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NFL Week 13 winners, losers: A.J. Brown’s revenge game, Deshaun Watson looks awful in return

NFL Week 13

NFL Week 12 was billed as one of the best slates in weeks. Thanks to some fantastic matchups and jaw-dropping performances, we’ve got plenty of winners and losers to reflect upon from Sunday’s action.

The early slate of games provided more than enough for analysts and fans to discuss on Monday. From the Philadelphia Eagles demonstrating their supremacy in a blowout win against the Tennessee Titans to the Minnesota Vikings fighting off a late comeback from the New York Jets.

We also experienced some surprising results in NFL Week 13. The New York Giants and Washington Commanders tied in their first of back-to-back meetings. Meanwhile, the Detroit Lions blew the doors off the Detroit Lions and the Cleveland Browns overcame Deshaun Watson to defeat one of the worst teams in recent history.

Related: NFL Week 13 scores

As for the late-afternoon games, Joe Burrow and the Cincinnati Bengals stunned the Kansas City Chiefs. On the other side of the country, the San Francisco 49ers’ defense and backup quarterback Brock Purdy overcame a worrisome injury to Jimmy Garoppolo to knock out the Miami Dolphins.

Here are the winners and losers from NFL Week 13.

Winner: A.J. Brown makes Tennessee Titans look foolish

NFL: Tennessee Titans at Philadelphia Eagles
Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

The Tennessee Titans had one of the best wide receivers in the NFL and A.J. Brown wanted to be paid like it. At a time when many of his peers received contract extensions with a $23-plus million AAV, Brown was willing to take $22 million per season. Instead, the Titans low-balled their second-best offensive player and dealt a massive blow to their passing attack.

Even if Brown didn’t admit it publicly, he took this NFL Week 13 matchup personally. Tennessee had no answer for the Eagles’ No. 1 receiver, allowing 119 receiving yards and two touchdowns in effectively three quarters. As for the Titans’ offense, it finished with 122 passing yards and averaged 3.9 yards per play. Just another Sunday for one of the NFL’s worst passing offenses.

Loser: Deshaun Watson falls flat

NFL: Cleveland Browns at Houston Texans
Thomas Shea-USA TODAY Sports

Deshaun Watson looked like one of the worst quarterbacks in the NFL on Sunday. It’s not like he returned to a challenging matchup. At a half-empty NRG Stadium with plenty of Browns fans in attendance, Watson managed only posted a 53.4 quarterback rating, completing 12-of-22 passes with an awful red-zone interception and a 54.5% completion rate.

Keep in mind, the Houston Texans’ defense allowed an average 105.4 QB rating, 8.4 ypa and a 64.3% completion rate to opponents in November. It’s not as if there was a lot of pressure on a primetime stage, the NFL Week 12 schedule effectively put zero spotlight on this game.

Of course, this is putting aside the spin of Watson showing “signs of progress” in league-mandated treatment, despite a lack of accountability this entire time. Maybe rust played a factor, but nothing Watson has shown or said since landing in Cleveland suggests he’s worth $230 million guaranteed.

Winner: Christian Watson’s historic run continues

NFL: Green Bay Packers at Chicago Bears
Daniel Bartel-USA TODAY Sports

Before diving into what Christian Watson did in NFL Week 13, it’s important to rewind a few weeks. He was an afterthought heading into a Nov. 13 meeting with the Dallas Cowboys. Drops, a lack of explosive plays and frustration caused for Aaron Rodgers defined the first half of Watson’s rookie season. He’s been one of the most productive wide receivers in football ever since.

  • Christian Watson stats (Week 10-13): 362 scrimmage yards, 8 touchdowns

After playing like a developmental project for months, Watson is now performing like one of the best offensive weapons from the 2022 NFL Draft class. He joins Randy Moss as the only two rookies in NFL history to score eight touchdowns in a four-game stretch. It might not be translating to a lot of wins for the Green Bay Packers, but it provides them with a huge piece to be excited about for 2023.

Loser: Houston Texans are an embarrassment

NFL: Cleveland Browns at Houston Texans
Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

The Houston Texans’ front office went into the season wanting the No. 1 pick in the 2023 NFL Draft and they will get it. It’s one thing to be the worst team in the league by far, Houston takes that title easily. After all, the Texans’ average margin of defeat since Nov. 4 is 12.2 points.

Related: NFL insider hints Houston Texans could be next franchise put up for sale

Houston has a problem and it’s a long-term worry. Dameon Pierce, Derek Stingley Jr. and Jalen Pitre seem like the only core contributors for the future. When only 6% of your roster can be viewed as potential long-term pieces, it’s a huge problem.

Assuming Bryce Young is the Texans’ preferred option with the first pick, he will step into an awful situation. The offensive line is a mess, Brandin Cooks will certainly want out in 2023 and there are no signs of stability in the organization. The only thing that might save the Texans is a new owner, but that will be a long wait.

Winner: Detroit Lions are the future kings of the NFC North

NFL: Jacksonville Jaguars at Detroit Lions
Lon Horwedel-USA TODAY Sports

There is arguably no team outside the playoff hunt with a brighter future than the Detroit Lions. After writing this club off a few weeks ago, believing it needed a new head coach to take the leap in 2023, it now seems apparent Detroit can do that with Dan Campbell next year.

Related: NFL offense rankings

In terms of the Lions’ building blocks, just take your pick on either side of the ball. Detroit boasts one of the best offensive lines in the NFL, Amon-Ra St. Brown is firmly a No. 1 receiver in this offense and the running back duo is fantastic. On defense, Jeff Okudah, Aidan Hutchinson, Malcolm Rodriguez and Kerby Joseph are all playing a huge role in this unit’s resurgence.

Now, factor in the top-five pick from the Los Angeles Rams along with a second-round pick via the Minnesota Vikings. The Lions will have unbelievable flexibility in the 2023 NFL Draft, in a position to start shaping their roster like the Eagles. It’s the kind of environment great quarterbacks want to be in and Detroit will have the assets to land one as the Packers and Vikings start retooling.

Loser: Baltimore Ravens must be saved from Greg Roman

NFL: Baltimore Ravens-Minicamp
Evan Habeeb-USA TODAY Sports

Baltimore Ravens offensive coordinator Greg Roman is well-respected in league circles. Strangely, all the talk about him being an NFL head-coaching candidate each year never results in him landing a job. If the Ravens’ offense is going to be saved in 2023, it needs Stanford to step in and take him away from Lamar Jackson.

This criticism doesn’t tie directly into NFL Week 13. Although, Roman’s play-calling mustered just 28 yards on 11 plays before Jackson exited with an injury. Baltimore’s play-caller has been using the same offense for years, refusing to adapt to adjustments from defensive coordinators. From the overreliance on tight ends to the ineffectiveness in the red zone (24th in red-zone touchdown rate), Roman should have been fired last year. With John Harbaugh’s loyalty preventing that, Ravens’ players and fans must hope that Roman leaves for Stanford.

Winner: Joe Burrow proves Bengals are a Super Bowl threat

NFL: Kansas City Chiefs at Cincinnati Bengals
Katie Stratman-USA TODAY Sports

Even before Ja’Marr Chase returned, quarterback Joe Burrow made it clear the Cincinnati Bengals were back as a Super Bowl contender. Few took it seriously at the time, largely because the reigning AFC champions lacked a signature win in recent weeks.

Even before Ja’Marr Chase returned, quarterback Joe Burrow made it clear the Cincinnati Bengals were back as a Super Bowl contender. Few took it seriously at the time, largely because the reigning AFC champions lacked a signature win in recent weeks.

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