NFL Week 14 takeaways
New England saw its 11 year reign atop the AFC East officially come to an end this weekend. It also saw its offense score just three points and some questions arise about its quarterbacks. Cam Newton was benched late in the game, but neither he nor Jarrett Stidham looked very capable against the Rams' defense. The Patriots are playing their way out of playoff contention and currently hold the 16th pick in April's draft.
New life in Chicago's offense?
The QB problems have been well-documented this season for the Bears, but the offense has suddenly topped 30 points in back-to-back games. Now, you do have to take into account the defenses they have been playing. The Lions and Texans both have bottom-tier NFL defensive units. It's a good accomplishment for this team, but don't expect any offensive renaissance.
It's safe to say the Dolphins are one of the surprise teams this season, mostly due to their defense. Brian Flores has done a terrific job assembling the pieces and working with what he has. On Sunday, that Miami defense made Patrick Mahomes look almost human--intercepting three of his passes. The Dolphins didn't win the game, but they've shown promising signs while fighting for a playoff spot.
Wild card races taking shape
The Colts distanced themselves from the pack with a big win over the Raiders on Sunday. With the Patriots loss to the Rams, the final AFC spot appears to be down to three teams: the Dolphins (8-5), the Ravens (8-5), and the Raiders (7-6). The Ravens have a pretty easy schedule the rest of the way, and the Dolphins play the Raiders in Week 16. In the NFC, the 7-6 Cardinals hold the final spot. The Bears and Vikings are both a game behind Arizona and play each other this weekend. Detroit and San Francisco have not been officially eliminated but would need a ton of help to get in.
Colts get big win in playoff hunt
Indy's win over Vegas gave the Colts a huge leg up in the wildcard race. The Colts' win also tied the Titans for first place in the AFC South at 9-4, although Tennessee currently holds the tiebreaker. So, with three games left, Indy has a 1 game lead over the final wild car spot (they currently hold the 6th of seven spots), a chance to win its division, and pushed a competitor (Vegas) further away from securing a playoff bid.
Hurts the answer?
The Eagles upset the Saints on Sunday, and a large part of that was the rookie QB Jalen Hurts. Hurts wasn't great in the passing game, he never has been, but his running ability gave the New Orleans defense fits. He ran for 106 yards, and anytime you have a quarterback become that kind of running threat you should have an advantage. He brings an interesting element to the Philly offense and has earned a chance to show what he can do,
Washington or Giants?
The Washington Football team is red-hot and has taken over first place in the NFC East, but the race is not over. While Dallas and Philly are also still alive, it appears that Washington or New York will win this division. The Giants had won four consecutive games until Sunday, meanwhile Washington has won four straight and four of the five games Alex Smith has started. Everyone is bound to have different opinions on this, but Washington is the more complete team in my opinion.
Steelers figured out
The undefeated Steelers are now the "twice defeated" Steelers. Pittsburgh had to follow up a disappointing effort against Washington with a short week and tough matchup with Buffalo. The Steelers' offense only mustered seven points in the first three quarters and struggled to move the ball all night. It's the second week in a row that Pittsburgh's offense has struggled, which may be a sign that teams have figured it out.