Patriots, Bills, Packers, 49ers, Seahawks, can clinch playoffs berths in Week 15

As the NFL season winds down, the playoff picture starts to become clearer. At this point, the Ravens, Chiefs, and Saints have clinched playoff spots and going into Week 15, the Patriots, Bills, Packers, 49ers, and Seahawks hope to do the same.

Here are the playoff scenarios for Week 15 in the NFL:

AFC

CLINCHED:

Baltimore Ravens – playoff berth

Kansas City Chiefs – AFC West Division

BALTIMORE RAVENS (11-2) (vs. N.Y. Jets (5-8), Thursday, 8:20 PM ET, FOX/NFLN/Amazon)

Baltimore clinches AFC North division title with:

  1.   BAL win or tie OR

  2.   PIT loss or tie

Baltimore clinches a first-round bye with:

  1.    BAL win + NE loss OR

  2.    BAL win + KC loss or tie OR

  3.    BAL tie + KC loss

Baltimore clinches homefield advantage throughout AFC playoffs with:

1)     BAL win + NE loss + KC loss or tie

BUFFALO BILLS (9-4) (at Pittsburgh (8-5), Sunday, 8:20 PM ET, NBC)

Buffalo clinches playoff berth with:

  1. BUF win

NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS (10-3) (at Cincinnati (1-12), Sunday, 1:00 PM ET, CBS)

New England clinches playoff berth with:

  1. NE win or tie

NFC

CLINCHED:

New Orleans Saints – NFC South Division

GREEN BAY PACKERS (10-3) (vs. Chicago (7-6), Sunday, 1:00 PM ET, FOX)

Green Bay clinches playoff berth with:

  1. GB win + LAR loss or tie OR

  2. GB tie + LAR loss

SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS (11-2) (vs. Atlanta (4-9), Sunday, 4:25 PM ET, FOX)

San Francisco clinches playoff berth with:

  1. SF win or tie OR

  2. LAR loss or tie OR

  3. MIN loss + GB loss

SEATTLE SEAHAWKS (10-3) (at Carolina (5-8), Sunday, 1:00 PM ET, FOX)

Seattle clinches playoff berth with:

  1. SEA win + LAR loss or tie OR

  2. SEA win + MIN loss OR

  3. SEA win + GB loss + MIN tie OR

  4. SEA tie + LAR loss

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Week 15: Bills-Steelers flexed to Sunday Night Football

The NFL announced today scheduling changes for Week 15 on Sunday, December 15.

Buffalo at Pittsburgh has moved from 1:00 PM ET on CBS to 8:20 PM ET on NBC. Minnesota at Los Angeles Chargers has moved from 8:20 PM ET on NBC to 4:05 PM ET on CBS.

The following is the updated Week 15 schedule (all times ET):

Thursday, December 12, 2019

New York Jets at Baltimore Ravens

8:20 PM

FOX/NFLN/Amazon

Sunday, December 15, 2019

Seattle Seahawks at Carolina Panthers

1:00 PM

FOX

New England Patriots at Cincinnati Bengals

1:00 PM

CBS

Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Detroit Lions

1:00 PM

FOX

Chicago Bears at Green Bay Packers

1:00 PM

FOX

Denver Broncos at Kansas City Chiefs

1:00 PM

CBS

Miami Dolphins at New York Giants

1:00 PM

CBS

Houston Texans at Tennessee Titans

1:00 PM

CBS

Philadelphia Eagles at Washington Redskins

1:00 PM

FOX

Cleveland Browns at Arizona Cardinals

4:05 PM

CBS

Minnesota Vikings at Los Angeles Chargers

4:05 PM

CBS

Jacksonville Jaguars at Oakland Raiders

4:05 PM

CBS

Los Angeles Rams at Dallas Cowboys

4:25 PM

FOX

Atlanta Falcons at San Francisco 49ers

4:25 PM

FOX

Buffalo Bills at Pittsburgh Steelers

8:20 PM

NBC

Monday, December 16, 2019

Indianapolis Colts at New Orleans Saints

8:15 PM

ESPN

Bills’ Allen on Cowboys: ‘Our defense is going to have their hands full, so we have to do our part on offense’

The Buffalo Bills’ offense seems to be peaking at the right time. In their previous two games against Miami and Denver, Buffalo is averaging over 28 points per game and 424 yards of total offense. Their QB Josh Allen is playing well, and the running game has been very effective. The Bills had 168 yards on the ground against the Dolphins, and 244 yards rushing against the Broncos on Sunday.

