The NFL returned to full schedule in Week 14, and Sunday provided a whirlwind of big plays, big upsets and big statement victories.
Here are a few takeaways from another crazy day at Gridiron, from Buffalo Bills’ second consecutive prime-time victory, to the tightening of the MVP race and a successful start at City of Brotherly Love.
Steelers advertise bills while looking for answers
After a slow start against the tough Pittsburgh Steelers defense, the bills came to life on Sunday night, with Taron Johnson crossing Ben Ruthlisberger and taking 51 yards into the end zone.
Like Johnson, who was going to pay the dirt on Pick-Six, the bills never looked back.
On Sunday Buffalo won the second prime-time game of the season for weeks in a row, putting the rest of the league on notice by knocking down the Steelers, topping the AFC with this loss.
Quarterback led by two more touchdowns from Josh Allen – giving him a total of 35 scores a year, Franchise Record – The bills declared themselves real competitors by looking at the home business against the Powerhouse Steelers, 10-3 for the first time since 1991 and one step closer to their first AFC East Division crown since 1995.
Pittsburgh, who started the season 11-0, have now dropped two in a row, leaving the Steelers scratching their heads towards the flip. Along with the Chiefs’ victory over the Dolphins before Sunday, the loss means that Mike Tomlin’s team will no longer control its fate in the fight for the first round bye and home-field advantage in the playoffs – this prize is now of great importance to the team fighting at exactly the wrong time.
Mahoms, Chiefs found ways to win ugly, close games
It was a long way from the Chiefs on Sunday, but with a road victory over the Kansas City Dolphins, they clinched their fifth consecutive AFC West Division title.
They returned to the stadium where they won the Super Bowl in February, and the man who captured the Super Bowl MVP months ago struggled at some point during his latest Miami tour. Patrick Mahoms threw more interruptions on Sunday (three) than in the previous 12 games combined this season (two). He was fired three times – a season-high – by 30 yards from Jerome Baker.
We are so accustomed to amazingly winning chiefs, a little george to watch them win ugly. But great teams always find ways to get out of games that don’t go with the W and KC has been working on that for the past five weeks.
Rather than a reason to doubt the chiefs, it remains to be seen why Andy Reid’s team will struggle so hard to beat these grind-em-out wins – they will find ways to win.
Aaron Rodgers now MVP “Front Runner”?
Aaron Rodgers strengthened his position as 1B (or 1A) in the 2020 NFL MVP race after playing only the previous game with the Mahoms Dolphins.
And if you ask Packers head coach Matt Laughlor, Rodgers 1A.
Rodgers made four touchdowns (three through the air and one on the field) against the Detroit Lions on Sunday, bringing his total touchdowns to 42 this season. The 37-year-old now has eight consecutive games with at least a 100 rating and once in 2020 he has one game with a passer rating below 100.
Rodgers had his best season in half a century and not only helped his team win a second consecutive NFC North title in Week 14, but lifted Green Bay to No. 1 seed at the NFC after losing to New Orleans Saints Philadelphia. Eagles.
In 2020, Rodgers’ age has been proven and after opening up in the NFL on Sunday, it is impossible to deny that number 12 along with Mahoms in the MVP conversation is correct.
Derrick Henry: King of kings
After a badly off-game defeat to the Cleveland Browns last week, Derrick Henry said he would like to compete with a team called the Jacksonville Jaguars on Sunday.
Henry’s 12 career touchdowns against the Jaguars are higher than any other team’s score, and his 215 running yards for two touchdowns at 26 this week gave Jacksonville a chance to hang out this week.
King Henry’s Monster Day on the field also set an NFL record for most games with 200-plus rushing yards and two-plus touchdowns, surpassing three of the Hall of Famers in the process.
We never know what to expect from the 2020 Titans Week-in and Week-Out, but we know one thing: if Derrick Henry dominates like he did on Sunday, the Titans are likely to come up.
Jalen Hartz gives the Eagles the much-needed boost
The biggest upset of the 14th week was when rookie quarterback Jalen Hurts took charge of the Eagles’ crisis team and shocked the NFC’s best team, the Saints.
The fights the Eagles have now under Bench Carson Wentz have been well documented and much discussed this season, and those duos are one of the most baggage given by any team in football and one of the crimes that cause turnover in the game.
On Sunday, Hurt was not eliminated at all and the Eagles did not turn the ball around until the rookie signal-collar faltered with just one minute left in the match.
Now, Hurts is away for an accurate quarterback on Sunday – he finished with just 56 per cent of his passes and finished with QBR or 58.5 – but the 22-year-old Eagles put some explosives into play on the offense, opening Philadelphia’s run game to pick up some important streaks.
When Miles Saunders broke the 100-yard mark in Philadelphia on Sunday afternoon, he knocked down a 56-game Saints series without allowing a 100-yard rush. Later in the game, Hurt realized the 100-yard mark himself, finishing a seven-year skid for the Eagles without two 100-yard rushers in the same game.
Only time will tell whether the Eagles’ future in the quarterback will hurt, but Sunday’s performance guarantees that he will be part of the conversation going forward.
Bad Beat of the Week (s)
Week 14 has two tough ones for Betters.
With less than a minute left against the Chiefs, the Dolphins kicked a field goal in Miami to cover a seven-point spread as home underdogs. Despite winning every game, it was heartbreaking for those who went along with KC, who went 0-5 against the spread in their last five places.
The other bad beat came in the Lions-Packers game, where another late field goal ensured that the fan would not cover, as Green Bay won only seven, with the Packers leading by 10 points with three minutes left in the game when the cover was locked by nine points.
Playoff movie after 14th week
Here’s how the NFL’s playoffs form after Sunday the 14th week with changes at the top of each conference.
1) Kansas City Chiefs (12-1)
2) Pittsburgh Steelers (11-2)
3) Buffalo Bills (10-3)
4) Tennessee Titans (9-4)
5) Cleveland Browns * (9-3)
6) Indianapolis Colts (9-4)
7) Miami Dolphins (8-5)
On the hunt
Baltimore Ravens * (7-5)
Las Vegas Riders (7-6)
New England Patriots (6-7)
* Playing Monday night
1) Green Bay Packers (10-3)
2) New Orleans Saints (10-3)
3) Los Angeles Rams (9-4)
4) Washington football team (6-7)
5) Seattle Seahawks (9-4)
6) Tampa Bay Buccaneers (8-5)
7) Arizona Cardinals (7-6)
On the hunt
Minnesota Vikings (6-7)
Chicago Bears (6-7)
Other NFC East teams