It’s beginning to look a lot like playoff season. If you’re bitter about college football playoffs (sorry Ohio State fans), hopefully your NFL team eased the pain.
In a contentious NFC East matchup on Thursday night, the Cowboys overcame the Redskins. As a huge proponent of color rush I personally blame a surprising loss on the Redskins’ decision to not wear their immaculate yellow color rush jerseys, but those believers in facts may accredit the loss to a strong Dallas defensive showing. Dez Bryant showed up with some solid plays, throughout the game, most notably his clutch catch in the fourth quarter that gave Dallas a lead of 24-7. Washington followed up with a touchdown after Cousins connected to Josh Doctson, but the Cowboys were far from finished. After a tip from Anthony Brown and a run by Rod Smith, the Cowboys finished the game up 38-14. The 6-6 Cowboys will play the Giants on Sunday, and the 5-7 Redskins face the Chargers.
The Chiefs, who once in a distant memory beat the Patriots early this season, fell to the Jets Sunday afternoon 31-38. The Chiefs had a strong start, led by Smith who threw to Travis Kelce only minutes into the game for a touchdown, and followed up with another score minutes later, with a 14-0 lead immediately. The Jets responded with help from Bilal Powell and Josh McCown, tying the game up. Marcus Peters, cornerback for the Chiefs, had a brief meltdown when he threw a penalty flag into the stands after a holding call and a failed conversion for the Chiefs, and was hit with an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty. Kareem Hunt had 9 carries and 40 yards, but no scores. Josh McCown threw 26 for 36 and 331 yards, and Alex Smith threw 19 for 33 and 366 yards. The 6-6 Chiefs (who still lead the AFC West) will play the Raiders on Sunday and the 5-7 Jets face the Broncos.
The Jaguars have come a long way from last season, with an 8-4 season after a win over the Indianapolis Colts. Blake Bortles had an amazing performance, throwing 26 of 35 for 309 yards and two touchdowns. Leonard Fournette led the Jags offense with 20 carries for 57 yards, but was out from an ankle injury in the third quarter. Jacoby Brissett threw 21 of 36 for 174 yards, with one touchdown and two interceptions, he also had 6 rushes for 36 yards. Frank Gore had 13 carries for 61 yards and became number five on the NFL’s career rushing list with a career total of 13,697 yards. Sacksonville was led by Calais Campbell who now has 12 1/2 sacks this season. The 3-9 Colts will play the Bills and the Jaguars will face the Seahawks.
The Texans fell to the Tennessee Titans 24-13, but the Titans’ win was far from well-executed. Despite Tom Savage’s best efforts yet, throwing 31 of 49 for 365 yards, the Texans lost four offensive players throughout the game and it showed. Mariota threw 15 of 23 for 150 yards, running a touchdown in the second quarter and later connecting to Delanie Walker in the third quarter. LeShaun Sims had a clutch interception in the final minute of the game, taking the ball from DeAndre Hopkins inside of the end zone, followed by a huge run from Derrick Henry for 75 yards to secure the Titans’ win. The 8-4 Titans will play the Cardinals and the 4-8 Texans will face the 49ers.
Jimmy Garoppolo led the 49ers to a close win over Chicago, throwing 26 of 37 for 293 yards. Mitch Trubisky threw 12 of 15 for 102 yards, and one touchdown. The real star of the 49ers team had to be Robbie Gould, who kicked a winning field goal at the end of the game, as well as five other field goals throughout the game. Gould had a bit of a chip on his shoulder, because he was cut last year by the Bears prior to their first game. Tarik Cohen had an epic run after catching a punt and returning it from 61 yards. The 2-10 49ers will play the Titans and the 3-9 Bears will play the Bengals.
The Vikings shutout 2016 MVP Matt Ryan, keeping the Falcons without a touchdown for the first time since 2015. Ryan threw 19 of 29 for 173 yards, while Case Keenum had yet another great showing, throwing 25 for 30 and 227 yards, with two touchdowns to Kyle Rudolph and Adam Thielen. Latavius Murray had 16 carries and 76 yards for the Vikings, but it was a strong Vikings defense that rattled Ryan. The 10-2 Vikings will play the Panthers and the 7-5 Falcons will have a huge game against the Saints on Thursday.
Miami made a statement in a huge win over the Broncos of 35-9. An exhausted Broncos defense was unable to stop the momentum from Jay Cutler and the Miami offense. Cutler threw 18 of 31 for 235 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions. Kenyan Drake had 23 carries for 120 yards and one touchdown for the Dolphins. Trevor Siemian struggled yet again, throwing 19 of 41 passes for 200 yards, with no scores and three interceptions. Siemian was also sacked three times and was hit several times. This was the second halftime lead for the Dolphins of the season, scoring two safeties for the first time in franchise history. The 5-7 Dolphins will play New England on December 11, who they fell to just one week ago, and the 3-9 Broncos will play the Jets in Denver.