On Thursday, the Bills travel to Dallas to face the Cowboys on Thanksgiving, and while the Cowboys’ offense struggled against the Patriots last Sunday, they have a lot of weapons, including QB Dak Prescott, RB Ezekiel Elliott, and WR Amari Cooper. With those weapons, the Bills’ offense may have to put up a good amount of points against Dallas.

“Obviously, they have some really good pieces on the offense over there,” Bills QB Josh Allen said on Tuesday. “I know Dak [Prescott] is playing extremely well, and they have a couple of receivers. They have the running back there too that’s an All-Pro guy. Our defense is going to have their hands full, so we have to do our part on offense. It’s a complimentary football game. We all have to execute in all three phases of the game.”

This is a big game for the Bills(8-3) for many reasons. Currently, Buffalo is the fifth-seeded team in the AFC, which is two games ahead of the sixth-seeded Steelers. A win against the Cowboys would put them in a good spot in terms of making the playoffs. Also, it’s a nationally televised game; however, according to Allen, he is not going to treat this game any differently.

“I don’t really think it’s different from any other game that we’ve played,” Allen said. “I really don’t know the logistics of what makes it a prime-time game or whatever. We’re going out there, and we’re playing football how we know how to play. I’m going to trust the game plan that we put in, and just try to play like we’ve been playing the last few weeks.

“They’re a tough defense, and they’re going to be doing some things that we have to look at and continue to game plan for. We’ll have to make some in-game adjustments, no doubt. It’s going to be a four-quarter battle with these guys, and we just have to stay on track and go out there and execute as best we can.”

Defeating the Cowboys on Thursday won’t be easy, especially with Dallas coming off a loss. Allen and the Bills will have their hands full, but based on the way the offense is playing right now, Buffalo might have the confidence to get it done. 

 

Gore on Josh Allen: ‘We have the right quarterback for this team’

Two trips to MetLife Stadium and two victories for the Buffalo Bills, as they defeated the Giants today 28-14 to start the season 2-0 and complete the sweep of the Jets and Giants. With the victory, the Bills are 2-0 for the first time since 2014.

The Bills got another solid game out of second-year QB Josh Allen, who completed 19 of 30 passes for 253 yards and one touchdown. Allen also scored a rushing touchdown in this contest, and when the Giants cut the lead to 21-14 in the fourth quarter, Allen led the Bills on a 13-play, 75-yard drive to put the game away.

15-year veteran RB Frank Gore, who signed with the Bills this past offseason and scored a rushing touchdown on Sunday, is convinced that Buffalo has the right man leading the way in Allen.

“I saw him last year,” Gore said after the game. “Just being here with him, he’s very competitive and very tough. We have the right quarterback for this team. I don’t care what the outside world says; I know we believe in him. I feel he can do anything on the field, and it showed today.”

It’s still early, and there is a lot of football left, but after two weeks, the Bills have a team that could sneak into the playoffs, especially with the defense that they have and the play of Allen.

Next week, the Bills have the 0-2 Bengals coming to town, and if they win that, they could be 3-0 when they host the Patriots in Week 4. That game could tell us a lot about the Bills in 2019. However, for now, the Bills can enjoy 2-0.

Lorenzo Carter, Giants’ defense want to be better against Buffalo

Lorenzo Carter this week wishes he had a professional basketball player’s opportunity for rapid redemption.

The second-year linebacker and the rest of his defensive teammates on the Giants were dissatisfied with their performance in the season-opening loss in Dallas last week. They are eager to show they are capable of much better when the team plays its home opener tomorrow against the Buffalo Bills, whose quarterback is the mobile Josh Allen. But the seven days between games seem like an eternity.

“A lot of guys, we talk,” Carter said. “In the NBA, if they have a bad game, the next day they can go out there and play again. For us, we have a whole week to sit, let it marinate, watch film and soul search. I think that’s what we’ve been doing this week. We came out and worked hard this week in practice. Now we’re just getting ready to come out and get that taste out of our mouths. Everybody is ready to get that taste out of their mouths.”

Their performance will determine if they’re successful. While the run defense was strong against the Cowboys (who averaged just 3.0 yards a carry and did not have a run longer than 10 yards in 30 attempts), both the front and back ends of the pass defense were lacking. The D never did sack quarterback Dak Prescott and rarely pressured him, getting credited for just two hits. And the secondary had too many coverage breakdowns, resulting in seven completions for more than 20 yards, including gains of 62, 45 and 36 yards that weren’t touchdowns.

