Week 14 Sunday is in the books and we saw six of ten games won by a touchdown or less. Division leaders of the Bills, Ravens, Chiefs, Eagles, and 49ers won while the Titans and Vikings lost to a division rival. The Buccaneers played the 49ers (sort of) and still lead the NFC South with a 6-7 record.
We’re seeing more games with less than 35 total points and that wonderful phenomena when a top team tries to mail in their matchup with a weaker opponent and get caught like the Titans or almost get caught like the Cowboys.
The week started with the dramatic comeback of the Rams over the Raiders back on Thursday and ended with the Dolphins not showing up at the Chargers until sometime in the third quarter which proved to be too late.
NY Jets 12, Buffalo 20
One of many low scoring matchups on Sunday. This defensive battle had the Bills never trailing but the rainy conditions slowed the game and the Jets two fumbles did not help. Mike White somehow ended with 268 passing yards and no scores after he was blasted, left the game, returned and then got blasted even worse, and left the game and returned. He went to the hospital after the game. It was a gutty performance from White who connected with Garrett Wilson (6-78) and Elijah Moore (6-60). Michael Carter was active but totaled 20 yards, while Zonovan Knight was the primary back with 17 rushes for 71 yards and a touchdown. The loss drops the Jets to 7-6 and they host the Lions this week.
The Bills did just enough to win this game thanks to their defense. Josh Allen only passed for 147 yards and one score in the rain, but he added 47 yards on ten runs with a touchdown as the lead rusher. Dawson Knox (4-41, TD) and Stefon Diggs (3-37) were the top receivers and this was a slow and low-scoring affair as are most of the meetings between these two teams. Devin Singletary led the running backs with eight carries for 39 yards. It wasn’t that pretty or beneficial to fantasy owners, but the Bills are 10-3 and remove the Jets as divisional contenders. They face the Fins on Saturday.
Cleveland 10, Cincinnati 23
Bit of a snoozer here. Deshaun Watson threw for 276 yards but just one score and one interception. Donovan Peoples-Jones (8-114) and David Njoku (7-59, TD) were the top receivers while Amari Cooper settled for two catches for 42 yards. Nick Chubb only gained 34 yards on 14 runs (2.4 YPC), while Watson gained 33 yards on six runs. The lack of any ground game dooms this offense but at least Watson connected with his wideouts better. The loss drops the Browns to 5-8 and they host the Ravens on Saturday.
The Bengals never trailed and had a full backfield again between Joe Mixon (14-96) and Samaje Perine (4-22, TD). Joe Burrow threw for 239 yards and two scores between Ja’Marr Chase (10-119, TD) and Trenton Irwin (2-58, TD) who replaced Tyler Boyd after he injured his finger. Irwin caught his first NFL touchdown after three years in Cincinnati as wideout depth. The Bengals kept the Browns offense to minimal scoring and took the game without much trouble. The win lifts the Bengals to 9-4 and they head to Tampa Bay for Week 15.
Houston 23, Dallas 27
This was the standard mismatch that looked so uneven that the Cowboys were favored by 17 points so they didn’t take it seriously. And they trailed 23-17 in the fourth quarter. The Texans kicked three field goals including two from over 50 yards. Davis Mills passed for 175 yards but Jeff Driskel came in and threw a touchdown to Amari Rogers (4-57, TD) for his first NFL score while Chris Moore led the receivers with a career-best ten catches for 124 yards. Dameon Pierce ran for 78 yards and a score on 22 carries but did not finish the game due to an ankle injury. The Texans played very well because the Cowboys let them and almost got caught. They fall to 1-11-1 and host the Chiefs on Sunday.
The Cowboys got lucky. They were within a play or two of losing a home game to the worst team in the NFL. Dak Prescott threw for 284 yards and one score with two interceptions. Dalton Schultz (6-87) and Noah Brown (4-85) were the top receivers while CeeDee Lamb settled for five catches for 33 yards. Ezekiel Elliott (15-62, TD) scored the game-winning touchdown with 41 seconds left to play but Tony Pollard ran for 42 yards and a score on ten rushes, and added four catches for 20 yards and a second touchdown. It was a mostly lazy effort by the Cowboys who got away with a win they barely deserved. They rise to 10-3 and play at the Jaguars for Week 15.
Minnesota 23, Detroit 34
Fortunately for the Vikings, they rolled up a substantial divisional lead earlier this season because the Lions are a significantly better team than what started the year, and the Vikings are not as good. Kirk Cousins threw for 425 yards and two scores with Justin Jefferson (11-223) turning in a monster game for yardage. T.J. Hockenson posted six catches for 77 yards in his first meeting with his ex-team, while Adam Thielen (7-65, TD) and K.J. Osborn (5-38, TD) shared the scoring. Dalvin Cook was held to only 23 yards on 15 carries but ran in a score and caught a 13-yard pass. The Vikes fell behind 21-7 in the third quarter and could never catch up. They fall to 10-3 and host the Colts on Saturday.
