Perspective | What to know from NFL Week 15: Trevor Lawrence is up, Bill Belichick is up


NFL Week 15 was an action flick with a massive budget and a director with a flair for free set pieces. It was a week of huge plays that have rarely been seen before. Too acidy side return for a touchdown? A common objection among his colleagues, one of whom was flying out of bounds? A tour of the Pick-States to be crowned with 17 return points? They’ll never believe it, but the audience will love it.

Trevor Lawrence is what we thought he was. As a junior, Lawrence was an innocent passenger on the Urban Meyer train wreck. In the first half of this season, he showed only slight progress. Over the past month, though, Lawrence has been starting to make good on the promise that has made him a projected quarterback taken first in the draft since he was in high school. Lawrence Rocket in its full launch.

His recent performance indicates that the Jacksonville Jaguars may soon be hiring one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL. In a 40-34 overtime victory over the Dallas Cowboys, Lawrence erased a 17-point deficit, nailed a last-minute field goal to force overtime and passed for 318 yards and four touchdowns. Lawrence has exceeded 300 yards in three of his past four games, demonstrating complete control of the offense and tremendous physical talent.

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The Jaguars won on one of the many wild plays of the day, when Rayshawn Jenkins gave up a slash pass and returned it 52 yards on a small run, which Jenkins added to his 18 tackles. The Jaguars have won three of four, all of those wins coming against teams in the playoff picture.

Their run meant Lawrence could finish his breakout on a bigger stage. When the Tennessee Titans lost to the Los Angeles Chargers to 7-7, it meant that the Jaguars, even at 6-8, were in control of their playoff destiny. They finished at the New York Jets, at the Houston Texans and home to the Titans in a game that could decide the AFC South. If the Jaguars win all three, they win the division.

Bill Belichick may not own it anymore. The most shocking game of the season, the kind of play New England never had under Belichick, may keep the Patriots out of the playoffs and cement just how far the greatest coach in football history has fallen.

Tied with the Las Vegas Raiders, the Patriots had the ball at their own 45-yard line with three seconds remaining, and had no options but to try a Hail Mary or the clock ran out for overtime. Ramondry Stephenson took a handoff and found space down the right sideline before tipping over to Jacoby Myers, who was out of his mind. Myers ran back, scouted the field and hooked the ball to … nobody in particular, a desperate play the team could have made if they were losing – but it’s an insane risk in a tie game.

Raiders defensive end Chandler Jones catches a lateral at the 48-yard line. He powerfully armed quarterback Mac Jones in a turnaround and then sprinted into the end zone for a touchdown run and the 30-24 win.

The play was upsetting to New England in two ways. For example, it took it out of the playoff picture and lowered its odds of making the postseason to 19 percent, per FiveThirtyEight. Second, it wasn’t an anomaly. It was emblematic of the way the Patriots operated all season.

Belichick’s decision to hire former defensive coordinator and failed coach Matt Patricia was a disaster — as all the people Belichick mocks predicted. The Patriots are helpless and disorganized, and quarterback Mack Jones has fallen behind after a promising rookie year.

For two decades, Belichick has been showing off situational football. Patriots players will impress with their vague knowledge of the rulebook and know just when to implement that knowledge. Discipline and intelligence were the pillars. The Patriots don’t play that way anymore. They are one of the most punished teams in the league. Before the disastrous end, the Patriots allowed Kellan Cole to get behind the defense on single coverage with 32 seconds left in the game. There is no other conclusion: Belichick has lost a step.

black chariot. On Halloween, the Lions were 1-6 after a series of blown leads, still stuck in the regulatory malaise that has doomed them for decades. After a 20-17 win over the host Jets on Sunday, they are 7-7 and have a legitimate chance to crash the NFC stadium.

Outside of the Philadelphia Eagles, there is no hotter NFL team. The Lions won six of seven, the latter victory being achieved by a cheeky game-winning touchdown. At four and an inch into the first play after the two-minute warning, trailing 17-13, Jared Goff made a fake play, patiently waited for the play to develop and hit Brock Wright with a single into the left flat. Wright rushed 51 yards for the go-ahead.

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The Lions finish at the Carolina Panthers vs. the Chicago Bears and at the Green Bay Packers. They are likely to be favored in all three matches, and if they win they will almost certainly make the playoffs. With Goff’s effective passing, Aidan Hutchinson’s quick passing performance and painful running game, they will be a fearsome opponent in the first round.

Dolphins have settled into their season. Even though they played in three games and had more work to do to secure a playoff spot, the Miami Dolphins had to leave Buffalo feeling emboldened. They went toe-to-toe with the AFC’s top seed, proving that Tua Tagovailoa doesn’t spontaneously collapse when touched by snow and bounce back after two poor pitches.