“We did not play, number one, as well as we expected to play and, number two, as well as we are capable of playing,” defensive coordinator James Bettcher said.

“I think everybody is looking for the same answer, how are we going to get more pressure on the quarterback?’ outside linebackers coach Mike Dawson said. “Obviously, have to make him uncomfortable, we have to get the ball coming out faster, and we have to make him throw it under duress when he is going to throw it. Ultimately, we need to sack the quarterback when we get there. Something I think all the guys are hungry to get fixed, hungry to get answered, they came out and trained hard this week. We have to do a great job. Guys that can move, you have to have a good aiming point and good plan on those guys to be able to get to them.”

Perhaps the most critical question facing the defense entering the season was where the pass rush would come from. The players most often mentioned as potential suppliers of that valuable commodity were veteran linebacker Markus Golden, rookies Oshane Ximines and Dexter Lawrence and Carter. The quartet combined for five tackles (two solo) and one hit on Prescott (by Carter).

“We were disappointed, of course,” Carter said. “But it’s just on to the next week. There’s nothing you can really do about last week but watch the film, evaluate it and then just get ready for this week. We’re going to keep going.”

“When it comes down to whether you pressure (with extra players) or you four-man rush, it comes down to winning one-on-ones,” Bettcher said. “We have to do a better job of winning one-on-ones. I think coming out of Week 1 in terms of that specifically, you don’t sit back and say, ‘I’m surprised, I can’t believe this, I can’t believe that.’ I don’t live in that world. I look at it as here’s something we have to get better at, let’s go work to get better at it. We’re running to things, we aren’t running from them. We need to attack what the problem was and go work to correct the problem. Not just say we need to rush the quarterback better? The truth is how do you rush the passer better. What fundamentals and techniques do we need to improve with specifically with what guys and players.”

The same question could be asked about the secondary. Dallas’ strategy was to have Prescott throw the ball away from the Giants’ top cornerback, Janoris Jenkins, and toward the young corners on the opposite side, Antonio Hamilton (who started and played 36 snaps) and first-round draft choice DeAndre Baker (31 snaps). Prescott completed 25 of 33 passes for 405 yards and four touchdowns for a perfect 158.3 passer rating and was named NFC Offensive Player of the Week.

“It didn’t shake us,” said free safety Antoine Bethea. “It wasn’t the outing we wanted. We have to put the work in this week (to correct it).”

“It’s an opportunity for me to bounce back and show what I can do,” Baker said. “Show that I can fight through adversity. It’s not the best game that I wanted to have, but I can now bounce back and show what I can do.”

Coach Pat Shurmur and Bettcher all but announced changes are coming there for the Bills game.

“You can expect the young guys to play, just like they did the other night,” Shurmur said. “We’ll see how much. The rotation on that player (Hamilton) and maybe a couple others may change on defense.”

“We have to play better at that spot, we have to tackle better at that spot,” Bettcher said. “I think that’s what it came down to, some missed tackles at that position. Bake’s going to get a chance to play there and you’ll see Ham in situations and we will go from there. I think the plan will reveal itself like it did last week on Sunday. We just have to play better at the spot, just with the little things, it’s not about ability, it’s not what the guys are capable of doing, they just need to execute things that they know.”

The Giants’ secondary is an interesting blend of young players like Baker, Hamilton, Grant Haley and third-year strong safety starter Jabrill Peppers, and veterans Bethea (a 14-year pro), Jenkins (eighth season) and Michael Thomas (sixth). Every defensive back gives up big plays at some point. After a rough opening week, the more experienced players are schooling the youngster in letting those plays go and moving on.

“Just understand that this is the NFL,” Thomas said. “You have to continue to put in the work. The good thing about it for them is not just individuals, but teams make the biggest improvement from Week 1 to Week 2. Now you see it’s not like the preseason. You can have a great week of practice, but the results might not always be there. Come in, communicate way better than you did last week, run to the ball way better than you did last week, better than you’ve ever done before, and execute way better than you did last week. That’s going to give you a chance to have success.”

“You have to have a short-term memory when you’re playing cornerback,” Jenkins said. “You have to understand that you’re going to make plays, and you’re going to have plays made on you, because I get paid just as well as they get paid. You can’t go out there thinking, ‘Oh I’m going to knock every ball down, I’m going to stop every completion.’ Just go out there and play football. Understand that whatever happens between the snap, it happened. After the snap, (move on to the) next play. That’s all that matters.

