Week 15 was pivotal as some teams rose up to the occasion while some did not. Here are my winners and losers:
- New England Patriots: Quarterback Tom Brady and tight end Rob Gronkowski led the Pats down field as running back Dion Lewis’ eight-yard touchdown capped off their comeback over the Pittsburgh Steelers 27-24. The Pats clinch the AFC East once again have the inside track at a number one seed in the AFC.
- Kansas City Chiefs: Quarterback Alex Smith threw for 231 yards and two touchdowns. Running back Kareem Hunt rushed for 155 yards and a touchdown. The defense caught three interceptions including two from cornerback Marcus Peters that helped the Chiefs dominate the Los Angeles Chargers 30-13. The Chiefs now have the edge in the AFC West.
- Los Angeles Rams: Running back Todd Gurley rushed for 152 yards and three touchdowns. Quarterback Jared Goff threw for two touchdowns. The defense had seven sacks as they destroyed the Seattle Seahawks 42-7. We’ll have to wait and see if this is the changing of the guard in the NFC West, but right now the Rams have control of the division.
- Jacksonville Jaguars: Quarterback Blake Bortles threw for 326 yards and three touchdowns. Wide receiver Keelan Cole had 186 receiving yards and two touchdown catches. The defense had four sacks as the Jags rout the Houston Texans 45-7. They clinch a playoff berth for the first time since 2007.
- Minnesota Vikings: The Vikings take care of the Cincinnati Bengals 34-7. They clinch the NFC North.
- San Francisco 49ers: Quarterback Jimmy Garoppalo threw for 381 yards and a touchdown. Kicker Robbie Gould had five field goals including the game winner from 49 yards as time expired as the they defeated the Tennessee Titans 25-23. They’re now 3-0 with Garoppalo as the starter.
- Pittsburgh Steelers: There was a controversial touchdown catch by tight end Jesse James that was called back. A play later, quarterback Ben Roethlisberger threw a game-ending interception. Not to mention that they lost wide receiver Antonio Brown to a calf injury. Though it was the defense that gave up big plays late in their loss to New England.
- Los Angeles Chargers: Quarterback Phillip Rivers’ three interceptions stalled drives in their loss to Kansas City. The loss might have ended the Chargers’ playoffs chances.
- Green Bay Packers: Despite in his first game back, quarterback Aaron Rodgers throwing for 290 yards and three touchdowns, he also threw three interceptions. Also drops were the Packers’ undoing in their loss to the Carolina Panthers 31-24. All but ending the Packers’ playoff hopes.
- Seattle Seahawks: They only had 149 total yards and quarterback Russell Wilson was sacked seven times in their loss to the Los Angeles Rams. You can blame injuries and such, but the Seahawks will have to make some major decisions this offseason.
- Tennessee Titans: The Titans defense couldn’t slow down Garoppalo in their loss to San Francisco, thus throwing a wrench in their playoff chances.
Storylines Going Into Week 16:
Tennessee hosts the Los Angeles Rams to keep their playoff hopes alive. Buffalo battles New England. Atlanta faces New Orleans in the NFC South. Seattle faces Dallas.
Merry Christmas, everyone!!