If there's ever been a more interesting weekend of NFL scores, I wasn't around for it.
Top to bottom, Week 15 provided stunning upsets, epic collapses and three teams that didn't even register a point on the scoreboard. Name the last time that happened, or when a stat like this passed across your desk?
The Giants' 34-0 loss to the Falcons is the worst shutout loss by a defending Super Bowl champion in NFL history.
— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) December 16, 2012
Not only did the big board look somewhat skewed with the results of the latest week's action, but playoff implications became a little more clear. Dallas and Washington inched closer to a winner-take-all showdown in Week 17.
Cincinnati and Pittsburgh also appear headed for a playoff-deciding clash, while we found out even more about teams that should really be considered in the elite category. Here's a look at the Week 15 standouts, with a mind towards the Super Bowl contingency that is starting to emerge.
There hasn't been a hotter team in football than the Broncos over the past 11 weeks (though the Patriots might try to argue). On offense, defense and special teams, the Broncos continue to feed off of each other in a way that is rare across the league.
Peyton Manning's arrival in Denver has completely made the city forget all about Tim Tebow. The next few years appear bright, and by downing Baltimore on Sunday Denver also puts doubts in the minds of the rest of the AFC.
Even with Houston and New England playing well, Denver should be the favorite to come out of the AFC by season's end.
The Packers took care of business yet again, and continue to prove that their offense is as deadly as ever. The "running back by committee" approach worked to the tune of over 100 yards rushing, and former star Ryan Grant continues to find a role on the team.
On the road at Soldier Field, Green Bay showed poise down the stretch and managed to win again without a slew of regular contributors on both sides of the ball.
A 21-13 victory might not be as impressive as Atlanta's dismantling of the New York Giants, but it proved this team is once again playoff-ready, and back in the hunt for the NFC's Super Bowl bid.
No RG3, no problem.
Kirk Cousins yet again played hero, leading his team to a 38-21 win over a Cleveland team still a couple of years away from contention.
It appears it doesn't matter who plays QB for this team, but with two tough tests still ahead and the game against Dallas now likely the deciding factor for the division's playoff bid, things are about to get interesting. Washington has to be the favorite to outlast the field.
Like Denver, Seattle is proving to be a complete football team. Odd losses to Arizona, Miami and Detroit are things of the past, and big wins over New England, Minnesota and Chicago remain.
Another big win—50-17 over the Cardinals—solidified Russell Wilson as the right choice for this team going forward and even as the playoffs approach.
Next week's matchup against San Francisco will tell us a lot about this team, but for now, continue to group the Seahawks in with the NFL's contenders—they earned it.
Complete Week 15 Scoreboard
Cincinnati 34, Philadelphia 13 (Thursday)
Carolina 31, San Diego 7
Atlanta 34, New York Giants 0
Minnesota 36, St. Louis 22
Miami 24, Jacksonville 3
Green Bay 21, Chicago 13
Washington 38, Cleveland 21
Denver 34, Baltimore 17
Houston 29, Indianapolis 17
New Orleans 41, Tampa Bay 0
Arizona 38, Detroit 10
Seattle 50, Buffalo 17
Oakland 15, Kansas City 0
Dallas 27, Pittsburgh 24 (OT)
New England vs. San Francisco — Sunday, 8:20 p.m. ET on NBC
New York Jets vs. Tennessee Titans — Monday, 8:30 p.m. ET on ESPN
Ethan Grant is a featured columnist for B/R's Breaking News Team.