NFL Week 15 grades: Buffalo Bills ace test, Jacksonville Jaguars fail miserably

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Our NFL Week 15 grades are now live. Things started in eye-opening fashion this week on Thursday night with the Las Vegas Raiders dropping an absurd 63 points in a win over the Los Anglees Chargers. It led to Los Angeles firing head coach Brandon Staley.

Saturday’s action saw the Detroit Lions and Cincinnati Bengals put up statement wins while the Minnesota Vikings and Denver Broncos struggled big time.

As for what we saw on Sunday, the Dallas Cowboys were destroyed on the road by the Buffalo Bills. Meanwhile, Brock Purdy strengthened his MVP case with a four-touchdown performance in the San Francisco 49ers’ blowout win over Arizona.

Below, we provide grades for every team that took to the field this week.

Los Angeles Chargers: F

nfl week 15 grades; los angeles chargers, las vegas raiders
Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports

Where to start with this disaster of a team? Los Angeles fell to the Las Vegas Raiders on Thursday Night Football by the score of 63-21. It’s the most points the Chargers have ever given up. It’s also the most points the Raiders have ever scored. The end result was head coach Brandon Staley and general manager Tom Telesco being fired. Now at 5-9 on the season, the Los Angeles Chargers are playing for draft positioning more than anything else.

Las Vegas Raiders: A+

Mere days after being shutout in a 3-0 loss to the Minnesota Vikings, the Raiders turned it around big time. It really is a testament to the job interim head coach Antonio Pierce is doing for Vegas right now. The 63 points they scored to open NFL Week 15 represented the most in franchise history. Rookie quarterback Aidan O’Connell stood out big time, throwing four touchdown passes. The end result was a 42-point win. Sure the Raiders are not going to the playoffs. But this blowout win painted the organization in a great light.

Cincinnati Bengals: A-

nfl week 15 grades: cincinnati bengals, jake browning
Kareem Elgazzar/The Enquirer / USA TODAY NETWORK

Jake Browning just keeps on keeping on for the Bengals in replacing the injured Joe Burrow under center. He threw for 324 yards with two touchdowns in Saturday’s overtime win over the Vikings. Browning’s deep shot to Tyler Boyd in overtime set up the game-winning field goal. All Browning has done since replacing Burrow is go 3-1 in four starts. He has Cincinnati at 8-6 and currently in playoff positioning in the AFC. What a story the former undrafted free agent from Washington has been.

Minnesota Vikings: C

Nick Mullens was not terrible in replacing a benched Joshua Dobbs on Saturday. He missed on just seven of 33 pass attempts while throwing for north of 300 yards. Unfortunately, Mullens also threw two ugly interceptions in what was a narrow three-point loss. Though, Saturday’s loss is more on head coach Kevin O’Connell. That included calling two ill-advised quarterback sneaks in overtime when Ty Chandler had gone for 132 yards on the ground. Cincinnati would connect on the game-winning field goal after the Vikes’ turnover on downs. Minnesota now finds itself at 7-7 and battling for a playoff spot with six other teams.

Pittsburgh Steelers: F

nfl week 15 winners and losers: pittsburgh steelers
Philip G. Pavely-USA TODAY Sports

Whether it was a lack of effort by wide receiver George Pickens or something else, the Steelers laid a complete egg in NFL Week 15. Mitchell Trubisky threw two more interceptions as he continued to show himself to be mistake prone. Pittsburgh’s previously stout defense allowed the Colts to go for nearly 400 total yards in a 30-13 blowout loss. Pittsburgh might be 7-7 on the season and in the playoff race. But this team does not look like a serious postseason contender. An ugly second consecutive loss added another layer to this.

Indianapolis Colts: B+

Don’t look now, but Indianapolis is now in a three-way tie atop the AFC South following Saturday’s 17-point win over the Steelers. Shane Steichen’s squad has won five of six and continues to look very much like a playoff team. In addition to Minshew’s performance on Saturday, the Colts’ rushing attack went for 170 yards. This is simply sensational given that star running back Jonathan Taylor was sidelined.

