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The Grueling Truth - Where Legends Speak / 10 Takeaways from Week 15 of the NFL season: The Bills are back, Bengals roll on and much more!

10 Takeaways from Week 15 of the NFL season: The Bills are back, Bengals roll on and much more!

Publish Date: 12/18/2023
Fact checked by: Mark Lewis

Week 15 Takeaways

Week 15 saw teams like the Atlanta Falcons drop into a pit of despair, and it saw others like the Cincinnati Bengals rally from a pit of despair to a possible playoff berth. Tommy Devito returned to earth while Jake Browning soared even higher after a slow start. The Chicago Bears found a way to drop a sure win. The Playoffs are starting to shape up to be a free-for-all in the AFC, while the NFC looks like a three team race and yes the Detroit Lions are one of those three teams.

1) The Chiefs find a way to score

As they push for playoff seeding in the final weeks of the regular season, the Chiefs must find ways to spark their offense and regain playoff seeding.

Kansas City used creative play-calling and short passing game strategies to score a 27-17 over the New England Patriots, reaching its highest point total since Week 12.

Without an established wideout, the Chiefs may turn to unconventional means to enhance their offense. While it’s often challenging for teams without established go-to receivers or their top running back like Isiah Pacheco who should return from a shoulder injury soon to maintain this type of creativity and achieve optimal results, McKinnon and Edwards-Helaire should continue playing essential roles when Isiah returns. CEH had a great game to give the Chiefs a much-needed ground attack.

Video: Kansas City Chiefs vs. New England Patriots | 2023 Week 15 Game Highlights

Kansas City Chiefs vs. New England Patriots | 2023 Week 15 Game Highlights

2) The Cleveland Browns are resilient

A lot of teams would give up if they had the type of luck that the browns have this season. The browns have lost Nick Chubb, Deshaun Watson, Jedrick Wills Jr. Jack Conklin Dawand Jones, and that’s just some of the names who have ended up on injured reserve this season alone.

Joe Flacco nearly had his honeymoon period come crashing down against the Bears after tossing three interceptions, yet he didn’t panic or give in, instead turning back to his playmakers, such as tight end David Njoku, for inspiration.

Njoku led the Browns on Sunday with 14 targets and ten receptions, tallying 104 receiving yards. Over his past two contests, this 2017 first-round selection has amassed 195 receiving yards with three touchdown catches.

Kevin Stefanski has increasingly utilized Njoku in the second half of the season due to his ability to create after the catch and earn Flacco’s trust. The browns are firmly sitting at number five in the AFC playoffs and look poised to make the playoffs.

Video: Bears vs. Browns CRAZY ENDING!

Bears vs. Browns CRAZY ENDING!

3) Desmond Ridder should not be a Starting NFL Quarterback

Carolina defeated Atlanta due to running back Bijan Robinson’s fumbling on their side of the field, enabling Carolina to start its ensuing drive from field goal range – but Desmond Ridder had yet another unwise red zone interception during fourth quarter play. Those two plays caused the Falcons to drop out of a tie for first in the NFC South.

At this point, Ridder has established himself as prone to turnovers within the red zone. That is a killer for a starting NFL quarterback. Ridder is not the man to lead the falcons or any other NFL team. Luckily, he was a third-round pick, so it’s not like the Falcons blew a first-round pick on an inept quarterback, and make no mistake, Ridder is an inept NFL quarterback.

Video: Bryce Young leads game-winning drive as Panthers beat Falcons

Bryce Young leads game-winning drive as Panthers beat Falcons

4) Bengals lose Reader and Chase and continue to find ways to win

The Bengals have now lost Reader for the season, which is a significant loss, and Jamar Chase missed most of the game with a quad injury. Chase should be back soon, but Reader is lost for the season. Will the Bengals stop the run without the massive defensive tackle?

Jake Browning, after a rough start, was awesome in the fourth quarter against a stout Vikings defense, and the Bengals look in good hands with Browning now guiding the ship. I would like to see Joe Mixon get more touches as the offense seems to be smoother when they are under center with browning and getting the ball to the running backs Mixon and rookie Chase Brown.

Video: Bengals OUTLAST Vikings in OT THRILLER for second straight win I Game Recap I CBS Sports

Bengals OUTLAST Vikings in OT THRILLER for second straight win I Game Recap I CBS Sports

5) Mike Tomlin running out of time in Pittsburgh

Mike Tomlin is a good football coach, but sometimes you can overstay your welcome someplace. Tomlin is a player’s coach who always seems to get the best out of his player’s abilities, but after three straight losses, the writing may be on the wall in Pittsburgh.

Tomlin would probably have his pick of jobs if he left Pittsburgh, and a change of scenery could do wonders for Tomlin. The biggest question is, who would replace him in Pittsburgh?

