Cardinals, Bucs look terrible; Patriots, Titans give Chiefs a boost

The Week 15 slate was reduced because of COVID-19 outbreaks, with three games postponed to Monday and Tuesday. Still, there were some key outcomes from Sunday’s games, even if only one team clinched a playoff spot.

The Green Bay Packers became the first squad in the 2021 season to book their spot in the postseason after taking down the Ravens, 31-30. They also strengthened their claim on the No. 1 spot in the NFC and separated themselves from the rest of the NFL, currently holding the league’s best record.

One of their key competitors, the Arizona Cardinals, was expected to clinch a playoff berth but instead suffered a stunning 30-12 loss against the previously one-win Detroit Lions. Another team near the top of the NFC, the Tampa Bay Bucs, lost in historic fashion, with Tom Brady being shut out at home for the first time in his career.

Here are Week 15’s winners and losers.

WINNERS

No team in NFL history has started 1-7 and made the playoffs. The Miami Dolphins still might not be the first to do so, but they’re at least in position to come close. With their 31-24 victory against the Jets, the Dolphins clawed back to .500 and have now won six games in a row. More importantly, Miami (7-7) is within striking distance of the wild card in the AFC, although it needs some help from other teams to get there.

It wasn’t pretty, with the Dolphins falling behind to two separate 10-point deficits in the first half. But Miami’s defense made stops when it needed to. But more importantly, the Dolphins got something they hadn’t had all season. Duke Johnson, whom they signed in October and has spent most of his time on the practice squad, became the first Dolphins rusher to eclipse 100 rushing yards in a single game. If he can provide consistency down the stretch, Miami could sneak into the playoffs. The only way that happens, however, is if the teams ahead — Steelers, Browns, Ravens, Bills and Chargers — slip up.

Story continues

The first-place Chiefs

This week couldn’t have gone…

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