Into the home stretch now of the regular season and the fight for the playoff spots is well and truly on. Week 13 was a good one that threw up a few surprise results and helped us all forget about the more unsavoury news stories that have dominated the NFL in recent days.
Cowboys 13 – 10 Saints
Week 13 didn’t start off with a bang but it certainly started with a shock as the much fancied Saints went to Dallas and recorded their second loss of the year. The Dallas defense stifled Drew Brees and company who were able to only generate 176 yards of offense. Leighton Vander Esch continued his fine form and was all over the field to consistently deny the Saints. The Saints defense also had a good day with seven sacks on Dak Prescott but ultimately, with Zeke consistently gaining yards, the Cowboys were able to win out.
Giants 30 – 27 Bears (after overtime)
The Giants were looking good for throwing a game away for the second consistent week as they blew a 10 point lead to let the Bears back into the game. Neither quarterback played very well but for the Giants, Odell Beckham took passed for a 49 yard touchdown pass to Sterling Shepard. Chicago rallied behind the form of Tarik Cohen who caught 12 passes for 156 yards and then tossed a touchdown pass right at the death to draw the Bears got the ball back from an onside kick which the Giants made a mess of. The Giants managed to put that behind them though and drove for a field goal before snuffing out the Bears offense finally. The Bears did though convert six fourth down attempts in this match!
Falcons 16 – 26 Ravens
The Falcons slim hopes of a playoff run ended with a home loss to the Ravens who carry on winning behind rookie quarterback Lamar Jackson. Matt Ryan and the Falcons offense could not get past the Ravens defense. Ryan threw for only 131 yards and one touchdown on the afternoon. Jackson wasn’t any better in the throwing stakes as he threw for 125 yards, however the dual threat quarterback also rushed for 75 yards and a touchdown. The danger will always be injuries though and Jackson missed a portion of the game after taking a big hit and having to go through the concussion protocol.
Bengals 10 – 24 Broncos
The Broncos are going through somewhat of a revival as they recorded their third win on the bounce and maintain a glimmer of hope of playoff place. Phillip Lindsay continued his crusade to challenge for offense rookie of the year. The undrafted running back rushed for 157 yards and two touchdowns. This type of running game means that the Broncos don’t have to ask much of Case Keenum, which is a good thing! The Broncos defensive unit continues to impress with four sacks and two forced fumbles. Bradley Chubb got the last one to seal the game. Marvin Lewis is likely on his way out at the end of the year and somehow, Hue Jackson is favourite to take over. Should that happen we can expect to see the Bengals continue to fail.
Lions 16 – 30 Rams
The scoreline flatters the Rams as this was a tighter game until the 4th quarter when the Rams (and in particular Todd Gurley) ran away with it. Gurley ended the day with 132 rushing yards and two touchdowns. Jared Goff though struggled throughout the game with the Lions defense playing well to reduce him to 207 yards, a touchdown and an intercept. Aaron Donald continues his case for league MVP with another dominant performance which more or less shut down any Lions offense. Stafford was sacked four times and the rushing game of the Lions was barely productive. The Rams will walk away as NFC West division champions following this win but will know they’ll need to improve their form to win once they get to games in January.
Packers 17 – 20 Cardinals
Not good enough. That’s all there is to say about this match as the Packers dropped to 4-7-1 on the season and lost, at home, to a team battling it out for the No.1 pick in the draft next year. This team needs a reboot and whilst I don’t foresee Mike McCarthy being sacked in the middle of the season I’ll be surprised if he makes it through Black Monday in tact. There’s very few stats on the game that were any good. If anything they’re all mediocre at best and it’s a wonder that either team won. The punishment for such a loss for Mike McCarthy? Fired. Joe Philbin will take over in the interim as the search for a new head coach that meets Aaron Rodgers’ expectations starts. Good luck with that Green Bay.
Dolphins 21 – 17 Bills
The Dolphins aren’t looking terrible. They narrowly lost last week to the Colts and this week outlasted the Bills to move to 7-6 on the year. Tannehill was hardly brilliant with 16 completions from 24 attempts, 137 yards but three touchdowns to only one interception which was enough to get the Dolphins over the line. Buffalo’s rookie quarterback, Josh Allen had one of his better games with 18 completions from 33 attempts for 231 yards, two TDs and two interceptions, he also rushed for 135 yards.. Some of the passes not caught were down to the sheer force that Allen can throw the ball with. The one time he did under throw the ball was right at the end as tight end Charles Clay criminally came up short and failed to catch the all in the end zone to win it.
Jaguars 6 – 0 Colts
That’s not a typo. The Jaguars won a match 6-0. Their defense had probably their best showing of the year to date and held Andrew Luck to 248 yards and an intercept. Cody Kessler, starting in place of Blake Bortles did what the Jaguars wanted him to do – not turn the ball over and they managed to get two field goals. That’s about all that can said of the Jags offensive efforts! The call that ended the game, and the Colts last drive was an odd one and one that the NFL will need to look at. Yes, he wasn’t going to go forward any further but it was called very early and should have been called out of bounds.
