2011 NFL Week 15 Remix by Lloyd Vance

 In a week full of upsets around the National Football League, none was bigger than Romeo Crennel’s Kansas City Chiefs handing the Green Bay Packers (13-1) their first loss of the season in a 19-14 win at Arrowhead Stadium

(Philadelphia, PA) — Week 15 of the 92nd NFL Season is in the books and even though the NFL’s slogan for the 2011 season is “Back to Football”, it should really be “This is One Wacky Season!!” From week to week fans have no idea where the next upset, game-winning field goal, or team entering/leaving the playoff race will come from next.  Remember what former Colts head coach Tony Dungy said about professional football this time of the year, “NFL football is really still about November and December”.

This week brought many upsets (7 teams with losing records beating teams with winning records); the surprising end of perfection (Chiefs shocked the formerly undefeated Green Bay Packers); thankfully the ending of an ugly winless streak (Colts finally got a win as quarterback Dan Orlovsky and WR Reggie Wayne led the way), playoff clinching moments (Steelers, Ravens, and Saints); Patriots finally muzzling Tebow Mania (Brady showed the youngster what a veteran superstar looks like); and some teams staying alive with playoff hopes in their eyes (Eagles, Bengals, Seahawks, and Cardinals).With cries of “And Down the Stretch They Come” in the air.  By design or mere coincidence, “Parity” has caused almost every game in the final three weeks of this season to have playoff implications. It is now crunch time around the NFL and there is little time left to secure one of the league’s 12 coveted playoff berths.  Though the Saints, Packers, Texans, Steelers, Niners, Ravens, and Patriots, are all already in the playoffs, there are 16 teams still vying for the 5 remaining playoff spots up for grabs with two weeks left in the season.  Hopefully Week 16 of the NFL season will bring some much-needed clarity to a jumbled playoff picture, but we will have to wait and see as teams out of the mix like the Miami Dolphins (5-9) are still playing hard.

This time of the year is the holiday season around the NFL and certain teams will either get a playoff “present” in their stocking or a “lump of coal” in the form of spending the playoffs at home.  The NFL should be happy though as parity has caused several playoff races to go down to the wire in particularly:

  • The AFC North crown where the Steelers and Ravens are still tied at 10-4 with two games left.
  • The NFC East where Cowboys won to take a 1-game lead over the floundering Giants (7-7), there still is the little matter of their Week 17 match-up.  And the surging Philadelphia Eagles (have to win-out and then get help) are still lurking at 6-8
  • The NFC wild card race where the Falcons (9-5), Lions (9-5), Seahawks (7-7), and Cardinals (7-7) are battling for the final two spots.

For fans there is nothing better than watching your team making a season cementing playoff run in December — NFL games were played on Thursday, Saturday, Sunday, and Monday sending football junkies into a frenzy.  With 21 teams at .500 or better entering Week 16 and twenty-three teams still in the playoff mix, no one could have predicted the twists, turns, ups, or downs the 2011 NFL rollercoaster during this crucial week.

Some of Lloyd’s Leftovers from Week 15 included:

