Week 13 of the NFL did not disappoint as big games and upsets made things interesting again. With 72.7% of games being decided by a score in the final quarter, the element of unpredictability in the league has reached new heights. The NFL’s goal of “parity” is perhaps more true this season than any other in recent memory.
Still, there are some players having special seasons and teams defying odds despite injuries, thin rosters, or other challenges to remain alive in the playoff race. Let’s delve into the standout performances and remarkable players who caught our eye this week.
Gardner Minshew, the lucky horseshoe?
Facing adversity head on, the Indianapolis Colts pulled off a 31-28 overtime victory against the Tennessee Titans. This win was not only a statement but also a testament to their unwavering resilience as they ran their win streak to four games. The Colts move their season record to 7-5 and remain players squarely in the conference playoff race.
Another Brock Purdy win
San Francisco’s Brock Purdy is redefining what it means to be a quarterback in the NFL. In their 42-19 win over the Philadelphia Eagles, Purdy put on an absolute clinic of how to play the position throwing for 314 yards and four touchdowns.
Purdy has four games with at least three touchdown passes and a passer rating of 140 or higher this season, tied with two guys you may have heard of — Tom Brady (2007) and Aaron Rodgers (2011) who are the only others to do it in an NFL season. His performance this season has etched his name alongside quarterbacks like Lamar Jackson, Patrick Mahomes and Dak Prescott as MVP candidates.
Dynamic San Francisco 49ers duo
Christian McCaffrey and Deebo Samuel are creating their own superhero category for the 49ers. The offensive powerhouses were unstoppable against the Philadelphia Eagles. McCaffrey’s versatility was evident as he achieved an impressive milestone in his NFL career. With 50 rushing touchdowns and 27 touchdown receptions in his career, McCaffrey joins legends Marshall Faulk and Lenny Moore as the only NFL players to have at least 50 rushing touchdowns and 25 touchdown receptions.
Meanwhile, Samuel showcased his skills in receiving and rushing, making him one of just four wide receivers since 2000 with at least 100 receiving yards, two touchdowns receiving, and one rushing in a game.
Tyreek Hill is not human
With a 9-3 record, the Miami Dolphins left no doubt about their prowess in their dominant 45-15 victory over Washington. Tyreek Hill has become the epitome of a game changing receiver and remains worthy of MVP consideration. Hill’s ability to transform any catch into a highlight was on display during the game as he tied Jerry Rice with 16 career games with at least 150 receiving yards. Hill now has 1,481 receiving yards this season — the most receiving yards by a player in his team’s first 12 games of a season in the Super Bowl era.
But it doesn’t stop there.
Hill also joined Tim Brown and Jerry Rice as one of five players to achieve five games in a single season with over 150 receiving yards. Hill’s remarkable 11 career touchdowns of 75 yards or more put him on par with Dante Hall for the fourth highest number in NFL history. Only Devin Hester, Ollie Matson and Bobby Mitchell have more. Additionally Hill’s impressive 21 touchdowns of 60 yards or more matches that of Devin Hester and stands as the highest in NFL history surpassing DeSean Jackson and Jerry Rice.
This Buc never stops
Tampa Bay wide receiver Mike Evans continues to showcase his consistency as the Buccaneers’ most consistent weapon. With a 162-yard performance against Carolina, Evans surpassed 1,000 receiving yards in each of his 10 seasons — the only player in NFL history to reach that milestone. Evans has cemented himself as a shoe-in for the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
C.J. Stroud and proud
C.J. Stroud is making a case for being the league’s best new signal caller. His impressive 274-yard performance against Denver follows in the footsteps of Patrick Mahomes and Andrew Luck. Stroud now has surpassed 3,540 passing yards, throwing past. Justin Herbert’s previous rookie had the third-highest passing yards by a player in their first 12 games.
Only Mahomes, with 3,912 yards and Andrew Luck with 3,596 yards have achieved totals in those first 12 games. Stroud has consistently delivered throwing for at least 250 yards this season in eight games. He’s simply rewriting every record for a rookie quarterback.
Play it again Sam
Sam LaPorta is quickly becoming one of the game’s best tight ends. La Porta became just the fourth rookie tight end in NFL history to make at least nine receptions, record 140 receiving yards, and a touchdown in a game. He joins Pro Football Hall of Famers Mike Ditka, Jackie Smith, and Pete Mitchell who all did the same. LaPorta isn’t just a newcomer trying to find his place, he could be the heir apparent to Travis Kelce at the position.