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NFL Week 13: Ten Things You Need To Know

Week 13 in the NFL saw our first division champions confirmed, as the Carolina Panthers secured the NFC South for the th



  Week 13 in the NFL saw our first division champions confirmed, as the Carolina Panthers secured the NFC South for the third year in row, thanks to the Atlanta Falcons’ loss at the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The NFC South has been a far cry from a year ago, where the messy division came down to the final game, and sent the Panthers to the playoffs on a .500 record. Fast forward to 2015, and they are sitting at 12-0, after squeaking past the New Orleans Saints, and are set for home field advantage throughout the playoffs. On paper at least, are the team team to beat in the NFL. What else did Week 13 throw up? Take a look: 1. In the battle of New York, the Jets came out as victors despite playing much of the game behind the Giants 23-20 in overtime. Giants kicker John Brown had the chance to tie the game in the extra period, but pushed his 48-yard field goal wide left, to send the Jets to 7-5 and back into the top end of the AFC playoff contenders. Once again, the Giants were left to rue a fourth quarter lead that they couldn’t convert into a victory, and a failed fourth down conversion deep in Jets territory, where a field goal would have given them a 13 point lead. Instead, Eli Manning was intercepted and it sparked the Jets furious comeback. 2. Both the Houston Texans and Buffalo Bills are still in the hunt for an AFC wildcard playoff place, after a Bills 30-21 victory sent them both to 6-6. The Texans ferocious defensive line was tamed by a stout Bills offensive line, while Tyrod Taylor secured three touchdown passes on just 11 completions for the Bills. The Texans simply don’t have the necessary weapons to compete with teams unless their defense can hold them to under three scores. However, the AFC South might just be the best, and most likely, route for their passage to the postseason. The Bills are still reliant on other results, especially with two teams above them in the AFC East. Winning can’t hurt though. 3. How about this for a stat line: Adrian Peterson – 8 rushes, 18 yards. Do you want to guess if the Vikings managed to beat the Seahawks? I thought not. It wasn’t even close, as Russell Wilson guided the Seahawks to a convincing 38-7 victory in Minnesota. Wilson and the Seahawks have been slowly finding their groove in 2015, and seem to be heating up just at the right time. They still have work do at 7-5, but look the toughest opposition out of the NFC wild card chasers by a long way, and will be the team that nobody will want to face should they make it. The Vikings seem to be suffering a slump similar to their division rivals Green Bay. The both are sitting pretty at 8-4, but both have struggled in recent week. Their Week 17 clash looks like it could be the division decider. 4. The New England Patriots are suffering a mini-slump all of their own, as the Philadelphia Eagles managed to surprise the NFL world by pulling off a 35-28 victory in Foxborough. The injuries seem to finally be taking a toll on a Patriots team, where despite taking a 14-0 lead, they couldn’t hang on to get the job done against one of the poorer teams in the NFL. Two special teams gaffes gave the Eagles a route back into the game. Bill Belichick, master of rubbing salt into the wounds, decided to go for a squib/drop kick play, in order to try and catch the Eagles off guard and give the Patriots the ball back. Well, all it did was get the Eagles in great field position to score their first touchdown of the day. Don’t get too cute Bill. Next up was a blocked punt that was returned by the Eagles for a touchdown, tying the game at half time. Not to be undone, Tom Brady drove his Patriots team all the way to the Eagles goal-line to start the third quarter, only to throw a 99-yard pick-six to Malcolm Jenkins, something that only Matt Schaub would be proud of. Oh, and then the Patriots saw another punt returned for a touchdown by Darren Sproles. In total, the Eagles scored 35 unanswered points, and condemned the Patriots to the number 3 seed in the playoffs as it stands. The importance of that? No home field advantage, something that was almost inconceivable just 8 days ago. 5. The number 1 seed in the AFC currently? The Cincinnati Bengals, who routed the cellar dweller Cleveland Browns 37-3. Having recovered from their two game blip, the Bengals have found their mojo and some in recent weeks, all-but securing the AFC North. They can do so if they beat the Pittsburgh Steelers next week. AJ Green had a monster days, with 128 yards on just 5 receptions and a touchdown, while Jeremy Hill managed to carve out some decent numbers too, with 98 rushing yards on 22 carries. The Browns refused to start Johnny Manziel in Josh McCown’s absence, with Austin Davis getting the nod again. However, as the Browns season takes an all-too familiar turn, expect Manziel to be finally under centre again sooner rather than later. 