“I’m going to tell them (Baker and Hamilton) that every day. Every day until they understand. Until they learn that it’s next play because they have to understand, like I said, they get paid just as well as we get paid. Everybody in the NFL is the best at what they do. You can’t go out there thinking this and thinking that. If you get beat, you line up on the next play and win the next matchup.”

The Giants’ defensive backs intend to do that tomorrow. It’s just too bad they have to wait a week for redemption.

Courtesy: Michael Eisen

 

Bills GM Brandon Beane: ‘We want to be more competitive’

With the start of the NFL season just days away, many teams around the league are excited about the possibilities, including the Buffalo Bills.

Last season, the Bills started slow, 3-7 after ten games, and finished decently at 3-3, to end the season at 6-10. It was not a great season, but the Bills seem to have found their QB in Josh Allen.

Bills GM Brandon Beane likes the progress that this team has made, and he hopes they can build on it in 2019.

“Yeah, we want to show growth in a lot of areas,” Beane recently said. “Last year our defense probably carried our team, we weren’t good enough in offense or special teams. I think you saw a lot of the moves that we’ve made this offseason, whether it was draft or free agency, was to improve and try and if our defense was here, and those two were here, try to close the gap. And so I think a lot of that, wins and losses are, we know, what Sean [McDermott] and I get judged on but sometimes there’s adverse situations that happened in the year.

“So, it would never do me justice to give you; I expect this number of wins. But, we want to be more competitive. We want our offense to win some more games for and not have to put too much on the defense. We want to be a balanced team. We want our special teams to improve and control, win the field position game. There’s a lot of factors, what’s our red zone, how’s our red-zone defense, how’s our red zone efficiency on offense. Where are our turnovers, is our team winning the turnover battle. Those things that, generally Monday morning you can point to, and this is why you won the game, or this is why you lost the game. If you win enough of those, I think the wind total will be where you want it at the end of the season.”

Buffalo has a chance, especially if Allen is who they expect him to be. In reality, the AFC East is not one of the better divisions in football. The Jets are the Jets, the Dolphins don’t have a quarterback, and while the defending champion Patriots still have Tom Brady,  they will probably miss TE Rob Gronkowski.

Defensively, Buffalo still should be a formidable unit, but as stated by Beane, the offense must bring more to the table, and that falls on Allen. First, he must stay healthy, and next, he must continue to improve as a passer. Anything is possible for the Bills but expect somewhere around 8-8 for this team in 2019.

Bills GM Beane on McCoy: ‘He’s probably a Hall of Fame player’

In a shocking move, the Buffalo Bills released RB LeSean McCoy on Saturday. The six-time Pro Bowler had spent the past four seasons with the Bills.

Now, according to reports, the 31-year-old McCoy will sign a one-year deal with the Kansas City Chiefs. With the move, McCoy reunites with his former coach in Philadelphia, Andy Reid.

On Sunday, Bills GM Brandon Beane, who made the decision to release McCoy, gave his thoughts on Shady to the Chiefs.

“I mean he’s probably a Hall of Fame player, right there at it and I think that’s a great fit for him,” Beane said. “Not knowing everything but knowing coach Reid and I know Brett Veach, the GM, and he had a past relationship. Wish him the best. He’s going into a team that, I know they have a lot of high expectations and I’m sure he’ll be a great addition to what they’re doing. We truly wish him the best unless we play him.”

McCoy to the Chiefs seems like a perfect fit for both parties. However, with running backs Damien Williams and Darwin Thompson in the mix, it should be interesting to see how McCoy will be utilized, and while McCoy did not put up big numbers(514 yards, which was a career-low) last season for the Bills, he will be running behind a better offensive line in Kansas City. Additionally, he will be surrounded by some big-time players in Patrick Mahomes, Tyreek Hill, and Travis Kelce.

Furthermore, McCoy will get an opportunity to win a ring, which was not going to happen in Buffalo this season. End of the day, getting released by the Bills was probably the best thing that happened to him.

Regarding McCoy as a Hall of Famer, he has over 10k yards rushing yards and 69 touchdowns on the ground at this point, and if he plays at a decent level, he will probably end his career with around 13-14k rushing yards and around 80-plus touchdowns, which would probably be enough to get him into the Hall.

Bills’ McDermott discusses the signing of Captain Munnerlyn

On Sunday, the Buffalo Bills announced that they signed CB Captain Munnerlyn. The 10-year veteran spent last season with the Carolina Panthers, and in 16 games, Munnerlyn had one interception, and nine passes defended.

