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NFL Instant Reactions: Week 15 Edition

The playoff picture is becoming even clearer after fifteen weeks of NFL action, with a few more teams punching their playoff tickets, so let’s take a look at how each team fared. Much like last week’s article, I have separated the teams into four different categories: True Contenders, Playoff Bound Material, Mediocre at Best, and Dead in the Water.

True Contenders: Philadelphia Eagles, Pittsburgh Steelers, New England Patriots, New Orleans Saints, Minnesota Vikings, Los Angeles Rams, Carolina Panthers.

The Eagles (12-2) were able to clinch a first round bye with a win over the pesky New York Giants, and Nick Foles looked very comfortable in the Eagles offense, tossing four touchdown passes. The Steelers (11-3) lost to the Patriots (11-3) due to a controversial call on a Jesse James goal line catch that was overturned. The Vikings (11-3) remained in striking distance of the top seed in the NFC with a dominant win over the Bengals, which allowed Teddy Bridgewater to make a brief return to the field in the 4th quarter. The Panthers (10-4) and Saints (10-4) both remain neck-and-neck in the NFC South as both came off impressive week 15 victories. Lastly, the Rams (10-4) are firmly in the driver’s seat in the NFC West as they embarrassed the Seahawks in their home stadium.

Playoff Bound Material: Seattle Seahawks, Jacksonville Jaguars, Atlanta Falcons, Baltimore Ravens, Los Angeles Chargers, Dallas Cowboys, Kansas City Chiefs, Detroit Lions, Buffalo Bills.

The Seattle Seahawks (8-6) lost a key divisional battle to the Rams, and their playoff aspirations could be fading fast with only two games left to play. The Jaguars (10-4) clinched a playoff berth for the first time since 2007, and gave their fans plenty of reasons to cheer with a beat-down on the Texans. The Ravens’ (8-6) playoff aspirations remain alive with a decisive win over the Browns, while the Cowboys also remain alive in the NFC race with a close win over the Raiders. The Chargers (7-7) lost a key divisional game to the Chiefs (8-6), and Andy Reid seems to have his team playing with confidence once again. The Bills (8-6) and Lions (8-6) also remained in playoff contention with wins this week.

Mediocre at Best:  Oakland Raiders, Cincinnati Bengals, Arizona Cardinals, Buffalo Bills, Tennessee Titans, Green Bay Packers, Washington Redskins.

The Redskins (6-8) found a way to beat the Cardinals (6-8) at home, with several key defensive stops made down the stretch, while the Packers (7-7) lost a game they had to have against the Panthers. The Raiders (6-8) did themselves no favors after an ugly loss to the Cowboys, and the Bengals (5-9) were embarrassed by the Vikings on Sunday, just shortly after news broke that coach Marvin Lewis would not return next season.

Dead in the Water: Cleveland Browns, NY Giants, Indianapolis Colts, San Francisco 49ers, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Chicago Bears, Houston Texans, Denver Broncos, NY Jets, Miami Dolphins.
The 49ers won their third straight game, thanks to the outstanding quarterback play of Jimmy Garoppolo, and the Niners continue to play a major playoff spoiler. Elsewhere, the Colts got terrible injury news about Andrew Luck, with reports indicating he may be due for another round of surgery on his throwing arm.
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Be sure to check back next week to see the movement in these categories, which teams should start to be taken seriously, and the others we wish would just get off our TV screens for good.

Photo Credit: Yahoo Sports

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