Week 15 NFL Recap & Week 15 Highlights
1. Week 15 NFL Recap: The Chiefs edge the Saints in a potential Super Bowl LV preview.
The Week 15 slate was chock-full of terrific matchups. And if they weren’t outstanding from a head-to-head point of view, we had a plethora of juicy NFL storylines swerving in and out of this slate. Due to the time of the year, Week 15 had games with playoff implications all over the place. In the Chiefs-Saints game, both teams have their postseason destinies locked up. However, they do have seeding to play for. With the new postseason format, only the No. 1 seed in each conference will get a bye. Previously, the top two seeds received a bye. While the Chiefs exited night’s game still one game better than the Steelers, the Saints, who were tied with the Packers entering Week 15 record-wise, but Green Bay owned the tiebreaker. Now, not only do the Saints have to contend with said tiebreaker, but they also fell a game behind the Packers. The Chiefs defeated the Saints in New Orleans 32-29. However, despite the final score, the game wasn’t that close. Kansas City looked like the superior team. If it weren’t for a late comeback push in which the Saints scored 14 points in the fourth quarter, closing the gap, this could have easily been a two-possession victory for the Chiefs. While the Chiefs’ Moneyline hit and they pushed the (-3) spread, the 54-point Total met the Over. However, in the first three periods of play, only 36 total points were scored. The Under was trending early, but a 25-point fourth-quarter blew the 54-point total open and Over the final mark. With no points on the board with just under 6:30 left in the first quarter, the Chiefs struck first with a Patrick Mahomes to Tyreek Hill touchdown. If you wagered Hill to score the first touchdown of the game at (+600) odds, you hit. You’ve also hit if you took the Cheetah’s anytime touchdown scorer prop set at (-140). Hill’s anytime odds aren’t the greatest but for good reason. He’s been on an absolute tear in 2020. Not only does Hill have 17 total touchdowns (two on the ground), but he’s scored in all but two games this season (12-of-20). In his past eight games since Week 6, Hill has scored 12 of his 17 scores. In four of those contests, he’s scored 2+ times. Hill finished the day with a 6/53/1 line on 10 targets and currently sits as the WR18 with 17.4 PPR points. Hill’s 17 touchdowns through 14 games is a new career-best. He is also pacing to reset his career bests in targets, receptions, and potentially yards. Hill needs 268 yards in the next two games to set a new career-high in receiving yards. That is one that may not happen. Hill was not the only Kansas City pass-catcher to have himself a game. Travis Kelce also had a pop game. Surprised right? Kelce managed 8-of-12 targets for 68 yards and a score. A terrific line for most NFL tight ends, but a mediocre afternoon for the elite. Including yesterday’s win, Kelce topped 109 receiving yards in five of his past seven games. He’s also scored in three of his past four. Remarkably, Kelce also has a seven-game streak with 8+ receptions. PPR platinum in fantasy football. Kelce finished Week 15 currently set as the TE3 with 22.8 PPR points. He also leads the Chiefs in receiving yards and receptions while setting new career-highs in yards (1318), yards per game (94.1), and yards per catch (13.4). At the moment, Kelce has matched his career-best in touchdowns (10). He should break that in the next two outings. While most of the afternoon went in Kansas City’s direction, they did suffer a setback. Rookie RB Clyde Edwards-Helaire injured his hip and/or leg in yesterday’s win. While x-rays were negative, his timeline for his return remains uncertain. Following Edwards-Helaire’s injury, Le’Veon Bell logged his best game since signing with the Chiefs. Rushing 15 times for 62 yards and a score while adding a 14-yard catch. Bell’s carries, touches, rushing yards, and total yards were all season-bests for Bell. While the Saints started Drew Brees in his first game since suffering an injury to his ribs back in Week 10, Taysom Hill just does not go away. Hill rushed two times or three yards and a score was the first touchdown of the game for the Saints. Along with Hill, other supporting members of the Saints’ offense contributed. Latavius Murray caught a 24-yard touchdown doing his best Alvin Kamara impression. That Murray score gave the Saints their first lead of the game, but they clearly did not hang on to it. Speaking of Kamara, with the Chiefs in control, the all-purpose rusher also found the end zone on Sunday. Kamara’s score put the Saints within one-score of the Chiefs, but Kansas City would hang on for the win. Kamara finished Week 15 as the RB18 with 17.4 PPR points.
