Week 14 games in the NFL shake up the playoff picture

NFL Football

It would be an understatement to say that things didn’t go as planned in Week 14 Sunday in the NFL. The New Orleans Saints and the Pittsburgh Steelers were handed defeats that no one, even sports gamblers, would have expected, and even the Kansas City Chiefs came close to losing against the Miami Dolphins. Maybe the top-ranked teams this year simply used up all their energy and talent early in the season and, if that’s the case, the postseason games are going to be a lot different than previously thought. 

The Green Bay Packers pulled out a win over the Detroit Lions as quarterback Aaron Rodgers had a pretty good day. He threw for three touchdowns on the way to a 31-24 victory, but it wasn’t until the third quarter that Green Bay moved ahead, a hint at how the top-seeded teams performed yesterday. With that win, and with a loss to be discussed down the page, the Packers are now the champions of the NFC North. It also, because of another unexpected upset yesterday, gives the Packers the top spot in the conference. This game was pretty much on target in terms of scoring, with the final score missing the Over/Under by just half a point.

The Washington Football Team (WFT) can now claim four straight victories after getting off to a slow start earlier in the season. They took down the San Francisco 49ers, who are not showing any resemblance to the Super Bowl-bound team of last year, 23-15 and are now on top of the NFC East. Two defensive touchdowns clinched the win and put the WFT in a good spot for the postseason. The Over/Under had been set at 43.5, and the outcome fell short by 5.5 points.

The Atlanta Falcons have once again proven that they can’t hold up for four quarters. However, they at least forced the game against the LA Chargers down to the wire, only losing after Chargers kicker Michael Badgley nailed a 43-yard field goal as time ran out. Neither team is too concerned about the loss, though, as they’re not looking at a postseason appearance unless a miracle happens. Still, oddsmakers had expected a better result and the 20-17 score fell short of the predicted Over/Under by 12 points. 

The Seattle Seahawks and the LA Rams are tied for the lead in the NFC West and, if yesterday’s performance is any indication, the Seahawks are hungry for control. QB Russell Wilson completed four touchdowns to lead a strong offense against the New York Jets and Seattle’s defense punished QB Sam Darnold throughout the game. Jamal Adams, a Seahawks safety, picked up the NFL record for most sacks by a defensive back as the Jets were forced to add another loss to the season. The 40-3 whooping by the Seahawks missed the Over/Under by 6 points.

Yesterday was a good day for some quarterbacks who haven’t been overwhelmingly strong this year. The Denver Broncos QB, Drew Lock, hit targets perfectly for four touchdowns, the most in a single game in his career, as the Broncos took down the Carolina Panthers, 32-27. Carolina QB Teddy Bridgewater is spending his Monday nursing his body back to health after being sacked four times by the Denver defense, and neither team looks like they will be in the playoffs. This game surprised oddsmakers, beating the Over/Under by 13.5 points.

The Pittsburgh Steelers have fallen apart. They made it through 12 weeks without a loss, but have now fallen twice in a row. The Buffalo Bills made it look easy as they rolled to a 26-15 victory, and Pittsburgh has now dropped further behind in the AFC race. The team is a game behind the Kansas City Chiefs, but still has a guaranteed playoff berth. For the Bills, they could take the AFC East title, depending on how tonight’s game between the Baltimore Ravens and the Cleveland Browns goes. If Baltimore loses, the title belongs to them. Oddsmakers had expected a little more out of the Steelers, and the Over/Under missed its mark by 7.5 points.

The New Orleans Saints ran into a little trouble yesterday against, of all teams, the Philadelphia Eagles. The Eagles are part of the only NFL division comprised of nothing but teams with losing records, the NFC East, and sit just slightly ahead of the last-ranked Dallas Cowboys. However, Philly made a change ahead of yesterday’s game that proved invaluable as it brought in Jalen Hurts to replace Carson Wentz at quarterback. The Saints had secured nine straight wins before yesterday’s 24-21 loss and, even though they have a lock on the playoffs, they moved to second place in the seeding behind the Packers. This game ended slightly higher than the Over/Under, breaking it by 2.5 points.

The Las Vegas Raiders have looked, at times, like they wanted to be taken seriously. Yesterday was not one of those days. The Indianapolis Colts walked away with a 44-27 win and a spot in the AFC playoff contention, thanks to an awesome performance by the offense that included scores on seven of the first eight possessions. No one had expected these two teams to rack up so many scores and the Over/Under was easily defeated by 19 points. 

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers gave themselves renewed hope for a playoff appearance when they beat the Minnesota Vikings 26-14. Three touchdown passes showed that Tom Brady isn’t ready to hang his cleats up yet, and the Bucs are looking at being able to grab a spot in the NFC postseason following the win. They have a bye week now, which they can use to tweak their game a little. The final score missed the Over/Under by 12.5 points, with both teams having been expected to perform better. 

The Kansas City Chiefs ran into a lot of issues yesterday against the Miami Dolphins. The defending Super Bowl champs didn’t play up to expectations, with QB Patrick Mahomes throwing three picks. It looked like the Fins were going to pull off a late-game comeback, but the Chiefs held on and secured a 33-27 victory. With that, they are the definitive leaders of the AFC West and are ready to take the division, with only an asterisk or two standing in their way. Miami’s performance yesterday kept its playoff hopes alive, as well, and helped bust the Over/Under by 8.5 points. 

The Ravens and the Browns will play in Monday Night Football tonight, with Baltimore getting the advantage. However, it’s not a huge one, only a few points, and the Browns could prove to be more difficult than many football fans expect. If the Ravens fall, the NFL postseason is going to get a lot more interesting.