The unimaginable happened in Week 15. The Jets won a football game and this time they didn’t blow it in the final seconds either. Of course, there have been tons of jokes about New York not even being able to tank right, but I am happy to see the team avoid an 0-16 finish. I will talk more about that in the Jets’ section.
In other news, the Steelers inexplicably lost a third straight game, this time to the Bengals starting Ryan Finley at quarterback. Drew Brees looked like a man that has not played football in close to a month in his return from injury as the Saints lost their second straight game. Elsewhere, the Bears climbed back into the postseason picture and the NFC East continues to get more interesting. This is where I see each team following 15 weeks of action.
1. Kansas City Chiefs: 13-1 (Last Week: 1)
Won 32-29 at New Orleans
Kansas City continues to weather the regular-season storm. New Orleans kept things close early, but Patrick Mahomes and company stepped up in the second half to close it out. Unfortunately, the Chiefs likely lost Clyde Edwards-Helaire for the rest of the regular season and possibly longer. On the bright side, winning either of their final two games will lock up the No. 1 seed in the AFC.
2. Green Bay Packers: 11-3 (Last Week: 2)
Won 24-16 vs. Carolina
It wasn’t the prettiest win the Packers have ever had, but they got the job done and extended their lead over the rest of the NFC. Aaron Jones rumbled for 145 yards and a touchdown in the win. Green Bay needs to play a bit more evenly after several offensive lulls in this contest. That won’t fly in the playoffs.
3. Buffalo Bills: 11-3 (Last Week: 3)
Won 48-19 at Denver
Buffalo beat the doors off Denver behind another masterful performance from Josh Allen. He got plenty of help with 149 yards from the duo of Devin Singletary and Zack Moss. The Bills defense also continued its late-season resurgence with its second defensive touchdown in as many weeks. This version of the Bills is going to be really tough to beat in the playoffs.
4. New Orleans Saints: 10-4 (Last Week: 4)
Lost 32-29 vs. Kansas City
Drew Brees looked very rusty in his return from injury. He completed fewer than 50 percent of his passes and threw a costly interception in the loss. It was not a great game from the Saints defense either, save a strip sack of Patrick Mahomes. Hopes of winning the NFC have pretty much vanished. New Orleans needs to right the ship over the next two weeks to build some momentum for the postseason.
5. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: 9-5 (Last Week: 7)
Won 31-27 at Atlanta
It was a slow start from the Buccaneers, but Tom Brady got the best of the Falcons when it mattered once again. He aired it out for 390 yards and a pair of touchdowns. The offense certainly missed the presence of Ronald Jones. However, it is the defense that had the most concerning performance. Matt Ryan finished with over 350 yards and three touchdowns. After a strong start, the Bucs are 3-3 in their last six and could use a jolt heading into the final stretch.
6. Miami Dolphins: 9-5 (Last Week: 8)
Won 22-12 vs. New England
Miami officially put New England in its rearview mirror, at least for 2020. The Dolphins ended the Patriots’ 12-year postseason streak with a strong ground game and some stingy defense. It was another lackluster game from Tua Tagovailoa passing the ball, but he punched in two rushing touchdowns to earn the victory. With DeVante Parker and Myles Gaskin potentially returning soon, the offense should get a much-need jolt.
7. Seattle Seahawks: 10-4 (Last Week: 9)
Won 20-15 at Washington
The Seahawks ground out a crucial victory to reclaim the lead in the NFC West. Washington’s defense posed a number of issues, holding Russell Wilson to 121 yards passing and just one touchdown. Seattle’s defense pulled through with four sacks and a pair of interceptions. It was a gritty win, the type the Seahawks will likely need to pull off at least once in the postseason.
8. Baltimore Ravens: 9-5 (Last Week: 10)
Won 40-14 vs. Jacksonville
Lighting up the Jaguars is hardly difficult these days, but it is still promising to see this offense continuing to click. Lamar Jackson put together another big performance, this time through the air as well as on the ground. Defensively, Baltimore stuffed James Robinson. He managed just 2.2 yards per carry. Gardner Minshew might have had two touchdowns, but it was too late to matter. The Ravens were in control throughout this one.
