As Ferris Bueller might say: The world of sports moves pretty fast...
... If you don't stop and look around at least once a week, you could miss it. Here we'll review what you might have missed in the past week all in one place. Why spend hours scrolling through Twitter to catch up on the news you want? We've already done that for you, so remember to check back every Monday to get your dose of weekly sports review.
We saw the Bills and Seahawks punch their tickets to the postseason in Week 15 leaving only four spots left to claim in both conferences. The Lions, 49ers, Broncos, and Patriots will not be among them as they all added their names to the list of teams mathematically eliminated from contention.
The Jets completed one of the biggest upsets of the season on their way to their first win of 2020 against the playoff-contending Los Angeles Rams, but with that victory gave up valuable ground to Jacksonville in the race for the top pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, also known as the Trevor Lawrence Sweepstakes.
The Jets front office watching their team win https://t.co/84aIlRVaZa— Reggie Chatman Jr. (@Reggie Chatman Jr.) 1608509361.0
Miami, Baltimore, Arizona, and Tampa Bay all picked up important wins as they're vying for postseason spots in a highly competitive field. The Browns Sunday night win over the Giants kept them in the top Wild Card spot in the AFC. Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs still look like the team to beat, but there's another gunslinger in the AFC named Josh Allen that may be planning to play the Grinch in Kansas City's championship sequel.
Can confirm that @JoshAllenQB looks good in shorts. https://t.co/yCQtGldySs— Buffalo Bills (@Buffalo Bills) 1608505560.0
What to Watch For
The Baltimore Ravens (9-5) have been led by a resurgent Lamar Jackson over the past two weeks, and it may be just in the St. Nick of time for reigning MVP. The Ravens will play the Giants and Bengals over the last two weeks of the regular season which should give them a good shot at finishing 11-5.
My 2 year old son just looked at me and asked “Dad, do you know what I want for Christmas?” I told him I didn’t and… https://t.co/jLzZzkM6vS— Platinum Sombrero (@Platinum Sombrero) 1608000026.0
Currently the Colts (10-4) and Dolphins (9-5) are ahead of Baltimore sitting in the final two playoff spots, but the Dolphins have an unfavorable final two games against the Raiders and Bills. If the Dolphins lose even one game the rest of the way out, we could see the South Beach fans on the outside looking in at the playoffs.
The NFC is a little murkier as nine teams remain in contention to reach the postseason. The NFC East is completely up for grabs as even the 4-9-1 Eagles could still win the division if they win out and everyone else loses out which as we've seen throughout this season, is completely possible. The Cardinals and Bucs helped their causes with wins in Week 15, and a loss by the Rams increased their chances to earn a playoff berth.
Playoff Matchup Predictions As of Week 15 (Only first seed in each conference receives first round bye)
1. Kansas City Chiefs
The Chiefs have looked like the best team in the league all season, and we expect their high level of play to continue into the postseason. Patrick Mahomes has been stellar, and the bevy of weapons at his disposal is simply not fair to the rest of the league.
Here's the list of guys to tally 95+ catches, 1,300+ yards and 10+ touchdowns multiple times since 2018: Travis Kelce— Matt McMullen (@Matt McMullen) 1608563501.0
2. Buffalo Bills
7. Baltimore Ravens
Josh Allen has stepped into the elite category of NFL quarterbacks this season. The acquisition of Stefon Diggs has expedited his development and Buffalo might be the team to unseat the Chiefs in the AFC this year.
You LOVE to see it. 😍 #GoBills | #BillsMafia— Buffalo Bills (@Buffalo Bills) 1608483000.0
If Lamar Jackson is able to carry his team to the playoffs, you never know what he can do. The book on him so far is that he can't win big games. That has been the case for many high profile quarterbacks in league history, and it's always true until it isn't.
3. Pittsburgh Steelers
6. Tennessee Titans
The Steelers started the year with 11 consecutive wins. They're on a two game slide right now, but a Monday night matchup against the Bengals tonight gives them an opportunity to seal a division title and prevent the Browns from having a chance to overtake them.
Derrick Henry proved last season he is a problem in the playoffs and the Titans will certainly look to ride their star running back as far as he'll take them this playoff season.
