The play clock is winding down.
The start of the final four games of the NFL’s regular season brought plenty of surprises to the league’s best, ranging from devastating injuries to head-scratching losses. There’s little time for teams to feel sorry for themselves, as week 15 of the NFL season brings us another sizzling slate of games that will decide team’s playoff fates.
Last Week: 9-7
Denver Broncos at Indianapolis Colts (Thursday Night Football)
Oh the humanity of Thursday Night Football.
Chicago Bears at Detroit Lions (Saturday Afternoon)
Both of these teams are coming off of wins in week 13, something that seemed improbable just weeks ago. Bears QB Mitchell Trubisky has shown flashes of competency, but the Lions need this one to keep their faint playoff hopes alive.
Los Angeles Chargers at Kansas City Chiefs (Saturday Night)
Kansas City suspended their best defensive player in CB Marcus Peters last week and somehow it paid dividends, as the Chiefs demolished the Raiders. The Chargers have won 7 of 9 after starting the season 0-4. In a battle for first place in the AFC West, it’s the home field advantage Arrowhead Stadium provides that will make the difference.
Miami Dolphins at Buffalo Bills
Dolphins QB Jay Cutler looked like a competent QB against the Patriots and outplayed Tom Brady. Can he outplay any of the QBs Buffalo may trot out in unfavorable conditions?
Green Bay Packers at Carolina Panthers
Packers QB Aaron Rodgers has been medically cleared to play, which should give Green Bay a boost in time for a potential playoff run. The Panthers, who are coming off a statement win against the Vikings, could be the team to benefit most from the recent slew of injuries in the NFC.
Baltimore Ravens at Cleveland Browns
The Browns were up by 14 last week against the Packers heading into the 4th quarter. The lost 27-21 in overtime. Even by Cleveland’s standards, that’s and ungodly choke job.
Houston Texans at Jacksonville Jaguars
The Jaguars boast a championship level defense and a stout running game led by offensive rookie of the year candidate Leonard Fournette. If QB Blake Bortles can avoid turning the ball over, Jacksonville could be a team no one wants to face this postseason.
Cincinnati Bengals at Minnesota Vikings
Vikings coach Mike Zimmerman was once on Marvin Lewis’s coaching staff in Cincinnati. Come next year, the reverse may be the case.
New York Jets at New Orleans Saints
The Saints are now a run first team, as they’re 9-0 when they run the ball 22 times or more. The loss to Atlanta last week is somewhat startling, but it’s not like the Jets are a force to be reckoned with.
Philadelphia Eagles at New York Giants
Eagles QB Carson Wentz suffered an ACL tear and is out for the season. Backup Nick Foles is good enough to keep the Eagles afloat, but their Super Bowl chances are now slim to none.
Arizona Cardinals at Washington Redskins
Believe it or not, this used to be a classic NFC East tilt. The interesting story here is Redskins QB Kirk (*or Kurt?*) Cousins, who may be playing himself out of a long term contract after what has been a down year for him.
Los Angeles Rams at Seattle Seahawks
If you had said at the start if the season a week 15 match-up between the Rams and the Seahawks would decide the NFC West, most would call you insane. The Rams are averaging 30 points per game this season, and head coach Sean McVay is in the running for coach of the year. The Seahawks are coming off a crushing loss to the Jaguars, and won’t be willing to give up their hold of the NFC West just yet.
Tennessee Titans at San Francisco 49ers
49ers QB Jimmy Garoppolo became the 2nd QB in the franchises’ history to win his first two road starts. There’s definitely some intrigue in the Bay Area now that he appears to be the QB of the future. The Titans are coming off a bad loss to an average Cardinals team, and need a win to keep pace with the Jaguars in the AFC South.
New England Patriots at Pittsburgh Steelers
A game that will decide the top seed in the AFC comes at a time when both teams have major questions. The Steelers are missing LB Ryan Shazier badly, as the Ravens hung 38 points on them last week. The Patriots looked vulnerable in their AFC East tilt against the Dolphins, but do you really think the hoodie will allow the Pats to drop an important game such as this one?
Dallas Cowboys at Oakland Raiders (Sunday Night Football)
What was thought to be a potential Super Bowl 52 preview at the start of the season is now a battle between two teams on the outside looking in as it pertains to the playoff picture. The Raiders came out flat and got demolished against the Chiefs no thanks to struggling QB Derek Carr, while Cowboys QB Dak Prescott may have finally figured out how to play without RB Ezekiel Elliott.
Atlanta Falcons at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (Monday Night Football)
Just when you think the Falcons are DOA, they find a way to make you believe they can make a deep playoff run. Atlanta won despite Matt Ryan throwing 3 interceptions last week, something the Buccaneers can’t overcome with Jameis Winston under center.