2. Week 15 NFL Recap: ‘The G-D Jets.’
While Julian McGrath-Gerrity may have wanted the Jets to defeat the Rams on Sunday, I can safely say the vast majority did not. I don’t even think Adam Gase cares at this point. Yes, the Jets did the impossible. They beat the Rams on the road, traveling West by a score of 23-20. Not only did the Jets cover the spread, but their improbable (+1000) Moneyline hit as well. While I am shocked at both, I am not too surprised that the Under hit. If you read my NFL Week 15 Betting Trends piece, you’d know why you should not have been surprised at the Under. The Under was 6-0 in the Rams’ past six home games. That mark is now 7-0. While the Total was set at 44.5, I had it at 43.5, hitting by half a point. Remember when I said that most did not want the Jets to win? When the Under was a half a point away from hitting and the game was winding down, I became the biggest Jets fan on the planet so I can selfishly hit. The Jets had the 23-20 lead. A Rams score would have made the total go Over. Jets fans did not want them to win either. Not only would going winless guarantee the firing of Gase, but the victory also likely eliminated New York from the Trevor Lawrence sweepstakes. Due to tiebreakers and remaining strength of schedule, it looks like the Jacksonville Jaguars will “earn" the No. 1 overall pick and the opportunity to change their franchise forever. For the Rams, this was a terrible loss. Losing to the lowly Jets knocked the Rams out of first place in the NFC West, which now belongs to Seattle. Consequentially, the Rams and Seahawks face off in Week 16, and I can’t wait for it. From a fantasy football perspective, many, including myself, believed this would be a game in which Rams’ fantasy assets popped. Jared Goff had a letdown 16.26-point outing while Cam Akers (7.2) and Cooper Kupp (8.9) ended the game with single-digits in PPR. Only Robert Woods and Tyler Higbee popped for the Rams. Woods went for 21.6 points while Higbee went for 16.7. Woods finished with 56 receiving yards and a touchdown on 6-of-8 targets while adding a 40-yard rush. Woods’ anytime touchdowns scorer prop hit at (+165). For Higbee, he had one of his best games of an overall disappointing season. It was only Higbee’s third game with double-digit PPR points and his second in his past three. In the offseason, many thought Higbee would be one of the most productive tight ends in fantasy considering how he ended 2019. While it did not happen, he is coming through when it matters most for those who employed him in their lineups this weekend.
3. Week 15 NFL Recap: Jalen Hurts dazzles in Eagles loss, further separating him from Carson Wentz.
Following Jalen Hurts’ first victory in his first career start last week over the Saints, I had questions about how he would follow it up. While the Saints only had college tape and a handful of NFL plays to go off of to study Hurst and put together a game plan, the Cardinals would have one full game to pick apart. For that reason alone, I liked the Cardinals to win and cover, which they did. And while it took defensive stands late in the fourth quarter to seal the victory for Arizona, they still got the job done. Their 33-26 victory covered the (-6.5) spread. While Kyler Murray was sensational, completing 27-of-36 passes (75%) for 406 yards, three touchdowns, and one interception, adding another 28 yards with a touchdown on eight rushing attempts, Hurts also had himself a game. Hurts looked good with his legs last week versus the Saints, but I still questioned his arm. He put that to bed in Sunday’s loss to Arizona. Hurts completed 24-of-44 passes for 338 yards and three touchdowns while rushing 11 times for 63 more yards. Hurts only completed 54.5% of his passes but logged his first game with 300+ passing yards and his first game with multiple touchdown passes. He has now thrown for a score in three straight games. Hurst is currently seated as the Week 15 QB1 with 38.2 fantasy points while Murray is the QB4 with 34.8. While Murray scored a rushing touchdown in eight of his first nine games of the year, he went on a cold streak. Murray’s rushing score was his first since Week 10, ending a four-game streak without one. When Kliff Kingsbury lets Murray loose with his legs, the second-year signal-caller and his offense are at their best. This game was another big one for DeAndre Hopkins as well. In seven games since Week 9, Hopkins had four outings with fewer than 55 receiving yards. In those dud games, he only managed one touchdown in the four. However, in the other three games in that period, Hopkins went for 127+ yards with a score in two out of the three games. Two of those 127+ yard outings came in each of Hopkins’ past two games, both much-needed Arizona wins. Hopkins has 11+ targets, 9+ receptions, and 136+ yards in each of his past two games. Tied at 26 with just under eight minutes remaining in the fourth quarter, Hopkins scored the go-ahead touchdown. It was the final score of the game by either club. Hopkins is an elite player. Elite players step up when it matters most with the game on the line. If you don’t, then you’re just an above-average talent to me.
