Fri. Jul 19th, 2024

With most of Week 15 in the books, here’s a look at the winners for the week:  

Christian McCaffrey, San Francisco 49ers running back: After victimizing the Arizona Cardinals for four total TDs in their first meeting, McCaffrey had one heck of an encore on Sunday. The Niners stomped the division rival, 45-29, with McCaffrey leading the charge backed by an impressive stat line. 

Naturally, he was dangerous in the running and passing game, recording 115 rushing yards (18 carries) and 72 receiving yards (five catches) with three touchdowns. According to ESPN Stats and Info, McCaffrey’s seven TDs versus the Cardinals is the most by a player in a single season against one team in the Super Bowl era (1967). 

Leading the league in all-purpose yards (1,801), McCaffrey has emerged as an MVP candidate alongside QB Brock Purdy. However, speaking with reporters after the game, Purdy said, “I think Christian should be MVP.” 

Entering Week 15, McCaffrey (+2500) was a distant underdog in the MVP race behind Purdy (-150), the overwhelming favorite, per Oddschecker. Following his performance Sunday, his chances should be on the rise. 

Detroit Lions: The Lions turned things around in Week 15, improving to 10-4 following a dominant 42-17 drubbing of the Denver Broncos (7-7).

The defense shut out the Broncos in the first half and held an opponent to under 26 points and 300 yards of offense for the first time since Week 8. Conversely, the offense got back on track behind Jared Goff, who joined Matthew Stafford (2015) as the second Lions QB in history to throw for five touchdowns in a game without an interception. Meanwhile, TE Sam LaPorta and RB Jahmyr Gibbs became the first rookies since 1970 to combine for five TDs in a game, per Elias Sports Bureau.  

After struggling recently, it’s safe to say the Lions righted the ship against the Broncos. They own a three-game lead atop the NFC North with three games to go, meaning the team’s first division title since 1993 is within their grasp. 

Joe Flacco, Cleveland Browns QB: Flacco’s magic continued for another week in a 20-17 win over the Bears (5-9). Late in the game, the 38-year-old orchestrated a nine-play, 63-yard game-winning field goal drive to help Cleveland win their second straight. 

Despite throwing three interceptions, Flacco stepped up when it mattered most. With the Browns trailing 17-7 through three quarters, he led the Browns to 13 points while throwing for 212 of his 374 yards in the final stanza. According to John Breech of CBS Sports, that’s the most yards thrown by a Browns QB in any quarter since at least 1991. 

Thanks to Flacco, the Browns are 9-5, smack dab in the middle of the AFC playoff picture, and surprisingly, they are still alive for the division title, too.

Buffalo Bills offensive line: In a 31-10 trouncing of the Dallas Cowboys, the Bills did what they wanted up front against a unit only a week removed from holding the Philadelphia Eagles offense to two field goals. The O-line provided plenty of push, allowing the Bills to run the football at will. 

Bills RB James Cook easily had the best game of his career. Cook ran for 179 yards off 25 carries (7.2 YPA) with a TD on the ground while also impacting the passing game, finishing with two catches for 42 yards and a score. As a team, Buffalo rushed for 266 yards, with QB Josh Allen (24 yards, TD) and backfield mates Ty Johnson (54 yards) and Latavius Murray (11 yards, TD) combining for 89 yards and two TDs. 

With the line tightening up, the 7-6 Bills have won two straight and three of their last four. Finally shaping up into the contender everyone expected, they’re becoming a scarier playoff draw as the weeks go by. 

Jake Browning, Cincinnati Bengals QB: Revenge is sweet. Cut by the Minnesota Vikings three times between 2019 and 2021, Browning returned to haunt his former squad in a 27-24 overtime win on Saturday. 

Browning admitted that there was a “little bit more” added motivation this week, which showed. The career backup finished 20-of-42 for 324 yards with two TDs and an interception, directing a come-from-behind win, including a game-tying TD drive with 39 seconds left to force extra time. 

After losing Joe Burrow to a season-ending knee injury, many wrote off the Bengals. However, with Browning in command, they’re 8-6, firmly entrenched in the AFC postseason mix. 

Miami Dolphins: Behind an impressive all-around effort, the Dolphins kept their first-place cushion in the AFC East after a 30-0 win over the New York Jets. 

Playing without electric wideout Tyreek Hill due to injury, QB Tua Tagovailoa and company didn’t miss a beat facing off against the NFL’s second-ranked passing defense. Tagovailoa had a near-perfect day, finishing 21-of-24 for 224 yards (9.3 YPC) and a touchdown, while receiver Jaylen Waddle picked up the slack, catching eight of nine targets for 142 yards (17.8 YPC) and a score. Likewise, RB Raheem Mostert had a big game, rushing for 42 yards (15 carries) and finding the endzone twice to set the franchise single-season record for rushing TDs with 18. 

On the defensive side, Miami was relentless against the Jets, coming away with six sacks, two fumbles and two interceptions while posting a shutout. 

The Dolphins are 10-4 for the first time since 2000 and control their destiny with three challenging games ahead against the Cowboys, Baltimore Ravens and Bills. 

Baker Mayfield, Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback: An opposing QB rarely enters historic Lambeau Field and makes history, but that’s precisely what Mayfield did on Sunday. Thanks to a highly efficient outing, he became the first visiting player to leave with a perfect passer rating (158.3). Per Jenna Laine of ESPN, he joins former Packer Aaron Rodgers as the only home or away quarterback to do it. 

In a must-win game, Mayfield went off in a 34-20 win over the Green Bay Packers, going 22-of-28 for 381 yards (13.6 YPC) with four touchdowns and zero interceptions. 

Winning the NFC South might feel like a dubious honor. However, at 7-7 with three games left, Mayfield has the Bucs in the driver’s seat to take the crown. 

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The post Week 15 winners: 49ers RB Christian McCaffrey puts himself in MVP conversation appeared first on WorldNewsEra.

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