Denver Broncos: F

nfl week 15 grades; denver broncos, detroit lions
Lon Horwedel-USA TODAY Sports

Denver entered NFL Week 15 having won six of seven and looking very much the part of a playoff contender. This was primarily due to a defense that had given up an average of 15.6 points during the seven-game span. About that? This unit was completely outclassed by the Detroit Lions’ offense in a 42-17 loss. Detroit went for 448 total yards and a whopping 29 first downs. It ended up scoring touchdowns on five consecutive possessions. Regardless of what Russell Wilson and the offense does, this just isn’t going to cut it.

Detroit Lions: A

Jared Goff entered Saturday’s game having committed nine turnovers over the past four outings. It wasn’t a coincidence that the Lions found themselves at a pedestrian 2-2 during that four-game span. Boy, did Goff find a perfect time to turn this around on primetime. The quarterback completed 24-of-34 passes for 278 yards with five touchdowns and zero interceptions. Rookie tight end Sam LaPorta caught three of those touchdowns. Meanwhile, the Lions’ rushing attack went for 185 yards. This is the well-oiled iteration of Dan Campbell’s squad we saw earlier in the season.

Carolina Panthers: C+

nfl week 15 grades: carolina panthers, atlanta falcons
Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

It wasn’t pretty by any stretch of the imagination. But interim head coach Chris Tabor earned his first win and rookie quarterback Bryce Young came out victorious for just the second time this season. Young was brilliant down the stretch, leading the Panthers on a 17-play, 90-yard drive that culminated in a game-winning field goal. That drive saw Young complete 5-of-5 passes for 68 yards. Good for the young man.

Atlanta Falcons: F

Atlanta entered NFL Week 15 at 6-7 and tied with the Buccaneers and Saints for first place in the NFC South. It came out of Sunday’ action one game behind both teams after a brutal performance from Arthur Smith’s squad. Desmond Ridder was his normal substandard self, completing 12-of-20 passes for 152 yards with a touchdown and a pick. Bijan Robinson gained just 11 yards on seven attempts. Meanwhile, Atlanta’s defense melted late by allowing Carolina to drive down the field 90 yards for the game winner in a 9-7 loss. Just brutal stuff here.

New Orleans Saints: A-

nfl week 15 grades: new orleans saints, new york giants
Stephen Lew-USA TODAY Sports

Taking on less-than-stellar competition for a second consecutive week, New Orleans was able to maintain pace with Tampa Bay in the NFC South. The defense did its thing in a 24-6 win over the New York Giants, getting to Tommy DeVito for seven sacks while holding New York out of the red zone throughout. Meanwhile, Derek Carr put up his best performance as a member of the Saints with three touchdowns while missing on just five of 28 passes. It has New Orleans at 7-7 and firmly in the NFL Playoff picture heading into Week 16.

Sandwich shop to ditch Tommy DeVito promo as New York Giants QB prices himself at $20,000 per visit

New York Giants: F

The aforementioned DeVito came crashing back down to earth in a big way during NFL Week 15. This undrafted free agent completed 20-of-34 passes for 177 yards. Meanwhile, Saquon Barkley put up a mere 14 yards on nine rush attempts. While the Giants’ defense was not great in the 18-point loss, it was all about an anemic offense. It has New York at 5-9 and out of the playoff picture with three games remaining.

Kansas City Chiefs: C

NFL: Kansas City Chiefs at New England Patriots
David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

Patrick Mahomes still isn’t his normally dominant self. The reigning NFL and Super Bowl MVP threw two more interceptions in a 27-17 win over the hapless Patriots. He was still able to complete 27-of-37 passes for north of 300 yards with two touchdowns. We’re also very much liking the Mahomes to Rashee Rice connection. The rookie caught all nine passes thrown in his direction for 91 yards with a touchdown. His recent performance could loom large moving forward.

New England Patriots: C-

Embattled head coach Bill Belichick had his Patriots ready to compete against the defending champs on Sunday. In fact, New England was down just 14-10 at the half. That’s when the Chiefs scored 13 unanswered third quarter points to put this game away. Bailey Zappe was sacked four times. The Pats’ rushing attack went for just 52 yards in yet another loss. Now at 3-11 on the season, New England is playing out the string and the remainder of Belichick’s tenure in Foxborough.