Video: Colts Take WILD CARD SPOT With Big Win Over Steelers I Game Recap I CBS Sports

Colts Take WILD CARD SPOT With Big Win Over Steelers I Game Recap I CBS Sports

6) The Detroit Lions are a Super Bowl contender

After a rough month, the Detroit Lions were looked upon by many as a fluke that was over. Last Saturday night, they dominated a good Denver Broncos team as Jared Goff got hot at home, and a defense that had struggled finally found its footing.

The biggest question is, could the Lions go on the road and win in the playoffs? That would entail going to Philly or San Fran and winning. Jared Goff is the key to that and in his career Goff has always been more productive at home and has struggled for the most part on the road. Don’t sleep on these lions though as they are a complete team that plays hard for Coach Dan Campbell all the time.

Video: Lions ROLL PAST Broncos Behind Jared Goff's 5 Touchdowns I Game Recap I CBS Sports

Lions ROLL PAST Broncos Behind Jared Goff’s 5 Touchdowns I Game Recap I CBS Sports

7) Is Baker Mayfield becoming elite?

Over the past two weeks, Baker Mayfield has thrown six touchdown passes without an interception for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as they have won three consecutive victories to remain tied at the top of the NFC South.

Mayfield completed only 48.3% of his passes in Weeks 13 and 14, which raises some concerns about his efficiency, yet he showed a good game against Green Bay Packers’ eighth-ranked pass defense in Sunday’s 34-20 win.

Mayfield completed 22 out of 28 pass attempts for 381 yards and four touchdowns, posting an impeccable passer rating of 158.3.

Sure, David Moore and Rachaad White should receive some credit for Baker Mayfield’s passing production; they extended plays into touchdowns. But Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Baker Mayfield appears to have found ways to maximize playmakers within Dave Canales’s offense.

The Bucs could be a dangerous team come playoff time if Mayfield continues on his hot-streak of the past two games.

Video: Recapping the Packers loss to the Buccaneers, defensive failures and offensive bright spots

Recapping the Packers loss to the Buccaneers, defensive failures and offensive bright spots

8) Christian McCaffery is the NFL MVP

McCaffrey serves as the centrepiece of Kyle Shanahan’s offensive strategy.

McCaffrey entered Sunday as the only back with over 1,000 rushing yards this season. His 115-yard effort in a 45-29 win increased his total to 1,292. But what truly distinguishes him as one of the great backs is his versatility across both offensive phases.

McCaffrey led the 49ers receivers with 72 yards and two scores on Sunday. For the season so far, he now boasts 1,801 yards from scrimmage and 20 touchdowns with three games left to go.

McCaffrey has once again marked history with his efforts. According to ESPN Stats & Info, he became the first player in 49ers franchise history to score seven total touchdowns against one opponent – this time against Cardinals.

Video: Purdy, McCaffrey LEAD 49ers offense to WIN, CLINCH NFC West | Game Recap | CBS Sports

Purdy, McCaffrey LEAD 49ers offense to WIN, CLINCH NFC West | Game Recap | CBS Sports

9) The Los Angeles Rams are a scary team

An effective postseason run depends on numerous elements. Playmakers, superior coaching and luck must all come into play for any team to advance. With Sunday’s 28-20 win against Washington Commanders, the win puts the Rams in the playoffs as the seventh seed. Make no mistake, the Rams are dangerous with a capital D.

Since Los Angeles’ Week 10 bye, they are 4-1 with only one loss coming against Baltimore Ravens last week in overtime – thanks to veteran quarterback Matthew Stafford making throws he couldn’t due to multiple injuries last season. With Stafford at the top of his game, with a great running game and Wide receivers, the Rams are scary.

Video: Washington Commanders vs. Los Angeles Rams | 2023 Week 15 Game Highlights

Washington Commanders vs. Los Angeles Rams | 2023 Week 15 Game Highlights

10) James Cook makes the Bills a Super Bowl contender

Sunday’s 31-10 victory against the Dallas Cowboys provided the Buffalo Bills with the blueprint they need to reach postseason contention and operate their offense as they advance into the future.

The Bills’ run game tore apart the Dallas Cowboys’ defense. James Cook ran 25 times for 179 yards. Additionally, Cook proved he could emulate Thurman Thomas by catching two passes for 42 yards and scoring three total touchdowns from backfield duties.

Buffalo Bills running backs amassed 266 yards for the first in a game in Sean McDermott’s era during Sunday’s contest. This performance demonstrated how Buffalo should allow its offensive line to take control and consistently win at the point of attack so running backs can run wild – setting a physical tone when weather conditions worsen, as was seen on Sunday.

The Bills are a Super Bowl contender with a run game.

Video: James Cook COOKED the Cowboys

James Cook COOKED the Cowboys

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