Derrick Henry is the first RB in 12 years with 1,650 rush yards & 15 rush TD in a season... AND HE STILL HAS TWO… https://t.co/1cMArsLk1b— NFLonCBS (@NFLonCBS) 1608563257.0
4. Indianapolis Colts
5. Cleveland Browns
The Colts have been surprisingly good on both sides of the ball this season. We think they'll overtake the Titans for the division lead by the end of the season. Unfortunately for them that would result in a matchup against Cleveland instead of Pittsburgh, and we think that the Browns are the better team in the AFC North at this point in the season.
Cleveland is a team that nobody in the AFC wants to see in the playoffs! 2020 is weird. But it's true. Nobody wants a playoff opponent that can run the ball down down your throats for 60 minutes and Cleveland has the best 1-2 punch in all of football in Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt. It's been a long time since we've seen brown and orange against the backdrop of crisp white snow, and we're here for it.
Happy Sunday #DawgPound #browns @Browns https://t.co/TVClveY9HZ— CJ McCollum (@CJ McCollum) 1608524921.0
1. Green Bay Packers
In what will go down as one of Aaron Rodgers' best seasons, the Packers are trying to get one step further than they did last season. Losing to San Francisco in the NFC Championship game a year ago, Rodgers wants to add another Lombardi to his resume before he discount double checks himself into the Hall of Fame.
2. New Orleans Saints
7. Arizona Cardinals
Drew Brees is back and he pretty good in his return from multiple rib fractures and a punctured lung. Not good enough to best the Chiefs in Week 15, but Saints fans should have nothing to worry about. If Michael Thomas can get healthy for the playoffs it will boost their chances to make a run, but he was just recently placed on IR and will be out for the remainder of the regular season.
Kyler Murray and the Cardinals outlasted Jalen Hurts and the Eagles in Week 15 to earn an important win to keep them a game ahead of the Bears for the last playoff spot in the NFC. Although their level of play has slipped from the beginning of the year, a mobile quarterback like Murray can prove to be a tough matchup for any team in a must-win game.
Kyler Murray & Jalen Hurts really gave us a SHOW today 💯 Murray: 406 YDS | 27/36 | 3 TD 29 YDS | 1 T… https://t.co/DuMhXD9zTD— Overtime (@Overtime) 1608510829.0
3. Seattle Seahawks
6. Los Angeles Rams
Remember when we were all asking for Pete Carroll to #LetRussCook? Well now we're just hoping he can work a toaster. We have serious concerns about this Seattle team from a defensive perspective, but if Wilson isn't able to provide the Superman heroics we've come accustomed to seeing from him Seattle will be looking at an early exit.
The Rams would make up the other half of this matchup and this combination is about as vanilla as it gets. We envision the line on this game being "bleh" and an over/under of "who cares". Whoever comes out of this the winner, will likely be outed in the next round. Let's hope for a different opening round 3/6 matchup.
4. Washington Football Team
5. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
While you may think that the assessment of a potential Seattle and Los Angeles was harsh and that this potential game is worse, let me tell you that you'd be wrong. Washington has been the best NFC East team for the majority of the season and that's with a rotating cast of quarterbacks and a rookie running back named Antonio Gibson.
Gibson along with Jacksonville's James Robinson, has been a pleasant surprise among this rookie class and his potential return from injury in Week 16 gives fans of the Football Team legitimate hope of winning the division and maybe, just maybe a playoff game or two. Chase Young leads an impressive defense, one that likes to get at the opposing QB which may not bode well for Tom Brady.
Highest-graded defensive rookies: 1. Chase Young, Wash: 79.8 2. Doug Costin, Jags: 75.6 3. Mykal Walker, Falcon: 79… https://t.co/WCRqObWoau— PFF College (@PFF College) 1608486000.0
The Bucs were a preeminent favorite to win the Super Bowl after their offseason acquisitions of Tom Brady, Rob Gronkowski, and Leonard Fournette. Antonio Brown signed on with the team once he was eligible, coming off a league imposed suspension. This added to an already solid group that included Mike Evans, Chris Godwin, and Ronald Jones.
What we've seen from Tampa has been a team trying to find its identity all year. Through ups and downs however, Tom Brady has been low-key great. He's thrown for 3,886 yards and 32 touchdowns so far, and has been a steady figure for the team as they are attempting to lock up their playoff position.