It’s all too little, too late. But the Lions bear little resemblance to the 2021 version or even how they opened the year. Jared Goff threw for 330 yards and three touchdowns and is no longer being called a “gap quarterback”. DJ Chark caught six passes for 94 yards and one score to lead the team, while Amon-Ra St. Brown gained 68 yards on six catches. Both Josh Reynolds (5-51, TD) and Jameson Williams (1-41, TD) rounded out the scorers and the rookie now has as many scores as he has catches. The rushing effort wasn’t as successful with Jamaal Williams (16-37) and D’Andre Swift (6-21) less effective though Swift added three catches for 18 yards. The Lions are only 6-7 but look like the division leader.
Jacksonville 36, Tennessee 22
Not unlike the Lions, these Jaguars are much different than their 2021 version and while they are almost certain to end with another losing record, they are ending the year on a high and encouraging note. Trevor Lawrence passed for a career-best 368 yards and three touchdowns despite being a “game-time decision.” Evan Engram also had a career-high 11 receptions for 162 yards and two scores. Zay Jones caught eight passes for 77 yards and one score also as a game-time decision. Travis Etienne didn’t join in with only 17 runs for 32 yards but he didn’t need to since Lawrence was so successful in exploiting the Titans’ weak defenses. The 5-8 Jaguars head to Dallas for Sunday.
The Titans are still atop the AFC South and will likely win it, but they are on a three-game losing streak and were dominated by their divisional rival who was the visitor. Ryan Tannehill passed for 254 yards and two scores but the final touchdown came when they were already trailing 36-14. Chigoziem Okonkwo (6-45, TD) and Nick Westbrook-Ikhine (3-23, TD) caught the scores while Austin Hooper (5-68) was the top receiver. Derrick Henry did his part with 121 yards and a score on 17 rushes and he added 34 yards on three catches. The Titans’ pass defense is among the worst in the NFL and undermines a team that can’t throw well enough to play catch-up every week. The 7-6 Titans play at the Chargers this week.
Baltimore 16, Pittsburgh 14
What excitement. There was little doubt that this matchup would prove to be low scoring and mostly boring. The Ravens not only played without Lamar Jackson, but they lost Tyler Huntley. That meant their undrafted rookie Anthony Brown was elevated from the practice squad before Sunday, and now may be the starting quarterback for the Ravens. Baltimore only passed for 104 yards against the Steelers because the rushing offense took care of the job. Mark Andrews was left with only two catches for 17 yards. J.K. Dobbins returned from injured reserve and ran for 120 yards on 15 carries and one touchdown. Gus Edwards turned in 66 yards on 13 carries. The Ravens totaled 42 rushes in the game and that may continue with the passing game looking shakier than ever. The 9-4 Ravens remain tied with the Bengals for the AFC North lead and head to Cleveland for Saturday of Week 15.
The Steelers took a step backwards this week. Kenny Pickett was knocked out of the game before completing a pass and Mitchell Trubisky stepped in to throw for 276 yards, one score, and three interceptions. Diontae Johnson (6-82) was better and George Pickens (3-78) gained 42 yards on one of his catches. Pat Freiermuth (3-33, TD) caught the lone passing score. Najee Harris only gained 33 yards on 12 carries but scored once. The score to Freiermuth came with only 2:30 left in the game and the loss bodes poorly if Pickett remains out. The Steelers fall to 5-8 and play at the Panthers on Sunday.
Miami 17, LA Chargers 23
The Chargers secondary missed several players but the second-stringers thrust into a starting role played great. Tua Tagovailoa ended with only 145 yards and one score but had 3-of-15 completions for 25 yards at halftime. Tyreek Hill ended with four catches for 81 yards and a touchdown, plus he picked up a fumble and ran that in for a 57-yard touchdown. But Jaylen Waddle (2-31) was the next best receiver and this bodes poorly for the Dolphins when they play on the road in the playoffs. The weak Chargers run defense held Raheem Mostert to only 37 yards on 11 carries and Jeff Wilson went for 26 yards on his four runs and left with a hip injury. The Dolphins fall to 8-5 with a two-game gap behind the Bills where they play this Saturday.
The Chargers took the win mostly from Justin Herbert throwing for 367 yards and one score to Mike Williams (6-116, TD) while Keenan Allen turned in a dozen catches for 92 yards. Austin Ekeler ran for 45 yards on 15 carries with one touchdown, and added eight receptions for 59 yards. The Chargers led throughout and their 7-6 record keeps them still fighting for a wild card. They host the Titans this week which means more of the same from the Chargers’ wideouts.
Tampa Bay 7, San Francisco 35
The Buccaneers have the rare distinction of leading a division with a losing record. The Buccaneers seem to get worse even though they have the main offensive players healthy and available. Tom Brady passed for 253 yards and one score that was caught by Russell Gage but also had two interceptions. Chris Godwin (5-54) and Mike Evans (4-44) were the best receivers and Brady threw to ten different players. Leonard Fournette was active but only ran for 13 yards on four carries and added six catches for 33 yards in the loss. Rachaad White ran for 56 yards on 13 rushes and caught five passes for 21 yards. The humbling loss sends the 6-7 Buccaneers home to face the Bengals.
