NFL Wrap-up: Week 15 North Divisions

The Packers' undefeated bid ends in Kansas City... wait, IN KANSAS CITY?!?!?

Nash Herringtonby Nash Herrington

For full NFL coverage of Week 15 check out our NFL Wrap Up page.

The perfect season ends, the Lions are making a late push, Cincinnati overcomes a poor game to remain in the mix for the wildcard and the whole AFC playoff picture could be determined by the Steelers' game on Monday Night Football in Week 15.

AFC North

Pittsburgh Steelers (10-3) The Steelers play the 49ers on Monday Night Football in San Francisco tonight at 8:30 pm ET.  If the Steelers win this game they will be the top seed in the AFC playoffs, if they lose this game they will be in the #5 slot and top wildcard spot.

Cincinnati Bengals  20
St. Louis Rams  13

Rookie receiver AJ Green caught 6 passes for 115 yards and eclipsed the 1,000 yard mark on the season as the Bengals keep their playoff hopes alive against the 2-12 Rams.  Penalties piled up on both sides (21 total penalties/210 yards) leading to missed opportunities and a score of only 6-6 until late in the 3rd quarter when running back Bernard Scott punched in a one yard touchdown to put Cincinnati up 13-6.  Cedric Benson would add a 4 yard touchdown in the 4th quarter to finish of the woeful Rams.  Benson ran the ball 22 times for 76 yards and a touchdown but had trouble hanging on to the ball fumbling 3 times but luckily none of those were recovered by St. Louis.  Green sprained his right shoulder during the game and it was obviously bothering him as the game went on but he told the media that it's only a "mild" sprain.  Green needs only 3 receiving yards to tie the Bengals rookie record set by Chris Collinsworth in 1981.

The win puts the Bengals at 8-6 and in possession of the #6 seed in the AFC playoffs after the Jets got pummeled by the Eagles.

Baltimore Ravens  14
San Diego Chargers  34

Maybe the Ravens got too used to only having to do the bare minimum.  After three consecutive wins where the opposing team averaged 8.7 points per game, the Ravens looked like they came into the game thinking they'd only need a few scores and that'd be it.  Unfortunately for them, the Chargers came out firing and put this game away early as even a 20 point victory seems like a closer game than the dumb-founded Ravens gave them.  Joe Flacco should have been re-named 'Check-down Charlie' as it seemed like every completion was thrown under ten yards just to let Ray Rice (9 receptions, 55 yards) and the rest of your receivers do the work.  On defense, the Ravens had no answer for the Chargers allowing 415 total yards on the night.  It looked like San Diego's defense had traded places with Baltimore's as the Ravens forced no turnovers (Chargers had 2 INTs), and didn't record a single sack on the night either (Chargers had 7 led by Antwan Barnes' 4).

The loss puts Baltimore at 10-4 and in a precarious situation.  If the Steelers can beat the 49ers, they have a soft schedule the rest of the way.  Meanwhile the Ravens play the Bengals in week 17 who may be fighting for their playoff lives.  As of right now, 10-4 has the Ravens at the top wildcard spot.

Cleveland Browns  17
Arizona Cardinals  20

The Browns fall in overtime, allowing the Cardinals to get their 3rd OT win after giving up a 17-7 lead going in to the 4th quarter.  Quarterback Seneca Wallace went 18/31 for 226 yards and a touchdown replacing the injured Colt McCoy.  Wallace's TD pass went to receiver Greg Little who had a breakout game catching 5 passes for 131 yards including the 76 yard touchdown strike from Wallace.  

The Browns fall to 4-10 as they once again fail to put away an opponent late.  As of today they are in line to get between the 4th and 6th pick in the 2012 draft.


NFC North

Seattle Seahawks  38
Chicago Bears  14

The downward spiral continues for the Mediocres of the Midway.  The bears continue their offensive struggles without Jay Cutler and Matt Forte, gaining only 221 yards of total offense.  Even though Chicago would go into halftime with a 14-7 lead, the second half was nothing short of a disaster as the Bears allowed Seattle to rattle off 31 consecutive points.  Quarterback Caleb Hanie went only 10/23 for 111 yards, 1 touchdown and threw 3 interceptions including 2 that were returned for touchdowns.  After running back Marion Barber gave away last weeks game against the Broncos, he split carries with Khalil Bell and was outplayed by the former UCLA Bruin as bell would have 108 yards of total offense and a touchdown.  Wide receiver Johnny Knox was carted off the field in the first quarter after being nearly bent in half during a 15 yard catch and run, he was taken out on a stretcher but did show full movement in his arms and legs.