We won't get to see Tom's old coach and team in the playoffs this year, but we will get our annual postseason dose of Tom Brady.
Soon Christmas will be upon us and presents will be under trees, the smell of cookies will fill kitchens, and teams will begin to clinch playoff spots in this NFL season.
With so many close division races it's going to be an exciting end to an unusual football season and we're for it. Lamar Jackson and Myles Garrett were just a few of the players that have been added to the Covid-19 Reserve list this past week. The Ravens had enough players added to it that their game with the Steelers was moved from prime time on Thanksgiving to Sunday.
Hopefully we won't continue to see this trend increasing as it puts the season in jeopardy, but for now here are FindBet's power rankings for Week 12 (updated to account for the two Thanksgiving Day games) based on what we've seen so far this year.
32. New York Jets (0-10, Last Week 32 +/- 0) - Now that Thanksgiving has passed, Jets fans are hoping for a Christmas miracle before the end of the year. No team wants to finish 0-16, but it looks like there's a real chance.
31. Jacksonville Jaguars (1-9, Last Week 31, +/- 0) - Nine straight losses and Mike Glennon is replacing Jake Luton at quarterback this weekend.
30. Detroit Lions (4-7, Last Week 20, - 10) - Detroit was picked apart by Deshaun Watson in the early Thanksgiving day game. Until the Lions' passing attack gets back on track they will have a hard time putting together wins.
QB's Deshaun Watson (Houston Texans) & Matthew Stafford (Detroit Lions) exercising Social Justice support during th… https://t.co/DiY8BY4qrJ— DEE SPORTS GUY (@DEE SPORTS GUY) 1606413421.0
29. Chicago Bears (5-5, Last Week 27, - 2)
28. Cincinnati Bengals (2-7-1, Last Week 21, - 7) - The loss of Joe Burrow for the rest of the season is a major blow. What's worse is that his status will be in question for the start of next season as well. Let's hope for a speedy recovery for the young QB.
27. Denver Broncos (4-6, Last Week 28, + 1)
26. Dallas Cowboys (3-8, Last Week 29, + 3) - It's time to stick a fork in the Cowboys season. Mathematically they're still in the hunt for the division, and thus the playoffs. But this team just looks like something is wrong and Ezekiel Elliott hasn't been a factor outside of a 100 yard rushing performance last week.
#Cowboys’ RB Ezekiel Elliott has lost 5 fumbles this season. Melvin Gordon has lost 4. No other RB has more than 2.— NFL Update (@NFL Update) 1606433603.0
25. San Francisco 49ers (4-6, Last Week 22, - 3)
24. New York Giants (3-7, Last Week 26, + 2)
23. Philadelphia Eagles (3-6-1, Last Week 18, - 5) - Washington moving ahead of the Eagles in the division dropped Philly five spots this week.
22. Los Angeles Chargers (3-7, Last Week 25, + 3)
21. Atlanta Falcons (3-7, Last Week 17, - 4)
20. Carolina Panthers (4-7, Last Week 23, + 3) - Not having a healthy Christian McCaffrey this season has been disappointing not only for fantasy managers, but the Panthers probably feel like CMC's typical production could've helped them to another win or two improving their playoff chances.
Christian McCaffrey has played in 3-games this season. Week 1 -28.5 Week 2 - 24.8 Week 9 -37.1 points in PPR He… https://t.co/ZvvwPJicpi— Ray G 🏁 (@Ray G 🏁) 1605815340.0
19. Houston Texans (4-7, Last Week 24, + 5) - Finally we got to see Deshaun Watson put on the cape and put up a Superman kind of performance. Houston smashed the Lions on Thanksgiving behind four touchdown throws from their quarterback. If they can continue to get this level of play from Watson, maybe they're not done just yet.
Deshaun Watson's last six games: 141/200 Comp/Att (71%) 1,750 Pass Yards 16 Total TD 0 Turnovers Lighting it up 🔥 https://t.co/sujRWdlIrB— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) 1606435629.0
18. New England Patriots (4-6, Last Week 24, + 5)
17. Washington Football Team (4-7, Last Week 30, + 13) - Washington picked up a convincing win on Thanksgiving against Dallas and has put themselves atop the NFC East.
