Sunday’s Week 13 NFL slate opened with the Baltimore Ravens narrowly defeating the San Francisco 49ers in a potential Super Bowl preview in Baltimore.
The day’s action did not get any less interesting from there. It included the Oakland Raiders, Carolina Panthers, Cleveland Browns and Philadelphia Eagles potentially playing themselves out of the playoffs.
Meanwhile, the New England Patriots laid a complete egg in a 28-22 loss to the Houston Texans. These are among your top takeaways from an event-filled Sunday of action around the NFL.
Super Bowl preview in Baltimore?
It lived up to the hype. Both teams played physical, throwback football. It came down to the final seconds. In the end, the Baltimore Ravens defeated what was a 10-1 San Francisco 49ers team by the score of 20-17. It came on a game-winning 49-yard field goal from clutch Ravens kicker Justin Tucker.
Despite seeing Lamar Jackson go for just 105 passing yards, Baltimore earned its eighth consecutive victory, this one in the pouring rain. There’s now little doubt that they are the best team in the AFC.
Over in the NFC, the 49ers dropped to 10-2 on the season and could be in second place in their division following the Vikings-Seahawks game Monday night. Even then, they played one heck of a game in less-than-stellar conditions. This really could be a Super Bowl preview.
Packers rebound in a big way
Most expected Aaron Rodgers and Co. to take care of business against the New York Giants on Sunday. Playing in front of a sparse crowd at the Meadowlands and after some early struggles, that’s exactly what the Packers did.
They came out on top by the score of 31-13 with Rodgers putting up four touchdown passes. Defensively, Green Bay forced three Daniel Jones interceptions in a tremendous all-around performance. Now at 9-3 on the season, Green Bay continues to put pressure on the division-rival Vikings.
Jets lay an egg in Cincinnati
After winning three in a row following a 1-7 start to the season, there was some thought given to the idea that the Jets could win out and earn a playoff spot. The team has been playing tremendous football.
None of that came to fruition Sunday against a previously winless Bengals team in Cincinnati. The Jets were dominated on both sides, losing the game by the score of 22-6. Their defense made Andy Dalton look great. Meanwhile, Sam Darnold could not keep up with his great recent play. The end result was an ugly performance and an end to New York’s already thin playoff aspirations.
Steelers exact revenge, Browns fall from playoff race
The Cleveland Browns had an opportunity to even up their record heading into the stretch run. It came in what was described as a revenge game for the Steelers in Pittsburgh after the entire mess we saw back in Week 11.
Whether it was Browns head coach Freddie Kitchens giving the Steelers bulletin board material or something else, Pittsburgh came to play and won by the score of 20-13. Playing through injury, Baker Mayfield saw undrafted rookie free agent Devlin Hodges outplay him in a horrible all-around performance from Cleveland.
By virtue of this loss, Cleveland is now 5-7 on the season and two games behind Pittsburgh for the final wild card spot in the AFC. Meanwhile, the Steelers have strengthened their case for a surprise playoff appearance after starting the season 0-3.
Ryan Tannehill continues to win
Sunday’s game between the Titans and Colts went a long way in determining who would remain in both the AFC South race and the broader wild card race in the conference. Like we’ve seen since he replaced Marcus Mariota under center earlier in the season, Titans veteran quarterback Ryan Tannehill was more than up for the task.
Tannehill completed 17-of-22 passes with two touchdowns. Derrick Henry went for 149 yards on the ground. Meanwhile, a stingy Titans defense forced two Jacoby Brissett interceptions and a special teams play changed the dynamic of the game in a 31-17 win. The team has now kept pace with Pittsburgh (7-5) for the final wild card spot. Meanwhile, Indy is now stuck between a rock and a hard place at 6-6.
Eagles can’t take advantage of Cowboys loss
Philadelphia sat at home on Thanksgiving watching the first-place Dallas Cowboys get blown out by the Buffalo Bills. All Doug Pederson and Co. needed to do Sunday was defeat one of the worst teams in the NFL in the form of the Miami Dolphins.
Nope. Philly’s defense made DeVante Parker look like Jerry Rice. The receiver went for seven catches, 159 yards and two touchdowns, burning the Eagles’ secondary in the process.
Heck, the Eagles allowed Ryan Fitzpatrick to toss the ball around South Beach to the tune of 365 yards. It resulted in an ugly 37-31 loss for an Eagles team that’s now 5-7 on the season. Just gross.
Rams with get-right game against Cardinals
If the defending NFC champs were to have any chance of remaining in the playoff race, they had to take care of business against a lesser Cardinals team in Arizona on Sunday. Pretty much from the get, that’s exactly what happened.
Struggling quarterback Jared Goff dropped north of 300 passing yards in the first half and finished the day having completed 32-of-43 passes for 424 yards. Todd Gurley put up his best performance of the season, tallying 115 total yards.
All of this equated to a blowout 34-7 win for the now 7-5 Rams. Still with major ground to make up over the final quarter of the season, Los Angeles started December with a bang. What that means moving forward remains to be seen.
The Panthers are absolute toast
Carolina’s playoff aspirations were already hanging on be a thread heading into Sunday’s game against a two-win Redskins team. At 5-6 on the season, the Panthers were three games out of the final wild card spot.
Unfortunately, Ron Rivera’s squad did not have it against one of the worst teams in the conference. Christian McCaffrey was held to 102 total yards. Kyle Allen struggled through the air. Meanwhile, Carolina’s defense allowed a makeshift Redskins offense to put up 29 points in an eight-point defeat. Now at 5-7 on the season, one has to wonder what the future holds for Ron Rivera in Carolina.
Nick Foles benched in awful performance
We already knew that the Jaguars had very little to play for Sunday against a bad Buccaneers team. Little did we know that Jacksonville would show up soft en route to falling down 22-0 in the first half.
This performance led high-priced free-agent signing Nick Foles to get benched in favor of rookie Gardner Minshew after fans in Duval called for that to happen. The end result was an ugly 29-21 loss, Jacksonville’s four consecutive defeat. Even more so than the future of front office head Tom Coughlin in Jacksonville, we’re now openly wondering if this is it for head coach Doug Marrone.
Raiders can’t get out of their own way
It was just a couple short weeks ago that Jon Gruden’s Raiders looked like a legit playoff contender. The team had won three consecutive at home and were set to take on the three-win New York Jets. We all know the story from there. Oakland fell to the Jets by the score of 34-3. It set up a must win against the Chiefs in Kansas City on Sunday.
In pretty much a repeat of what we saw last week, Oakland fell all over itself in yet another blowout loss. Derek Carr threw two interceptions. It was a downright dreadful performance in a 40-9 loss. Now at 6-6, the Raiders are as good as dead in the AFC West race.
Patriots exposed in big way by Texans
It’s getting to the point that New England can no longer be considered favorites to come out of the AFC. We saw first hand how to beat Tom Brady and Co. Sunday night. It came on the road against the Houston Texans in a game that was not remotely close until the end.
Exposed. That’s the best way to describe what we saw from Mr. Brady and Co. Sunday night. The future Hall of Fame quarterback has now accounted for just 11 touchdown passes and six interceptions over the past nine games.
Forget about going up against the NFC’s elite in the Super Bowl, the Pats are now a couple rungs below Baltimore in their own conference. Sunday’s loss told us this story in more ways than one.