New York Jets: F

nfl week 15 grades: new york jets, miami dolphins
Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

Zach Wilson exited in the second quarter with a concussion after being sacked four times on just 15 dropbacks. Coming off a career-best performance, he just had no chance against what was a raging Miami Dolphins defense. The Jets gained 103 total yards and had 11 first downs in a 30-0 shutout loss to Miami. This was pretty much the ugliest loss we’ve seen from the Jets in some time. It has them at 5-9 on the season with Robert Saleh firmly on the NFL hot seat.

Miami Dolphins: A

The Dolphins’ offense was not humming Sunday against New York with Tyreek Hill sidelined and Jaylen Waddle getting banged up. But it really didn’t matter against the Jets’ anemic offense. Miami got to Jets quarterbacks for 14 hits and six sacks. Safety Brandon Jones picked off two passes. Meanwhile, Raheem Mostert scored two more touchdowns as Waddle caught 8-of-9 targets for 142 yards. The 30-0 win has Miami still very much alive for the No. 1 seed and home-field advantage throughout the AFC Playoffs.

Houston Texans: B

NFL: Houston Texans at Tennessee Titans
Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

What an absolutely gutsy win for the Texans without star rookie quarterback C.J. Stroud. Surprisingly, veteran Case Keenum got the start in favor of Davis Mills. He played pretty well (23-of-36 passing, 229 yards). However, it was Devin Singletary and the rushing game that got it going in a 19-16 overtime win over Tennessee. He went for 121 yards on the ground. Kaʻimi Fairbairn’s 54-yard field goal in the extra stanza sent Houston to a huge win and an 8-6 record. It is now tied with Jacksonville and Indianapolis atop the AFC South.

Tennessee Titans: C+

Derrick Henry put up a career-worst performance when the Titans needed him to step up. The two-time NFL rushing champion gained just nine yards on 16 rush attempts. Fellow veteran DeAndre Hopkins caught just 2-of-9 targets for 21 yards. Will Levis suffered an ugly-looking foot injury. Yeah, NFL Week 15 did not go good for Mike Vrabel’s squad as the team dropped to 5-9 on the season.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers: A+

nfl week 15 grades: tampa bay buccaneers, baker mayfield

Baker Mayfield put up his finest performance as a pro during Tampa Bay’s surprising 34-20 win over the Packers in Lambeau. The former No. 1 pick completed 22-of-28 passes for 381 yards with four touchdowns and zero interceptions. Chris Godwin went off to the tune of 10 catches for 155 yards. The Bucs’ offense was clicking on all cylinders as they moved to 7-7 on the season and remained very much alive in the NFC Playoff picture.

Green Bay Packers: F

Jordan Love was good again for the Packers on Sunday, completing 29-of-39 passes for 284 yards with two touchdowns and zero interceptions. In fact, Green Bay’s offense was not the issue in a two-touchdown loss to Tampa Bay. Instead, it was all about a defense that yielded 452 total yards and 22 first downs to a questionable Buccaneers offense. This performance has Green Bay at 6-8 on the season and on the outside looking in when it comes to the NFC Playoff race.

Chicago Bears: C-

NFL: Chicago Bears at Cleveland Browns
Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

Up 17-7 heading into the fourth quarter Sunday against the Browns, Chicago’s defense simply melted. It allowed three scores in a four-drive span to conclude the game. That included an 80-yard touchdown scoring drive for Cleveland. Meanwhile, embattled young quarterback Justin Fields threw the game-ending interception. Chicago had an opportunity to remain somewhat alive in the NFC Playoff race heading into NFL Week 15. It comes out of Sunday’s action with a 5-9 record and questions being raised about what the future might bring.

Cleveland Browns: B

It wasn’t always pretty for Joe Flacco and the Browns Sunday against Chicago. The veteran quarterback was picked off three times in the game. He also found himself hit eight times and sacked a total of four times. But when the Browns needed it the most, Flacco did his thing. He completed 11-of-13 passes for 212 yards in the fourth quarter alone, leading Cleveland back from a 17-7 deficit to a 20-17 win. The team is now a shocking 9-5 on the season and firmly in the AFC Playoff picture. Insane stuff from Flacco and Co. late.