This loss drops the Bears to 7-7 and while they are not mathematically out of the playoffs, it would take a minor miracle to get in.

New Orleans Saints  42
Minnesota Vikings  20

Not going to lie, I had to go back and add this game to the article because I completely forgot to write about this game.  That's how forgettable the Vikings are right now.  Minnesota's offense looked as bad as it has all season gaining only 207 total yards of offense despite averaging 5.8 yards per carry and their offensive line didn't give up a single sack on the day (huh?).  Rookie quarterback Christian Ponder only managed 120 yards on 14/31 passing and two touchdowns, both going to back up running back Toby Gerhart.  The Vikings defense looked like a pop warner team as they allowed Saints quarterback Drew Brees to go 32/40 for 412 yards and 5 touchdowns!

With the loss the Vikings maintain one of the worst records in the NFL at 2-12 which would have them in line for either the 2nd or 3rd pick in the 2012 draft.

Upset of the Week
Green Bay Packers  14
Kansas City Chiefs  19

WHAT?!?!?  This isn't possible, the Chiefs have been horrendous over the last six weeks only winning once against the bears in week 13, the Packers have been destroying all opponents with such ease this season that this game should have been a cake walk.  Well, Mercury Morris and the rest of the '72 dolphins can pop their champagne in celebration as the last undefeated team in the NFL loses an improbable game that has the sports world collectively scratching it's head.  Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers accounted for both of Green Bay's touchdowns (1 passing, 1 rushing) but only completed 17/35 passes, for those of you who failed math that's under 50% completion percentage.  The Packers defense allowed the Chiefs to gain 438 total yards of offense in quarterback Kyle Orton's first start as a Chief and their first game since firing former head coach Todd Haley last week.

The Packers are now 13-1 and have already clinched the top spot in the NFC playoffs, but this defense leaves them vulnerable heading into the post season.  Rodgers will need to get back to his early season form if this team wants to repeat as Super Bowl champs.

Game of the Week
Detroit Lions  28
Oakland Raiders  27

The Lions aren't supposed to be a clutch team, they aren't supposed to be winners either, just don't tell Matthew Stafford and Ndamukong Suh.  Stafford (29/52, 391 yards 4TD) was clutch at the end of this one.  After giving up a fumble that was returned for a touchdown to give Oakland a 14-27 lead, the Detroit quarterback would lead his team on a 71 yard drive to pull within six points and then with just over two minutes left in the game he marched the Lions 98 yards before connecting with receiver Calvin Johnson on a 6 yard TD strike with only 39 seconds remaining to take a one point lead.  Suh came up huge on the final play of the game, getting a hand on a 65 yard field goal attempt by Sebastian Janikowski as time expired.  Calvin Johnson did more than just catch the deciding score, the beast of a man many refer to as "Megatron" caught nine passes for 214 yards and two touchdowns, if him and Stafford keep up even half those numbers from here on out the rest of the NFC better be worried.

At 9-5, the Lions currently have the #6 spot in the NFC playoffs.  Don't be surprised if this is the latest team to make it into the playoffs with the last spot only to make a deep playoff run.

Co-Offensive Player of the Week

Matthew Stafford (Detroit QB) 29/52, 391 yards, 4 TDs
Calvin Johnson (Detroit WR) 9 catches, 214 yards, 2 TDs
Detroit's Dynamic Duo was dominant in the Lions' comeback victory over the Raiders that could all but clinch the wildcard.

Defensive Player of the Week
Chris Gocong (Cleveland LB) 7 solo tackles, 2 sacks
Gocong and the Browns' defense held the Cardinals in check for most of the game, sometimes stats don't translate into wins.

Division Standings
AFC North
Pittsburgh Steelers  10-3 (#2 seed and first round bye)
Baltimore Ravens  10-4 (#5 spot in the AFC playoffs)
Cincinnati Bengals  8-6 (#6 spot in the AFC playoffs)
Cleveland Browns  4-10

NFC North
Green Bay Packers  13-1 (Clinched #1 seed in the NFC)
Detroit Lions  8-6 (#6 spot in NFC playoffs)
Chicago Bears  7-7
Minnesota Vikings  2-12