16. Las Vegas Raiders (6-4, Last Week 11, - 5) - Even though the Raiders lost to the Chiefs last week, they kept it competitive and have played extremely well the past three weeks. Derek Carr has been very good this year and is developing a rapport with his deep threats in Nelson Agholor and Henry Ruggs.
15. Minnesota Vikings (4-6, Last Week 14, - 1)
14. Baltimore Ravens (6-4, Last Week 9, - 5) - Riding a two game losing streak the Ravens have allowed the Browns to jump ahead of them in the AFC North standings. Lamar Jackson was added to the Covid-19 Reserve list on Thanksgiving and will likely be unavailable for the rescheduled game with the Steelers on Sunday.
Breaking: Lamar Jackson has tested positive for COVID-19, per @RapSheet https://t.co/5oAEotR44A— Sports Illustrated (@Sports Illustrated) 1606437877.0
13. Miami Dolphins (6-4, Last Week 10, - 3)
12. Los Angeles Rams (7-3, Last Week 16, + 4) - The win over the Bucs on Monday Night Football is the Rams' best win of the season. It's moving them from the category off borderline playoff team into the realm of legitimate contenders.
11. Cleveland Browns (7-3, Last Week 15, + 4) - The Browns have moved into second place in the AFC North and continue to win by any means necessary. They boast one of the best one-two punches at running back now that Nick Chubb is back from injury to pair with Kareem Hunt. Myles Garrett was added to the Covid-19 Reserve list and his status is up in the air for now.
Tackling @nickchubb21 is hard, we get it. 📺: @NFLonFOX https://t.co/7ZJgXaJY5K— Cleveland Browns (@Cleveland Browns) 1606077448.0
10. Tennessee Titans (7-3, Last Week 12, + 2)
9. Arizona Cardinals (6-4, Last Week 6, - 3)
8. Buffalo Bills (7-3, Last Week 7, - 1)
7. Indianapolis Colts (7-3, Last Week 13, + 6) - The Colts have scored over 30 in wins over the Packers and Titans the past two weeks. On the defensive side of the ball Indianapolis is one of the best in the league. Only the Ravens, Steelers, and Rams have allowed less points by opponents on the year.
Take a deep breath. We're 7-3. https://t.co/53QNCR1rTA— Indianapolis Colts (@Indianapolis Colts) 1606092815.0
6. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (7-4, Last Week 5, - 1) - The good news for the Buccaneers is that Antonio Brown looks to be settling into the offense quickly. The bad news for the Buccaneers is that Tom Brady has been extremely inconsistent throughout the 2020 campaign and last week was one of the down weeks.
5. Seattle Seahawks (7-3, Last Week 8, + 3) - Russell Wilson and the Seahawks got a much needed win against the Cardinals to at least put a hold on a bad stretch in the season for them. Once Chris Carson is able to return to the backfield, the added stability at the RB position should help get the offense back on track.
Chris Carson in his first full practice since he sprained his foot a month ago. Big step for #Seahawks… https://t.co/UBcYTDPpNF— Gregg Bell (@Gregg Bell) 1606250901.0
4. Green Bay Packers (7-3, Last Week 3, - 1)
3. New Orleans Saints (8-2, Last Week 4, + 1) - Taysom Hill filled in for Drew Brees nicely last week, and with the suspected injuries being confirmed earlier this week it looks like Hill will need to keep up the good run of play for a few weeks more.
Leaving with leftovers #Thanksgiving https://t.co/8Vtck3Q13I— New Orleans Saints (@New Orleans Saints) 1606425241.0
2. Kansas City Chiefs (9-1, Last Week 2, +/- 0)
1. Pittsburgh Steelers (10-0, Last Week 1, +/- 0) - The Steelers remain undefeated after an easy win over Jacksonville. Their Week 12 game with the Ravens was supposed to headline on Thanksgiving in prime time, but Covid cases have forced the game to be rescheduled to this weekend. Without Lamar Jackson, the Ravens could struggle even worse than they did in the two teams' first matchup in Week 7.
Chase Claypool 31 yard TD from Ben Roethlisberger #Steelers https://t.co/xXY8czw2VJ— BlitzburghUSAVideos (@BlitzburghUSAVideos) 1606194662.0
Unless you're the Pittsburgh Steelers, chances are your team is still uncertain about making the playoffs.
