NFL: 20 Winners and Losers from Week 15
NFL Week 15: A Few Winners, and a Whole Lotta Losers
Each week in the NFL fans and analysts overreact to performances by teams and players. Good or bad, everyone in the league receives feedback, no one is ever free of judgment in today's social media culture.
So as we leave week 15 in the rear view mirror, the criticism and praise is getting stronger and stronger with only two games left to go. Talk is starting as to whether coaches should be fired or extended, speculation has begun as to whether star players will switch teams. The picture of the next few months is beginning to get a little clearer at this point.
But as we all know two weeks in the NFL can change everything.
In this slideshow we'll take a look at the biggest winners and loser from week 15. While some of the judgments are based on short-term results, many of them have tags as either winners or losers that they've earned for the season. The fate of some of the players and teams on this list has already been decided.
Some will forever be remembered as losers in 2012. Some of the teams and players on this list have been 'done' for weeks, but now at the end of 15 weeks, it's all but official.
Others on the list have already stamped 2012 with their greatness, and will always be remembered regardless of what happens in the next two weeks.
It's been a while since there's been so much uncertainty heading into these final games with so many teams still alive in both conferences to try and sneak into the playoffs.
Let's take a look at the biggest winners and losers in the NFL as we head into week 16:
WINNERS: Washington Redskins
The Redskins justified to everybody why they drafted Kirk Cousins this past spring. The rookie went into Cleveland and led his team to a victory. At 8-6 the Redskins are very much alive for the playoffs.
WINNERS: Atlanta Falcons
In what many have called 'statement game,' the Falcons blanked the G-Men, and took another step towards locking up home-field advantage throughout the playoffs. I believe they must have home-field in order to have any chance at making the Super Bowl.
LOSERS: St. Louis Rams
The Rams' playoff hopes were dashed by Adrian Peterson Sunday. If it weren't for the team's showdown with the league's best running back, St. Louis may have very well won their fourth straight and still be right in the thick of things. In reality, they are not making the playoffs this season.
WINNERS: Houston Texans
A team that many are doubting can make the Super Bowl, had a good week 15. They beat their divisional rival the Colts, and took another step towards securing home-field advantage. The Texans are in the same boat as the Falcons to me, no home-field = no Super Bowl.
LOSERS: Pittsburgh Steelers
The Steelers are definitely short-term losers, but their playoff hopes are still very much alive. They face the Bengals in this week, and end the season at home against Cleveland. Very simple, win and they're in.
WINNER: Russell Wilson
Anybody out there still doubting Russell Wilson? I really hope not, because this rookie has earned respect all around the league with his play in 2012. He has his team playing it's best ball of the season, and in line for a position in the playoffs. Wilson must be at least in the conversation for rookie of the year.
LOSERS: New York Giants
I'm getting a little tired of this routine from the Giants, you never know which team is going to show up, and in week 15 the bad-Giants reared their heads. Well now their backs are up against the wall, and we'll find out if that's where they truly like to be. Time is running out, and as of now, the Giants are out of the playoffs and are big-time losers.
LOSER: Lovie Smith
Patience from Bears' fans is always running thin, but after week 15, Lovie Smith has definitely found his way to the hot seat. His seat has no doubt been lukewarm for weeks now, but as we sit here today the Bears are out of the playoffs in the NFC. No playoffs should equal a goodbye to Smith in Chicago.
WINNERS: Cincinnati Bengals
The Bengals have worked their way into the playoffs after week 15, for now. Their season is basically going to come down to their performance at Heinz Field this Sunday. Right now though, they're winners.
LOSERS: Detroit Lions
What a disappointing year for the Lions. This loser tag is one they've earned for their entire season of work. What a way to really cap things off though, by getting demolished by the Cardinals. Ouch.
LOSER: Joe Flacco
Flacco has had a tough time in 2012 and that continued Sunday against the Broncos. His pick-six at the end of the first half was a game-changer, and the Ravens never recovered. If Flacco can't get it done again this season, which it looks like he won't, people will begin to grumble in Baltimore.
LOSERS: Baltimore Ravens
Right along with their quarterback the Ravens were big losers in week 15. They were clearly over-matched by the Broncos, at home. Somehow though, the team has clinched a playoff birth, and will get a chance to redeem itself. I don't know if Ray Lewis is the answer, but this team desperately needs a shot in the arm.
WINNER: Dez Bryant
You have to give credit where credit is due, and Bryant no doubt deserves credit for his week 15 performance. Out there with a broken finger, Bryant caught four balls for 59 yards with a touchdown. He's a big reason why the Cowboys are still alive for the playoffs.
LOSERS: People Who Watched Chiefs vs. Raiders
Let me first say that Sebastian Janikowski is the man, but I never want to watch a game in which the only scoring is five field goals. Both of the these teams are huge losers from week 15 and the 2012 NFL season.
WINNER: Blair Walsh
No one will talk about Walsh in the rookie of the year conversation, and that's fair considering he's a kicker in arguably the best rookie class ever, but quietly this guy has had a remarkable season. In week 15 he booted three 50-yard plus field goals, and is now tied for the most 50-yarders in a season at eight. He's 29 of 32 on the year, and if nothing else should be voted into the Pro Bowl.
LOSER: Mason Crosby
Two more misses in week 15 gives him 12 on the season. Not good for Crosby's NFL future, not good for the Packers' playoff future. The team says they're sticking with him going forward, but do you really want your season to potentially ride on the leg of a guy who's going to miss at least 12 field goals in a season?
WINNER: Tony Romo
Romo has quieted his haters for several weeks now, and that continued in week 15. Romo has gotten locked in at the right time for the Cowboys, and it's safe to say he's the only reason they're still in the playoff hunt.
LOSERS: Chicago Bears
From the players, to the fans, to the coaches, everyone associated with the Bears lost in week 15. They've currently played their way out of the postseason, and will need some help the rest of the way to salvage a once promising season.
WINNER: Adrian Peterson
I think AP showed why yet again in week 15 that he's the league MVP. He ran for another 212 yards, and now just sits 294 yards away from becoming the all-time single season rushing leader. Do I think AP will win the MVP? No, no I don't, but it's only because it's a quarterback award at this point.
LAHOO-ZA-HER: Mark Sanchez
Without a doubt, the biggest loser from week 15 is Mark Sanchez. 131 yards passing, 4 INTs, and fumble at the end to secure his team an essentially season-ending loss. That's how the Sanchize rolled in week 15. It's really simple, he should be done as the Jets' starting quarterback. He's just not that good.