  • Teams failing to get closer to the playoffs due to upsets – I don’t know what it is about the end of each football season, but teams routinely look past inferior competition on their way to surprising letdown losses. This week the Titans lost to the Colts; NY Jets lost to the Eagles; Texans lost to Panthers; NY Giants lost to the Redskins; and Ravens lost to the Chargers
  • Champagne corks popped in South Florida — The NFL has been around for 92 years and the fact that only the 1972 Dolphins can put up their fingers as true unblemished No. 1’s, is an unbelievable accomplishment.  The champagne corks popped inSouth Florida on Sunday as the surprising Kansas City Chiefs, fueled by their raucous home crowd, hung-on to beat the formerly undefeated Green Bay Packers (13-1) by a score of 19-14.  The Packers also definitely showed some chinches in their armor as Chiefs interim head coach Romeo Crennel had a great game plan where his defense pressured QB Aaron Rodgers, pressed their outside receivers, and physically ran the ball downGreen Bay’s throats.  The Chiefs’ win snapped Packers’ 19-game winning streak going back to 2010
  • The Colts Win, The Colts Win – All season everyone has been saying that this year’s Colts squad was bad enough to finish winless — the last team to achieve the unenviable lowlight were the 2008 Detroit Lions who posted a 0-16 season.  Well everyone can stop with the speculation and jokes about the Colts as they showed that they may not be on the Packers level, but they are good enough to take away a win in an NFL game.  The Colts led by quarterback Dan Orlvolosky, RB Donald Brown, and their secondary refused to lay down and fought from beginning to end as they pulled off a huge “get the monkey off our back” win over the reeling Tennessee Titans.  One of the bigger plays was CB Jacob Lacey’s 32-yard interception return for a TD that made the score 17-6.
  • Move over Dan – With two games left it is an inevitable conclusion that maybe three passers including Saints QB Drew Brees (needs only 304 yards) will move past Pro Football Hall of Famer Dan Marino’s NFL single-season passing yardage record of 5084 yards from 1984.
  • The Eagles showed why they are still contender – I know that many doubters, including your truly, threw dirt on the Eagles after their bad Thursday Night Football loss to the Seahawks in Week 13.  But all of the sudden, the Philadelphia Eagles (6-8) are starting to look like the “Dream Team” everyone predicted them to be at the beginning of training camp in August.  In a total dismantling of the New York Jets, the Birds were running wild as RB LeSean McCoy (set team record with his 18th, 19th, and 20th TD’s of the seas0n) and DE Jason Babin (3 sacks) led the way.
  • Power Outages at Candlestick Park – The Niners’ home went dark twice in their much-anticipated Monday Night Football Primetime game with the Pittsburgh Steelers.  Two power outages delayed the game right before kickoff and later in the second quarter after the stadium moved to a backup power source.  Many witnesses said that a transformer blow up outside the stadium.  The first outage caused the kickoff to be moved back 20 minutes as the crowd of 69,732 fans were left in darkness

There is not much time left for teams to either join the Packers, Steelers, Ravens, Texans, Niners, Saints, and Patriots in the playoffs or step aside.  I love this time of the year as “Desperation” is in the air for everyone in the NFL with jobs and playoff berths both on the line in equal numbers.  After 15 weeks of NFL play, there are still the “Have’s” (7 teams with 10 wins or more) and the “Have Nots” (7 teams with 4 or less wins, who are now basically spoilers). 

But a good portion of the league (14 teams) are still caught in the parity-laden middle with records ranging from 8-6 to 6-8 including former 2010 playoff teams – NY Jets (8-6), Chicago Bears (7-7), Seattle Seahawks (7-7), Eagles (6-8) and KC Chiefs (6-8).  So with only two games remaining for teams there is little time left for the “Contenders” and “Pretenders” to sort themselves out — 5 playoff berths remaining.

In looking at the current NFL standings here’s the breakdown: The “Elite” – Packers (13-1), Niners (11-3), Saints (11-3), Patriots (11-3), Steelers (10-4), Ravens (10-4), and Texans (10-3), and; “Strong Playoff Contenders” — Falcons (9-5), Lions (9-5), Broncos (8-6), Cowboys (8-6), NY Jets (8-6), Titans (8-6), and Bengals (8-6); “Middle of the Road” teams that will soon be either in or out of the playoff hunt — Raiders (7-7), Bears (7-7), NY Giants (7-7),  Seahawks (7-7), Cardinals (7-7), Chargers (7-7), Chiefs (6-8) and Eagles (6-8); and lastly the “Ugly” (See you at the 2012 NFL Draft) – Bills (5-9), Panthers (5-9), Dolphins (5-9), Redskins (5-9), Bucs (4-10), Browns (4-10), Jaguars (4-10), Vikings (2-12), Rams (2-12), and Colts (1-13)

 “Next Man Up” time around the NFL. 

