So much good stuff in Week 13.
And let’s get started with everyone’s favorite play, the Hail Mary.
On Thursday Night Football the Detroit Lions were literally one play away from sweeping the Packers for the first time since 1991 – until this happened:
Heading into the game Green Bay had lost 4 of their last 5 games, including a pair of falters at home to the bottom of the NFC North barrel, the Bears and Lions. At just 229.8 passing yards per game, the Pack’s 23rd-ranked pass attack had us all wondering what was wrong with Aaron Rodgers.
While it might be silly to say that an (8-4) team in first place is struggling, I can’t help but wonder if the “Miracle” will be that one defining moment to put Rodgers and the Packers back on track just at the right time.
And speaking of getting into playoff form in December – how about those Seahawks?
If last week’s shootout victory over the Steelers was the appetizer, their 38-7 drubbing of the Vikings on the road is the main course.
Seattle didn’t just beat Minnesota. They dominated the Vikings in every single phase of the game. Much of the talk during the run up to kickoff circled around whether or not Adrian Peterson would be the first back to crack 100 yards against the Hawks’ vaunted run defense.
Peterson finished the day with 18 – and no, that’s not a typo.
— SI NFL (@si_nfl) December 7, 2015
On the other side of the field, Thomas Rawls, the heir-apparent to Marshawn Lynch, tallied up 101 yards on the ground. Rawls now has 711 yards in his first 6 starts, good for the best ever for an undrafted player in the Super Bowl era.
The Hawks have now won 5 of their last 6 and are quickly converting back into the team nobody wants to face in January.
And players like middle linebacker Bobby Wagner are once again starting to drink the Kool-Aid: “I just think the defense, the way we are playing the way we play, and the offense, the way they are playing right now, that there’s really not a team that can beat us. We have everything clicking. We feel like the sky’s the limit for us.’’
Even the now (12-0) Panthers have to be secretly hoping Seattle slides at the last minute and doesn’t get back to the playoffs, but with the Bucs topping the Falcons to bring both clubs to (6-6) the Seahawks now own the 6th seed by a full game and are more likely to move into the 5th slot and overtake Minnesota than they are to fall out of the race as they move into the softest stretch in their schedule.
Tasty Tidbits from Week 13
Buffalo kept their postseason hopes alive with a career day out of Tyrod Taylor. Three touchdown passes and another score with his legs was good enough to down the red hot Texans 30-21.
On Tyrod Taylor: “I think he’s legit. I think he’s real. And I think people are finally starting to realize that.” pic.twitter.com/lXsYxAtZtg
— Buffalo Bills (@buffalobills) December 6, 2015
But not all is lost for Houston after Matt Hasselbeck’s luck ran out in Pittsburgh. Old Man Hasselbeck tossed a pair of picks but it didn’t really matter much as the Steelers trounced Indy 45-10 with yet another 500+ yard game on offense.
In other AFC playoff related action, the Jets stunned the Giants 23-20 in overtime and the Chiefs continued to roll 34-20 over the Raiders.
Ex-Eagle Jeremy Maclin had two fourth quarter touchdown grabs to help Kansas City win their 6th straight game.
— Kansas City Chiefs (@Chiefs) December 7, 2015
And speaking of the Eagles. Those turds beat the New England Patriots this week. We won’t read too much into this as every team is afforded an off week now and again but two straight losses for the Champs does prove that Brady and Company is fallible. Watch here as the G.O.A.T. gives up a 99-yard pick six to Malcolm Jenkins:
Offensive Player of the Week
Ryan Fitzpatrick threw for the most yards he’s ever put up in a Jets uniform. In fact 390 yards is the most by any NYJ since Vinny Testaverde tallied 481 versus the Ravens 15 years ago.
Over the past two weeks Fitz has thrown 87 passes for 667 yards, 6 TDs and zero interceptions.
Is it time for the bearded wonder to finally play a postseason game?
After the game, the Jets QB said of Brandon Marshall (recipient of 12 catches and 131 of those yards), “That dude, he makes my job so easy.”
Defensive Player of the Week
James Harrison is one of the oldest defensive players in the league but he’s still producing like he is 25 years old.
3 sacks, 3 QB hits, 6 tackles, 1 assist and 1 forced fumble. Quite the stat line for a club now known for its offensive prowess.
James Harrison Records Franchise-Record 18th Multi-Sack Game https://t.co/6HYnAYQNBU
— Steelers Depot (@Steelersdepot) December 7, 2015
Team on the Rise
Hard to go with anybody but the Seattle Seahawks here.
Feel free to toss out their (7-5) record as this is the hottest team in the NFL right now and Russell Wilson is playing like an absolute god.
The efficiency of the Seahawks passing attack has been extraordinary. Putting up big numbers on relatively few attempts.
We’ve seen this before – the Hawks start off slow and roll into the postseason like a freight train. Choo-choo. All aboard.
— Seattle Seahawks (@Seahawks) December 6, 2015
I’d also like to mention that the Broncos have quietly won three straight games with Brock Osweiler under center to improve to (10-2). While Cincinnati has now slid into the #1 seed, there’s more than enough football remaining for Denver to wind up with home field advantage throughout.
Team on the Decline
Three weeks ago the New York Giants were sitting pretty in the NFC East. Well, pretty “enough” at (5-4) and in 1st place.
But after allowing the Jets to come back from the dead on Sunday afternoon, the G-Men have dropped a trio of games they had a real chance of winning.
Fortunately for Eli Manning, the NFC Least will likely be won by a team with a losing record.
Just in Case You Missed It
- The Bengals destroyed the Browns 37-3, increasing optimism in Andy Dalton’s ability to finally win a playoff game.
- Cam Newton tossed 5 TDs in a wild 41-38 victory over the Saints.
- The extra-long extra point is making a fabulous debut. There were 9 missed extra points in week 13 (prior to the Cowboys and Redskins game) adding a subtle nuance to the game. The 7th point is no longer a gimme.
Games to Look Forward to in Week 14
Vikings at Cardinals – A Thursday Night game with major playoff implications. A Minnesota loss coupled with a Seattle win pushes the Vikings down to the 6th seed. A week after failing to hang with the big boys, Teddy Bridgewater could really use a big win against a top tier contender.
Steelers at Bengals – The AFC North is all but wrapped up for Cincinnati but with Pittsburgh on the outside looking in for the Wild Card chase, we’re sure to see an offensive battle in Ohio between two division rivals that don’t really care for one another.
Patriots at Texans – This is a game that Houston really, really needs to win and New England would hate to drop 3 in a row, even if an AFC East championship is already a foregone conclusion.