Week 15 of the 2021 NFL season is officially in the books. The Lions stunned the Cardinals as two-touchdown underdogs. The Packers (barely) edged the Ravens by standing tall on a two-point try. The Dolphins beat the Jets to claim their sixth straight ... and that was just a fraction of the action from this week.
But what did we learn about each of the 32 teams in the process? We're so glad you asked. As Week 16 draws near, we take a look below at one thing we took away from each team:
They're in danger of a collapse. They've gone 3-4 since Week 8, lost two straight and are without DeAndre Hopkins indefinitely. Up next: the Colts, Cowboys and Seahawks -- all of whom have every reason to fight to the finish line.
Red-zone woes ended their season. Zero points on three trips inside the 49ers' 10-yard line wasn't gonna cut it. And now they're on the outside of the wild card race looking in.
Tyler Huntley has some juice. No one's trading Lamar Jackson's athleticism for the second-year backup, but good for him putting Baltimore in a position to beat the Packers on a big stage.
So they can run the ball. Devin Singletary got a full workload against the Panthers and delivered, taking the burden off Josh Allen. Buffalo still has problems stopping the run, but this is a step in the right direction.
Cam Newton won't return in 2022. Just a hunch. Newton's still bringing it on the ground, but you can't throw the ball the way he has this year and, frankly, for a half-decade now (very inaccurately) and expect to stick around.
Matt Nagy should be thankful for his defense. Otherwise the Bears would've never been in that Vikings game on Monday night. Way too many situational blunders. The playoffs are now out the window, too (as long forecast).
Zac Taylor is growing as a decision-maker. His decision to trust the Bengals' defense against Denver late in Sunday's close win paid off. Cincy is refusing to bow out in the North because Taylor's guys have been feisty all year.
They can still make noise down the stretch. They needed a win against Vegas, but considering Nick Mullens started at QB and literally a dozen-plus other players couldn't go, they showed a lot of fight.
The defense is carrying them. Kind of like the Chiefs earlier this year, Dallas has gone from offensive juggernaut to defensive terror. Can Dak Prescott return to form for the playoff run, though?
A QB reset is coming. Drew Lock got a chance at redemption replacing the injured Teddy Bridgewater against the Bengals, only to cough up the ball in crunch time. Let's see what George Paton has in store in 2022.
Craig Reynolds deserves a role. Make that two straight big games for the former undrafted running back, who started for the injured D'Andre Swift against Arizona. He ran loose against the Cardinals to drive a major upset.
Green Bay Packers
Aaron Rodgers is the MVP front-runner. Their defense needs fine-tuning if they want to retain and capitalize on the NFC's No. 1 seed. But A-Rod is playing some of the best ball of his season, which has been stellar ever since Week 2.
Davis Mills is playing his way into a 2022 competition. Houston will explore the QB market regardless, but give the rookie credit for hanging in there on a bad team. His big plays helped the Texans rout the Jaguars and a far superior QB prospect.
Jonathan Taylor will definitely be in the MVP race. It's long been a nice thought, but now it's reality. Indy is 8-0 when he tops 100 yards on the ground, and not because they're feeding him in garbage time; he runs their offense.
Their top priority in 2022: weapons. James Robinson has gotten plenty of support from teammates, but Trevor Lawrence badly needs more play-makers at his disposal. James O'Shaughnessy should not be leading you in yards.
Kansas City Chiefs
Travis Kelce is Hall of Fame-bound. His monster performance on Thursday night to help the Chiefs top the Chargers was a prime-time reminder that he brings No. 1 receiver fight and athleticism to the tight end spot.
Las Vegas Raiders
Derek Carr is as mercurial as they come. This guy runs so hot and cold, and he does it in the same game sometimes, as evidenced by his late collapse/redemption against Cleveland. Good for him, coming out on top this time.
Los Angeles Chargers
They live and die with Brandon Staley's calls. The fourth-down aggression comes in handy (and is often smart), but it's also robbed them of points in tight games. Maybe more concerning: Staley's defense.
Los Angeles Rams
Their defensive front is coming to life. When Aaron Donald and Von Miller and Leonard Floyd can work in tandem, as they did pursuing Russell Wilson on Tuesday, this defense has the power to help drive them on a deep run.
Brian Flores' defense is on fire. Tua Tagovailoa gets all the headlines for both his good and bad, and Duke Johnson came out of nowhere with a big day, but Miami's "D," with six sacks, was the real reason they won their sixth straight.
D.J. Wonnum may have kept their season alive. The rest of the defense stepped up, too, but three sacks against the Bears really set the tone for a Minnesota "D" that's been beaten up this year but carried the squad on Monday night.
New England Patriots
They can't afford multiple turnovers. Mac Jones and their run-heavy offense are built to win by controlling the clock and leaning on the defense. Jones' two picks, coupled with a blocked punt, doomed them against the Colts.
New Orleans Saints
Dennis Allen saved their playoff lives. Not just because he filled in for Sean Payton against the Bucs, but because his defense carried them the entire way in a 9-0 shutout of Tom Brady.
New York Giants
It's Jake Fromm time. Joe Judge said he'll give consideration to starting the former Bills backup over Mike Glennon, and why not? Without Daniel Jones and in their current setup, they have nothing to lose.
New York Jets
The offensive line is in for a makeover. Zach Wilson went down six times behind his battered front against Miami. The Dolphins have a good "D," but Joe Douglas isn't one to sit on his hands when it comes to the trenches.
They just might be built to surprise in January. Why? Because the things they do best -- run the ball and stop the run -- come in handy this time of year. Their resilience against Washington puts them back in the wild card race.
Their defense is still getting better. Credit Joe Haden, who had his hand in several impact plays during his first game back, and weekly terror T.J. Watt, who's now up to 17 sacks on the year. If only their offense can figure things out ...
San Francisco 49ers
Their rushing attack is the deepest in the NFL. Just think about how many guys Kyle Shanahan has successfully leaned on out of the backfield this year: Elijah Mitchell, Deebo Samuel, Jeff Wilson Jr. And it's working.
That's all for this year. Their long-shot path to a wild card run took a huge hit with the loss to the Rams on Tuesday. Russell Wilson, unfortunately, was off the mark in some key spots, too.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
The No. 1 seed is slipping out of reach. Not just because they fell to the Saints in a key divisional rematch, but because Leonard Fournette, Mike Evans and Chris Godwin were all banged up in the process.
Ryan Tannehill looks defeated. And you can understand why, considering the dents to his supporting cast this year. But he's had too many untimely mistakes, including a fumble in a bad spot to help seal the Titans' loss to Pittsburgh.
Washington Football Team
They're done. Ron Rivera's defense got gashed against the run all night, and while they showed fight on occasion against the Eagles, they've still got way too many COVID and injury issues to trust moving forward.
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