Bears WR Johnny Knox (back)

NY Jets QB Mark Sanchez (neck)
Broncos RB Willis McGahee (hamstring)
Bengals WR A.J. Green (shoulder)
Eagles CB Asante Samuel (hamstring)

Patriots DE Andre Carter (Quadriceps – I/R)

 Week 15 Games

Thursday December 15

Falcons (9-5) over Jaguars (4-10), 41-14

 Saturday December 17

Cowboys (8-6) over Buccaneers (4-10), 31-15

 Sunday December 18

Bengals (8-6) over Rams (2-12), 20-13

Cardinals (7-7) over Browns (4-10), 20-17 in OT

Chiefs (6-8) over Packers (13-1), 19-14

Colts (1-13) over Titans (7-7), 27-13

Dolphins (5-9) over Bills (5-9), 30-23

Eagles (6-8) over Jets (8-6), 45-19

Lions (9-5) over Raiders (7-7), 28-27

Panthers (5-9) over Texans (10-4), 28-13

Patriots (11-3) over Broncos (8-6), 41-23

Redskins (5-9) over Giants (7-7), 23-10

Saints (11-3) over Vikings (2-12), 42-20

Seahawks (7-7) over Bears (7-7), 38-14

Chargers (7-7) over Ravens (10-4), 34-14

Monday December 19

Niners (11-3) over Steelers (10-4), 20-3

  • Visiting teams went 9-7 in Week 15
  • All three teams with a 6-7 record (Chargers, Seahawks, Cardinals) won to move back into playoff contention at 7-7
  • Eagles and Chiefs (both 5-8 before WK 15) won to move to 6-8 and keep their slim playoff hopes alive (division only)

Game Balls

New Orleans Saints QB Drew Brees – What a season for the Saints (11-3) and their MVP candidate quarterback.  Brees threw for 412 yards, completed 32 of 40 passes (80%) and had five touchdowns inNew Orleans’ dominating win over the hapless Vikings –New Orleans sixth win in a row.  The former Super Bowl MVP is now only 304 yards from breaking Dan Marino’s single-season record for yards passing with two games to play.  Brees was pin-point as he threw touchdowns WR Lance Moore (2), RB Darren Sproles, TE Jimmy Graham and TE John Gilmore.  It also was a record-setting day for Brees as he set the NFL record with his 11th 300-yard game this season.

Honorable Mention: Dolphins RB Reggie Bush, Eagles RB LeSean McCoy, Niners DE Aldon Smith, Colts RB Donald Brown, Eagles DE Jason Babin, Niners CB Carlos Rodgers, Redskins RB Roy Helu, Patriots QB Tom Brady, Panthers QB Cam Newton, Chiefs DE Tamba Hali, Chiefs HC Romeo Crennel, Dolphins HC Todd Bowles, Lions DT Ndamukong Suh, Niners kicker David Akers and Cardinals CB Patrick Peterson

Lloyd’s Lackey

Chicago Bears QB Caleb Hanie — You have to wonder what in the world that HC Lovie Smith and GM Jerry Angelo thought of their now-starter to think that he could replace injured starter Jay Cutler (broken thumb) and the team could continue winning.  Amazingly, at the time of the Cutler’s injury — suffered in a Week 11 win over the Chargers — the Bears were 7-3, good enough for 2nd place in the division — and riding a five-game winning streak.  At the time the team thought that Hanie due to an okay performance — Cutler hurt is knee in loss to Packers — in their 2010 NFC Title Game loss – would be a good starter….NOT.  In four starts (all losses), Hanie has thrown 3 TDs and 9 INTs with a 41.8 QBR. In their season-killing home loss to the Seahawks,  Smith finally pulled the plug.  The beleaguered head coach sent in back-up QB Josh McCown after Hanie threw his 2nd pick-six of game (returned 20 yards by DL Red Bryant for a score).  SHOULD HAVE SIGNED MCNABB!

Dishonorable Mention: Broncos QB Tim Tebow, Packers QB Aaron Rodgers, Steelers LB James Harrison, and Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger

