One thing we learned about the Los Angeles Rams in Week 15

Week 15 of the NFL season proved the league will have some huge matchups between its top teams over the final weeks of the season. The Baltimore Ravens are the No. 1 seed in the AFC and are on a collision course with the San Francisco 49ers and Miami Dolphins over the next two weeks.

The Dallas Cowboys still can’t beat good teams consistently, but can prove the doubters wrong with upcoming matchups against the Dolphins and Detroit Lions. The Lions are still in the hunt for the No. 1 seed in the NFC, while the wild card races in both conferences are getting even better as the league heads into Christmas. 

What did we learn from each team after the Week 15 slate of games? These are trends to look out for as the regular season starts to wrap up. 

Pass rush just isn’t there: For the third consecutive game, the Cardinals failed to record a sack. They had just one quarterback hit in Sunday’s blowout loss to the 49ers, along with just 11 pressures. Arizona has only 29 pressures in the last three games with no sacks. There’s a reason why opposing quarterbacks have completed 69.3% of passes against the Cardinals with nine touchdowns to one interception and a 121.3 passer rating over the last three games. The pass rush was also flagged Sunday for a roughing the passer penalty. 

Offense is inconsistent because of quarterback and head coach: The offensive woes are as much on Arthur Smith as Desmond Ridder, but Ridder missing the easy throws and not being able to get the ball to his playmakers are a real problem. Now the Falcons are reportedly starting Taylor Heinicke in Week 16. There should be no reason Bijan Robinson should get seven carries (that’s on Smith) and Kyle Pitts and Drake London should get a combined five targets (that’s on both Smith and Ridder). Sunday’s red zone interception in the fourth quarter cost Atlanta the game, which can’t happen. The Falcons are mediocre thanks to these two. 

They still can run the ball at will: Even in Todd Monken’s offense that bolsters the passing game, the Ravens are still one of the most dynamic rushing teams in football. Sure, Lamar Jackson helps those numbers, but Ravens running backs had 154 yards and averaged 5.1 yards per carry in Sunday’s win. Doesn’t matter which running back the Ravens go to, that player will find a way to produce and move the chains. The Ravens lost Keaton Mitchell with a knee injury in the second half and still rushed for 204 yards and averaged 6.8 yards per carry in the final 30 minutes. Business as usual in Baltimore. 

James Cook is getting the ball more with Joe Brady calling plays: Cook had one of the best games for a running back this season, finishing with 221 scrimmage yards in two touchdowns in Buffalo’s blowout win. Cook had 25 carries for 179 yards (7.2 yards per carry) while also having two catches for 42 yards. In the four games with Brady as offensive coordinator, Cook is averaging 21 touches and 141 yards per game. The Bills have made it a priority to get Cook involved in the offense, which may be why the points per game has increased from to 26.2 to 29.3. Buffalo has also averaged 171.8 rushing yards per game since Brady started calling plays. 

Bryce Young leads valiant fourth-quarter comeback: There haven’t been many fourth-quarter comeback opportunities for Young because his team is usually getting blown out. Sunday was different and Young delivered in the pouring rain. Young led a 17-play, 90-yard drive in the final 7:35 with the Panthers trailing 7-6, going 5 of 5 for 69 yards on the winning possession. Young did fumble once in the game, but didn’t commit a turnover in a solid performance. If anything, he showed Carolina he can perform in the clutch. 

Montez Sweat is living up to his contract: The Bears needed a force in the pass rush and are getting that since trading a 2024 second-round pick for Sweat, who finished with a career-high 2.5 sacks in Sunday’s loss to the Browns. He also finished with five tackles, three quarterback hits, and six pressures. Since the Bears acquired Sweat, he’s tied for eighth in the NFL in sacks (six) and 12th in pressures (31). Sweat is tied for 15th in pressures (58) and tied for eighth in sacks (12.5) this year, the premier pass rusher the Bears paid for. 

