As the clock strikes 12 on another week in the greatest sports league in the world, I am here to recap the week’s biggest games. Week 14 was like a shopping mall in the pre-amazon era – it had a little bit of something for everyone. The week was highlighted by divisional tilts with playoff implications and two overtime-thrillers between potential Super Bowl contenders.
Garret strips the Ravens bare as the Browns get a crucial win: Baltimore Ravens 22-24 Cleveland Browns
At the Dog Pound in Cleveland, the often-hapless Browns were able to hold off a furious comeback attempt from the division-leading Ravens. The Browns desperately needed a win to stay afloat in the tempestuous AFC playoff race as it appears at least nine wins will be a prerequisite for a playoff berth. Browns’ DE Myles Garret, famous for his soft-spoken demeanor and his bludgeoning of an opposing QB with their own helmet, had a strip sack for a touchdown which proved to be the decisive score. Garret is currently second in the league with 15 sacks, and his deft play this year almost makes you forget about the aforementioned bludgeoning.
The story of the game, however, was the injury suffered by Baltimore QB Lamar Jackson, the 2019 NFL MVP and the NFL’s most dynamic player. Jackson was carted off in the second quarter with an ankle injury, and his status for the rest of the season remains uncertain. With only three weeks left in the regular season, the AFC North remains the most tightly-contested division in all of football.
Cowboys outlast Washington in war of incompetence: Dallas Cowboys 27-20 Washington Football Team
Winning the NFC East is a lot like outrunning a bear: you don’t have to be faster than the bear, you just have to be faster than the other guy. In a game which Lebron would characterize as being about not one, not two, not three, not four, not five but six turnovers, the Cowboys were just a little less bad than Washington. While the Cowboys do boast an extremely potent offense, ranking second in the league in points per game, their defense deserves the game ball. A big fumble recovery late in the fourth quarter by Dallas ended Washington’s comeback attempt. With a win next week and a Washington loss, the Cowboys will officially clinch the NFC East.
Brady and the Bucs avoid meltdown, outlast the Bills in overtime: Buffalo Bills 27-33 Tampa Bay Buccaneers
In a game where octogenarian and seven-time super bowl champ Tom Brady set the record for most completions in a career and threw for his seven hundredth career touchdown, it was what he didn’t accomplish that stood out. Brady’s 58-yard touchdown pass to Breshard Perriman in overtime made sure that Brady did not join the likes of Kanye West and Brittney Spears in having a meltdown while the whole country watched. The Bills managed to claw their way back from a 21-point hole only to suffer yet another heart-breaking defeat.
The Bills have lost two in a row and three of their last four games, putting their playoff hopes in serious jeopardy. They will need to steady the ship very quickly if they want to live up to all of the pre-season hype. As for the Bucs, they are in contention for the first seed in the NFC, and will look to secure home field advantage in their bid to repeat as champions.
Party like it’s 1989: Niners beat the Bengals in a close one: San Francisco 49ers 26-23 Cincinnati Bengals
A lot has changed since 1989, the year when the 49ers beat the Bengals in the Superbowl XXIII (that’s 23 for those of you who aren’t fluent in roman numerals). Back then, there was no such thing as high-speed internet, people took cabs (not strangers’ cars) to go places, and if you told people you were watching the newest movie releases from the comfort of your couch, you would have been rightly arrested for piracy. Not everything has changed, though, as the 49ers still seem to always get the upper hand on the Bengals, winning in the last minute of overtime on a Jimmy Garoppolo touchdown pass to Brandon Aiyuk. George Kittle reminded everyone why he is one of the top tight ends in the league, registering 13 catches for 151 yards and one touchdown.
With the loss, the Bengals are now on the outskirts of the playoff picture and will need to win out to make the playoffs. The Niners currently sit in the sixth seed, and are my super bowl dark horse. If you have some spare change floating around or can get a really good deal from a loan shark who also moonlights as an empath, I highly recommend throwing a couple dollars on them.
Rams knock Cardinals down a peg on Monday night
In the Monday night game, the Rams bested the Cardinals by a touchdown, pulling within one game of the Cardinals for the division lead. The Rams offense this season has been defined by the seemingly preternatural connection between QB Matthew Stafford and WR Cooper Kupp, and Monday night was no different. Stafford and Kupp – the NFL leader in receptions, yards, and touchdowns – connected on 13 receptions for 123 yards and one touchdown. Stafford, who left the Detroit Lions after 12 mostly pain-staking seasons, is proving that you can actually find fame and success in Los Angeles, even if your arm strength isn’t what it once was.
With the loss, the Cardinals slid to third in the NFC, vaulting the Green Bay Packers to first place in the NFC. Potentially having to travel to Green Bay for the NFC Championship Game presents a huge problem for the Cardinals as snowbirds rarely ever keep possession of Super Bowl rings.