Texans 29 – 13 Browns
The Texans march on to record their ninth win in a row and move to 9-3. The Browns came tumbling back to earth after two wins in a row. Baker Mayfield struggled a bit more to handle this Texans defense as he threw three interceptions with Zach Cunningham running one back for an touchdown. Watson on the other hand didn’t turn the ball over and threw for 224 yards and a touchdown. The Brows were much better in the second half but it wasn’t enough to get them back over the deficit the Texans put up in the first half.
Buccaneers 24 – 17 Panthers
The Bucs win their second game in a row and the Panthers lose their fourth in a row. Playoff hopes for both though hang by a thread. This Panthers team should be better than their record suggests but against the Bucs, Cam Newton regressed significantly. Cam threw four interceptions which meant that the offense could barely get into any rhythm whatsoever. Despite that, Christian McCaffrey continues to impress with 106 rushing yards and 55 receiving yards and a touchdown. Jamies Winston did the opposite to Cam and, surprisingly, threw no interceptions. Worse news was to follow the end of this match with confirmation that tight end Greg Olsen is out for the rest of the season.
Titans 26 – 22 Jets
Last week the New York Giants threw a game away after having a good lead. This week the other New York franchise took their turn to do the same as they squandered the chance to score an away victory. It was the Jets defense though that scored their only touchdown of the game, Trumaine Johnson intercepting a Mariota pass and running it back 31 yards for the score. Aside from that, the Jets had to rely on field goals as they failed to convert any of the three red zone opportunities they had. The lead built though and the Titans did well to come back scoring 13 points in the fourth quarter. Say what you want about this Titans team, they’re prepared to fight and scrap it out and with a bit more quality added in the offseason they could be dangerous next year.
Raiders 33 – 40 Chiefs
Derek Carr threw 29 completed passes from 38 attempts, 285 yards, three TDs and no interceptions and the Raiders still lost. Whilst the offense played ok against a lackluster Chiefs defense, the Raiders defense continues to severely underwhelm. Again they didn’t register a sack and nor did they generate any turnovers. The Chiefs are reeling after the release of Kareem Hunt and unfortunately, Spencer Ware isn’t as good as he struggled to generate yards with only 3.4 yards per carry and 47 in total. The Chiefs do though have the talent within the coaching pool at their disposal to gameplan their way around it.
Seahawks 43 – 16 49ers
Urgh, that 49ers defense is not good. Aside from DeForest Buckner that is. But otherwise, it’s pretty awful. Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson completed just 11 passes. But four of those went for touchdowns. The running game was also on song as both Chris Carson and Rashard Penny rushed for over 60 yards each. The 49ers injury plague forced rookie running back Jeff Wilson Jr into the starting line up who rushed for 61 yards and lost a fumble. Nick Mullins at quarterback passed for 414 yards and two touchdowns to rookie wide receiver Dante Pettis who had 129 yards on the day and was one bright spot in an otherwise dour performance.
Patriots 24 – 10 Vikings
Consistent, efficient scoring saw the Patriots deliver a win over the Vikings. A score in each quarter for New England allowed them to ease to a comfortable win over the Vikings who struggled to find any type of flow. Tom Brady rushed for five yards and now has 1,000 career rushing yards. The Vikings rushing game was also working well with Dalvin Cook finally producing a performance worthy of his reputation. Would like to see more from the running game to even out the balance in the Vikings offensive game plan. Highlight of the game may have been Bill Belichick telling wide receiver Adam Thielen to shut the fuck up.
Steelers 30 – 33 Chargers
The Steelers did something that they’ve never done in their franchise history. They threw away a 14 point lead at home and lost a pretty significant game in the AFC. Of two of the top quarterbacks from the 2004 draft, it was Phillip Rivers who won out. Though both played well, Roethlisberger threw a costly interception. The Steelers though did have a number of referee calls go against them, none so more infuriating than a blatant missed false start call against the Chargers on a play that ended with a touchdown for Travis Benjamin. More bad news came at the end of the match with running back James Conner limping off with a lower leg injury that could see him miss a substantial portion of the rest of the year.
Eagles 28 – 13 Redskins
The Redskins are running out of luck and running out of quarterbacks. Colt McCoy went out of the game after completing four passes off four attempts. Later reports suggest that he’s broken a bone in his leg and will be out for the rest of the season so welcome to the starters job Mark Sanchez. The Eagles controlled this game despite falling behind early to a 90 yard Adrien Peterson touchdown run. They came back with touchdown receptions from Golden Tate and Jordan Matthews and a running score from Darren Sproles. (apparently, he’s back!). Mark Sanchez completed 13 passes from 21 attempts for just 100 yards and an interception. In his other eight carries on the night, Peterson managed just eight more yards. Whilst mathematically far from out of the running, I think we can all agree that the Redskins won’t be in the post season.