Welcome to Week 15 of the 2019 NFL season! We’ve got a packed slate for you all this week, complete with several marquee games.
The Ravens got things started by blowing out the Jets on Thursday night, running their record to 12-2 and strengthening their hold on the No. 1 seed in the AFC. Lamar Jackson and company get the next 10 days to rest up for matchups with the Browns and Steelers in the final two weeks of the season, and there’s actually a remote scenario where the Ravens could clinch the No. 1 seed in the AFC while sitting at home and watching the rest of the NFL play on Sunday. (The Patriots and Chiefs would have to lose to the Bengals and Broncos, respectively.)
Even if that clinching scenario doesn’t come to fruition, there’s a whole lot more in store for football fans this weekend. Let’s dig in.
Teams who have clinched a playoff spot and/or division title are denoted with ^ symbol.
Teams eliminated from playoff contention are denoted with an asterisk.
Week 13 Games With Playoff Implications
Week 15 features just one game where both teams currently occupy playoff spots.
- Bills at Steelers, 8:20 p.m. ET (SNF)
This game got flexed into the Sunday night spot, and for good reason. The Bills currently hold the AFC’s No. 5 seed and the Steelers are in the No. 6 spot. Buffalo (9-4) is one game ahead of Pittsburgh (8-5) but if the Steelers can get themselves a win in primetime, they’ll even up the two teams’ records and take the tiebreaker, which would move them ahead of the Bills in the standings. Buffalo would need to finish at least a win (or tie) better than Pittsburgh to take the No. 5 slot back. If the Bills win, meanwhile, they would clinch a playoff spot because there would be no way for both Pittsburgh and Tennessee to pass them in the standings.
Week 14 also features two games where both teams are within one game of a playoff spot.
- Texans at Titans, 1 p.m. ET
- Rams at Cowboys, 4:25 p.m. ET
Houston currently holds the AFC South lead over the Titans despite the two teams having the same record, but being that the Texans and Titans have yet to play each other, it’s likely that the division title will be decided over the next three weeks. The Rams thrust themselves back into the playoff race by beating the Seahawks last weekend, and they have a chance to deliver another blow to the Cowboys team they knocked out of the playoffs back in January. Dallas is still in control of a playoff spot, even at 6-7, because the NFC East is a joke.
Stats to Know
- Bears at Packers, 1 p.m. ET
Back in Week 1, Mitchell Trubisky struggled pretty badly against this Packers defense, setting the stage for his struggle-filled season. Trubisky was 26 of 45 for 228 yards, zero touchdowns, and one interception in that game, with a 62.1 passer rating that is still his lowest mark of the season. Trubisky has played well against the Lions and Cowboys the past two weeks and the Green Bay defense has regressed some since early in the year, so it’ll be interesting to see if Trubisky can carry over his recent successes.
- Patriots at Bengals, 1 p.m. ET
Prior to Super Bowl LIII, I wrote about the underrated effect legendary offensive line coach Dante Scarnecchia has had on the Patriots’ success. New England ranked inside the top 10, on average, in Football Outsiders’ Adjusted Line Yards and Adjusted Sack Rate for the entirety of Scarnecchia’s tenure, and in most years have been inside the top 10 in both metrics. This year, the Patriots rank a very respectable sixth in Adjusted Sack Rate, but they’re only 19th in Adjusted Line Yards. That downturn has been evident in the struggles of the team’s run game, but perhaps facing Cincinnati’s 27th-ranked defense in Adjusted Line Yards will help them get back on track.
Through the Seahawks’ first nine games of the season, Tyler Lockett looked like he was breaking out as a true No. 1 receiver. Lockett hauled in 59 passes for 767 yards and six touchdowns during those nine games, putting him on a 105-1364-11 pace for the year. In Seattle’s last four games, though, Lockett has just eight catches for 107 yards combined. He’s pretty clearly been playing injured, but the Seahawks have been talking up his health this week, so perhaps he can break back out against what looks like a reeling Panthers defense.
- Texans at Titans, 1 p.m. ET
AJ Brown is on fire since Ryan Tannehill took over as the Texans’ starting quarterback. After his latest explosion last week, Brown has 25 catches for 506 yards and four scores with Tannehill under center. As CBS Sports fantasy analyst Ben Gretch notes, Brown has more yards after the catch than any other Titans receiver has total receiving yards during that stretch.
Eli Manning is 38 years old. Ryan Fitzpatrick is 37 years old. That means this game will have a combined starting quarterback age of 75 years old. Folks, that is pretty old. It’s not the oldest starting quarterback game in NFL history, because there have even been several playoff games with a pair of quarterbacks older than each of Manning and Fitzpatrick. But it’s still pretty unusual, and certainly notable given that Manning’s career could soon be drawing to a close.
