Tuesday, May 21, 2024

We’re coming down the stretch of the NFL season, and the playoff seedings and Power Rankings are starting to sort themselves out, but that doesn’t mean there haven’t been some surprises along the way. Today, we’re going to look at one surprising aspect of each team’s season.And then we’re going to start looking forward to a No. 1 vs. No. 2 matchup in Week 16 of the season.

(Last week: 1)

Sunday: Beat Arizona Cardinals 45-29
Surprise: Brock Purdy
We’ve let all the talk about whether the second-year quarterback is a top-10 quarterback in the league or even possibly the MVP obscure what remains at its heart the most remarkable story in the league. Purdy, the last pick of the 2022 draft, is now 16-3 as a starting quarterback. His passer rating (119) and expected points added per dropback (.32) lead the NFL and both would rank among the top five in the last 10 years in the league, according to TruMedia.
Up next: vs. Baltimore Ravens, Monday, 8:15 p.m. ET
(Last week: 3)
Sunday: Beat Jacksonville Jaguars 23-7
Surprise: They’ve clinched a playoff spot
Baltimore didn’t even enter the season as the favorite in its division, and now it’s the only team in the AFC to clinch a postseason berth. Lamar Jackson has been Lamar Jackson and the Todd Monken hire at offensive coordinator looks inspired. The Ravens have won eight of their last nine. Watching their defense, which leads the NFL with just 16.1 points per game allowed, go against the 49ers offense next week will be a treat.
Up next: at San Francisco 49ers, Monday, 8:15 p.m. ET
GO DEEPER
What we learned in NFL Week 15: Beware the Ravens and Bills, trouble in Pittsburgh and more
(Last week: 5)
Sunday: Beat Dallas Cowboys 31-10
Surprise: That they’ve lost six games
The Bills proved Sunday they’re one of the best teams in the league and a Super Bowl contender. More importantly, they got themselves closer to the playoffs, moving into the No. 9 spot in the AFC. Of course, the answer may be as simple as turnovers. The Bills are plus-11 in turnover margin in their wins (fourth in the league) and minus-eight in their losses (20th in the league). They didn’t turn the ball over against the Cowboys and rushed for 266 yards, their highest total since 2016.
Up next: at Los Angeles Chargers, Saturday, 8 p.m. ET
(Last week: 7)
Sunday: Beat New York Jets 30-0
Surprise: Why nobody else just drafted all the fast guys
Tyreek Hill didn’t play Sunday because of an ankle injury, and Miami still had three of the fastest people in the world on the field. Jaylen Waddle had a season-high 142 receiving yards on eight catches, and Raheem Mostert and Devon Achane had a combined 105 yards. The Dolphins have won four of their last five and can beat anybody in the league with their home run power.
Up next: vs. Dallas Cowboys, Sunday, 4:25 p.m. ET Raheem Mostert’s 20 total touchdowns this year (18 rushing, two receiving) ranks second all time among all players 31 years or older, behind only John Riggins (24) per @pfref — Danny Kelly (@DannyBKelly) December 18, 2023
(Last week: 2)
Sunday: Lost to Buffalo Bills 31-10
Surprise: How they play on the road
Dallas, which is 7-0 at home, is now below .500 on the road, dropping to 3-4 with Sunday’s loss. The Cowboys lead the league in scoring (39.86 ppg) and scoring margin (plus-171) at home but are 15th in scoring (21.71 ppg) and have a minus-4 scoring margin on the road. This is not good news for a team that probably is going to have to play at Philadelphia or at San Francisco to get to the Super Bowl. It has played in both of those stadiums this year and lost by a combined score of 70-33.
Up next: at Miami Dolphins, Sunday, 4:25 p.m. ET
(Last week: 4)
Monday: Lost to Seattle Seahawks 20-17
Surprise: The panic
The Eagles are the most hand-wringing 1o-win team in the NFL. They already have clinched a playoff spot and still have a good chance to win the NFC East, yet the team and its fans believe the sky is falling because it has hit a rough patch against talented opponents. The Eagles took control of the defense away from coordinator Sean Desai and handed it to Matt Patricia for Monday’s game. That didn’t work so well on the final drive as Drew Lock took the Seahawks 92 yards for the game-winning touchdown, but Philadelphia still has some of the most talented offensive and defensive lines in the league and will be fine in January.
