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.