Breaking Down the Most Pivotal Moments of NFL Week 15

Eli Nachmany@EliNachmanyCorrespondent IIIDecember 17, 2012

Breaking Down the Most Pivotal Moments of NFL Week 15

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    A number of tightly-contested football games made the NFL's Week 15 one to remember for the 2012 season.

    From the playoff picture to individual performances, this last Sunday taught us a lot about what we'll be seeing for the next month or two.

    Week 15's pivotal moments made for an interesting few days in the NFL.

Falcons Defense Shuts Down Giants, New York on Verge of Collapse

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    After losing 34-0 to the Atlanta Falcons, the Giants' playoff hopes don't look very good.

    Eli Manning wasn't able to get anything going in this game, and his team didn't put up any points on a stingy Atlanta defense that has been underrated for the better part of this season.

    New York split 21 carries between David Wilson and Kregg Lumpkin, who did their job, but Manning was erratic and couldn't get the job done.

Broncos Take Down Ravens, Knowshon Moreno Has Another Great Game

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    Knowshon Moreno has been one of the most inconsistent running backs over the last few seasons in Denver, but he has finally found a rhythm with Peyton Manning under center.

    The now 11-3 Broncos were able to walk out of Baltimore with a huge win over the Ravens, riding a huge day from Moreno to victory.

    Peyton Manning's bunch seems to have forgotten how to lose and could challenge the Houston Texans for the first overall seed in the conference.

Packers Play Great Defense, Clinch the Division

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    Now that we've taken care of the Mannings, it's time to focus on some other happenings around the league that defined Week 15.

    The Packers faced their biggest test of the season this week, having to go into a hostile Soldier Field in the thick of a postseason race.

    Aaron Rodgers was prolific, completing 23 of his 36 pass attempts for 291 yards and three touchdowns. The huge win clinches the division for Green Bay and gives them a reason to be confident going into the postseason.

Redskins Ride Kirk Cousins to Win, Take over NFC East

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    It can be said that Mike Shanahan made the right choice taking Kirk Cousins over a host of other players in the draft, considering a mobile quarterback like Robert Griffin III was bound to get injured at some point.

    Cousins was more than just effective; he filled in nicely for Griffin and led his Redskins to a crucial victory over the Browns.

    The victory puts the Redskins in first place in the NFC East, which may now be hard to pry from an RG3-led bunch.

Saints Go Nuts, Blow out Buccaneers at Home

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    A lot of things would need to go right, but the New Orleans Saints, at 6-8, could potentially still make the playoffs.

    Drew Brees led New Orleans to a 41-0 rout of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, widening the gap between the two teams after a close contest the last time Tampa Bay and New Orleans met.

    The Saints, for all the turmoil they've experienced off-the-field, would certainly have been ready to contend in the playoffs this season.

Seahawks Put Up 50 Points Again, Prove They Belong

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    Russell Wilson continues to defy the odds, putting up another 50-point outing in Week 15 against the Bills.

    The Seahawks have all the qualities that one would look for in a playoff team with a solid quarterback-coach combination, a reliable (understatement of the season) running game and a stingy defense with great corners.

    Seattle could really turn some heads if it puts up a healthy amount of points on the 49ers next week on Monday night.

Cowboys Beat Steelers in Overtime, Shake Up AFC Playoff Picture

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    The fact that the Steelers lost in Week 15 sets up a number of possibilities in the AFC playoff picture, which all start with Pittsburgh beating the Bengals next week.

    While somewhat irrelevant to this slide, the Cowboy victory opens up the playoff hunt for the Jets if a few more things go New York's way.

    Either way, Dallas showed tremendous heart at the end, pulling out a close game down the stretch when they'd usually drop a contest like this.

49ers Beat Patriots, Captivate NFL World

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    Jim Harbaugh has done a fantastic job with the 49ers, bringing in the right amount of talent to win ballgames against tough opponents.

    In a back-and-forth affair that came down to who had the ball last, San Francisco was able to pull out a key victory by putting up 41 points with Colin Kaepernick at quarterback.

    The young Nevada graduate is a true star-in-the-making, and if Bill Belichick can't come up with a game plan to slow down this signal caller, we wish the rest of the NFL luck in doing the same.

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