Week 15 saw several thrilling games that all had playoff implications.
It was great to see:
1. The Titans come away with a victory in a freezing Arrowhead stadium – the coldest game there ever.
They boldly went for the win on a two-point conversion but failed. When another opportunity arose after the Chiefs were forced to punt, the Titans pounced.
Ryan Succop nailed a 53-yard field goal to deliver the Titans their third straight win.
The Titans now hold their playoff destiny in their own hands. If they win against the Jaguars and the Texans, they will take the South division.
Meanwhile, there must have been some soul searching in Andy Reid’s office on Monday.
In an era where conservatism is now rarely rewarded, he opted to not throw the ball when the Chiefs needed a first down to finish the game, and then called a timeout on Succop’s first attempt at the game winner.
Succop came up short at first, so he put extra effort into his second kick, leading to sweet revenge for the ex-Kansas kicker.
2. Two weeks after not catching any balls, Saints wide receiver Brandin Cooks caught seven passes for a career- best 186 yards and two touchdowns, as the Saints won an epic shootout against the Cards 48-41.
Cooks is one of the most exciting talents in the game and all fans want to see this type of player more involved.
3. Aaron Rodgers save the day for the Packers in typical fashion.
After blowing a 17-point lead, the Packers needed another Rodgers miracle and he delivered with a 60-yard strike to Jordy Nelson that set up the winning field goal and kept their playoff chances alive.
4. Eagles Head Coach Doug Pederson go for the win with a two-point conversion attempt against the Ravens.
They cannot make the postseason, so why play out for a win in overtime on the road? It failed, but was worth the risk.
Who would have thought:
1. Ty Montgomery would be a saviour of a different kind for Green Bay?
The Packers have desperately needed a running threat to take pressure off Rodgers.
And it was Montgomery who broke tackle after tackle en route to rushing for a career-high 162 yard game, 98 of which came after contact.
2. The Colts would hand it to the Vikings’ defence at their own home?
This does show how team play works in the NFL – if the offence doesn’t deliver, no matter how good your defence is, at some point they will wear down.
After a season of keeping their chances afloat, the Vikings’ defence collapsed on Sunday.
The Giants’ defence has come together and has helped them transform into the surprising form team of the competition.
Since week six, the most points the Giants have allowed is 24, which came in their only loss over that period, against the explosive Steelers.
Over the last two weeks against two very productive teams in Dallas and Detroit, the Giants have allowed just 13 points.
There are questions over:
Houston Head Coach Bill O’Brien and quarterback Brock Osweiller.
Osweiller’s benching has been weeks in the making, but it was O’Brien who told Texans GM Rick Smith that he was the quarterback they needed to deliver a playoff win.
Osweiller is almost certain to earn another year on the Houston roster as his contract was so expensive, but O’Brien is not.
He has two years left on his initial five-year contract and clearly the reports of him being a ‘quarterback whisperer’ are unfounded.
The Texans may not make the postseason despite competing in an average division. Though the Texans have missed their star player JJ Watt, their failure may be enough to end O’Brien’s tenure.
The writing has been on the wall for Jeff Fisher and Gus Bradley all year. Both of their organisations have been patient with their men in seeing what they could deliver over a number of years.
It will be interesting to see what other franchises do with their coaches, namely the Texans, Bills, Jets, Bengals, Packers, Chargers, 49ers and Browns.
Which long-term coaches are underachieving and who is not? Do first-year coaches at the Browns and 49ers deserve another year?
Look for the Bills to give Rex Ryan another year, as will the Packers with Mike McCarthy and the Browns with Hugh Jackson.
The Jets’ decision will be a coin toss, but I expect changes at the other teams.
Looking forward to:
Two important NFC South games, with Atlanta taking on a resurgent Panthers team in Carolina and the Buccaneers travelling to New Orleans.
The Ravens and Steelers fighting for the AFC North should be a classic.
The Chiefs will also host divisional rivals in the Broncos, with their last meeting being an overtime thriller.
While the Lions will look for revenge for their controversial playoff loss to the Cowboys from two years ago, with their 2016 playoff hopes on the line.