NFL Week 15 Preview: Soaring Dolphins and last straw for Lewis?
Dave Burin | 11 December 2018
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Last weekend’s action culminated with the ‘Miami Miracle’, which blew the lid off the AFC East in dramatic fashion. We also saw New Orleans Saints confirm the NFC South title in style.
It’s all-or-nothing for a number of sides across the NFL in the coming days, with just three weeks of the regular season left.
The likes of Dallas Cowboys and Houston Texans are bidding to maintain their divisional lead, while in Cincinnati it’s just a case of survival for the team’s head coach.
We preview what promises to be an incredible Week 15…
The end of an era in Cincy?
Marvin Lewis is currently the second-longest serving head coach in the NFL, with more than 15 years under his belt at Cincinnati Bengals. But it seems time could finally be up for the veteran coach, with pressure from fans and the media mounting.
The Bengals board made a U-turn in 2017 when they seemed set to part company with Lewis, before changing their mind. But many fans feel the 60-year-old’s situation is untenable on the back of recent results.
Cincinnati are now bottom of an AFC North which includes last season’s 0-16 Cleveland Browns. They’ve lost five on the trot, giving up at least three Touchdowns in all of those games.
As it stands, they now have the NFL’s worst defence this season, shipping 397 points thus far (an average of 30.5 per game).
Next up is a home clash with Jon Gruden’s 3-10 Oakland Raiders. Lose that, and it’ll almost certainly be curtains for Lewis. Ahead of gameday, his Bengals are 4/7 in the Money Line, with Oakland a 29/20 shot.
Does dramatic Dolphins win mean sea change in the East?
Miami Dolphins produced the season’s finest moment yet on Sunday. Their miracle 69-yard TD in the game’s final play saw three throws and a monster run from Kenyan Drake to secure a 34-33 defeat of AFC East rivals New England Patriots.
The last-gasp play at Hard Rock Stadium keeps Miami’s dream of winning the division alive, while their 7-6 record is level with current Wild Card side Baltimore Ravens.
With two Wild Card defeats their only Playoff appearances since 2002, few expected much from the Florida franchise this year. But they’re finishing strong, and their last two opponents this season are currently both 4-9.
First though, they face the tougher test of a visit to Minnesota Vikings. The Vikes are a decent outfit, but have lost two of their last five home games. There’s more on the line for Miami, and they could edge this with momentum on their side.
Dallas continuing to grind out key wins
They say everything is bigger in Texas, and certainly Dallas Cowboys’ last few wins have seemed momentous in the context of this season. Especially so the recent 13-10 defeat of New Orleans Saints – their first defeat on the road since January.
Jason Garrett’s side haven’t played breathtaking offensive football, nor do they have one of the NFL’s best defences. But they’re an experienced, driven outfit whose key players have helped grind out five straight wins – all by a margin of eight points or fewer.
Quarterback Dak Prescott has thrown for a combined 993 yards in the last three games, producing six Touchdown passes in the process. Elsewhere, Ezekiel Elliott still leads the NFL for rushing yards this season, with a huge 1,262.
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