- Eagles at Washington, 1 p.m. ET
On Monday night, Eagles running back Boston Scott had the best game of his short career. Scott played 39 snaps out of the backfield, 44 percent of the team’s total and one more than he had played all season before the game against the Giants. Scott ended up with 128 total yards on 16 touches, in addition to a rushing touchdown. In his entire career before that game, Scott had 24 touches for 99 total yards.
- Broncos at Chiefs, 1 p.m. ET
Over the past two seasons, the two have connected on 18 pass plays of 30 yards or more, most for any quarterback-receiver duo in the NFL. Mahomes’ 56 completions that have gained 30 or more yards are most in the league among quarterbacks, and Hill’s 22 receptions (he had four with Matt Moore) are the most among receivers. The eight 30-plus-yard touchdowns Hill has caught are also most in the league, and that’s despite his missing several weeks this season with a sternum injury.
We’ve been providing nearly weekly updates on Jameis Winston’s frankly incredible ability to throw multiple touchdowns and multiple interceptions in the same game. He’s done it four times this season. If he does it again in each of the Buccaneers’ final three games, he would become just the third quarterback in NFL history to have seven such games in a season. The modern-era (i.e. post-merger) record is six such games in a season, held by Brett Favre (1998), Eli Manning (2010), Jay Cutler (2014), and Philip Rivers (2016).
- Browns at Cardinals., 4:05 p.m. ET
Kyler Murray’s rookie year: 293 of 457 (64.1 percent) for 3,060 yards (6.7 per attempt), 16 touchdowns, 9 interceptions, 86.9 passer rating, with 77 carries for 448 yards and four scores.
Baker Mayfield’s rookie year: 310 of 486 (63.8 percent) for 3,725 yards (7.7 per attempt), 27 touchdowns, 14 interceptions, 93.7 passer rating, with 39 carries for 131 yards.
Mayfield obviously had the more explosive passing numbers, but the two quarterbacks have exhibited a pretty similar level of performance, which is interesting when you consider the hype around Mayfield’s rookie season compared to Murray’s. Here’s hoping Kyler does better in Year 2 than Baker has.
It’s entirely possible that this is the final game the Raiders will ever play in Oakland. In 309 previous games, the Raiders are 178-128-3, with a plus-813 point differential. Against fellow AFC opponents, they’re 116-95-2, and against the Jaguars, they are 3-2 in Oakland.
Vikings wide receiver Adam Thielen has essentially been out since Week 6. He played nine snaps in Week 7 and seven snaps in Week 9. And yet the Vikings have managed to go 5-2 in Thielen’s absence, with Kirk Cousins completing 70.4 percent of his passes at an average of 8.15 yards per attempt, with 15 touchdowns and only one interception. That’s good for a 114.4 passer rating. All while working without arguably the team’s best receiver. They’ve done a great job not just surviving, but thriving, without him.
- Rams at Cowboys, 4:25 p.m. ET
Even in a season where they have largely struggled, Sean McVay’s Rams have run their record to 8-5. That gives this team a 32-13 record during McVay’s nearly three full seasons as the head coach — the third-best mark in the league, just one game behind both the Patriots and Saints. The Rams’ plus-341 point differential during that time is also third-best in the NFL. In the final three years of the Jeff Fisher era, the Rams went just 17-31, the sixth-worst record in the league. Safe to say there’s been an improvement here, folks.
49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan was the Falcons’ offensive coordinator in 2015 and 2016. The first year he was there was a bit of a struggle, but the second year saw Atlanta make a trip to the Super Bowl. This is Shanahan’s third season in San Francisco, but considering the team traded for Jimmy Garoppolo late in Shanahan’s first year and then saw Garoppolo go down for the season only three games into Shanahan’s second year, it could reasonably be argued that his current team is taking the same kind of “Year 2” jump that Atlanta did back when he was calling plays there.
- Bills at Steelers, 8:20 p.m. ET (SNF)
This is the first time in more than 90 years (!) that 1923-192, which means that neither the Bills (founded in 1959) nor the Steelers (1933) even existed the last time three brothers played in the same NFL game.will play in the same game. According to the Buffalo Bills and Elias Sports, this will mark the first time since 1927 that three brothers take the field in the same game. The ’27 Duluth Eskimos had Joe, Cobb and Bill Rooney all playing for them. The Eskimos only existed from
- Colts at Saints, 8:15 p.m. ET (MNF)
Jacoby Brissett has struggled pretty badly in games played without T.Y. Hilton this season. In those contests, Brissett is just 87 of 151 (57.6 percent) for 1,042 yards (6.9 per attempt), seven touchdowns, and four interceptions. That’s an 83.3 passer rating. In his other games, Brissett is 141 of 210 (67.1 percent) for 1,454 yards (6.9 per attempt), 11 touchdowns, and two interceptions. That’s a 100.4 passer rating. Hilton is tentatively expected to miss this game, though his official status is not yet known.