McDermott and Munnerlyn have a little history as they were together in Carolina when McDermott was the DC for the Panthers.

One of the reasons the Bills signed Munnerlyn, was due to the groin injury suffered by E.J. Gaines, who the team put on injured reserve today.

Here is what McDermott had to say about the signing of Munnerlyn:

Q: What does Captain Munnerlyn bring to the defensive end?

Sean McDermott: It’s been a few years now since the last time we worked together but what I remember is the competitiveness, the toughness, he’s obviously played in the system before so he has some familiarity with our system both inside the slot and out at corner. We will see how he does and how he progresses here, he’s been out of it for a little bit so he has to be put back in shape.

Q: Do you think he is going to be your nickelback in the outside corner?

Sean McDermott: We’ll see, that’s where he played probably more so in the course of the past four of five years. Again, we just want to get him acclimated to what we do and his new surroundings, new teammates and we will take it one day at a time.

Q: What do you see when you see film of Captain and how similar is your defense here as to what he has been accustomed to in Carolina?

Sean McDermott: With defense, I like to believe it evolves every year and stays current with the trends and what not. That said, there’s a core that is probably about the same as to what he knew back when we worked together in Carolina. Like I said before, in respect to Captain, the things that jump out even when we watched him play on TV last year maybe was the competitiveness and all that hasn’t changed. I think that’s in his DNA.

Q: Captain posted a picture of you two together saying “let’s get it coach.” Are you excited about your relationship going back to how it was in Carolina?

Sean McDermott: Hopefully that was a good picture. We’ve stayed in touch and in this job players come and go, coaches come and go and that’s the hard part of the job. The satisfying parts of the job are moments like that where you can stay in touch with players. It’s gratifying as a coach. In this case where I moved on to here from some of the players that I coached at Carolina and Philadelphia, my two previous stops and that’s the neat part about it, the relationships that you are able to form over the year. It’s neat that now we are with Kurt [Coleman] and some of the other players. It doesn’t always happen for it to come back full circle to where we can work together again but it’s satisfying.

Eric Wood returns to Buffalo as radio color commentator

As announced this afternoon, Eric Wood has re-joined the Buffalo Bills organization as a member of the Media Content Team. Wood will serve as radio color commentator alongside John Murphy for Bills game broadcasts on WGR Sports Radio 550 and Entercom’s Bills Radio Network. He will also regularly contribute content to One Bills Live and all Bills media and content platforms. 

“I consider myself extremely fortunate to have spent my entire NFL career with the Buffalo Bills,” the former Pro Bowl center said. “Buffalo’s community, fans and organization are incredibly special to me and I am very proud to begin my broadcasting career with the people who provided so much support for so many years.” 

Wood originally joined the Bills as a first-round pick in 2009 and became the team’s starting center during the 2010 season. He spent nine seasons anchoring the Bills offensive line, starting a total of 120 games and earning a Pro Bowl selection in 2015. He was the team’s nominee for the NFL’s Walter Payton Man of the Year Award in 2015 and 2016.

Wood replaces Mark Kelso as Bills color commentator, who has decided to step away from broadcasting after 13 years to focus more on his role with NASCAR racing team JTG Daugherty Racing. Pegula Sports & Entertainment and the Buffalo Bills sincerely thank Kelso for his contributions and service.

 

McDermott on Derek Anderson: ‘He brought a lot of wisdom to our team and the quarterback room’

After 14 seasons in the NFL, quarterback Derek Anderson has decided to call it quits. The 35-year-old Anderson two games for the Bills in 2018. He was 0-2 in those two starts. Anderson was signed by the Bills in October to replace the injured Josh Allen.

In December, Anderson signed a one-year contract extension with Buffalo and was expected to play in 2019, but he decided to retire, and according to Bills head coach, Sean McDermott, the team was not surprised.

“Yeah, I would say we knew about it as we started our off-season program. Probably a week or two before,” McDermott said about Anderson this week. “At the end of the day, we respect Derek’s decision. He’s been nothing but a joy to work with, all the way back to my time in Carolina and he provided a lot of value last year, not only on the field but off the field as well. He brought a lot of wisdom to our team and the quarterback room, in particular.”

Anderson best year was 2007 when he started 15 games for the Browns and made the Pro Bowl. In that season, Anderson had career-highs in passing yards and touchdown passes.

Expect Matt Barkley, who signed a two-year extension with Buffalo last season, to be the backup in Buffalo next season.