Up next: vs. New York Giants, Monday, 4:30 p.m. ET
(Last week: 8)
Saturday: Beat Denver Broncos 42-17
Surprise: Sam LaPorta
It’s not shocking that the rookie tight end is good, but this good? LaPorta had three touchdown catches Saturday night and now has nine on the season, the fourth-most receiving touchdowns in the league. LaPorta, the No. 34 pick in the 2023 draft, already has 758 receiving yards, the sixth most by a rookie tight end in the history of the league. If he hits his average the rest of the season, he will end up third behind only Mike Ditka and Kyle Pitts.
Up next: at Minnesota Vikings, Sunday, 1 p.m. ET
GO DEEPER
Examining NFL’s 3 coaching vacancies and 9 other teams facing decisions: Sando’s Pick Six
(Last week: 6)
Sunday: Beat New England Patriots 27-17
Surprise: How hard it has been
Kansas City guaranteed its 11th straight winning record under Andy Reid, but it wasn’t without more drama. Kadarius Toney dropped a pass that turned into an interception, and the Patriots led 10-7 until the final minute of the first half. The defending Super Bowl champion is the No. 3 seed in the AFC right now. The good news is rookie receiver Rashee Rice had his fourth straight game with at least seven catches and 64 yards to take some of the pressure off Travis Kelce.
Up next: vs. Las Vegas Raiders, Monday, 1 p.m. ET Myles Garrett and the Cleveland defense have the Browns closing in on a playoff berth. (Nick Cammett / Getty Images)
(Last week: 12)
Sunday: Beat Chicago Bears 20-17
Surprise: That nobody hired Jim Schwartz earlier
Cleveland’s defensive coordinator spent the last two seasons as a senior defensive assistant in Tennessee. Then the Browns put him back in charge of a defense, and Cleveland leads the NFL in defensive splash plays (363). The Browns have a league-high 65 tackles for loss that aren’t sacks and 41 sacks, which ranks eighth in the league, to go along with it. The defense has saved a season in which the offense lost running back Nick Chubb and quarterback Deshaun Watson.
Up next: at Houston Texans, Sunday, 1 p.m. ET
(Last week: 11)
Sunday: Beat Washington Commanders 28-20
Surprise: They’re in the playoffs at the moment
This was supposed to be a reset year for the Rams, and it looked like it when they started 3-6. Since then, Sean McVay’s crew is 4-1 with the only loss coming to the Ravens. During the winning streak, the Rams are fourth in the league in scoring (29.8 ppg), and Matthew Stafford is fifth in the league in passer rating (105.2) and second in passing touchdowns (13). It’s been good enough to get them to the seventh seed, for now at least.
Up next: vs. New Orleans Saints, Thursday, 8:15 p.m. ET
(Last week: 14)
Sunday: Beat Minnesota Vikings 27-24
Surprise: They’re still in it
Jake Browning won his third game in a row Saturday, and the Bengals are now 3-1 since Joe Burrow’s season ended because of injury. Cincinnati, which is third in scoring in the last three weeks (31.7 ppg), was written out of the playoff race when Burrow went down but is the No. 6 seed in the AFC as of now. The problem is the Bengals have to play Kansas City, Pittsburgh and Cleveland down the stretch.
Up next: at Pittsburgh Steelers, Saturday, 4:30 p.m. ET
12. Seattle Seahawks (7-7)
(Last week: 17)
Monday: Beat Philadelphia Eagles 20-17
Surprise: The defense
Pete Carroll is known for defense, but the Seahawks are 27th in the NFL in defensive EPA per snap and have given up more plays of 10-plus yards (190) than all but two teams in the league. However, the defense got the job done Monday night, holding an illness-slowed Jalen Hurts and the Eagles to 17 points to stop a four-game losing streak. They’re just one spot out of a playoff spot with the Titans, Steelers and Cardinals left on their schedule.
Up next: at Tennessee Titans, Sunday, 1 p.m.…

Check out our other content

Check out other tags:

Most Popular Articles