Tee Higgins finally got going: Lost in Jake Browning’s incredible second-half comeback was the resurgent play of Higgins, who caught his first touchdown pass since Week 2 in Saturday’s victory. Higgins caught not one, but two, touchdown passes as he finished with four catches for 61 yards. Playing in just 10 of 14 games, Higgins has just 36 catches for 497 yards and four touchdowns, but significantly stepped up with the absence of Ja’Marr Chase (shoulder). The Bengals will need Higgins to be the No. 1 he’s capable of being down the stretch, especially with Chase expected to miss time.

They keep defying the odds: The Browns don’t have the look of a 9-5 football team at times, yet keep showing the resilience that will get them to the playoffs. Cleveland is 5-0 in games decided by three or fewer points (only the 2003 Panthers have a better record in a season) and are the only team with multiple wins this year trailing by 10-plus points in the fourth quarter. They’ve allowed an NFL-high 30 giveaways and 111 points off turnovers and have won games with four different quarterbacks. Somehow, the Browns are 9-5 and on the verge of going to the playoffs. Cleveland is the most resilient team in the NFL

Still not a good team on the road: The Cowboys struggled on the road against a team with a winning record. This shouldn’t come as a surprise given how this team preforms in the Dak Prescott era. Dallas averages just 21.7 points per game on the road to 39.9 at home, with their three road wins against the Giants, Chargers and Panthers — all teams under .500. The Cowboys also are just 1-3 against teams over .500, averaging 19.0 points per game to 35.5 points per game against teams under .500. The Cowboys need to prove they can beat good teams consistently, especially on the road. 

Defense showed signs of early-season struggles: The Broncos defense looked like that unit that allowed 36.2 points per game over the first five weeks of the year, allowing 42 points on 10 possessions in Saturday’s blowout defeat. The Lions scored touchdowns on six of their final seven possessions, marching down the field for 391 yards in that stretch. Of the five straight touchdown drives the Broncos gave up, each took less than 4:10 of clock time — showcasing how inefficient the defense was against the Lions offense. The Broncos will have to clean this up if they want to make the playoffs. 

Sam LaPorta may end up having the best rookie season ever for a TE: What LaPorta has accomplished in Year 1 has transformed the Lions offense, as he finished with a career-best three touchdown catches in Saturday’s blowout victory. LaPorta is the first rookie tight end with three touchdown catches in a game since 2013 and his nine receiving touchdowns are tied for third-most by a rookie tight end in NFL history. LaPorta has 71 catches for 758 yards and nine touchdowns on the season, the first rookie tight end with 700 receiving yards and seven receiving touchdowns in a season since John Mackey in 1963. LaPorta is rewriting the record books at this rate. 

They need Jaire Alexander back: Green Bay’s pass defense has desperately missed Alexander in the six games he’s missed with a shoulder injury. The Packers have allowed 1,387 passing yards (231.2 per game) and a 106.7 passer rating to opposing quarterbacks in Alexanders’ absence (30th in NFL). Baker Mayfield completed 22 of 28 passes for 281 yards and four touchdowns for a perfect 158.3 passer rating against the Alexander-less secondary on Sunday, a new low for the pass defense. Alexander wants to be fully healthy before taking the field again, even though he’s been limited in practice getting back to 100%. The Packers need him back as soon as possible. 

C.J. Stroud needs to return as soon as possible: Nothing against what Case Keenum was able to accomplish Sunday starting for Stroud, but Houston struggled to score points as the offense didn’t score a touchdown until 3:03 left in the fourth quarter. In the first three quarters, the Texans had only 206 yards and scored nine points. Keenum was 15 of 23 for 120 yards with an interception, averaging 5.2 yards per attempt. Playing a better team would have put Houston in a massive hole, which is why the Texans need Stroud in order to win the AFC South and make the playoffs. 

Backup RBs keep offense moving: Jonathan Taylor is out with a finger injury and Zack Moss left Saturday’s game with an arm injury. Didn’t even matter with Trey Sermon and Tyler Goodson, as the No. 3 and No. 4 running backs on the roster combined for 28 carries and 157 yards — an average of 5.6 yards per carry. Sermon had 17 carries for 88 yards while Goodson finished with 11 carries for 69 yards. Credit to the Colts offensive line and head coach Shane Steichen for keeping the offense going without Taylor and Moss, as the Colts averaged 5.0 yards per carry regardless. 