9. Cleveland Browns: 10-4 (Last Week: 12)
Won 20-6 at New York
After weeks of taking a backseat, it was the Browns defense who got top billing in this one. Cleveland kept New York out of the end zone, limiting its scoring to a pair of field goals. The Browns played a lot of bend but don’t break possessions, allowing the Giants to drive into the red zone, but coming up with huge stops when Joe Judge decided to go for it on fourth down. There is still plenty of room for the defense to improve, but they deserve credit for how they handled this game.
10. Tennessee Titans: 10-4 (Last Week: 13)
Won 46-25 vs. Detroit
Don’t look now, but the Titans are picking up steam. After getting shelled in the first half of its Week 13 game against Cleveland, Tennessee has outscored its opponents 105-41 over the past 10 quarters of play. Ryan Tannehill is spreading the ball around and Derrick Henry is tossing defenders across the field. If the Titans can rediscover their pass rush, this team could be poised for another deep postseason run.
11. Indianapolis Colts: 10-4 (Last Week: 11)
Won 27-20 vs. Houston
For the second time in three weeks, the Colts stymied the Texans at the goal line with a timely fumble recovery to preserve a victory. It was far from Indianapolis’ best defensive game as it gave up 373 passing yards to Deshaun Watson. However, it made the big play when it mattered and kept pace with the Titans in the AFC South.
12. Pittsburgh Steelers: 11-3 (Last Week: 5)
Lost 27-17 at Cincinnati
Now the sky is falling in Pittsburgh. This team has completely forgotten how to run its offense. Ben Roethlisberger is missing open receivers, players are not on the same page and these mistakes are putting the defense in impossible situations. All of Cincinnati’s first-half points came off turnovers. Mike Tomlin needs to get this team back to basics, and fast. The Steelers are in danger of blowing the division lead.
13. Los Angeles Rams: 9-5 (Last Week: 6)
Lost 24-21 vs. New York
I still don’t know what happened. If this was not the most embarrassing loss in franchise history, it has to be close to the top. New York was fresh off a 40-3 beatdown against Seattle. Los Angeles didn’t even have to travel! As has been the issue all season, the offense was out of rhythm and that cost the Rams a winnable game. L.A. is now facing a potential road playoff game.
14. Arizona Cardinals: 8-6 (Last Week: 14)
Won 33-26 vs. Philadelphia
In one of the most exciting games of the weekend, Kyler Murray outdueled the man who followed him at Oklahoma. The Cardinals’ defense made life difficult on Jalen Hurts though with six sacks, bringing their total over the past two weeks up to 14! On offense, it was one of Murray’s best games of his young NFL career. He finished with 406 passing yards and four total touchdowns. He has still not looked quite the same running the ball since he suffered that shoulder injury, but this was a big win for the Cardinals as they continue to fight for the NFC’s final wildcard spot.
15. Chicago Bears: 7-7 (Last Week 23)
Won 33-27 at Minnesota
After looking like they were dead in the water, the Bears have roared back into the playoff chase, sitting one game back of the Cardinals. Mitchell Trubisky continues to show signs of his 2018-level of play while David Montgomery is quietly having one of the best second halves of any running back in the league. This team seems to have found its footing at the right time.
16. Washington: 6-8 (Last Week: 15)
Lost 20-15 vs. Seattle
Washington holds onto its lead in the NFC East, but that cushion shrunk as the Cowboys are now just one game back in the division as well. Dwayne Haskins’ continued ball-security problems showed up again with two more interceptions. In a five-point game where the defense limits one of the best quarterbacks in the league to just 121 passing yards, those are back-breaking mistakes. Now, Haskins’ status for Week 16 is in doubt due to some off-the-field issues with Washington’s season hanging in the balance.
