As we review Week 15 NFL performances it taught fans – and a few teams – a couple of things. No team is invincible, even when every model shows that it will take an easy victory, and refs still have a difficult time getting the calls right. They also showed that there’s no love lost on the Oakland Raiders as they depart for Las Vegas.
Week 15 NFL Review
Getting right into the ugly, the San Francisco 49ers didn’t show up yesterday, at least not in spirit. Sure, they already have a playoff berth and good positioning, but yesterday’s game should have been an easy win and a time for the Niners to tighten up their defense. They also needed the win to give them a little breathing room. Now, after having fallen 29-22 to the Falcons, winning their last two games is imperative if they want to take the NFC West standings and the top seed in the playoffs. Only one of those wins, against the LA Rams, should be simple; the other, a contest against the Seattle Seahawks – which is also vying for a top spot – will be more challenging.
The Rams won’t be much of an opponent against the Niners if they play like they did against the Dallas Cowboys yesterday. Dallas was coming off a three-game losing streak and tensions have been high, but the Rams were still expected to at least give them a run for their money. Coach Jason Garrett, possibly concerned about what may happen in the offseason, apparently lit a couple of fires in the right places and the Cowboys went on to win 44-21, their biggest blowout of the season. One more win, against the Philadelphia Eagles next week, and the Cowboys are on their way to the playoffs for only the second time since the 2006 season.
If anyone had written off the Buffalo Bills already, they did so too early. The Bills are going to the playoffs for the second time in about the past 20 years. There’s even a chance that they could take the AFC East, especially if they beat the New England Patriots next week. They easily overcame the Pittsburgh Steelers yesterday, 17-10, to get to where they are now and are feeling reinvigorated. Of course, the fact that Steelers QB Devlin Hodges threw two interceptions helped the Bills yesterday, but the win still gives the team renewed hope and fresh energy, which they will put to good use against the Pats.
If the Tennessee Titans had been expected to win yesterday (which they were), they didn’t live up to the goal. It was a tight game and the Titans gave it their best, but the Houston Texans were all over the place. The 24-21 win eliminated the Titans’ chances of picking up the AFC South championship, and the Texans are looking at the possibility of winning the division for the fourth time in five years. For that to happen, they need to beat the Tampa Bay Buccaneers this weekend.
The Raiders wanted to go out with a bang, showing their fans some appreciation for sticking by them as they played their last game in Oakland. Going up against the Jacksonville Jaguars was never going to be easy, but there was a lot riding on the game. Things looked good in the first half, when Oakland was up 16-3, but the second half seemed to be an entirely different ballgame, with sluggish play and a strong Jags defense.
Oakland would go scoreless in the half, while allowing Jacksonville to put 17 unanswered points on the board on the way to a 20-16 victory. Coach Jon Gruden even felt compelled to apologize to the fans after the game, but not before the team had been pelted with trash amid shouts of anger as it left the field. Perhaps the Raiders will find more love in Vegas.
So, that’s it for our NFL Week 15 review, see you tomorrow.