Around the NFL: Wild Week 15 Finishes, Burrow and the Bengals Storm Back, Playoff Implications, More

Trevor Lawrence game game parlay

After the Bears-Eagles game wrapped up yesterday afternoon, FOX flipped over to the Cowboys-Jaguars game, which was in overtime. I told my wife, “I would love to see Dak Prescott throw a pick-six to end this one.”

Literally, five seconds later, Prescott threw a pick-six, and the Jaguars walked it off against the Cowboys in Jacksonville. Ironically, that wasn’t even the wildest ending to a game in that time slot. The NFL is wild!

Wild Week 15 Finishes

Seconds after I called a Dak Prescott pick-six, it happened:

The Jaguars beat the Cowboys 40-34 in overtime, making it almost impossible for Dallas to catch the Eagles in the NFC East race or the race for the No. 1 seed. But let’s be honest here, that interception was on Noah Brown and not Prescott.

Prescott has thrown an alarming number of interceptions recently, and losing to Jacksonville in OT and needing a game-winning touchdown with under a minute to play to beat the 1-win Texans a week ago doesn’t bode well for Dallas trying to downplay concerns some have about their legitimacy in the NFC playoffs.

But that wasn’t the wildest ending on Sunday for long. With zeros on the clock in Vegas, New England tried to beat the Raiders on the old ‘Stanford Band’ play from the 1982 meeting between Cal and Stanford. However, it went terribly wrong for New England:

With Chandler Jones interception return for a touchdown went New England’s chance at victory on Sunday, and likely their chance at sneaking into the AFC playoffs as well. Because as Steve Kornacki pointed out on the Sunday Night Football broadcast, New England’s 42 percent chance at making the AFC playoffs entering the day shrunk to 23 percent after the loss to Vegas dropped them to 7-7.

Another Minnesota Miracle

More on playoff implications momentarily, but we must go back to Saturday for the wildest finish of Week 15. In the early window of Saturday’s NFL triple-header on NFL Network. The Colts led the Vikings 33-0 at the half — and then Minnesota made NFL history:

With the largest comeback win in NFL history, the Vikings locked up the NFC North title and managed to have me tagged as a candidate for a well-deserved Old Takes Exposed treatment:

That aged about as well as a gallon of milk that you forgot in the trunk of your car while unloading the groceries on a hot summer day. Oh, well.

Joe Cool and the Bengals Storm Back

Sticking with the week’s theme, the Bengals stormed back from a 17-3 halftime deficit against the Buccaneers on Sunday. Tom Brady and the Buccaneers turned the ball over on their first five drives of the second half, and Joe Burrow threw four second-half touchdowns in the Cincinnati win.

Burrow was quick to crown the Bengals defense and special teams that gave them a short field almost the entire second half.

The defense and special teams played a significant role in the big win for Cincinnati, but it still doesn’t happen without Joe Cool operating the Bengals offense to near perfection in the second half. So, let’s be clear on that.

As for Tom Brady and the Buccaneers, they’re still sitting atop a very bad NFC South after the loss and own a 79.5 percent chance to make the playoffs.

Playoff Implications

A snowy Saturday night victory over the Miami Dolphins clinched a fourth straight playoff appearance for the Buffalo Bills and kept them in the driver’s seat for the AFC’s No. 1 seed for another week. However, despite the Dolphins being mathematically alive in the AFC East race, they now trail the Bills by three games and lose an opportunity to own the head-to-head tiebreaker over them with a win this weekend.

As far as the rest of the AFC East goes, losses for both the Jets and the Patriots have their playoff hopes on life support, with each owning no better than a 25 percent chance at making it to the playoffs.

Joe Burrow and the Bengals stormed back from a 17-3 halftime deficit thanks to five drives to open the second half ending in turnovers for Tampa Bay and Joe Burrow throwing four second-half touchdowns. The victory for Cincinnati moves them one game ahead of the Ravens in the AFC North with three to play (including one against the Ravens in Week 18). The Bengals have a 68.5 percent chance to win the division and a 99.3 percent chance to make the playoffs, per The Athletic

The Chargers victory allowed them to jump the Dolphins and gave them an 80.2 percent chance to make the playoffs.

Over in the NFC, Minnesota’s victory locked up the NFC North title, and the Eagles victory over the Bears moved them one week closer to clinching the NFC East title and the No. 1 seed in the NFC. The Eagles, Vikings, 49ers, and Cowboys have now clinched four of the seven NFC playoff berths with three weeks to play.

The Giants win over the Commanders gives them sole possession of the sixth seed in the NFC, while Washington clings to the seventh and final spot. Seattle and Detroit are on the outside looking in, but the Lions have a 73.0 percent chance of making the dance. More on that in Friday’s ATNFL.

Extra Points

  • I’m not sure we can have a “wild” NFL weekend without mentioning another turn in the Arizona Cardinals saga:
  • Let’s not forget to talk about how good Trevor Lawrence has been in recent weeks. Lawrence has thrown for 1,680 yards and 14 touchdowns with just one interception in his last six games. And as Field Yates pointed out, Jacksonville still has a shot to jump the scuffling Titans for the AFC South crown this season.
  • Giants first-rounder Kayvon Thibodeaux had himself a night in D.C.!

  • Ian Rapoport has some terrible news for Jonathan Taylor fantasy owners who managed to make it to the next round of their fantasy football playoffs:
  • More brutal injury news, as NFL Network insider Ian Rapoport reports Jaguars left tackle Cam Robinson has a torn meniscus that will keep him out for the rest of the season.
  • After catching 3 passes for 93 yards in Week 2 against the Bears, Sammy Watkins caught a grand total of 7 passes for 95 yards in four games since. No wonder the Packers are releasing Watkins and putting him on waivers, per Tom Pelissero.
  • I’m not going to lie, seeing this TikTok made me pretty happy that the Vikings won in the fashion they did on Saturday:

  • Zach Wilson returned to the starting lineup in New York and had another terrible moment (despite throwing for 317 yards and 2 touchdowns):
  • Patrick Mahomes completed 19 straight passes to finish their Week 15 overtime victory over the Texans on Sunday. Mahomes finished the game with a casual — for him — 336 yards and a pair of touchdown passes:
  • Was this the wildest weekend of NFL football ever?
  • NFL research says it might be!
  • And we’re not done yet:

    written by

    Patrick grew up in Chicago's Bridgeport and Garfield Ridge neighborhoods before moving to the Western Suburbs of Chicago before eventually relocating to the Las Vegas area with his family in 2023. He started with Bleacher Nation in 2021 and has spent time as a Staff Writer and on the Chicago Blackhawks beat. He is currently a writer and editor at Bleacher Nation covering the Chicago Bears and the NFL at large and the author of the Bleacher Nation Newsletter. Patrick is a member of the Pro Football Writers of America (PFWA).

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