Washington Commanders: C-

nfl week 15 grades: washington commanders, los angeles rams
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

To say that Commanders head coach Ron Rivera is a dead man walking would be an understatement. He will be fired almost immediately after Washington’s miserable season comes to a conclusion. At the very least, Washington showed some fight in a 28-20 loss to the Rams. It scored 20 points in the second half with Jacoby Brissett coming in for a struggling Sam Howell. It still wasn’t enough for the Commanders to avoid losing for the 10th time in 12 games after a 2-0 start to the season.

Los Angeles Rams: B+

Sean McVay has to be considered a legitimate NFL Coach of the Year candidate for the Los Angeles Rams. What he has done with this team is extraordinary. The same thing can be said for Matthew Stafford, who completed 25-of-33 passes for 258 yards with two touchdowns and zero interceptions in an eight-point win over Washington. Stud young running back Kyren Williams also went off again for 152 yards on 27 attempts. It has Los Angeles at 7-7 on the season and very much alive in the NFC Playoff race.

San Francisco 49ers: B

nfl week 15 grades: san francisco 49ers
Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Brock Purdy and the 49ers’ offense gets an A+. Their defense? Well that’s a different story. This unit gave up a resounding 234 rushing yards in an otherwise easy 45-29 win over the lowly Cardinals. It must improve, starting next week against the Baltimore Ravens. As for Purdy, he completed 16-of-25 passes with four touchdowns. Fellow NFL MVP candidate Christian McCaffrey went off for 187 total yards and three touchdowns. San Francisco’s offense is next level right now, and it has this team looking like the Super Bowl favorites.

Arizona Cardinals C-

Kyler Murray wasted a great day for the Cardinals’ rushing attack on Sunday. He threw two ugly interceptions, including a pick-six into the hands of 49ers cornerback Charvarius Ward. That changed the complexion of the game with it tied at seven in the first quarter. Arizona’s poor defense also didn’t have an answer for Brock Purdy and Christian McCaffrey as the team fell to 3-11 on the season.

Dallas Cowboys: F

nfl week 15 grades: dallas cowboys, buffalo bills
Jamie Germano/Rochester Democrat and Chronicle / USA TODAY NETWORK

Ouch! Dallas entered NFL Week 15 having won five consecutive games. It was coming off a huge win over the division-rival Philadelphia Eagles. Everything seemed set up well for Dak Prescott and Co. to do their thing. It did not work out this way. Prescott struggled to the tune of 134 passing yards. Dallas’ defense was eaten alive by Buffalo’s ground attack (266 rushing yards) in what was an humiliating 31-10 loss. It also doesn’t get much easier this coming week against the Miami Dolphins.

Buffalo Bills: A

Shocking. A game that saw Josh Allen put up just seven completions and 94 yards also saw the Bills’ rushing attack go bananas. Stud young running back James Cook tallied 179 yards and a touchdown on 25 attempts. Ty Johnson added 54 more yards as Buffalo’s offensive line controlled the trenches in a 21-point beat down of the Cowboys. It was a must win for a Buffalo team who now heads into Week 16 tied with three other teams for the final two playoff spots in the AFC.

Baltimore Ravens: A

nfl week 15 grades; baltimore ravens, jacksonville jaguars
Corey Perrine/Florida Times-Unio / USA TODAY NETWORK

With Lamar Jackson (14-of-24 passing) struggling to an extent through the air Sunday night against Jacksonville, it was the Ravens’ rushing attack that came alive. Jackson (97 yards) spearheaded a running game that went for 251 yards on 42 attempts. The Ravens’ defense also took advantage of a mistake-filled Jaguars offense in what ended up being a 23-7 win. It has Baltimore as the No. 1 seed in the AFC at 11-3 heading into Christmas night’s huge matchup with the San Francisco 49ers.

Jacksonville Jaguars: F

Mistakes. Mistakes. More mistakes. In the first half alone Sunday night, Jacksonville missed two field goals and lost a fumble in the red zone. Trevor Lawrence also had a complete brain fart in what might be the best case study of clock mismangement late in the second quarter that took points off the board. The end result was a 16-point home loss to Baltimore. Just ugly stuff in Duval for NFL Week 15.

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