4. Week 15 NFL Recap: Bill Belichick falls to a rookie quarterback, and the Patriots’ playoff run ends.
Entering Week 15, Bill Belichick was 21-5 against rookie quarterbacks. Most-recently, dismantling Justin Herbert, who looks like he could be the cream of the crop in the 2020 class.
While Belichick shut down Herbert, he had his hands full with Tua Tagovailoa on Sunday. Belichick’s history versus rookie signal-callers is a big reason why anyone who wagered the Patriots to win or cover (+1) pulled the trigger. In the 22-12 victory, Tagovailoa did what he had to do to lead the Dolphins to a win. Despite the fact that DeVante Parker, Jakeem Grant, and Mike Gesicki — all Dolphins starting skill position players — were all inactive due to their respective injuries, Tagovailoa completed 20-of-26 passes for 145 yards and an interception while adding three carries for nine additional yards and two touchdowns. Fully aware that he was down his top pass-catchers as well as his top running back, Myles Gaskin (COVID-19), Tagovailoa knew he had to get it done with his legs. With adversity in his face, Tagovailoa handed Belichick his first loss to a rookie quarterback since 2013. Tagovailoa joined Geno Smith, Russell Wilson, Ben Roethlisberger, Colt McCoy, and Mark Sanchez as rookie quarterbacks to have beaten Belichick in their first year as a pro. Two of those players will be Hall of Famers. I bet you can’t guess which two they are. Belichick is now 21-6 against rookie quarterbacks. That loss was also detrimental to the Patriots as a whole. They are now officially eliminated from the playoffs, ending an 11-year run. With a 9-5 record, the Dolphins are hanging on to the seventh seed and the final Wild Card spot in the AFC with the Ravens (9-5) breathing down their neck. For the Patriots, they have some decisions to make entering the offseason. No. 1, at quarterback. Cam Newton is just not it.
5. Week 15 NFL Recap: Tom Brady torments Falcons again in Buccaneers’ comeback win.
Staring adversity right in its face, Tom Brady and the Buccaneers stepped up and proved why he is the goat. While the Buccaneers beat the Falcons on the road on Sunday by a score of 31-27, it did not come easy. Sure, the Bucs Moneyline hit as well as the Over, but they failed to cover the spread. If the Buccaneers kicked a field goal instead of kneeling, they would have gotten the job done. They would have been forced to kick a field goal if it wasn’t for the officials spotting the ball, probably in the right place, for a game-clinching first down, rather than a fourth down with time left which would have likely forced Tampa to take the points and give Atlanta the long field to try to get six pus the extra point. Not only did the Buccaneers have history against them — the Falcons have won six of their past seven meetings against Tampa Bay leading up to Week 15 — but the Falcons also had 17-2 lead minutes into the third quarter. You can read about it in my Week 15 Betting Trends piece to see what trends held true. Atlanta’s lead was as high as 24-7 in the third as well before the Buccaneers answered with a Chris Godwin score. Even with Ronald Jones sidelined, the Buccaneers managed to establish the run. When they can employ a balanced attack, Brady is much more efficient. Fournette rushed for 49 yards and two touchdowns while adding another 15 yards on 3-of-6 targets. Fournette hit his two touchdown prop (+500). It was the second time Fournette hit a two-score prop this season with the first coming in Week 2. En route to 390 yards and two touchdowns on 31-of-45 passing, Brady finally got going with his elite trio of pass-catchers. Godwin caught 4-of-5 targets for 36 yards and one touchdown, Mike Evans caught 6-of-7 targets for 110 yards and Antonio Brown finally had a significant impact, hauling in 5-of-7 targets for 93 yards and a touchdown. Brown’s first touchdown as a member of the Buccaneers was a meaningful one. It gave the Buccaneers the game-clinching lead with 6:19 left in the fourth stanza of play. They would not look back. Once again, the Falcons blew a lofty second-half lead to Brady. The goat is now 7-0 in his career against the Falcons. I bet they can’t wait until he retires. However, they get to play him one more time this season and potentially, two more times per year until Brady elects to hang up his cleats.
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