NFL Week 15 reaction: Notes and observations
Two more weeks. Two more weeks of the NFL season before 20 teams go into hibernation for a long winter’s nap, while 12 more dash towards the Super Bowl in Miami.
So what happened this Sunday? What should be the main takeaways? Read on:
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- By beating the Tennessee Titans, the Houston Texans are in great shape. If they win either of their final two games — away against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and a rematch at home with Tennessee — they are the AFC South champions for the second consecutive season. The only way the Titans win the division is by beating the New Orleans Saints next weekend, Houston losing to Tampa Bay, and then Tennessee beating the Texans at NRG Stadium in Week 17. Tough chore.
- The San Francisco 49ers suffered a horrible defeat to the Atlanta Falcons, but not all is lost. While the 49ers have slipped from the NFC’s top seed all the way to No. 5, they still control their own destiny. Should San Francisco beat the Los Angeles Rams at home and then the Seattle Seahawks on the road, it will have home-field advantage throughout the playoffs. Not easy, but no matter what happened against Atlanta, the Niners would have likely needed to beat Seattle to avoid the Wild Card round.
- The NFC playoff field is almost set. The Green Bay Packers, Saints, 49ers and Seahawks have clinched spots. The Minnesota Vikings only need to win one of their last two to salt away another, while the Dallas Cowboys and Philadelphia Eagles are still fighting for the NFC East crown. Whoever wins that battle will be the No. 4 seed and host a game.
- The Buffalo Bills clinched a playoff berth for the second time in three seasons on Sunday night, beating the Pittsburgh Steelers 17-10. Unless the Bills can win the AFC East, they are locked into the fifth seed. To win the division, Buffalo needs to beat the New England Patriots and New York Jets, and then get a loss from the Patriots in Foxborough against the Miami Dolphins. Good luck.
- Finally, the Cincinnati Bengals moved one step closer to securing the No.1 overall pick for April’s draft. By losing 34-13 to the Patriots on Sunday, Cincinnati fell to 1-13. With another loss this weekend against the Cleveland Browns, the Bengals will wrap up the top pick, something they haven’t had since taking Carson Palmer out of USC in 2003. Hello, Joe Burrow.