NFL Week 15: Biggest Winners and Losers

Dec 18, 2016; San Diego, CA, USA; Oakland Raiders quarterback Derek Carr (4) reacts during the first quarter against the San Diego Chargers at Qualcomm Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports

Assessing which teams left as winners and which came out as losers in a wild NFL Week 15.

NFL Week 15 of the 2016 season was full of upsets, drama, and of course, a ton of exciting action. Playoff lives were on the line and, while some teams propelled themselves into serious contention, others saw their playoff hopes fade right before their eyes.

Now that there only two games left on the schedule for every team except the Carolina Panthers and Washington Redskins, there’s no little time to make a move. That makes what happened in NFL Week 15 all the more important.

With this in mind, let’s take a look at some of the biggest winners and losers of NFL Week 15.

Winners

Oakland Raiders: Perhaps the biggest winners of Week 15 were the Oakland Raiders. They came into the week as the fifth seed in the AFC, but, after they beat the San Diego Chargers and with the Kansas City Chiefs losing, the Raiders now find themselves in the driver’s seat for the AFC West title and a first-round bye.

Green Bay Packers: It’s always a good day at the office when every team in the division loses except for you, and that’s exactly what happened on Sunday for the Packers. After coming back to steal a victory in Chicago, the Packers saw the Minnesota Vikings get blown out and the Detroit Lions collapse in New York. If the Packers (8-6) win their remaining two games (Week 16 vs. Vikings and Week 17 at Detroit), the NFC North is theirs. Not too shabby after everyone wrote them off weeks ago, don’t you think?

Pittsburgh Steelers: It didn’t look promising early, but the Steelers slugged their way to a 24-20 victory over the Cincinnati Bengals on Sunday. With the win, the Steelers control their own destiny. A win at home against the Baltimore Ravens next week will wrap up the AFC North for the Steelers.

Dallas Cowboys: They aren’t in any danger of missing the playoffs, but after a tumultuous week, it was good for Big D to get a win and silence all the “bench Dak Prescott” talk. Dallas’ two rookies get all the attention, but that defense has held nine of their 14 opponents this season to 20 points or fewer.

Losers

Denver Broncos: It was a tall task trying to beat the New England Patriots, but the Broncos fell flat on their face. The defense did a good job (Tom Brady completed only 50 perecent of his passes), but the offense was horrendous. Denver cannot run the ball (58 yards) and Trevor Siemian has not improved at all since Week 1. Denver has a tough remaining schedule (Week 16 at Kansas City, Week 17 vs. Oakland), but they need to run the table and get help to make the playoffs. It’s looking likely that neither conference champion from last season will make the playoffs this year.

Detroit Lions: Despite losing to the New York Giants, the Lions still have control of their playoff fate. However, the Lions are trending down while the Packers are tending up. Both of Detroit’s remaining games are in a dome. That’s good, considering that Detroit has not won a game outside this entire season. But with those dome games coming against the Cowboys and Packers, things are still less than favorable.

Kansas City Chiefs: They entered the week as the AFC’s second seed, but they left as the fifth seed. The Chiefs blew a 10-point fourth-quarter lead and their defense could not seal the victory. Questions still remain if this offense (17 points, 317 total yards in Week 15) is good enough to make the Chiefs a legitimate Super Bowl contender.

Houston Texans: Yes, they won their game. Yes, they are tied for first place in the AFC South. But now they have a full-blown quarterback controversy on their hands and they barely beat a Jacksonville Jaguars team (at home) that just fired their head coach. The Texans might ride their defense to a playoff berth. But with this dysfunctional offense, it’s looking like the Texans will be “one and done” in the playoffs (again) this season.

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