The NFL has wrapped up the bulk of Week 13, with one huge Monday Night Football contest remaining. The playoff race is heating up, and we don’t have much more clarity than we did before Thanksgiving. We can remove a few pretenders from our list of contenders, but the playoff picture remains fairly muddled as far as seeding in the NFC and the wild card picture in the AFC.
With Week 13 almost a wrap, it’s time to take a look back at the week that has been and break down the biggest winners and losers.
Baltimore got a big win over the NFC leading 49ers, and just as importantly, got to watch the Patriots lose in Houston. That moves the Ravens into a tie with the Patriots and Baltimore has the tiebreaker thanks to head-to-head win. The Ravens have been winning primarily because of Lamar Jackson, but in Week 13 they showed they can win ugly when needed as well.
I get that, “you play to win the game,” and I realize players do not tank in games. The Bengals still have a strong chance at securing the top overall pick, but getting their first win on Sunday does not help matters. Andy Dalton returned to his starting role and the Jets looked absolutely atrocious in the Bengals victory. With the Giants also losing, the race for the top pick is not quite settled.
Winner: DeVante Parker
This goes in part to the Dolphins as a whole, but how about the sudden re-emergence of Parker? The former first round pick has looked like a fairly average receiver, but he is finally starting to find himself in Miami. He had 159 receiving yards and two touchdowns in a Week 13 upset of the Eagles and is on pace to surpass his career highs in receptions, yards and touchdowns. If the Dolphins can add a long-term quarterback and some other weapons, Parker could be on the rise heading into 2020.
Loser: Nick Foles, Doug Marrone, Tom Coughlin
The Jaguars were a disaster in Week 13, falling behind 25-0 with Nick Foles throwing an interception and losing two fumbles before being benched in the third quarter. There’s already talk of big changes for the coaching staff and front office, and it’s hard not to see why. The Jaguars are falling apart and change needs to happen.
Tom Coughlin and Dave Caldwell have given $106.6 million in guaranteed money combined to Blake Bortles, Andrew Norwell and Nick Foles in the last 20 months. Wonder what #Jaguars owner Shad Khan thinks of that.— Hays Carlyon (@HaysCarlyon) December 1, 2019
Winner: Derrius Guice
The Washington running back is splitting carries with Adrian Peterson, but he put on a show in Week 13. Guice rushed for 129 yards and two touchdowns on ten carries, including a 60-yard carry. Adrian Peterson was effective with 99 yards on 13 carries, but at some point Guice has to take over this starting job.
Loser: NFC East
The Bills beat the Cowboys, dropping Dallas to 6-6 and giving the Eagles a chance to tie things up. Then Philly went into Miami and got beat by the Dolphins. They remain a game back of Dallas in the disaster that is the NFC East. It’s so awful that 3-9 Washington has been eliminated from wild card contention but not NFC East contention.
Winner: Drew Lock
The Broncos rookie quarterback got off to a strong start with two touchdowns in the first quarter. He came back to earth the rest of the game, but the Broncos got a 23-20 win as the Chargers lost another heart-breaker. Who knows if Lock is the long-term QB answer for Denver, but he’s bought himself another start in Week 14 at the Houston Texans.
The 49ers lost a physical affair in Baltimore, with Justin Tucker kicking a game winning field goal as time expired. There’s no shame in the loss, especially considering they contained Lamar Jackson to a certain degree. However, with the loss, the 49ers have opened the door for the Seahawks to take control of the NFC West. If the Seahawks beat the Vikings on Monday Night Football, they will move into a tie with the 49ers atop the division. The Seahawks won in Santa Clara, which gives them the head-to-head tiebreaker until the two teams meet in Seattle in Week 17. If Seattle wins on Monday, the 49ers drop from the No. 1 seed to the No. 5 seed.
Winner: Chiefs defense
The Raiders have been woefully inconsistent, but the Chiefs defense still has to be happy with their effort in the 40-9 victory. The Chiefs offense was actually out-gained by the Raiders, but it was more of a down day for KC and garbage time stats from Oakland. The Chiefs forced Derek Carr to throw two interceptions and they also recovered a Raiders fumble in the win. The defense will need to find some consistency if they want to have a chance against the likes of Baltimore and New England in January.
We can just about stick a fork in the 2019 Browns. There are still four weeks remaining, but Cleveland is not two games back in the wild card race with four teams to leapfrog in the playoff picture. Add in Baker Mayfield injuring his hand in the second quarter against the Steelers, and things are not going very well for a team that got more preseason hype than just about anybody this year.
When you’re the first team to clinch a playoff berth, you get the winner tag. The Saints beat their rivals on the road to secure the NFC South and now can focus on getting a first round bye. They face a huge matchup in Week 14 at home against the 49ers. New Orleans will go into the game with extra rest coming off Thanksgiving, while the 49ers will have normal rest on the road after a physically and emotionally draining loss in Baltimore.
Loser: Adam Vinatieri
Time is undefeated, and Vinatieri is the latest to find out. It’s been a brutal season for the veteran kicker, and Sunday saw one of the worst plays of the year. The Titans easily blocked a fourth quarter field goal attempt and ran it back for a touchdown to take a 24-17 lead. The Titans added another touchdown to improve to 7-5 and drop the Colts to 6-6. The AFC wild card race is tightening up and the Colts took a huge hit with the loss.