NFL Week 13 takeaways
Ding-dong the witch is dead
That's at least what the mood seems to be in Detroit. After the firing of Matt Patricia, there seems to be new vibe around this team. One assistant coach was even quoted as saying, "Watch what happens now that the dictator's gone." The Lions got down to a bad Bears team, yet, at a time when they would've mailed it in under Patricia, came back to win the game. They now sit just a game out of the playoffs with four games to play. I don't expect them to make it, but it was good to see a positive mood around the team for once.
Steelers not so mighty?
The Steelers finally lost a game. The most shocking thing about it might not be that they lost but that they lost to a team from the NFC East. Washington had a great second half and was able to do some things on offense. The defense also became too much for Pittsburgh to handle late in the game. The running game was nonexistent, and its hard to win football games being so one-dimensional. One player said the Ravens showed other teams the formula, so we'll see if Pittsburgh struggles down the stretch. The Steelers currently hold the No. 1 seed in the AFC and lead the AFC North by two games over Cleveland.
Tennessee let down
After obliterating division rival Indianapolis just a week ago, the Titans had a sluggish start against the Browns. They were down 38-7 at the half, which isn't going to get you wins. They played much more like we expected in the second half, outscoring Cleveland 28-3 to make the final score a respectable 41-35, but it is concerning that Cleveland was able to dominate the Titans' defense so easily.
The passing game was on point for Cleveland. Baker Mayfield finished with 334 yards and four touchdowns on the day. The running game also got 113 yards on the ground. I think this is the kind of offense we have been expecting to see out of Cleveland with so many different weapons. The question is was it just an outlier or a step to the next level?
Washington and Giants pulling away
The Washington Football Team and the New York Giants both won this weekend to go to 5-7, while the Philadelphia Eagles and Dallas Cowboys both lost. The losses put Philly 1.5 games behind and Dallas two games behind in the division. With just four weeks left in the season, both Philadelphia and Dallas could be eliminated quickly and have no room for error.
It wasn't long ago that people were talking about Carson Wentz as the next great young NFL quarterback. He had led his team to a 13-3 record and was playing at an MVP level. He even earned a $128 million contract. Now, he seems a far cry from his former self. He has struggled with turnovers and bad decisions for the past couple of seasons, but they've become even more inexcusable this year. He has now been replaced by rookie Jalen Hurts for Sunday's game. With a contract too rich for other teams to take on, we may be looking at an incredibly overpaid backup.
Race for the No. 1 seed
In the NFC, the Saints currently hold the No. 1 seed by a single game over the Packers. New Orleans has won nine consecutive games since losing to Green Bay early in the season. The Saints also have a huge game coming up against the Chiefs. Likewise, Green Bay still has to play the Titans. If both teams finish with the same record, Green Bay will get the top spot. In the AFC, Pittsburgh and Kansas City are tied at the top thanks to Washington's upset over the Steelers on Monday. Three of the final four games for Pittsburgh are against playoff teams, while Kansas City has to play just two of such teams. In a season as close as this one, the difference could be that miniscule.
The extra wildcard spot the league added this year has made this a tight race across the board. In the NFC, Minnesota currently holds the final playoff spot at 6-6, edging out Arizona via tiebreaker and one game behind Tampa Bay for the No. 6 seed. However, that's not the end of the story. With four games left, Chicago, Detroit, San Francisco, and Washington are just a game behind Minnesota and two behind Tampa. It's likely these teams will need to win out, but with so many of them playing each other, they all have a shot. In the AFC, The Colts and Dolphins hold the final two spots at 8-4. Las Vegas is right behind at 7-5, followed by 6-5 Baltimore and 6-6 New England. The Raiders play both Indy and Miami later this season and will need those to strengthen their chances. The Patriots have a difficult schedule remaining, playing three of their last four against current playoff teams, while the Ravens don't face an opponent with a winning record for the rest of the regular season. All this makes for an intriguing final month of the season.