With just a few weeks left in the regular season, teams are fighting for their playoff lives. Here are my winners and losers:
- Philadelphia Eagles: Defensive end Chris Long’s strip helped set up kicker Jake Elliott’s go-ahead 33-yard field goal as the Eagles held off the Los Angeles Rams 43-35 in a barn burner. The Eagles clinch the NFC East. The win was costly though as Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz went out with a knee injury that turned out to be a torn ACL.
- Atlanta Falcons: The Falcons scored ten unanswered points in the fourth quarter and a game saving interception by linebacker Deion Jones helped the Falcons seal their win over NFC South rival New Orleans Saints 20-17, keeping the defending NFC champions’ playoff hopes alive.
- Carolina Panthers: Running back Jonathan Stewart rushed for 103 yards and three touchdowns. The defense caused three turnovers as the Panthers defeated the Minnesota Vikings 31-24.
- Jacksonville Jaguars: Running back Leonard Fournette rushed for 101 yards and a touchdown. The defense caught three interceptions and made key stops late as the Jags defeated the Seattle Seahawks 30-24.
- Kansas City Chiefs: Quarterback Alex Smith threw for 268 yards and a touchdown. Running back Kareem Hunt rushed for 116 yards and a touchdown. The defense shut down the Oakland Raiders 26-15.
- Buffalo Bills: In what I deemed the Snow Globe Bowl, running back LeSean McCoy scored the game-winning touchdown as the Bills defeated the Indianapolis Colts 13-7 in a surprisingly entertaining game. Even more importantly for the Bills, they keep their playoff hopes alive.
- Pittsburgh Steelers: The Steelers overcame a nine-point deficit with less than seven minutes left capped with kicker Chris Boswell’s go-ahead 46-yard field goal with 42 seconds left helping the Steelers defeat the Baltimore Ravens 39-38. Steelers clinch the AFC North.
- Miami Dolphins: Quarterback Jay Cutler threw for 263 yards and three touchdowns. Running back Kenyan Drake rushed for 114 yards as the Dolphins slowed down the New England Patriots 27-20. This upset win keeps the Dolphins’ albeit slim playoff hopes alive.
- Los Angeles Rams: Ill-timed penalties were the Rams’ undoing in their loss to Philadelphia.
- New Orleans Saints: The offense couldn’t come through late in their loss to Atlanta.
- Minnesota Vikings: They didn’t overcome turnovers and drops in their loss to Carolina.
- Oakland Raiders: Turnovers stalled drives in their loss to Kansas City Chiefs.
- Seattle Seahawks: Quarterback Russell Wilson’s three interceptions and losing their cool cost the Seahawks in their loss to Jacksonville.
- Tennessee Titans: They only had 206 total yards in their loss to the Arizona Cardinals 12-7.
- Baltimore Ravens: They couldn’t hold onto a nine-point lead ultimately losing to Pittsburgh.
- New England Patriots: They were 0 for 11 on third downs (first time that’s happened since 1990) in their loss to Miami.
Storylines Going Into Week 15:
In the AFC West, Los Angeles Chargers travel to Kansas City. Green Bay battles Carolina. In the NFC West, the Los Angeles Rams play Seattle. Oakland will try to keep their playoff hopes alive as they host Dallas. In what could an AFC Championship game preview and with a number one seed at stake, New England goes to Pittsburgh.