton to a knee injury. Sounds like Stanton should be back for the playoffs, but with all their starting quarterback injuries this year, it speaks to the coaching job Bruce Arians has done.
Pittsburgh (27), Atlanta (20) – Unfortunately for the Falcons, they were without their star wide receiver Julio Jones. On the flip side for the Falcons, they play in the weak NFC South and even with a 5-9 record, can still win the division and make it to the playoffs. The Steelers seem to be gaining momentum and this was one of the few games where they had an even showing from both their offense and defense. Pittsburgh QB Ben Roethlisberger isn’t often mentioned with the names of other great quarterbacks, but he is quietly having a great season.
Baltimore (20), Jacksonville (12) – Blake Bortles, Jax’s QB, is still making rookie mistakes, but it’s not entirely his fault as his offensive line is not effective. Jax’s defense is underrated – coach Gus Bradley has them playing hard. The Raven’s defensive line had another strong game and their offense has benefited from the addition of former Houston coach Gary Kubiak as offensive coordinator. Baltimore needed this win to stay in contention to win the AFC North.
Buffalo (21), Green Bay (13) – Not many people saw this one coming. Green Bay’s high-powered offense did not look like themselves. Statistically speaking, this was Aaron Rodgers’ (Green Bay QB) worst game ever with a completion rate of 40.5%, a passer rating of 34.3, and a bunch of dropped passes by his usually reliable receivers. The Bills defense was impressive – their offense, not so much. Big playoff implications – this game might have cost the Packers the 1st seed in the NFC, and it kept playoff hopes alive for the Bills.
Carolina (19), Tampa Bay (17) – Backup QB Derek Anderson started for the Panthers with Cam Newton being side lined after a scary car accident this week. He got the job done, and Carolina’s defense handled the Buccaneers, who might have the worst offensive line in the NFL. It’s been a disappointing and tough first season for head coach Lovie Smith down in Tampa Bay. Just like we noted above with the Falcons, the Panthers also have a shot to win the NFC South with a 5-8-1 record.
Cincinnati (30), Cleveland (0) – This was Johnny Football’s (QB Johnny Manziel) first game as a starter and it did not go well – two interceptions, three sacks and no points on the board. I’d use the word pathetic, but I don’t know that I would have fared much better in his situation. The Bengals defense had a grand old time – they mocked Johnny by throwing up his “money-rubbing” celebration gesture every time sacked him. Bengals rookie running back Jeremy Hill rushed for 148 yards and 2 TDs. That’s a good day at work.
Indianapolis (17), Houston (10) – The Colts won the AFC South with this victory over the Texans. QB Andrew Luck was inconsistent and this was statistically one of his worst games. It doesn’t help that they don’t have a strong running game to turn to. Talk about having some bad luck – the Texans started the season with QB Ryan Fitzpatrick under center, benched him for Ryan Mallet, who then tore a pectoral muscle that ended his season, and then went back to Ryan Fitzpatrick, who broke his leg in the second quarter of the game and is out for the rest of the year. The Texans had to turn to rookie Tom Savage, who had never thrown a pass in a regular season NFL game. As for what Houston defensive end J.J. Watt did, he had two sacks, a blocked pass, and two quarterback hits.
Kansas City (31), Oakland (13) – The Chiefs snapped a three game losing streak and got redemption against a struggling Raiders team that notched their first victory of their season against the Chiefs a few weeks ago. The Raiders do not have much talent on offense, and rookie QB Derek Carr took a beating from the Chief’s defense. As for the Chiefs offense, sometimes it’s hard to figure out how they get the job done – they are the only team in the league that has yet to throw a touchdown pass to a wide receiver.
New England (41), Miami (13) – A close first half was followed by Patriot domination after halftime. Pats D looked good – linebacker Jamie Collins has been a beast lately and our boy, safety Pat Chung, got an interception. Miami QB Ryan Tannehill wasn’t the reason the Dolphins lost the game. With this win, the Pats clinched their 6th straight AFC East title.
(Did anyone see Gronk on Top Chef this week? He judged a sausage quick fire challenge. Hilarious.)
New York Giants (24), Washington (13) – Nothing too exciting coming from this penalty-laden game between two non-playoff teams, other than Giants WR Odell Beckham, Jr. doing more touchdown celebrations. Washington decided to start Colt McCoy at quarterback. Since things are never easy for the Redskins, he got injured and is out for the rest of the year. RG3 went back in the game, and well, they lost.
Denver (22), San Diego (10) – With this victory the Broncos won the AFC West title. However the Broncos suffered quite a few injuries, including QB Peyton Manning who was suffering from flu-like symptoms and had to leave the game to get treatment for a thigh injury. The Broncos are relying heavily on their run game, which is starting rumors that it’s necessary because Peyton’s arm strength is decreasing. Denver’s defense is surprisingly one of the best statistically in the league. The Charger’s offense struggled, and the absence of running back Ryan Mathews was felt. San Diego needs to win their remaining two games to have a chance to make the play-offs.
New York Jets (16), Tennessee (11) – This was battle of the 2-11 teams, also known as the battle for the first draft pick. There weren’t too many highlights from this game – it only got attention for the huge fight that broke out between the two teams. It started with some smack talk, escalated to a punch to Jets QB Geno Smith’s helmet and then all hell broke loose. Shame on you.
Detroit (16), Minnesota (14) – The Lions defense helped them overcome a 14-point deficit to stay alive in the race for the NFC North division title. QB Matt Stafford and the offense struggled. Vikings rookie QB Teddy Bridgewater started off on a roll, but then the defense got his number as he threw two picks and was shut out by halftime after helping put the first 14 points on the board. Special teams played a role in the outcome of this game – the normally reliable Vikings kicker Blair Walsh was 0 for 3 on field goals (the Lions blocked one and another was a “hail mary” from a long distance out as time expired). I’m sure you can do the math, but at 3 points a piece, even one of those field goals might have won the game for the Vikings.
Seattle (17), San Francisco (7) – This rivalry used to be a little bit more competitive, but the 49ers’ offense has been in a bit of a funk lately. Seattle made some good halftime adjustments in order to come back and shut-out the 49ers in the second half. This loss knocked the 49ers out of playoff contention and now everyone is talking about Jim Harbaugh losing his head coaching job.
Dallas (38), Philadelphia (27) – Two weeks after losing to the Eagles at home, Dallas reminded us that they are capable of comebacks and they shouldn’t be counted out just yet. After an early 21-0 Dallas lead, the Eagles put up 24 points to grab the lead, thanks to 3 running TDs and a field goal. The Cowboys rallied, making Eagles QB Mark Sanchez look pretty bad – he had 2 interceptions and 4 sacks. Dez Bryant (Cowboys WR) had 3 TDs and DeMarco Murray (Cowboys RB) had 2 TDs in this Sunday Night thriller. Fun fact of the week: The Eagles record against teams with a winning record is 2-4.
New Orleans (31), Chicago (15) – Bad Jay Cutler headlined this game. He was so bad that the team is going to bench him and start Jimmy Clausen in week 16. This was apparently shocking to Jay, who is making bank this year with a gigantic contract. Look for him to be traded this off-season to a quarterback-desperate team. Saints QB Drew Brees had a good game, propelling the team to first place in the weak NFC South.
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– Val and Michelle