There was a lot of important football today. We now have a much clearer picture of what January will look like. We also have a much murkier picture of what January will look like. While there was important football, most of the games were blowouts and there was almost no drama.
1. Jalen Hurts Wins in First Start
Jalen Hurts got the start and win for the Philadelphia Eagles against the former top-seeded New Orleans Saints. Hurts threw for 167 yards and a touchdown off of 17 completions. He also ran for 106 yards. Miles Sanders also had a big game, totaling 136 yards and two touchdowns. With the loss, the Saints fell to the second seed in the NFC.
2. Packers Take Top Seed
The Green Bay Packers took over the top spot in the NFC East. They also clinched the NFC North title. They did it against their division rival Detroit Lions. Aaron Rodgers added to his MVP bid, tossing three touchdowns and no picks, as well as rushing for a touchdown. Matthew Stafford went down in the fourth quarter, clutching his ribs.
3. Raiders Fall, Fire DC
Derek Carr threw two interceptions against the Indianapolis Colts. The Colts were led by Jonathon Taylor, who had a phenomenal day. He ran for 150 yards and two touchdowns. The Colts dominated the Las Vegas Raiders running game, holding Josh Jacobs to 49 yards (albeit, this was partially based off of the Raiders being “forced” to pass). This game was huge in determining who gets to play football in January. The Raiders fell to 7-6, while the Colts improved to 9-4.
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4. Mahomes Struggles
Patrick Mahomes had a league-leading day. He led the league with three interceptions. You read that correctly. Mahomes and Matt Ryan led the NFL with three interceptions thrown. He was also sacked for 30 yards! The interceptions and sack were all in the first quarter. Despite the three interceptions, the Kansas City Chiefs came back from a 10-0 deficit to beat the Miami Dolphins. The Chiefs turned the ball over four times and still won. One of the turnovers was by Xavien Howard, who has an interception in five straight games. The Chiefs clinched the AFC West and the Dolphins will retain the seventh seed, but the wild card race is tightening up in the AFC.
5. Dan Bailey Misses… A Lot
The Minnesota Vikings won time of possession by 19 minutes against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Tom Brady didn’t play well, but the Buccaneers’ supporting cast got the job done. The Bucs defense held the Vikings to just 5-of-15 on third downs. Dan Bailey was horrific. He missed three field goal attempts and the extra point. With the Buccaneers win, they have practically punched their ticket to January.
6. Dalton Wins in Cincinnati
Andy Dalton was the starting quarterback in Cincinnati…for the Dallas Cowboys. And he played well. Dalton threw two touchdowns and he didn’t turn the ball over. The Cincinnati Bengals fumbled three times in the loss. With the win, the Cowboys are keeping pace in the NFC East. It’s the NFC East, so I guess no one is eliminated until January.
7. 49ers Take Tough Loss
The Washington Football Team fought through adversity and came away with a win and the NFC East lead. Alex Smith went down with a calf injury and Dwayne Haskins took over at quarterback. Neither Smith nor Haskins played well. DC didn’t get an offensive touchdown! But the reason DC won was their defense. The defense, led by Chase Young, had two defensive touchdowns.
8. Drew Lock Finally Shows Up
Drew Lock had a great day, albeit he played the Carolina Panthers. Lock threw for 280 yards and four touchdowns. He had a quarterback rating of 149.5! K.J. Hamler caught two of those touchdowns. The Denver Broncos also had an 83-yard punt return touchdown by Diontae Spencer.
9. Drama in LA
In one of the few dramatic games of the day, the Los Angeles Chargers and Atlanta Falcons kept trying to find ways to lose. Justin Herbert tossed an interception with 53 seconds to go in a tied ball game. The Chargers were just outside Michael Badgley’s field goal range. Then, Matt Ryan reciprocated the favor. With 36 seconds on the clock, just outside of Younghoe Koo’s field goal range, he threw an interception. Then, Herbert led the Chargers down the field and Badgley ended the game with a field goal. The Falcons became the first team from the NFC to be eliminated from the playoffs.
10. Cardinals Win to Stay Relevant
Daniel Jones was healthy enough to get the start for the New York Giants. Jones was clearly not healthy, then he struggled, throwing for only 127 yards with no touchdowns or interceptions. A big reason for this was being sacked six times. The Arizona Cardinals had eight total sacks, with five coming from Haason Reddick. Kyler Murray played a little better. He threw for 244 yards, a touchdown and no picks. The Cardinals did have four field goals and a rushing touchdown. The Giants are in second place in the NFC East, and the Cardinals are the seventh seed in the NFC.