NFL Week 15 Preview: Lawrence’s Health Could Shape Top of AFC Playoff Race

Trevor Lawrence’s injury looked brutal during Jacksonville’s Week 13 Monday Night Football games against the Cincinnati Bengals. Lawrence angrily slammed his hand off the turf before being helped off the training staff. Initially, the thought was that Lawrence would be gone for a while.

However, Lawrence was able to turn around and make the start in Cleveland. The question after the game is, should he have played? Lawrence threw three interceptions, and Jacksonville lost to Cleveland, flailing to 8-5 on the season.

While the Jaguars stayed a game ahead in the AFC South race because the two teams behind them lost, Jacksonville’s hopes of catching Baltimore for the top seed seem grim. The Ravens will travel to Jacksonville this Sunday night for a game that will be the Jaguars’ last opportunity to make a run at the No. 1 seed.

Black sports news shows the Ravens had a remarkable overtime win over the Los Angeles Rams last week. Jackson threw a touchdown pass on third-and-17 late in the game to put Baltimore ahead. The Rams would then make a kick to force overtime. Baltimore won the game after a 76-yard punt return for a score by Tylan Wallace.

The Ravens have some breathing room for the top spot and won’t want to give it away.


Time to Panic in Detroit?



Curses, from the outside looking in, are ridiculous notions. Teams, fanbases, and executives look to the stars to pass the buck for failures, be they on a small or grand scale. But in the case of the Detroit Lions, there may be something there.

The Lions have dropped two of their past three games, each coming to division rivals that they beat earlier this season. Detroit is in position to win its first division crown since winning the NFC Central Division in 1993, and their recent play has opened the door for their struggling rivals. 

The Lions have struggled with turning the ball over and making mistakes on defense. Playing a hot Denver team Saturday will be another stiff test. After starting the season 0-3, Denver is now 7-6 and only a game behind the Kansas City Chiefs for first place, according to current sports news.


Steelers and Colts Have a Lot to Play For



The heat is on Pittsburgh coach Mike Tomlin. Consecutive losses to two-win opponents have Pittsburgh in a precarious spot for the playoffs. While the Steelers are still in line for a spot in the AFC Wild Card right now, they are a mess on offense.

Mitch Trubisky will still be starting at quarterback for Pittsburgh as Kenny Pickett heals from an ankle injury. But even with Pickett, the Steelers’ passing game has suffered all season and hasn’t created many big plays. The Indianapolis Colts would like to grab this win at home for a tiebreaker, as they are also in a hunt for a playoff bid.

The Colts still being in the playoff race is remarkable. Rookie quarterback Anthony Richardson looked good to start the season but was soon lost to injuries. Journeyman Gardner Minshew has stepped in and done enough to keep Indianapolis going.


Packers See Momentum Dissipate


Green Bay looked like a team that could challenge Detroit. After a rough stretch, the Packers had rallied the troops and won three straight games to reach 6-6 on the season. But a difficult last-second loss to the Giants last week leaves Green Bay in a difficult spot.

The Packers are below .500 but have games looming with Tampa Bay, Carolina, Minnesota, and Chicago to close the season. All of those games are winnable, but the Packers haven’t shown the consistency to guarantee anything.

Green Bay’s opponent Sunday, Tampa Bay, is in a similar spot. The Buccaneers picked up a season-defining win over Atlanta last Sunday. Thanks to the NFC South being the worst division in football, Tampa Bay’s two-game winning streak has put them in first place despite being 6-7 on the year.

The Buccaneers got the performance they needed from Baker Mayfield last time out. Mayfield wasn’t efficient; he only completed 48.3 percent of his passes, but did throw two touchdowns and didn’t turn the ball over.


Can Chiefs Pull Themselves Together?


Top sports news today shows this isn’t a typical New England team. The Patriots are 3-10 and likely headed for a top-five pick in next year’s draft. This Sunday, the Kansas City Chiefs need to remind themselves of what type of team they want to be. The Chiefs came unglued last week after a call didn’t go their way in a loss to the Buffalo Bills.

Kansas City quarterback Patrick Mahomes especially didn’t handle things well. He spiked his helmet after a touchdown was overturned due to wide receiver Kadarious Toney lining up incorrectly. The Chiefs have now lost two straight games and are only a game ahead of Denver for first place. Kansas City would like to right the ship before the playoffs start to make sure they get there.


Bengals Seek Third Straight Win


No Joe Burrow, no problem. Ok, that’s a major oversimplification. But backup quarterback Jake Browning has played above his head over the past two weeks to help Cincinnati win back-to-back games and move to 7-6 on the season.

The Bengals have an opportunity to win a third straight contest Sunday against the Vikings. Minnesota looked horrendous on offense last Sunday. That led to the Vikings pulling Josh Dobbs in favor of Nick Mullens. While Mullens wasn’t too much better, he made a few more plays to help Minnesota pick up a 3-0 victory.

Both teams are hanging on in the Wild Card chase and would like another win to cement their position in the postseason. Whichever team can be more consistent on offense should have the upper hand in this one.

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