10 Biggest Winners and Losers from the NFL's Week 15
Talk about a crazy Week 15, right?
Upsets? We had them.
Indianapolis, winless going into the day, slammed the door on Tennessee's playoff hopes. In other words, if you are a Titans fan, it was like any other year since 2004 (save 2008).
Green Bay's undefeated run? Done.
Tebow's run? Done, after facing off against a good team.
So, who won and who lost?
Not just in terms of the games—we know who won the games (and if you don't it's just a mouse click away). But overall, who won and who lost?
I think we can find five of each.
Winner: New England Patriots
Going into Sunday, the New England Patriots were two games up in the AFC East but were stuck with the third seed in the AFC playoffs.
Well, everything that could go their way did go their way.
First the Texans lost, which vaulted the Patriots into the second seed.
Then they took the field in Denver while back east the Jets took the field in Philadelphia.
New England dominated the Broncos 41-23 despite a sluggish start in which Denver outscored New England 16-7 in the first 18 minutes of the game.
After that, the Patriots would outscore the Broncos 38-7, and not even the exalted Tim Tebow could revive the Broncos.
At the same time in Philadelphia, the Eagles throttled the Jets 45-19, which clinched the AFC East title for the Patriots.
Then, on Sunday night, they got to see the Ravens fall back into their annoying little habit of losing on the road to inferior competition as they lost to the Chargers 34-14.
Just like that, New England is 11-3 with two games left, and they're in first place in the AFC.
Oh, and New England's next two games? At home against Miami and Buffalo.
Talk about a good position to be in going into the playoffs.
Loser: Oakland Raiders
If you are a Raiders fan, you had to have been feeling good—you know, until the last four minutes of the game.
While New England was busy throttling the Broncos, the Raiders had a chance to get back into the AFC West race, leading the Lions 27-14.
Then Matthew Stafford and Megatron took control, followed by Ndamukong Suh blocking a Sebastian Janikowski field goal (I know it was a 65-yarder, but if anyone could make it, it's Janikowski).
Now the Raiders are at 7-7, still one game behind Denver—two if you count the tiebreaker.
So to answer the last slide: Denver didn't lose any ground, while Oakland lost ground just based off of the time remaining.
Oakland now has the Chiefs in Kansas City followed by the Chargers at home left on the docket, while the Broncos travel to Buffalo next week, finishing it off against the Chiefs.
Winner: Denver Broncos
Tebow Mania has finally come down a notch, but maybe the Broncos wanted it that way.
Some teams just play better when they're under the radar, rather than in the spotlight.
And lucky for them, the Raiders lost, which allows them to keep the division lead in the AFC West.
Let's face it—Tebow looked a lot better throwing the football. His passes were more accurate, and he hit receivers when they were open.
He was efficient running the rock as well, and the mix of the two threw the Patriots off-balance in the first half.
For the defense, as good as they've been all season, any defense will find problems stopping Brady, Welker, Gronkowski and company.
While the Broncos might've lost on Sunday, they did at least see a blueprint on how to beat the Patriots come playoff time. Sure, it wasn't quite like the Giants in 2007, when they hung close all game, but it's tough to beat a team twice within the span of six weeks, so the Broncos have that small advantage.
While Tom Brady did pick apart the Broncos secondary, Denver still controls its own destiny in the quest for a postseason berth.
Winner: Detroit Lions
Get Suh back? Check.
Come-from-behind victory in Oakland? Check.
Bears lose? Check.
Beat the Chargers next week, and the Lions are playoff bound, which is the sweetest Christmas present Detroit could ask for, even though it's about 10 years too late.
Something tells me they'll take it, especially since by clinching their playoff spot, they won't be forced into the situation of having to win in Lambeau Field the last day of the season.
But they have to win.
Loser: Chicago Bears
Yikes! What a hit on Johnny Knox.
If it could go wrong in Chicago, it did in 2011.
A promising season in which they looked to be NFC contenders was flushed down the drain thanks to plain old bad luck.
I feel bad for the Bears and their fans. Everything went wrong. I mean everything.
And even though Sam Hurd was released after his arrest, it still doesn't help a football team when you have to deal with that distraction during December.
