Week 13 is in the books and while the NFC is starting to take shape, the AFC is as wild as ever.
Running to First Place
Heading into week 13 of the NFL season, fans had circled the Monday Night game between New England Patriots and the Buffalo Bills as the game to watch. The Bills were 7-4 and second in their division to the red-hot Patriots at 8-4 (Patriots have their bye week 14). The Patriots were riding a six game win streak into Buffalo and since the Ravens lost earlier on Sunday, they had the first seed in the AFC on the line. The Bills were missing All-Pro defensive back Tre’Davious White and would need a complete game to beat their division rivals.
Buffalo weather did not disappoint in adding extra drama to this game. The conditions at kickoff brought 25-35 mph winds, light snow and 36˚F. Kickers in warm-ups against the wind had their attempts blown back in their face. With those conditions, the Patriots were prepared to run the ball all the way to victory. The first touchdown of the game came on a 64-yard run by Damien Harris followed by a two-point conversion to make the lead 8-0. Overall, the Patriots rushed for 222 yards in the game and rookie QB Mac Jones went 2/3 for 19 yards in the 14-10 victory. The Patriots head into their bye with the #1 seed in the AFC while Buffalo drops to the #7 and last playoff position.
Division Leaders Back on Track
Six of the eight division leaders played this week (Packers and Titans on bye) and finished the week 5-1. On Thursday Night, the Dallas Cowboys got back on track beating the banged up Saints 27-17 behind Dallas’ four interceptions of Saints QB Taysom Hill, returning one for a touchdown. The Tampa bay Buccaneers furthered their lead of the NFC South handling the Atlanta Falcons 30-17 led by Tom Brady’s four TD passes. The Arizona Cardinals returned from their bye week and Kyler Murray returned to form from injury passing for two scores and rushing for two more in their 33-22 victory over the Chicago Bears. The Chiefs kept the challenging Broncos at bay winning, 22-9 on Sunday Night, marking the third time in four games the Chiefs defense has held their opponent to less than 10 points.
The lone division team to lose this past weekend were the Baltimore Ravens, who fell to the Pittsburgh Steelers 20-19 in the Sunday afternoon contest. Lamar Jackson struggled early in the game, but got the team in position to tie the game after a late fourth quarter touchdown brought the score to 20-19, a Baltimore extra point away from a tie. However, Coach John Harbaugh (brother of University of Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh) decided to go for a two-point conversion to win the game. Jackson was under pressure on the throw, forcing an incompletion to tight end Mark Andrews in the flat and the Steelers were able to run out the clock – holding onto the one-point victory.
Best Moment of Week 13
The Lions get their first win! In dramatic fashion, and despite their own attempts to blow the game, the Lions walked off the Minnesota Vikings to record their first win of the season and first for Head Coach Dan Campbell. The Lions were down 27-23 with a 1:50 left and no timeouts. QB Jared Goff led the 75-yard touchdown drive, capping it off with an 11-yard pass to rookie WR Amon-Ra St. Brown with no time left on the clock. Incredibly, the win keeps the Detroit Lions statistically alive in the playoff picture.