The Dolphins lost, 32-29, but Buffalo may have played stronger than when it defeated them in Florida early in the season, when the Bills ran 90 plays but fumbled in the red zone. On Saturday night, the Dolphins controlled most of the game and took a 29-21 lead going into the fourth quarter. Tagovailoa is connected on the descent to the Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle trails. The Dolphins would have been the better team if not for Josh Allen’s super running back.

The Dolphins got help Sunday when the Patriots and Jets lost, putting them in the final game picture as the final wild card. Their remaining schedule – Packers, Patriots, Jets – is manageable. Their performance on Saturday provided a reminder that if they got in, they were dangerous. The Dolphins are a bit like last year’s Cincinnati Bengals: They aren’t the best team in the AFC, but their offensive talent gives them a premium ceiling. On any given day, they can beat any team because of the upside provided by Hill and Waddle in Coach Mike McDaniel’s system.

The MVP candidates had to grind it out. The battle for MVP honors is coming to Patrick Mahomes and Galen Hurts, and Kansas City and Philadelphia both struggled as top favorites on Sunday. The Chiefs trailed in the fourth quarter against the Houston Texans and needed a turnover in overtime to win. The Eagles led by four after the third quarter before asserting themselves in the fourth against the Bears.

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Whichever medium of the week you prefer, Sunday probably won’t change your mind. Hurts compiled bizarre stats – 315 passing yards and three rushing touchdowns – but he also threw two interceptions. Mahomes was wickedly effective, completing 36 of 41 passes for 336 yards and two touchdowns while running for another score.

The Colts are getting a new coach. Owner Jim Irsay loudly declared that Jeff Saturday would have a shot at winning a full-time job when he surprised the NFL by naming him interim coach at Indianapolis. The Colts collapse on Saturday made that untenable. The Colts blew a 33-0 halftime lead in Minnesota, giving the Vikings the biggest comeback in NFL history in a 39-36 overtime win.

Millions of things have to go wrong for a team to waste this kind of progress, but it’s primarily a matter of coaching. Saturday drew praise after the Colts pulled an upset in his debut, but his lack of experience began to catch up with the Colts.

The Vikings, who clinched the NFC North, remain the most disappointing 11-3 team imaginable. It takes a special kind of mess to fall behind the Colts by 33, and their point difference for the season is plus-two. But this was an unforgettable Minnesota Miracle Day.

The Ravens need a quarterback. After the Cleveland Browns beat the Ravens 13-3, Baltimore cornerback Marcus Peters — wearing walking boots and wielding a stick-like stick due to an injury he sustained during the game — stood outside the visitors locker room and greeted his teammates. . He noticed running back J.K. Dobbins scowling, head down. “Pick that mom, man,” Peters said. “We have a lot of hope.”

Peters’ bid for leadership doubled as an incomplete statement: The Crows have hope – if Lamar Jackson returns from sprained knee ligaments to full health. Jackson’s value appeared with him on the sidelines. Even as Dobbins showed flashes of his best, Baltimore’s offense, methodical even when playing Jackson, was grueling.

The notion that Tyler Huntley could be a suitable replacement for Jackson if the Ravens didn’t resolve his contract situation died a slow and painful death against the Browns. The Ravens faltered from the playoff race last year after Jackson suffered an injury, and if he doesn’t come back soon, the same is not likely to happen this year but not out of the question.

Le Anaromu is a magician. The most formidable opponent of any offense in the NFL might be the Bengals in the second half. This is due to adjustments that Anarumo, Cincinnati’s defensive coordinator, makes in the first half. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers scored 17 first-half points as they built a lead at the end of the first half. In the second half, the Bengals upset Tom Brady and bullied the Bucs into four turnovers, allowing only a final-minute cosmetic touchdown.

After their 34-23 win in Tampa, the Bengals took first place in the AFC North. They may have their eyes on a bigger prize. If they beat the Bills in Week 17 and the Chiefs falter, they can claim the No. 1 seed and first-round AFC.

The Titans made the most amazing interception of the year. At halftime of their 17-14 loss to the Chargers, Titans defensemen Roger McCreery and Joshua Kalou came together for a great moment of improvisational teamwork. Justin Herbert kicked a pass into the corner of the end zone to hold off Mike Williams, the kind of ball that can only lead to a great catch or incomplete ball out of bounds — unless the defense does something great.

McCreary jumped out of the end zone and over the sideline to catch the ball. Realizing he was going to land out of bounds, he twisted his body and, in one motion while hanging in the air, dribbled the ball back to Kalou. It’s not just anyone’s play. It was a stroke of mathematical genius.

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