NFL games stepped up a level of intensity this week with teams trying to make their final playoff push. Some are simply trying to secure a playoff spot while other teams high in the standings are aiming for first-round byes and a major advantage.
Twelve teams are vying to clinch playoffs spots and have an opportunity to compete for the Lombardi trophy at February’s Super Bowl LI.
NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS 16-3 DENVER BRONCOS
The Patriots (12-2) beat the Broncos (8-6) in the Mile High city with a surprising defensive onslaught. Tom Brady historically has struggled against the Broncos, especially in Denver where he is 2-7 in his career.The Broncos offense struggled throughout the game but the defense put clamps on New England’s passing game.
Brady had no touchdowns and threw for 188 yards with some key passes to his receivers. Running backs LeGarrette Blount and Deion Lewis combined for 126 yards and a Blount touchdown; the Patriots defense did the rest to clinch the win that secured them a first round bye and another AFC East title, the franchise’s 8th in a row.
OAKLAND RAIDERS 19-16 SAN DIEGO CHARGERS
The Raiders (11-3) are finally returning to the playoffs after an agonising 14-year absence after beating the Chargers (5-9) thanks to a Sebastian Janikowski field goal kick from 44 yards out. Derek Carr threw for 213 yards with one touchdown to Michael Crabtree, while Oakland’s running back Latavius Murray rushed for 81 yards. The loss sees the Chargers knocked out of playoff contention .
DALLAS COWBOYS 26-20 TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS
Rookie sensation Ezekiel Elliot bounced back this week with a spectacular performance for The Cowboys (12-2) as he rushed for a career-high 159 yards and a touchdown to help Dallas beat Tampa (8-6). Dak Prescott threw for 279 yards on the day and a rushing touchdown. The Buccaneers playmaker Jamies Winston threw three interceptions in the loss, which snapped the team’s five-game winning streak. The Cowboys are still ahead of the New York Giants in the NFC East and need one more win to clinch home field advantage in the playoffs.
GREEN BAY PACKERS 30-27 CHICAGO BEARS
The Packers (8-6) beat the Bears (3-11) after another clutch performance by Aaron Rodgers. With 36 seconds left in the fourth quarter, Rodgers threw a 60-yard bomb to Jordy Nelson that lined up Mason Crosby’s 32-yard field goal for the win. This was an important win for Green Bay against a Bears team that is out of the hunt for the playoffs. The Packers now hold second place in the NFC North, right on the heels of the Detroit Lions, who are 9-5 after a loss to the New York Giants.
The NFL regular season is winding down to its last two weeks, so have a look at where you team would be if the playoffs started today:
Week 15 wrapped up with many spectacular highlights:
As well as some amusing lowlights from around the league:
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