17. Dallas Cowboys: 5-9 (Last Week: 25)
Won 41-33 vs. San Francisco
Could the Cowboys really run the table? Dallas picked up another win, this time without Ezekiel Elliott. The defense is still one of the worst, if not the worst in the league, but it has been opportunistic. Two forced fumbles gave the offense a big boost. CeeDee Lamb’s return touchdown on the onsides kick sealed it. Dallas is winning the turnover battle and making plays on special teams. That is a recipe for success.
18. San Francisco 49ers: 5-9 (Last Week: 17)
Lost 41-33 at Dallas
Another tough loss for the short-handed 49ers eliminates them from postseason contention. No team has had to adapt more in 2020 than San Francisco, who is now playing home games in Arizona. This team is not going to need a rebuild as much as it needs a refresh and to get healthy. A new quarterback and a few extra pieces on defense could get the Niners back in Super Bowl contention.
19. Minnesota Vikings: 6-8 (Last Week: 18)
Lost 33-27 vs. Chicago
Minnesota’s playoff hopes took another massive blow. The defense could not slow down David Montgomery, who racked up 146 yards and two touchdowns on the ground. Kirk Cousins played well enough, but once again, the Vikings came up short. They are still in contention for the final wildcard spot, but the path looks extremely unlikely at this stage.
20. Philadelphia Eagles: 4-9-1 (Last Week: 24)
Lost 33-26 at Arizona
The Jalen Hurts show went on the road and nearly picked up a crucial win. Unfortunately, the offensive line fell apart and Hurts was sacked six times in the contest. Meanwhile, the Eagles stay alive in the division race with a Washington loss. Philly now needs to win out to reach the playoffs. With games against Washington and Dallas coming up, the NFC East is going to go down to the wire. Of every team in the division, the Eagles somehow seem to have the best quarterback situation all of a sudden.
21. New England Patriots: 6-8 (Last Week: 16)
Lost 22-12 at Miami
It is time for the Patriots to take a long look in the mirror. After years of lording over the NFL, New England has quickly sunk to mediocre. Now, the team will get reinforcements with players returning from opt outs in 2021, but this roster desperately needs to be turned over. It will start with figuring out a new direction at quarterback. Cam Newton continues to show he is not “the guy,” and it seems like the organization is not trusting Jarrett Stidham. A big offseason awaits the Pats.
22. New York Giants: 5-9 (Last Week: 19)
Lost 20-6 at Cleveland
Colt McCoy couldn’t work his magic to pull off another stunning upset. You have to give Joe Judge credit for playing to win and stay aggressive throughout the game. Unfortunately, this is a young Giants team struggling to compete with tons of injuries at key positions. Not to mention, the team lost a pair of coaches and their star corner this week before playing. New York’s postseason hopes look rather bleak though with a trip to Baltimore up next.
23. Carolina Panthers: 4-10 (Last Week: 22)
Lost 24-16 at Green Bay
Carolina did its best to slow down Aaron Rodgers. It forgot to plan for the other Aaron though. Aaron Jones gashed the Panthers defense for 145 yards and a score. This team is still rebuilding, which became even more evident on Monday when general manager Marty Hurney was fired. As the Panthers head for a top-five pick, it will be interesting to see if this team decides to take a young quarterback to take over, or will the front office build around Teddy Bridgewater. Carolina is an interesting team to watch this offseason.
24. Las Vegas Raiders: 7-7 (Last Week: 20)
Lost 30-27 vs. Los Angeles
Don’t let the record fool you, the Raiders are terrible right now. Las Vegas has now lost four of five, and the one game they did win in that stretch came on a Hail Mary against the Jets. It is clear that this defense is not talented enough to compete. The Raiders will need to invest some serious resources to rebuild it this offseason and potentially search for a new quarterback.
