NFL Week 15 Short Takes
When we look back at week 15 in the National Football League for 2020, what will go down as the biggest upset of the season? It just might boil down to either the New York Jets getting their first victory of the season after dropping the first 13 by dumping the playoff-bound Los Angeles Rams or perhaps the Monday Night Football embarrassment the Cincinnati Bengals handed the 11-2 Pittsburgh Steelers in which the Bengals had only won two games and lost 10 with a tie heading into that AFC North battle.
In week 15 those two upsets made up a slate of games that saw some matchups having significant impacts for were newsworthy. Beginning with week 16 in the NFL there will only be two more Short Takes articles for the regular season. Let’s kick off this week’s review with a loss by the Steelers that pained every member of Steeler Nation.
Cincinnati 27 Pittsburgh 17. As if it wasn’t bad enough losing to the Bengals who only had won two games all season the game was broadcast for the world to see. What was supposed to be a game where the Steelers would flick off the wounds of two straight losses and manhandle Cincinnati instead turned into a mistake-filled, poorly played, and uninspired effort by the 11-2 Steelers. Instead of coming out and playing aggressive Pittsburgh-like football, it was Cincinnati who punched Pittsburgh square in the mouth and never looked back. To add injury to insult, the Steelers were favored by 14 ½ points, and by being toppled by the Bengals it marks the largest upset defeat Pittsburgh has suffered since 1966. Want more? Ben Roethlisberger who played terribly had his worst offensive effort in the first half of a game in his entire 17-year career.
How ugly was it for Big Ben? How about only seven yards passing and 1.4 yards-per-play. The offense could only muster two first downs and turned the ball over three times which the Bengals capitalized on with 17 points to go into the locker room at half time leading 17-0, the first time the Steelers had been shut out in a first half I believe it was since 1990. Wait...there’s more...
Not since the 1969 Los Angeles Rams and the 2009, New Orleans Saints had a team that won its first 11 games then lost three in a row. That is until Cincinnati made the Steelers team number three to do so. However, the Saints went on to win the Super Bowl and the Rams lost in the divisional round. I don’t believe that will be the case for the Steelers who I believe have won their last game of the season and will lost to the Colts and then the Browns and go one and out in the playoffs. The mojo they established with the first 11 games is gone. Their psyche is badly damaged. Their confidence is broken. They have no running game and the injuries have proven to be insurmountable. Unless a miracle turnaround happens, they simply have a problem that can’t be fixed for now.
Los Angeles Chargers 30 Las Vegas 27. The last gasp for a playoff spot for the Raiders. Close but no cigar.
Buffalo 48 Denver 19. The Bills have gotten stronger as the season got longer. This team is scary right now and will be extremely difficult out in the postseason.
Green Bay 24 Carolina 16. The Packers are beginning to distance themselves as the best team in the NFC and should be the Super Bowl favorites once the playoffs begin.
Miami 22 New England 12.M AFC East teams are certainly enjoying beating up on Bill Belichick and the New England Patriots this season. It’s payback for the entire division minus the Jets.
Chicago 33 Minnesota 27. Mitch Trubisky is trying hard to prove he is the real deal. Chicago could still sneak into the postseason if the chips fall correctly for them. Minnesota has endured an underachieving and disappointing 2020 campaign.
Tennessee 46 Detroit 25. In a word...Derrick Henry is a BEAST. Another 147 yards rushing and one touchdown and the Titans star back has pushed his season total to 1,679 yards and two games to go. His total is 195 yards ahead of Dalvin Cook. Another 321 yards and he will join seven other players who have rushed for over 2,000 in a single season (Eric Dickerson, Adrian Peterson, Jamal Lewis, Barry Sanders, Terrell Daivs, Chris Johnson, O.J. Simpson). Some teams have stopped Henry but he is averaging nearly 120 yards per game.
Indianapolis 27 Houston 20. The Texans are hanging with other teams but not getting the Ws. The Colts and Titans are going down to the wire for the division title.
Baltimore 40 Jacksonville 14. The final score comes as no surprise. But congratulations Jacksonville, you now have the overall number one pick in the draft. That is for now. If it remains, it will be the only time in their history they have had that luxury while the Denver Broncos, these same Ravens, and the Seattle Seahawks are the other teams that also have never had that first-round pick for the league.
Dallas 41 San Francisco 33. A nice little shootout that gets neither team anywhere but in the victory column.
Seattle 20 Washington 15. Thanks to other teams losing in their division Washington is backing into the playoffs and the probable NFC East Division champion.
Tampa Bay Bay 31 Atlanta 27. The Bucs won but don’t look Super Bowl ready. The Falcons? Blew yet another lead.
New York Jets 23 Los Angeles Rams 20. Unbelievable. J-E-T-S Jets...Jets...Jets! They avoid 0-16 and matching the Jaguars and Browns for going 16 games without a win. But by winning they lose the overall number one draft pick for next year. The Trevor Lawrence sweepstakes is in the hands of Jacksonville for the time being. The Rams? Just as embarrassed as the Steelers for at least this week.
Arizona 33 Philadelphia 26. You can’t expect rookie Jalen Hurts to wins games on his own but he continues to impress and could force a trade in the off-season of Carson Wentz. Pittsburgh fans I believe would gladly take him as the successor to Big Ben when he hangs up the cleats. The Cardinals are hanging onto that final wild-card spot.
Kansas City 32 New Orleans 29. This was supposed to be a close game and it was. Still, critics are trying hard to find kinks in the world champion’s armor. The Chiefs are loaded and will have a great chance of a repeat in the Super Bowl. Good luck keeping them from getting there.
Cleveland 20 New York Giants 6. The Browns are rolling now and for a team that has had such a long drought and is playing this well, the confidence and enthusiasm is brewing over the top. They will be a dangerous team in the postseason.