The 49ers may be on their third quarterback, but it all works out pretty well so far. They led this game 35-0 before relenting and allowing the Bucs to score once. Brock Purdy’s first start resulted in 185 passing yards and two touchdowns between Brandon Aiyuk (2-57, TD) and Christian McCaffrey (2-34, TD) while Deebo Samuel started well with four catches for 43 yards and four carries for 21 yards and a touchdown before being carted from the field. McCaffrey also ran for 119 yards on 14 carries with a second touchdown. Purdy even ran in a score while outplaying Tom Brady. The win lifts the 49ers to 9-4 for their sixth straight win and they head to Seattle for Week 15.
Carolina 30, Seattle 24
Bad teams beating (or almost beating) good teams was the theme for the week and chances are high that the Seahawks tried to main in a win over the 4-8 Panthers while thinking about this week’s matchup with the 49ers. Sam Darnold only passed for 120 yards and one score to Shi Smith (2-17, TD) while Laviska Shenault (4-31) was the top receiver. But the backfield took care of the game with D’Onta Foreman (21-74), Chuba Hubbard (14-74, TD) and Raheem Blackshear (4-32, TD). The Panthers led throughout the matchup and took advantage of the Seahawks’ terrible rush defense, even as a road team. The 5-8 Panthers host the Steelers on Sunday.
The Seahawks were without Kenneth Walker and only ran ten times for 28 yards. Geno Smith had a rough game. He threw for 264 yards and three scores but also two interceptions. And the final touchdown came with only 16 seconds left. Marquise Goodwin (5-95, TD), DK Metcalf (5-71, TD), and Tyler Lockett (5-60, TD) all scored but no other receivers gained more than 20 yards. The Seahawks were without any real rushing offense, but even if Walker played it may not have been much different. The Seahawks played like they figured they could mail in a win and got caught by a Panthers team that shouldn’t be overlooked. The 7-6 Seahawks host the 49ers on Sunday but are now two games behind their NFC West rival.
Kansas City 34, Denver 28
Lot of points in this one. The Chiefs led 27-0 in the second quarter and then stopped scoring until a final touchdown in the third quarter provided just enough to beat the resilient Broncos. Patrick Mahomes passed for 352 yards and three scores but also three interceptions. Jerick McKinnon (7-112, 2 TD) was the top receiver along with JuJu Smith-Schuster (9-74, TD) while Travis Kelce ended with four catches for 71 yards. Isiah Pacheco ran for 70 yards on 13 runes and added three catches for 23 yards. The Chiefs dominated the first half and McKinnon looked great in the same way he did in the playoffs last year. The 10-3 Chiefs head to Houston for Week 15.
The Broncos did an admirable job coming back from 27-0 to losing just 34-28. Russell Wilson threw for 247 yards and three touchdowns before leaving with a concussion but his interception was returned for a touchdown. Jerry Jeudy (8-73, 3 TD) had a career-best game and Marlon Mack (?!?) caught a 66-yard touchdown that drew the score to 21-27 but the Broncos all but abandoned the run after falling immediately behind. Latavius Murray (8-32) and Mack (3-15) handled the minimal workload. The Chiefs thought the game was over and the Broncos almost caught up. They drop to 3-10 and host the Cardinals on Sunday.
GAME-O-THE-WEEK: Eagles 48, Giants 22
Not much question about who is the best team in the NFC East. The Eagles not only decimated the Giants, all of the usual fantasy starters turned in good performances. Jalen Hurts passed for 217 yards and two scores, plus he ran for 77 yards and a touchdown on his seven rushes. A.J. Brown (4-70, TD) and DeVonta Smith (5-64, TD) both scored and were the only receivers with more than 24 yards. Miles Sanders had one of his career-best games when he ran for 144 yards and two scores on just 17 carries. The Eagles’ offense succeeded in every way and their defense stepped up as well. At 12-1, they are now two games in the lead for the NFC No. 1 seed and play at the Bears on Sunday.
The Giants looked like last year, back to their ineffective offensive ways. Daniel Jones passed for just 169 yards and one score before being yanked in the fourth quarter of the hopeless loss. Tyrod Taylor finished the game. Richie James (7-61, TD) and Isaiah Hodgins (4-38, TD) were the best receivers though James’ touchdown came when the Eagles were packing up equipment boxes and calling home to see what was for dinner. Worse yet, Saquon Barkley played but only ran for 28 yards on nine carries and caught two passes for 20 yards. He entered the game questionable with his neck injury and wasn’t 100% since Gary Brightwell ran five times and caught a couple of passes that were spread throughout the game. The 7-5-1 Giants impressive start to the season is a little dot in the rearview mirror and they head to Washington on Sunday.