Trevor Lawrence fumbles are a major concern: Lawrence had two costly fumbles in Sunday’s loss to the Ravens, one was in the red zone and the other was deep in his own territory. Both mistakes gave the Ravens 10 points in the 23-7 win, as Baltimore capitalized on the miscues to put points on the board. Lawrence has the second-most fumbles among all NFL quarterbacks since 2021 with 31. The recent turnovers for Lawrence could be an affect of his ankle sprain, as he has five giveaways in his last two games (suffered the ankle sprain two games ago). Regardless, Lawrence has to take better care of the football.

Running backs were highly productive in Isiah Pacheco’s absence: Clyde Edwards-Helaire and Jerick McKinnon stepped up in the backfield with Pacheco out, even if the pair had 17 carries for 48 yards on the ground. The pair combined for seven catches for 83 yards and two touchdowns in the passing game, and McKinnon threw a touchdown pass. The running backs played a significant role in all three touchdowns, helping the Chiefs go 3 of 4 in goal-to-go situations. The offense has been inconsistent of late, so it needed the running backs to step up with Pacheco out. 

Young players stepped up in blowout: Credit to the Raiders’ young offensive players for significantly contributing in the 63-point output. Aidan O’Connell threw for four touchdowns in the first half, Zamir White had 85 yards from scrimmage and a touchdown and Michael Mayer had four catches for 39 yards and a score. Tre Tucker also had three catches for 59 yards and two touchdowns. With no Josh Jacobs and Kolton Miller in the lineup, the Raiders’ young players came up huge on a short week. This is a good glimpse of the future in a lost season. 

Lifeless performance sealed Brandon Staley’s fate: Wasn’t even past 9 a.m. on the West Coast when Staley was fired as Chargers head coach, less than 12 hours after his team was blown out by the Raiders on Thursday night. The Chargers were down 49-0 in the second half and 63-7 in the fourth quarter, looking like the worst team in football against a team that already canned its head coach a month ago. The Chargers ranked 31st in points per game allowed (24.8) and 29th in yards allowed per game (359.6) in Staley’s three seasons, and he came in with a defensive background. They had to end Staley’s tenure as head coach after Thursday’s performance. 

The good and bad of Kyren Williams: Since Williams returned to the lineup, the Rams offense has taken off. The Rams have not scored fewer than 28 points in any of his four starts, averaging 33.0 points per game. Williams has 89 carries for 417 yards and two rushing touchdowns in that stretch, averaging 4.7 yards per carry. He has four scrimmage touchdowns in those games. The bad came Sunday  with the two fumbles in a performance which Williams ran for 152 yards and a touchdown. The Rams aren’t concerned over the fumble issues yet, as the good is significantly outweighing the bad. The Rams are 3-1 since Williams returned, with the only loss coming in overtime. 

Jaylen Waddle is good too: Tyreek Hill’s pursuit of 2,000 receiving yards took a massive hit with him not playing, yet gave an opportunity for Waddle to light up a secondary. Against the Jets pass defense, Waddle finished with eight catches for 142 yards and a touchdown — including a 60-yard touchdown catch in the second quarter that broke the game open. Catching his first score since Oct. 29, Waddle has been heating up with 27 catches for 387 yards over the last four games (14.3 yards per catch). Waddle is a No. 1 wide receiver and showcased that with Hill unable to go this week. 

Nick Mullens is QB1 the rest of the year: The Vikings might have solved their quarterback conundrum for the rest of the year thanks to Mullens. Even with two first-half interceptions and missed red zone opportunities, Mullens finished 26 of 33 for 303 yards and two touchdowns (99.9 rating). He found Justin Jefferson, Jordan Addison and T.J. Hockenson often as the Vikings offense ended up with 424 yards. The Vikings offense has a pulse with Mullens, which is what they needed with facing the Lions two out of the final three weeks of the year. 

