Week 15 featured a plethora of the season’s best match ups on paper. Chiefs vs Chargers, Panthers vs Aaron Rod- I mean the Packers, Seahawks vs Rams and of course: New England at Pittsburgh. Many of you probably know how the latter ended and are filled with either joy or rage based on geographic location. If you do not know how it ended, New England won 27-24 thanks to another heroic performance by Tom Brady, as well as a controversial call. Both teams played well enough to win and appear to be on a collision course to meet in the AFC Championship, therefore neither made the Winner or Loser list this week. Anyways, With playoff implications running haywire, let’s see who prevailed and who failed.
P.S. this week’s winners and losers lists are predominantly focused towards teams with playoff scenarios
Week 15 Winners
Dallas Cowboys: 20-17 W @ Oakland
I feel as though Dallas has been featured in this segment on almost a weekly basis. I guess that says something about the inconsistency of Dak and company sans Ezekiel Elliott. The Cowboys have very quietly won three straight games. This win streak has them right in the thick of wild card contention. Dallas will have to win their last two games, which will be tough. In Week 16 they host Seattle and then travel to Philly to face the Wentz-less Eagles. Good news for Dallas: Zeke returns this week and they are seemingly a completely different team when he plays. His return makes their final two games look a lot more winnable. I don’t think any team wants to face Dallas with a well-rested Zeke come playoff time.
Cowboys playoff scenarios: if Detroit loses one of their final two games AND New Orleans, Atlanta or Carolina lose their final two games, then Dallas will earn a wildcard spot.
Detroit Lions: 20-10 W vs Chicago
Okay, a 10 point win at home vs the 4-9 Bears? Big deal. Certainly not the most impressive win, but it was not unimpressive. More importantly, Detroit did what they had to do to remain in playoff contention. This win improved their record to 8-6. Perhaps the best news for Detroit this week was Aaron Rodgers being placed on IR. This means that in Week 17 Detroit will get to host the Rodgers-less Packers, making it a very winnable game. Well, before I get ahead of myself they still have to rely on teams above them to collapse as well as win at Cincinnati in Week 16. Should not be a very tall task versus a team that has been outscored 67-14 over the past two weeks. But hey, you never know. I mean, wouldn’t that be the most Lions-y thing to do?
San Francisco 49ers: 25-23 W vs Tennessee
I feel as though the Niners deserve a spot under this column. Jimmy G and company delivered a quality win over a quality opponent. Jimmy G carried the load offensively going 31-43 with a TD, no picks and a 89.5 QBR. This performance included a clutch fourth quarter drive. Jimmy G took the Niners down the field from their own 25 with a little over a minute remaining. After going 3-4 for 45 yards, Garoppolo set up the 45 yard game-winning field goal for Robbie Gould. And just like that, San Fran has now won three straight with Jimmy under center.
Okay, so San Fran is still just 4-10 and has absolutely no shot at even coming close to a playoff spot. However, the Niners deserve this high praise for heading in a very good direction towards a bright future. Plenty of other franchises are probably jealous of San Fran due to the fact that they have found a franchise QB. quality QB’s are a hot commodity nowadays. However, San Fran still lacks a few key pieces on both sides of the ball. Also, they really need to work on red zone efficiency. During their 3 game win streak they have scored just three touchdowns while kicking 15 field goals. Too many points left on the board.
Side note: imagine next year’s NFC West with a much improved 49ers squad?
Week 15 Losers
Seattle Seahawks: 42-7 L vs LA Rams
Cringe-worthy loss in week 15 for Seattle. Of course, key injuries have made it nearly impossible for Seattle to dominate like in years past, but come on, 42-7 at home with massive playoff and division title implications on the line? Not impressed. This loss really made the playoffs seem like a stretch for this years Seahawks. Still though, credit the Rams, who rolled into Seattle seeking revenge from their last meeting and got what they wanted. Also, credit Todd Gurley for being pretty much unstoppable. He ran for 152 yards and three TD’s on 21 carries. Oh and he had three catches for 28 yards and another TD. Imagine if it was a close game and Gurley remained in the lead-back role for all four quarters? He probably would have had six touchdowns and 300 total yards. Oh… right, this was supposed to be about the Seahawks. Oh well, it’s onto Dallas for Seattle for a true “must win”.
Los Angeles chargers: 30-13 loss @ Kansas City
I was really hoping that the Chargers would prove to me that they are legit. I can not help but root for those guys. Phillip Rivers is often criticized for turnovers and poor attitude. However, he is a very good QB and is putting together a very solid season. Entering this game he had 19 TD’s and just three interceptions over his past 10 games. His most impressive characteristic in my opinion is his competitiveness. If you watch this guy, it is easy to tell he wants to win. Some claim he is a cry baby or a poor sport, I think those people are confusing his fire and passion for whining. Anyways, it was time for LA to prove to the league they are for real. Fighting for the division title on the road, a win could have been a statement, so what did they do? Flop.
Fortunately, it is not over for LA who currently hold a record of 7-7. Kansas City is only a game ahead in the AFC West while Buffalo, Baltimore and Tennessee are also only a game ahead in the wild card race.
Oakland Raiders: 20-17 loss vs Dallas
What was supposed to be a fantastic season for Oakland turned out to be a disaster. The home loss to Dallas put Oakland at 6-8 for the season. Theoretically, the Raiders could still sneak into the playoffs but the Chiefs, Chargers, Ravens, Titans, Dolphins and Bills would have to lose a combined 8032753238203 games, pretty unlikely. Really not sure what to think of this team moving forward. Hoping, for their sake that this year was the fluke and not last year, but I am not convinced. Also, what the bleep was Derek Carr thinking trying to score on that final play of the game? I understand he was trying to win the game for his team, but he already had the first down and needed just a field goal in order to tie the game. It would have been first and goal from the three yard line had he just ran out of bounds. This one is one is on him. Come on Derek Carr, you’re better than that… or are you?
*Questions or comments? Find me at @MLBfromNH (Kevin Civiello)*