Five quick takes looking ahead to Week 15 in the NFL:
1. There are only 12 games being played Sunday along with a Monday night game because there were two games played Saturday. The NFL plays Saturday games once the college football regular season ends. In the two Saturday games, the Texans beat the Jets 29-22 and the Browns beat the Broncos 17-16. The Texans win all but wrapped up the AFC South Division title with a 10-4 record. They can clinch Sunday if both the Colts and Titans lose. The Browns win surprisingly kept their faint playoff hopes alive at 6-7-1a remarkable record for a team that won one game the last two years. And the Broncos are still alive at 6-8 but are likely to miss the playoffs and that will put more heat on general manager John Elway. This will likely be the third consecutive year the Broncos have missed the playoffs since last winning the Super Bowl. They are 20-26 in that span, and while Elway is an icon in Denver, his acumen as a GM is starting to get questioned.
2. After losing the Miracle in Miami game last Sunday, the Patriots are in danger of not getting a first round bye if they don’t beat the Steelers. The Patriots are 9-4, the first time they’ve lost four games since 2015. But with home games against the Jets and Bills in their final two games, the Patriots figure to finish 12-4 and get a first round bye if they win this one. The Steelers are reeling with three consecutive losses and have a history of struggling against the Patriots. They’ve lost the last five to the Patriots, including a playoff game. The Steelers at 7-5-1 are only a half game in front of the 7-6 Ravens, who host Tampa Bay. The Steelers play at New Orleans next week so they could lose five in a row and miss the playoffs if they don’t beat the Patriots.
3. The Packers are still alive in the NFC wild card chase at 5-7-1 after beating Atlanta last week in Joe Philbin’s first game as interim coach. And they play a Bears team they have a history of dominating. They’ve won the last five and 15 of last 17 against the Bears, including a playoff game. And they beat the Bears 24-23 in the opener. But the Bears are 9-4 and are likely to end the Packers‘ chances of a winning season.
4. The 8-5 Cowboys play at the 7-6 Colts and despite the similar records, the Cowboys are in a much better playoff position with the lead in the NFC East. The Colts, meanwhile, have to win just to stay within two games of the 10-4 Texans and are likely fighting for a wild card spot. But the Colts can only think of what might have been. They lost to the Teans earlier this year in overtime after coach Frank Reich went for it on fourth down instead of punting and probably getting a tie. And he kept going for it on 4th and 1 against the Jaguars instead of kicking field goals and lost 6-0. If he’d taken the tie against the Texans and had taken the field goals against the Jaguars and won that one, the Colts would be 8-4-1 and would be playing to tie the Texans for the AFC South Division lead.
5. Can Nick Foles do it again?. Just as he did last year, he’s being called on to save the Eagles season now that Carson Wentz is out of the Rams game with a back ailment. The defending champion Eagles are struggling at 6-7 while the Rams are 11-2 although the Bears beat them 15-6 last week. The Eagles must win their final three games to have a winning record after winning the Super Bowl last year. It’s now or never for them.