There’s a kicking problem: Every week New England’s anemic offense is discussed, but lost in the shuffle is how poor Chad Ryland has been in his rookie season. Ryland missed another field goal in Sunday’s loss, a 41-yard kick when the game was still 0-0 in the first quarter. A fourth-round pick is 12 of 19 on field goal attempts in his rookie campaign, as his 65% field goal conversion rate is 32nd out of 33 qualified kickers. His touchback percentage of 70.8% is 23rd in the NFL among qualified kickers. Ryland will get more time because of his draft status, but this appears to be a waste of a fourth-round pick by New England. 

Defense is heating up at right time: For the second consecutive week, the Saints defense played at a championship level. The Saints didn’t allow a touchdown for the second straight game, holding the Giants to just two field goals and six points. New Orleans allowed only 3.2 yards per play and 193 yards as the Giants were 2 of 16 on third down. The week prior, New Orleans held Carolina to 1 of 7 on fourth down and 3.8 yards per play. The defense is finally getting back to the level it played earlier in the year, no matter how weak the opponent’s offense is. Hard to allow just 12 points in a two-week stretch. 

The Tommy DeVito hype cools: DeVito led the Giants to three straight wins, but actually faced a defense that ranked in the top half of the league in yards per game allowed and in the top 15 in points per game allowed. DeVito was poor in the loss, going 20 of 34 for 177 yards and a 72.8 passer rating. Through the first three quarters, DeVito was 9 of 18 for 73 yards (60.6 rating) while being sacked five times as the Giants had just 101 yards of offense. DeVito has been fun to watch, but he’s certainly limited in his footwork and reading a defense consistently. The Saints defense showcased how he can grow and improve going forward. 

Robert Saleh may not be back: How many times can the Jets get embarrassed? Sunday was the 12th game with zero touchdowns under Saleh — four more than any other team since he became the head coach in 2021 (only John McKay has more, and he coached the expansion Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 1976). The offense had just 103 yards and averaged 1.9 yards per play with four giveaways while the defense was torched against a depleted Dolphins offense. Saleh has been on the hot seat for a while now, but the seat is getting warmer by the week. Aaron Rodgers shouldn’t save it either. 

James Bradberry may be cooked: Giving up the game-winning touchdown pass to Jaxon Smith-Njigba was just another sign of how poor Bradberry has been in coverage this year. Drew Lock was 7 of 8 for 116 yards with a touchdown when targeting Bradberry (118.8 rating). The Seahawks were targeting Bradberry over rookies Kelee Ringo and Eli Ricks, showcasing the major weakness in the Eagles secondary. Bradberry has allowed nine touchdown passes and has just one interception, with a 90.5 passer rating in coverage. Those numbers are abysmal and the Eagles can justify benching him. 

Jaylen Warren is not used enough: The Steelers may have been blown out by the Colts, but it wasn’t like they were down double digits the entire game. Pittsburgh was up 13-0 early and only trailed 21-13 after the Colts’ first possession in the third. Warren — the team’s best running back — finished with just 10 carries for 40 yards and had 15 touches on the day (68 yards from scrimmage). For an offense that’s struggling to move the ball, getting it to a dynamic player in space would be beneficial toward scoring points. The Steelers just look hapless and dazed on offense, not getting the ball to players who can move the chains. Warren included. 

Shoulder injury doesn’t affect Brock Purdy: The 49ers quarterback took a hard hit in the second quarter that involved leaving the game for a few plays before being diagnosed with a left shoulder stinger. The injury didn’t seem to affect Purdy, who threw for three touchdowns after returning from the medical tent. Purdy didn’t throw much in the second half despite the 49ers only being up eight at halftime. He went 4 of 8 for 117 yards with two touchdowns and no interceptions in the second half and a 135.4 passer rating. The 49ers limited Purdy after halftime, but he still found Christian McCaffrey and Deebo Samuel for big plays and touchdowns. Let’s see how Purdy progresses this week. 

