An extended Week 13 is in the books and the playoffs have been shaken up quite a bit by some surprising losses. Only two teams have clinched playoff berths, and the other hopefuls are feverishly strategizing to make their push into the postseason. Let’s dive right in and get to some final thoughts in this week’s Fourth and Goal:
Both the Kansas City Chiefs 11-1 and the New Orleans Saints 10-2 have clinched a playoff spot, the exact seed in the AFC may come down to the wire as the Chiefs are now tied atop the AFC standings with the Pittsburgh Steelers, also 11-1, with the Steelers still holding the edge by the slim margin of a nonconference loss. The Chiefs held off a very stingy Denver Broncos 4-8 defense for a 22-16 victory, and look to continue their winning ways as they head to the Miami Dolphins 8-4 who are coming off a win against the Cincinnati Bengals 2-9-1.
The Dolphins are looking to make a statement this Sunday and stay in the hunt for a playoff spot, while the Steelers fall from the ranks of the unbeaten as the Washington Football Team 5-7 outlasted the Steelers in a 23-17 upset Monday evening. The Steelers receivers seemed to have trouble securing the football in this game, which is something they need to rectify before they head to what seems to be emerging as the most well-rounded team in the NFL the 9-3 Buffalo Bills.
The Bills are coming off an impressive victory over the San Franciso 49ers 5-7 in a game some are calling Josh Allen’s “best game ever”, and with the Bills playing lights out on all sides of the ball, this Week 14 game against the Steelers is shaping up to be a true slobber knocker!
The Saints continue to find ways to win even with their future Hall of Fame QB Drew Brees on the sidelines, doing what they have to do to stay ahead of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 7-5 and continue to lead the NFC into the playoffs. The Saints handed the Atlanta Falcons 4-8 yet another loss proving, yet again, they are working to the strengths of the back-up QBs to stay on top. The Falcons head to the Los Angeles Charger 3-9 and will make a push to at least get to .500 for the season.
The Bucs are coming off a bye week and will host the Minnesota Vikings 6-6 with both teams looking for their playoff identities. The Vikings take over the final playoff seed in the NFC this week, after defeating a very game Jacksonville Jaguars 1-11 who are still eyeing that number one overall pick in the 2021 Draft!
Another surprising upset came at the hands of the resurgent New York Giants 5-7, standing strong against a spiraling Seattle Seahawks 8-4. The Giants host the Arizona Cardinals 6-6 and look to remain on top of the NFC East, which half of that division is starting to show some signs of life. The Seahawks just can’t seem to get any tractions going into their postseason push, that being said they are home against the winless New York Jets 0-12, which is a perfect opportunity to right the ship and really make a strong showing going forward, this is also my survival pick for Week 14.
However, if they sleep on the visiting Jets, this one may just bite them in the rear, and put me out of my Survival Pick’em League, as the Jets were 15 seconds and a bad defensive play call away from upsetting the Las Vegas Raiders 7-5 and actually getting into the W column. This loss prompted the Jets to fire their Defensive Coordinator Gregg Williams, which I feel is just a smokescreen effort to take the limelight off their HC Adam Gase, as they continue to look forward to the first pick in the 2021 Draft.
The Raiders stay the first team out of the AFC playoff rankings, but much in the thick of the action and look to remain there; however, they have a very daunting task before them with a tough Indianapolis Colts 8-4 team visiting them in Week 14. The Colts look to continue building off their victory over the faltering Houston Texans 4-8 and stay in the playoff picture.
The Texans however, even with DeShaun Watson playing pretty well, are struggling to get close to .500 for the season. If the Texans can go into the home of the struggling Chicago Bears 5-7, and come out with a win, that will go a long way to crossing that threshold. The Bears, on the other hand, can’t seem to figure out how to put their opponents away and finish a football game, as the visiting Detriot Lions 5-7 handed them yet another loss. Both teams are still in the bubble of the playoff picture.
The Lions, however, get to play host to Aaron Rodgers and ever surging Green Bay Packers 9-3 who are coming off a dominating victory over the, now Jalen Hurts led, Philadelphia Eagles 3-8-1. The Eagles’ move at quarterback now offers up the question, is this a permanent move, or just a tough-love move for Carson Wentz? If Hurts plays well down the stretch, I think the question should be answered, but with the NFC leading Saints coming to Philly, the switch may just be flash in the pan.
Finally, we go to Tennessee, where the Cleveland Browns’ 9-3 defense shut down King Derrick Henry and truly manhandled the on-again, off-again Tennessee Titans 8-4. With this win, the Browns are being thrust into the Super Bowl Contenders discussions, which may be justified at this time, however, with three of their next four games being huge challenges the Browns.
The first being a visit from the newly resolidified Baltimore Ravens 7-5 under the bright lights of Monday night; this game in itself will go a long way to showing us if the Browns are real. Then, a visit to the sneaky defensive strength of the New York Giants. Thirdly, onto what might be a very feisty New York Jets team, but I truly doubt that. Finally, finishing with the visiting Pittsburgh Steelers who will be looking to place their own flag atop of the AFC. With these games to finish out the season, let’s see if Baker Mayfield and the Cleveland Browns can handle the weight of being considered Super Bowl contenders!