NFL Week 15 Recap: Reborn Bills, League’s Houdini & Grounded Cowboys

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The Buffalo Bills are reborn, the Cleveland Browns have become the NFL’s Houdini, and the Dallas Cowboys have fallen to earth.

They are the major takeaways from NFL Week 15, setting up a riveting home stretch for the final three regular-season games.

Here’s our NFL Week 15 recap.

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Buffalo Bills 31, Dallas Cowboys 10

Spread: Bills -2.5

A touchdown run and pass reception for James Cook, punctuated by an inspired offensive line, sparked Buffalo’s second straight triumph. The 8-6 Bills are alive in the AFC playoff hunt as they invade the Los Angeles Chargers, who fired head coach Brandon Staley after the 63-21 against the Las Vegas Raiders last week.

Buffalo had 266 rushing yards against the stringent Cowboys D. It now has back-to-back wins over the Kansas City Chiefs and the Cowboys.

Dallas saw its five-game win streak snapped. In the wind and rain, the ‘Boys did not belong on the same field as the Bills. Dak Prescott did not throw a TD pass.

Buffalo’s win temporarily put the Philadelphia Eagles back in first place in the NFC East. The Eagles invade the Seattle Seahawks tonight with the status of Jalen Hurts (illness), downgraded to questionable.

If he can’t go, Marcus Mariota becomes the Philly starter.

Seahawks bettors still had a chance early Monday morning to get Seattle at +3 with the possibility of no Jalen Hurts. That’s a fluid situation for Monday.

Next up: Buffalo Bills vs Los Angeles Chargers, Dallas Cowboys vs Miami Dolphins

Miami 30, New York Jets 0

Spread: Dolphins -8

Tua Tagovailoa connected with Jaylen Waddle for one touchdown, and the Dolphins sacked two different Jets quarterbacks six times.

Too bad Miami can’t play the Jets every week. The Dolphins outscored them 64-13 in two games.

The Dolphins made amends for a Monday night loss to the Tennessee Titans.

Next up: Miami Dolphins vs Dallas Cowboys, New York Jets vs Washington Commanders

Cleveland Browns 20, Chicago Bears 17

Spread: Browns -3

We have called them the Kardiac Kids of 2023, reminiscent of the 1980 Browns who won several games in the final seconds.

Chalk up another tight one for the Browns, who rallied from 10 points down in the fourth quarter to go ahead of Chicago. Three straight scores in the fourth quarter and one major escape on the final play got Houdini out of another jam.

The last play has been dubbed a Fail Mary. The Bears’ Darnell Mooney had a Hail Mary tip land on his belly, but he couldn’t hold onto the ball.

It was literally inches between 8-6 and 9-5 for the Browns, who are 7-1 at home this year.

Kardiac indeed. Many bettors had a push in this game.

Next up: Cleveland Browns vs Houston Texans, Chicago Bears vs Arizona Cardinals

Houston Texans 19, Tennessee Titans 16 (OT)

Spread: Titans -3

It would have been understandable had the Texans sputtered after being down 13-0 on the road with CJ Stroud out.

But the defense stiffened, Case Keenum delivered one TD, and the Texans (now 8-6) got four field goals. The Titans, who had beaten the Miami Dolphins on Monday night, failed to follow up. They remain shaky as a home favorite.

Next up: Houston Texans vs Cleveland Browns, Tennessee Titans vs Seattle Seahawks

Tampa Bay Buccaneers 34, Green Bay Packers 20

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers were on the verge of being NFC South outcasts three weeks ago. But a shaky victory over the Carolina Panthers, a late-heist victory over the Atlanta Falcons, and a pounding of the Green Bay Packers followed.

At 7-7, they are the toast of the division, which somebody has to win.

Baker Mayfield threw four touchdowns against the Packers and has found his stride over the last three weeks.

Next up: Tampa Bay Bucs vs Jacksonville Jaguars, Green Bay Packers vs Carolina Panthers

Baltimore Ravens 23, Jacksonville Jaguars 7

Spread: Ravens -3.5

Look at this script for Jacksonville’s first half: missed field goal, missed field goal, fumble, and running out of time in the first half when the runner got tackled in bounds on the final play. They left at least 12 points out there, leaving the field to boos.

Next up: Jacksonville Jaguars vs Tampa Bay Bucs, Baltimore Ravens at San Francisco 49ers

Carolina Panthers 9, Atlanta Falcons 7

Two Carolina victories this season. Two victories on the final play.

The Falcons continue to be unable to hold late leads. They surrendered a lead on the final drive for the second straight week.

Next up: Carolina Panthers vs Green Bay Packers, Atlanta Falcons vs Indianapolis Colts

Los Angeles Rams 28, Washington Commanders 20

Spread: Rams -6.5

A little ugly, but the Rams got back to .500.

They built a 20-0 third-quarter lead despite two lost fumbles by Kyren Williams.

He remained a force, however, and notched 152 yards and a touchdown.

Next up: Los Angeles Rams vs New Orleans Saints on Thursday night, Washington Commanders vs New York Jets

New Orleans Saints 24, New York Giants 6

Spread: Saints -5.5

Kudos to New Orleans for making a 17-0 second-half run, snapping open a tight 7-6 halftime lead.

Jimmy Graham and Juwan Johnson notched second-half touchdown passes from Derek Carr.

The Giants were unable to parlay the high from their Monday night win over the Green Bay Packers.

Next up: New Orleans Saints vs Los Angeles Rams, New York Giants vs Philadelphia

Kansas City Chiefs 27, New England Patriots 17

Spread: Chiefs -8.5

The Chiefs did just enough to cover the number.

They improved to 9-5 and will host the Las Vegas Raiders on Christmas Day.

It should be an entertaining shootout. The Chiefs overcame a 14-0 deficit (23.5-0 when adding the -9.5 spread) in beating the Raiders, 31-17, earlier this year.

Next up: Kansas City Chiefs vs Las Vegas Raiders, New England Patriots vs Denver Broncos

Detroit Lions 42, Denver Broncos 17

Spread: Lions -5.5

The Lions hit full gear with their best offensive performance in several weeks. Credit the transforming play of tight end Sam LaPorta, who tallied two touchdowns and helped the Lions all but clinch the NFC North for the first time in 30 years.

Next up: Detroit Lions vs Minnesota Vikings, Denver Broncos vs New England Patriots

Cincinnati Bengals 27, Minnesota Vikings 24

The Vikings self-destructed with two botched Brotherly Shove overtime plays and two first-half turnovers. This one got away. They also got two bad breaks in near-interceptions that became game-saving receptions for the Bengals.

Nick Mullens played extraordinarily well, but this team is fighting for its life.

Next up: Minnesota Vikings vs Detroit Lions, Cincinnati Bengals vs Pittsburgh Steelers

Indianapolis Colts 30, Pittsburgh Steelers 13

Spread: Colts -2

Gardner Minshew and Co. scored 30 unanswered points and rolled going away.

Next up: Indianapolis Colts vs Atlanta Falcons, Pittsburgh Steelers vs Cincinnati Bengals

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About the Author
Dave Bontempo

Dave Bontempo

Writer
Dave Bontempo is an award-winning writer and broadcaster, who has covered the sports industry since the 1970s. He won the Sam Taub Award for Excellence in Boxing Broadcasting by the Boxing Writers Association of America in 1997, and is in the New Jersey and Atlantic City Boxing Halls of Fame. Bontempo has broadcast major fights all over the world. The advent of legalized sports wagering shifted his focus to this exciting new industry in 2018.

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