The Packers lost, yet the Saints won. The Seahawks won, but so did the Rams. The NFC is in a frenzy, while the Steelers sit atop the AFC waiting for everyone else to catch up. With only five weeks left, the playoff picture is a little fuzzy, but it clarifies with each game.
Likewise, fantasy playoffs are just on the horizon, and unless you're undefeated, there's a strong chance you're still clamoring for a spot.
If you need to make some moves for a playoff berth, here are some suggestions in this week's drops, swaps and shops.
Note: For ESPN Leagues, all public leagues must submit trades before the trade deadline on Wednesday, November 25th at 12 ET. Rules vary within leagues, but this could be your last week for swaps.
© Scott Galvin-USA TODAY Sports
It may surprise you to realize that the Browns are 7-3, making them a top AFC team and second in their division only behind the Steelers. Yes, that means they even have a better record than the Ravens.
But those victories aren't the result of Mayfield's play: he's thrown for under 250 yards in ever game but one, and in that monster Week 7 anomaly, he threw for five touchdowns rather than his usual one or two.
It's Week 12 of the NFL season. The last time Baker Mayfield scored a touchdown, it was Week 7.— Paul Charchian (@Paul Charchian) 1606269552.0
Simply put, Mayfield is ranked 25th, so even in a 12-person, two-QB league, you can stand to do better than the Browns starter. Even if you're a Browns fan, it's not worth having him on your squad.
© Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports
It's always fun to root for players in the Thanksgiving game, so if you have a few extra trading chips and need a TE, Hockenson has been solid all season. Currently ranking fifth among tight ends, Hockenson has racked up 40 targets in the past six games and found the end zone five times over ten starts.
He's currently listed as questionable for Thanksgiving, but that could even lower his value this week if you want to score a last-minute trade. Consider Hockenson in a league that's honestly quite thin at standout tight ends that are still healthy.
T.J. Hockenson, rest of Detroit’s passing attack trying to find groove without Kenny Golladay https://t.co/oIjwxRnUBR— MLive (@MLive) 1606259709.0
Michael Pittman Jr.
© George Walker IV / Tennessean.com via Imagn Content Services, LLC
In back-to-back games, Michael Pittman has emerged as Phillip River's favorite target on a lackluster Colts passing offense. While T.Y. Hilton has fallen by the wayside, Pittman has emerged with ten receptions, 167 yards and a touchdown over the past two games. Pittman should be the top target on waivers this week as the Colts face division rival Tennessee Titans.
Former #USC wide receiver Michael Pittman Jr. having a really good season with the Colts. https://t.co/QG0X8AqYtE— Gerard Martinez (@Gerard Martinez) 1606267472.0
Carlos Hyde/Richard Rodgers
© Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports
Both Hyde and Rodgers are listed together here because picking and playing them depends on what happens to their injured starters. If Chris Carson and Zach Ertz return this Sunday, Hyde would be a solid starter, while Rodgers could be a flex option as he competes with Dallas Goedert.
The funny thing here is that the Eagles and Seahawks face off for Monday Night Football, making it a must-watch primetime game for fantasy owners.
RB Waiver Wire week 12 - Gus Edwards - Cam Akers - Frank Gore - Carlos Hyde (pending Carson) #FantasyFootball… https://t.co/JJFpsgS1O5— Fantasy Football Scout (@Fantasy Football Scout) 1606266453.0
Week 12 waiver wire pickups to consider, with availability: QB - Kirk Cousins (81%) RB - James White (64%) WR - Mic… https://t.co/wZjZZbQF9K— Zach Cohen (@Zach Cohen) 1606252991.0
© Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports
Another player ranked fifth amongst his cohort, Brandon McManus is still available in half of ESPN leagues. Unless you're one of a lucky four who has better kicker, McManus is a better option. Denver kickers get a little advantage at home kicking in thinner air, but McManus is still a straight-shooter, missing only one field goal this season (and it was over 50 yards). Pick up McManus before anyone else notices for a solid kicker to propel you to the championship round.
Defense + Brandon McManus = win? #Broncos #BroncosCountry #MIAvsDEN #Defense— Ben_Bronte (@Ben_Bronte) 1606087600.0
Defense + Brandon McManus = win? #Broncos #BroncosCountry #MIAvsDEN #Defense— Ben_Bronte (@Ben_Bronte) 1606087600.0