6. The Rams and the Dolphins didn’t play each other, thank god, but deserve mention for the way that their offenses are playing: dreadfully. Remarkable, only one of them lost on Sunday, with the Dolphins overcoming the Baltimore Ravens 15-13, despite being comprehensively outplayed in every department. Both offenses combined for just ten points: a Greg Zuerlein field goal and a rare gem from Ryan Tannehill on a 38-yard touchdown pass to DeVante Parker, while he and Nick Foles had just 24 pass completions and 232 passing yards between them, plus an interception. To put that into perspective: Matt Schaub had more completions and yards, while Austin Davis completed one more pass for two less yards. Todd Gurley, a rookie of the year candidate not so long ago, has been an non-factor for the past few weeks, while does anybody remember Tavon Austin/Jarvis Landry/Jordan Cameron? The Rams and Dolphins clearly don’t. 7. As aforementioned, the NFC South is a done deal. After starting the season 5-0 then 6-1, the Falcons are now 6-6 after losing to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 23-19. The Falcons now boast the worst red-zone offense in the NFL, while also struggling to get Devonta Freeman, the star running back for the first half of the season, to get involved since his return from injury. Meanwhile, Jameis Winston is putting together a campaign worthy of NFL Rookie of the Year, throwing for a touchdown, have a scrambled touchdown, and making good decisions while limiting the turnovers that plagued his college career. The Buccaneers now hold the tiebreaker over the Falcons in the NFC South, and as such currently hold the number 7 seed in the NFC. In the other NFC South game, the Saints and Panthers traded blows until the game ended the way that every Panthers game has ended all season, with Carolina winning. The Panthers are now 16 games unbeaten in the regular season, stretching back to 2014, while Cam Newton hones in MVP honours for the season, adding another five touchdowns and 331 yards to his already impressive stats for the season. 8. In what I am crowning the game of the weekend, the Jacksonville Jaguars and Tennessee Titans played out a highly absorbing game between teams who are just battling for relevance in the AFC. In the end, the Titans secured a 42-39 victory, while being the only AFC South team to win on Sunday. Marcus Mariota had the pick of multiple scores, with an 87-yard touchdown scamper that helped the Titans go 35-32 up in the fourth quarter, giving them a lead they would not relinquish. Blake Bortles, for the umpteenth time this season, had himself a day, with five touchdown passes, three of which went to Allen Robinson. With that, Bortles broke the all-time passing touchdowns in a season record for the Jaguars. While both teams are technically still in the playoff race (the Titans at 3-9 and the Jaguars at 4-8), it was good to see both offenses, featuring young players, putting on a show. 9. My AFC dark horse is the Pittsburgh Steelers, which pains me to say as I’m a Ravens fan. For the second week in a row, Ben Roethlisberger commandeered the most dangerous offense in the NFL to a feast, this time at the expense of the previously undefeated under Matt Hasselbeck Indianapolis Colts, 45-10. Big Ben had four touchdowns for 364 yards, while DeAngelo Williams yet again topped over 100 rushing yards. Sitting at 7-5, they are primed to push on for a wildcard spot, but have to contend with division rivals and leaders the Bengals next week. Antonio Brown also had the best touchdown celebration I have seen, check it out if you get the chance. The Colts, meanwhile, blew the chance to take a game lead in the AFC South, while also managing to keep both the Titans and Jaguars in the hunt. Not a great day for Indy. 10. The Oakland Raiders versus Kansas City Chiefs game was all about Derek Carr, and not all of it was good. As usual, Carr made some sublime throws, none more so than on an absolutely needle threader to Michael Crabtree in triple coverage to put the Raiders 14-7 up. Then a third quarter touchdown pass to Lee Smith sent the Raiders 20-14 up, and that’s when the wheels fell off. Sebastian Janikowski missed the extra point, ending a streak of 225 consecutive makes. Then, having forced the Chiefs to punt, Carr threw the first of his three fourth quarter interceptions, this one going to Josh Mauga on a sack-cum-interception, leading the Chiefs to tie the game at 20 apiece after their own extra point miss. However, a pick-six and a 58-yard interception contributed to 14 more points for the Chiefs, all but ending the Raiders playoff ambitions while helping the Chiefs get to 7-5.


NFL Week 13: Ten Things You Need To Know

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