Speaking of Sam Hurd—I know he was mainly a special teams player, but didn't he watch any drug dealing movies?
He should know that you always wind up getting caught no matter how careful you try to be.
*29-year-old movie spoiler alert*
Tony Montana gets arrested and winds up dying in the end, and as cool as that looked on screen, that's not a good way to go out. Hurd definitely should've watched Scarface after the "Push It To The Limit" scene.
Because not only will he wind up like Montana, but the Bears' season is going to end the same way:
Landing in a pool surrounded by their own blood with a globe that says "The World Is Yours" on it.
Loser: New York Giants
Their victory last week in Dallas should've propelled the Giants into the final three games of the season full steam ahead toward an NFC East championship.
Yeah, about that.
New York came out flat against a team with Rex Grossman as their starting quarterback, losing 23-10 in a game that wasn't as close as the score would indicate.
Not only are the Giants now looking up at the Cowboys, but the Eagles are still in the NFC East race.
Things are getting bad in New York football.
Loser: New York Jets
The Jets are always trying to one-up the Giants—usually, it fails.
But if the competition in the Big Apple was to see who could lay the bigger egg, the Jets managed to succeed and mess things up for the Giants at the same time.
I thought that Philadelphia being favored, even at home, was silly.
Now I see I was the one that was silly.
Now the Jets have an equally desperate Giants team next week, followed by a trip down to Miami against a Dolphins team who would consider it a huge success if they knocked the Jets out of the playoffs—which is certainly possible, since they're tied with the Bengals for that final AFC playoff spot now.
A win over Philadelphia would have all but locked up a postseason berth for Gang Green, but they couldn't get it done.
Winner: 1972 Miami Dolphins; Especially Mercury Morris
The Packers lost, meaning the population of Perfectville will remain at one for one more year.
Champagne was popped, and Mercury Morris will make the rounds on ESPN again next season.
However, while I'm a Dolphins fan who doesn't necessarily care about the 1972 team (I don't even think they're the best team in Dolphins history) and usually will root for a team to go undefeated as long as it doesn't hurt the Dolphins' playoff chances (when they have them), I will admit this:
It just wouldn't seem right for a team to go undefeated the year that Jim Mandich passed away.
RIP Mad Dog, hope you're enjoying your champagne right now.
Loser: 2012 Miami Dolphins
This has nothing to do with Todd Bowles, interim head coach of the Miami Dolphins.
I'd love to give this guy a chance to coach in the NFL.
But he would be a far more effective coach with Matt Barkley or Robert Griffin III under center than he would be with whomever the winner of the Peyton Manning sweepstakes has to jettison (possibly Tony Romo, Alex Smith, Mark Sanchez or Joe Flacco, since Manning will get traded to where he wants to go, and if I were him, the Cowboys, 49ers, Jets and Ravens would be my picks—of course the Dolphins could wind up getting him, thus making this a moot point).
However, the Dolphins in getting another win screwed themselves out of that.
Here's why I think they did, even though they didn't lose as much ground as they could've to Washington—they're beating the Jets in Week 17.
This isn't the homer Dolphins fan saying this, this is the rational NFL analyst in me saying this.
They'll finish 6-10 and be slotted at No. 9 in the draft, with Washington, Jacksonville and Cleveland picking ahead of them.
Sometimes you have to temporarily suffer in order to permanently succeed. But the Dolphins failed to do that by succeeding this week.
Winner: Pittsburgh Steelers
If you thought everything broke right for New England, Pittsburgh had it better—so far.
Baltimore loses, Houston loses. This now means that the Steelers, without taking the field, have the No. 2 seed in the AFC.
They're the No. 1 seed if they get the win against the 49ers on Monday Night Football.
This despite the fact that James Harrison is suspended and Ben Roethlisberger's health is iffy at this point (had the Ravens won I would've thought they'd rest him, but with so much on the plate, there's no way Ben isn't playing against the 49ers, especially since the Steelers did have 10 days rest prior to this game).
If Pittsburgh can capitalize on this weekend and beat the 49ers, they will be the ultimate winners of this week in the NFL.