Week 14 of the 2015 National Football League season was full of action. We got our weekly helping of unforeseen upsets; we saw one team improve their overall record to 13-0 with a blowout win over a division rival; we witnessed several notable individual and team performances (both bad and good); and we mourned several injuries to big-name players. With that being said, here is a look at the five biggest takeaways from Week 14 of the 2015 NFL season.
1. The 2015 NFL MVP award is Cam Newton’s to lose.
Newton is one of the most love-him-or-hate-him athletes in all of professional sports. If you love the guy, you will be ecstatic about what we are about to say. If you hate him, well, all we can do is offer our condolences.
Newton is separating himself from the pack in the race for the 2015 NFL MVP award. While he may not have the same gaudy passing statistics that other quarterbacks around the league have, the 26-year-old signal caller is on track to finish with well over 30 touchdown passes, has shown elite leadership ability, and continues to make clutch play, after clutch play. Barring a meltdown of epic proportions, Newton will be taking home the most prestigious individual award an NFL player can receive following the season.
2. The Pittsburgh Steelers are currently the best team in the AFC.
We touched on this yesterday, but the Steelers have looked like the premier team in the AFC over the last two weeks. They may have the best offense in the entire league – even with All-Pro running back Le’Veon Bell out of the lineup – and their defense has improved exponentially since the start of the season.
With an 8-5 overall record, the Steelers are in a great position to land one of the AFC’s Wild Card spots. However, they are far from a lock to make the postseason. If they do, they are good enough to be one of the rare Wild Card teams to make a Super Bowl run. If they miss the AFC Playoffs altogether, they may go down as the most talented team in NFL history to miss the postseason. Needless to say, this is a team that the rest of the AFC won’t want to face when January rolls around.
3. Jacksonville jaguars quarterback Blake Bortles looks like the real deal.
Don’t look now, but Bortles is one of three NFL quarterbacks with 30 touchdown passes up to this point in the 2015 season. After a wildly inconsistent rookie year, the jury remained out on Jacksonville’s first round pick in the 2014 NFL Draft. Judging by his performance thus far in his second professional season, Bortles appears to be headed towards stardom. His development may have been expedited by the team surrounding him with talented young playmakers such as wide receivers Allen Robinson and Allen Hurns, tight end Julius Thomas, and running back T.J. Yeldon, but there is no denying the immense amounts of raw talent that Bortles possesses. He is still far from a finished product, but it looks like the Jaguars have finally found their franchise quarterback.
4. The three best teams in the NFL right now reside in the NFC.
In the NFL, a lot can change in a couple of weeks. For most of the season, it looked as though the New England Patriots and Cincinnati Bengals – both members of the AFC – were the two best overall teams in the NFL. However, with the way the last three weeks of the season have played out, it’s hard for us to imagine the Super Bowl 50 champion not coming out of the NFC. The Carolina Panthers remain unbeaten, the Arizona Cardinals may be the most complete team in the league, and last but not least, the two-time defending NFC Champion Seattle Seahawks look like they are peaking at just the right time. Unfortunately, these teams will end up cannibalizing one another when the NFC Playoffs kick off in January, but if/when these teams meet in the postseason, it will surely make for an entertaining game or two for football fans around the country.
5. Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson is quickly silencing even his harshest critics.
Over the last four weeks, Wilson has been arguably the best player in the National Football League. The 27-year-old quarterback has thrown for 1,171 yards, 16 touchdowns, and rushed for 101 yards and one touchdown over that stretch of time, and has silenced any and all of his critics (including us) in doing so. If Wilson can continue to play at, or close to, his current level of play, the Seahawks will be an extremely difficult matchup for any team in the league.
All statistics courtesy of Pro-Football-Reference.