It was a do-or-die week for some teams, while other football clubs saw their playoff hopes bolstered. Indeed, Week 15 was one for the books, entertaining to say the least. Let’s get to the learnings.
Lessons Learned Week 15
1. The offensive line of the Denver Broncos, and stubborness of the coaching staff not to abandon the run when it wasn’t working were the two items that deep-sixed their title defense. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Denver lose out to end the year.
2. The Packers continue to win but the defense continues to be porous. Even if they get into the playoffs, there’s no way that they’ll win a road game if they can’t stop opposing offenses.
3. The Colts continue to baffle me. I wouldn’t go anywhere near their games, no matter what the NFL betting spread or money line is each week. Avoid them!
4. The Steelers showed poise and resolve in their comeback in Cincy. Give them their due. This team is ready for a playoff push.
5. I’m shocked that Matt Moore led the Fins to 34 points on the road in cold weather game. Stunned. Miami is now in the driver’s seat for a playoff spot. But similar to the Colts, you just never know what you’ll get out of them. So be careful when considering a bet on or against them.
6. Kansas City has tanked after looking like true Super Bowl contenders. Sure, they should still make the playoffs. But they had a legit shot at a first round bye and they blew it. I don’t get it at all. They’re a good team but they clearly have a pre-determined ceiling as to how good they can be.
7. Tampa Bay fought valiantly on the road in Dallas Sunday night. That says something. It says that their winning streak was not a fluke. But they’re now in a dog fight just to make the playoffs. There’s enough defensive pressure and offensive swagger to keep them in it over these last two weeks. Don’t abandon ship.
8. The Giants continue to impress down the stretch. As long as their defense plays close to elite and the passing game stays on track there’s no reason to believe that they can’t compete in the postseason, no matter the opponent.
9. Another Saints game that turns into a track meet. They scored a season high 48 points versus Arizona. Sure, they won the game. But their playoff aspirations die a few weeks ago and they can’t stop anyone on defense. When will coach Payton get the memo and hire a proper defensive guru?
10. The Ravens won a game that they had to and should have won. No one is too excited about it. That said, they play the Steelers now and still have a shot at the division. The only problem? No one is really sure if they’ll be able to run the ball effectively when it counts in these last two weeks.
11. There’s something to build on with these Bears. The team’s compete level has been high these last couple of weeks. I would give John Fox another year to turn it around there. I might even give Matt Barkley a chance to start in 2017.
12. What do you do if you’re the owner of the Texans? Osweiler is essentially holding you back but is owed all of this money. Meanwhile, the backup quarterback came off the bench and narrowly beat the woeful Jags. Hmmm, maybe Houston trades up to draft a QB next spring? Either way, I fully expect Tennessee to win the AFC South.
Matthew Ross is a sports commentator and a radio host on TSN 690 Radio in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. Follow him @MatthewWords.