As a result of their victory over the Cowboys, the Dolphins are no longer considered to be contenders.
Sceptics of both teams referred to the highly anticipated game between the Dallas Cowboys and the Miami Dolphins as the Pretenders Bowl. This was a result of the fact that the game was widely anticipated.
On the other hand, after their remarkable victory over the Cowboys by a score of 22–20 on Sunday, the Dolphins may no longer be considered pretenders. In order to avoid a winner-take-all showdown for the AFC East championship against the Buffalo Bills in Week 18, Miami has secured a berth in the playoffs and needs one more victory to avoid that matchup.
An easy day against the faltering Jacksonville Jaguars brought the Tampa Bay Buccaneers one step closer to winning their division. This brings them one step closer to clinching the division crown.
Additionally, the Cleveland Browns should not be disregarded in the competition for the AFC North championship. With their victory over the Minnesota Vikings, the Detroit Lions were able to successfully complete their task and secure the NFC North division with a victory.
We were able to acquire the following information regarding the Dolphins, Buccaneers, Lions, Browns, and Carolina Panthers through the games that took place on Christmas Eve.
Dolphins prove to be contenders against Cowboys
As a result of Jason Sanders’s field goal in the final second of the game, the Dolphins were ultimately able to secure a victory that will go down in history. With the victory at home, Miami not only secured a position in the postseason, but it also demonstrated that it is a contender for the Super Bowl.
The Dolphins (11–4) were under pressure from the Cowboys (10–5) during an exciting final quarter. This came after the Dolphins had a string of victories over losing teams over the course of the preceding few months. Tua Tagovailoa was able to silence some of his detractors by executing a game-winning drive that spanned 12 plays and 64 yards. In order to set up Sanders’ field goal from 29 yards out, the Dolphins were able to convert two crucial third-down opportunities, including a toss to Tyreek Hill that went for 10 yards.
Following its first sack of the game, Dallas was able to make a three-and-out stop, which was a much-needed stop that set the stage for Dak Prescott’s incredible drive that gave the Cowboys the lead in the fourth quarter. For the sake of continuing the drive, Prescott made two crucial completions to CeeDee Lamb on money downs, including one on fourth-and-2 on the field. With three minutes and twenty-seven seconds remaining in regulation, Prescott completed the 17-play, 69-yard drive by throwing a touchdown ball to Brandin Cooks for eight yards. This gave the Cowboys a 20–19 lead. Tagovailoa and Miami were able to create a drive that gave them the lead, but the defense was unable to stop them. The Dolphins left Dallas with no time on the clock to respond to the drive.
The Cowboys are currently on a losing skid of two games and may have missed an opportunity to steal the NFC East away from the struggling Eagles. On the final day of the regular season, the Eagles will play the Giants twice and the Cardinals against each other. The Dolphins, on the other hand, have suddenly become a candidate for the Super Bowl. This is not only due to the fact that they defeated a team that was already in the championship game; it is also due to the fact that the defense has been playing exceptionally well over the past few weeks. By defeating the Ravens the next week and securing the AFC East, the squad led by Mike McDaniel has the potential to convert additional skeptics into believers.
The Buccaneers continue to dominate, while the Jaguars continue to lose ground.
Following their victory over the Jaguars by a score of 30–12, the Buccaneers have now won four consecutive games and have taken a one-game lead in the NFC South league.
As a result of the assistance of No. 1 target Mike Evans and the direction provided by offensive coordinator Dave Canales, Baker Mayfield is currently experiencing what could be the most successful period of his career. Before taking a 30–0 lead, the Buccaneers swiftly took advantage of the Jaguars, who were suffering from a rapid decline, by scoring two touchdowns thanks to Mike Evans. The defensive play of Todd Bowles resulted in three turnovers committed by Trevor Lawrence. With a victory over the Saints (7–8) and a loss to the Bears by the Falcons (7–8), the Buccaneers (8–7) have the potential to secure the NFC South division for the following week.
The Jaguars (8–7) have dropped their last four games in a row, but they are still tied for first place in the AFC South. This is due to the fact that both the Indianapolis Colts and the Houston Texans were defeated on Sunday. The regular season will come to an end with Jacksonville playing games against Carolina and Tennessee, both of which are winnable. A total of eight turnovers have been committed by Lawrence over the course of the last three games, so the Jaguars won’t get very far if he doesn’t improve. In the lopsided game that took place on Sunday, Lawrence, who had been being treated for a concussion earlier this week, was taken out of the game early in the fourth quarter. The Jaguars made the announcement that Lawrence will not be playing due to a shoulder issue.
After defeating the Texans, the Browns have established themselves as legitimate competitors in the AFC.
The moment has come to recognize the Browns as a potential contender for the Super Bowl. One month ago, the Browns had a dysfunctional offense that required flawless performances from a dominating defense in order to maintain their position in the postseason. This was sufficient to keep them in the contention. The Browns were forced to turn to veteran quarterback Joe Flacco as a result of injuries sustained by Deshaun Watson and Dorian Thompson-Robinson, as well as poor performance by PJ Walker. This caused the expectations to significantly shift.
The Browns (10–5) were able to win their third consecutive game after cruising to a 36–22 victory over the Houston Texans. The victory was made possible by a red-hot Flacco. At the same time that Flacco resumed his dominance with wide receiver Amari Cooper and tight end David Njoku as his top targets, he recorded his third straight game with at least 300 yards passing. Cooper not only produced 11 receptions and two touchdowns, but he also set a new mark for the team in terms of receiving yards in a single game with 265. Because of how productive the passing game has been since Flacco took over as the starting quarterback four games ago, the Browns have not been hurt by the fact that Flacco had another game with multiple picks.
The Lions deservedly had a party in the locker room after defeating the Vikings, 30–24, to clinch their first division title in 30 years. That means the Lions will host a playoff game for the first time in a very long time—hopefully against Matthew Stafford’s Rams, who currently have the sixth seed.
Regardless of which team the Lions face in the postseason, they’ll be tough to beat because of their explosive offense, featuring wide receiver Amon-Ra St. Brown, running back Jahmyr Gibbs and tight end Sam LaPorta. Gibbs had 100 total yards and two touchdowns against the Vikings.
The defense again struggled, but mainly because of Justin Jefferson’s dominant performance. Jefferson, who recorded six catches for 141 yards and one touchdown, made the Lions (11–4) work for their first-ever NFC North title. But the defense stepped up by forcing Vikings quarterback Nick Mullens into four interceptions. Also, third-year safety Ifeatu Melifonwu had a sensational performance, with two sacks and one interception. The Lions’ defense has turned the corner the past two weeks—they held the Broncos to 17 points last week.
The Vikings’ postseason hopes look dim after losing four of their past five games. Minnesota (7–8) hosts the Packers next week and ends the regular season in Detroit. The Lions have a road showdown against the Cowboys next week.
Rookie quarterback Bryce Young was one second away from pushing the Green Bay Packers into overtime after the Panthers trailed by 14 points early in the fourth quarter. The Panthers were in field goal range, but the offense didn’t set up in time for a spike after Young’s 22-yard pass to Adam Thielen, leading to a 33–30 loss. Thielen expressed frustration about the Packers getting the call on a controversial catch from Romeo Doubs that was upheld after an official review on the prior drive, which gave Green Bay a three-point lead.