Five quick takes looking back on Week 13 in the NFL:
1. The most significant game of the week was Arizona’s 20-17 victory over Green Bay that led team president Mark Murphy to dismiss coach Mike McCarthy with four games left in his 13th season. McCarthy was destined to be fired at the end of the season after a SI.com story chronicled the tensions between him and quarterback Aaron Rodgers. The loss caused Murphy to move up the timetable. He handed the interim job to Joe Philbin on an interim basis as he begins a search for the next coach. Finding the right coach to coexist with Rodgers won’t be easy, especially if the coach wants to run an offense Rodgers doesn’t like. Tough times may be ahead for the Packers. And if Rodgers is in decline, things could get more complicated.
2. The New England Patriots seem to be ready for a late season surge that could give them the top seed in the playoffs and home field advantage as they scored a convincing 24-10 victory over the Minnesota Vikings. The Patriots have gone 8-1 since a 1-2 start. The Patriots pounded the Vikings with their ground game as seven players combined to run 39 times for 160 yards, led by Sony Michel’s 63 yards on 17 carries. Tom Brady even reached a rushing milestone, going for five years to reach the 1,000-yard mark in his career. The Patriots may be heading for another Super Bowl appearance.
3. Rookie Lamar Jackson boosted his record to 3-0 as a starter as the Ravens beat the Falcons, 26-16. His passing is still a work in progress, but he ran 17 times for 75 yards. The 7-5 Ravens are now just a half-game behind the 7-4-1 Steelers in the battle for the AFC South title after the Steelers lost to the Chargers. Baltimore goes to Kansas City this weekend and to the Chargers in two weeks so Jackson is going to be tested.
4. The Los Angeles Rams keep rolling towards getting the top seed in the NFC as they boosted their record to 11-1 and clinched the NFC West with a 30-16 victory over the Detroit Lions. The Rams played like a team that knows it doesn’t have another important game until the playoffs. The Rams let Detroit hang around and were ahead only 16-13 in third quarter before pulling away. The Lions dropped to 4-8 as Matt Patricia is the latest Bill Belichick protégé to struggle as a head coach. Patricia took over a team that was 9-7 last two years and is 4-8 and headed to double digit losses this year.
5. The Kansas City Chiefs played their first game without Kareem Hunt, who was cut after a video surfaced of him assaulting a woman, but it was against the Raiders so they still put up 40 points to beat the Raiders, 40-33. Without Hunt, the Chiefs were led in rushing by Spencer Ware, who had only 47 yards in 14 carries. It didn’t matter because Patrick Mahomes threw four touchdown passes, but the Chiefs will have a more difficult time to get to the Super Bowl without Hunt.
Five quick takes on Week 13 in the NFL:
1. After New Orleans surprising loss in Dallas, the Los Angeles Rams have the inside track on home field for the NFC playoffs with a 10-1 record. Now they have to avoid a letdown when they go to Detroit to face the struggling 4-7 Lions, who have taken a step back under new coach Matt Patricia. The Rams’ high-powered offense is second in the NFL in yards per game and third in points per game and only have to avoid being overconfident against the Lions.
Former Dallas Cowboys offensive lineman Blaine Nye once said, “It’s not whether you win or lose, but who gets the blame.”
Of course, there’s a lot more talk about blame when a team is losing, and the Jacksonville Jaguars find themselves in that situation after seven consecutive losses that dropped them to a 3-8 record a year after they were in the AFC title game in New England.
It’s time for the Jaguars to play the Blame Game. So who gets the blame?
Coach Doug Marrone has been quick to put it on himself, but he seemed to point a finger at offensive coordinator Nathan Hackett when he fired Hackett on Monday.
Marrone then benched five-year quarterback Blake Bortles and handed Cody Kessler the starting job.
A quick look back at Week 12 of the NFL season:
1. There was some hand-wringing when the New England Patriots were blown out by the Tennessee Titans before their bye week, but it turned out there’s nothing wrong with the Patriots that can’t be fixed by playing division games. They beat the New York Jets, 27-13, as Tom Brady threw for two touchdowns. Brady said part of his recent problems may have been that he was not being aggressive enough and trying to avoid mistakes. He may have fixed the problem against the Jets. Combined with the Pittsburgh Steelers’ loss to Denver, it put the Patriots in position to be the AFC’s second seed. And they can be the top seed if they win out and Kansas City loses a game. After hosting Minnesota on Sunday, the Patriots have three division games left along with one against Pittsburgh, a team they usually dominate. They once again appear to be well-positioned for a playoff run.
2. When the Cincinnati Bengals rehired Hue Jackson as an assistant coach following his firing by the Cleveland Browns, there was some thought he might give them some insight when they played the Browns last Sunday. Instead, Baker Mayfield threw four touchdown passes as the Browns jumped to a 28-0 lead and won, 35-20. Mayfield didn’t exactly give Jackson a warm welcome after the game. Mayfield said he wasn’t happy Jackson signed on with a division rival. On top of that, the Bengals lost quarterback Andy Dalton for the season. The Bengals’ season is unraveling.
3. Philip Rivers completed 25 consecutive passes, the most by a quarterback in a single game, as the Los Angeles Chargers routed Arizona, 45-10. He finished completing 28 of 29 passes for a record 96.6 completion rate. He could have taken a sack on his one incompletion and had a perfect day. It was the second straight week he should have taken a sack. He threw the ball away to avoid one with two minutes left last week against Denver. That stopped the clock gave the Broncos time to mount a game-winning drive.
4. Rookie quarterback Lamar Jackson boosted his record to 2-0 by passing for 178 yards and rushing for 71 in a 34-17 Baltimore Ravens victory over Oakland. OK, it was against the Raiders, but still a nice start. He has rushed for 190 yards in his first two starts, the most for a quarterback in the Super Bowl era. Matthew Judon was a defensive standout for the Ravens as he had the rare feat of getting a sack on three consecutive defensive plays. On the first one, he got strip that Terrell Suggs returned for a touchdown. At 36, he was the second oldest player to have a fumble return for a touchdown of at least 40 yards. Sam Mills did it for Carolina in 1996 at age 37.
5. For the second consecutive week, Ben Roethlisberger had the Steelers near the goal line at the end of the game. He plunged in for a touchdown to beat the Jacksonville Jaguars a week ago, but he threw an interception against Denver to end the team’s bid to force the game into overtime as they lost 24-17. Their six-game winning streak came to an end. The Steelers had 527 yards of offense, but were stymied by two Roethlisberger interceptions and two completions that resulted in lost fumbles. And means the Steelers are now a half-game behind the Patriots in their bid for the second seed.