NFL Week 15

NFL Winners and Losers from Week 15: 49ers Keep Rolling, Cardinals' Woes Continue

Week 15 of the NFL schedule is almost in the books. Here are some of the top playmakers and biggest losers from this Sunday's games.

USA Today

Week 15 of the 2021 NFL regular season was filled with stunning upsets and intense battles with playoff implications.

Here is a look at the winners and losers from Sunday:

Winner: Buffalo Bills

The Buffalo Bills understood their assignment Sunday afternoon. After the New England Patriots' loss to the Indianapolis Colts Saturday night, Buffalo needed to beat the Carolina Panthers to stay within a game of New England for the AFC East crown.

Josh Allen threw for 210 yards and three touchdowns in the 31-14 victory over Carolina. The Bills now enter Week 16 with a chance to reclaim the division if they can beat the Patriots next week.

The first meeting between the two teams featured a memorable game in the middle of a windstorm and the second meeting might decide the winner of the AFC East.

Loser: Arizona Cardinals

The Arizona Cardinals could have clinched a playoff berth with a victory of the Detroit Lions on Sunday. But Kyler Murray struggled for the second straight week suffering a damaging 30-12 in Detroit.

Kliff Kingsbury’s offense couldn’t get going without star wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins. The Cards trailed the Lions 17-0 at halftime, the largest lead Detriot had built all season, and the largest deficit Arizona had faced on the road since 2018.

When the Cardinals finally started driving in the second half, they were forced to settle for a field goal. Then Murray threw an untimely interception to Amani Oruwariye which gave the Lions at 24-3 lead, their largest of the season.

The Cardinals were dominated from the opening kickoff, and after losing to the Los Angeles Rams and sacrificing the NFC’s No. 1 seed, their loss in Detroit could cost them the division title. Arizona went from Super Bowl contender to battling for a spot in the playoffs in less than a week and now must find a way to avoid yet another disappointing season in 2021.

Winner: San Francisco 49ers

The San Francisco 49ers have established themselves as playoff contenders in the NFC. The question remains how far they can go. The 49ers’ hot streak continued with a dominant 31-13 win over the Atlanta Falcons Sunday.

The team is now 8-6 after starting off the season 3-5. The playmaking trio of George Kittle, Deebo Samuel and Brandon Aiyuk are finally healthy and blossoming and the defense has stepped up with Nick Bosa leading the way.

The 49ers are on a roll and they might be the team that no one wants to face come January.

Loser: Tennessee Titans

The Tennessee Titans offense continues to struggle as the season reaches its end, this week in a 19-13 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers.

At one point in the year, the Titans were seen as a formidable opponent with some of the best weapons in the league.

Now, with a roster left without many playmakers, Ryan Tannehill is forced to carry a bad supporting cast.

There is however hope for Tennesee. With a rather soft schedule the next three weeks its almost guaranteed they will get a spot in the playoffs.

Whether Mike Vrabel’s squad can do anything once they get there will be the biggest question for the Titans this winter.

Winner: Jacksonville Jaguars

The Jacksonville Jaguars didn’t win their Week 15 matchup against the Houston Texans on Sunday, but they still had a small victory in the long run.

The Jaguars are likely to land the No. 1 overall pick for a second straight season. The 30-16 loss to Houston and the Lions victory over the Cardinals gives Jacksonville the top spot in the 2022 NFL Draft order with only three weeks to go.

There’s a chance that position could change with a matchup against the equally bad New York Jets coming up next week. But with Trevor Lawrence declining and Urban Meyer finally fired, the chance for another top pick might be the only good news from another disappointing season in Jacksonville.

Loser: Baltimore Ravens

John Harbaugh is often praised for his smart decisions at the end of games, but this season they’ve failed more than they’ve worked.

The Baltimore Ravens lost their second game this season after failing to convert a two-point attempt to take the lead at the end of the game. Tyler Huntley played spectacularly, stepping in for an injured Lamar Jackson. Huntley scored his second rushing touchdown of the game to cut the Green Bay Packers lead to 31-30 with 42 seconds left.

To no one’s surprise, including Green Bay’s defense, the Ravens went to Mark Andrews on the two-point conversion. Just like in Week 13 in Pittsburgh, Andrews couldn’t haul in the pass and the Packers walked away with a victory and clinched the NFC North in the process.

The move to go for two made sense. The Ravens had a better chance at trying to win the game than giving the ball back to Aaron Rodgers with enough time to get in field goal range. But that doesn’t make the loss less disheartening and damaging for the Ravens.

It’s easier to forgive those kinds of decisions earlier in the season, but with three weeks left, Baltimore has lost ground to the Cincinnati Bengals, who now hold the top spot in the AFC North.

In one of the tightest division races in the NFL this season, every game counts and Harbaugh probably would have liked to have that one back.

Loser: Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Something special always seems to happen when the Saints go marching into Raymond James Stadium. Last year, it was in the form of a 38-3 blowout. This season, New Orleans defense shutout Tom Brady for the first time since 2006in a 9-0 victory over the reigning Super Bowl champs. 

It’s hard to put the loss completely on Brady. His top three weapons, Mike Evans, Chris Godwin and Leonard Fournette, all exited the game with injuries. 

Brady went 24-for-45, 213 yards passing, threw one interception and lost a fumble. The Bucs are now looking up at the Packers, who hold sole possession of the top seed in the NFC and have to win out to have a chance at home-field advantage throughout the playoffs. ​

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