The Ravens started off with a huge start against the Lions, with a score of 20-0 at halftime. Joe Flacco threw 23 of 36 for 269 yards and two touchdowns, and Alex Collins had 15 carries for 75 yards with two touchdowns. Matthew Stafford threw 24 of 29 for 292 yards with one touchdown and one interception, but was out in the fourth quarter from a hand injury. He was replaced with Jake Rudock who quickly threw another interception for the Lions. The final score was 44-20. The 7-5 Ravens will play the Steelers on Sunday and the 6-6 Lions face the Buccanneers.
What does a W taste like? Jameis Winston has no idea. The Packers secured a close win in overtime against Tampa Bay at home. It was a surprising win for the Pack, considering Brett Hundley (who may return to being a backup as soon as week 15) threw 13 of 22 for only 84 yards, no touchdowns and one interception. Hundley was forced to run several times throughout the game, however, it was 7 carries for 77 yards. Jamaal Williams led Green Bay with 21 carries and 113 yards and a score while Davante Adams had 4 receptions and 42 yards. Jameis Winston threw 21 of 32 for 270 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions, but Green Bay had seven sacks, with two from Clay Matthews. The 4-8 Buccaneers will play Detroit on Sunday and the 6-6 Packers will play the Browns.
The Saints had a big win over thee Panthers after a streak-ending loss last week. Drew Brees threw 25 of 34 for 269 yards and one touchdown, while Cam Newton threw 17 of 27 for 183 yards and two touchdowns. Newton also had 6 rushes for 51 yards. Christian McCaffery had a touchdown for the Panthers after a Saints fumble forced by safety Mike Adams before the half, but the Saints offense had a lot left to give. Mark Ingram and Alvin Kamara had huge running games, with Ingram running 85 yards and one touchdown, while Kamara ran 60 for two touchdowns. The final score was 31-21. The 9-3 Saints will play the Falcons, and the 8-4 Panthers will play the Vikings.
The Rams faced the Cardinals, fellow NFC rivals on Sunday after coming off of a huge win against New Orleans last week. The hot streak continued in a 32-16 win over Arizona. Jared Goff threw 21 of 31 for 220 yards and two touchdowns, with one interception, and Blaine Gabbert had a very similar 18 of 32 for 221 yards, with one touchdown and two interceptions. Todd Gurley had a huge game for LA with 19 carries and 74 yards rushing, and 7 receptions for 84 yards. Larry Fitzgerald had 10 receptions for 98 yards and 1 touchdown, including a 15 yard pass in the second quarter. Greg Zuerlin of the Rams had a huge game, starting the game off with a huge 56 yard field goal followed by three others throughout the game, and two extra points. The 9-3 Rams will play the Eagles (which is going to be a great matchup) and the 5-7 Cardinals will play the Titans.
Coming off of a huge controversy, Ben McAdoo looked for reassurance after his decision to bench former Super Bowl MVP and two time champion Eli Manning for backup Geno Smith. The Raiders made sure that didn’t happen. Beast Mode sported a huge 51-yard touchdown to add to his 101 rushing yard game as Oakland struggled without Michael Crabtree (who was suspended last week for a fight) and Amari Cooper (injury). Geno Smith threw 21 of 34 for 212 yards with one touchdown and several fumbles. Derek Carr threw 22 of 36 for 287 yards and one touchdown. The 6-6 Raiders will play the Chiefs and the 2-10 Giants will play the Cowboys on Sunday.
It was a must-win for the Seahawks to redeem themselves as they entered into CenturyLink field with a deep defensive injury roster against the most winningest team of the season. What proceeded was a shock to the NFC conscience. The Hawks opened up the first quarter against the Eagles with a field goal from Blair Walsh, a touchdown after Wilson connected to Jimmy Graham, and another extra point from Walsh. The Eagles finally put 3 up in the second quarter with a field goal, but the Seahawks defense, filled with new faces, kept the Eagles from scoring until the third quarter. Wentz had a huge play in the fourth quarter as he faced pressure from Seahawks D in the pocket, and connected under pressure to Nelson Agholor for 51 yards. Wentz also made a costly mistake, fumbling the ball at the Seattle 1 yard line, resulting in a touchback. Byron Maxwell, former Eagle, filled in for Richard Sherman, closed the game after the two minute warning with an interception in the end zone, giving Seahawks possession and control to run out the clock. The 10-2 Eagles will face another tough NFC contender, the LA Rams on Sunday, and the 8-4 Seahawks will play the Jaguars.
Tonight the Steelers will play the Bengals in an AFC North battle. The Steelers, who are tied with the Patriots for the number one AFC spot, are looking to secure this game to strengthen the future of their season.