Standings Breakdown

1 Team ….13-1 — Packers

3 Teams…. 11-3 — Niners, Saints, Patriots

3 Teams… 10-4 — Steelers, Ravens, Texans

2 Teams… 9-5 — Lions, Falcons

5 Teams… 8-6 — Broncos, NY Jets, Bengals, Cowboys

7 Teams… 7-7 — Bears, Raiders, Titans, NY Giants, Chargers, Seahawks, Cardinals

2 Teams…. 6-8 — Chiefs, Eagles

4 Teams…. 5-9 — Bills, Redskins, Dolphins, Panthers

3 Teams… 4-10  — Bucs,  Browns, Jaguars

2 Teams … 2-12 — Vikings, Rams

1 Team…..1-13 (AKA…Andrew Luck Sweepstakes) — Colts 

  • 14 Teams with winning records including the formerly undefeated team (Packers, 13-1) and other strong contenders [Patriots (11-3), Saints (11-3), Niners (11-3), Steelers (10-4), and Ravens (10-4)], plus some back-in-the-race “winning” teams [Lions (9-5), Falcons (9-5), Broncos (8-6), NY Jets (8-6) and Cowboys (8-6)]
  • 12 Teams with losing including some that may soon be looking for new head coaches for 2012 [Bucs (4-10), Vikings (2-12), and Rams (2-12)]
  • 7 Teams stuck in the NFL’s Parity Wasteland (Right at the .500 mark with a record of 7-7)…. It will interesting to see if any of these teams can jump back into the playoff hunt in the next 2 weeks

Remember 11-5 (2008 New England Patriots) or 10-6 (Bucs and NY Giants in 2010) does not guarantee making the playoffs

Division Leaders

AFC North — This division continued to be a two-team race as the Steelers and Ravens both lost to move to 10-4 (BAL holds head-to-head tiebreaker) — either way one will be division champ and the other in the WC.  The Bengals (8-6) still are in the hunt for the AFC’s 2nd wildcard

AFC South — The Texans (10-4) having clinched their first division title in Week 14 had a letdown in Week 15.  However HOU is still is in the AFC home-field advantage race.  The Titans (7-7) came-up short in Week 15 against INDY and now need a lot of help to get in the playoffs

AFC West — This division will definitely go down to Week 17 as the Broncos (8-6) and Raiders (7-7) lost, but the Chargers (7-7) and Chiefs (6-8) to keep their “slim” playoff hopes alive

AFC East — The Patriots (11-3) clinched another division crown for Bill Belichick as New England easily disposed of the Tebow Broncos.  In a spot to further solidify their potential playoff status, the NY Jets (8-6) were thumped by the Eagles.  However the NYJ still control their own playoff fate.

NFC North — The NFL’s last undefeated team finally fell as the Packers (13-1) lost in stunning fashion to KC.  However GB only needs to win one of their last two games to clinch home field advantage in the playoffs.  After GB, Detroit Lions (9-5) is looking very strong in the NFC Wildcard race, the Bears (7-7) made a huge mistake counting on Hanie

NFC South — The division-leading New Orleans Saints (11-3 with 2-game lead) seem right on the cusp of clinching another division crown.  However New Orleans must keep focused if they want a chance to catch the Packers for home field advantage. Plus second-place Falcons (9-5 and NFC’s Top Wildcard) are still winning

NFC West — The Niners (11-3) have already clinched this division’s crown, but they might not be as strong as the expected entering the playoffs.  To make things more interesting in this division, both the Cardinals and Seahawks (both 7-7) are mounting desperate drives to get in the playoff picture.

NFC East — The NFL’s ugliest division may also be the league’s most competitive.  The Cowboys (8-6) won to take a 1-game lead over NY Giants (7-7), who lost to the Redskins.  And now everything looks like it will come down to their Week 17 Showdown in the Meadowland.  Also as crazy as it sounds don’t forget about the Eagles (6-8) who are still mathematically in it, but need a ton of help 

Current Playoff Standings


Patriots (11-3) — clinched AFC East division and fighting for Home field

Texans (10-4) — clinched AFC South division and fighting for Home field

Ravens (10-4) — clinched playoff berth and if they win-out will win AFC North

Broncos (8-6) – If they win-out they will win the AFC West division

Steelers (10-4) — clinched playoff berth

NY Jets (8-6) – Must win-out to maintain #6 spot

In The Hunt:  Bengals (8-6), Titans (7-7), Raiders (7-7), Chargers (7-7), and Chiefs (6-8)


Packers (13-1) — clinched NFC North division and fighting for Home field

49ers (11-3) — clinched NFC West division and fighting for Home field

Saints (11-3) — clinched playoff berth and if they win-out will win NFC South

Cowboys (8-6) – If they win-out they will win the NFC East division

Falcons (9-5) – Have a chance to clinch 5th spot in Week 16

Lions (9-5) – Have a chance to clinch 6th spot in Week 16

In The Hunt: Bears (7-7), Giants (7-7), Cardinals (7-7), Seahawks (7-7), and Eagles (6-8)

