Photo Credit: Joe Scarnici/Getty Images
Welcome back to another rendition of the weekly NFL overview here on My Mind on Sports. We inch closer and closer to the playoffs. We are still a long, yet short way away from seeing which 14 teams qualify for the big dance.
Last week the focus was on the Browns/Ravens Monday night thriller and this week the Browns are the main focus yet again. Cleveland controls their own destiny and has positioned themselves to potentially win the AFC North! Can you believe it?! More on that later.
The Jets are no longer winless! New York knocked off the Rams 23-20 for their first victory of the season. However, in the process, they gave up the No. 1 overall pick to the Jaguars, who are also 1-13 but get the tie breaker due to strength of schedule. This means that the Jets could’ve cost themselves a chance to take Trevor Lawrence. Yikes.
This week, instead of listing the top performers of the week, I’ll give every playoff-clinching scenario.
Notes from Week 15
- Justin Herbert passed for over 300 yards for the seventh time in his rookie campaign, extending his NFL rookie record. He even rushed for the game-winning touchdown in overtime to defeat the Raiders 30-27.
- The Bills clinched the AFC East title for the first time since 1995 before star quarterback Josh Allen was even born. Speaking of Allen, he passed for 359 yards and two touchdowns, while also rushing in a pair of scores.
- Seattle clinched a playoff berth with a 20-15 victory over the Washington Football Team.
- Justin Jefferson surpasses Hall of Famer Randy Moss for most receptions by a rookie in Vikings history. Moss had 69 receptions back in 1998. Jefferson is up to 73. Impressive. Jefferson’s Vikings fell to the Bears 33-27.
- Miami knocked New England out of playoff contention. The Patriots failed to make the playoffs for the first time since 2008 and only the second time since 2001. A string of dominance we will likely never see in sports again. Miami’s win was much-needed to stay in the playoff mix, currently holding on to the 7th
- Baltimore routed Jacksonville 40-14 to win their third in a row. This comes after Baltimore lost four of their previous five. They currently sit on the outside looking in of the playoff picture.
- Atlanta blew yet another lead of at least 16 points this season, this time at the hands of Tom Brady and the Buccaneers. Brady had 320 passing yards in the second half, after throwing for only 70 in the first half.
- Tennessee got over the 9-win plateau for the first time since 2008. They had finished 9-7 for the past four years. Ryan Tannehill had five total touchdowns while Derrick Henry rushed for 147 and a score, inching closer to 2,000 for the season.
- Philip Rivers improved to 47-24 all-time in games played in December/January. His Colts also improved to 10-4 with a 27-20 victory over the Texans.
- Kyler Murray outdueled rookie Jalen Hurts in a wild battle which saw the Cardinals take down the Eagles 33-26. Murray finished with 408 passing yards, three total touchdowns, and two turnovers, while Hurts finished with 338 passing yards and four total touchdowns. Is Hurts the long-term answer in Philly? If so, what happens to Carson Wentz?
- The Chiefs held on to defeat the Saints 32-29 in what could be a Super Bowl preview. Kansas City ran the table on the road this season, finishing 8-0, becoming the third team ever to go undefeated on the road a season after winning the Super Bowl. KC has now won 11 in a row on the road, including the playoffs.
The Door is Open for Cleveland
- Last week the Browns lost in heartbreaking fashion in what many are calling the game of the year. They still sat in the 5th seed in the AFC despite the loss.
- Cleveland bounced back with a convincing 20-6 victory over the Giants. Baker Mayfield threw for 297 yards and two touchdowns. Nick Chubb rushed for only 50 yards but did find the end zone yet again, becoming the first Browns player to score 10+ rushing touchdowns in a season since Trent Richardson in 2012.
- The very next night, the Steelers had a chance to clinch the AFC North with a victory over the Bengals in Cincinnati. Well, the Bengals had other plans and spoiled the Steelers’ chance to clinch. This opened the door for Cleveland to potentially win the AFC North for the first time since 1989. 2020 right?
- JuJu Smith-Schuster has likely performed his last dance on an opposing team’s logo after getting leveled on Monday night.
- If the Browns can take care of business this week against the Jets and the Colts can knock off the Steelers, it will set up a Week 17 affair in Cleveland pitting the Browns against the Steelers for the division title. These two teams are trending in opposite directions and Week 17 should be very interesting to say the least should the stars align for the Browns. What a time to be a Cleveland Browns fan!
.@Vonn knocks it out from Pittsburgh TikTok star.
WATCH on ESPN pic.twitter.com/n4BNZHcJ0J
— Cincinnati Bengals (@Bengals) December 22, 2020
Week 16 Playoff Clinching Scenarios
- Kansas City can clinch a first-round bye with:
- KC win or tie OR
- PIT loss or tie OR
- BUF loss or tie OR
- KC clinches strength of victory tiebreaker over PIT or BUF AND clinches at least a tie in strength of victory tiebreaker over the other club
- Pittsburgh can clinch the AFC North division title with:
- PIT win OR
- CLE loss OR
- PIT tie + CLE tie
- Tennessee can clinch the AFC South division title with:
- TEN win + IND loss
Tennessee can clinch a playoff berth with:
- TEN win OR
- MIA loss OR
- BAL loss OR
- TEN tie + BAL tie
- Cleveland can clinch a playoff berth with:
- CLE win + BAL loss or tie OR
- CLE win + MIA loss or tie OR
- CLE win + IND loss OR
- CLE tie + BAL loss OR
- CLE tie + MIA loss
- Indianapolis can clinch a playoff berth with:
- IND win + BAL loss or tie OR
- IND win + MIA loss or tie OR
- IND tie + BAL loss OR
- IND tie + MIA loss
- Green Bay can clinch a first-round bye with:
- GB win + SEA loss or tie OR
- GB tie + NO loss or tie + SEA loss or tie, as long as both NO and SEA don’t tie
- New Orleans can clinch the NFC South division title with:
- NO win OR
- TB loss OR
- NO tie + TB tie
- Seattle can clinch the NFC West division title with:
- SEA win
- Washington can clinch the NFC East division title with:
- WAS win + NYG loss or tie OR
- WAS tie + NYG loss + PHI-DAL tie
- Los Angeles can clinch a playoff berth with:
- LAR win or tie OR
- CHI loss or tie OR
- ARI win or tie
- Tampa Bay can clinch a playoff berth with:
- TB win or tie OR
- CHI loss or tie
- Arizona can clinch a playoff berth with:
- ARI win + CHI loss or tie OR
- ARI tie + CHI loss
That wraps up Week 15 and what to watch for heading into Week 16. Be sure to follow me on Twitter @KingEdward15. Happy Holidays to you and yours!