NFL Week 15

NFL Week 15: Good, bad and ugly

CBS Sports

We are inching ever closer to the NFL playoffs. Week 15 was a strange one. Playoff seeding position, draft positioning, and pride were all on the line. Here's how I saw it all go down:

The Good

-The Bills' 17-10 win over the Steelers featured the first trio of brothers to play in an NFL game since 1927. The Steelers' Terrell and Trey Edmunds lost to Tremaine Edmunds' Bills as the Bills clinched a playoff spot and may have eliminated the Steelers. In 100 years of NFL football, it took 92 years before we saw this occur again. Kudos to the Edmunds family.

-Eagles running back Miles Sanders had a great game in their win over the Redskins. Sanders had 25 touches for 172 yards and two touchdowns. The Eagles needed every bit of his performance and a fumble return for a touchdown to beat the Redskins 37-27 and keep thei playoff hopes alive.

-Bucs' quarterback Jameis Winston became the first quarterback in NFL history to throw for over 450 yards in back to back games. the games were also wins in which they scored 38 points each. Winston combined for 914 yards, eight touchdowns, and four interceptions. He now leads the league in passing yards and second in passing touchdowns. He's trying to make his case to stay in Tampa next season.

The Bad

-In possibly his final game as a starter, Giants quarterback Eli Manning had the most Eli game he could: 20/28 for 283 yards two touchdowns and three picks. Pretty accurate with the 71.4% completion percentage, but the three interceptions are what will stick out. He ended his career (allegedly) with a 1.5:1 touchdown to interception ratio.

-The Raiders closed out their last game in Oakland with a 20-16 loss to the Jags. This was not the way fans of The Black Hole envisioned this ending. The fans of the Raiders have been arguably the most loyal fans in the NFL. They booed and threw trash on the field as the team left it for the final time since they're moving to Las Vegas.

-The Browns are now 6-8 and still the biggest dumpster fire in the league. They lost to the Cardinals 38-24 as Kyler Murray outdueled Baker Mayfield in the battle of former OU Heisman trophy-winning number one overall picks. For as much fanfare as they came into this season with, they flamed out just as bad. This offseason will be eventful for them considering how hard they fell off the hype train.

The Ugly

-Vikings running back Dalvin Cook went down woth a shoulder injury and isn't expected to return for the regular season. The Vikes suspect he will be healthy for their playoff run. But when your star running back has a shoulder injury that keeps rearing it's ugly head, you have to call it into question as a major sticking point in the argument for them as a true NFC contender.

-Phillip Rivers is done as a viable option as a starting quarterback in the NFL. The same can be said for Andy Dalton, and possibly Marcus Mariota. They may have futures as backups, especially Dalton and Mariota since they have age/time on their side. Rivers, however, is done.

-Word came down Monday that Seahawks receiver Josh Gordon is suspended indefinitely by the league for a violation of the substance abuse/PED drug program. This is Gordon's fifth such suspension since he entered the league. He's one of the most physically gifted and talented receivers we've seen, but his inability to do right has cost him his career most likely.

The only team in the NFC playoff picture without 10 or more wins isn't a wildcard team. Meanwhile, in the AFC, there are five teams with a mathmatical shot at the last playoff spot. With the schedule now giving us division matchups in the final week of the regular season and the race for positionining is so tight, every game means something in these last two weeks. Every win or loss could effect how we watch the playoffs, or the draft depending on how you're looking at things. Let's enjoy these last couple weeks of the regular season.

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Yordan Alvarez came up big in Game 5. Composite image by Jack Brame.

The Astros can win the pennant Friday night. Can't dangle the carrot any closer in front of the face than that. Taking the last two games at Fenway Park has the Astros in excellent position, but any notion that a third American League championship in five years is now inevitable, is silly. The Astros are probably 80 percent or better to advance, but of course the Red Sox could win games six and seven at Minute Maid Park à la the Nationals in the World Series two years ago. The Astros had all the momentum after winning three straight in D.C., came home for the coronation, and pfffft. You have momentum...until you don't. It's nothing to bank on. The Red Sox had all the "mo" after clobbering the Astros in games two and three of this AL championship series. Then Jose Altuve crushed the eighth inning tying home run in game four, ahead of the seven run volcanic eruption of a ninth inning. Nine more Astro runs later in game five, and here we are.

One key distinction that makes the Astros hand look stronger up 3-2 now than vs. the Nats, the Red Sox don't have Stephen Strasburg and Max Scherzer ready to pitch. Like Framber Valdez vs. Chris Sale in game five, game six is another starting pitching rematch. Alvin native Nathan Eovaldi grossly outpitched Luis Garcia in game two. We'll see if Sox manager Alex Cora winds up regretting even more using Eovaldi to start the fateful game four ninth inning. Eovaldi only threw 24 pitches, but three nights later we'll see what and how much he has in the tank.

After pitching horribly against the White Sox and then the Red Sox, and then citing a sore knee, Luis Garcia is his own huge question mark. So was Valdez before Wednesday spinning one of the great postseason pitching performances in Astros' history. Framber was awful in each of his first two postseason starts, absolutely magnificent in cruising through eight innings in game five. Should the Sox force Game Seven, Valdez certainly is a relief option on two days rest. Jose Urquidy would start, opposite Eduardo Rodriguez in a game three rematch.

Valdez and the Astros hope his next outing is Tuesday night in game one of the World Series. Ideally, at Minute Maid Park against the Atlanta Braves. Alas, the defending champion Dodgers remain alive and kicking, having won their fourth do or die game already in this postseason to send the National League Championship Series back to Atlanta. Now, if somehow we knew as fact that the Astros are going to win the World Series, I'd estimate approximately 99 percent of Astros' fans would prefer to beat L.A. Since we don't know that the Astros are going to win it all, getting the Braves would be more favorable for the Astros, if for no other reason than the Astros would get home-field advantage. Should the Braves make it, among other factoids Charlie Morton would be in his third World Series with three different teams in the last five seasons (Astros in 2017, Rays last year, Braves this). If the Braves can close out the Dodgers Saturday, Morton is Atlanta's likely game one starter at MMP. Provided the Astros are the AL Champs of course.

Watt a matchup for the Texans

The Texans play at Arizona Sunday. Yeah, and? You imagine that J.J. Watt and DeAndre Hopkins find the two team's current situations amusing? The Texans are a 1-5 stink bomb that will keep on stinking. The Cardinals are 6-0 and an emerging Super Bowl contender. While Deshaun Watson continues collecting about 600 thousand dollars per week to do nothing (and waiting to become a Miami Dolphin?), Kyler Murray has made the leap to upper echelon NFL quarterback.

Buzzer Beaters:

1. Decisions, decisions. Astros-Red Sox game 6 or Rockets home opener vs. Thunder. Tough call?

2. The Rockets will regularly be overmatched and probably lose 55 games or more again this season. At least they have young talent to offer some hope. The Texans presently have near nothing.

3. Best 2021 Astros' postseason journey signature food: Bronze-Atlanta/Los Angeles, anything? Silver-Chicago, deep dish pizza Gold-Boston, lobster roll

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