How 2010 NFL Playoff Teams are Faring

**Remember for 15 straight seasons there have been at least 5 new playoff teams**


Patriots (11-3)

Steelers (10-4)

Ravens (10-4)

NY Jets (8-6)

Chiefs (6-8)

Colts (1-13)


Packers (13-1)

Saints (11-3)

Falcons (9-5)

Bears (7-7)

Seahawks (7-7)

Eagles (6-8)

Current Winning Streaks

Saints — 6 in a row

Patriots — 6 in a row

Cardinals — 4 in a row

Seahawks — 3 in a row

Chargers — 3 in a row

Falcons — 2 in a row

Eagles — 2 in a row

Lions — 2 in a row

Niners – 2 in a row


Current Losing Streaks

Bucs — 8 in a row

Vikings — 6 in a row

Bills — 6 in a row (haven’t won since QB Ryan Fitzpatrick got an extension around Halloween)

Bears — 4 in a row (Going nowhere fast with Hanie at the controls)

Browns — 4 in a row

Rams — 4 in a row

Raiders — 2 in a row

Titans — 2 in a row


Upcoming schedules


ARI(7-7) —   @CIN,SEA

ATL(9-5)  —   @NO (MNF), TB

CAR(5-9) —    TB, @NO

CHI (7-7)  —     @GB (SNF), @MIN

DAL(8-6) —    PHI, @NYG

DET (9-5) —     SD, @GB

GB (13-1) —      CHI (SNF), DET

MIN (2-12) —    @WAS, CHI

NO (11-3) —     ATL(MNF),CAR

NYG (7-7) —    @NYJ,DAL

PHI(6-8)  —     @DAL, WAS

SEA(7-7) —    SF, @ARI

SF (11-3) —    @SEA, @STL

STL(2-12) —  @PIT, SF

TB (4-10) —  @CAR, @ATL

WAS (5-9) —   MIN, @PHI


BAL(10-4) –CLE, @CIN

BUF (5-9) — DEN, @NE


CLE(4-10)  — @BAL, PIT

DEN (8-6) — @BUF, KC

HOU (10-4) — @IND(TNF),TEN

IND(1-13)  — HOU (TNF), @JAX

JAX(4-10)  —    @TEN,IND

KC (6-8) —   OAK, @DEN

MIA (5-9) — @NE, NYJ

NE  (11-3) — MIA, BUF

NYJ (8-6) — NYG, @MIA

OAK (7-7) — @KC, SD

PIT  (10-4) –STL, @CLE

SD (7-7) — @DET, @OAK

TEN(7-7) –JAX, @HOU


Looking Forward to Week 16

Thursday December 22

Texans (10-4) at Colts (1-13) 8:20PM ET (NFLN)

Saturday December 24

Broncos (8-6) at Bills (5-9) 1:00PM ET (CBS)

Browns (4-10) at Ravens (10-4)1:00PM ET (CBS)

Buccaneers (4-10) at Panthers (5-9) 1:00PM ET (FOX)

Cardinals (7-7) at Bengals (8-6)1:00PM ET (FOX)

Dolphins (5-9) at Patriots (11-3) 1:00PM ET (CBS)

Giants (7-7) at Jets (8-6)1:00PM ET (FOX)

Jaguars (4-10) at Titans (7-7)1:00PM ET (CBS)

Raiders (7-6) at Chiefs (5-8) 1:00PM ET (CBS)

Rams (2-12) at Steelers (10-4)1:00PM ET (FOX)

Vikings (2-12) at Redskins (5-9) 1:00PM ET (FOX)

Chargers (7-7) at Lions (9-5)4:05PM ET (CBS)

49ers (10-3) at Seahawks (6-7) 4:15PM ET (FOX)

Eagles (5-8) at Cowboys (7-6)4:15PM ET(FOX)

Sunday December 25 – Christmas

Bears (7-7) at Packers (13-1) 8:20PM ET (NBC)

Monday December 26

Falcons (9-5) at Saints (11-3) 8:30PM ET (ESPN)

Lloyd Vance is the Editor  for Taking It to the House , who is also an award-winning member of the Pro Football Writers of America (PFWA).  Lloyd can be reached on Twitter @lloydvance_nfl

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