Drew Lock made the throws when he had to make them: Lock’s overall numbers weren’t great (22 of 33, 208 yards, touchdown, 94.0 rating), but he was clutch in plenty of situations to get the Seahawks the win. Lock went 4 of 4 for 88 yards and a touchdown on third-and-10 and 5 of 10 for 92 yards on the game-winning drive that took 1:24 for Seattle to move down the field in the final two minutes. Lock had a 155.7 passer rating on third down and a 106.8 passer rating in the fourth quarter. Lock made the clutch throws and gave Seattle a much-needed win. They can win a game he starts. 

Chris Godwin finally got going: Whether it was facing a Packers secondary without Jaire Alexander or Darnell Savage, Godwin was able to have a huge game and catapult the Buccaneers offense. Godwin finished with 10 catches for 155 yards in the win, notching his first 100-yard game of the season. Godwin had more receiving yards on Sunday (155) than he did over the past four games (137). He still has 68 catches for 814 yards on the year, but only one touchdown. That’s the next aspect of his game the Buccaneers have to get going. 

Derrick Henry’s days may be numbered: Henry alluded to such after Sunday’s performance once the Titans were eliminated from postseason contention, after arguably a carer-worst performance. Henry finished with 16 carries for 9 yards and four catches for 1 yard — that’s 20 touches for 10 yards for those counting. Henry had the fewest scrimmage yards in a game since 1950 for any player who had 20 touches or more. He’s the first player to have 20 touches and fewer than 15 scrimmage yards in a game, averaging 0.5 yards per touch. Turning 30 in January and the Titans in the midst of a rebuild, these final three games appear to be Henry’s last in Tennessee. 

Does Jacoby Brissett get a chance to start?: Brissett gave the Commanders signs of life on Sunday after replacing Sam Howell early in the fourth quarter. Howell threw his league-leading 15th interception prior do being replaced for Brissett, who went 8 of 10 for 124 yards and two touchdowns (157.9 rating) in his two drives. The game was closer than it should have been because of Brissett, who outperformed Howell’s total passing yards for the game (102) in a quarter. Howell has six interceptions in his last four games two just two touchdowns, a passer rating of only 62.0 — the worst among 28 qualified quarterbacks (100 pass attempts). Will the Commanders sit Howell? They have an interesting decision looming. 



Week 15 of the NFL season showcased some exciting matchups between top teams, setting the stage for an intense final stretch of the regular season. The Baltimore Ravens, currently the No. 1 seed in the AFC, are set to face tough opponents in the San Francisco 49ers and Miami Dolphins. The Dallas Cowboys continue to struggle against strong teams, but upcoming games against the Dolphins and Detroit Lions provide an opportunity to prove their doubters wrong. The Detroit Lions are still in contention for the No. 1 seed in the NFC, while the wild card races in both conferences are heating up.

Some key takeaways from Week 15 include the Arizona Cardinals’ lack of pass rush, which has resulted in opposing quarterbacks having high completion percentages and passer ratings against them. The Atlanta Falcons’ inconsistent offense is attributed to both their quarterback and head coach, with missed throws and a lack of involvement for key playmakers. The Baltimore Ravens continue to excel in their rushing game, even with a dynamic passing offense. James Cook has become a key player for the Buffalo Bills, with offensive coordinator Joe Brady making it a priority to involve him in the offense. Bryce Young led a valiant fourth-quarter comeback for the Carolina Panthers, showcasing his ability to perform under pressure. Montez Sweat has been living up to his contract for the Chicago Bears, providing a much-needed boost to their pass rush. Tee Higgins had a standout performance for the Cincinnati Bengals, stepping up in the absence of Ja’Marr Chase. The Cleveland Browns have shown resilience throughout the season, winning close games and overcoming turnovers. The Dallas Cowboys continue to struggle against strong teams, particularly on the road. The Denver Broncos’ defense had a rough outing, allowing multiple touchdowns and struggling against the Detroit Lions’ offense. Sam LaPorta has had an impressive rookie season for the Detroit Lions, setting records for rookie tight ends. The Green Bay Packers’ pass defense has suffered in the absence of Jaire Alexander, allowing high passing yards and a perfect passer rating to opposing quarterbacks. Lastly, the Ohio State Buckeyes need C.J. Stroud to return as soon as possible, as they have struggled without their starting quarterback.

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