25. Los Angeles Chargers: 5-9 (Last Week: 28)
Won 30-27 at Las Vegas
Make that back-to-back wins for the Chargers, who continue to show grit following their 45-0 drubbing against the Patriots. Despite the improved play of late, Anthony Lynn’s job should still be under scrutiny. Los Angeles seems to have its quarterback of the future on the roster and a solid young group around him. The team’s leadership needs to be sure Lynn is who they want to head into the future with. This offseason would be the time to make the change if there are any doubts within that organization.
26. Houston Texans: 4-10 (Last Week: 26)
Lost 27-20 at Indianapolis
Another close divisional loss sinks the Texans lower and lower into the misery that is their future. This team has a few talented players and one of the best young quarterbacks in the league. However, it doesn’t have a permanent coach or general manager and has very little draft capital to rebuild a talent-deprived roster. It is a long road ahead for the Texans.
27. Denver Broncos: 5-9 (Last Week: 21)
Lost 48-19 vs. Buffalo
Drew Lock’s play of late is raising more questions than it answers. After a strong performance in Week 14, he regressed again, managing a pedestrian 4.1 yards per attempt as he finished with just 132 passing yards. That doesn’t even account for the strip sack returned for a Bills’ touchdown. Lock got very little help from his defense though, as Denver let Josh Allen do whatever he wanted to. While it might be tempting to tear it down and star over, there are a lot more holes on this roster.
28. Detroit Lions: 5-9 (Last Week: 27)
Lost 46-25 at Tennessee
Another week, another dismal defensive performance. Lions defenders are out here getting tossed around the field by Derrick Henry and letting Ryan Tannehill spout off for a nearly perfect day passing the ball. In yet another lost season for Detroit, this team is now officially back to square one. There are questions about Matt Stafford’s durability and the team is once again looking for a new coach. There is a reason why this franchise has not won a playoff game since 1991.
29. Atlanta Falcons: 4-10 (Last Week: 29)
Lost 31-27 vs. Tampa Bay
2020 has been a really hard year for everyone for some really serious, real-world reasons. If you want to focus on sports though, no one has had it worst than fans in Atlanta. Between the Braves 3-1 collapse and the Falcons blowing at least one three-score lead per month, it has been brutal supporting the local teams. On the bright side, Matt Ryan looked much better. Unfortunately, the team is trending toward a top-five pick with more questions than it has answers.
30. Cincinnati Bengals: 3-10-1 (Last Week: 30)
Won 27-17 vs. Pittsburgh
Bengals fans rejoice! Your team knocked off the Steelers and kept your hold on the No. 3 pick in the draft! Cincinnati played its best defensive game of the year, frustrating Pittsburgh’s offense all night long. It was opportunistic and made some clutch plays to secure a very exciting victory. These final few games will be great for the front office to continue to evaluate the roster while planning for its future with Joe Burrow.
31. Jacksonville Jaguars: 1-13 (Last Week: 31)
Lost 40-14 at Baltimore
Congratulations Jaguars fans! Your team is now two losses away from landing Trevor Lawrence! With Jacksonville losing it’s 13th straight game and the Jets somehow knocking off the Rams, the Jags are in line to land the first overall pick. It hasn’t really been a fun season, but the outlook for the team under a new general manager with the best quarterback prospect to come out since Andrew Luck is incredibly exciting.
32. New York Jets: 1-13 (Last Week: 32)
Won 24-21 at Los Angeles
This was easily the most disappointed I’ve ever been after a Jets win in my life. I am thrilled the team will not finish 0-16. I really wanted them to avoid making that type of history. However, it is bittersweet, because I know how much of a difference Trevor Lawrence could make to this franchise. However, this could also open up a world of possibilities for the offseason. What the Jets decide to do with the No. 2 pick will be one of the biggest talking points of the offseason. For the next two weeks though, I will be rooting for the Bears and the Colts to slip up big time against the Jaguars and open the door for the Jets to reclaim the top spot in the draft.
Follow the Aftermath via email to get every article delivered right to your inbox. Enter your email in the text box to subscribe. You can also follow us on Facebook and Twitter.