Week 15 NFL players to watch: One MVP case grows stronger, two rookies shine

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Week 15 is off to an exciting start after the Las Vegas Raiders scored 63 points Thursday in a rout of the Los Angeles Chargers, who fired head coach Brandon Staley on Friday. Here are five players to watch this weekend, including two rookies set up to have big days:

SATURDAY’S POSTGAME HEADLINE TODAY | Justin Jefferson outshines Ja’Marr Chase

The Bengals (7-6) host the Vikings (7-6) in a matchup with two of the best wide receivers in the NFL. Jefferson and Chase, who were teammates at LSU (2018-19), will try to outplay each other in a must-win game for each team.

Chase, Cincinnati’s No. 1 wideout, didn’t hold back when asked earlier this week whom the better player is.

“I’m the best,” he said. “I don’t feel like we are the two best. I’m the best.”

He’ll have plenty of opportunities to prove he is better, but his matchup is far less enticing than Jefferson’s.

Cincinnati has the sixth-worst pass defense in the league, allowing 252.1 passing yards per game. (Minnesota’s ranks 14th.) The Vikings may not win with Nick Mullens at starting QB, but Jefferson is certainly set up to prove Chase wrong.

SATURDAY’S POSTGAME HEADLINE TODAY | Jahmyr Gibbs runs wild against red-hot Broncos

Gibbs, the No. 12 overall pick in 2023, has put together an impressive rookie season. He has rushed for 692 yards and six touchdowns while splitting the backfield carries with RB David Montgomery for much of the season. Plus, he’s a threat as a receiver (45 catches, 288 yards). 

The Broncos (7-6) have won six of their past seven games, but Gibbs can be the difference-maker in this one at home. Denver is allowing the most rushing yards per game (144) in the league, and with QB Jared Goff’s recent struggles, Detroit could lean on the run early and often.

SUNDAY’S POSTGAME HEADLINE TODAY | Lamar Jackson builds on MVP case

Jackson is in the thick of the MVP race, with the third-best odds as of Friday, according to oddschecker. The 2019 NFL MVP has a chance to strengthen his case to win another when the Ravens (10-3) play at the Jaguars (8-5).

Jackson is coming off “one of his best days,” head coach John Harbaugh said, referencing the Week 14 win over the Los Angeles Rams. He should stay hot against Jacksonville, which is allowing the second-most passing yards per game (265.2) this season.

The 26-year-old has 3,578 total yards and 21 total touchdowns, but he is focused on the bigger picture.

“It’s an honor … just being in that MVP conversation with great guys,” Jackson told reporters. “I’m just staying locked in. I’m trying to win. I want another championship.”

SUNDAY’S POSTGAME HEADLINE TODAY | RB Alvin Kamara humbles Tommy DeVito’s Giants

The Giants (5-8) have won three straight games with DeVito leading the way. This week, he even drew (lame) comparisons to seven-time Super Bowl champion Tom Brady, but New York head coach Brian Daboll shut down that talk.

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